Archive for March, 2009

Bumblebee Mama

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

The spring concert of the Northeast Kingdom Community Orchestra was tonight, and somehow, I ended up agreeing to play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  I do not know what possessed me to consent to this, other than the closet exhibitionist that lives inside me.  It is a horribly hard piece of music.  I practiced an insane number of hours on this, and by yesterday’s dress rehearsal, I could actually play it pretty well.  Tonight, I played it not quite so well, but I think it came out OK.

Joe captured it on video, but my little digital camera isn’t really designed to focus on a tiny dot on the stage from a balcony seat.  The sound, however, is pretty darned good.  Take a listen, and let me know what you all think.  I counted today; there are somewhat over 800 notes in my part in this 90 second piece of music.  I’m pretty sure I played at least 400 of ’em!

A very special man

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

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On our trip to get Anna, in October of 2006, we were met in Nanning by Michael Wei, a CCAI representative with many years of experience facilitating adoptions by CCAI families in the province of Guangxi.  We had arrived in Hong Kong two days before, and spent a couple of days sight-seeing in what we were to later understand was a very international, almost Americanized, city.  Guangxi was our first entry into the “real” China, where we were met at the airport by young Chinese emigration officers in military uniforms carrying machine guns, where no one spoke a word of English, and where the toilets consisted of holes in the ground.  Michael met us at the airport outside of baggage claim, gave us hugs, spoke kindly to us, got us to our hotel, explained in exhaustive detail how everything would proceed the next day, gave us a detailed, printed itinerary and guidelines on everything from how to tip our service people to how to change the huge amounts of money we needed to bring to the officials’ offices from USD to RMB.  He settled us in our hotel, and told us to get a good night’s sleep, because on the morrow, our lives would never be the same.

Over the next 5 days, he sat by our sides as we tried to hold a terrified, screaming toddler, and taught us everything from the way to take her to the potty, to what kind of food she might actually eat for us.  He took us to buy her diapers, and toys, helped us feed her dinner, took us to see the place she was found on the street outside of the orphanage in Guigang, guided us through all the official paperwork, and sat with us as the provincial officials questioned our sincerity and worthiness to take this precious little life out of their country and raise her in a loving home.

We absolutely could not have managed to survive that first awful week with our new daughter without Michael’s kind and caring guidance.  Two middle-aged people with no parenting experience really had no business trying to do that, but he made it possible.  His experiences facilitating hundreds of adoptions for CCAI in Guangxi province made him an invaluable resource, mentor, and friend for us.

I learned yesterday afternoon that Michael entered the hospital suddenly last Friday, and died Monday morning of a cerebral hemorrhage.  His loss is almost inconceivable.  Our lives were enriched beyond measure with his assistance.

He leaves behind a wife, who is an engineer, and an 8 year old son, who hopes to enter medicine or engineering.  Or at least he did 2 years ago, when he was 6.  Michael talked often and proudly of his son, and I know all the time he spent with us all day long, and often in the evenings, was time his son didn’t get to have him to himself.  At least at 8 years old, he will have memories of his father, and I hope he knows just how important his father was to so very many American families.

CCAI has established a memorial fund to help support Michael’s wife and son, and ensure that his son receives the professional education he will need in today’s capitalistic China.  We will be contributing to this fund, and invite anyone who is interested to do so as well.  Please visit CCAI’s Charitable outreach page here, and designate the Michael Wei Memorial Fund as the “specific project” for which you are making your donation.

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Silly kids

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Here are the kiddos’ class photos for this year.  They take a serious picture, and of course, a silly picture.  I’ve blacked out the name of the school so it can’t be identified.  I am quite amused at the overall lack of silliness in the silly picture.  For an age group for whom silliness is pretty much a constant state of being, they aren’t really very creative.  But, they are very cute, nonetheless.

I volunteer in the class on Thursdays sometimes, and the photos were taken on a different day of the week.  The kids have a very complicated schedule with some attending 2, 3 or 4 days a week (Will is the only one in the class who goes 4 days a week, and boy, does he need it!  Do I hear 5?)  In any case, that means I don’t know all the kids, and Anna, who only goes 2 days a week, doesn’t know them all either.  She should have known all THESE kids, of course, and she was able to tell me the name of one I didn’t know, but there was one kiddo I still didn’t recognize.  So, I resorted to asking Will, who, since he attends with ALL of the kids at least 2 days a week, and has for the last 6+ months, should know all of them.  Umm, nope. I’m pretty sure he knew himself and Anna, and his teachers, but I’m not sure he had the names for anyone else down.  Oh, well.  His teacher continues to maintain that he should go on to kindergarten next year, but I’m starting to become suspicious of her motives. 

The serious picture:

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And the silly one:

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Mom in the paper

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

We have a wall full of paper snowflakes at the clinic – the brainchild of some of my staff.  A donation was made to our little charity fund, and the students at Jefferson Elementary School in Jefferson, NH, created snowflakes with their pets’ names on them to decorate our wall.   One of my clients thought it made a particularly nice picture, and a heartwarming story, so she offered to take a photo and write up a little story to submit to local papers.  Wouldn’t you know it – they all ran it!  So, here I am, along with Becky and Ollie the cat.  I swear, everybody I know has commented on it.  I guess a little positive publicity never hurt anyone, huh?

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