Archive for the 'Adoption' Category

Back up a month to Anna’s first day of school

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Before I start in on too many other things while I’m trying to catch up, first let me apologize for being so long between posts.  Yes, there have been many things going on that have prevented me from having the time to put into editing all the photos and finding clever words to describe our everyday doings.  But, let me reassure everyone that the kids are doing just fine, and none of the issues we’ve been having are due to problems with them.  They are primarily work-related, and I’ll probably talk about them somewhere in this catch-up flurry I’m working on.  I have not mysteriously and magically located another 6 hours to put into each day (other than the ones I normally use for sleeping, which I don’t much, anymore), but one time-consuming hurdle was, well, hurdled yesterday, so I’m giving myself a little bit of leisure today.  This leisure will last about 10 more minutes, before Anna and Daddy get home from preschool, so I’ll try to hurry this post up a bit.

Anna started school right after Labor Day, in her same classroom with the same beloved teachers.  She was not at all nervous, but was then, and still is, a bit miffed that Will is getting to ride “her” school bus to school every day, and she is not.  Hmph.  In the photos below, you’ll notice that instead of the shorts and t-shirts that everyone else puts their kids in for the first day of school, my kid is wearing jeans and a jacket.  Yep, that’s the way it is in northern Vermont in September.   Not many shorts-wearing days here after school starts.  Oh, some kids wear ’em, but I think they freeze to death.

PS – the leisure time before everyone got home only lasted 8 minutes, so I’m rushing this to “press.”  Apologies for errors, which I will check on later.  I hope.

Two years!

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Today marks the second anniversary of William Joseph Winter Casciari joining our family!  From a scared little toddler leaving the only home he’d ever known in Yinchuan, to the little warrior you see today, who rides the bus to school all by himself, who plays soccer with the big kids, and who grins and giggles and charms his way into everyone’s heart.

Thanks for becoming part of our crazy household, Will!

Will’s tooth

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

My little 5-1/2 year old kindergartner has lost his first tooth!  We knew he had a loose tooth after the dentist pointed it out to us a couple of weeks ago (more on that later.)  We’ve been watching it, but no major advances had been made.  Sunday evening, he was concerned about it while Joe was brushing his teeth, and then, while we were video-Skyping with Grandma and Grandpa, he couldn’t kep his hand out of his mouth.  I looked at his tooth, and it was so loose that he could push it down flat.  I asked him if I could work on it, and after a few minutes of wiggling, it came out!  He was so excited!  We put it in an envelope for the tooth fairy, and kept it for the next night so Anna could see it the next day.  My little boy is growing up!

A couple of weeks ago, the kids had their first visit to a pediatric dentist.  We chose someone down in Norwich (about an hour away) based on a recommendation from a dental hygienist friend and our own dentist’s office.  The dentist was very nice, and seemed to win the kids over easily.  He has a nice practice.  Anna had no problems at all, of course.  Will, on the other hand, has a cavity on a rear molar, so he will have to have a filling in a month or so.  The doctor took x-rays of his teeth, and found that his alveolar cleft is worse on one side than the other, and he may only need grafting on one side.  He seemed to feel that wouldn’t happen until he was 8 or 9.  He seems to have his two middle adult incisors, but is missing the two lateral incisors.  That’s the same as his baby teeth.  His adult canines are there, but appear to be oriented crookedly at present.  He will likely need some orthodontics when he gets older.  He may be able to have implants for the two missing incisors when he’s older if he needs them.  All in all, about what we expected, and certainly better than we feared.  A good visit!

I know everyone is waiting …

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

I’ve got photos of Will’s first day of kindergarten and everything – and just when I sit down to start composing a post, the cussed pager goes off.  Yes, at 11:45 PM.  I have to get clothes on, and go put a poor elderly cat belonging to a poor elderly lady to sleep so he (and she) doesn’t have to suffer all night.  I don’t mind, as long as I don’t have to be particularly brilliant or perform miracles of modern medicine after midnight, but I have to say, this emergency call is getting more and more onerous.  My last several times on-call, I’ve had toxicity dogs coming in after midnight, calls at 2:30 AM about dying dogs, etc.  Come on, people!  I’m 45 years old, with two little kids at home I’m trying to spend an hour or two of quality time with every day, between working 12 hours a day, running a business, saving lives.  I’m doing the work of a vet and a half, with an ad out for a full-time associate for over a year now, and no serious takers.  I can’t do it much longer.

Enough whining.  I will be posting about Will’s first day, but it will likely be tomorrow.  At least, once I get through tonight, I have tomorrow off.  So I can catch up on the 50 charts I haven’t written yet from this week.

Apparently I’m not happy tonight.  But, Will’s first day seemed to be a rousing success, so you all don’t have to continue to worry about it.  Back soon.

A very special man

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


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.


Happy Gotcha Day, Anna!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Two years ago today, a red-faced, screaming 19 month old girl was placed in our arms in a hotel conference room in Nanning, Guangxi, China. 

anna2.JPG anna4.JPG anna5.JPG

What a long way you’ve come, little girl!

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We are so blessed to have you in our lives!  We couldn’t imagine living without you!

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We celebrated with her favorite dinner of macaroni and cheese (homemade, thank you very much!), and a special dessert of “pupcakes.”  White only, with white frosting, which is all Anna will eat right now.  She eats chocolate everything else, but turns her nose up at chcolate cake.   I gave both Anna and Will their own little plates with an assortment of decorating sugars so they could design their own toppings.  They had a good time with that.  Anna even ate the actual cake portion of both her cupcakes, so they must have been good!

Half her life

Sunday, June 15th, 2008


June 1, 2008 was the 38th-month anniversary of Anna’s birth.  Here is a little snippet of a post I shared with some of my on-line adoption friends last week.  I thought everyone else might enjoy it, too.

Many times in the first months of Anna’s life with us, during her
rejection of me and my frustration and fear that she would never
accept me, our dear friend Pat told me over and over again that these
kids are not truly ours until we’ve had them for half their lives.

Miss Anna was abandoned at 1 month of age, and was in the orphanage
until 6 months of age. She went into a foster home at that point,
and stayed with beloved grandparents until we came to get her at 19
months of age. At about the time of her adoption anniversary last
fall, we became the home and parents she had known for the longest
period of her life.

On June 1, she passed the 38 month mark. We have now had this
wonderful little girl with us for longer than half her life. She is
so completely our child that I cannot even remember much about our
life before she came. She looks enough like me that people who meet
us for the first time always assume she was born to me.

This feels like such a huge milestone in our lives, and I’m just so
thrilled that we’ve made the progress we have, in such a short time.
19 months ago, it felt as if this time would never come, but here it
is, and I absolutely couldn’t love this child any more than I do.

It will be much longer before we’ve had Will for half his life, so it makes sense that some things will be slower in coming for him and for us.  But, time is on our side, so we will get there, regardless of how long it takes.

Videos from the coast

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

The Maine coast

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Last weekend, we traveled to a rented house on the Maine coast as part of Kay and Raoul Casciari’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  It was the first opportunity for Aunt Renee and Uncle Jon, Aunt Eileen and cousin Colin to meet our young Will.   I was having serious second, third and fourth thoughts about going as we crawled through Franconia Notch in near blizzard-like conditions to get there, but it warmed up as we headed south, and by Saturday morning, the weather in York was just beautiful, as you can see from the photos.  Cold, but lovely.  The house was beautiful, with plenty of room for all of us in separate sections, so we didn’t keep each other awake.  Anna and I were in one room, and Joe and Will in the other, and both kids slept through the night for the first time since arriving home from China.  The house, and the views from the front porch, are shown below.

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11-22-07-5.jpg Cousin Colin in his jumpy chair

We were only a short walk from “Short Beach”, which had a lovely playground attached, so we spent an hour or so playing in the afternoon.  Most of Anna’s time was spent trying to keep her hat on (yes, Mama forgot to bring her hood, although I did have gloves for both kids.)  Somehow, winter caught me by surprise.  Winter has been so late in arriving here the last couple of years (not until January!) that coming home from the 80 degree weather in Guangzhou to find winter in full swing was a bit of a shock.  I was scrambling to find winter coats, and I haven’t located all the mittens and hats yet.  Trying to get out the door Friday night in a timely fashion after a full day of work was quite a challenge.  Thank heavens Natalie, our housesitter for the weekend, was already at the house, and was willing to put in an hour of baby sitting so Joe and I could do our last minute packing and load up the car.  Thanks, Natalie!  Let me know if you ever feel the need to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with 2 rowdy children!

Pictures from the beach:

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Grammy was able to walk down to the playground with us, and I think she had a really good time playing with her new grandchildren.  Will did very well most of the weekend; he’s very outgoing and quite the charmer.  He still does his best to win everyone over with his cuteness, as a prelude to misbehaving while grinning at us cheesily.  It doesn’t work with Mama and Baba, of course, but it does with everyone else, so he tends to gravitate to other people when he has the chance.  He’s done well this week, though, and is even approaching us for spontaneous hugs on occasion, so I think we’re making progress! 

Finally, some sleep

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I have to apologize to my loyal reader(s) for my lack of posting since we’ve been home.  Everything is absolutely fine; we’re just tired.  Days have been OK, but nighttimes have been horrid.  The kids have been going to bed OK, but waking up at about 2 AM and not going back to sleep until 4 AM or after.   I typically do my blogging, etc., after I’ve gotten Anna to bed, but I wasn’t getting any sleep in before she was awake again, so I finally resorted to going to bed with her so I could at least get a few hours of sleep before we had to wake up for our nightly “bounce around the bed and giggle” session.  I was really getting enough sleep, but it was broken into 2 segments.  Finally, last night, I was on-call so I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM, but I was able to fall blissfully asleep and ignore the giggling toddler in my bed.  I slept until 10 AM.  What a treat!  I have to work tomorrow, so I’ll have to try to get to bed a bit earlier tonight, but I actually felt human for much of today.

I believe I deserve a medal of honor for today.  Joe had to teach most of the day, so it was really my first day home alone all day with the kids (Joe’s was yesterday.)  We had a nice day, and after lunch, I was even brave enough to pack both the kids in the car and venture out to the grocery store.  That went well enough that we headed over to Walmart to get Will some boots for our upcoming weekend on the Maine coast.  Naturally, since I was wearing baggy sweats and had greasy hair and looked like I’d been run over by a truck, I must have run into approximately 97% of my acquaintances in one or both stores.  Sigh.  At least it was 38 degrees and raining, so I had some excuse for my bedraggledness.  Other than just being a lazy slob.

Really, things are going better than I could have hoped.  Will is settling in, and aside from being sad and grieving some at night, he’s very cheerful.  We’re working on some behavior issues, and trying to get it across to him that grinning and mugging at us while misbehaving is not going to make us say, “oh, how cute” and let him get away with it.  He lost his chicken leg 3 times tonight for waving it around in the air instead of eating it (it was his second one; he was too hungry the first time to play games with it.)  He tends to do this with his fork, etc., and often drops things on the floor while he’s waving them around.  The first two times he was just not being careful, and when I took it away, I only kept it for a minute or so before getting him to agree to keep it close to his plate while eating.  The third time, he was almost done, and clearly teasing as he grinned at me while waving it around.  He lost it for good that time.  Don’t worry, I’m not starving the child; he had 2 chicken legs, corn, chocolate pudding, and orange, and cookies for dinner.  I think he’ll live.

We had quite the saga choosing some boots at Walmart.  I really just wanted rain boots for Will, but of course it’s too late in the season for that.  They only have those apre’ ski-type boots now.  I hope they’re relatively waterproof.  We studied them all, and finally chose some cute Thomas the Tank Engine boots for Will.  I wasn’t going to get Anna any because she has SEVERAL pairs of boots already, but she was getting a bit put out about it, so we picked out some Dora boots for her.  As we were leaving the boot aisle, Will spied a big display of … Spiderman boots!  I never saw a little boy’s eyes light up so fast!  I held out the Spiderman boots and the Thomas boots for him to choose, but it was no contest.  But don’t feel sorry for Thomas, because as soon as Will abandoned him, Anna wanted him instead.  She clearly chose Thomas over Dora, and I didn’t complain because the Thomas boots are blue, instead of the requisite “girl pink” that all of her other boots are.  Here are some shots of them modeling their boots at home:

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Some other random shots from this first week at home:

11-15-07-3.jpg Ringing Nonno’s clock shortly after we landed in Manchester EARLY Saturday morning

11-15-07-4.jpg Opening their lovely books from “Charlie’s Mom”

11-15-07-1.jpg 11-15-07-2.jpg What could be better – sittin’ on your wheels watchin’ a football game!