Tuesday, December 7, 2010


From Phoebe's earliest days with us, we witnessed an incredible determination to complete whatever she set out to do. I remember at her very first Early Intervention assessment, just two weeks after arriving, her focused concentration as she tried to get a peg into a board with holes. Most recently, Phoebe started working on doing her own hair. We first marveled when she put a hairband on her wrist, smoothed her hair back into a ponytail, then pulled the hairband from her wrist and around her hair. We watched her work, work, work to get the next step. I remember Mark, two weeks ago, saying, "If she twists it, I'm calling Mensa." And then-- she twisted it! At age 2, Phoebe can now make her own ponytail, with most of her hair pulled back, with up to four twists for a total of five loops. I can't believe it. Ends up, her teacher reveals that this ponytail making has been a big part of her "work" at Montessori school. This e-mail from her teacher Pam is classic, and worth quoting in full. Enjoy!

"I have been watching Phoebe's progress in the art of pony tail making. I have been amazed from the start. She also does great with assorted barrettes. She practices with great focus and determination. With her pony tails, she doesn't want help, and exerts such effort. In the past she would work on it over time, with breaks in between. During these breaks she would work with classroom materials with her hair down, ignoring it. Eventually, perhaps an hour or two later, she would ask Paulette or I to put a new pony tail in for her. But, until she was ready to have help, she did not want us to help her in any way. With the barrettes, she has brought them to me to help her to put them in the first couple of times and then has done them on her own. Her success with the pony tails has gone from one loose band holding her hair in somewhat of a loop last week to your observation of the three twists with the band today. But, she has been building up to this for perhaps two weeks. Here's a photo of her working as she walks which is actually how she does it. Or actually one day she worked repeatedly to make one while sitting in an assembly. I watch her in awe. During the assembly I tapped the teacher next to me and pointed to be sure she saw . It was Diane. I think my jaw has fallen open more than once as I have watched her. I remember the first few times that she took out her hair band. She spent a great deal of time with her head slightly tipped back, giving an occasional shake, and her two hands combing through her hair on each side as one does in preparation for making a pony tail. She was so adorable. . ."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Tough Part

For a while, things were really getting worse rather than better. Phoebe had been a securely attached kid, and then we spiralled down in the month of October. Suddenly she was wrapping her arms around mylegs and wailing "Don't go work! Stay with me!" complete with bigtears down the cheeks. Once she even said, as I tried to leave the house, "I scared." Bedtimes turned into disaster, and Phoebe was rejecting any comfort from Mark if I was in the house. There were up to six awakings in the night where the peaceful child suddenly shrieked in fear until I woke her up by gently shaking her shoulders. Twice she verbalized to me the contents of her nightmares, "I don't like that fish" and "I don't like those people scare me"-- what goes through her little head in the middle of the night? One night I heldthe exhausted Phoebe in my arms as she fought sleep with closed eyes and her fingers in her mouth, protested "I don't want go sleep" every few minutes. When I finally got a blessed day off of work when I wasn't post-call, Phoebe couldn't even enjoy the time together. She instead spent the day whining and clinging and generally beingmiserable. By the time Mark came home, I was pretty much just as miserable as she was.

So back to the old ways-- I read a book, the Connected Child, which reminded me not to get frustrated, but to meet her with kindness and respect as I teach her what she needs to know. I activated my support squad of friends we traveled with in China, and they offered an outpouring of suggestions. We gave up on the Big Girl bedtime routine, and pulled Phoebe back into bed with us, where she hadn'tbeen since last Spring. The Ergo came back. There was an intense weekend of playing on the floor, looking into Phoebe's eyes, and going nowhere. I let the girls visit me at work, where they got to see pregnant bellies and weigh themselves. I let Phoebe sit on my lap for dinner, and snuggle as much as we could. Back to giving her whatever she needed to feel safe and secure.

What I couldn't figure out is this: How much of this should I attribute to Phoebe's personality, how much to typical toddlerhood, and how much to adoption? And second, is this a bump in the road, or a major turning point towards a longterm attachment issue? My pediatrician told me, essentially, that I'm reading too many books. He said that children's memories are short and that at this point all Phoebe can remember is our family, so I should forget about adoption as an issue. I felt like I was walking this tightrope, not wanting to over-diagnose my child, but at the same time, not wanting to miss something important.

She responded really well to our efforts, and in less than a week after we hit bottom, we had a bedtime without crying. Admittedly, that was because I was in bed with her as she fell asleep, but at least the nightmares disappeared and the fear factor started to resolve. Last week I said goodbye and Phoebe barely looked up from her puzzle to say "bye" while I kissed her forehead-- like old times, when parting was just part of the routine instead of a traumatic event.

By the time we got to our appointment with our international adoption specialist, I think we knew that we had just hit a bump in the road,and that Phoebe was going to pull through just fine. Phoebe hadn't been there in a full year. They gave her a full developmental assessment, which delighted Phoebe. She kept asking, "More games, please, can we do more?" My goodness, she's learned a lot in a year. Last year the challenge was to lift up a hankerchef to find a little toy hidden under it. This year I watched her thread little beads onto a shoelace and point to pairs of associated objects picked out of aline-up. Rather amazing. At one point the doctor said something that registered in my mind as "Do you know how lucky you are?" My eyes filled up with tears. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. She closed the two hour visit by saying, "I don't think she has an attachment disorder. Come back if you need us."

So now, we are in recovery mode. Phoebe went to bed for Mark with no tears last week while I was on-call, and last night let Mark put her to bed while I was in the house-- the first time in weeks. We have back-tracked in many of the areas where we had previously worked really hard for progress. While I'm happy we don't have tears or fearat bedtime this week, we are now laying in bed with Phoebe until she falls asleep, even if that takes an hour or two, and the rest of the night is a game of Musical Beds. Last night I made Phoebe follow the old rule of "You don't sit my lap at the dinner table until my plate is empty," which meant that we enjoyed our pasta while Phoebe howledat my side. While it didn't make for a very peaceful meal, it did feel good to be returning to firm rules. A few weeks ago, Phoebe reacted to that kind of rule with a real fear of rejection and abandoment. Now she is back to being a normal toddler again. The next step is to start "sleep training" again, just like we did last spring, with the slow movement of the parental chair further and further from her bed each day. We graduated from co-sleeping once, and now we'll have to graduate again.

What happened? At the international adoption clinic they seem to think it was just too much change-- moving, losing our old nanny,adding our au pair to the house, starting preschool, changing the season (Phoebe hated the new fall shoes, fall pajamas, fall jackets),and having mama boldly go away for a weekend with friends. "She was letting you know that she's vulnerable," they said. "It won't be the last time. But each time it will be a little shorter than the last." At this point, we are pretty happy with that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Deep Into the Fall

The leaves are changing in New England, and my dragon and bumble bee are ready for Halloween. Long gone are the lazy days of summer where the girls could shout out ideas of what they wanted to do each day. Miranda and Phoebe are now full-fledge school girls, five days per week.

Phoebe officially "phased in" after about 7 days of having Sonja in the toddler room at school. A few days later, I had the brilliant idea of bringing the kids to school on my post-call day off. I wanted to be a "good mom"-- you know, the type who actually gets to hold her kids' hands as they walk into school together, greet their teachers, say hi to the other parents, and kiss their kids goodbye. Miranda-- no problem. Phoebe-- wrapped her little arms around my neck and said "I want to go home. With you." Reasonable, for a child who hasn't seen her mother in 24 hours. I think my sleep deprivation had clouded my judgement. The teacher pulled a chair into the Toddler House, and Phoebe cowered in my arms for an hour until she suddenly decided she was ready to engage in the activity of class. I spent the rest of the morning trying to keep my eye open in the school lobby. I learned my lesson. Children-- especially Phoebe-- love routine. Don't rock the boat. I'm not sure how long it will take before I'll be able to drop Phoebe off at school, but certainly not now.

I do, however, pick the girls up from school occasionally. Some day I'll have to get Miranda on video tape. I stand on the sidewalk with the other moms, and when she comes out the door of school in the single file line she calmly scans the crowd. When she spots me (and I hear Sonja gets the same reception), she waves with two arms, smiles, and jumps as high as she can. "You're a rock star!" one of the other parents said to me.

For the first time, my children really seem to have a life of their own beyond me. True, I've been a working mother all along, but I always have had a nanny who gives me the full run-down at the end of the day. When I got stuck on the details of a Miranda story, Keri always filled me. Now, there are many mysteries. Somehow the girls got the idea that "I'll tell you later" is a good way to answer the question of "What did you do in school today?" Sometimes I get a report like "We played the Silence Game" or "I used the Love Light," but Miranda can't quite explain these experiences that are still new to her. Or maybe it's that she wants to guard the information, to keep it as her own, in this new and independent life of hers. And Phoebe-- well, her storytelling skills are still evolving. She always answers our questions, but the answers aren't always so reliable. So, the girls go off to school without us and have become their own people, learning and growing and changing where we can't even see them.

You learn a lot about your children when they go to school. I'm learning that Miranda is a bit shy and self-conscious about making friends. During the first week I asked if there was a playhouse on the playground, and she told me, "Yes, but there were kids inside, and they didn't let me in." Oh, the lessons of the playground. I just wanted to rewind that day and mediate the moment for her, telling her little classmates, "We share, friends"-- but I wasn't there, and it is Miranda's playground to navigate. I can just take a breath as she learns to guard her heart and stand up for herself on her own. Early on, when I asked if she had any new friends in her classroom, she told me she didn't know their names. But on Day #4, she told me "Evie was playing and I walked up to her and she smiled at me!" Now she tells me daily about her which friends she played with, and I know she has settled into comfort. That initial transition, though. . .I could feel her discomfort as she felt the pressure to make friends but wasn't quite sure how to do it without someone walking her through the process.

Phoebe's teacher (Pam, the baby-whisperer, you remember from the previous post) sent us a wonderful e-mail full of Phoebe stories. What a gift for these parents who hardly ever get to see the teacher in person! It is great fun to hear her analyze Phoebe's personality. It seems that Phoebe is very eager to help. When Pam says she's going to turn off the light, Phoebe says "I'll do it," jumps up, fetches the stool, carries it across the room, puts it down, climbs up, turns off the light, brings the stool back to its place, returns to the group, and sits down. When someone is hurt or crying, Phoebe is very concerned, getting the comforting "blue towel" or a favorite toy. Once when Pam mentioned to some children that they might slow down their rushed pace, Phoebe jumped up and said "Like this" and demonstrated an exaggerated slow walk. As Pam said, "Phoebe brings joy to the classroom."

Our challenges right now? Well, it pretty much resolves around two issues-- sleep, and working too much. We had a blissful month or two when we had actually settled into a bedtime routine where we could put both girls down for bed in their shared bedroom, kiss them goodnight, and walk out. So wonderful! But starting a week or two ago, Phoebe has started to cry again, and now she is verbal enough to insist with a sharp finger "I want you to sit right here" while she wails. She is inconsolable if we leave the room, and takes, oh, up to 2 hours to really fall asleep. Maybe worse, she has started waking up in the middle of the night again, too. More often than not one of us ends up in her twin bed with her at some point in the night. Not going in the right direction.

I think much of it has to do with issue #2-- that Phoebe doesn't see me enough. Lately, call seems impossibly frequent. Last weekend I left town for a wonderful reunion with two of my closest friends (my 2/3 of my life friends-- since age 12). While the time of renewing my spirit was fabulous, my Sunday night return meant starting a new crazy week without having replenished the mommy-time-pool over the weekend. Mark is being very kind when he gently says "Phoebe is missing her mom." I think the bedtimes have been dreadful when I'm not there. Phoebe has started to ask with a sad voice, "Do you have to go to work today?" There have been many times when I've thought that my schedule allows enough time for my kids and my work but just nothing else. Lately I don't feel that. It's not enough for my kids. Especially Phoebe. And so, we are working on solutions. I think I am getting close to one, and I am dreaming about balance.

More to say-- ballet class, Phoebe withdrawals, Halloween parades, my attempts at celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, ponderings on adoption. . .but I'll stop here for the night. I think I should blog more often (in my spare time).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

School Girls

(This posting I started back in early September-- It never got finished, so I'll leave it in it's raw form. )

Back-to-school festivities began last week with a home visit from Phoebe's teacher. People call Pam "The Toddler Whisperer," and there really is some other-wordly manner to how she meets children. She said a brief hello to me, then quickly focused on Phoebe, and big sister Miranda, too. The kids were rapt. They showed her their puzzles, and explored with total engagement the two "works" that she brought from the classroom: a seashell in a basket and a ball-in-a-box. The kids pointed out the three apples sewn on her dress, and Phoebe was particuarly impressed with the braid down her back. After Pam left, there was a little meltdown of "I want to go to school RIGHT NOW."

Right now came on Wednesday morning, with unusual cooperation in the brushing teeth and fixing hair category. The girls were ready 30 minutes early, leading to an agonizing wait and a little photoshoot on the front porch. (See above.)

Phoebe is in the Toddler House with the two-year olds, and there is an elaborate three week "Phase In" process that requires a parent or care provider-- preferable the same one every day-- to be present in the classroom until the teacher decides the child is ready. Now, there's no way I personally could pull that off, so Sonja has taken up the task. On that first day, we drove to school in separate cars so that Phoebe could wave a smiley goodbye to me from the house, so as not to risk a tearful goodbye at the door of the classroom. Phoebe was delighted to meet Pam at the door, and Sonja picked a chair in the middle of the room. Phoebe hung by her side for just two or three minutes, then got busy with her "work". Sonja proudly reported later that Phoebe was the only child in the mini-sized kitchen who was able to pour her own water from the faucet. There were a few check-in moments through the session when Phoebe wandered back to Sonja-- who was busy with her own quiet "work" of reading, or pretending to-- but she was overall happy to explore. There have been three days of this, so far, with Sonja still in the room. Next week, as I understand it, the teacher will tap Sonja quietly on the shoulder when Phoebe is engaged, and Sonja will say a brief goodbye as she slips out to the Lobby. There will likely be some back-and-forth if Phoebe looks concerned, until, a few days later, or maybe two weeks later, depending on the child, the teacher will give the word that Sonja can venture off of school grounds. And then we'll be rolling-- a regular school routine. It's a long process, but I am grateful that Phoebe will have the time to adjust and be comfortable, without tearful goodbye and toddler protests. When those things happen (as it did at the babysitting at the gym this week), I never know if this is just toddler behavior, or adoption issues-- and at least with this school and this long approach, I don't have to wonder. Phoebe can phase-in when she is ready.

Miranda is upstairs in the Children's House with 3-, 4-, and 5- year olds, many who are in their second or third year in the same room with the same teacher. In great contrast to the Toddler House, upstairs we were instructed just to give a cheerful "Goodbye! Have fun! See you in a little bit!" Miranda found her cubby in the hallway, put on her slippers by herself, and walked right up to the room. She was so curious about what was inside that classroom doorway that she didn't say goodbye to me, but just slowly walked in, eyes wide, a little overwhelmed, very excited. Class was only 30 minutes the first day-- just enough to explore the mini-size bathroom and a puzzle of the world. I arrived maybe 2 minutes early to pick her up, and was amazed how how these four children-- only the new children-- were already hard at work. . .

(Thoughts end here. To be continued.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Tail End of Summer

There's a lot of catching up to do, if we are going to keep this blog rolling. . .

So, we packed our boxes, loaded the moving van, and moved across the bridge to the next town over. The girls' bedroom was the last thing to be packed up and the first to be unloaded, so that they could get settled in their new shared bedroom. Remember, Phoebe had still been in our bedroom, sleeping in a big girl bed but only falling asleep with a parent sitting in the room. Miranda had been falling asleep on her own. The first few weeks of two-girls-one-room were painful. Mark and I took turns, toughing it out through two hours each night from lights off until sleep. Phoebe screamed if we left the room, and Miranda would get wound up by our presence. Someone inevitably got a second wind, and then there was nothing to do but be consistent and wait it out. Until 10:00 pm. Every night. It worked. With time we started sitting in the hallway instead of the bedroom, then in the office, and finally, recently, we can tiptoe downstairs after kissing them goodnight. Major victory. (Picture is moving day, playing in our new backyard.)

In June we camped in the Berkshires with a great group of families who have a 30 year history together. The girls were quick to pick up the new vocabulary-- salamander, kayak, tent, costumes, marshmallows. A great perk at camp is the babysitting-- 6 hours a day, with fun attentive college kids on kid-duty. They were remarkably clever at drawing out the kids so their parents could slip away to hike the Appalachian trail for a few hours. At night, the four of us slept on an inflatable double mattress in the tent. Mama & Papa were a little sore by the end of the week, but it was so nice to go back to co-sleeping for just a week, with my not-so-little girls wrapped in my arms (and kicking me in the ribs) all night long. We hiked, we canoed, we turned off the cell phones. Miranda learned to sit on a mediation pillow in half-lotus at the pond's edge and breathe, and Phoebe was brave enough to go kayaking on the lake with a babysitter. Miranda even entered the Physical Feats Talent Show with an impressive Tip & Flip maneuver. (That's putting on a zip-up jacket by laying it on the floor in front of you, putting your arms in, and tossing it over your head so it lands in perfect wearable position-- for anyone not familiar with the stunt.) We came home sun-kissed and relaxed.

In July we did another week on a pond in the woods, this time in Maine at my parents' house. All seven of the kids-- my sister's three and my brother's two, plus ours-- were there. It is just delightful that Miranda and Phoebe are old enough to run laps around the porch under the direction of their big cousins while Mark and I sip gin and tonics. A loon visited us one day, right in the little cove of our beach, while were were all playing in the water. It popped right up in the middle of the chaos, stayed for a moment or two, then dove under the water and swam away. Phoebe started requesting "I want more loon!" One night Miranda asked to help cook dinner, and proudly announced as she dried the lettuce, "If I'm helping to cook dinner, then that means I'm part of the Dinner Team!" One day we went hiking in Acadia, and the girls tolerated-- dare I say enjoyed?-- two hours in the backpacks, cheering "Go, Mama, Go!" on the tough inclines. My mom and dad thought of everything, and did a beautiful job of hosting such a loud and rowdy crowd. We ended the week with homemade blueberry ice cream-- for breakfast. "That's pretty silly," Miranda said.

So where are we now? Well, this week makes 15 months since Phoebe arrived in our life. That means that in a few days she will have lived more time with us than without us. She's a master of 5-word sentences --"I want you change clothes"-- and is working on giving us the daily report at dinner (with details filled in my her big sister, who recently used a 17-word sentence that was so impressive I had to count it). I recently bought a few 20-piece cardboard puzzles for Miranda, and it took Phoebe about a week to figure out how to do them herself. She's been going to a class at the Early Intervention school once a week, and last week for the first time she waved at me and said "Bye, Mom" instead of fussing. I always get full-speed running hug that knocks me over when I pick her up. In the moon bounce, she bounces and cackles with laughter. At the last weigh in, Phoebe weighed 29 lbs 2 oz-- and surpassed her big sister by a whopping 2 oz. When our new au pair arrived to the house, Phoebe welcomed her warmly and sat down to play. No trouble, no resistance. We now have a kid who rolls with punches. Well, except when she's in a Phoebe funk. That happens about once every other day. Wow, that kid can scowl. Her eyebrows furrow and she growls "No" to every suggestion you have until she comes out of it. But if that's the biggest issue we have these days, I think we are doing pretty well.

Miranda, who was good as gold until about two years old-- oh! that's when Phoebe came home-- has become the more challenging of the two girls. She's deep into three years old, with resistance to anything that is not her idea. Bedtime is a tremendously long ordeal, with so many requests and rationalizations. She blessed us with her loudest and most extreme EVER temper tantrum the evening of Sonja's first working day. I recently declared a moratorium on brushing her hair, except once a week when it is wet and soaked with condition; that decision has significantly improved the household peace in the morning. At least she's good for other people-- usually the really difficult moments are with her parents, who will love her through it all.

Oh, yes, the au pair! Sonja, from Germany, arrived a week ago to spent a year with us. She's great-- easy to have around, so willing to help, excited to be starting this year of discovery abroad. The kids are so enthralled that they are tracking her every move-- "Where's Sonja? Is Sonja awake? Is Sonja home yet?" There was one beautiful moment on Sonja's second night when she came into the bedroom during post-bath time rituals and gave the kids each a quiet scalp massage. Phoebe hung her head into her chest and let out the most content little sighs of bliss while Sonja worked on her scalp. At that moment I knew that this is going to work out just fine.

I notice a lot of blogs are quiet for the summer-- everyone is busy eating watermelon on the porch and taking their bikes to the beach, I suppose. I also feel like we've become sort of a stabilized family this summer-- with fewer interesting changes and things to say. And I'm pretty happy about. I could do a little commentary on how I work too much and don't have time for anything other than work, kids, and marriage-- and how I long for books, friendship, and exercise-- but this is the life we have right now, and those three things that I do a lot of are good. Very, very good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Year

One year ago today, Mark and I walked into a conference room in the Gloria Hotel in Nanchang, China, and found little Phoebe looking very alone in the lap of a nanny who was a stranger to her. I lifted her into my arms, and took her into my life forever.

I think of those early weeks and months, when we thought that Miranda's Laurie Berkner DVD of kids music was just too much stimulation for this overwhelmed child to handle. If we were out of the house for an hour or two, I was eager to get home. We hunkered down. We refused to let anyone hold her but us. I snuggled with Phoebe in the Ergo while Miranda jumped away in the moon bounce on the Common. Phoebe cried herself to sleep, awoke from naps with shrieks, and slept between us at night. Visitors came to us, and all the usual summer trips and travels were off. We were busy doing much of nothing-- just being close, learning to trust each, and becoming family.

Gradually we added more action, and Phoebe now says "no home" when we call an end to hours of outdoor play. Today, she shouted in that very loud Phoebe voice "Hi, Steve!" to the neighbor as we headed for ice cream, and loudly declared, "I LIKE Captain Dusty ice cream." I-- her mother-- still sees hints scars from too many transitions in her early years, but overall she is a healthy, happy kid who trusts her parents and adores her sister. Yesterday we gathered with about ten of the families who shared our trip to China with us. One year is a tremendous time in the life of any small child, but these children demonstrate more than normal development changes. Whereas one year ago they had fear, doubt, and uncertainty, now they have confidence, trust, and love. Not to mention shiny hair, smooth skin, and chubby thighs.

Today we celebrate one year together, and just two days after that we will call an end to our year of laying low. We are moving-- just two miles away, but still, a move it is. We'll pack all that we call ours into boxes and unload it in our new home. We'll find new neighbors, new playgrounds, new story hours at the new library, a new YMCA, and new little friends. I think of how distressed Phoebe was months ago when we disassembled the cribs to make room for big girl beds, and I worry a little bit about how she will take it. But at the same time, I feel like it is time. I hope that through this transition Phoebe will learn that while many things around her change, her family does not. We go with her. Always.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finally Final

We arrived at the Probate Courthouse this morning dressed up and smiling. At the security gate we passed our camera through the metal detector and the guard said, "Adoption?" On the way through the court house guards everywhere offered congratulations as we passed. Judge Blake invited us into her chambers with great fanfare. She let the kids bang her gavel and sort through her treasure drawer. Then she sat at her desk, did her best to pronounce Phoebe's full name, signed the official document, and declared our adoption final. Final, finally. Yippeeee!!

We started paperwork four and a half years ago now. It was one year ago this week when held Phoebe's photograph in our hands and saw her face for the first time. What a long journey it has been. What a beautifully happy journey!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making Peace

In the excitement of Phoebe's party, Miranda refused a nap. Her grandparents were visiting and there was just too much going on, so we let us stay up for "Quiet Time" with the adults. She did fine through the party until she had a major meltdown in the bathtub later that evening. After a bath long enough to make prunes of her fingers, Mark insisted that it was time to get out. Some protests later, he resorted to our usual technique of "I'll count to three, and you can either do it yourself, or I'll do it for you on three." Miranda opted to dig in her heels, and what followed was one of the top 5 ever Miranda Meltdowns, with her poor grandparents in the house to witness it.

After about 20 minutes of sobbing and screaming, Mark took Phoebe to bed and I took Miranda. She finally stopped crying and settled into bed for nighttime reading. We snuggled and I wiped her nose. Three books later, when I tucked her in and kissed her on the cheek, she looked up and quietly said, "I want Papa."

I fetched Mark from Phoebe's room and told him Miranda wanted to talk. Sure enough, that's exactly what she wanted to do. In quiet clear words, she recounted the events. "I wanted to stay in the tub. . . I cried and cried." Mark explained why he did what he did and told her he loved her. He kissed her goodnight, and that was the end of that. He came downstairs looking a little perplexed and very touched.

If the rest of us would insist on making peace and talking it out before we turn out the lights, I think the world would be a different place. Two years old. Quite amazing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


At long last, we had a party for Phoebe. In the words of the invitation:

"This party is for Phoebe-- to say Happy 2nd Birthday, and Welcome Home. Party day will be just around the time of our one year anniversary of getting Phoebe's referral-- the day when we finally saw her picture at the end of our long wait. It will also be almost 10 months since the day she was placed in our arms. So much has happened since then! She has learned to walk and talk, to laugh ("funny!") and sing-- and to love and trust. We want to celebrate the person she is and how blessed we are to have her as our daughter."

We dedicated her that morning at the unitarian church, surrounded by my parent, my sister and her family, and a congregation that has become our home over the last year. Mark and I made these promises to our daughter:

"We are your parents and we will care for you.
We promise to reveal the adventure of life.
We promise to learn from your challenges and inspirations.
We promise to tell you the simple truth.
We promise to pay attention to your small moments.
We promise to open our hearts fully to your love.
We promise to hold your birth parents in a special place in our hearts with deep gratitude for bringing you life.
We promise to teach you about our sisters and brothers around the world.
We love you with all our hearts, and dedicate ourselves to do all that we can to share with you the beauty and goodness of life."

When the white rose touched Phoebe, she gave a perplexed cockeyed look and promptly wiped off its wetness. Little Miranda, with her hand in her mouth for comfort in front of the crowd, managed to whisper "yes" when asked if she would do her best to be a good big sister to Phoebe. My parents promised to share their stories with her as they guide her on her path. And our family and congregation offered their support and encouragement.
We had great Open House party that lasted all day long on Sunday, with a brief intermission for naptime. We have been in Salem for just a year and a half now, and I am so happy to have a great network of friends who make this a wonderful place to be. My sister Lauren and her famil drove all the way from Pennsylvania to join us, which meant the world to me. Phoebe was able to be part of her party in a way she couldn't possibly have done last summer. She ambled about with her little friends-- neighbors, church friends, the twins who met their parents on our same trip to China, companions from storytime and Book Buddies-- thoroughly tearing about the playroom with nothing but glee. She looked a bit shocked and overwhelmed when 45 people surrounded her in song as the cake came out, but held it together in a chair by herself until we blew out the candles together. Boy does this kiddo have a sweet tooth! After 2 pieces of cake and a few cookies, I caught her standing on a chair in the kitchen swiping frosting off the leftover cake. When I interrupted her adventures she just said in the most polite voice possible, "More cake, please."
I am completely in love with this child. Oh, Phoebe Ling, I hope by the day you read this blog yourself, printed in book that you can keep forever, you will be able to say, yes, my parents kept those promises to me. We will do our best.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Signs of Spring

Winter in New England, not an easy thing. But this past weekend was a gift-- 56 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. By the end of the weekend, there were hints of flowers peeking up from the ground, and at long last the piles of dirty snow had mostly disappeared. The town came to life, with the playground crawling with kids burning off months of pent-up energy. I'm not naive enough to think that Spring has come-- this is early March, I know. I imagine there will still be another snow storm or two, and some very cold days. But it won't last. The worst is over. Soon we'll be walking in sandals and hanging laundry out on the line again.

The girls were giddy with excitement. First we got out the tricycles. Last Spring Miranda got hers, but by the end of the summer she still hadn't figured it out. This weekend she discovered that her legs are long enough to reach the pedals and she has enough power to propel forward. The Common has long straight paved paths through the middle, and after a few minutes of false starts and pedaling backwards, she figured it out. "Look! I can do it!" She was off, and so happy to be independently moving. Phoebe needs a little more help from behind to keep moving in the right direction, and some guidance with the handlebars to stay on track, but I promise if you give her another month or two she'll be on her way. So there we were, riding trikes to the Common. No stroller, no Ergo. Big girls on trikes.

And then on Sunday we took a bike ride to the beach about a mile from our house. Last year we tried this, but Phoebe was scared and intimidated and really didn't enjoy the outing at all. This time, it was great fun, with Phoebe narrating the whole way: "Motorcycle!! Bike!! Truck!! Water!!" We parked the bikes and had the beach to ourselves. The girls grabbed their shovels and buckets, and took off on their own little beach adventures. Mark and I, parents of girls who grew up over the winter, stood back with the sun on our faces and the quiet waves of the harbor before us. We talked about where we are now, and were we are going in the next few years. Spring does this sort of thing to people.

It's like coming out of the dark. When added Phoebe to the family, we spent a good deal of time hunkering down and being, well, a family of four. We walked on eggshells last summer, constantly wondering if Phoebe was overstimulated, insecure, scared, overwhelmed. I remember avoiding the Laurie Berkner music video-- Miranda's favorite-- because it was just too action-packed for Phoebe to handle. We kept outings short, our body contact maximized, and our separations minimal. And now, Spring comes, and suddenly, Phoebe is a well-adjusted kid.

It's a funny thing about adopting a toddler. Last year at this time, we were expecting a baby. I had saved all of Miranda's baby clothes from sizes 3-6 months up, and all the baby paraphernalia. Phoebe was older than we expected, and bigger and sturdier than we imagined. So here we are, less than a year later, with a kid who wears underpants, speaks in sentences, sleeps in a big girl bed, and rides a tricycle. Our baby days are over. There's great celebration as we hit each milestone. I love to hear Phoebe shout "I did it!" But when Miranda curls up in my arms and says, "I'm your little teeny tiny baby" when she wants to cuddle, I can't help but miss those early days.

Hurry, hurry Spring! I think we are in for one very fun summer around here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Phoebe!

Birthday tricycle. . .
The official Phoebe at Two portrait on the red chair.
Yum, birthday ice cream!

Phoebe is now two years old, which she will tell you with a very curt and definitive "tu" with her fingers held up. Miranda is quite pleased with the idea that they are both two now, and told me "I don't want to be three."

I think every parent of an adopted child knows about the extra layer of emotions that underlies their child's birthday. We sing and blow candles and Skype with grandparents and open gifts and celebrate. But at night, after our child is down, now one year older, we think about the day she was born. Oh, Phoebe. I so wish I had information to give her. We have books called "The Night You Were Born" and "The Day You Were Born"-- written independently, by completely different authors-- both which depict nature singing in celebration for the birth of a child. We read these, and I do think the great world sang when Phoebe was born. But clearly there was pain and sadness there, whatever her story was. I thank her birth parents for giving her life, and her birth mother for carrying her and birthing her. While I am so thankful to have Phoebe as my daughter, I can't help but to sting a bit at the injustice of the world that her birth mother can't experience the joy of this child. I don't know what happened-- maybe she didn't want to parent, who knows. But if it was poverty and politics that forced her to leave her child to be found-- in a country where putting a child up for adoption is illegal, so leaving identifying information for "open adoption" is never an option-- my heart breaks for her.

But on the celebrating front-- Phoebe's doing beautifully well. I was away all last weekend in Pennsylania celebrating my niece Claire's last dose of chemotherapy, and Phoebe did fine with my absence and return. She needed some extra snuggling the next day, but nothing more, and Miranda needed it, too. We did a third try at babysitting at the gym this week. The first time, Phoebe willingly stayed with no tears after I spent 30 minutes or so with her in transition. The second time, she cried when I left with a beeper and strict instructions to call me for more than 2 minutes of tears-- I never got paged, she did fine. This time, after much verbal preparation, Phoebe joined her sister in an excited dance at the gate to Kid's Club, saying "Bye-bye Mama" before I could kiss her goodbye. I spied a bit when I returned, and found Miranda and Phoebe in the company of a six year old who was leading them in Ring-a-Round-the-Rosy and Follow the Leader, crawling in a line on the floor. I watched Phoebe join both hands with her new friend and jump up and down laughing. When I called their names, my Two Girls came tumbling into my arms, happy to see me and ready to go. I nearly cried.

There are moments like that when I think, we've done it! Attached! Secure! And then. . .just two nights later, while Mark was working late, my cell phone rang during bathtime. There was massive obstetric disaster at the hospital, with one doc operating alone and the on-call back-up 35 minutes away. I live 6 minutes away. I whipped the kids out of the bathtub, threw on diapers and pajamas, tossed them in the car, and sped away. Miranda got it, saying from her carseat as we pull into the ambulance bay, "Mama, a baby needs your help right now? You have to help someone?" But poor Phoebe. I tried telling her all the things that worked at Kid's Club, "Mama is going to kiss you goodbye and then I'll come back in a little while. Your mama always comes back." But when we ran in to the hospital and I plunked her in the lap of the secretary at the nurse's station and kissed her goodbye, her scared little face melted in panic. Now, I knew there was someone potentially dying in the OR, and the nurses were pleading with me, "Don't worry, we'll take care of her, GO!" I paused, kissed her, looked her in the face, and told her I loved her. We've been so careful never to do this to her, never to leave when she isn't ready for it. I think it was the most painful moment I've had with Phoebe since I became her mother. Leaving Phoebe is not like leaving Miranda.

I left her. She cried, and then hunkered down in a stranger's lap with her fingers in her mouth while Miranda had great adventures with stickers, temporary tatoos, and snacks. The patient survived-- a miracle, given the situation. I came to find Phoebe an hour later, just before Mark showed up. She came into my arms, but in that quiet, finger-sucking, tear-streaked, withdrawn way. As we buckled the kids into their carseats, Miranda boasted "Mama, I did not cry!" and Phoebe perked up to her usual self. But the whole thing was a reminder, again, that Phoebe-- who has fewer issues than I ever dreamed a kid adopted as a 15 month old toddler could-- is broken. Our work is not done.

But on her birthday, I celebrate her! Her progress is amazing. I love to hear the conversations. After a sneeze: "Bless you, Miranda." "Thank you, Phoebe." "Welcome, Miranda." Phoebe is in big girl panties all day now, and falls to sleep happily in her own bed after I tuck her in. She sings the ABCs (with some mumbling around LMNOP), and counts to 9. She moved up to the big girl classroom (parents leave rather than stay) at Early Intervention school this week, where she is officially "a community kid" since she placed out of services. She can do one good Hokey Pokey dance. She's strong and healthy and bright. How on earth did we get so lucky?

Happy 2nd Birthday, Phoebe!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I learned this week that "Stay-cation" is actually a word, and I suppose that's what we are doing. Since we came home from China eight months ago, we've been working, and at some point we decided it might be a good idea to give our nanny a break and take a week off. So, what have we done? Well, Mark and I both visited the dentist. I closed out a bank account and ordered the missing screws for our broken high chair. Bought new jeans. Finished a novel. Worked out several times. Sent Mark off to yoga class. Visited a few schools for the girls, and decided on Montessori. Took the girls to a local museum filled with model railroads and dollhouses. Bounced in a moon bounce and learned for the first time in my life how to keep a hoola-hoop up. But for the exciting stuff--

Number one, Mark and I went on a date. Actually, TWO dates! Shocking! The babysitter was a nanny of our neighbors, and the girls have always loved her. We instructed Dook on the bedtime routine, but told her that we fully expected that the girls would be awake when we got home at 8:15, especially Phoebe. But when we walked in the door, the house was silent. Both girls had gone down without so much as a sniffle. "Phoebe's fine," Dook told us. "She's normal. I think you can go out more often." In the morning, the girls woke up with no trouble at all and told us what a great time they had with Dook. Meanwhile, Mark and I had drinks at the historic hotel a few blocks from home that we had never been inside, followed the dinner at our favorite restaurant in Salem-- that we hadn't been to since, oh, the month we moved into Salem. Then later in the week the two of us drove in to Boston for a slow afternoon stroll through the Museum of Fine Arts. It was like old times. So nice!

Number two-- this is big news!-- we started potty training. Phoebe had a headstart in all of this, because I'm pretty sure she was potty trained in China. Every picture I have of her in foster care she was sitting on a beaten up old wicker chair with a pot underneath it. On our first morning together in the hotel in Nanchang, Phoebe woke up with a dry diaper. We put her on the potty and did the "shushsush" we had heard about, and sure enough, she peed-- but screamed while she did it with a panic that I didn't understand. Enough of that-- we put the diaper back on her and kept her off the potty after that.

We've had potties in the bathrooms for more than a year, frequently give stickers just for sitting on the potty, and occasionally check out the Prudence video from the library, but there had been very little potty action. So this week, I was changing Phoebe's diaper in the playroom while telling Miranda, "You, too, one day will tinkle on the potty," when suddenly Phoebe shouts "Potty!" She springs up and darts to the bathroom, sits down on the potty, concentrates, and poops! Oh, Miranda cheered and cheered. Since then, for four days in a row, Phoebe had pooped on the potty. She gets a great look of concentration, then whispers to me "coming" followed by "did it." Well, Miranda has been trying and trying, now that her little sister is doing it. We did a day of training pants, but she only wet them. We sat on the potty, and read lots of books. Nothing. She was very game to try, but after long patient attempts with a bladder that I knew was full, she couldn't figure out the coordination. She finally asked for a diaper, and it was wet in a minute.

Tonight, Phoebe's call for the potty came during bath time. That is a big improvement over the days when we had to evacuate Miranda from the tub on a regular basis after Phoebe's mid-bath accidents. Phoebe got out soaking wet, and did her usual productive thing. Suddenly Miranda yelled, "I have to tinkle!" and sure enough-- she did it, in the potty, with a great look of surprise and pride on her face. Lucky for us, just before dinner Miranda had discovered how to independently use the spigot on the water jug in the kitchen, so she drank about three glasses of water with her meal. So she proceeded to pee a total of four times before bath time was over. She got it! In between Miranda's moments Phoebe actually stuck back onto the potty for a repeat performance when we weren't looking. That was one busy potty! I couldn't stop cheering and hugging and handing out stickers to my big girls. Plan for tomorrow: training pants, lots of salty snacks, and a whole day at home learning that there is an alternative to diapers. Some people take a February vacation in the Caribbean. But for us, well, here's to Stay-cation.

(Oh, Miranda and Phoebe, I'm sorry to go public here. I'm writing this whole blog for you, you know, to chronicle our early years together. I can't help it here-- you can't imagine how wonderful it is to watch you two learn how your bodies work, and to watch you so quickly change from babies to little girls. You'll understand how exciting potty training is only if you have kids of your own one day. Until then, my apologies.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This week, Mark and I are on vacation. This is a stay-at-home vacation, with no plans to go far. To be honest, there are lots of plans. I'm letting Mark stay unaware of the schedule, and each evening I let him know what is on the itinerary the next day, so as not to feel over-programmed and overwhelmed. In between the date nights, yoga classes, dentist appointments, Children's Museum, preschool visitations, etc, there is a lot of time to just be together.

The girls are really getting to be a lot of fun to be with. Every night after dinner we have a jam session of favorite songs, and they won't let us stay sitting down. Hokey-Pokey is the current favorite, but the Alligator Song is a close favorite (it involves some snapping and a progress decrease in the number of monkies sitting on the tree). Phoebe loves Wheels on the Bus, and sings an impressive number of letters in the alphabet song. Ring-a-Round-the-Rosy is also high entertainment around here.

Phoebe is now up to four word sentences, like "I drop it, please" (= Please pick it up for me), "I like it, please" (= Can I have some please?), and "Opa, where are you?" (when Opa drifts out of view on the Skype video call).
Miranda's conversations are quite interesting now. Today Phoebe put on new shoes that came with a squeak in the sole and Miranda said, "Oh, they squeak! That make me smile and laugh." Yesterday when a song she liked came on she said, "This was my faaaavorite song when I was a little kid." When I told her the reason I had not hung a Chinese string of beads in the car was that I didn't have a hanger she told me, "That's okay. Maybe the hanger truck will come and bring some." I remember someone telling me when Miranda was nine months old that it only gets to be more and more fun as they get older. Now two and a half years into parenting, I completely agree.
The girls are becoming closer and closer in their developmental age as Phoebe catches up to her big sister, nine months ahead. They both suddenly got interested in Playdough enough to keep themselves busy for 20 minutes or so with a rolling pin and cookie cutters. They can wash their hands themselves, and brush their teeth. We now read books together at night, and while Miranda absorbs the storyline and asks questions, at least now Phoebe is content to sit attentively through the whole reading of Madeline or Horton Hatches the Egg. In some things, Phoebe is now passing Miranda. Phoebe learned to spit while brushing her teeth, while Miranda just can't get past the idea of not swallowing the swig of water. And today after I gave Miranda the pep talk of "Maybe someday you'll sit on the potty and tinkle just like I do," Phoebe suddenly said "Potty!" She ran to the bathroom where I helped undo her diaper, and sure enough, she sat on the pot and produced. Miranda cheered and cheered for her-- with no hint of being upstaged by her little sister.
The other day Two Girls were running in and out of the living room, each time with an announcement to me of "We'll be RIGHT-- BACK!" After several rounds of this, I darted into the play tent after they made their exit. On return, they trotted in and then stopped dead when they found the empty room. "Where's Mama?" Miranda asked. And then she answered her own question with a whisper into Phoebe's ear: "She's hiding. Let's find her!" After a whole round of false leads by Mark ("Do you think she's under the blanket? Nope, not there!"), I sneezed for them. When Phoebe opened the tent door and found me inside, you can't imagine the jumping and laughing and howling that followed from my two girls.
On the sleep front, I am amazed. It took Phoebe a total of eight days of "Sleep Training" before she would just let us lay her down on her pillow and sit on the far side of the room in a rocker while she fell asleep quickly and quietly. There were just two days of crying when I sat at the foot of her bed and told her over and over again that it's okay, I'm here. Last night, as soon as I turned out the lights, she said, "Nite-nite, please," and didn't even let me hold her in the rocker for Thank You Prayers. I lay her down and she snuggles into her pillow, looking as happy as can be. I tell her she looks snug as a bug in her big girl bed, kiss her, and walk away. I am so proud of Phoebe. Sleep is a major issue for kids who are adopted, and I worried a lot about if she was ready to be out of our bed and our arms, sleeping on her own. I'm quite sure now that she was ready, and I think she's really proud of her accomplishments. She talked to all three of her grandparents this weekend, and the first thing she said to each of them--unprompted-- was "Big Girl Bed!" Truth be told, she still wakes up once or twice every night, and sometimes I end up falling asleep at the foot of her bed, but I'm trusting that with time those awakenings will disappear.
A major change, too, is that after double-teaming for getting into pajamas and brushing teeth, now Mark and I take turns reading books and tucking in, while the other cleans up from dinner. With this new divide-and-conquer method, we have the evening to ourselves as early as 8:00 pm. Oh, what a change! I have my professional life organized, my desk cleared, suppers cooked ahead of time, and groceries in the fridge. I'm 200 pages into a novel-- the first book I've read since China. Mark and I have time to lounge around the living room while he plays the guitar and I read. We are about one week into this new life, and it feels absolutely decadent. We are returning to balance around here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big Changes

A few nights after Phoebe arrived in our arms in China, we had our guide translate her papers from foster care. What we had already discovered by trial and error was confirmed: "If you try to lay her down in her crib to put her to bed, she'll cry. You have to hold her until she falls asleep."

Now, we had that same problem with Miranda at four months old, and our pediatrician said that falling asleep at the breast was trouble. He convinced us that a baby needs to know how to put herself to sleep, and "crying it out" is the way to do it. It took only a few painful nights, and then Miranda figured it out. Since then, we've tucked her in, kissed her goodnight, and walked out of the room.

Contrast that to Phoebe. Our routine, seven months into our life together, was to finish the bedtime rituals and then lay down with her in the master bed until she fell asleep. If it took more than 15 minutes, I generally gave up and put her in the Ergo while I puttered around downstairs, and then would transfer her to the crib after she fell asleep on my back. At the first nighttime awakening, we pulled her into the master bed again. For naps, our nanny used the Ergo 100% of the time, and then transferred to the crib. Phoebe hadn't once in her whole life little life put herself to sleep.

That was the routine as it usually worked-- "whatever it takes" and "it's only a phase, it won't last forever" were things we said. True, not very good sleep hygiene, but it worked. Except when it didn't. If we rose out of the master bed or transferred her out of the Ergo too quickly and misjudged just how deeply asleep we thought she was, she would awaken with a second wind. Goodbye evening time-- cooking tomorrow's dinner, finishing documentation from the day's office hours, and doing the laundry. Yes, fun to have extra playtime for this mom who works too much. But, oh, it made me crabby to have Phoebe up and chipper until 10:30 at night when I called it quits. A few days after the big girl beds arrived, this missed window routine happened twice, and that was about it. I had it. Something had to give.

You can't Ferberize an kid adopted as a toddler-- or at least I can't do it to Phoebe. One mom who adopted with us shared what she sees as the mistakes she made with her first adopted child (I'm so thankful!), and she feels like Ferberizing was one of the big ones. The last thing Phoebe needs is to cry it out alone in a dark room, wondering if she's arrived at the next great abandoment in her life.

So, we are trying "Good Night, Sleep Tight" by "The Sleep Lady," Kim West. It's a kinder and gentler way to Ferberize. We had to lay down some groundrules: Phoebe sleeps only in Phoebe's room. The bedtime rituals always happen, in order, no variation. Rules are rules, 100% of the time. Nap and bedtime happen on schedule, and nap ends after 2.25 hours. We moved Phoebe's big girl bed into our bedroom, tucked under the sloping attic ceiling a ways away from our bed. And we told Phoebe that we are teaching her to sleep.

We tuck her in, kiss her goodnight, and then stay present in the room, but ignore her until she goes to sleep, with nothing more than some "Shhhh" comforting sounds. The first night, I lay with her but not touching her. She talked and babbled and counted and bounced until she fell asleep. You can't believe how quickly she caught on. On night #4, Mark stood by the bedside rather than in it, and was out of the room with Phoebe's sound asleep in 10 minutes. Last night (#5) I sat at the foot of her bed and played with my iPhone while she drifted off, 15 minutes. We only had crying on one night. And the nanny-- she's done better than we have with naps. It takes her two minutes, no failures so far.

We'll keep moving further away, with the first big goal being to be able to sit on the master bed with the laptop until Phoebe falls asleep. Middle of the night awakenings are still there, and we've debated how to handle them. For now, we are still climbing into bed with her-- but not letting her into our bed. I think those awakenings will just disappear, eventually, maybe after she has learned how to put herself to sleep.

In addition to these major sleep changes, yesterday was another milestone. I brought the kids to the "Kid's Club" at the YMCA, where Miranda loves to stay while I run upstairs to the gym. There is a strict "no parents beyond this point" policy, so I wasn't at all sure how Phoebe would walk away from me to engage on the other side. She watched Miranda play from my arms for a while, and then asked to get down and play. I passed her over the wall and said goodbye. She said "Bye-bye" back and I slipped out with no tears. I checked on her every 5-10 minutes, and the sitters kept giving me thumbs-up through the glass windows. When I returned for good, she ran into my arms with smiles, and told me she had fun.

I've learned in these last few months that the rules of parenting an adopted child are different than that of biologic children. I've been much more cautious and slow with Phoebe, and I worry much more about her emotional wellbeing. When Phoebe headbutted me the other day and I sternly (perhaps too sternly) reprimanded her through the stars I was seeing, I watched her face transform from amusement to utter devastation, and I worried in that moment that she thought she was losing my approval and love forever. Someone asked me during these sleep discussions how long the attachment issues usually last with adopted kids, and I took a deep breath with the realization that no matter how smoothly things go, pieces of these issues will be with Phoebe forever.

Having said that, I think times are changing here. We are coming out of the early days of our adoption, and transitioning into more "normal" family dynamics. These days Phoebe is learning to trust that she is safe and loved even alone in her bed, and that her mama will of course return from the gym. Soon we'll be getting a babysitter for date night, and maybe we'll all be sleeping the night.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Girl Beds

About two months ago Mark came downstairs after putting Miranda down and said, "I hope this wasn't a major tactical error, but Miranda said, 'Miranda want sleep in guest room,' so I let her." And that was the end of the crib for Miranda. Since then I've been logging on daily to Craig's List looking for the perfect matching set of wooden beds, and finally scored. Mark set out in a rented U-Haul to pick up the set, and I got to work disassembing the cribs. Phoebe got a bit upset at all the commotion, and kept asking "Happen?", which is Phoebe-speak for "What is going on?" By the time Mark came home, the nursery was gone-- the changing table, the old dresser, the twin cribs.
I underestimated how much work it is to set up a bedroom-- washing down two beds and two dressers, and then assembling them all. And who knew what all is involved in a bed-- the bed, the rails, the mattress, the mattress pad, the sheets, the skirt (which needed to be ironed), the pillows, the blankets, the comforters. Phew! It was midnight-- with Miranda sound asleep in the guest room for the last time-- when we finished.
In the morning, after quite a big build-up, the kids opened the door of the their bedroom like it was Christmas morning. They ooohh'd and ahh'd and giggled. Miranda was impressed with the "door" where the guardrail breaks, though she struggled to hoist her little self up through the opening and onto the bed. "My big girl bed!" she declared over and over. Phoebe just looked with her fingers in her mouth, thinking "Hey, does this mean I can't sleep with Mom and Dad anymore?" and eventually flat out declared "No" when asked if she liked her bed. But Miranda was tickled. And she slept a great night last night alone in her bedroom.
So, now, we are done with breast feeding, bottles, pacifiers, and cribs. I do believe the baby days are nearly over for this family. Tonight I sat in Miranda's bed with one girl on each side of me, reading one last book before turning out the lights. Then I tucked her in, pulled up the blanket, made sure the pillow was comfortable, and kissed her goodnight. My big girl!