Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Potty Training...Not Going So Well!

Gabriella and I spent the day today with Auntie Kathy at Auntie Kathy's house. In her usual fashion, Gabriella decided to strip, first her pants, and then her DIAPER...in the middle of Kathy's living room! I am used to her doing this at home, and she has unsuccessfully attempted it in public, but has never been successful at going commando in a place other than our home! We gave her a pair of Ava's underwear to wear and she wore them proudly. I figured it was a good opportunity for some potty training. I kept reminding her that if she had to go we would have to go to the bathroom. We even had several "false alarms" in which she sat on the potty with no result. While playing, Gabriella sat in Ava's (nicely handmade) wooden block cart (which she commonly does) and we did not think anything of it. Next thing we know, she is announcing, "I poop!" I lifted her up and there was a huge puddle of urine covering the bottom of the block cart. Auntie Kathie and I ran into action! Nope, my silly bug is not ready for potty training!

Gabriella had us cracking us up in the day earlier, as well. There was a program on the television that has a yoga warm-up routine. Gabriella was diligently following along and seriously intent on copying the moves. She looked so cute! My little lovebug never ceases to amaze me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Visit to the Dentist

The health of Gabriella's teeth has concerned me from the first time I met her. Gabriella was allowed to, and had gotten in the habit of, sleeping with a bottle. At this point, I was legally only a "visitor." When your child is being raised by someone else, you have the same concerns as any parent would but you have zero control of what is actually being done. You can make suggestions for how your child should be cared for and those suggestions can either be followed, or not, and you have absolutely no ability to change it. During one of our visit trips, my mother and I had noticed that one of her top front teeth appeared decayed. Gabriella came home on Friday, September 5, 2008 (we actually landed early Saturday morning) and I had her at the dentist three days later, on Tuesday. We went to an oral surgeon for a consult on Wednesday, and the tooth was removed on Thursday! What a welcome home to the United States! Children don't typically start seeing a dentist regularly until they are a little older, but because of our concerns, we see the dentist every six months. During our visit prior to today's, the dentist had found a cavity and did a silver filling with no drilling since this was the least invasive and most permanent solution for a baby tooth. Knock on wood, I, personally, have never had a cavity or any other teeth issues, so I am especially paranoid about keeping Gabriella's teeth healthy. I am happy to share, though, that today's visit found NO new cavities! Hip hip hooray! Our daily tooth brushing struggles are paying off and are well worth the effort! The dentist also noted that her bottom molars were through, but that her top ones were not through yet. Gabriella is scheduled for her first teeth cleaning in August. Hopefully we can keep her cavity-free in the meantime!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Paperwork Continues

Today I kept thinking about how I could have greatly benefited from a full-time secretary through Gabriella's adoption process! I would never have guessed how frustrating all of the paperwork is and how much work it takes to get it all done - the pre-adoption paperwork, now the post-adoption paperwork, and then the ongoing "maintenance" of it. By maintenance, I mean keeping track of it and keeping it safe. At the same time, I wonder how much of this paperwork stress is real and how much of it is self-induced! I am completely paranoid about making sure all of the adoption paperwork (pre and post) has all t's crossed and i's dotted. The stress is induced by the sad truth that this is all I have legally to prove that Gabriella is my daughter, whereas biological parents have DNA. Realistically, this should never come in to question, but it still concerns me. This probably stems from my fear of Gabriella being ripped away from me while she was in my custody during my visit trips in Guatemala. Some attorneys in Guatemala would not allow adoptive parents to leave the hotels with their baby during their visits. There were stories (how true they were, I have no idea) of even foster parents being out with their foster child, the taxi they were riding in with the baby being stopped, the foster family being asked to provide paperwork on-the-spot showing proper custody, and when they could not show it, the babies being ripped away and taken into custody. The thought of this caused knots in my stomach, not only for when I visited, but for the remainder of the time Gabriella was in Guatemala and with her foster family. A part of the fear also stems from our current state of affairs with Hispanics in the Unites States. As we all know, the situation is not extremely amicable and, sadly, I am afraid that as Gabriella gets older the situation may get worse. Her "paperwork" may become completely necessary to prove citizenship, or the like. These fears surface for me in present day, mainly when I am traveling though an airport with Gabriella. Realistically, I do not believe I have to carry identification for Gabriella to travel domestically. Also, what are the chances somebody would randomly question my maternity? And what right would anybody have in doing so anyway? But, my fear, founded or unfounded, is still real and this causes me to be insanely diligent with all of her paperwork. God bless families that complete multiple international adoptions, especially back-to-back ones. Keeping track of the paperwork must be a nightmare.

In the middle of December I received Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate which basically legally recognizes Gabriella's adoption in Massachusetts and the United States. It also contained her legal name change from Astrid Mariela Draper to Gabriella Astrid Draper. With the holidays (and a bit of laziness), I had not began updating all of her name changes (i.e. Social Security, Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance), and it has been a heavy weight on my head. So, last night I went searching for all of the forms online that I needed and officially started the process. This morning, I took Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to the Social Security office and, after a long wait (specifically, two long waits because the first wait was too long and I had to leave for another appointment), her name was officially changed with Social Security and we will have her new card within two weeks.

The next three name changes (Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance) will be more "difficult" because there is no physical office that I can carry Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to. I also knew that I had to somehow get what I thought was Gabriella's Massachusetts birth certificate. This is where I was mistaken and, luckily, I had called my county's Probate Court and then the Vital Records office in Boston for clarification on procedure. What I did not know is that Gabriella will never have a US birth certificate (which makes sense since she was not born here, but I thought that this was the result of a Massachusetts readoption). She could only potentially get a Massachusetts birth "record" which is NOT an official document like a birth certificate. I was told, "the birth record looks pretty, but is not a legal document." What I was holding in my hand, the Massachusetts adoption certificate, was THE document. AND, making matters more nerve-wracking for me is that we can NEVER get another true, official copy of it from the courts since adoptions are sealed. I can get unofficial copies, but if the copy I have is ever lost, stolen, in a fire, etc. we are essentially "out of luck." UGHHH. Worse yet, is that in order to get a birth record, I would have to FOREVER SURRENDER and FORFEIT this only official document that we will ever have. Nobody ever told me this until I learned of it, by chance, today. The town clerk in my town office did not even know this and if I had simply handed the adoption certificate over, without warning, for a birth record, we would never be able to get it back. I know we are only talking paperwork, but this is some of the most important paperwork that legally ties Gabriella and I together. I was told that the town clerk would be able to give me "true and attested" copies of the original. Once I receive them, the actual copy is going to be locked away in a bank safe deposit box with her other two documents that we will only ever get one of, her Guatemalan adoption paperwork with her Guatemalan birth certificate and her Certificate of Citizenship, the only document that proves her citizenship. Where, you may ask, is her adoption certificate at this present moment? In my town clerk's office while I am waiting for the "true and attested" copies. It is NOT in my possession which is making me insane!

During all of these "festivities" today, Gabriella was at my mother's day care. Since I have been out of work, Gabriella has been staying home with me because I am trying to take advantage of this time with her knowing that this time will not last forever, that I will be going back to work and she will be going back to daycare, and that we will probably never have this opportunity again. Gabriella loves playing with her friends at school and had a fun time today. BUT, she doesn't listen to her teachers and even talks back a bit! For example, if the teacher calls her to do something, she won't do as she is asked and she may even answer back with a firm, "No!" I sense that I have my work cut out for me! After I picked her up, we went into the infant room at the day care to play with some of the babies. Gabriella LOVES babies. She gently rubs their heads and backs, brings them toys, and observes their behaviors. Today, for the first time, we let her "hold" two of the babies and she was as proud as could be! Seeing Gabriella interact with the babies really made me realize how much she has already grown and made me realize that she definitely isn't a baby anymore. Time is flying and I wish I could get it to slow down!

"Cinco, Dos"

"Cinco, dos." This is Gabriella's newest "phrase!" She says is at random times and I don't believe she is "counting" anything. She roughly understands counting in Spanish up to seis / six. I will say, "uno," she'll say, "dos," etc. up to seis. So I believe she knows that cinco, dos isn't proper order. Sometimes she'll even add an extra "cinco" or two (or more) to make it "cinco, cinco, dos, etc." Maybe 52 is her "lucky" number? Very curious!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Choosing a Wedding Venue

Today was a snowy day in Massachusetts, but we spent much of the afternoon looking at, and eating brunch at, the venue that Tita Candace and Tito Steve have chosen for their wedding. The wedding will be held on April 30, 2011 in Assonet, MA. I will be the Maid of Honor and Gabriella will be a Flower Girl. The venue is beautiful and will be a wonderful location for this wonderful event.

Tita Candace and Tito Steve were teaching Gabriella wedding etiquette! Payback will be fun when they have children!:
Gabriella LOVES playing with other children and is not shy to approach a group of new children to play. She saw a group of children playing on the dance floor and had to join them. She was particularly drawn to this little boy and had fun playing with him. She even tried tickling him a couple of times, but he wasn't having it!:
Gabriella playing with the groom...:
...and kissing the bride!:

Gabriella and I are looking forward to this awesome event!

Pretend Play

Gabriella has started using her imagination a lot while playing. Her current favorite toy is the kitchen that Tita Candace and Tito Steve bought her for Christmas. She mixes up many different pretend concoctions for her and me to eat! Yesterday she began playing with a pretend frog. She cradles him in her hand and we pass him back and forth. Tonight she ate him along with a pretend fish! I wonder if he is gone for good in her digestive system or if he will be out to play again later!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stampers and Baking

Today was a cold, snowy day, so we tried to entertain ourselves at home today. Gabriella is enjoying arts and crafts more and more now, so yesterday I bought her some new stampers. I though they were really cool since they were the largest stampers I've seen and thought that they would be perfect for her little hands to handle more easily. At lunchtime, I got Gabriella set-up with the stampers so she could play with them while I prepared lunch. I was at the counters getting lunch ready. I turned my head to check on her and this is what I saw!:
THIS is what happens when you give your two year old stampers and turn your back for literally 30 seconds!:
Close-up evidence of the offense!:
After we got her somewhat cleaned up, we proceeded to bake carrot pecan muffins. Gabriella LOVES helping.:
But, what's the point in baking it? It taste great as-is!:

Gabriella is constantly keeping me on my toes, but is a load of fun and a regular source of entertainment!

Gabriella's Newest Phrases

Gabriella has three new phrases that she has been using frequently and, amusingly, in appropriate situations! The first is "Ready, Set!" as in "Ready, Set, Go!. I don't know if she learned this at Early Intervention speech class or while watching a television show. The next is "Ta-Dah!" I have no idea where she learned this one. And the final new phrase, that I am really not proud of, is "Oh, God!" Sadly, she got this one from me. I am very careful about cursing around her, but this is one inappropriate phrase that I use a lot and haven't been successful at stopping. She is a little sponge that takes everything in and soaks it up phenomenally.

"Welcome"

We are still working on proper pronunciation, but Gabriella has mastered the use of "Thank You." She is rather polite and often surprises me with thanking me and others at appropriate times. Within the past couple of weeks, though, she has learned to reply to a "Thank You" with "Welcome." It is very, very cute!

My Beatboxing Diva!

My daughter has me in stitches! Gabriella loves music. She has a Dora guitar (thanks Grammy and Grampy) and an echo microphone (suggested by Early Intervention) and we sing together alternating using the guitar and microphone. Usually we sing a song that she made up that goes like this, "Sing, Song, Sing a Song" and repeat. Well, that is, until tonight! There is a new commercial on Nick Jr. that has a rapper, whose name I cannot remember right now, and he is beatboxing in the commercial! So, Gabriella hands me the microphone and says, "sing song" so I start in on her little diddy and she says "No" to stop me. I look at her and she made beatboxing-like sounds with her mouth! I cracked up! She wanted me to beatbox! So I obliged! Who would have thought that I would have ever been beatboxing! I then handed the microphone to her to allow her her turn to beatbox on the mic! It is so funny how perceptive she is and how she picks things up. Gabriella never ceases to amazes me and is constantly amusing me!