Girl Power

A Gift from China via Holland

October 10, 2007
Maoming SWI

I opened my email today and received an unexpected gift from Holland... from a woman I have never met.
But this woman and I share an unbelievable bond... our daughters.  Her name is Monique and on October 10, 2007 she was allowed to take pictures inside the Maoming Social Welfare Institute in Maoming, China.

She was able to capture life inside this small orphanage... the place where my daughter lived for nearly 3 years.  This picture was taken when Juliette was 20 months old..  it would be a full 13 months later until we became a family.

Keeping track at Maoming SWI
Maoming bedroom
Sleeping baby (not Juliette)

Nannies playing with babies

Notice that there are no mattresses or pillows.  Children sleep on wood.  Presumably because it's easy to clean.  When Juliette came home her backside (from head to bottom) was, and still is, completely flat.
Now my lovely child sleeps in the "downstairs" of her comfy bunk bed.  On November 11th we will celebrate our 2 year anniversary of becoming a family.... these photos are an early gift.  A reminder of our child's life before she came into our lives forever.

Who's that Girl?

I'm turning 48 in a couple of weeks... it sounds so weird... because in my mind I'm still in my 20's... but my body tells me a different story.  So here I am, waking up every morning to take Maisie to school which then gives me a chance to take a few minutes for myself before heading back to my "job" as mom.  During these moments I like to go walking on the Ravenel Bridge.

It's nearly always picture perfect.  The sun has just risen, the scene before me is beautiful... the marsh grass, the river, the city's steeples sparkling in the sky.  On this day, I have "my boys" cranked up on the ipod... and I always start my walk off with "It's a Beautiful Day"... The Edge is strumming away at the guitar, while Bono belts out the lyrics... and it's then that I notice the shadow of a girl walking in front of me.  Her strides are purposeful and strong.  I imagine that she is someone who is confident and outgoing.
I wonder if she ever feels the way I do.... beaten up a bit by age... does her body ache the way mine does as it tackles the incline ?   Are her lungs gasping for air ?  Is she sweating nearly half as much as my menopausal body is ?

As my mind wanders and gets lost in all things U2... I start to notice that I'm catching up to the shadow of the girl in front of me.  Fueled by the beat I start taking bigger steps... I start to push myself harder and something happens.  I forget about my burning muscles and my aching lungs... now all I want to do is walk as fast as the shadow before me... pushing myself into new possibilities.

I am not an almost 48 year old... I am Cathy O... a woman who wants to take on the world... a mom who wants to foster creativity in her children... a wife that wants to adventure with her husband.  The clock  is ticking.  But it was at that  moment on the bridge... the "Carpe Diem" moment... when I noticed that I had caught up to the shadow I had been following.  I realized then, that the strong woman with the purposeful steps that propelled her forward in her journey... was the shadow of me.
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Talk about the thrill of victory !!  For the first time in her 7 years, Maisie expressed real interest in being on a TEAM !!  We of course jumped on this decision and now we have a basketball player in our family.
Now anyone who knows me realizes that I used to consider shopping my sport... but now... I am a full fledged sports mom.  We arrived early on Saturday for the big game... Maisie's first ever.  Her team is made up of other students from her school ranging from K-8th grade.  They are the White Herons... and their opponent... Red Fort.  After the customary shake of the hands... it was play ball !!   And it was awesome watching little kids run down the court... forgetting to dribble... and trying their best to get a basket.  Thankfully, Maisie's team had a bit of a ringer... and the White Herons won !!

The school uses these games to build team spirit among the various classes... and as a team they are able to score points for their "house" (think Harry Potter).... it was nice to watch the big kids looking out for the little ones and even giving the ball away to allow the younger kids their shot at basketball stardom !!

Pre-game with Jules & Willie
Meeting the opponents
Dribbling down the court

Victory !


Maisie & Willie

Purple Cat Purple Cat What Do You See?

Grocery Cart Derby

Fall Picnic

CHILLY water ~ BRAVE girls

Occupational Therapy

My girls are a constant reminder that it doesn't take much for us to be happy.  It's the simple pleasures in life that truly matter.  For Maisie, it's a snuggle from her Orca pal "Willie"... for Jules it's a ride
in the race car grocery cart.... ( She loves to pretend she's driving.)   Or a day at Barnes & Noble reading her favorite book.  She also LOVES going to "OT"... that's what she calls all of her therapy sessions.  For her it's a place where she gets to have a lot of fun and attention.  What a LONG way she's come from when she started at Coastal Therapy ... she was terrified and would literally shrink into me refusing to make eye contact with any of her FABULOUS therapists.  Now she can't wait to get out of the car and see her pals Wendy, Jill, Megan & Susan.

Another simple pleasure is a fort and picnic in our backyard... or a swim on a beautiful fall day.  In the end... being together, going through the motions of the week and  enjoying life is really what matters most !!