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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Almost a Jie Jie

Several of y'all asked how the Tongginator feels about being "next," and I must confess that - while we of course shared the news with her - we also downplayed it a bit. Which means I'm only allowed to shout "NEXT! NEXT! NEXT! NEXT! NEXT!" when she isn't around. (And yes, y'all, it take a tremendous amount of self-control. And copious amount of coffee to help ease the twitching that ensues.)

Because three or four months to an almost-seven-year-old still feels Absolutely Endless.

It's like thinking about Christmas on the first day of school.

When the Husband and I told the Tongginator we are now at the front of the line, she beamed. She shouted. She may have even done a little dance. She also told me, "so it really IS gonna happen!" To be honest, I'm not actually sure she believed we would adopt again until she heard the news this weekend. You know, because we've been saying "it will happen" for YEARS now. Ever since she was a toddler.

What a lesson in faith, not only for us, but also for her.

We're starting to prepare her a bit more for this Major Change In Her Life. At Christmas, Tonggu Grammy gave the Tongginator a Build-A-Bear Make-Your-Own-Panda Kit especially so that TG and the Tongginator could create it and present it to mei mei when we meet her. It's still sitting in its box, ready to stuff a few weeks before travel.

I will soon pull out a few jie jie (elder sister) books specific to China-adoption, including My Mei Mei by Ed Young and Just Add One Chinese Sister by Patricia McMahon. I also have at the ready many, many "kids like me in China" books to help prepare her for our trip. We've had these books on hand for several years, but I know she'll become interested in them again once the date draws closer.

I plan to encourage the Tongginator to talk soon with her friend A., who traveled to China on an adoption trip with her parents in late November/ early December. A.'s baby sister B. is just the sweetest little munchkin, with tremendously squeezable cheeks and an oh-so-kissable rosebud mouth. A. coped beautifully on their two-week adoption trip and transitioned to Big Sisterhood fairly seamlessly.

(And yes, the Husband and I are praying for a similar outcome.)

(But we are still afraid. Very, very afraid.)

The Tongginator also quite happily participates in our nesting. We ramped up the home improvement projects these last six months, most notably (in her mind) finally giving her a closet. You see, when we moved her into the panda room, we didn't exactly move her clothes out of the nursery's closet. Because the panda room closet? Was a Dumping Ground of Major Proportions, y'all. A couple of months ago I waded into the mess to clean it out, then the Husband built shelves and a clothes rail before he and the Tongginator painted it a color she selected.

Fortunately, more paint ended up on the walls than on the carpet.

But it was a near things, y'all.


The Tongginator is not only a big helper, she's also a Huge Shopper, despite her momma's influence (have I mentioned before that I LOATHE stores and malls and all things retail?). Although it involves tremendous personal sacrifice, I've taken her on a few shopping trips to purchase baby gear, big sister items and fun things for her to bring on the trip. Our most embarrassing purchase involved an Extreme Case of Spoiling with an ERGObaby doll carrier so that the Tongginator can carry her doll Ivy while Momma carries mei mei.

I know, I know.

Tonggu Momma, thy name is SUCKER.

On the practical front, we've ramped up the Personal Responsibilities since first grade began. The Tongginator cleans up her own messes, keeps her room tidy, makes her bed every day, completes her homework independently, helps clear the table, is becoming more self-sufficient in her self-care and grooming (although her fine motor delays keep things challenging in this area still), and helps to sweep the floor.

AND we've got her singing Cartwheels & Somersaults by Justin Roberts at every opportunity. Because we are All About Reality. Plus I happen to love the song. (It's a really great song.) And I really DO hope the Tongginator does a few cartwheels while we're in China.

Because that? Would look great on video.

But please, y'all, tell me what I am missing. I'm the parent of an Only Child. And she is an ONLY only child, if you know what I mean. I would love to hear suggestions from all y'all who have been there and done that. What do YOU suggest we do to prepare our little Tongginator for Big Sisterhood?

29 comments:

Cedar said...

Ah, I wish I had some advice to offer, but each of mine transitioned so smoothly to a new sibling I'm still in shock. Truly, as much work as kids are my favorite thing is how sweet my children are to each other.

Tongginator will be a great big sister. Making sure she has one on one time is the only thing I can think of. So, so excited for you.

3cmum said...

Your situation is so reminiscent for me. We travelled to adopt our daughter when my eldest had just finished first grade and just turned 7. Yes she is a birth child but many of the issues are the same.

The panda bear gift is a great idea. Also get her a camera and give her a REAL role to do when you meet the baby. She'll need to feel included.

I had to laugh at your purchase.. I wish ERGO had had had a doll baby carrier 3 years ago. My favourite picture - the one that went on our announcement is of my eldest holding her new sister wearing my ergo in our room at the White Swan.

I'll think some more and send you some other ideas.

Can't wait to hear your news. We're off to China in 6 weeks to finally visit the SWI and meet our daughter's foster family. And both girls are really excited.

Anonymous said...

Our girl was eight years old when we started this journey and now she is thirteen year old. So, much have changed these years! But it is easier to go to China now when our child is older and understands more about everything. I can tell her much more about the adoption now than when she was eight. So, something good also came from this long waiting. I always think that everything happens for a reason and I know that you make it through by loving them each other. Sounds very stupid but I believe you can and you succeed day at a time. I don't believe we can prepare for it advanced, we know best when we bring he or she to home. I'm sorry, my english is so pure because my language is not english. All good to you and your family!

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

It sounds like you are already preparing her. Making changing around the house. Talking it up. Maybe include her in some of the simple decision making? Colours that you choose. Or clothes that you buy.

I am so darn excited that you are next!

YIPPEE!

lea
xo

Kohana said...

I am so excited for you!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry! I wrote before that my english is pure! I mean poor!

Aus said...

Anonymous - your English is BEAUTIFUL!

TM - you are well on your way to preparing T for this - 99% of it is getting them to want the sibling as much as you guys want another child - and she's there! I'll second the 'make sure she is involved in something special on gotcha day' - Brianna ran the video camera for us the last time while Braelyn was Mom's hands - I, of course, was detailed to paperwork etc - that's what Dad's are for - right? :)

I'll check with Brianna (who is only a year older than T) - we made a 'homeland visit' with her on the way to get Chase and she had a chance to meet her foster mother in Seoul - but I bet she'd be happy to speak with T on the phone if T would like to ask questions. If I might be so bold (Dad said it's not bragging if it's true) - Brianna is about a wonderful big sister (at least 99% of the time!)

You are right on it - while in country of course assorted Jei Jei things (shirts or other stuff like that) will keep T feeling 'special' - and let her be as involved as she wants. While I'll conceed that forming a bond between your newbie and you (as mom) will be the most important task that you will face in country - forming the Jei jei / Mei mei / Si si bond will be maybe job #2. It's been my experience that the bond with Ba ba will come in time - at least that's worked well for us!

hugs - tons of joy!!

aus and co.

Laurie said...

My advice is more for you than for your daughter. Just be sure to give yourself TIME to allow this transition to happen. Our transition from one to two wasn't horrible, but I did see changes in my big girl that were not pleasant, and I felt like I'd ruined our family by "changing it up". I just wish I'd given myself time for it all to work itself out. Because it will. And it will be beautiful. But it might not be beautiful for awhile. You know all that, I know, but it's sometimes good to remind ourselves- give it TIME! :)

Sharie said...

You're doing so much right already. Making T feel special through this transition - and getting her excited are so important. I was her age when my baby brother was born, and I was hard losing my place as the "baby" in the family, but it was also so nice to finally get to be the Big Sister - I was jealous, but people talking to me and paying attention to me when they came to see him made all the difference.

Michelle R Photography said...

NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, NEXT!!!!! YIPPEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Doing the Happy Dance for you here in Ohio!!!

prechrswife said...

We haven't made this particular transition, but it sounds like you are definitely on the right track. :-)

The Byrd's Nest said...

Ahhhh.....I knew I felt a close sisterhood to you my friend. I thought I was the only female on earth who hated shopping...yes, I realize that is a strong word but it is a strong feeling:) ha ha

We really worried about Lottie because she was the baby of the family. James and Elisabeth were WAY older than her almost like another set of parents. So in her mind, she was IT! I prayed and prayed and prayed. She was only 2 years old so all we could do was sort of talk about it, read some books on her level all of which she didn't really understand. Then Emma flew to Texas. That first night was a battle of "mine..mine...mine". And..lol...that was Emma's first English word:) But the next morning, Lottie took her hand all over the house showing her everything and they have been the best of friends ever since. Of course, they fight...they are sisters for heavens sake...but there is pure love there between them. Emma loved Lottie first, she looked like her and all of the people she was used to seeing. I think this helps alot and I'm thankful you are taking her with you on your trip. So my advice? PRAY PRAY PRAY and Trust the Lord. He will provide my friend...He will!

sara said...

I've got nothing, but I'm so excited for you guys!!

Lindy said...

Some words for China... Your older daughter is bound to be a little jealous of her younger sister at some point. TT will need a bit of undivided attention. Plan for bonding days when you and meimei stay in; and your husband and TT go on an outing for lunch, swimming, or to the store... something that meimei doesn't get to do.

Sharron said...

I am so excited for all of you. I think you are doing wonderful in preparing your daughter to be a big sister. I love the baby carrier. I bet she would enjoy a journal to document the preparations and the trip. She could draw pictures or take pictures with a camera for her journal. Knowing that she has one special job that only she as a big sister can do might be helpful too. Something like blowing bubbles or giving out cookies.
I look forward to following your new journey.

Lisa said...

I'm excited for you too!!! So much so!

Honestly there is only so much preparation you can do; it will, to some degree, depend on each child, their personality and then too, the disposition and transition of the new baby.

With that being said, we did many of the same things to prepare our daughter as you have done for TG. L created and illustrated her own book of all the many things she would do with her baby brother once he came home. That helped enormously during the wait; it was tangible and she read it to him often in those first few weeks home.

One thing that L loved was being able to help in a hands-on way with her brother. She was only in half day Kindergarten when he came home ( you will have the benefit of loving on that baby all day long during the school day) :) so I decreed her offical baby bath sponger and outfit selecter. She LOVED those roles!

And you already know this, but absolutely give it time and give them the gift of time to figure each other out. The baby will adore TG and that will go a long way towards smoothing any ruffled TG feathers. Also plan some outings now for just you and TG for AFTER the baby comes home. We purchased tickets for Disney on Ice for just us girls to attend for a month or so after T came home. We did other smaller "just us" outings too right away; sometimes we never left the house, just had a sleepover in her room! :)

For me bedtime was the hardest to negotiate in the beginning. L was used to lots of quality reading, etc. at that time and suddenly juggling 2 felt hard. I quickly learned to put baby down early, with L reading him a story. Yes, he woke up earlier, but it gave her and I that needed time to decompress and just chat at the end of the day.

Finally * sorry...long winded as always!* don't be afraid to ask for or accept help from others! Our friends and family members that brought gifts for BOTH baby and Big Sis and/or took her on special outings made all the difference!!! ALL the difference!!

Hugs to you during this exciting time!

Claudia said...

I've only ever had two, so I don't know anything about the transition. My best advice is for YOU - to try to accept the fact that there are going to be times that their two needs are going to conflict, and that there are going to be times when you are NOT going to be able to meet the tongginator's needs, because of something you need to do for meimei (and vv, of course, but it's not going to be the same shock for mei mei!) This is the hardest thing I have found about parenting two - no matter how good my intentions are, it's not physically possible to put them both first. That's much, much harder than I expected.

autumnesf said...

Geesh. You guys have this. And no prep is ever quite enough for the reality. Just roll with the punches when they come....if they come. It will be a fun ride no matter what happens! :)

Myrnie said...

Three weeks into #3...and I feel terribly unqualified on offering ANYONE advice at this point! In our experience, the best thing was just time. Make sure your family has time together to settle into a new routine, and make sure your daughter has things to do. Of course, this will be a lot easier since she's in school....Mimi has spent days and days with my mom, getting her needs met (read: cuddle time), and Ernie has really appreciated having days and days of quiet to work on her workbooks, and having friends and family around to play with. It's a big change for kids to go from "Mommy wants you to do that on your own please" to "Mommy CAN'T help you right now." So excited for you guys!

Mark said...

I am so excited for you guys!! Annslee was 4 when we took her with us to VietNam for her baby brother. I am still so amazed how well she did on the trip and how she just LOVED him from the start (I was the one who took a while...mommy guilt be gone!) We did let her do a lot for and with him. She fed him bottles, changed him, etc... She was my BIG helper and I think that helped her too. She got a lot of attention in VietNam and I am sure TT will in China...just roll with it. Annslee is a social butterfly so she loved it : )

I can't wait to see your newest addition (you will at least post the referral pic, right...I mean it won't really look like her anyway LOL)

LaLa said...

Hubby signed in....I am "Mark" : )

Jean said...

You enjoy every minute of being NEXT! You deserve it!! It's your time

Funny- how I can be at a loss of words right now...hmmmm?

Anticipate it will go well expect the best from her, word things so you always give her a way out when she's not acting her best. Experience it with her! Have some time where you two just get to be together. She will read you- so be peaceful and ENJOY!!

Patty O. said...

Oh, I am sooooo excited that this is finally going to happen for you guys soon! I cannot wait, so I can only imagine how you all feel! : )

Wendy said...

I'm just beside myself that you and Krista are next!!! The both of you have just been dragged through this eternal wait, and yours is almost over! I just can't tell you how thrilled I am for you!!!

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh...the end of the Onlies!

It's silly, and seems counter-intuitive, but one of the best things we did was just to try to put Ming Wai first as often as possible. And I know this will probably play out differently with an adoption, since Mei Mei won't be three days old when you bring her home. But I was advised to try to put Ming Wai first...because a three year old will remember (and hold a grudge if you ignore them), while a newborn...won't. Again, that would have to be adapted in your case...but my only suggestion would be to focus on Miss T. as much as possible, while still making Mei Mei feel secure.

Best of luck!!

Lin said...

Afraid I've got no words of advice (we'll be going through the same with our son becoming a big brother later this year aged 4y 8m) but did want to say I am soooooo happy for you and your family. Waiting for adoption is agonising, certainly when the wait kept extending and extending but your patience and perserverance has paid off and you'll be a family of 4 soon. Wishing you all the best for the trip and the settling in after.

Andrea said...

Ask a friend or family member that is of teen or adult age to purposely focus on The Tongginator so that the attention level she is so accustomed to doesn't wane after Mei-Mei arrives. We took my 16-yo niece to China with us. She helped SO much but also gave our then 4.5-yo lots of needed attention and play while we tended to our anxious baby.

DawnS said...

My "only" was 7 when we went to China for Ry. The trip itself was fine because Ry didn't take to me right away. But after a few weeks and Ry's personality started to shine, my oldest felt like she became invisible to everyone else. After several weeks she told me "Mom I know I really wanted a little sister, but this isn't working out exactly the way I thought it would. Do you think maybe we could return her?" I still 3 years later, make sure that I save special one on one time for her after Ry goes to bed. It has helped a lot. Now they are true sisters, loving each other so much and they can't stand to be apart. But together they bicker like crazy. :) You have much to look forward to!

kitchu said...

oh i do think those cartwheels ESPECIALLY done in China would look great on video.

i still can't believe after all these YEARS the time has come.

you guys are such amazing parents and i just love how she is as much a part of this as you two.