Saturday, July 19, 2014

3 days

Three days till departure! Are we ready? Hell no. Still way too much stuff to do. Rick is now having doubts about fitting our things into storage, and I'm in charge of so many odds and ends I'm tempted to scoop them all up and bring them all to the dump.

Material acquisition is overrated.

But, the rule is, whatever we get done before we leave is what we get done.  Boarding the plane is like hitting a reset button. We leave our worries behind us... and embrace new worries. Like getting the cat through customs.

It's nice and cool today. Good! I'm not dying of heat while I work.  Okay, then, back to work.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goodbye Ban Lu

It was mostly good timing, I guess. Ban Lu, my cancer-prone cat, finally got diagnosed with the lymphoma we were expecting. We euthanized him last week. We had him for four years - 3.5 years more than we had originally expected.

You were a good man, Ban Lu. We'll miss you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One week

A week till we leave!

Six days, actually, as it's almost midnight as I'm typing this.

Four days to finish getting the house in order and tie up any loose ends we can't do over the internet.

We're bringing one cat, had to euthanize one (cancer) and are leaving the last one with our new tenants.

We haven't been studying the language. Bad, bad, bad. Oh well. I'm sure we'll adapt.

We're not entirely sure what we're getting into. We try to do our research, but it's never quite enough.

One thing I have learned is that the Vietnamese do not ravenously consume dogs. Dogs are a niche cuisine, and there are a lot of ethnic niches in Vietnamese culture. So people can relax a bit and stop trying to shock me with that. I will assume, then, that they are not big on eating cats, either.

Their flagrant disregard for environmental issues is probably true, though.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tieng Viet character reference post

My attempts to learn Tiếng Việt aren't going so well. One of the reasons, probably, is my inability to type. I don't have all the right characters. This post is an archive of all the non-English-standard characters I need. I'll add to it as I go.

Alt codes are included when I find them. Characters without an alt code can be C&P'ed. That's labor-intensive, but it'll have to do for now.

À 0192
Á 0193
à 0195
à 0224
á 0225
â 0226
ã 0227

ắ ầ

 Ç 0199
ç 0231

Ð 0208
ð 0240 (lower case crossed d)

È 0200
É 0201
Ê 0202
è 0232
é 0233
ê 0234
ế ệ ễ

Ì 0204
Í 0205
Î 0206
ì 0236
í 0237
î 0238

Ơ ơ
ờ ớ

ố ồ ọ

Ư ư


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tieng Viet!

This whole time, while I haven't been blogging, I've been teaching myself Mandarin Chinese. And I've been progressing steadily, in spite of the fact that it's really really hard to teach yourself a foreign language. I just hit a point where I got it, Mandarin clicked with me, and then I was just accumulating vocabulary and sorting out the more complex grammatical rules.

I still couldn't speak it. But I could imagine a time in the near future when I could speak it. I could speak small phrases at appropriate moments.

I had no reason to doubt we'd end up in China. Whyever would I think about Vietnam? Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and this one, unfortunately, makes us have to start over with a new language.

One of the very first things I did was complain about the frustration of starting over.  We bought some phrasebooks and found some online tutorials, and while looking at them, I noted how much I missed the familiarity of Mandarin Chinese. The first stage is always so hard - when nothing looks familiar and none of it sticks in your memory and you can't possibly imagine yourself speaking this language.

But then I resolved myself to plow ahead until I got to the second stage - when you begin to see the beginnings of patterns, when you can utter a phrase or two, and suddenly the language seems penetrable. A light turns on; a door creaks open.

One of the school staff members assured me that Vietnamese, or Tieng Viet, is similar to Chinese in certain ways, and transitioning won't be so bad.  Maybe it is similar. I've noticed a few suggestions of similarity already. But, I admit, it's been a month and I'm still discouraged.

There are some good things about Tieng Viet. It uses Roman letters, for instance. But it does not technically use the Roman alphabet. Much like Gaelic, it takes the letters we English-speakers are so accustomed to and it twists them around to its own devices. Sometimes unnecessarily so. Why does X sound like an s, but S sound like sh? In Chinese, it's the other way around. Also, why does G make a z sound? There's a Z already.

However, if I can get my brain to adapt to the similar-but-different Vietnamese alphabet, I can potentially learn to read signs and newspapers as my vocabulary grows. And I assume my vocabulary will grow, although I can't quite imagine such a thing yet. My current vocabulary is about four words, and they may or may not be understood correctly.

Also, pronouns are hard. I have not made much progress on pronouns. I don't understand the explanations the tutorials give. The Tieng Viet understanding of the purpose of pronouns is different from mine. I need a guide I can understand.

Monday, March 3, 2014

We're moving to Vietnam

Hello, blogosphere! Miss me? Probably not. I stopped blogging when lots of people stop blogging, and for the same reasons - our life has gotten very settled and boring, the kid keeps getting older, and there's nothing to talk about except everyday foibles and incidents. I don't want to write about every visit to the mall and cute drawing that gets taped to the wall. I'd bore mySELF to tears, nevermind you guys!

But now finally something interesting is happening that I can blog about. We've decided to move to Vietnam.

 I keep promising people that I'd keep in touch and take lots of pictures. I told them they could follow my blog as soon as my adventure starts. So then it's just a matter of deciding whether to start a new blog or revive my old one. And I've decided to revive this one, because our life story is really a long continuum, not separate stories, and because some people might already have bookmarked this blog. Or maybe some of my old followers are still around. Who knows.

We're leaving in July. The school year starts in August. There's a lot of prep to do until then. At some point I'll give this blog a makeover with a Vietnam theme, when I have some Vietnam pictures to work with. For now, though, we're on Cape Cod, so I'll blog my thoughts about Vietnam from Cape Cod with my Cape Cod theme. Chao!

Monday, September 2, 2013


So, tomorrow is kindergarten orientation, and Wednesday is the first day of kindergarten. We start at the traditional time around here, right after Labor Day, although it seems like people in other places have mostly already started. I guess we can't start any earlier, because the tourist traffic is terrible right up until the day after, and any buses trying to get over the bridges would be late. I'm excited about kindergarten... I guess... *sigh*

No, I am. I've already made a list of things I have to do in my new free time. But my list is unreasonably long. I guess I've been waiting for school to start for so many years now that I forgot how quickly 6 hours passes. Some of it is in the direction of a job, or at least stuff that brings in money, and some is just catching up to things that have been neglected around the house and yard. And some of it, of course, is just keeping my kid ready for school. I have a lunch plan and all sorts of containers to keep his lunches interesting. I bought him a nifty new umbrella with the map of the world on it. I need to create a routine where his backpack gets emptied right away and repacked in time to leave. All run-of-the-mill stuff for you other parents, but a brand new set of challenges for first-timers like me.

Thank goodness we don't have to deal with buses or drop-off. We'll be strictly walkers, rain or shine (or snow). If you see our house in relation to the school and its drop-off area, you'll know why I'll never say, "It's too rainy out there. Let's drive instead." Umbrellas for the win. Honestly, though, I do feel good about it all. My kid is intellectually ready to go to kindergarten, and I'm trying to be intellectually ready to not sweat the small stuff. To not be neurotic if he's learning his ABC's too slowly, to handle it gracefully if he resists doing his token homework, to let it go if the teacher has opinions I don't agree with. Maybe to volunteer, only of it's for something fun and laid-back. I do have some legitimate worries to worry about, and I rightfully should worry about those things, but hopefully it'll mostly be all right.

And the new umbrella is pretty awesome.

Monday, June 10, 2013

We're going to China

So... we'll be moving to China in about a year. Probably. A lot of pieces have to fall into place first. But the pieces exist, so there's no reason why we can't just move to China.

Why? Because it's there. Because we haven't found any real immersion opportunities locally. Because a friend invited us to participate in an awesome mentoring program... for Koreans. Because a woman at the agency was telling us about a Homeland Tour they offer, in which several of the families they help place spend two weeks touring the cities and seeing the orphanages, bonding and crying and healing and getting to know their birth culture... and when I described it to my husband, we just kinda looked at each other for a moment. And then we said, "Why don't we just move there?"

 So now we're looking into what it takes to just move there. It'll be fun. It'll be a good life experience. Wo men xuexi Zhongwen. Cloud won't have a chance to bond with his adopted peers, but I'm sure he'll be all right. I think it's more likely that he'd say, "We did we only go to China for two weeks when we could've gone for a year?" than "Why did we go to China for a year when we could've gone for two weeks?"

Just a guess.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The story with the baby and the cats

AwesomeCloud has generally not been one to be wrapped up in adoption issues. He has never been sad about his birth mommy, and he's very matter-of-fact about racial differences in our family and in society at large.

He has never done a thing that made me contemplate getting him a therapist for adoption trauma. I'm sure adoption trauma exists, and I've seen some possible signs that he has some, but not on a call-a-therapist level. His therapy is regular life in a stable, loving home and at the moment that seems sufficient.

But lately he has been obsessively asking for his origin story. He calls it "the story with China and the baby and the cats." It started when he pulled out his adoption picture books again... "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes" and "The White Swan Hotel." And he soon realized that his story parallels those stories, but with cats. You see, Trixie died of a brain tumor a month after we came home from China. Then a month later, we got Riley. Then Christmas came, then in January we got Ban Lu. He loves the parts where the cat in the cat carrier rides next to the baby in the car seat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fun with Mandarin Chinese phrases

 zánmen  huí  jiā ba - let's go home.

Yeah, that one's useful. I'm going to start using it.

I've started frequently using
shì zi!"
(Geez, it's hard to format when I c&p the syllables directly from the online dictionary.)

Anyway, the above means, "I am not a chair!" Something I say frequently anyway, as someone tends to try to use me as a chair frequently.

Cloud doesn't quite understand the syntax of qustions. If I ask, "Wo shi yi zi ma?" he is immediately lost.

Ah well, all things in due time.