Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas, one and all

(details and more photos are coming just as soon as I can catch my breath)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Somebody cue the snare drum

Saturday morning, Mama picks up Ting Ting, who is nibbling on a cookie.

MAMA: I love my Ting Ting!

TING TING: I love cookies.

MAMA (in mock exasperation): You love cookies? What about your Mama?

TING TING: My Mama loves cookies, too.

I have seen the Light

Sunday morning, Ting Ting and I were in church, making our way to the sanctuary, when one of our associate pastors came up the stairs with supplies for her children's sermon.

"Jesus!" cried Ting Ting, greeting her with her arms outstretched.

Pastor Beth assumed Ting Ting was commenting on her advent sermons, in which she has invited the kids to open a different box with a little character inside every Sunday as they wait for baby Jesus to arrive. She told Ting Ting that they would not see Jesus that day, but soon. And she promised Ting Ting she could open that day's box.

But I knew better -- Pastor Beth has talked about Jesus so much that the two are intertwined in Ting Ting's mind. She has decided Jesus is our pastor's name.

And guess what, Daddy? Jesus IS a girl.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two years of citizenship

Two years ago today, we returned from China with our new daughter. As soon as the plane touched down at O'Hare, Ting Ting was an American citizen.

This has to be one of the worst photos ever taken of me, but I'll treasure it forever because it was taken by my sister Kay, who shocked the heck out of us by flying all the way from Nashville to Chicago just to be at the airport when we arrived. She brought us a balloon and homemade cookies, took a few photos and some really bad video (she was too excited to focus, so much of the footage is of her sweater or the floor) then got back on the plane to get home before her son came home from school. She's crazy, but that's why we love her.

My parents were waiting for us at home when we returned, so Ting Ting got to meet her Lao Lao

and her Papa.

Then, in one of my favorite photo ops of the day, she and her Daddy sneaked upstairs to recover from jet lag:

Sweet, sweet memories.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Keeping the faith

Looks like China has matched some more families; referrals are reportedly in the mail. If you want to see some of the new babies, our friend the Rumor Queen is starting a list. Congratulations to all the new families!

The matches apparently cover families logged in through Feb. 23, 2006. My new friend Holly and her husband were logged in on Feb. 24, 2006. Long-time readers will remember the awful day I reported we had missed the cutoff by only three days (and really it was just one, because two of them were the weekend). But Holly has a much better attitude than I did -- she says she's thrilled to know they're next! She says she is actually a bit relieved because her husband is out of town and she wants him home with her when they get the call. Still, they've been waiting a long time, and I know she appreciates everyone's support. So ya'll go on over to Holly's blog and show her some love.

My heart goes out to all the families still waiting to be matched with their children. The wait is rapidly approaching three years and shows no signs of speeding up soon. I can't imagine how difficult it is to wait -- but I know from experience how joyous the result is. Hang in there!

Comic relief

Things have been a little crazy around here. Last week we had more layoffs at work, then Monday my employer filed for Chapter 11 protection. And Tuesday we were in the national news again when our governor was arrested and charged with being very, very naughty -- we put out an "extra" edition, the first time I can remember doing that since Sept. 11, 2001.

Anyway, this morning I thought it would be fun to see what was on the memory card in my camera . . .

and it was.

Ting Ting put on this old costume dress to be a princess, then I had the great idea to dig through a box of toys from her cousins to see what else we could find. That's why she's wearing a Snow White crown, Tinkerbell wings, a Christmas purse, a Cinderella magic wand and Snow White shoes.

She wanted to watch the "princess" episode of Dora because she was dressed for the part.

Later she changed into her nightgown, but kept most of the accoutrements. Except when I called her to the table for dinner, she calmly removed and hung up the wings, then removed and carefully placed the wand, shoes and crown in a safe spot.

This was from Thanksgiving weekend. We had the Christmas decorations out, and she loved this bow. So my mom put it in her hair.

But enough with the mamarazzi.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Is it just me?

Am I the only one who ever gets a call at work in the late afternoon demanding that I settle an argument between a nearly-3-year-old child and a 48-year-old man?

No, I didn't think so.

Now tell me the best way to settle it when the engineer is technically right but the child is demonstrating creativity and conviction in looking at the "facts" in a fresh way.

("Mommy, Daddy says Jesus is not a girl.")


Friday, December 05, 2008

Two years

Yesterday marks two years since we first held our daughter in our arms.

Today marks two years of officially being her parents.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Then and now -- Thanksgiving edition

Family portrait, Thanksgiving 2007:

Thanksgiving 2008:

We have so many reasons to feel thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


In September, I told you about my grandmother, with whom I share a birthday. Well, I'm sorry to tell you that on Nov. 13, she died.

Lance, Ting Ting and I made a quick trip home to Tennessee to spend time with family. It was nice to laugh and share stories with people that we see far less often than we would like. And it was wonderful to see the outpouring of love in the little town where my grandmother spent most of her 96 years on this earth.

My grandmother loved visiting with Ting Ting, who charmed and delighted her, and she always requested new stories when I called to chat. Still, I was humbled by the number of people at the visitation who asked my sisters and me (after Ting Ting had left), "now which of you is the mother of the little girl?" Clearly, Ting Ting had been the topic of much happy conversation.

Funerals are always a bittersweet experience. We shed a few tears at the memories revived by old photos (OK, I'll admit, some of those tears were laughter at the sight of me in those glasses, but at least I didn't have that shag haircut, Beth) and retold favorite family stories. We all loved my grandmother and will miss her very much.

But mostly we celebrate our joy in a long life, well-lived.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Ting Ting is a Rachel is a Ting Ting

The music teacher, Ms. Margaret, had already started her lesson when Ting Ting and I arrived the other day.

"Good morning, Ting Ting!" said Ms. Margaret.

Ting Ting stared at her.

"My name is Rachel," she said.

"Oh," said Ms. Margaret. "I know your name is Rachel, but I thought we called you Ting Ting."

"My name is Rachel," repeated my daughter.

Ms. Margaret and Ms. Kathryn looked at . . . Rachel . . .and looked at me. I shrugged.

"News to me," I said.

That night at dinner I asked her about it.

"Do you want us to call you Rachel?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"Can we call you Ting Ting sometimes?"

"No. I don't like Ting Ting," she said.

Ummm, OK.

So I said, "well, Mama and Daddy picked the name Rachel for you because we think it's a beautiful name. I'm happy you want us to call you that. But I might forget sometimes and call you Ting Ting, so please give me time to get used to it, OK?"

Lance negotiated his own deal.

"Can I still call you Tingsters?" he asked.

She thought it over then gave him a thumbs up. He gave her a thumbs up. They both laughed.

The next morning when I took her to her classroom, I said, "Goodbye, Ting Ting."

The little boy sitting next to her looked up at me and said, sweetly, "Her name Rachel."


We called our daughter Ting Ting at first because it's the nickname for her original name (now her middle name), and we wanted to be consistent at a time when her whole world was being turned upside down. We have kept calling her that because it's unique, true to her history, and, well, it just seems to fit.

And, after all, it's her name.

I always figured that we'd switch her to Rachel eventually, although leaving Shu-Ting as her middle name gives her the option to use it if she prefers.

When I think about it logically, those are the things I think about. But when she told me the other day that she wants to be called Rachel instead of Ting Ting, I just wanted to cry, "don't grow up so fast!"

I mean, I figured we could call her Ting Ting at least until she started medical school.

For the record, she has never once corrected me when I called her Ting Ting, and she still refers to herself that way most of the time. It's hard to know whether she's serious about being called Rachel or if was just a whim.

But she's the boss. We'll follow her lead.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sharing the wealth

Once she had finished her own trick-or-treating (and had sampled some of her loot), Ting Ting got interested in what was going on at the front door.

She wanted to pass out candy to "all da kids" still to come.

She did a pretty good job of helping out

(even though she was tempted to try some of the candy while she waited).

Anyone else coming? I'm ready!

Ting Ting for president

I avoid talking about politics on this blog -- after all, if I want to argue about the candidates or the issues I can just have a conversation with members of my family. But many of you know I'm a journalist, and I happen to work for the newspaper in President-elect Obama's home town. I spent Tuesday night (and the early hours of Wednesday) helping to cover the big story. But when I was driving home to my slumbering household, the true significance of what had happened Tuesday began to sink in: Because of this election, my daughter will never know a world where only white men serve as president.

Ting Ting was sound asleep, oblivious to the significance of this day. But my heart filed with pride as I thought of how much this election had changed the world for my Asian daughter. Someday she'll read in her history books about how we used to think that people wouldn't vote for a black (or Asian or Latino) person or that a woman wasn't a viable presidential candidate, and she'll shake her head at how ridiculous we were. It took us way too long to reach this point, but I'm so glad we're finally here, for my daughter's sake as well as my own.

Of course, we still have that pesky problem of the Constitution requiring the president to be a "natural born citizen" of the U.S. . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Then and now -- Halloween edition

Cyrus, Mom and Ting Ting on Halloween night 2007.

And in 2008 (yes, I realize neither Cyrus nor I is looking at the camera, but you don't come here to see us, now, do you?)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Our little ladybug.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More from the pumpkin patch

Ting Ting with Lauren, Candace and Brandon.

And again with Candace

Lauren and Casey.

And finally, something I like to call "Chinese-American Gothic."

This photo cracks me up every single time I look at it. I can't decide what's funnier -- the hair across Lance's forehead that looks almost like a comb-over because of the baldness of the rest of the painted head, or Ting Ting's wild hair, suggesting we interrupted her while she was beating rugs outside.

Then and now -- Pumpkin Patch edition

Ting Ting at the pumpkin patch (in abstentia) two years ago:

And now, with her family:

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Last night when I was getting dinner ready, Ting Ting kept telling me she saw a spider.

"SPIDER, Mommy. There's a spider! It's a SPIDER," she said (and repeated it, oh, a hundred times).

"Yes, honey," I kept saying.

"I'm scarey, Mama," she would say (meaning that SHE was afraid of the spider).

"He won't hurt you," I said, a bit distracted, "You're bigger than he is."

When that failed to calm her, I went over to try to find it.

"He's right DERE," she kept insisting.



I never saw the spider.

Lance came to the table, and she repeated the story for him.

"SPIDER, Daddy. Over dere. I'm scarey of him."

But once we started eating she seemed to forget all about it. We chatted about other things for a few minutes, then Lance casually said, "Oh, there's the spider."

It was teeny tiny. Itty bitty. Scrambling cutely across the floor.

Ting Ting shrieked. She ran over to me and jumped into my lap, attaching herself to my body with all her might.

"THE SPIDER!" she yelled. "I'm scarey."

So Lance slew the spider. Ground him up under his foot until there was nothing much left but a teeny tiny damp spot.

"Spider's gone!" he announced with some satisfaction, proud of how he had protected his little girl.

We resumed our pre-massacre conversation. A couple of minutes went by.

Then, out of the blue, Ting Ting said, quite calmly, "Mommy, I want my spider back."

Lance and I shot each other terrified looks.

"You want your spider back?" I repeated, trying to stall while I figured out what to say.

Finally, I punted.

"Daddy," I said, struggling to keep a straight face, "Ting Ting wants her spider back."

Lance had one of those deer-in-the-headlights looks.

"You want your spider back?" he said in a weak voice.

"Oh, he's my little baby!" Ting Ting cooed. "I want to make a bed for him."

By this time my stomach is hurting from suppressing my laughter. Of course, I had a right to laugh -- I was the parent who recently spent 10 minutes trapping a wasp in our kitchen with a cup and a paper plate so I could open the door and let him go, "to be with all his friends." (Oh, yes, I did.)

Lance, the parent who had killed Ting Ting's "little baby" on the kitchen floor, began to tear up.

So Mama moved into Operation Distraction.

"That's so nice, Ting Ting," I said. "You're good to all your friends. Did you show Daddy how you arranged the chairs so your bear could sit by you while you watched Dora?"

She happily went on to other things, forgetting all about how she wanted to make a bed for her "little baby."

But I don't think Lance is over it yet.

Sunday morning

A Sunday morning photo taken by Ting Ting's Papa during their recent visit.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I won't say anything else about a certain football team if you promise not to bring it up, either, mmmkay?

Friday, October 24, 2008

In other news

Ting Ting went to a pumpkin patch last Sunday and rode a camel with her cousin, Candace.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Look who came to visit!

Papa and Lao Lao came to visit for a few days! Ting Ting knew they were coming, but I didn't tell her that they were going to be here early enough to pick her up at day care, so that was a great surprise.

This photo doesn't have all of Lao Lao's head in it, but I still like the expressions.

Ting Ting was "sooooo happy" to see her grandparents and introduce them to her teacher and some of her friends.

They also looked at her photo book to see some of the things she has done and what she has learned since she moved to the 2-year-old class.

We had a great time visiting for three days (well, at least when we weren't watching the Vandy game). Dr. Ting Ting checked out both Papa and Lao Lao several times, so we know they're in good health. Lao Lao and Ting Ting read books together and also "hid" from the rest of us over and over (and over and over). Papa would "color" with Ting Ting and help her trace her hands (over and over). And while she napped, the rest of us got some things done in preparation for a very special occasion coming up soon -- Papa and Lao Lao's 50th wedding anniversary!

Dec. 21, 1958: If they only knew . . .

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Politically correct tattle tale

SCENE: Sunday, early afternoon. Brandon and Ting Ting are in the computer room playing while Mom is in the kitchen putting together lunch. All of a sudden, Ting Ting marches into the kitchen and puts her hands on her hips.

TING TING: Mom! Banden's not making good choices!

(For the record, Brandon was printing a copy of a page they had just made with her favorite cartoon characters -- seemed like an excellent choice to me.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008


We interrupt the usual programming of The Rachel Chronicles to bring you this special sports message:


Oh, and one more thing:


Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One Hundred Good Wishes -- Granted!

When we arrived at my parents' house for our last visit, I found this waiting for me:

It's our One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt, all finished!

The picture really doesn't do it justice. My mother was able to stitch together all those very different colors, shapes and types of fabric into one unique gift of love. It turned out even more beautiful than I imagined it would be -- very colorful and warm and full of happiness. I love to point out the squares and tell Ting Ting who they came from or what they represent. I also have a scrapbook of all the quilt fabrics and good wishes so she can match them up herself some day.

Her quilt contains:
-- logos of three institutions of higher learning: Vanderbilt University, Notre Dame and Stephens College.
-- part of a Brownie uniform skirt.
-- three different pockets: a large cargo pocket with a velcro closure; a jeans pocket sewn on another piece of fabric and a big ladybug pocket on a piece of a little girl's dress.
-- two newspaper logos, from the first stop on my professional career (thanks, Steve) and the other from my current employer.
-- a piece of cloth from Nigeria (the first contribution).
-- the Chinese character for Joy, written by one neighbor for another neighbor to have silk screened.
-- pieces of several onesies worn by other babies, including one on which yours truly cross-stitched a design nearly 17 years ago (the baby who wore it just got his driver's license).
-- pieces of several beloved baby blankets.
-- part of a shirt that my late grandfather once wore that features the logo of the small town in Tennessee where he was mayor for 16 years.
-- A piece of my late grandmother's clothing embroidered with the name her grandchildren called her.
-- Pieces of the clothing Lance and I wore on the 4th of July in 2003, the night before our wedding.
-- Other fabrics that represent our friends and family in beautiful ways, from the blue-on-blue from my friend Debi to the cow fabric from my sister Kay to the musical notes from two travel mates who teach music.

See what I mean? It's beautiful! Some of the fabrics are even from people I never met in real life, but who accompanied us on this journey in one way or another.

No matter what twists and turns Ting Ting's life might take, she will always be able to look at the scrapbook and touch the quilt and know just how much she was wanted and loved before we even knew her name.

What a beautiful gift. Thank you all for contributing. And thank you, Mom, for putting it together so wonderfully.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paging Dr. Ting Ting

Well, hello! I'm Dr. Ting Ting. We provide the very best in patient care at my hospital.

. . . once you've made it out of our waiting room. (Hey, Mr. Bear! You can't use your cell phone in here.)

Say, "ahhhhhh."

A few of these drops will soothe that achy throat.

I don't know, Elmo, it doesn't sound good.

Fortunately, I have just the right antidote.

Still waiting . . . but at least she still has a smile on her face.

Well, my work here is done. No, don't worry about the possum -- she's just playing.