Friday, September 13, 2013

No Fear!


We have had Madelyn in and out of swim lessons since she was two.  Since January of this year, she has been in weekly hour-long lessons in an attempt to help her overcome her fear of leaving the edge of the pool without someone holding her.  Unfortunately, there were some incidents when she first began taking swimming lessons that likely contributed to this fear.  Troy and I’s “sermons” about not letting fear rule her life were (unsurprisingly) having little impact.

It turns out that I should have been giving the sermons to myself first. . .

A few weeks ago, I had a particularly bad day while preparing some things for my return to work.  Madelyn called me out on my attitude and questioned me on why I had such a bad attitude.  I told her I needed to calm down and think about it, but then later that night I was able to confess to her that really it came down to fear.  I was afraid that things were not going to go well when I headed back to work!  I apologized to Madelyn for letting fear get the better of me and promised to work on not letting that fear rule me.  Then she surprised me by commenting that perhaps she could work on her fear of the pool too.

When her next swimming lesson came, we talked about conquering our fears again.  I anxiously watched during her lesson for any sign of change and will admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw none.  But then, at the very end of her class that day, as her instructor was trying to guide her across the pool on her back, Madelyn’s arm shot out of the pool in a balled up fist.  She started shaking her fist and shouting, “NO FEAR! NO FEAR!”  Her instructor looked a little bewildered as she climbed out of the pool after that.  Madelyn reported that it had been a great class and that, the next week, she was going to jump in.

Sure enough – she did jump in the next time.  AND did the back float all on her own.  I caught it on video the second time:

Two weeks after that, Madelyn delayed when the instructor asked her to do her back float.  I got a little nervous for her, thinking that maybe we were going to be taking two steps forward, one step back.  It turns out that Madelyn was delaying because she was explaining to her instructor that she wanted to graduate to the next class and needed to know what she had to do.  He explained that she would need to do her back and front floats unassisted, and Madelyn told him that she could.  The instructor called the head coach over to observe and Madelyn graduated within two minutes.  I was floored and near tears.  It was absolutely amazing to see that happen, knowing the deep-seeded fears Madelyn had to conquer to get there.

I asked Madelyn afterward if she was nervous when she did her test for the head coach.  She said she was not, but that instead she was “interested.”  I asked her what made her “interested.”  She replied, “Well – I wanted to see what would happen.”  And if that didn’t just teach me a bunch of life lessons, I don’t know what will.

photo (1)

- Tricia Olson, 2013

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2.2 Party


Sydney turned two on our first full day home from China, but it seemed most prudent to defer our family celebration of her birthday until a little later.  I am thankful we made this decision because when the time came for the 2.2 (two years and two months) party, we were all more than ready.

Sydney loves “girly” things and dressing up, so a 2.2 tutu party seemed just the thing (and, yes, I was more than a little proud of that theme).


We started our day with balloons (family tradition!), followed by a doughnut picnic in the park.


Later in the afternoon, my mom took the girls to her house while Troy and I set up the table for our family dinner.  When Sydney came home and saw the table, her reaction was off the charts!  I wish I had thought to video her coming through the door, but I honestly did not think a two-year-old would even be capable of appreciating table decorations.  She broke into the loudest oohs and ahhs that I have ever heard from her and she lovingly touched the table cloths, centerpieces, and balloons.  That moment gave me a much deeper appreciation for Sydney’s budding capacity to see and hear true beauty in things.


The cake was similarly appreciated :)


For presents, we coordinated with our family to give Sydney some things that match Madelyn’s toys, such as a Barbie with a hair comb, and an electronic piano.  It turns out that there may have been a reason my parents bought matching items for my sister and I . . . The pièce de résistance, however, was the baby doll, crib, and stroller Sydney received.  The loud oohs and ahhs resurfaced and were soon re-echoed by every family member in the room.  That little baby doll has been receiving loves from Sydney ever since.


Precious Miss Sydney, thank you for bringing extra smiles and little celebrations to our every day.  We are so glad that we get to celebrate you!


- Tricia Olson, 2013

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013


It is hard to believe that my summer away from work is coming to an end!  We are in for another round of transitions as I head back to the office three days a week.  Honestly, I am amazed at how much progress we have made in less than three months!  My one goal for the summer was to learn how to be a mommy of two.  I realize that the learning never stops, but I feel that the goal has been met in that a very strong foundation has been set.  Even more so, I can hardly contain my excitement over the blooming sister bond between Madelyn and Sydney.  Madelyn just informed me that she likes being a big sister so much that she would like to have yet another little sister.  There were no words for that one (on so many levels...)

Watching Madelyn and Sydney play together touches me to the very core of my soul and fills me with an indescribable joy .  Feeling very thankful for the blessing of being Mama to these two little girls.


- Tricia Olson, 2013

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Movie Making

Madelyn made her film directorial debut this summer!  Please enjoy:

P.S. She has grand plans for a sequel – check out what she just spent her hard-earned money on:


- Tricia Olson, 2013

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Family Fun

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somehow this summer we actually settled into family-of-four routines.  I don’t remember feeling settled so soon when Madelyn came home.  Upon reflecting on that, I realized that is because Madelyn faced two major surgeries when she came home – cleft lip repair, and then palate repair.  Madelyn bonded and attached very, very quickly (probably even more so than Sydney), but the settling-in happened after those surgeries when the nasal stents came out, arm casts came off, and normal diets resumed.  I am so very thankful that we have had a space to find our new rhythm and to venture out and about at our own pace.  A few of the highlights:

We spent Fourth of July attending family barbecues, and then headed for our super-secret parking spot to watch the City of Salem fireworks.  The girls got a little antsy during the hour-long wait in the car for the show to start, but the oohs, aahs and wows prompted by the fireworks will forever be etched in Troy and I’s memories.   That weekend, we joined some friends for Sydney’s first beach visit!


The first beach visit was so successful that we decided to head back for another day.  Troy took a day off work on a day that promised sunshine and 80-degree weather at the Oregon Coast of all places! was seriously misinformed, but we still had fun, especially when the candy store offered us samples of taffy fresh off the conveyor belt.


We attended our first Smile Oregon Walk, which will become an annual event for our family now.  We have always enjoyed annual picnics with our adoption agency because they give the girls a chance to be surrounded with kids sharing a similar heritage.  Smile Oregon gave the girls a rare chance to be surrounded with other kids with cleft lip and/or palate!  Madelyn really, really enjoyed it, especially since she got to hang out with her surgeon, Dr. Kuang, whom she absolutely adores (and whom we greatly admire for all of her work both in and out of the hospital).


After the Smile Walk, we took a Portland Tram ride sponsored by the Children’s Museum.  They asked kids to create their own trams, and Madelyn introduced SPIDER TRAM (see drawing below), which will likely be turned into a horror movie at a theater near you.  Children’s Museum also gave all of the kids free Portland Tram kazoos, which are still making music to our ears.


Sydney thoroughly enjoyed her introduction to Children’s Museum through the tram ride, so we headed back the next weekend to experience the full deal.


Here is to a wonderful first summer as a family of four!

- Tricia Olson, 2013

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