Friday, July 30, 2010

Last 2 Questions Answered!

Jenny asked -
The one question I would like to ask is about homeschooling as I am also homeschooling my daughter who is almost 10. We are adopting a little girl who will probably be close to 7 by the time we get her
and I've thought about the possibility of letting her go to
school for a while to help with the
language issue and maybe catch up on her reading skills. Do you have any thoughts on that?

My answer -
Keeping Sarah home for the last 19 months has been the best decision we could have made! I advocate keeping them home for more than just the academics but for bonding and attachment. Sarah was in an orphanage for 8.5 years. She had a tendency to parent shop and could superficially bond with anyone that was nice to her, or that would give her food, candy, pop, a smile, etc. She could have easily thought that her new teacher was the cat's meow and would make a good Momma for her. She needed to be stuck with me and too me for a long time. Our bond also grew through home schooling her and knowing where she was with everything- it made for good conversation and appropriate expectations. Sarah learned her English just through everyday life, homeschooling, family, activities, etc. I also felt that at school she would find the kids that did not behave and be with them, instead of the kids that would be a good influence on her. After only 18 months she was at a solid 2nd grade level through homeschooling we were very happy with her progress.

You just start with pre-k and k type activities and move forward as they learn it! We focused on language arts- alphabet, phonics, reading, comprehension and light math and didn't worry about the other subjects.

Hi Mary Kate!! She asked -
I am wondering what size clothes the girls are?
I think you have dogs, how is that transition for the girls?
How is their bedroom arrangement going...Are you glad they are in the same room? Are the Bunk beds working out?
I guess I would just LOVE updates about bonding and attachment as often as you write them...
Are you thinking of adopting again, or is it too soon...Also what age would you look at next (If you are thinking about that)!!!
I know you homeschool, but what grade level do you think the girls are at????

I answered -
We got the girls ht, wt and foot measurements and went off of those. It worked pretty well except Ellie is a little broader and may need a new size soon. All the clothes with a little stretch fit her okay. Ask for her measurements and even add in what is her waist, hips and chest- if you can. I am guessing that Sha Sha is about the same size as Sarah (not as tall though). Sarah wears a large shirt in Gap kids (I may buy her XL for the fall/ winter) and a 10 or a 12 in the bottoms. Sha Sha is strong and has muscles but she is not overweight- she looks very athletic. I don't think she would like the overly frilly clothes (but I could be wrong). We found some of the clothes we brought through- Lands end, Gap Kids, Gymboree and Hanna Andersson (size 140). Emma and Ellie are a 130 in HA, an 8 in Gymboree, an 8 in Gap and a small/8 in Lands End. Sarah is a 10/ 12 in Gymboree, 10 /12 in Gap kids, Med./ 10 in Lands End and a 140 in HA. Shoe size for Sarah(10 yrs old) is 3 or 4. Emma is a 2 (9 yrs old) and Ellie(8 yrs old) is a 1. Every child is so different and it really is a guessing game- For shoes Crocs worked great- they fit a pretty good range!!

We have 2 golden Retrievers and Katie has a multi poo. The girls screamed and laughed when they first saw them. The go with the flow with the dogs- it hasn't been a problem. Our dogs do not run the house- they are in the mudroom or outside. Sarah was afraid of them but she got used to them quickly and now it is her job to feed them everyday.

Bedroom arrangement is great!! All 4 in one room was a good choice!! Thank you bloggy friends for your help!! Bunks are fabulous and easy and don't take up too much space.- let me know if you want more info on them!! They were a great price!! around $700- $800 per set and includes the mattresses.

Yes, we are going to adopt again! Details are uncertain! There will be more to come on this topic!!

We are thinking that Sarah(10) is a 4th grader, Emma(9) is a 3rd grader and Ellie(8) is a second grader. As far as HS- we start at pre-k and k and move along as they are ready! Sarah is doing 2nd grade work now.

Three More Questions Answered!

Elizabeth asked -
I'm interested in how you plan to (or already do) incorporate Chinese culture with your girls. I think that would be one of the hard things with adopting an older child who has already been immersed in another culture and may be confused about retaining their birth culture while still assimilating into their new culture. Another thing I'm curious about regarding adopting older children is getting them comfortable giving and receiving affection and if this is something that just comes naturally over time or if there are certain things you do to promote it? I'm also interested in how over time you promote the girls' attachment to you as a mother vs. a temporary caregiver. I'm guessing that they knew their foster mother loved them but also knew that she was a temporary figure and hence the attachment was different. Lastly, I'm wondering how you deal with your own feelings of grief related to seeing your children grieve and knowing they have gone through so many hard things. In trying to put myself in your perspective I think I would feel almost angry at the world that they are so young and have had to deal with such hard times.

I answered -
Our daughters go to Saturday Chinese language school and they may do Chinese Dance- we are undecided about that. We celebrate the Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat festival with our local FCC group which has now turned into FCA. We meet regularly with other China adoptive families. Anna and Sarah have now been back to China. We will continue to do things like this. I am sure all our daughters will have a heritage trip as they get older. They seem to enjoy everything Chinese!

In all honestly adopting an orphan is not like adopting as child that actually been raised in the cultural richness that China can offer. These kids usually have zero experiences. They are familiar with the usual sights, the smells, the food, the music, and the language of their country but they have no cultural knowledge, very little education, no idea of the holidays or why they even celebrate them. Usually they have had no opportunity to even eat the variety of food that China has too offer. They have no family memories and no one has taken the time to teach them the basics (manors, respect, kindness, etc) They live in a world where their biggest need is survival.

As far as affection goes- you take it slow, and you read your child. Often times they will initiate affection as they are ready. Many children are ready right away for hugs and hand holding! They generally are starved for affection and will want it as soon as possible. Even to the point of being carried at age 10 and sitting on Mom's lap at age 9! Everybody loves a piggy back ride no matter what age you are!

Promoting attachment and mothering - This is what we do- we keep them close to us. We do their daily cares- help them brush teeth, help them put on their clothes even when they come at 10 yrs old, put them to bed, prepare their food, sometimes play with them, supervise their play, buy them what they need, help them when they are hurt, teach them, love them- tell them we love them, smile and tell them they are good girls! We do what Mom's and Dads do for their children everyday!

We do not allow others to hug, hold or kiss them. Parents and immediate family are the only ones that can show affection. Through everyday life they learn what family is and what parents do for their children. We are in it for the long haul- so we keep doing what needs to be done!

I believe one of our daughters knew they were loved by the foster family but the other was not loved. It is the one that was unloved that is eating up family, love, and home- she is completely at peace in our house! It is a miracle to us- only God could do this!

I guess I look at it differently than many people. I think it is healthy that they grieve their loss but I feel so strongly that they are where they are supposed to be and thankful that they are in our arms! I am grateful for those that cared for our daughters and we continue to keep in touch with all of them and send updates and pictures. The children come to us in pretty tough shape (dirty, bruised, bumped, scratched) and I can hardly wait to love and care for them and get them into the bath, to the dentist, the doctor, the specialist, the hairdresser, the park, swimming, you name it!!

When I see them quiet, or a tear running down their cheek, I offer a hug, wipe the tears, rub their back and let them feel their feelings and then we move on. I have not noticed angry feelings with the age group we have adopted. Yes, each has had a melt down once or twice but that is to be expected and because of the language barrier I really don't know what it's all about. Sometimes that's okay- we all need to let it out now and then but often the trigger is something small that they quickly get over.

Janet asked -
Our biggest worry is how to help an older child adapt and what to do about their discipline issues. Both of our boys have been much younger when we received them, so we disciplined and guided them as a younger child. What types of strategies do you use and what kind of tips can you give us to help our daughter (who might be older - say between 5 - 10 years old) feel more comfortable with us?

My answer- Really pray about it- pray that the Lord will guide you to just the right daughter- your daughter. Do not feel pressure to go way older if that is not where your heart is. Go where you are called, where you can see yourself with your child- interacting and enjoying her. The age of our girls works for us but many prefer a little older or a little younger.

Are you planning to send your children to school or Homeschool? What type of social network will she have- neighborhood friends? Church friends? Another adopted sister? Other homeschoolers?

So much of it has just happened to us- once we knew who are girls were we made decisions on what we wanted them involved in. Then once we met them it became obvious where their strengths and needs were and what we should be involved in.

I have always had the emphasis on family- even if I thought they seemed a little bored at times. They have never had a family- it takes awhile to learn what it is all about and get used to it.

We really enjoy the China school the kids do and they like it too! It's something they are good at right away and makes them feel comfortable- everything about is familiar- it reminds them of the past comforts- the language, art, music,etc. ( I have actually reconsidered and will probably sign them up this fall instead of waiting)

Our girls love it that we are with them so much. The begin to love the predictability and the comfort of knowing what will be next- bkf routine, bed routine, lunch routine, getting in and out of the car, holding hands when we cross the street, etc .

It probably seems overwhelming right now but it falls into place once you begin to get to know your child.

Discipline- be firm from the beginning if you need to be. Lighten up when you can. If you are uncomfortable with being really firm and having a child that is a little wild at first then keep that in mind when you read the referrals. Many of the words in our referrals were correct. Look for words like kind, sweet, caring, works hard, obeys her teacher or foster mom, etc! For one of our daughters it said "this girl is strong in personality"= yep they were right! SMILE!

Laura asked-
Logistics!!! Who cleans, cooks, shops.... Do you have any help??? How do you do it????? Jim? :-)

I believe in setting us up for success. So we do things that work for us! We have a cleaning lady every week- okay- I know I just about lost everyones respect but it's the truth and it makes us happy! When the house is kind of clean I feel so good!

Okay, those of you who still respect me a little will now be joining the other group... I hate to cook... It is time consuming and I see no reason for it... I'm sorry. It's my brothers fault and it happened when I was a child, he made fun of me and I've never gotten over it. If you'd like I could give you his phone number! I do BKF and I do lunch- simple, easy, the food groups and pretty healthy except for the fact that I really like butter. Dinner- hubby cooks 2 times during the week, I cook one time during the week, we eat chinese take out one time a week, we order pizza one time a week and we go to the grocery store and buy their dinner that they have featured and on special 2 x a week. It is a couple blocks from hubby's office so he gets it on the way home. I wasn't always this bad but I am this bad now- anyone out there that is still respectin me kinda sorta??

I am with the kids most of the time but I have a sitter for about 4 hours on Wednesday to get a few things done without the kids, dr appts, etc. Our sitter is wonderful- her name is Karen and she is a blessing beyond belief to us. She is the only one we leave the kids with. Karen also helps us other times- okay my hair appt, are ya still with me people? and times when we are with the older kids for various events and it is nice to give them our attention w/o the girls. She has done a few date nights for us, too!!

Grocery shopping? - I order on line once every 2 weeks! It's like Christmas when the groceries come and I have many little helpers to put it away with me! I Love it! Hubby picks up a few extra things now and then. I do all the other shopping either with the girls or during my time on Wednesday afternoons.

WE try not to do activities in the evenings and keep that for family time. (Except during Johnny's soccer season which will be coming up soon!) I homeschool the kids except for JOhnny. We do our activities in the late afternoon- swimming and gymnastics.

It works and we are very happy with it!

(okay Laura- I am pretty sure Robert is making fun of me right now and you are my only friend left!) In case anyone is wondering we traveled with this family when we got Anna and they got Kaia. We were even able to visit them twice since we have been back from that trip to China! Since then they have had another birth baby (which now totals 6 kiddos)and Laura has become a medical Doctor in the last 2 years - great job Laura! You are awesome!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

So Long Tooth Fairy!

The girls went to the dentist over the last couple days. Both Emma and Ellie have all of the big teeth! I was shocked, I thought for sure there were at least 4 baby teeth back there. Sarah has lost her teeth quickly and she still has 4 baby teeth. They think it was because of malnutrition in their early years - it is called early eruption and is very common in Africa. Maybe it is a common thing in their bio family? I don't know, but one thing is for sure they will not be having any visits from the tooth fairy in America - kinda sad but it's the way it goes. Hubby and I are famous for forgetting to help the tooth fairy out and then we need to make excuses and plant a dollar somewhere in their bed!

The girls also have really nice teeth- again a shocker- I was all set for cavities and crowns. Ellie has one small cavity and they will both be getting sealants at our next visit. They had to chisel a lot of stuff off the teeth but underneath all that, they are healthy!!

This info along with the hand x-ray/ bone age is not helping my plan to make the girls younger. I guess it is what it is. We are leaving Ellie at just turning 8 years old but are still planning to make Emma newly 9 years old instead of ten.

Emma loves American food- she is part of the clean plate club! At only 54 lbs she has plenty of room for growth!! Ellie has been asking for her chicken feet but golly they don't have them in America. IF you know where I can find them, DON'T you dare tell me! I like saying in the most sincere way I can "I am so sorry honey we don't have chicken feet in America!!"

I have been bad... real bad! The other night the girls and I had a full and active day. When the evening came they happily got in their PJ's! It just so happened the clouds rolled in and a thunderstorm was brewing (hubby was out of town), it looked quite dark outside... it looked later than it was... so at 7:59 our little tribe went to bed!. I felt guilty, it wasn't very late but inside I was high fiving! Woohoo, a little time for me!!

Today, again we ran around and were busy. Now we are home for a little while- I sent the girls upstairs to play! Okay, now the truth... so I could sneak a little chocolate! I went into the pantry (as fancy Nancy would say a glorified name for a closet) with a fork and ate the chocolate frosting off of the cake! I was happy in that, ahem closet, until I heard the pitter patter of... okay truth again, the stampede of little feet. I was out of that closet in lightening speed- my secret is safe and I have had my chocolate fix!

AHHHHH, life is good!!

More questions answered next post!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Questions Answered!

Larita asked-
I've been trying to learn our daughter's language but am not doing very well. How does the language issue work out? Our daughter is 7 and I'm starting to worry about communication.

I answered - I also tried to learn Chinese but was not successful. I bought ros*tta st*ne but just didn't have the time to learn such a challenging language. It is wonderful that you are trying to learn it!

Our Daughter Sarah came home at 8.5 yr old. She did not want to learn english but she is a talker and caught on quick! She got most of it from home- repeating what we said. We had her do ELL classes in our local elementary school- that was only for 45 minutes a week- but it still helped. We had her watch sprout TV and learning videos- baby Einstein, Elmo, curious buddies, preschool prep, etc. She had such a strong desire to communicate that her language skills happened rapidly!

This time I'm afraid it will not happen as fast. The girls can talk between each other and they don't seem very driven to try the language. We will need to give them more time. We are thinking about doing ELL in the schools again (even though we homeschool). I haven't had the time or energy to devise a homeschool language plan yet- we are still just adjusting.

We do a lot of pointing and charades in our home!
I started writing this post this morning and already by the evening Ellie is showing interest and copying what we say! So maybe it will be faster than what we think!

By 2 months we were communicating with Sarah through very simple language. By 6 months people had no idea that she was just learning English- she did great! We knew where the wholes in her language where others did not.
By one year others raved about her english. We continue to work on tenses, plurals and vocabulary, etc. At 14 months she was comprehending what she was reading about 85 % of the time. It is just happens- it is so awesome to experience!

Blogging friend asked-
I guess the questions I have are more down to earth and home life.
1).How are the girls doing with attachement?
2).Are they calling you Mom and Dad yet? if not what do they call you?
3).How is Anna doing with having 3 big sisters? I know she and Sara became very close after a while and wonder if that has changed? Is Sara protective of Anna with Emma and Ellie?
4). Where you able to get Emma and Ellie their own American Girl Dolls (I think that is what they are called)? If so, what did they think of that? Obviously they like dolls but having one of their very own I bet is nice too.
5)?How are the girls doing with discipline? What type of discipline you use? Assuming you have had to do much other than saying NO.
6). How are they doing with sleeping? Has it taken them long to get use to the new time difference?

I answered -
1). Surprisingly well. In fact we think it is better than with Sarah. They don't seems to be parent shopping. They seem to like us and respect us! They had birth parents that they new, they had foster parents for 3.5 years so they get what a family is! Honestly I think they more than like us- I think they are lovin us- it's growing everyday!

2). They called us Momma and Babba from the moment we met them! Now they sometimes call us Mommy and Daddy or Momma or Babba!

3). Anna is really enjoying having her new big sisters! She has regressed a little bit- talking a little baby talk, wants to be carried a lot and a little whiney but she seems very happy. She has no problem speaking up for herself and telling a big sis a thing or two! Sarah is not protective of Anna. If she felt she were in danger she maybe would be but Sarah is a little bit more of a leader who now has a following- her 3 little sisters! All 4 sisters tell on each other, tease each other, and play with each other.

4). We are waiting a month or two before we get them. They love dolls but they need more time to adjust to everything. We have actually put Sarah's Am. girl dolls away for a little bit. Emma was taking everything from Sarah and hiding it- kind of the hoarding thing. So we are just going to give them more time and wait until we can communicate about it. Then they can tell us what the want!

5). We had to use very strong discipline in China. The girls were wild and out of control. They didn't seem to respect anything or anybody. They spoke rudely to others in Chinese, they ran away, they had never had any experiences and had no idea how to act. They hit us, bit us, pinched us, pulled our hair and kicked us. They spit out the bones and cartilage from chicken feet onto the carpeted floor of the restaurants. They threw food- oh my, I might as well stop here- you get the picture! We kept them very close to us. One adult always had one of the new girls at their side. We had to say firm No's to them. If they laugh at the No's we give them the stare down to show we are in control. If they continued to be disrespectful we had to get in their face and give very firm no's. We prayed about their behavior and that God would intervene and help our girls and help us. They scared us. We had each of our guides talk to them and make it clear what we expected out of them as far as behavior and how they needed to act if they wanted to come to America. Pardon the expression but we called ourselves the "N@zi parents".

This may sound terrible and overdone but it was necessary. It surprised hubby and I that we needed to be this firm and at times we were uncomfortable with it too.

After 2 weeks of that we came home with two good girls! They want a family, they want love, they are happy and they have come a long way as far as acting appropriately! We are amazed because we were concerned it wasn't going to get better. Now we say a firm no, we do not get in their face but we make sure we have eye contact. We have them say sorry- in English or Chinese. Very little is needed now. If they misbehave it is often because they don't understand or they have not been taught what to do in certain situations. I can see on the face they really do care and they are trying! For us it is like a miracle- only God!

6). Sleeping in China was rough- they were so excited and over stimulated. They are doing pretty good now that they are home! All 4 sleep in one room with 2 sets of bunk beds. They go to bed around 8:30 pm and get up at 6:30 am. The first week we were all tired but now the jet lag is wearing off and we are getting settled in!

Carol asked-
Although I did not think I would do this, I ended up taking our daughter (and myself) to Chinese school and we love it! We are both in Chinese Second Language (CSL) classes and participate in all the events and activities throughout the year. Do you or will you take your girls to Chinese school (assuming you have one in your area?) The older girls may appreciate it because they will feel like they still have a link to China and can retain their own language and be bilingual. Thank you for taking the time to share your family with us.

I answered -
Sarah was in China school and Dance every Saturday last year. This school year we have decided to wait until after Christmas to sign the girls up for China school. They have so much English to learn we want them to get a head start on English before they continue with their Chinese. We would love it if they were bilingual and are planning to have the Chinese language as part of our homeschool in the future! We are also involved in a play group with other families that have adopted from China, we meet every week in the summer and every other month during the school year.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Questions #1 and #2 answered!

Question #1-
I was wondering, as you prepared for your girls did you buy all of their clothes, shoes, toys etc. prior to their arrival or have you saved some of the shopping to do with them now they are home?

I've been thinking about what would make our girls feel more at home: arriving and finding their closets and drawers already filled and waiting for them, or just barely filled and they help shop with us to fill them.

What are your thoughts on that?

Jean Says - I tried to prepare for the girls ahead of time as much as possible. Taking them shopping would be quite a challenge in the early days of being home (it depends on how many girls their are and their temperament). Everything is so new and overwhelming to them- usually they need to take it slow. I just like to "be ready" as much as possible- it feels good to me. Buy enough to have for a week or two (with washing). Then after you figure out more of what the need and go and get it when you think they are ready to be in the store.

We bought a few toys for the house with Anna- she was young when she came home. With Sarah we purchased a few arts and crafts things to have for her. Our toys have slowly accumulated with holidays and new children. We already have more than we want...

Question #2
Did you wait until your biological children were older to adopt because you had specific reasons or Is it just the timing the Lord gave you? Would you recommend waiting or adopting while your bio children are still "being raised" as well?

What are the biggest challenges that you and your husband have come across while adopting older children?

Did you work while raising your bio kids and do you work now? How did you decide how to balance between working and raising children?

Jean says - We did not hear the call to adopt until our children were older. It was so awesome how God spoke to us during a time that only 2 of our children were still home. It was like a lightbulb went on and we knew that was where he was leading us! For us waiting was a good choice. All 4 are special needs and their needs vary- I feel like I am able to devote myself to their needs at this time in my life. I also feel like our older bio kids had their needs met when the needed us the most. We are always still there for them but 3 of them are independent now- college grads and working. This way just worked best for us. Many families do just fine with mixing their bio and adopted kids.

Because the process can be long do wait too long to get started. Actively pray now and God will guide you to your children!

I think the biggest challenges are that children who have not had parents have no idea how to act in any situation. They have so much to learn and they need love, time and patience to learn and catch up to other children their age.I think we may be in our most challenging time right now. However when/if we adopt more- I'll may be saying this again! I am just not sure where our Emma will fit in academically and socially. I believe she may have more underlying medical needs than we realize and I also feel she will have learning issues- she is a hurt child (more so than the others) and needs lots of love and constant watching.

Also give your child time- do not judge them by how they act the first couple weeks. We have been amazed at the progress our new daughters have made already. Try to understand how their whole world has been turned around- nothing is familiar to them. Every once in a while I see the girls silently mourning all they have lost. They may be quiet or staring out a window with a little tear running down their cheek.

It was also very challenging for us to be as firm as we needed to be while in country (China). The girls were out of control and we needed to be firm, follow through and loving at the same time. We needed to show them we were in control and they were in good hands! That was very challenging but by doing that we have made many positive steps!

We love older child adoption. We feel it fits our family. Many times you have a child that can integrate into their new home and life without many issues. Their are no guarantees with older child adoption- it's really about trusting God. He gives you the children he thinks you can handle and that are meant to be yours to care for, some are easier than others.

I am a stay at home Mom right now. I graduated from a 4 yr college with a BA degree and ready to be an RN. I worked 5 years, stayed home for 14 years, worked 4 years and now I am home again. I feel like I am needed at home right now. I am not planning to going back to nursing. I am planning to care for our children and then advocate for other adoptive families in the future.

Blessings on your journey- it is so awesome and a little scary- trust the Lord!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Q and A!

You ask and I answer! If you have a question please leave a comment and I will answer them in my next post!

Blessings to you!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dr Appts, Playgroup and Church!

We had our playgroup today (FCC- families with children from China) and the girls had a great time! It was so nice for all of us to be with these wonderful families! It was interesting that the girls did so much better with other adoptive families than at a park with children playing. They just fit right in regardless of the language barrier and played! Some of the kids knew some Chinese and they tried it out on Emma and Ellie! One of the families will be traveling in September for their baby- they waited 4.5 years for her. We are so excited to welcome our youngest member to the group soon!! Another family will travel in August for their 13 yr old daughter! I love that our group is still growing!

The girls received a few gifts and they even had a princess cake made for them (thank you Michelle and Zhou)! It was delicious! They were thrilled and it was obvious how much they enjoyed the afternoon!

After that we went to Emma and Ellie's Dr appt. Early this week they went with Anna and Sarah to their appt, so they could see what it was like. They had blood drawn and did surprisingly well. They also had the left hand x-rayed for bone age. I am interested in what the results are and this next week we go to the dentist- I am looking forward to her input, too.

I think the girls are 7 and 8 yrs old. Ellie thinks she is 7 and Emma thinks she is 10. Then 5 minutes later Emma said she was 9? I know 10 is not right- we will see if it is going to be 8 or 9 for little Emma. When we figure it all out we will let you know when their birthdays will be!

We are going to have Emma do physical therapy. She has weaker muscle tone and she is more rigid. There is a chance she may have a tethered cord (I have no experience with that )- so we are going to a specialist to check it out. Nothing was in her medical report but she has something at the base of her spine that is questionable.

I need to remember to keep my expectations low and give the girls time to adjust. I tend to want to jump right into life! The girls have so many things they are adjusting to- we just need to take our time. We have only been home one week now.

We went to church with all 4 girls- a first. Arrived late, sat in the back ready to leave if needed. The only one that had a hard time was Anna (not a surprise)! Emma and Ellie sat perfectly and quietly, we were shocked! I have already scheduled their baptism for mid August- I want them to be familiar with our church so it's not a complete shocker. They are doing it after the service- whew! I am tired of audiences so we're glad it will be kind of private. We were stared at every moment in China. Now tonight we ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant and had an audience their too. They mean well and are so nice to us but we hoping for a quiet dinner as a family. They talked to girls and gave them some instructions from us- like don't wake your sisters up in the morning, don't pick your scab, chew your food before you put more in your mouth, don't pick food up off the floor and put it in your mouth - you know all that really important stuff that mom's want to tell their kids!

Feeling Blessed and Thankful!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Home for 5 days!

This pic was taken before the accident. After this we told her to put her helmet on and then tried to help her get it on. I had to post it because she looks so cute on her bike and has worked so hard to pedal!

Everyone loves big bro Mark! He is tons of fun- he's just like Grandpa Boppa!

Mark was going to trim his hair he didn't realize it was set at the shortest setting- he ended up needing to redo his whole head! Oh well- at his age it will all grow back!!

More fun outside!

Big girl little bike!

Anna decided to wash her toys in the doggies water dish. She was so cute about it I decided to take a pic! You know how slimy doggy water dishes can be - yuck honey!

One of the toys from China got stuck on the ceiling! Big bro Johnny to the rescue!

The girls love playing with their dolls!! I love seeing them play with their dolls!

We lost our internet connection for a little while- oh my- I could hardly stand it! Thank goodness it is up and running now!

Ellie is doing great. Her bump has turned into a bruise but is healing nicely!

I am happy to say everything is moving along just fine! The girls are adjusting well and getting comfortable in their new home! Emma particularly likes being home. She loves playing with dolls and doll accessories. It is really quite cute! She is so much more peaceful at home. She is responding well to love and positive reinforcement. We still occasionally have to tell her NO but she is listening to it now- PTL!! I can tell by the look on her face she want to be a good girl and doesn't like to have no said to her. When we first got her the expressions on her face did not match her feelings- now they do. It actually concerned us in China so it is so good to see them correlate now!

I think it even surprises Ellie that Emma is behaving. She was always the favored child so this is a change for her, too. It will take her a while to get used to it and to understand both can be good- there doesn't have to be a bad and a good.

Today we actually got up before the girls!! This was a minor victory! Usually they pounce on us early in the morning. It feels so good to have baby steps in the right direction!

Ellie is not so happy with her new Momma's cooking or lack there of! Emma is eating up the American food but Ellie is not so fond of it. We try to have Chinese every other night (yea, take out) and order extra rice for another meal but other than that they are being fully immersed in our way of life. All in all it is going well and I think they are happy and settling in nicely!

The language is coming slowly- slower than I remember with Sarah but it is happening. We are working on the colors, the siblings names, counting to 10, please, thank you and okay Mom!

I had signed the girls up for a park playgroup when we thought they would be home in early June. We went to it this week and gave it a try. It was a challenging environment for Emma and Ellie. They were unable to follow the directions due to the language issue. Most of the equipment is new to them and they just don't have the muscle development to do what the other kids can do. Soon they will grow in coordination and ability but they just don't have it yet. That is one of the many aspects of adopting older that we love- the transformation!! More on that topic at a later date!

Just in case you are interested- I had my hair highlighted today- no bugs- I'm in the clear- thank goodness!

Thank You Jesus for each day as a family of 11!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Evening in the ER

We were all outside playing, riding bikes, scooters and getting wagon rides with big bro MArk. This was the first time he met his new sisters so everyone was excited! Ellie loves riding her bike and she is actually working hard to pedal it!

This time she got on it with out her helmet. Right away I let her know she needed to get it on. She smiled and shook her head no. I insisted and Mark walked over to her to help her put it on. She refused, shook her head no again, giggled and started to get silly. Then fell over on her bike and hit her cheek bone on the driveway. She seemed stunned and had a far away look in her eye. I thought she was holding back the tears but no realized she probably knocked herself out for a moment.

Little tears ran down her cheeks but it wasn't a full out cry. I comforted her- trying to show her that's what Mom's do and hoping to make her feel better. It didn't have much impact and she still had a far away look in her eyes. We decided that was enough of the outdoor play and we all went inside for snack. Ellie had a couple bites and then wanted to go to sleep. She had her head on the counter and refused any more food. Before I knew it she had slipped out of the kitchen.

We hadn't seen mark in 3 weeks and I was busy planning dinner so I didn't really notice for awhile. The girls told me she had gone to bed. We are all still jet lagged but that is not normal for her. Still I figured she was just tired and was upset about falling- maybe it all just exhausted her.

The girls tried waking her up- she didn't want to get up. When dinner was ready we carried her down and set her at the table- she seems to always wake up for meals but not this time. She just couldn't wake up, if she did her eyes would soon shut again. Again we still didn't put the pieces of the puzzle together. We thought it was a bad case of jet lag along with just not liking the food.

A couple minutes later she threw up. That's when it occurred to me- okay, something is going on. This is more thsn jet lag. We got her cleaned up and ready to go to the Doctor. She threw up again- okay skip the Dr's office we are going to the ER. Then she threw up a third time, skip the ER- we are calling 911.

Two police cars came with sirens, then an ambulance, with sirens. Ellie was still looking dazed, had an occasional little tear and continued to nod off. I went with her in the ambulance- she continued to act that way. Her vitals were okay but she worried the paramedics. We ended up going to the children's hospital with full sirens. (I wanted to pull out my phone and text you all for prayers but there wasn't time)

We were met with a complete medical team prepared to care for her. They were wonderful and I was so thankful. They did a CAT scan- she was perfect and was very still. It looked just fine PTL! They had a translator come but Ellie didn't speak- just shook her head yes and no to answer the questions. They decided she has a concussion and we were sent home 3 hours later.

She has a headache now and I have given her motr*n (per Dr's orders). She did not eat BKF and is resting again. I am still concerned for her. Please pray that she is feeling better soon and her headache is just a headache and nothing more.

Thank you! God Bless You!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Guess Who's Speaking Chinese...

You got it- it's Sarah. She didn't say hardly a word in China but once we got her home she is jabbering away with the girls. It is usually helpful BUT not always.

This morning I asked her what she said to the girls... She told me that she said- "It's 8 o'clock".

I looked at her and said ahhh, It's not 8:00... it's 5:30... 5:30am...

yea I know she said...

Okay let's clarify this, if you talk to them you have to tell them true things not just whatever sentence you can say... (while giving her a firm look)

Okay (reluctantly said)...

She can only say simple sentences but it is fun for them to chatter.

There is a part of me that wants to say excuse me... this is english immersion! Sarah did go back to calling them their Chinese names and we had to correct her.

Yesterday we went to a park- it was a half hearted effort to keep everyone awake! The girls had never been on a swing before. Again the shouted with glee! Ellie fell off but she gets right back up again and tries harder!

They also tried bike riding and skinned their elbows. Hubby put on bandaids- princess bandaids - another first! (I was already in bed)

Okay it's now 7:23- I ate bkf already but I'm ready for a second one! I don't do well with jet lag... We are all exhausted. Can't wait for things to get back on track!

(I'll post pics when I get a chance!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home Sweet Home! What we found out in China!

Leaving the White Swan!

New faces at our kitchen counter!!

Look at Emma's smile- that is a for real smile!! She loves to dress up and loves that doll she found in our house! They both love the dress up shoes!!

Everyones happy we are home!!

It feels so good to be home! Thank You Jesus!! I am so grateful that our travels were uneventful. It was exhausting but we made it!! The girls were giddy to be home! They both ran and hugged their Ge ge- Johnny!! We were surprised they were so affectionate to him. He was genuinely excited to meet them and show them their new home. After about 4 hours- he was getting tired of all the activity- that is understandable. We are going to move a few things around so that the older kids can have the basement and the younger kids can have all of their toys upstairs. Everybody need s little space to retreat too!! My shower and the computer are my two spots!

The girls are loving our toys- nothing new just stuff from Sarah and Anna, but to them it's all new! I like seeing it get used and so much joy coming from their playing!! Emma and Ellie are really into dress up!! They can't get enough of it- it is so cute. We have seen some wonderful natural smiles from Emma- which is good!! The dear girl had no idea how to deliberately smile - like for a pic! She needs more mirror time!!

Sorry to leave you hanging but I have had to think about this for awhile because I don't know what it means, or what to think.

When we were in China we found out that our girls have another sister. It is so wonderful to know that... I mean - I have often wondered about Sarah and Anna- do they have birth siblings in China or are they adopted somewhere. We love them so much we would want to give their siblings a home too if it could work out!

In this case we have heard that the little sister still lives with the parents. That's good... the children should live with their birth parents, if they can. Isn't that what we all want? I mean of course it is, but it does bring about confusing feelings and then twists the whole adoption thought process. I had to think this through a bit because my first thought was maybe we could adopt her, too! HOLD IT, she is where she should be- with her birth family. What am I thinking? She is not an orphan, she has a home. She is right where she is supposed to be.

Then I started thinking- oh my- of course most of our children have siblings- we just don't know who they are? That thought drives me crazy- it's a puzzle that can never be solved.

What are your thoughts?

(I'll add a few pics when I find my camera!)