Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008!

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It amazes me how fast 2007 has gone by. We've looked back at the year and realize so much has happened. We found our son (March) AND brought him home (November), Sarah won 3rd place at the State level in the national PTA Reflections Contest for dance choreography, Analiese had TWO surgeries to close her palate, Dave got a promotion, Gracie learned to read and I became a volunteer with Love without Boundaries.
We've had our health, lots of happiness, good friends and lots of opportunities. We have been blessed and thank God everyday for all the good in our lives.
We look forward to 2008 and know that it will be just as busy as 2007 was. To start the year, Sarah will be performing in the half-time show at the Jan 5th Atlanta Hawks game. In May, our boys, William and Thomas are graduating from High School, as is our niece Liz. The kids are just going to love all the celebrations. We'll, once again, vacation with the Browns; this time we are meeting in Gatlinburg. The summer will find us at the beach--with Matthew who will love it as much as we all do. In the fall, Analiese will start kindergarten and Matthew will have learned enough English to communicate with us! Grace is moving into 2nd grade and Sarah will be in her last year of elementary school (big transition for Mom!).
Through all of the wonderful events we hope to slow down and enjoy each other and help Matthew (and each other) become a part of our family. We all have new roles and places to fill with his arrival. One thing that we've decided is that we will no longer run the Chinese school. Dave's dream was to bring the school to life, which he did, and I am so proud of his accomplishment! Hopefully the school will continue to blossom and we can bring the kids as students sometime in the future!
When Dave and I married we never, ever envisioned this future for us. God's plan has unfolded in so many wonderful ways for us; we are so excited to see what He has in store for us in 2008!
Happy New to all of you, may you be as blessed as we are! Love, Tina Dave, Sarah, Grace, Analiese, Matthew, Duchess and Clarence!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Waipo (wy-po) and Waigong (wy-gong)

We had a very nice visit from Granddad Matt (Wygong) and Grandmom Eileen (Waipo). The kids just loved showing off and getting lots and lots of attention! Matthew instantly bonded with them and freely, without warning, gave lots of hugs! I loved having some help as Eileen is wonderful around the house; cooking and cleaning!
The night before Dad and Eileen left I tried to explain to Matthew that they were leaving. As I tucked him in I said, and pantomimed, "Waipo and Waigong going bye-bye". Matthew's response surprised me; he started to cry, covered his eyes and said, "No go Waipo and Waigong". It was just heartbreaking.
I had Eileen come up to comfort him and tell him that he would be able to talk to them on the phone. It was obvious he was so sad. Needless to say, this morning when Matthew woke up, he ran through the house, yelling for Waipo and Waigong. He wanted to know where they were.
Once again, we tried to explain that they had to go home, unfortunately, Matthew hung his head. The good news about this is that Matthew has shown how much he loves having a family. He understood the attention and he seemed to understand the relationship. On many occasions I would point to Granddad Matt and say, "my dad" and Matthew would smile and repeat.
The only time he seemed to be distressed is when I told Matthew that Wygong's name was also Matthew. He whined and kept pointing to himself, saying, "Matthew". He really did not like it that Granddad Matt had the same name as he did. The visit really was so much better than I could have imagined for Matthew....he is making such great progress!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays from All of Us

I sure wish y'all could have shared in our day. It was wonderful, to say the least! We are so blessed to be a family, to be healthy and to be able to enjoy the fun things!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A visit with Santa

We had our visit with Santa today. Matthew was very excited while we waited in line. He was curious to see what was going on and waved to Santa several times. When it was our turn, Matthew and the girls readily climbed up into the chair to chat with the jolly old elf. We told Santa that Matthew did not speak english but that did not stop him from speaking quietly to Matthew. It was so fun watching Matthew smile for the camera. The girls all told Santa what they wanted. Grace also asked Santa how old Hershey was; Santa said that Hershey was one of his oldest elves at (at least) 200 years old! Grace's eyes just got so BIG and then she giggled.
After we saw Santa all of the kids were so animated--including Matthew. Even though he has no clue what all of this is about he is loving every minute of it! On the way home Matthew was singing, "It must be Santa" and then "Jingle Bells". As soon as I figure out how to post a video I'll share. It was so clear and Matthew was truly happy. This is such a magical time of year for all of us!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cardiologist's Report

Today Matthew saw the cardiologist. I can't say we are encouraged about the results but on the other hand we are not discouraged. After several tests and a sonogram, it seems that the diagnosis is a "Fistula of the right atrium". Basically it is an interruption of the flow of blood. The cardiologist seems to think that this is was most likely caused by the deficits in Matthew's diet and that after 6 months of a good solid, appropriate diet, rich in protein, Matthew's heart will heal itself.
So, for now, Matthew must take antibiotics prior to any medical or dental procedure. He doesn't have any restrictions on his activities but I certainly will alert the coaches at school that Matthew has heart issues. I just would hate for ANYTHING to go wrong during PE.
We will forward the report to the dentist and we should be able to now make a plan of care for Matthew. I shudder to think what is in store for Matthew. He is more like Grace in regard to medical procedure; fear and screaming. Unlike sweet Analiese who just takes everything in stride. Speaking of Analiese, she was at the dentist the other day and he just RAVED about how well she is doing, in healing and in dealing with the appliance. It was agreed that she would return the day after Christmas for another evaluation. In the meantime we have scheduled the removal of her appliance for January 3rd.
Unfortunately Analiese will have to be put under for this procedure but the risks of doing it in the office are way too many. Right now the appliance is basically cemented in. There is a possibility of the device "sticking" and having to be forcibly removed. We just don't want Analiese to go through that. Right now she doesn't have any fear of the dentist, the surgeon nor any medical procedure and we want to keep it that way. In her mind the doctors are there to help her not hurt her.
So, for both of our children, their medical needs are more than what we first imagined. The good news is that nothing is insurmountable and we have the best care possible. We just hate that the children must go through the medical go-round. They've certainly had their share of challenges.
Matthew is doing so well this week. The meltdown that he had last week seems to have been a turning point for him. He now hugs me every chance he gets, wants and gives kisses freely and says I love you. We wonder if he just had a MAJOR grieving episode and we just didn't recognize it????
We are learning just as much as Matthew is. I must admit, I'm liking my son and his sweet personality. I watched him in PE the other day. He played so well with the other children. He shared, didn't argue or fight and was willing to let others go before him. There IS a sweet child there and we just have to patiently wade through the layers to bring him out in all environments!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Elf on the Shelf

The Elves brought us another gift was the Elf on the Shelf. What is that you ask? Well, the material items are a book and an elf. The other part of the gift is that it is a beginning of a new Christmas Tradition for our family. According to the book, this elf, whom we've named Hershey, is here to watch the children and each evening he races back to the North Pole and reports what he sees to Santa. Because of Christmas "magic" he is able to go and return very quickly. To have Hershey in our home, Santa has lain down some rules; 1. Hershey cannot speak to the children, although the children can speak to him and tell him all of their wishes for Christmas, 2. We cannot touch Hershey or he may lose the magic that allows him to travel between here and the North Pole. 3. Every morning Hershey will be in a different place and the children must find him and 4. The final rule is that Hershey will return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve but will return next year.
This gift is very timely because Sarah was just asking me yesterday if Santa was real! She says that some of the kids at school have told her that her Santa is not real and that parents bring all of the gifts. I did my best to explain to her that everyone believes something different. But, just like in the Polar Express, if you don't believe then you don't have the magic of Christmas and Santa will not visit those that do not believe!
She cried and begged for me to tell her the "truth". I told her the truth was in her heart. The most amazing thing? When we got home, the elves had left her a gift of a Santa hat that we had JUST talked about in the car that Sarah needed for her chorus and her dance performance. The elves also left a note that said, "Santa is real". That pretty much sealed it for Sarah; Santa DOES exist!

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Very Bad Day

Matthew had a HORRIBLE day at school. It seemed to start, according to his teacher, first thing. She noticed that he did not want to do his morning work, something that he loves to do. It went down hill from there. By 10AM she came to me and said that he had just refused to do anything, even PE class. When I went to see, he was standing outside of the gym, refusing to go in. I tried to get him to comply but he told me no.
I removed him, called Dave and then went and had my own little melt down as the assistant principal dealt with my son. Dave arrived and it was agreed that I would no longer be the first line of defense. I just cannot deal with the issues 24/7.
By the end of the afternoon, after Matthew refused to go with his ESOL teacher, he had to be restrained because he was screaming, yelling, falling on the floor, kicking and hitting anyone within reach (which happened to be teachers and administrators).
When we left school he was kept from the tumbling he so enjoyed and then sent to his room. I explained, the best that I could, why he was being punished. He had no tears and, what seemed like, remorse. At one point, in his room he wrote, MATTHEW, with no help. This child is learning so I cannot write off his behavior as not understanding, because he DOES understand and he has changed his behavior at home. All I can surmise is that he is choosing to be defiant because he just doesn't want to do what he is asked to do and somewhere in his past, this behavior got him what he wanted!
Next week we have a meeting at school. This is just my worst nightmare. I am now the PARENT of the type of children I am responsible for! What do I do????

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two for the price of one!

Dave took Matthew (and of course Analiese) to see Dr. Thomas, the dentist, who just was involved in Analiese's surgery this past week. So, he took a look at Analiese while she was there and said things look GREAT but she isn't healed yet. He said the longer we keep the appliance in the better. He and Dr. Williams, the surgeon, believe that Analiese is somehow causing the breakdown of her palate (with her tongue, maybe????). Anyway, the appliance doesn't bother her so if they want us to keep it in, keep it in is what we'll do!
As for Matthew we didn't get much encouraging news. Where do I begin? Well for one, they won't do any work until we get Matthew seen at the cardiologist for the heart murmur that the pediatrician has diagnosed. So, next week we are off to the cardiologist for an echo. The dental evaluation revealed that Matthew's molars are in great shape and can be used to anchor some teeth. He also has 3 other teeth coming in. One is a molar that looks good and the other 2 are coming in sideways which is not so good. If they do not "upright" themselves they will have to be pulled. Not good when these are the only teeth he will get. Even the 4 front teeth are permanent teeth (??). The teeth that Matthew gets are baby teeth for him. I guess the tooth fairy will have to come when he gets his dentures instead of when the teeth fall out!
The dentist also said that Matthew's lower jaw bone is very thin and they will consider building up the bone with additional bone. We will get into all of the specifics once we have the full report from the cardiologist.
Through the entire evaluation Matthew did very well. Much better than yesterday when he saw the pediatrician and had to get 4 shots. He screamed and cried and tried to run away. Sounds like Grace a little! Anyway, Matthew was very reluctant to go to the dentist this AM after his appointment yesterday even though I tried to tell him he wasn't getting any shots. Oh well...
Matthew may not have gotten any shots at the dentist today but he did tonight. When I put him to bed we played our game of me kissing him and him wiping it off. I've added a part where I wrap him up in the sheet so he can't get his arms up to wipe off the kiss. Tonight when I did that he yelped in pain. As soon as I pulled down the sheet out came a wasp. The weather has been so warm here that the kids have been out playing and the bugs are still living. So one came in and got comfortable under the covers in Matthew's bed. Well, needless to say Matthew screamed and yelled and then refused to go back to his bed. He cried and yelled, "Mommy" which just broke my heart. I held him and tried to tell him that I killed the bug and it would not bite him but he wanted none of it. As long as I sat on his bed he was fine. So, I did what any other mother would do; put him into my bed where he immediately got under the covers and snuggled in. What a sweet boy!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Santa brought an EARLY gift!

Last night, just as the Grace and Analiese were taking a shower, the doorbell rang. I didn't see anyone when I looked out of the upstairs window but I thought I saw some elves running away from the house. Well, sure enough, when we went to look to see if the elves had left something for the kids we saw a very LARGE box. We quickly ran to open the door. To our surprise we found that the very large box was really a dog carrier and inside was a very tiny kitten. On top of the carrier was a bow and tag from Santa to the kids!
The kitten is so tiny and so very sweet. We've tentatively named him (YES a boy!--I guess Santa didn't realize that we really preferred girl cats) Clarence.
Why Clarence you ask? Well for those of you who seen the move, "It's a Wonderful Life" you know that the angel sent to help Jimmy Stewart was named Clarence. This sweet little cat has been sent from heaven to help fill in the hole that has been here since our wonderful Mei-Mei disappeared.
He is already litter box trained and is trying to win over Duchess. Unfortunately Duchess isn't nearly as excited as we all are to have a new baby in the house. I'm sure Clarence will win her over!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Successful surgery and First choices!

Analiese's surgery went very well. Dr. Williams spent about an hour working on her palate and reported that the repair went well and Analiese has the best chance for a full repair. Unfortunately, the second layer of tissue is thin as Analiese just doesn't have lots of healthy tissue. Dr. Williams hope that the appliance Dr. Thomas, the dentist, put in will give the tissue the opportunity to not only heal but regenerate.
The appliance is very similar to a mouth guard that football players use. It not only covers the entire palate, but also the teeth. Analiese doesn't seem to be bothered by it. She has to keep it in for at least 3 weeks and then we go for a follow up with Dr. Thomas who will determine if the appliance needs to stay. He will remove it, clean it and view the healing. If needed he will reattach the appliance. We will then visit Dr. Williams.
The day of the surgery Analiese and I arrived at Scottish Rite very early; 6 AM! We were told by the nurse that the hospital was full and we may have some waiting after surgery for a room. Boy was she ever right! Analiese was out of surgery and in recovery by 9:15 (surgery started at about 7:45). Dave and I were taken to the recovery room at about 10:00 to wait because there were no rooms available. As you can see from the photos Analiese was very distraught when we first arrived but it didn't take very long for her to calm down. She is such a great little patient. The nurse said that she was so refreshing because most children are not nearly so calm.
We waited until about 11:00 AM before we were moved into a room. It was not one of the rooms that we had in the past, it was one of the smaller rooms generally used for pre/post op only.
We made the best of it, it was much easier after we were given a larger bed. The hospital is NOT the place to get any rest as the noise is outrageous and the nurses and techs are in and out so much. But...Analiese was a trooper and a charmer! She is so compliant and just does everything that is asked of her. On the one hand I am so proud of her but on the other I HATE that she has had so much experience that surgery and the hospital stay has become so common place to her.
Since we've come home she had done so well; she is crabby when the pain gets unbearable but for the most part it is manageable. She hasn't lost her appetite and that is causing some problems. She doesn't like lots of the soft stuff and wants to get back to her normal diet. She also HATES, HATES, HATES the medicine and only wants Mom to give it to her. That is going to be a problem when I return to work on Monday.
Overall I must say the surgery was a success! I so hope the tissue heals because our next option is the tongue flap surgery. I just don't want to put her through that. We will keep praying for her.
Matthew picked out his own outfit today and was very proud of his choice. Mom is going to have to spend a little time explaining fashion to her sweet son!
At school on Friday Matthew had a GIANT meltdown; full of crying, screaming and scratching at his face. Nothing seemed to set him off but he was inconsolable. Dave immediately left the hospital to see what he could do. I spoke with Matthew on the phone and that seemed to help. Gina, the principal and my friend, did a FANTASTIC job of calming him and he was able to return to class and have a good afternoon. We can only guess that he may have thought that I left him (as I was gone Thursday and Friday at the hospital). Matthew wouldn't talk to our Chinese speaking friend over the phone to explain so we are taking him to meet with her in person in hopes that we can get some insight into what is causing his distress at school. We aren't seeing any of these behaviors at home. He is doing so well with our family. He hugs Dave and is definitely attached to all of us. I can only imagine how frustrated he must be at school, not understanding the language and the expectations. First grade has become so academic and leaves very little time for free, fun time. We so want to make it easier for Matthew. Hopefully tomorrow we will have some answers.
Keep our angels in your prayers; Analiese for healing and Matthew for understanding.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Two visits: the Tooth Fairy and the Surgeon

Yesterday Grace's other front tooth came out...of course it was with alittle help from Mom, Mrs. McGuire, her teacher, and Grace herself! Gracie actually was the one who finally pulled the tooth out. I told her that her big girl tooth was growing in before we could get a picture of "no front teeth" and she had to wiggle and wiggle her tooth so it would come out. She looks and sounds so cute! On her letter to Santa she included "her two front teeth" as something she wanted!
Matthew's reaction to the lost tooth was priceless. He looked at the tooth in shock and then stared in Grace's mouth. He kept looking from one to the other. Then he motioned for me to wiggle his teeth (none are loose) and he then pointed to an area on the bottom of his mouth that seems to have a new tooth erupting. I'm guessing that it is an adult tooth as this would be the time that the lower teeth fall out and the new ones come in. We have a dental appointment in a few weeks and will know more. But he was so AMAZED that Grace's tooth came out. Unfortunately we just weren't able to communicate about the tooth fairy so when he loses his teeth it will be a very brand new experience!
Tomorrow Analiese has surgery--again--to close her palate. This time they are putting in an obturator (orthodontic appliance) that will be wired to her teeth. The team hopes that this will help the fistula heal and stay repaired. We will have to bring Analiese back to Scottish Rite once a week to have the area cleaned because we will not be able to remove the appliance. I know that this surgery is going to have more behavioral consequences because it will be more restrictive for Analiese. I also anticipate longer than one night in the hospital. On the other hand, Analiese is such a trooper and very well prepared for the surgery! She is not nervous or apprehension in the least bit. To her, she is going to see Dr. Williams, whom she loves! I am so glad all of this has not frightened her. She really is a wonderful, special little girl!
Matthew's morning did not go well at school. He tried to get his way and refused to participate and listen to the teacher. I was called in twice to his class and removed him. The second time I called Amy, again, who talked with Matthew. The rest of the afternoon went well. He learned a new phrase from Amy, "Qing Nan, good boy". She told him that he must work at being a "good boy". I know he wants to please and I realize that this whole experience is hard and school must be so frustrating for him. BUT...he must understand that no matter how frustrated, angry or whatever he is feeling he absolutely can NOT be rude or disrespectful to others. I know that he can learn and that he wants to please. That is so encouraging to all of us.
On the other hand, at home he is doing so well! He is a little wild when he plays but it is understandable. It will take a while until he learns what is appropriate. But he is polite and loving to all of us.
I must say that the Lord knew what he was doing when he sent Matthew to us. This little boy is teaching us all so much in the process of us teaching him. He has made a HUGE impact at school and so many of the children have been touched by his journey and experiences. A mom approached me and told me the conversation she had with one of her daughters. They read our blog and this young girl has asked so many questions as to why Matthew has had to go through losing his parents and living in an orphanage. This adoption, more so than either Grace's or Analiese's, has touched so many people. This boy, who almost didn't get a chance at a family, now has so much love and support from so many people. One day he will know of the lives he has touched and the people he has changed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A step back and a LEAP forward!

Yesterday Matthew had a VERY bad day at school. He has not wanted to go with the ESOL teacher, Amy, and she really hasn't pushed the issue. Yesterday, when she went to try and bring him to her class he was defiant, folded his arms around his chest and told her "NO" then ran away from her. Well Amy did not want to force Matthew and insist that he come. When I found out, about an hour later, I went and got Matthew and brought him to Amy's class. He told me no also and refused to sit in the seat given to him. I picked him up and plopped him down---he refused to look at Amy or the other children in the class.
During the class Matthew would not participate and began to kick the table, when corrected he continued and Amy had to remove his chair from the group. When she did that Matthew proceeded to rake his fingernails against the chair to make noise. He continued to be a disruption.
You would have thought that when it was time to go he would have jumped at the chance. Oh no, he didn't want to do ANYTHING that Amy wanted him to and he refused to move out of her class. I was called in. I was able to get Matthew to go as far as the hallway of his classroom when he just threw himself onto the floor. Poor Amy was so distraught having to be a part of this scene. She offered to help, to get help, ANYTHING to make things better.
But, I knew that the situation had to play out as Matthew was replaying his behaviors of China. So I sent Amy away and promptly took Matthew into the teachers lounge and had a mom to son moment--which resulted in him screaming at me. With him screaming I walked him, not very easily, to his classroom to pick up his backpack and his coat and off to my office we went.
When we got to my office I got a chair, faced in to my cabinet and sat Matthew in it. He not only continued to scream but began to scream louder and louder. Oh and he threw in some tears out of frustration. I would periodically look at him and he would gesture he wanted to get out of the chair but I told him no, he would then scream louder! One of our assistant principals even poked her head out of her office to find out what was going on. When she found out it was Matthew she just went back into her office.
After about 35 minutes of screaming and just shortly after Grace arrived Matthew stopped crying and got up to play with Grace. Oh, he was not happy when I sat him back down and pantomined his behavior and told him how inappropriate it was. He began to cry--AGAIN.
I finally allowed him to get out of the chair when he stopped crying and have his snack but would not allow him to leave my office to play with the other children. I also called Dave to contact someone who could speak to Matthew in mandarin. Dave called our friend Amy, who use to be the principal of our Chinese school. She readily agreed to speak with him later that evening.
Dave and I both agreed that it was time to follow through with some consequence for Matthew because of his defiant and disrespectful behavior to his teacher. When we got home, I walked Matthew up to his room, again pantomined his behavior from school (which he laughed at when I got to the screaming part) and then I told him that he had to stay in his room. He told me no---AGAIN, but I was insistant. I allowed him to look at books and play with his Leap Frog book. Matthew tried several times to get out of his room but I reinforced the reasons why he was there.
After dinner we phoned Amy and we asked her to be very firm with Matthew. We knew this wouldn't be a problem for her as she put the fear of God into Analiese when she first came home. Amy was very insightful about Analiese and told us that we would have to be firm with her as she was very strong-willed and misbehaved. Amy helped tremendously when Analiese would throw her tantrums trying to get her way. To this day she straightens up immediately if she sees Amy!
We wanted Amy to tell Matthew that his behavior at school was unacceptable. That he must listen to his teachers, that it was not an option to say NO to an adult and that he should never, ever purposely misbehave to try and make the teacher mad! We also had her explain that if he did misbehave at school he would face a consequence at home, just like he had that day--in his room and only allowed out to eat. Matthew listened to Amy intently and responded appropriately. He told her that he understood and that he would do as he was asked. Amy also told us that she presented herself as an "aunt" and that she offered to spend time with him if he behaved.
We were satisfied with how Matthew seemed to respond and hoped for a better day! And a better day we got. My son woke up this morning and after hearing me tell him good morning, went downstairs to the kitchen and, unprompted, told his Daddy good morning! He was in good spirits, as he generally is before school and seemed ready for the day. He had a good morning and went with his reading teacher and participated in the groups activities, he was as competitive as ever in PE but the true test came when it was time for Amy to take him to ESOL.
Lo and behold, that boy immediately took Amy's hand and walked with the group to her classroom. I peeked in a few times and then was summoned to hear Matthew read his first sentence, "Z is for zig zag"!! He also repeated some sounds and wrote his sentence on the paper! I was so proud of him and felt so glad when he waved to me as I left his class.
We are seeing SO much progress with Matthew and are so darn proud of him! He has learned to ask for things with a "please" and then say "thank you". He says good morning and night-night when it is time for bed. He is anxious to do homework and loves to have our approval.
Tonight on the way home from dance class he laughed and giggled with the girls when we had a "stinky gas" episode from one of the kids! He held his nose and as each child named another child and said, "Analiese go potty", he said, "Mommy go potty" and just giggled away! It was so sweet to hear his laughter.
In my office I have photos of the kids which today Matthew picked up each one and named who was in it. The only photo I have of him is hanging on the wall outside of my office. So after he named everyone, I asked, Where is Matthew and he immediately ran to the poster and pointed to his photo! He then pointed to a photo of me and Dave and said, Mommy and Daddy!
Finally, tonight when I put him to bed we played our game of me kissing him and trying to keep him from wiping the kisses off. The difference was, Matthew called me back, and with lips puckered he wanted another kiss. He then he told me, "Wo ai ni" (I love you)!!!! I think our boy knows he belongs!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Home One week

How amazingly fast this week went....Right before we left for China we were looking for a place to store our Halloween candy and today I started my Christmas shopping!! The time is just flying by.
Matthew is making huge strides in transitioning into our family. Yesterday he participated in his first tumbling class. He absolutely loved it! He laughed, he giggled and he acted just like a 6 year old boy trying something for the first time. I so wish I had remembered my camera as the photos would have been so great--next week I'll try and remember!
Today Matthew met his brothers for the first time. I think he was very surprised that they were "big". I think he expected them to be older but still "boys". He was very excited before they got here and then he became extremely shy---however he played basketball with them, played on the swings and played some games with them. He just had a great time.
His english is just expanding everyday. He is learning the names of so many things and using them correctly! He is just a smart kid. He says thank you without being prompted, covers his eyes if his sisters are in the bathroom and he just HAS to put his clothes in the laundry basket and best of all, his table manners have improved dramatically!
Last week at school was OK. Matthew gets tired in the afternoon, that is obvious. He tries hard to keep up with the other kids and does a great job even though he doesn't understand ANYTHING that they are doing. His handwriting is perfect as is his copying from the board. His ESOL teacher spent some time with him and on Friday got to be the one to experience Matthew's first ride on the swing! Things are moving along.
We have to take him to the ENT to check his one ear as it seems to be blocked and then he has to see the dentist for his entire mouth. Then next week he starts on his immunizations...he just will not like that at all!
I have to say that the bonding I did not feel in China is beginning now. I enjoy watching him and am fiercely protective of him! When I check on him at night I see an innocent little boy, not a terror who drives me crazy.
We are all finding our way and our place in this new family that has been created. Our time in China was dark, very dark but the dawn is on the horizon and I know when it gets here, the day is going to be WONDERFUL!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Home and a First Day at School!

We finally made it home after a HORRENDOUS journey! We started out with a very good day. We did not have to wake up early and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast at Chef Mickey's. We got to the Hong Kong airport with more than enough time to catch our flight. The trouble began when we boarded the flight. We did not all have seats together and when we tried to get a couple to swap with us they refused....I was angry as none of our kids are quite old enough to fend for themselves on an 11 hour flight! then we were not in our seats 10 minutes when the captain told us that we would be delayed for a "mechanical problem". Turns out the toilets are not working and you know how BIG of a problem that could be on an 11 hour flight! So we waited...and waited....with not air conditioning. Well Matthew could not wait and started to overheat so I was able to take him to the galley to try and cool down. A flight attendant gave Matthew some ice but pulled it back because he didn't say "thank you". I explained that he didn't speak english but she insisted he could say it in Chinese, she would understand. I then told her that he had NO idea why she was giving him the ice. With that she walked away.
Matthew chewed on some ice but you could see it was not cooling him down. When he started to rub the ice on his arms I knew I had to get him cooler.
Thank goodness a decent flight attendant came by and I explained the situation. He took us to the front of the plane (where we were immediately stopped and questioned as to WHY we would intrude on the first class area. Once again the same flight attendant came to our rescue. He even cleared a small spot so we could sit down.
And down we sat for almost 3 hours. Dave had to eventually bring Analiese up to me as she was so hot and crying for me.
The remainder of the flight went well. Analiese kept occupied (for the most part) and got a good bit of sleep. Matthew also did very well keeping himself busy and getting sleep. Sarah, on the other hand, barely slept feeling uncomfortable next to the old battle ax who kept trying to explain to her that she needed the aisle seat.....Sarah wasn't buying it!
Of course, with the 3 hour delay we missed our connection out of San Francisco, we got through customs 10 minutes too late! When we got to the counter to rebook our flight I was frustrated to say the least. When the ticket agent told me she could get us on a 10 PM flight (it was now 11 AM) into Denver where we could have to connect to Atlanta I blew a fuse. I raised my voice, Ok, actually yelled, that that was unacceptable. Dave, thank goodness, took over and had the agent book us on a flight that left at 1 PM on Delta.
Oh, but we were not getting away without the agent getting her "pound of flesh" so to speak. She, in her nastiness, flagged us for extra security. Now we ALREADY had gone through security to clear customs. But to get on the Delta flight we had to go through the extra screening which entailed standing in full body machine that blew air at us to "remove and detect chemicals", remove and wipe our shoes, open our carry on luggage so that EACH item could be inspected.
Well, I was beyond angry at this point and so was Dave. When we complained the agent yelled at us and we had to ask for the supervisor. We were told that it was the airlines who had flagged us and they (TSA) had nothing to do with choosing us. In my frustration, I said something like, "well damnit" and another agent told me to "shut up". I then responded with, this is America and I have freedom of speech and what do we look like anyway a family of terrorists? Well the agent started yelling that I had said my family was terrorist and that we would need to be detained and so there you DON'T have freedom of speech.
Thank goodness the supervisor stepped in because I probably would have had to be arrested if given the time to respond.
So....the flight from San Fran to Atlanta went well and the ride home was uneventful.
Matthew was so excited when we got home. At first I think he thought it was just another place we were visiting but then he saw the girl's photos on the fridge. He then knew that he was "home". He ran around looking at everything. He loved his bedroom!
For the next couple of days we had a TOUGH, TOUGH, time sleeping. Matthew is a GOOD sleeper. He stays in bed and falls almost immediately asleep. Now once he wakes up he is ready to go. There was NO keeping him in bed even when he woke up at 1:30 in the morning.
Matthew has had a few problems but once again we are very strict in handling them. A couple of things we have had to deal with are: "stealing" and hiding one of Analiese's battery operated toothbrushes, being defiant (I put him in his room where he screamed, kicked and banged for about 20 minutes. When he was done I told him to come and eat. When he refused I told him he could stay in his room or he could go and eat....he made the right choice to come and eat with us) and and demanding food. The good thing is that we are able to make corrections with much less of an issue.
Yesterday was Matthew's first day of school. He was overwhelmed at first by all of the attention but was fine when I took him to his class. I went in and checked on him quite often through the day and was there in the cafeteria during lunch. He did GREAT! He copied the math from the board, did some coloring and cutting (with GREAT precision) and even wrote his name in chinese characters. The other kids were very welcoming. I watched Matthew during PE time and boy oh boy is he competitive! He tried to outrun every boy in the class. It was nice to see him be active in the appropriate place!
Now today at school? That's another story...he started out on a good note but once Dave took him to the pediatrician and brought him back he refused to listen, to sit in his seat or do any work. Well, I had to remove him from class and be very stern with him. He eventually went to his seat but I knew a big outburst was brewing. Sure enough, I hadn't left his class 5 minutes and his teacher called to me that Matthew was screaming. I went in, told him "NO" and removed him from the class. I had to eventually take him in the teacher's lounge and have a discussion.
We went back into class but Matthew refused to work. So...I helped him by taking his pencil, putting it in his hand and guiding his hand to write. Lo and behold he did as he was told!!! Success!! At the end of the day, Matthew was happy. I did talk with him and used lots of sign language to tell him that yelling and crying at school is not acceptable. He seemed to understand.
Then driving home he removed his seatbelt after I had told him "NO" several times. That necessitated a stop and an angry Mom. We shall see if he attempts that again.
Now on a positive note.....when Dave came home Matthew ran to me and yelled, "Mommy, Daddy is home!" It was wonderful to hear that. We had a good dinner with no issues. When the girls were doing their homework, Matthew wanted to do some. So, I made cards with the letters of his name on them. We practiced spelling and writing his name. He is doing so well. He says "Matthew" and remembers 3 of the letters (T, E, and W).
He also did something pretty funny. We have had to be firm on him not walking in on the girls when they are showering or dressing. Tonight Analiese was in the shower and I was in the bathroom with her. Matthew called me and then came into the bathroom carrying his pajamas. I was ready to correct him when I saw that he had his hands over his eyes so he couldn't see anything!!! What progress, what a character!
We are making easy baby steps but do know that we have mountains to climb. But, we see glimpses of the sweet boy we heard about and know that we are going to need LOTS of patience.
Oh, the pediatrician said today that Matthew has a heart murmur, possibly due to his poor diet. She said that other than she is reserving judgement until his blood work comes back. He did weigh in at the 40th percentile and at the 20th for height. So, our son seems to be a bruiser!
Tomorrow he has an appointment at the cranio-facial center at Scottish Rite so he can be evaluated there. Hopefully we will have some more information regarding his dentistry needs.
So, tonight I will go to bed hopeful that tomorrow brings another day of successes, no matter how small they may be!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hong Kong Disneyland

I am SO glad that we had the time to visit Hong Kong Disneyland! In the usual Disney style, we were pampered and made to feel as if we were one of the most important people at the resort! The other visitors, in the park, were another story. Talk about rude! The lack of understanding of taking turns, standing in line and the impoliteness of staring took its toll on all of us. We finally took to pushing and staring back!
The guests at the hotel were of another caliber; they obviously have traveled and understood what appropriate behavior is. Speaking of the hotel it was quite beautiful. In true Disney style, it was fabulously decorated for Christmas (I'll post more photos later). Our room, even though it was smaller than the suite at the Victory Hotel in Guangzhou was more than bearable! The beds, linens and bathroom were immaculate. After a day at the park it was pleasure to come back to!
The park itself is very small compared to what we are used to at Orlando. There is only the Magic Kingdom with limited rides. The characters were few and only the most recognizable ones were available. On the positive side, we had NO waits and could ride over and over again if we wanted. The kids just loved the lack of crowds!
Because we stayed in a resort hotel we were given a second day of access to the park free with our room. So, the first day we toured until 2:00, went back to the hotel, went swimming (that's another story for a different post) and the next day we stayed ALL day long; from 10AM to 8PM. We watched the parade (WOW!) and the fireworks over the castle.
Because the park was beginning the Christmas holiday season it was decorated with all beautiful lights. The castle, in particular was amazing! The castle is not Cinderella's castle but Sleeping Beauty's castle and is much smaller, with no stores and no place to eat (and definitely nowhere to spend the night).
Matthew was amazed and had a great time. He rode Space Mountain twice (each time being frightened) but passed on the third time, opting to sit out with Analiese and myself! The only ride that we could not do was the auto track because the kids were not tall enough to ride alone.
We were sad to leave the resort but have some fantastic memories! I'm so glad that we ended our trip on such a positive note!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hello from Hong Kong

Things seem so much brighter here in Hong Kong Disneyland has a way of easing your stress levels! The hotel is wonderful, just like the Grand Floridian back home! We arrived via the train and it was a grand adventure. We had so many bags, so many kids but we did it and it was good! Matthew is turning out to be a great traveler. It helps that his sister are such good role models.
Matthew's behavior has changed immensely. He really gets it that he is supposed to do certain things. He very rarely yells at us at meals, he puts his napkin in his lap, mostly uses it to wipe his face (instead of his arm!) and he consistently uses a fork! He is such a quick learner.
We had a temper tantrum on the way into the park until we got past the castle and he saw the rides then he whined and yelled that he wanted to go on the rides. Dave and I agreed to keep him off of the first ride (the carousel). Matthew did not cry or yell. When we got off the ride and walked over to the second one he was very well behaved and we have not had an issue in 24 hours!
Seems that our structure and our boundaries are working. He is happy, skipping and enjoying himself as well as having appropriate behavior!
Today was the first day that I had been able to read any comments on the blog. For those of you who felt that you had to defend us THANK YOU, for those of you who so ignorantly blasted us, I feel so very sorry for you. You quite obviously do not know the first thing about children or child development. There is nothing mean nor malicious about setting boundaries and having expectations for children. You are entitled to your opinion but for your sake I hope you never get into to a situation where you must rise to the occasion because you just won't know what to do.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, we will go back to the park today and I will post pictures when we return!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last Photos from Guangzhou

I've not posted because frankly, I'm stressed beyond belief. Matthew's behavior has been HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE--to say the least! When he doesn't get what he wants, and he wants a lot, he throws temper tantrums. The other day Dave took him out of the hotel and Matthew screamed for about an hour. During that time he threw his socks in the river and just basically made himself very unlikeable.
Yesterday he stole AGAIN from another store. What made it so bad was that he mad a BIG show of pulling out his pockets to indicate that he didn't take anything. However, he had some trading cards stuffed into waistband of his shorts. I was LIVID when I found them. I marched him right back to the store, gave them to the shopkeeper and ask her to please be stern with him; she would not be. Oh how frustrating. I even stopped a policeman to see if he spoke english--he did not!
At meals Matthew continues to eat like he is an animal--to put it bluntly. He yells and demands that we get things for him. I now just remove him from the restaurant. Yesterday he didn't think I was serious and stomped back to the table and demanded more food. I promptly removed him again and made him stay away for awhile!
Today has been a bit better. He made a big show of allowing the girls to get on the elevator first instead of pushing his way in front of them, he only yelled twice in the restaurant and I removed him once. The only time he had a behavior issue is when he was in the bank with David. The security guard had to speak with him because he was crying and whining.
The girls and I were in the store across the street and I would not allow Matthew into the shop. He did not like it but the shopkeeper (the first one Matthew stole from) gave him a stern talking to.
I know I'm being very hard on him but feel that is my only recourse due to the lack of communication. Last evening we had our guide speak to Matthew but he didn't respond at all. He had his head down but I'm not sure what that means.
On a more positive note, we went to the safari park and had a good time. The kids loved the animals and got to feed a giraffe--that was a treat! We could have spent the day there it was that big and full of wonderful animals to see. Matthew behaved there but he was able to run and there were no real "rules".
Today we leave to Hong Kong after the swearing in ceremony. I'm dreading the trip but hopefully it will turn out OK. I'm just ready to get on the plane home. We need to get Matthew into the US, into a routine so he can start the process of changing his behaviors.
Dave and I decided that we will not keep him out of school until after the holidays. He needs to be in school immediately, with the routines that go along with it. It is going to be VERY HARD for him but it is in his best interest. Keeping him out of school will only reinforce the "unreality" of life with his family. Right now we are on a HUGE VACATION and he has no structure. Oh boy just wait until he finds out what life is REALLY like; responsibilities and structure!
I have to say my positive attitude is just about shot. My goal right now is to preserve my sanity, and try to remember that I am Matthew's mother but I don't have to like him right now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Lesson Learned

Well another lesson learned another corner turned. Yesterday David took the children to the store to drop off our laundry (yes a store!!). When they returned, Matthew ran into the bedroom portion of our suite and came out with a yo-yo. When I asked Dave if he purchased it he said no. Now I have been through all of Matthew's things, the majority of the items are ones that we gave to him and I have never come across a yo-yo.
I tried to ask Matthew where he got it from but no luck. When our guide came we asked that she question Matthew as to where he got the yo-yo. He simply refused to talk to her. At that point I had taken the yo-yo from him because he kept throwing it around in the air and would not listen when I told him no. He, of course,kept asking for it, over and over.
Later that evening, when Dave went to pick up our laundry he spoke to the shopkeeper and asked if she sold yo-yo's. Of course she did and lo and behold they were the same one that Matthew had. David explained to the young lady that Matthew had taken the yo-yo without paying and then asked her if she would take it back if we had Matthew return it; she said she would if it was still in the package. Of course it was not in the package so David paid for it.
Before leaving for dinner I slipped the yo-yo into my pocket and we made a detour back to the store. Matthew was very reluctant to go inside the store. Once inside I sat him down and out I pulled the yo-yo. Immediately his head went down. I had the young lady there explain to Matthew that we knew he had taken the yo-yo without paying for it and that it was very wrong to do that. She also had Matthew apologize to me. I then got a bag, put the yo-yo into it and gave it to the lady and told her to give it some other child. She immediately handed back to Matthew; I told her no that he had to understand that he does not get to keep something that he did not pay for.
After that Matthew was quiet and compliant. I hugged him and put my arm around him. He did not cry nor did he whine. Later, at another store, he actually pulled out his pockets to show me that he only had his money and his car in them. He was very proud of himself and we of him!
At dinner he showed me every opportunity he got how well he was eating and how he was using his manners. I complimented him each time.
It is hard to know when to look the other way and when to discipline because Matthew just has never learned appropriate behavior. We hate to harp on him day and night but the alternative is to look the other way which we absolutely cannot do.
So, our greatest challenge is to socialize this child in the gentlest way possible. What a task!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Victory is NOT the White Swan

We've arrived In Guangzhou at the Victory hotel. It cannot hold a candle to the White Swan. The first suite they put us in was small and very tired looking. Definitely NOT big enough for the 6 of us! So....down to the front desk I went to inquire about a bigger room. We were given a bigger suite but not much bigger. We are struggling to fit everything into the room as well as ourselves. It is going to be a CHALLENGE for the next couple of days.
The buffet is not even in the competition with the White Swan. Getting to the White Swan in the past has always been a breathe of fresh air. Here at the Victory I feel like we've taken a step backward. I think we might be able to tough it out until Tuesday.
Grace is sick this morning. She has a temperature and a headache. Hopefully this is just minor, something our meds can take care of. We've been giving her breathing treatments regularly so I don't think it has anything to do with her asthma. I, on the other hand, am feeling a bit better. I was able to eat a small breakfast but still do have a headache.
Since yesterday I've been struggling to find some fresh air...there just isn't any here in China. That is part of the reason I am feeling so bad, I just feel like I can't get a breathe of fresh air; no wonder Grace is feeling so awful.
We are off to the medical appointment this morning. I'll tell you I'll be glad to get this all over with and move on.
Our flight from Fuzhou to Guangzhou went very well, the worst part was that we had to sit in the airport for several hours waiting. The kids did well even though it was quite a task staying occupied.
Matthew had a time on the plane. He was very excited about flying and kept asking when we would board the plane. However, once we got on the plane he did not want to stay in his seat, keep his seat belt on or follow any of the rules. It was frustrating for Dave who had to eventually swat Matthew to get him to listen. Matthew cried and whined the last part of the flight but eventually got over it.
Right now he is playing with a yo-yo I've never seen. I wonder where he got it from??? I've been through his entire backpack and this not something he had in Fuzhou. I will have to get our guide to ask him where he got it. Did he take it from someone? Pick it up at the airport? Sigh...I'm getting tired.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leaving to Guangzhou

In a few short hours we leave to go to Guangzhou. This transition plays such a major role in our adoption journey. For whatever reason the children change when they get to this next province. Maybe it's a feeling of security that they aren't going to be returned to the orphanage. Whatever it is we know that Matthew will turn yet another corner.
I, unfortunately, got very sick yesterday. I spent the better part of the day and the night in the bathroom. I'm sure it was something that I ate, who knows what it was. This morning I was able to have some tea and a bananna but nothing else. I'm trying to stay hydrated but cannot think of putting any food into my mouth. What a horrible diet this is....For those of you who think I'm having my children the easy way I so want to scream....being very far from home, not speaking the language and GETTING SICK on top of all of that is not easy, far from it!
Matthew continues to do well though this morning he quickly ate his breakfast and stomped his feet and whined when he couldn't immediately leave the table. He tried to play under the table and really was not happy when Dave put him in his seat. Oh well, we quickly got past that.
As we were packing yesterday and this morning I tried to tell him we were all going on a plane. I mimicked a bird and he giggled. He is a little nervous because he just doesn't know what is happening. When our guide gets here she will be able to explain it all to him.
Oh, I've had several emails asking if I can read the comments left on my blog. No I cannot. But please don't let that stop you from leaving them. Some day Matthew will be able to have a nice record of his journey and all of the support we received.
Right now I'm regretting the choice to go to Hong Kong for a few days, I'm exhausted. Hopefully after our time in Guangzhou I will get reenergized and be ready for Disneyland.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why do you have SO many children, first kisses and lots of smiles!

That is a question we get a lot. Just look at our photos, THAT'S why we have so many childen---for massages! Seriously, we've been celebrities here in China, especially Sarah! Everyone wants to take her picture and more importantly be in the photo with her. Yesterday, at the park, Sarah was in her glory, smiling, posing and pretending to be a Hollywood star. We even had a family give us their baby to hold so they could photograph the baby with us! This part of China we enjoy.
As you can see from the new photo taken this morning, Matthew is just full of smiles and happiness this morning. I got my first KISS last night from Matthew as I was tucking all of the kids into bed. He giggled after he did he gave it to me. He goes to bed very well, no arguing and falls fast asleep. Oh what a dream!
This morning at breakfast he looked at me everytime he did something he knew I would approve of and smiled when I told him "good boy". Oh how wonderful he is!
Today we received an email with some photos of Malone, Matthew's best friend from the orphanage. What a reaction from our boy, first amazement, then excitement and then yelling out his name! I think he was in shock that somehow his Momma got his friend on the computer. These first experiences are so fun to watch.
Today we have a free day and tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou. So... we will go back to the park, let the kids run for a while and then just relax. I'm not sure what we'll do for dinner. Last night we went back to the Chinese restaurant. The food was yummy and Analiese only broke one spoon! After she did that the waitress brought out a fork and a funny!
The kids are all doing so well. I am so proud of Sarah! She has bounced back from being sick to being a helper, a great big sister and a wonderful young lady! I'll tell you she really is an angel! Today Dave took the kids out to do Tai Chi with the locals. The ladies were so impressed with Sarah's grace and movement. Thanks to the teachers at Bravo, Sarah is showing off her skills on the other side of the world, talk about a performance!

Our Temple Visit

We spent the morning visting the temple. Dave took lots of photos, it really was an amazing place. We saw lots of families there praying for a recently deceased loved one. You could tell that's what they were doing because they all had a red rope (or ribbon) tied around their waist. Dave said lots of prayers and lit incense to leave by the temples. QingNan just liked to light the incense. There was a woman who was near tears when she found out that all four of the kids were ours. She said we were just like "Buddha" and had great big hearts. She kept telling me thank you. She was very sweet and kind.
We did get to see an amazing Banyan tree...that's what the kids are climbing on in the photo. It was a great day, warm and pleasant.
After the temple we went to lunch at KFC. Qing Nan wanted icecream and was quite agreeable to eat all of his lunch before he could get the icecream. We then went into the supermarket to get some water and juice. Matthew was quite funny when he said, "no toys again..." What a great sense of humor!
He did throw a small temper tantrum when I would not allow him to go up to the hotel room with Sarah and Grace for water. He stomped his foot and started to whine. I told him "no" and stomped my foot for emphasis. He came right back to me, not happy, but compliant. That was the end of that. Our guide, Catherine, commented that she saw lots of changes in Matthew.
So we are making progress, little by little. We spent some time in the hotel room and Matthew kept calling me, trying to get my attention. He helped put lotion on my arms and just wanted to be near me. I'd say he's accepting his Momma....
We are off to the park and then to dinner. We may attempt the chinese restaurant again...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Our Road Ahead

We had a very uneventful night, we all slept fairly well. The kids were tired and all were asleep by 7:00 PM. I actually fell asleep by 7:30 but paid for it by getting up at 3:30 and only be able to doze until 5:00 AM. Breakfast was less of an adventure today. Matthew is (mostly) learning to eat with silverware, sit up to the table, take one item at a time and use a napkin instead of his arm. He still belches loudly and giggles but does cover his mouth! He tries not to put his face into his plate but is not always successful. He RUNS everywhere, especially to food.
Dave had an adventure in the bathroom with Matthew this morning when Qingnan grabbed the deodorizer from the bottom of the urinal before Dave could stop him. Needless to say hands were washed VERY well! We know that these behaviors are the result of having no structure and no experiences in the orphanage but boy is it hard when the child is older and your mental expectations are different than if there were a baby.
We went to a Chinese restaurant last night and it was a great experience. The entire staff was there watching us. It was a challenge to order and even more of one to eat without any silverware. BUT, none of us went home hungry! The kids were troopers and tried everything but didn't eat a lot (especially the soup where Sarah said there were eyes in the bottom of the bowl--I had a sneaking suspicion she might have been right!).
Once again we are enjoying most of our time but are getting very tired of being stared at. Last evening, on the way to eat, a young girl looked at QingNan and made a disgusted face. Boy did I become protective. I stared her down and was willing to defend my son. How dare she judge that sweet little boy who has been dealt a terrible hand. All I can say is that he may not be what she thinks as acceptable but he is going to have all of the opportunities she will NEVER be afforded. Success is the best revenge!
Dave and I know that we have a long road ahead of us with Matthew. But, once we get home things will be easier. I hope the physical needs can be handled with as least as much interference in his life. He really is a cute little guy with a great sense of humor. He loves to dance around and mimic others. Once again, God has blessed us with a wonderful child; this one is just going to be a bigger challenge than the others ever were!

Panda Park and more

We had a very full day today! We went to the Panda Park, the Lakeside Park and McDonalds! For the most part it was fun and the kids had a great time. However, sweet Matthew threw a MAJOR temper tantrum (see photo) because he was not allowed to buy a toy at the park. We had just finished riding some of the amusement rides and were headed to lunch when Matthew asked to buy a toy, I told him no and he started crying, stomping his feet and then he eventually threw himself onto the ground. Boy did he attract a crowd! I tried to carry him but boy is he heavy. Dave had to finally carry him and Matthew screamed the entire way. As you can see from the photo he sat next to me, threw off his shoes and screamed. When we got into the van, he was swinging his arms and feet, hit Dave a few times but David held him down and kept telling him no. Eventually he calmed down when Dave told Catherine to tell Matthew that his behavior was inappropriate and that he would not get McDonalds if he continued. The behavior stopped and Matthew eventually told us he was sorry.
The rest of the afternoon was calm and full of smiles and laughter!
We went into a butterfly park and as you can see from the photos Matthew was very good at catching the butterflys and letting them go. We got lots and lots of smiles and laughter during that time. That was part of the reason why the meltdown was so unexpected....
During the rides Grace and Matthew went on one ride where you go up and down. He does not like heights...he kept telling Grace, "too high" and you could see the fear on his face. When they got off the ride, just like a true brother, he pushed Grace on her back, not hard and said, "TOO HIGH!"
Matthew is speaking lots to us and is trying to speak English. He has said his name, "Matthew" a few times and seems to be in agreement with it. He is curious about everything and asks lots of questions. I sure wish I understand just 1/2 of what he said!
Sarah is better today, no problems eating. Grace's asthma is acting up but the new nebulizer works like a charm. I am doing great, except for being tired. Dave took the kids back to the park after lunch so I could take a nap. It was refreshing.
We are ready to go to Guangzhou and have had enough of Fujian. It is a beautiful province but we know the corner that Matthew will turn once we move on.
We are experiencing ups and downs but overall we are becoming a family....

Monday, November 12, 2007

We are TIRED!

It was an exhausting night for all of us...except for Matthew. He slept like a baby! The rest of us had a horrible night. Sarah had food poisioning and could not keep anything down, Dave had a migraine headache and Grace and Analiese because of the long nap they had woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. Needless to say we are pretty grumpy.
Matthew has shown to be attached to Dave. When he awoke this morning and Dave was down in the lobby with Grace and Analiese, Matthew got into bed with me but was very quite...until Daddy came in! Then he perked up and immediately wanted to watch these awful cartoons his irresponsible mother bought for him yesterday! They are full of violence and fortunately they are going to get "lost" on the way home next week!
We worked on some table manners this morning. Matthew is very willing to change his behaviors(putting his face into the plate and sucking up his food) but it is hard to constantly remind him.
Overall he is very compliant and listens well. It is obvious that he had very few rules to follow in the orphanange. Matthew did allow me to bathe him last night. Boy did I get lots of giggles and smiles! He so ADORABLE with his few teeth. We are in love with this little boy who in spite of his rough beginnings has the foundation of a wonderful child! He is trying to mimic our language...he repeats the girls names and particularly likes to repeat what I say and giggle.
I'll post some more later after we go to the Panda Park today. Let's hope we can get the energy out of ALL of the children!

What a roller coaster!

We've had quite a ride these past two days. We met Matthew yesterday around 3:00. He came into the conference room very shy, very frightened. He had a backpack on and also the director had a bag of things for him. When he walked into the room he shrunk back and was reluctant to come to us. However with some coaxing he came in, came to me and stood there. Of course everyone started speaking to him, and he became more confused. I held his hand, which he allowed, the girls each handed him a gift and David came over and knelt by him. Matthew continued to be shy and frightened by not duly alarmed.
The aunties had Matthew give each of us a gift of yogurt and to Baba he gave an orange. It was obvious that he was becoming quite upset. One of the gifts the girls gave him was a watch which he put on and now was pushing every button and not wanting to put up his head.
When Catherine, our guide, had me, Dave and Matthew sit together for our family picture was when the dam broke! Matthew began to cry, wail and hurt. He threw his head back, opened his mouth and just began to howl with grief. It did not help that everyone was "talking" to him to get him to look at the camera. As he was on my lap I tried to comfort him as best as I could but it was to no avail. Dave finally asked them to give him a moment. It was so heartbreaking.
Matthew was finally able to stop crying enough for the photo but he wanted NOTHING to do with us! He only wanted the ayis. Catherine was great and had the ayis leave and tried to talk with Matthew; it was obvious he only wanted to leave. We then went up to our room. Matthew only wanted to hold Catherine's hand. When we got into the room the drama only increased!
Matthew wailed and screamed, threw himself onto the floor, tried to scratch himself, he hit his head on the wall and kept trying to run to the door. Dave was on his knees stopping Matthew every time he tried to get by. I'll tell you our son is strong and strong willed!!!
Eventually Catherine had to leave because Matthew kept grabbing her and asking her to take him back to the ayi's. After she left it only got worse. Matthew eventually got down on his knees, clasped his hands together and begged, "Baba, Momma" and kept repeating a phrase which I found out to mean, "I want to go outside". It was so draining and emotional.
We eventually went outside but all Matthew wanted to do was get in the car and go find the ayis. We went inside, had a quick dinner (at which sweet Analiese fell immediately asleep, I so wish we would have had a camera to catch how adorable she looked!).
After dinner we all went upstairs. Matthew found the leapster and boy did he turn a corner. He played for a little, then jumped up, grabbed his bag, and said, "here Momma" as he removed all of the items from inside (other clothes and some snacks). It seemed like he had decided he wanted to stay.
After putting on pajamas and getting ready for bed, I told him that I loved him and he responded, "I love you" (in chinese of course!). Then when I put him into bed I got my first smile after I blew him a kiss and he blew one back!
He slept with Dave, woke up a few times, was reassured, put his head on Dave's shoulder and slept through the night!
Breakfast was uneventful, Matthew ate very well. Having only 6 teeth really did not stop him! It was after breakfast when we had to go to the Civil Affairs that he broke down again. He screamed and cried, told David, NO, STOP! several times. David was very firm with him. Matthew was distraught the entire time we were at civil affairs. to WalMart we went and everything changed. Our son had his first shopping experience. Boy oh boy did he have a great time! He wanted everything. Some things I said yes to (a ball, some DVD's of his favorite cartoons, some books, a few toys and some snacks). He wanted to push the cart, hold my hand, find Baba and just do everything. He also showed his compassion for his sisters by picking out toys for them. He is just a sweet, sweet boy!
We then went to Pizza Hut for lunch where he just had a fun time with Sarah. He had never had pizza and loved every bite. We had Catherine ask him if he wanted to go to school (NO!!!), ask him about swimming (no that will kill me!) and just talk to him about his family. Since this afternoon he has been great. He runs around, sings, dances and laughs very hard. He talks lots and lots in Chinese and tries to mimic some things in English.
Poor Sarah is sick, it must be from something she ate. She just cannot keep anything down. It has been very hard for them. They were all very distressed to watch Matthew cry. Sarah cried and Gracie's heart was broken; she wanted to know if she had gotten that upset when we adopted her. I told her yes but told her that she eventually got happy and reminded her how happy she was and how much love she felt for us and we for her. That helped. Analiese has been worried that we were going to leave her, she remembers her adoption. When we left civil affairs she visibly relaxed.
I must say it has been exhausting. This has been the hardest of our trips. Matthew is so much older has so much more understanding of everything. The communication is the hardest, he has so many language skills. He tries to talk with us and really does a great job listening, but because we really can't tell him right from wrong it has been trying.
Tomorrow we plan on going to the Panda Park if Sarah is better(When I left to come down to business center Dave said he had a headache and a stomache ache). Let's hope everyone is better for tomorrow's adventures!
Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, this is going to be a roller coaster. I sure hope we are up to what is to come!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We made it!!!!

We are here in Fuzhou! The trip was uneventful but so L-O-N-G! The flight from Chicago to Beijing was delayed by and hour and a half, which really worked out for the best because we had less of a layover in Beijing. Sleeping was hard on the flight but we got enough to get us through. We arrived at our hotel at approximately 1:00 AM Saturday (which was 1:00 PM Atlanta time). That makes a total of 20 hours of travel. We lost an entire day...
The girls did GREAT! Yes, even Analiese...Daddy took care of her, kept her occupied and we have very little drama. Sarah was and continues to be a fantastic help, all of this travel has made her very confident in foreign airports.
Our hotel is nice, everyone is exploring right now while I post. We have adjoinging rooms, our has a wonderful king sized bed. I slept like a baby last night. Right now we aren't feeling too bad from the time change. We'll see how that progresses through the day.
We met our guide, Catherine, last evening. She seems very nice and competent. She brought us some typed answers to questions about Matthew. He sounds like he is ALL BOY! He is healthy and has a good apetite (welcome to the Evans family!). We are told he is happy and excited to be meeting us. I do expect to see some anxiuosness and most likely some tears. However, with the girls he will be kept busy!
We've had breakfast and the girls are loving the choices. I even had some CABBAGE this morning!
We get to meet Matthew at about 3:00 this afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to post some video of our meeting. We are so excited and just cannot believe the time is here to meet our son!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The time has come....

It is our last night at home without our son! Tomorrow we get on the plane to China to finally bring him home. we are full of excitement and a few nerves as we head off to the other side of the world. We hope that Matthew is being prepared for his transition and is looking forward to it.
I finished packing and feel so very proud of myself. We have 3 checked bags and 3 bags we will carry-on as well as our stroller. I guess this just gets easier each time you do it! I know that I've not taken nearly the number of items that I've packed before. Part of the reason is because the girls were so young and I took lots of baby items. I also realize that I'm not going to a deserted island; I may even find a Walmart where we can pick up some needed things I might have forgotten!
We leave at 5:15 AM to go to the airport and will not arrive at our final destination until Saturday morning at 11AM Georgia time (11 PM China time). It will be long and hard but that just goes to show that even having a child via the adoption route there is the long and hard labor! The girls are excited and I know they will be good travelers. Sarah and Grace will be a big help with Analiese. The sad part is that we will be making this trip without the Browns. Our first two trips we traveled together and celebrated our newest additions together. I know that they are with us in spirit but geez it really is much more fun when they are in China with us. Whatever will we do if we get lost, who will draw the pictures???? We did get two care packages from them today and promptly put everything into our suitcases....we will be very well prepared for Lucy's! We love you Brown family and will miss your company!
Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of Analiese's Gotcha Day. I must admit, I thought about it a few nights prior and made a mental note to be sure and get cookies for her classmates but it got so pushed to the back that I forgot until I picked her up from school! Boy did I feel guilty! we bought cookies and took them in to school and celebrated her Gotcha Day! Of course Analiese let me off the hook...."that's OK Momma, we'll do it tomorrow." See why I love her so much?!!!
I just cannot tell you how lucky I feel that God has blessed me with my miracle Sarah and then allowed me to parent Grace, Analiese and now Matthew! It just doesn't get any better....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Closer and closer...

We are just 3 days from travel and the stress is starting to set in! With working full time (and being in training until Wednesday), the girls dance schedule, packing, cleaning and final travel arrangements I feel like I'm going to burst! Most of the "stuff" is laid out ready for the suitcase but I need some time to be able to do that. I had not planned on taking any time off on Thursday but I'm thinking that I'm going to need at least half of a day to just make sure things are taken care of!
I wonder if Matthew is nervous or excited that he will soon meet his family. I just cannot imagine how a 6 year old can process the changes that are about to happen in his life. Nothing is going to be the same for him, nor for us. What a journey we all have ahead of us.
I had to make a paper chain for Analiese this weekend; she still cannot understand the passage of time. Every day, many times during the day, she would ask if we were going to get Qing Nan. Now we remove a chain from our link each night before bed time. I so wish I had thought of this earlier!!!
I've been following our friends, the Straights, who are in China right now with their new daughter, Shelby. I can hear the ups and downs in her writing but also the joy and excitement. We think we are ready....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Rooms are Ready!!!!

Dave has finished his painting and I am (almost!) finished with the decorating....We are ready for Matthew to come home! As you can see we did his room in a race car motif. I don't know why, but it just "felt" right. It turned out so cute, I sure hope Matthew likes it. I still need to get a couple of items but I'm waiting so Matthew can help pick them out. I'd like to get a side lamp and a throw rug for next to his bed.
We redid the bathroom in a fish scene...I love the bubbles that Dave painted. I think it tones down the pink just enough. I LOVE the accessories, especially the octopus toothbrush holders!
Analiese and Grace are sharing a room; I'll post some photos of their room later. Analiese is falling asleep lots faster but has asked why Matthew got her room. She wants her bed back even though we bought a new full size for the girls. Grace is having a little difficulty sharing "her room". Ah, just a small piece of what we know we will experience in the weeks to come.
We went to First Fridays yesterday and just loved our time there. The Chapman's put together a wonderful video that just brought tears to my eyes and Craig and Kristie's story so touched our hearts. But, it was when Craig said that there was a "little boy named Matthew waiting in China for his family", that the tears really flowed. Kristie said a wonderful prayer for us and we felt the love and support of all who were in the room. It was very moving and we love Dan and Susan for thinking of us!
We leave in 6 short days. We've heard that Matthew is excited about coming to America and has his family photo album out looking at it. He wanted to know if he or Grace was the older sibling. Ah, once again, just a preview of things to come. Oh Matthew, your life awaits you with a family who is already so in love with you!!!