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 knife...how 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. But...off 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! But....today 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!!!