Thursday, January 31, 2008

Matthew is READING!!!!

We are so excited and celebrating today! Matthew has made such wonderful progress! Today he read a story to his entire class! YES, he sat in front of the class, in a chair and read a story that he had just learned with his ESOL teacher. The class cheered and clapped for him! What a wonderful boost for Matthew. His excitement for school has just grown 10 fold. Not to mention the love he now feels for his ESOL teacher, Amy.
The story is a very typical, repetitive type for pre-readers...the main sentence is: "I go to the" with different places inserted. Matthew knows to go from left to right, uses his finger to point to each word and uses the pictures as clues! What a very bright boy he his. We are so proud of our son!
Also, I found out tonight that Matthew can read some Chinese. I am doing a small lesson on Chinese New Year for Analiese's class tomorrow and was putting my things together. Matthew saw one of the decorations and pointed to each Chinese Character and said, in Chinese, "Happy New Year". WOW! I so did not realize he could read anything in Chinese. This boy is so full of surprises.
Matthew is blossoming in so many areas. His language has progressed to some sentences. He asks lots of questions, asks for me to write words and then he copies them and he has started participating in conversations with us. He also volunteered to say the blessing before dinner the other night. He said, "Bless us, Amen"!!!
We are still getting use to the "boy" behavior, or at least I am. Analiese is active and talkative but Matthew is not only active he moves at 100 miles per hour! He makes noises, pretends he is a race car driver, a pirate and a cowboy all within seconds of each other!
After 2 months at home with Matthew we are getting more comfortable with our new places and routines. I have found that Matthew likes order and is uncomfortable if things are not neat and to his liking. His pillows on his bed must be a put neatly at the foot of his bed each night, not thrown (unlike Analiese who would just toss them on the floor). He doesn't care what clothes he wears but loves that he has choices!
Matthew told me the other night, "Mommy, I don't want to go back to Xiamen, I stay here." I asked him if he was happy and he beamed, "Yes"! He skips wherever we go, he talks to people now and he participates in activities.
We've decided NOT to retain Matthew in 1st grade next year. I know that it is only January but now is the time to start looking at progress and plans for second grade. Matthew obviously does not have any cognitive deficits and holding him back because of a language issue will affect him for the rest of his school career. Next year he will catch up and, hopefully, be right on target for 3rd grade!
Tommorrow we go to see the dentist and the speech therapist for Analiese and hope to "slip" Matthew in during the visit. I wasn't able to schedule the appointment how I wanted to but I know the doctors will do what they can to accommodate--that's how wonderful they are. We hope to get some idea of exactly what our next steps for Analiese will be. I'm in no real hurry to get started on Matthew's care as it is more important that he gets comfortable at school, learns english and becomes socialized!
Dave and I are bonding with this little boy more and more every day. We see the blessing that he is and know that the rough start we got tested our strength as a family. With the support of so many people we are seeing the sweet boy that is now our son!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Something about Everyone!

What a busy week we've had! It seems so much happened this week for everyone!
MATTHEW: He completed an entire math page with very LITTLE help from Mom (with the exception of the initial explanation). He was so proud of himself!!!
ANALIESE: We saw the surgeon and the good news is that the hole in her palate is so small that it shouldn't cause any issues. The bad news? There is still so much air escaping when she speaks. SO... we went to see the speech therapist who did several tests, took an x-ray and did an endoscopy which revealed the cause of the air. Seems that in Dr. Williams repairs of the hard palate, he shortened the soft palate which caused a gap that allows air to escape when Analiese speaks. What that means is Analiese needs TWO more procedures to repair her palate so she can have the opportunity to speak clearly. First, the ENT will need to remove her tonsils and then Dr. Williams will have to go back in and attach a muscle to the back of the hard palate which will fill in the gap. I can't tell you how defeated I felt when I heard the news:(
SARAH: Her Reflections submission has won the school level and the county level and is now at the State level! We won't know what place she has won until we get to the State ceremony sometime in March/April. The theme this year is: How I Can Make a Difference. Sarah chose the video/film category and composed a wonderful photo slide show with music. The photos were all of China, her sisters in the orphanages and then photos of all of us at home. I hope to add the submission to the blog. We are so proud of her work!
GRACE: Has been practicing her reading this past week and is now up to reading 69 words per minute on a 2nd grade level!! Wahoo for Grace. She has worked so hard on sounding out her words. She is such a great student!
DAVID: Has been named as acting "Vice-President" of the library while the current vice-president is out for a few months recuperating from heart surgery! What a wonderful honor for him!
Finally, we all had a wonderful time at the Medieval Times Restaurant Saturday night! We watched the knights perform while we had dinner; soup, bread, roasted chicken, spare ribs, potatoes and pastry--all WITHOUT silverware! It was so much fun! The show was fantastic, just like I imagined it was like way back when! I'd highly recommend the show to anyone!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Some things learned

Have you ever felt that a door has opened somewhere in your mind and there is a certain clarity to things? That has happened to me in the past few days. It's like I've been given the opportunity to really SEE for the first time. It's not like I've been consciously questioning things and searching for answers but the answers have just come. Is it weird that I just seem to "know"? Here are a few of the things that I "know" and am certain of:

I need to accept the offer of new friendships
People that I thought were friends really had a hidden agenda
My husband loves me
I'm still in love with Dave
My children are wonderful
I have been an inspiration to others
My job is really important
I need to change some of my behaviors, such as my reaction to "mistakes" made by others
My daughters are learning to be a good mom--from ME!
I'm doing a good job teaching my children to make good choices
I love my son
I need to find out more about my children's beginnings
We have to start at the beginning with Matthew teaching him how to be part of a family
Matthew loves having a family
It doesn't matter that my children aren't perfect looking or sounding
Sarah has learned so MUCH from her siblings
Adopting my children has been one of the best things I've done and has made me a better person
I'm achieving my goal of "giving back"
Nancy Brown is the best friend I've ever had

The list is not complete and certainly the content is not earth shattering. But, I am CERTAIN of all of those listed. Some of the above just ARE and others I am taking steps to make them a reality. It has been amazing how clear my thinking has been and how certain I've felt in the past few days. I have a certain calmness and feeling of purpose. Is this what midlife is like?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our first snowfall!

Yes, it snowed in Georgia! It was our first for the year, first for the winter, first for Analiese since she has been home and the first EVER for Matthew! So, even though it was only a dusting that didn't last very long it was a MOMENTOUS snow for the Evans family!
For days we've been praying and doing the snow dance for some snow that would hopefully be enough to close school down for the day. Well the snow came (and then went by morning) but boy was it fun! When the flakes began to fall we were eating dinner and suddenly Sarah yelled, "it's snowing!". Sure enough the storm had begun. By the time dinner was over we had lots and lots of big flakes. The kids went outside, Sarah in her jammies, to play! They ran, yelled, laughed and tried to catch the flakes on their tongue!
Just an hour or so after the snow began it really started to accumulate on the ground, but not the roads. I knew that the weather called for the snow to turn to rain by morning, so I let the kids go out on the deck and play. Matthew went out without shoes, socks or slippers. He just wanted to FEEL the snow! He was so happy! When Sarah threw a snowball at him, he looked to me to see what I was going to do...I told him to throw one back. And the fight began!!!
The kids played for a bit and then came in because they were so cold. I cannot describe the excitement in our house as Matthew told me, "Mommy, no snow in Xiamen." How wonderful an experience for all of us--sharing in Matthew's first ever snowfall!
There are so many challenges with adopting an older child but one of the best benefits is that they can tell you about their lives before they came home. Now that Matthew has some english language skills we communicate so much more. He is doing so well at school (and continues to do well at home). We give him "money" everyday he is a "good boy". When he asked me the other day for "ten monies" I told him that he had to talk and participate at school to get "10 monies". Well, sure enough, that little boy has LOTS to say during ESOL class! The best part for Mom is that he was happy with the 10 pennies I gave him rather than the quarter he got the day before. I sure am going to take advantage of this because before I know it he will realize that 10 cents is nowhere near as good as 25!
Today at school he learned lots of new words. Not only how to say them but spell them too! When his teacher put out pictures of a dog, a car, a bat, a rat, a hat and a cap she had Matthew repeat the words--twice. Then she put out letters for individual words and had him recreate them, one at a time! Then she increased the complexity by mixing up the letters for all of the words. Well, Matthew did not spell all of them correctly but he consistently got all of the vowels right! I'll tell you, this sweet boy is making progress so quickly!
We continue to work with him at home. Of course he talks up a storm at home and feels safe in making mistakes. I know it won't be long before he is speaking as much at school.
The other night, as I was tucking Matthew into bed, I asked him if he missed Xiamen (he understands if I say Xiamen but not China) and I pantomimed crying, he said no and vigorously shook his head. I then asked if he was happy here. His face broke into a big smile and he said yes, I love you Mommy! And I can say, from my heart, I love you, too, Matthew!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Teeth, Hair and Hands!

Having kids is really an adventure! At least in our family it is. Our sweet Analiese's tooth is coming in; but from WAY up in her palate! The dentist isn't concerned (and Dave didn't ask if the position of the tooth is caused by the cleft palate) and indicated that it will move on down into the empty spot but not before it knocks out a few more teeth. Oh boy, how fun is that going to be??
Analiese also practiced her artistry skills--on the wall! We have some very thick and greasy cream for Matthew's dry skin. I, not thinking, left it out. Analiese got a hold of it, put it on her hands AND her feet, and promptly left her prints all across the wall! Before we called her on it, we had to stop laughing long enough to take a few photos and at least LOOK stern! Of course she denied it, but faced with the fact that her hand fit perfectly, she admitted that she was the culprit! Oh my, poor Dave has to now repaint as the grease just won't come off the wall.
Dave gave Matthew his first "haircut" this weekend. We actually just wanted to trim off some of the dried, dead hair that he came home with. Since his diet has improved his hair is coming in healthier and his "big belly" (that was an indication of malnutrition) is almost gone! Poor Matthew did NOT want his hair cut. In the orphanage they shaved his head and I'm sure that's what he thought we were going to do. He was pleasantly surprised when he was left with most of his hair!
Everyday it is something new that happens in our household. I cannot imagine what the coming week will bring!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bragging Rights

I just have to brag on Sarah. She spent this past Saturday at a 4 hour clinic with the Atlanta Hawks (basketball) dance team. As the photos show there were LOTS of girls, ranging in age from 6-18. The dance team girls taught each group a dance that was performed at half-time of the game!
Sarah worked so hard at learning the dance. The song was "Walk it Out"--a hip hop tune that I've NEVER heard. But the beat was fun and there didn't seem to be any foul language in the lyrics. I had such fun watching the girls and realizing how determined and talented Sarah is. She picked up the moves quickly and expertly. This is such a thrill for me because I couldn't dance to save my life! I look like a stroke patient doing rehabilitation! (no offense intended!).
After the clinic we enjoyed dinner and some time with one of Sarah's friends and her mother until the actual basketball game started. Once the game started you would have thought Sarah was involved in every sport imaginable. She cheered, yelled and just knew everything that was going on! When it was time to meet the dance team, Sarah could not wait, nor could Mom. I counted every minute, every second until half-time. Then the the moment arrived....the girls all ran onto the court, they got into place and the music began. WHAT???? They were facing the opposite direction!!!! All we saw were butts, lots of butts! The good thing was that the show was shown on the big screen. Come to find out that the "discount" seats we were given were not the "money" seats so we didn't get to see the girls head on! Oh well, it was so fun to watch Sarah perform in front of 10,000 people and do a FLAWLESS routine! My daughter is so wonderful, so talented and so loved!
On another note, the kids, Sarah, Grace and Matthew, received their report cards. Both Sarah and Grace received straight A's. Matthew did not get grades but he was given conduct (good) and work habits (outstanding) and penmanship(outstanding). How proud is this Mom??????

Thursday, January 3, 2008

WOW! What a BIG tooth you have!

Analiese had her dental procedure today to remove the stent that the dentist put in after her palate repair. All went well and when the dentist, Dr. Thomas, came to talk to me he handed me a cute little treasure box. He informed me that Analiese "lost a tooth"! Because the stent was "cemented" to her teeth it took some work to get it off and lo and behold one of her teeth came with it! Dr. Thomas said that a "few others" are also loose and will be coming out "real soon".
Well, I looked in that cute little box expecting a cute little tooth. That's not what I found. I found a VERY long tooth with the root still attached! It's the funniest "baby" tooth I've ever seen.
Needless to say Analiese is thrilled that she'll get her first visit from the tooth fairy this evening. Sarah helped write a letter asking the tooth fairy to please leave the tooth so it can be put into Analiese's first tooth box. We'll see if it's still there in the morning.
Dr. Thomas said in the OR he only saw one small area of concern regarding Analiese's palate. He also said that some of the stitches were still in place from the surgery. He thought that it was touch and go with the small area. Unfortunately Analiese's stomach got very upset from all of the medication and vomited at the hospital, on the way home and at also at home. It looks, to me, that with the force of the vomiting she broke through the stitches and opened the palate. I called Dr. Thomas and he said that it might just look that way but I've seen the small hole before and it looks JUST like it! On Friday we return to the surgeon and the dentist....hopefully the news won't be so disappointing.