Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hello Malone!

Matthew received a most wonderful surprise today. A phone call from Malone, the best friend he had in China!!! Malone was adopted in July and now lives on the west coast.
When I answered the phone and was greeted by Lynn, Malone's mom, I was so excited! I immediately told Matthew it was Malone and he at first was confused but then when he realized who it was he put his hands over his mouth in excitement! It was so much fun watching and listening to Matthew on the phone. To my surprise he spoke only english. I really expected he would have lapsed into Chinese but he worked so hard to be understood by his friend. One of the first things Matthew asked was about Malone's "Daddy". When Matthew found out that Malone didn't have a Daddy (his mom is a single mom) Matthew was confused and asked me why. Matthew also talked to Malone about school, his sisters and how happy he was. Right before they ended their call, Matthew asked Malone if he could come out and play. Dave had to show Matthew, on a map, how far away Malone lived. That didn't deter Matthew from asking, over and over again, if he could go visit Malone!
I also had a very nice conversation with Lynn. Seems as if our sons are very similiar. They are very competitive, question authority, are very loving and happy and do NOT want to go back to Xiamen! Lynn and I both agreed that the boys need to stay in touch as this relationship is such an important part of their beginnings.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Red Thread


This statement is such a profound part of our lives. Both Dave and I wholeheartedly embrace the belief that our meeting was not a coincidence, that having Sarah and eventually traveling to China to bring home Grace, Analiese and finally Matthew has been part of God's plan for us. I know that the people in my life are there for a reason and that I must learn something from them. I believe that the people we've met along our adoption journey have enriched our lives and will always be a part of who we are.
Each of my children have taught me something. Sarah, with her innocence and loyalty, has taught me how to be a better friend. Grace, with her quite manner and beauty, has taught me to enjoy the silent times. Analiese, with her exuberance and personality, has taught me that it is possible to enjoy EVERY minute of your life. Finally, Matthew, with all of his challenges, is now teaching me how to be a better parent. Of course William, Thomas and James have taught me that I CAN love children that I did not give birth to!
It has taken me YEARS to get to a place where I've stopped trying to control everything that happens in my life. I've lost many years not enjoying the moments because it was not where I thought I should be. Now, I understand that I am where I am for a reason and to let go. I'm happier than I've ever been. I now hold on to that red thread and welcome each event and each person that is connected. Because you are reading this, you ARE a part of my red thread!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

What a beautiful day! The weather is perfect. OK, maybe a little chilly but for those of you still suffering from the effects of winter the weather IS perfect! The kids woke up early to see if the Easter Bunny came. I broke down and allowed them to eat some candy before breakfast. After church we had an early lunch and then a fun egg hunt. Sarah told me she was TOO old to hunt for eggs but did pick up two of them; one with her name on it which had money inside and the other was full of candy. The other kids ran around and found all of the eggs. Matthew knew exactly what to do because he had an egg hunt at school on Friday.
Yesterday we celebrated Matthew's and David's birthday. We went to a place called DACkids. It is an indoor play area with inflatables, ball shooters, sand and climbing ropes. It is based on a pirate theme. The kids ran around for about 2 hours and had a GREAT time. I'll post some photos of that tomorrow. We got a Wii for Dave and Matthew for their birthday. We've played for hours, it has been great fun! If you haven't gotten one and have been considering it, GO FOR IT!
It's been a busy weekend and we've had fun. But, I sure am glad to get back into a slower pace. Only two weeks until spring break and then the quick slide to summer! Swimming pool here we come!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Matthew!!!

What a wonderful day in the life of our son! Today he celebrated not only his 7th birthday, but his first birthday with his forever family! Matthew went through the day, from the moment he opened his eyes to the moment he closed them, with a smile from ear to ear! Matthew did not know what having a birthday meant. I found out, after about 1 month home, that Matthew did not even know how old he was. So, with his birthday on the horizon we struggled with how we would explain "birthday" to him. Lo and behold he received the birthday party invitation from a girl in his class! Fantastic, we thought, a way to give Matthew some background knowledge. We still struggled with celebrating today because we are having our family celebration on Saturday when the boys come. That is the day we are going to Chuck E. Cheese, having cake and opening gifts. We really did not know what to do. Well, we chose to celebrate today and boy are we glad we did. Our sweet son proudly carried in his cupcakes that he shared with his classmates, proudly wore his birthday crown and graciously accepted every card, every wish and every gift offered. He even thought that the teacher luncheon today (to raise money for Relay for Life) was a party in his honor! How sweet is he???
Needless to say, we expect Matthew will be beside himself on Saturday once he sees Chuck E. Cheese, his cake and of course the Wii that we bought him! We may have missed Matthew's first words, his first steps and his first tooth but we have been blessed to share his "first" birthday!
Yesterday Analiese was fitted for her new obturator. As you can see in the photo it is a very LONG appliance. Yes, it does cause her to gag and no she does not argue when we try to put it in! She was a trooper yesterday! When Dr. Granger, the orthodontist, put the appliance in her mouth. She gagged, she vomited and then her little eyes filled with tears but she DID NOT complain. She looked at me with those beautiful round eyes that screamed, "Mommy I hurt". When I asked her if it hurt she shook her head and, prompted, pointed to the tooth growing in her palate. Well, the appliance was removed and alterations made. It took at least 6-8 tries before Dr. Riski and Dr. Granger were happy with the fit.
We will go slowly and increase the time she wears it each day. I, however, am anxious for her to wear it regularly. Why? Analiese's speech is SO CLEAR! Today, for the very first time, when I asked her what her name was, she said "Analiese". Not "Nanaliese", but ANALIESE! What music to my ears!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


We have been SO busy these past few weeks! We've had dance competitions, birthday parties, award receptions and parent watch during dance and tumbling! The kids LOVE all of this activity but it sure exhausts me!
Sarah's dance company had a great competition--two trophies and LOTS of fun for the girls. The majority of the moms and daughters stayed in the hotel and shared rooms. Sarah and I shared a room with her friend Isabelle and her Mom, Jan. The girls giggled and danced while we moms enjoyed the time getting to know each other better.
Last weekend Matthew attended his first birthday party. He had a great time and seemed to understand the "birthday" concept. I'm so glad because his birthday is next week and we struggled with how to explain it to him because of his lack of experience. Now, he has something to draw on. He and I picked out his birthday cake (SpiderMan) and he is looking forward to his big day. We are going to celebrate as a family (probably go to Chuck E Cheese). Next year we'll have a "kid" party. Analiese also had a party to attend last week. This one was for TRIPLETS that are in her PreK class! Can you imagine how busy that Mom is? As usual Analiese had a great time!
This past week we were invited to an award reception for the PTA Reflections Competition. Sarah has always participated but it has only been in the past two years that she has won not only at the school level but at the county and then gone on to the State level. We are so proud of her work!
Finally, each day this past week we've been treated to a short performance of each of the kids dance/tumbling classes. The studio calls it "Parent Watch Week" and it gives a glimpse into what the kids have been learning and also a preview of what they are working on for the recitals that will be held in May. Sarah will be performing in each of the 6 shows, Grace in 3, Analiese in 2 and Matthew in 1. From what we saw these past few days, we are in for a wonderful time!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Neither the time nor the day....

I just spent the day with a dear friend in the emergency room today. She called me at 6:15 in the morning, I KNEW something was wrong. And it was....her husband, her young (52 yrs.), healthy husband had a stroke. The ambulance was on its way to take him to the hospital. Once I got the kids to school I headed for the hospital. Once there I saw the fear, the sorrow and the devastation that had taken a hold of this family. No one saw this coming, the doctors had no answers and the family was grieving.
Here sat a man with two grown, wonderful young sons, a grandson, a wife who adores him and a full life. He was unable to move the left side of his body and had trouble speaking. He was so very vulnerable, so very emotional and so very humbled.
I spent lots of time alone, waiting for tests to be done, for phone calls to be made and for doctors to show up. I realized how precious life is and how important it is to not only take care of oneself, but to see a doctor and to stay as active as possible. In one instant, this family's life has changed. They had no warning, no signs. It just HAPPENED. Please, if you have not been to a doctor for a physical, for a check up, make an appointment. You owe it to yourself and to your family.
Each day we are given is a gift. We don't know when things will change, when our health might be threatened or even taken away. As the title says, we don't know the time nor the day when it will be OUR turn to take stock of our lives. I know that I hugged my children a little tighter this evening, said I love you before I hung up the telephone, and promised to schedule some check-ups. Won't you do the same?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wonderful books

I love getting books for the kids. Every book fair that comes to school the kids love to browse and pick out their favorites. I really don't mind spending the money, especially when I watch them read or ask me to read to them. Recently I ordered several books on adoption. I have a small collection which I want to increase as much as possible. It is hard to find books on Chinese adoption for boys (that I just realized) so I'm now getting some general books for Matthew.
Anyway, I'd recommend the above books for anyone with adopted children. In the book, Three Names of Me, the young adopted chinese girl talks about her three names; the first name that was whispered to her by her first mother, the name given to her by the orphanage and the american name given to her by her adoptive parents. It is a wonderful story that discusses love, family and a name that lives in a child's heart. My Grace just loved it. We talked about her 3 names and what it all means.
The next book, The Red Thread An Adoption Fairy Tale, discusses the ancient Chinese belief that a red thread connects those destined to meet. It is written as a fairy tale, complete with a king and queen who have a pain in their hearts that turns out to be a red thread that is being tugged on. They decide to follow the red thread to find out who is on the other end. Truly a wonderful, heartwarming story! Analiese liked this one more than the first one.
The last story is by Todd Parr. He writes the Otto books and has very distinctive illustrations. It is a general book about adoption. Great illustrations and short verses. Grace had fun reading it to me.
I try to keep a dialogue with the kids about their adoption. I think it important that they understand why they are different from the rest of their family, that they have "birth" parents and that they had a life before they came to us. The girls told Matthew that he had a chinese mother and he told me the wanted to see her. I told him that we couldn't because we didn't know where she was. He of course said she was in "Xiamen". The conversation continued and Grace told him that his chinese mom gave him to the orphanage. Matthew wanted to know why. I explained that I really didn't know but it was possible that she didn't have the money to help him get teeth. Matthew got very excited and yelled, "I have money!" I had to tell him that even though he did we still did not know who his chinese mom was because she didn't leave her name.
We didn't go to far into the conversation but the dialogue has been started and has given Matthew something to think about. I've gotten questions from him about where the rest of the children came from. He goes through each name. When we got to Sarah I told him that she grew in my belly, then when I tried to explain that William, Thomas and James had a different mom he really was confused.
I don't shy away from the discussions with the kids. I believe the more we talk about it, the more comfortable they will be asking questions later. We include the girls (and this year Matthew's) chinese mom in our Mother's Day celebration. We light a candle for each of them and say a prayer thanking them for growing the girls in their tummies for me. I shed some tears that I keep from the girls because I don't want them to associate sadness with their birth mothers. That will come in time.
If you get a chance, check out the above books and think about adding them to your child's collection. You will be glad you did!