Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Once again we find ourselves moving forward after a stressful situation that could have ended in crisis! I really am glad that I listened to my instincts and acted on what seemed to be pushing the envelope with Matthew.

After our lengthy and honest discussions with Matthew he really opened up and shed some light on his time in the orphanage. Because of his admissions, some pieces of his life puzzle have fallen into place and given us, once again, a path to take in helping him become the little boy he wants to be (and we want him to be).

By opening the door for him, Matthew faced his fear of returning to China. He not only was able to verbalize that he did not want to go back to Xiamen but he was able to put into words why. By putting those feelings into words he made the first step, I believe, in allowing himself to heal. When he shared with us and we reacted with love and understanding it took the power the fears had over him.

In his sharing with us, we were able to reassure him that he not only had control of his choices but that we wanted him to be a part of our family!

The trust that he found with us this past weekend was tremendous! It has given him a determination that we've not seen. He learned his phone number this weekend---"MY phone number" he says. He received a 91% on a math test that he took without assistance. He worked really hard on place value and can identify up to the thousands place, got a 100% on his spelling test and the best part? He is learning and putting into practice some of the strategies for spelling I've been trying to teach him for weeks!!!

His teachers have commented on how engaged Matthew has been and a difference they can't put a finger on! If they were to ask Matthew what has happened he would answer, "I'm in Mommy and Daddy's heart"! That is what Matthew has learned.

Do I believe that all is well and we will have no more situations that we will have to address? Heck no! But I do believe that Matthew gave us some valuable insights. I feel good that we are moving in the right direction. I once again have been able to affirm to myself how important it is that I go with my instincts.

For those of you who think you know better; you don't. For those of you who continue to support and love us, thank you. Parenting is hard but it is the thing that we are most committed to. I am proud of my children and love watching them grow and make decisions that they are proud of! I am pleased to see how they live using the foundation we've worked hard at giving them; responsibility, respect (for themselves and others), giving back and helping others, having empathy and not sitting in judgement of others and knowing that they are loved no matter what.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day, Gracie!!!

Gracie getting ready for gymnastics!
Gracie's referral photo--how she stole our hearts!

Gracie's finding place; the foot of the Songtai Mountain

Grace was found on the walkway when she was (estimated) 11 months old

Five years ago, a frightened little girl walked into a room at the Lakeside Hotel, in Hangzhou, China. She was dressed in a yellow dress, held a stuffed bear, a lollipop and her shoes squeeked when she walked. She had the most terrified look on her face. Little Wen Fei Zhen's life was about to change. She finally had a forever family to love and protect her!

That moment has been etched in my mind forever. I will never forget the door opening, seeing my baby and as calmly as I could kneeling down and picking her up. I kissed her and told her that I loved her! I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I held her, stroked her and hugged her. That moment was just as wonderful as when I was handed Sarah for the first time, just minutes after her birth!

Five years later, our sweet Grace Feizhen has blossomed into a beauty with wonderful self-confidence. She is one of the nicest little girls, a fabulous sister, a generous friend and a natural athlete. She has no memory of her life in China; only what she has been told. She asks questions about her chinese mother but doesn't dwell on the answers.

Today she celebrated her "Gotcha Day" at school with her name and the occasion being announced over the intercom, cookies for her class and the opportunity to share with her classmates what a "gotcha day" is. To her, this day is when her family came to China to "get her" and bring her home!

So once again, as I've done each September 15th, I've told Gracie the story of one of the happiest days of my life. The day she walked in that hotel room and stole my heart. I love you Gracie, happy Gotcha Day Baby!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Birthday Continues!

I LOVE my new Purple bike!

Go, Gracie, Go!

Analiese's, Min Qiu Xia, referral photo

Meeting Daddy for the first time

Sisters? I'm tired!

Yahoo, it's my birthday...AGAIN!

My own camera!

What's the best part of having your birthday fall on a weekday? The celebration continues through to the weekend! Yes, we celebrated more of Analiese's day this weekend. We went out to dinner Saturday night after we opened presents. Analiese got a new bicycle, a Sponge Bob game for her Leapster, a great bean bag game (I think it takes up about a 1/3 of the playroom!) and the best gift of all--a digital camera!

The camera is perfect for little hands who do lots of dropping of things! It came with some Disney Software so when Analiese and I get some time we'll create some great photos and post them on the blog. Analiese has been having a grand time taking photos. Digital photography is great. I remember getting James his first camera and spending tons of money getting film developed that showed pictures of shoes, the floor and blurry objects! Now we just delete the pictures that don't come out!

We spent some time riding our bikes today. Grace is learning how to ride a two-wheeler and doing a great job. Analiese LOVES her purple, princess bike (thanks Granddad Matt and Grandmom Eileen!) and Matthew keeps saying, "I wish I one" (I wish I had one!). He did not get a bike for his birthday because of his need to increase his motor skills. Now that he has taken tumbling for a year and currently in gymnastics, I think that Santa may have to find room in his sleigh for a bike for Matthew!

I posted some of the photos so you can see the huge changes in Analiese. We still aren't convinced she is six years old but we do see how much she has grown up. Happy Birthday, sweet baby!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy, Happy, Birthday, sweet Analiese!

It is MY day!
Trying to blow out the candles!
Did that candle really relight?????

What a great day for Analiese! She woke up with a song from Mom and happy birthdays from everyone else. We had cupcakes for lunch, a pencil from the principal, a hat from the teacher and love from an entire school! Not to mention the numerous phone calls from family members that just reinforced how special this day is!

This weekend we'll celebrate as a family and open gifts and on October 4th we will celebrate with friends at The Ritzy Pixie and a fabulous tea party! It sure is great to be SIX!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Yikes, there's a "Mouse" in our house!!!!

Sarah practicing before her audition

Sarah auditioned for a part in the Atlanta Ballet's Production of the Nutcracker today. She was chosen to play one of the mice!!! We are all so excited and proud of her!

We talked about the possibility of auditioning a few weeks ago; Sarah was just not sure. Even though she has been dancing for 8 years she has only had formal ballet training for one year. I encouraged her to audition, if only for the experience. Sarah finally agreed after learning that her best friend from her dance company was also going to try out!

Sarah and I went with her friend, Isabel and her mother, to the audition. The girls (and moms, too!) were all excited and not knowing what to expect. Once we got there we moms filled out all of the paperwork and the girls seemed so relaxed; practicing their leaps! The AJC photographer took some photos of the girls so maybe they might be in the paper this week!

When they took the girls to the studio for the audition, we found out that the girls would be told if they had been selected and for what role before they returned to us. I cannot tell you how nervous that made me. I know that Sarah and I talked about the possibility she wouldn't be chosen and how she should look at the whole audition as a learning experience. But, I also know my daughter, she would be SO disappointed if she were not chosen but she would hold in her emotions until we were alone. I did not want to see a little girl trying to be brave come out of that audition!

The time finally came and the girls were headed toward us. Both Sarah and Isabel were holding papers, each wore smiles and Sarah was shaking!!! Sarah came over and said, "Mom, I'm a mouse!!!" I could not have been happier for her, nor prouder!

We have lots of rehearsals between now and December but are anxious for it all to begin. This experience is so wonderful for Sarah---she will be performing at the beautiful Fox Theatre in Atlanta! Sarah will most likely perform in at least 5 shows; I'll post the performance schedule when we receive it. I sure hope that some of you will come out and watch my little mouse perform!

December 5–28, 2008
Choreographed by John McFall
Magic can be hard to come by these days, but it is alive and well at the Fox Theatre this
holiday season. Presenting more than 250 of Atlanta’s young dancers, Atlanta Ballet’s
Nutcracker ushers in the season with an extravagant performance full of wonder and
surprises–dancing Snowflakes, mischievous Mice, and lively Nesting Dolls. Nutcracker is a
holiday treat, a story you grew up with, and one you’ll want to pass on to generations to
come–an Atlanta tradition for more than 40 years!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Growing Pains

Matthew is having some real growing pains. His mastery of english is awesome but he is so lacking in the social mores that it is having quite an effect on his schooling.

He yells out in class during tests.
He yells at the teachers.
He tells it "like it is" (this is not fun)
He hasn't quite grasped that ALL adults must be listened to, not just Mom and Dad!

He was very sad today because his teacher had to come and speak to me. We have meeting set up for Friday morning. Dave, myself and his teachers will be there. Matthew must learn and follow expectations but he also must accept that we are his biggest supporters.

We've taken away his TV and computer time until the meeting. Matthew told me that he felt "bad". I responded that I also felt "bad" when his teacher had to come and talk to me about his behavior.

Lessons are hard to learn. Matthew has come so far but he has miles to go. Having a family is great but the responsibilities are overwhelming. It is hard for ALL of us but the benefits are immeasurable. Some day we will laugh at the early years.

Monday, September 1, 2008

And so it ends

Even though summer doesn't officially end until the middle of September, it is over for us. We enjoyed our three day weekend even though the weather wasn't the best. We didn't get any rain but did get some clouds and wind from Hurricane Gustov.

Sarah went to a sleepover, we rented a movie, went to the swimming pool, played outside, and had a barbeque. It is always sad to see summer end as the lazy days are replaced with full schedules. We can feel Fall in the air and see the days getting shorter.

I expect we will see lots of changes as a family this year. Matthew will learn to read, as will Analiese. Sarah's last year of elementary school means lots of physical and emotional changes for her and Grace will have the busiest schedule she's ever had. William and Thomas are experiencing their freshman year at Georgia Tech and James is the only one left at home with his Mom.

Dave and I will watch and enjoy the kids growing up and hopefully will have some time to spend together. Analiese's birthday is right around the corner. I sure can't believe she is going to be six years old!!!