Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life in America

This is the banner the kids made for us while we were gone. They are so sweet.

Praying with Jerry before bedtime. At the moment Jerry and Dominic are reffing soccer games in Charlotte and took Jed with them.  Without D and J, Will and Peter have had to learn some new skills.   Yesterday Simon showed Will how to use the microwave for breakfast, because in the past D and J  have been cooking for them.  Today, as we were running out the door for lunch and, I saw that Will's pants were way above his ankles again. When I sent him upstairs to change, I wasn't sure he would be able to figure out what to change into because I think Dominic has been telling him what to wear. He came down wearing some new pants I just bought for church.   Early next week I hope to sort through all the boys winter clothes again and give them better directions about what should be worn when.  Children from orphanages have never had more than two outfits at a time in their lives, perhaps only one.  Boys especially do not always adjust easily to the American custom of having so much stuff , at least where clothes are involved.  

After lunch we went over the mountain to order Will's glasses, but somehow United Healthcare didn't put the boys on our eye plan yet.  Or something.  When we came home I got my sewing machine out and Will and Peter both watched intently for about 20 minutes.  As I was only turning a hem under on some fabric for a Thanksgiving tablecloth, there wasn't much to see but they seemed pretty impressed.
Dominic designed, ordered and bought a cake for my birthday and Katrina made one from scratch and brought it from Asheville.  Jerry tried explaining to Will and Peter that birthdays are a very frequent occurrence during certain months of the year (like July) but that only Kathryn's is between now and Jesus's birthday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Warmer Than Sweater Weather

Today was a beautiful autumn day, just a bit warmer than sweater weather,  which diminished the sadness of having to empty the pool and put the filter away.  I told Dominic to get one of the boys to help him with it. He chose William, who seemed very happy to help.  Will is younger but taller than Simon, Jed and Andy and he is more assertive than any of them.  It will be interesting to see where he falls in the pecking order.
  I included him in our math class today (Teaching Textbooks , a computer program that I do with all of them except Dominic on  tv, with worksheets) and even though he couldn't read the word problems and probably couldn't understand most of the words in the lecture, he was first to get many of the answers.              When the others chose to play outside today, Peter and Ric chose the Lego room.  Jed was just passing through.

Simon spends hours and hours every day with the chickens. He gets up at the crack of dawn in the morning and spends an hour or more with them and bring in the eggs before school starts.  In the afternoons, he goes back out to feed them and work on the fenced area, or their house, or nest area while they range free (or is it free range ?).  Honestly, I have never even walked down there to see what he is doing.  I am not exactly an animal person. I like my kids to have pets but I don't want to have to touch them.

Nellie was inside using this hairbrush as a microphone to practice her singing. I hear we may have some really cold weather approaching so tomorrow we will all get out and enjoy these last few days of fall. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Normal :)

I know it is a bit premature to believe that everything is really back to normal, but for a brief window of time, today it felt like it. We did some school. William stayed awake the entire day. Everyone was cheerful and kind to one another. We even went to Walmart. How normal can you get ?

The six oldest younger kids have been absolutely wonderful with the two new boys. Jed is a born teacher and loves taking responsibility to help them learn new things.  Dominic has settled into his role as the oldest brother, who everyone looks to for the final word on everything.  

The boys are working on phonics singing along with Sing, Spell, Read and Write.Ric's mom gave me this vegetable. I have no idea what it is or how to cook it and I really needed a hatchet to chop it open. (Nellie is just posing for me here.)  It looked a bit like applesauce when I finished cooking it, so I added just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon and the kids liked it. But they will eat just about anything. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

World Adoption Day

As you might suspect, William was unavailable to pose in this World Adoption Day photo because he was sleeping.  But it was only a few hours today, so that was a huge improvement.  When I went upstairs to check on him this morning at 10:00 he was still sleeping. Dominic had told him to get dressed for church but he refused. When I discovered that he had drunk all the water in his water bottle, I quit worrying about him being sick or dehydrated, Jerry and I told him to get  up and get dressed for church.  Jed fixed him another water bottle and a small snack to eat on the way.  As he walked in the building he started to chike like he was going to throw up, but instead of showing him where the bathroom was, I pointed him to the row we would sit in  -  a risky move, but successful !  He stood threw all the singing and dozed only a bit through the sermon.  When he went to the edge of the parking lot to throw up afterward, I ignored it other than to tell him to get in the car because we were leaving.   Afterward, at Dairy Queen we put all the boys together at a table and he ate and we even saw some smiles.  When we returned home, he tried going back up to his bedroom but Jerry told him to come down and help the boys get the playroom ready for our evening home group/Bible Study.  Later in the afternoon when he was falling asleep at the Lego table we told him he could go upstairs and sleep and we would wake him up for dinner.  It took Jerry going up to wake him again, because he apparently doesn't realize yet that a request from one of his siblings, authorized by us, is the same as a request from us.  He will learn.  So, I am feeling a million times better now that I am assured that he is not sick but only jet lagged and miserable, as he has every right to be.

Our granddaughters, Aria and Clara came over to meet their new uncles and receive the gifts we bought them in China.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Jet Lag

Yesterday, after 8 hours of sleep, I thought maybe I had avoided jet lag.  Today is beginning to feel like nighttime will never arrive.

Peter is doing wonderfully. He has been playing with the other boys both inside and outside.

He obviously remembers all his grown brothers and sisters as well as nephews and nieces who have come to visit and has responded to everyone with hugs and smiles.

William is not doing so well. Since he went outside and played with the boys yesterday morning he has done nothing but sleep or look totally miserable.   I had Dominic explain to him that it is normal for him to feel very tired and to take alot of naps while his body is getting used to American time.  He ate nearly nothing for breakfast, went back to bed and later threw up his lunch.  At this point I do not know if it is from stress, as it seemed to be during the first few days after we met him, or if he is sick.  I am inclined to believe the former, but since I am not sure I am letting him sleep.

It won't be fun for him to wake up during the night and find us all asleep, but I do not know what else to do. We are planning to go to church in the morning, so perhaps that will give us the structure we need in the morning to help him stay awake at the right time.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home about 10 tonight, just about 30 hours after we left our hotel in China. It was wonderful to see all the kids again.  Having Chinese speakers already here made everything so much easier for everyone. The boys showed William and Peter where we keep clothes, hang towels and even explained to Will that he can quit washing his clothes in the bathroom sink because we have a washer And a dryer. (Just wait until they see the dishwasher and find out we can drink the water that comes out of the sink.)

They all loved the swords, of course and had fun trying them out. I hope to still be asleep tomorrow morning when my kids have to admit that American breakfasts are very substandard.  None of my kids are very fond of that cardboard tasting stuff that comes in a cardboard box that we call cereal.  Mine usually make themselves either eggs or oatmeal, but even those are a poor substitute for what they have gotten used to.  I will try to make something exciting for lunch to compensate.

We did have two unfortunate occurrences on the way home, both involving Will.  He threw up several times on the 11 hour plane flight and since I wasn't sitting with them, no one thought to ask me for more medicine.  Worse than that is that his suitcase with all his clothes, the helicopter and all the toys and books we bought him in China is missing.  And it was lost on an airline called Juneyao Air which we flew from Guangzhou to Shanghai so although they said they would send it on to Japan, I don't really think they will bother to track us down here in America.  I am soo sad for him about this, but so far he has taken it in stride.  I am not sure he suspects he may never see it again.

I confessed to our travel group that the real reason I came to China was buy squeaky shoes -aren't they cute ?  see the KINEs?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Japan

We have made it to Japan.  The boys are doing great, they are very good travelers.  I am sure they were delighted to see the movies and games in the back of each seat. I expect them to be thoroughly entertained for the duration.  Meanwhile, I will be alone, further forward in the plane , zombied out on xanax.  We left this morning (Thursday) at 430a.m. and will travel for 24 hours and  still arrive in Atlanta  Thursday evening because we cross the international dateline and gain a day coming back.

We are so grateful for the support we have received emotionally, financially, and practically from many, many people. We have felt so loved during this time. We hope , in the future, that some of you will be prompted to make this kind of journey and we would love to help in any way that we can.  There are many more special treasures, like our boys waiting for a mom and dad.    

Our Last Day in China

I have said this 4 times before, and every time I said it I totally believed it.  We are sorry to be leaving the dear families who have joined us on this part of our journey, especially Blake and Brittany Richey who have been with us for the last two weeks and have watched and helped William change from terrified to excited what is ahead.  They are the ages of our children and have such a heart for orphans. God has blessed their faithfulness with a precious treasure, two year old Emaline.

Today we visited Shamian Island which is now the ghost town of adoptions past.  The US consulate and medical clinic have moved so most of the businesses that catered to adoption families are gone also.  I did manage to find six pairs of squeaky shoes for future granddaughters.

We did not eat at this restaurant although they offered live versions of things like fish and turtles and snakes. I guess people who eat these sorts of things like them to be fresh.

Instead we ate at a more mundane Chinese restaurant with incense and statues of Buddha where the boys and I could get variations of Fried Rice/Noodles and Jerry could get ice cream.  Today his came with a real orchid as a garnish.  Things are very different here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

US Consulate Day

Today we went to the US Consulate to hand over our final bit of paperwork. We swore an oath saying it was all truthful and the boys were asked if they knew they were going to America and if they wanted to go. There were lots of smiles from everyone.  What you cannot see in the picture is the hundreds of Chinese people outside the consulate, some waiting in line, others sitting on sidewalks and benches, waiting.  Waiting and hoping that they might be one of the lucky ones to get the golden ticket to come to America. Waiting, while we, not because of anything we have done, but by our birthright alone, are ushered past all of them and into the building and to the front of the line.  And they look at our children and they know what is happening. We hear their comments.  They know that our children , too, are now the blessed ones, because they have been adopted into the family, which entitles them to the same rights and privileges as those who are naturally born.   And so is our standing with God. We are the blessed ones. Adopted in.

This is my view from my bedroom this afternoon - a rousing game of UNO.

Tonight we ate dinner on a boat that took us on a cruise down the Pearl River. It is a beautiful ride. William's carsickness seems to have disapated although I am still giving him Dramamine, I don't think he really needs it.  He ate fine and never complained at all on the boat.  There was a juggling show by a clown at the end of the ride which Peter enjoyed thoroughly but I don't think William's eyesight is good enough for him to even have seen it.  I think he will be amazed at all he has missed when he gets some glasses.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sweet Boys

God has blessed our family with two more very sweet children. Both boys are generally happy and eager to please. 

The Garden Hotel, where we are staying is one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed.  I have sometimes complained that the breakfasts are a bit too Western here ( never any fried rice, although they do have noodles and greens), but they totally won Jerry's heart today by offering sushi and lamb on the breakfast buffet. 

This morning we enjoyed a trip to the city Zoo, the boys first chance to ever see these animals live. They were most excited to see the Pandas, of course, but they were inside and hard to see. (The Atlanta Zoo has an Amazing panda area where the pandas are often sitting only a few inches away through the glass.)  Some animals in this zoo are in cement cages, so we got a really good look at the lions and tigers.  Work was going on everywhere so I imagine someday all the animals will live in natural habitats

This afternoon, after waiting to hear if any of the children in our group had tested positive for TB (none had), the boys were excited to  hear that we were going out on our own again, by taxi, to the toy and gift market. As you can see we found some more wild animals there in the gift area.  When we offered to let the boys buy some small (fake) lego sets, they each chose one. I gestured that they could each choose two. William said he only wanted one, while Peter began to search for a second.  Then it was apparent that William was admonishing Peter to be happy with one and not spend any more money. Peter looked to me and I told them Both to choose two.  We had two very happy boys.

Here is another picture in the hotel lobby with the boys holding the noodle bowls we bought for dinner.  Jerry continues his ice cream diet here. While they boys and I had fried rice at a Chinese restaurant for lunch, Jerry found fruit with a scoop of purple ice cream on the menu and ordered it for his lunch. We all had a ice cream cone at the toy market and Jerry had two more while buying the noodle bowls. Now he is at the fitness center and the boys have showered. Or at least they ran the water - Twice I have taken them into the bathroom and demonstrated turning on the shower, putting shampoo on my head and putting soap all over my body.Soap and shampoo are luxuries not necessarily available in orphanages.  I saw a government sponsored tv commercial today showing how to wash hands with soap as a health precaution.  Yesterday I demonstrated the difference between the way boys use a western toilet and the way girls use it. I was tired of sitting down on a wet set.  Just some things you might not have considered about older child adoption, but today,for us, it is all very good.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Books !

Today we went on a bus with our travel group to the pearl and jade wholesale market. It is a 5 story building filled with little shops selling jewelry- mostly pearl and jade.  Since we have btdt and don't need and pearls or jade we left the group, and went shopping in the neighborhood.  I think, at least at first the boys were happy to get out of the jewelry store.
Jerry was willing to try on shoes (and buy the slip on canvas ones that I liked - under $10) because he determined that any time spent that way gave me less time to acquire other bargains on the street.

This is what our group looks like, getting off the bus and putting all their adorable 2ish year olds in strollers.  There are plenty more 2 year olds here in China if anyone is interested. Our friend Brittany's daughter was in a room with 45 children in beds under age 2 with 3 nannies. Whenever Peter sees me taking pictures , he co-operates by turning and smiling.  Will usually has to be teased into smiling.

Our second stop was to the Chen Family Temple.  The boys are obviously tired of looking at old Chinese stuff, but they don't complain.  After we got back to the hotel and found a new place to go out to lunch, we went by taxi to what used to be a 4 story bookstore. When we discovered it was closed we tried to figure out the Chinese directions to it's new location which took us through a crowded underground shopping area and past a big sports arena to find that the books are now all in huge tents. We are always so proud of ourselves when we have this kind of success.  
 William was surprised and, I think, delighted that we were buying more than one book for them.   Although we already have many books in Chinese and pinyin at home, we chose about 10 without pinyin, ranging from an usborne type book on cars that Will wanted, some books on the middle ages and renaissance (again usborne type, lots of pictures) to translations of Robinson Crusoe and Tom Sawyer. William has the best chance of all the kids of being able to continue to read in Chinese and his first months home he will be studying some things in Chinese and some in English. 

Since we have been back at the hotel, the boys have spent a couple of hours looking at the new books, but now it is time to continue their Lego education on Netflix. And I will begin a new book, the sixth since we left home.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Medicals and Eating and Eating and Eating

(In the hotel elevator).  Today was the medical exam day. It has moved into a new building and was MUCH more thorough than the ones in the past. At Andy's 4 doctors took him in a room with glass windows, felt his head, shrugged their shoulders and never commented on the Obvious problem that was not described in his medical file from the orphanage. A couple of the kids in the past were told what the letters were on the eye chart so they could pass (Andy and Rosie).  William was treated very differently. After he couldn't pass the eye test on the first round they sent him on to a real eye doctor with real eye equipment.  The end result is that he has no vision at all in one eye. None. And very very poor distance vision in the other. So some of his scowling is actually squinting. (as a child who hated to wear my glasses , I have btdt). I already have an eye appointment for him the week after we get home. I will make a huge difference in his life.

Our room on the 12th floor is equipped with two of these. :/

Much of what we do here revolves around eating. All our breakfasts are at the hotel and they are amazing with chefs to cook your eggs or noodles just the way you want them, and a multitude of hot and cold dishes to please the American , Chinese, or European palate. So twice a day, for lunch and dinner we have to either find a place to eat in the nearby neighborhood or go to a convenience store to buy noodle bowls and snacks for the room.  Everyone who knows me knows that God's plan for us to eat 3 times a day is sometimes wearying to me. And usually when we travel Jerry and I are happy to cut this down to twice, but kids pretty much expect to eat 3 times every day. If I had to stay here much longer, i woould have to buy two seats on the plane to fit (as the guy I was sitting next to on my flight to Shanghai should have done.)  This is what lunch and dinner looked like today.

Lunch at the Hong Kong Bistro behind the Garden was delicious. As usual Peter chose rice and Will chose noodles, although I have no idea what was floating in William's bowl. (Aside - Will just came in the room and offered me an oreo from the snack we bought earlier. sweet.)

Our guide told us our group dinner would be at a Mexican restaurant (Not my choice and way too expensive - of course, we didn't have to go but wanted to spend time with the others in our group and their adorable babies).  I suggested smoothies to the boys ( banana for Will strawberry for Peter). They were a hit !

I taught them to play  the making boxes on the dot grid game and it was a success for passing time while waiting for food - an improvement over kindle games.

This is part of our group at dinner.