Monday, August 27, 2012

A Happy Post

I feel like I've written a lot of "downer" post lately. And I don't like that feeling.  Yes, adopting this time has been harder than before.  BUT, the first 3 adoptions were hard too, I think I have just forgotten how hard.  Plus it was a different kind of difficulty.

BUT, the last two days have been good.  Hope is still "curious" and touches just about everything, but...not as frequent.  The one thing that is tiring is Hope says "Thank you Mama" ALL.....DAY......LONG!  And not in an appropriate way.  She will come up to me and just say "thank you mama" like 10 times in a row. For no reason.  At least no reason that I know of.  After the 500th time yesterday I said "Maybe she's thanking me for her new life".  :-)  She always says it with a smile, and she always uses the "ok" sign when she says it.

The girls truly are precious. The smile are frequent.  Maggie is definitely comfortable with us now. It's like something clicked.  She is dancing silly and making silly faces. She is trying to tickle and chases her dad around the house.  She adores big sis Tiff.  She still yells at Hope and now even hits her (we are working on that stopping) when Hope is doing something she knows either annoys us or if she's doing something she knows she should not be doing.

Hope wakes up happy. She is independent. She asks before she does anything.  Normally I would like that. But when she asks to go to the bathroom or blow her nose, well we tell her "it's okay, just go do it".  Then she giggles and goes.

Thankfully the girls ask for everything. Meaning they ask for a drink. They ask to eat.  They don't just go and raid the fridge and pantry.  I'm thankful for that.

Eating....Let me just say EASY!!!!  The first two meals or so, we got the noses scrunched up and the hands waving back & forth saying "NOOO".  We said "Sorry, this is dinner" or "this is lunch" etc.  They were not happy. But they tried it.  And every meal they ask for seconds.  One meal they asked for thirds.  (yes we give them enough food, they just like to eat LOL).  They have now learned to not scrunch up their noses or tell us "no" because it won't matter. We are going to make them try it first.  I was worried about food when we were in China.  And I'm so thankful that this has not been an issue.

Another thing I worried about was bathing.  And again, not an issue. They LOVE to take showers. They LOVE to brush their teeth.  The first night in the hotel and here at home I needed to show them how to use the shower.  And that's it. They did the rest on their own.

We saw the doctor the other day and she said we needed to call a neurologist for Hope's developmental delays.  And to get an EKG for Hope for her small heart murmur. And to also call an orthopedic for both girls.  So I did that today.  We are going to Shriner's Hospital on Sept 11th for both girls to get evaluated for the orthopedic issues.  On Sept 13th Hope is getting an EKG.  And on Sept 18th Hope is seeing the neurologist.  She is getting an EEG that day.  Praying that we can get results from each doctor.  All three of these doctors we were not expecting to have to see.  So praying they can give us answers.  So thankful that they could see us soon. I was anticipating on waiting months to get in.

Still waiting on school.  The school is talking to someone before calling us back on how to place the girls.  They want to place them according to age (grade 7 and 8). I said "no way".  So they are discussing this.  Praying for guidance on the school issues.

So I think that's it for now.  The girls are starting to settle in to their new lives.  They have not asked to call their nanny's or to even go back to China.  They have seen photos of their friends who are still in China and they get so happy to see them.  And when I tell them that their friends will have new families soon, they get so happy.

Please continue to pray for all of us. I know that the days will not always feel so easy.  I know there is a long road ahead of us.  But I'm so thankful for the good times that we are experiencing as a family of 8.

Can you believe these princesses have been with us for only 3 weeks?  The miracle of Adoption is powerful!!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Haircut & More

Today I took the girls for their 1st haircut.  When I motioned cutting & hair they both said "NO!" I said "little bit". They said okay.

We got there and had to wait a few minutes.  This is never fun with Hope. Because she gets bored and then she starts touching everything. She did okay.

She went first.  Of course they did not know what they were going to do.  When she got her hair washed she just beamed and giggled.  She sat good in the chair for her haircut.  And she loved getting her hair blow-dried.

(Sorry the photos are so bad, I had my small camera).

Maggie went 2nd.  She liked getting her hair washed. And she was good when she got her hair cut. I think she was nervous that she was going to cut a lot.  When she was finished, she had the biggest smile on her face. She liked her new hair cut (even though it did not look any different LOL) And forgive me, camera battery died before Maggie's hair was finished. :-(

Today their sisters got baptized. This was their first time to a "beach".  Hope did not want to wear her bathing suit. Maggie did, but we did not want them to "swim". We were just there for the baptism's and then we were leaving. They did play in the water up to their knees. We took some photos when we were done.  These came out precious I thought.  (the family photo was hard to capture. Getting SIX kids to look at the same time and smile is nearly impossible LOL)

Today was another hard day for me.  Taking 6 kids out is stressful.  5 of the 6 are pretty good.  1 is a handful.  And it's hard keeping up with her. She touches EVERYTHING.  And as soon as we got to the beach, she started to pull her pants down to go to the bathroom in the grass.  I said "NO" about 10 times (she kept doing it every 20 seconds).  She did not have to go because she went right before we left the house.  She just does things like this.  She's a magnet for things she should not touch.  And it gets tiring making sure she does not touch something she should not touch.  I know her precious smile does not show the mischievous side to her.  That is the best way to describe her. Mischievous.  It's like she KNOWS she should not do it, but she wants to do it anyways.  I feel horrible because during their sisters baptism I was so stressed out over the behavior I was having to deal with.  I'm so thankful my sister was there, because she helped Tiff look after her so I could be with Abby & Jadyn.

Today was the first day that I know of that Hope was calling Maggie, Maggie.  Usually they call each other their Chinese name.  But today she was saying "Maggie shui jiao" (sleep). I thought it was cute. She was so tired but did not want to go to bed without Maggie going to bed too.

Praying tomorrow is a good day. Each day does have it's good moments.  And I'm cherishing each and every one of them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Week

I can't believe we've only been home 1 week. Feels like so much longer.

Tuesday the girls were scheduled for their 1st pediatrician appointment.  And 45 min before it was time, we get a call. Our pediatrician was on her way to the hospital, to have a baby.  Not deliver a baby, but to HAVE a baby.  Oh joy!  I'm happy for her, but that leaves us without a doctor.  And I need the girls to be seen before they can go to school.  So, I ask for help. Several tell me to call a few doctors. I called 1. They can't see us for a month.  So I called where Bill & I go. They see kids over the age of 12.  Good, they are 12 & 13.

Wednesday we go. They said "you're here for a school physical? I said "no, well child". They said "we don't do that here". I almost cried. Pleaded my case. She felt sorry for me. Said she would see what she could do. Came back and said "I did not realize they are 12 & 13.  Yes we can do the appointment.  They call us back. Everyone there does not believe Hope is 13.  She is measuring as an 8 year old.  The girls were great!  They did everything asked of them.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The doctor wants Hope to see a neurologist for her developmental delays, an endocrinologist for her growth delays, an orthopedic for her walking issues and for Hope to get an echocardiogram because she has a slight heart murmur.  All of this was not known to us when we accepted her referral.  On top of this, we need to see cleft doctors (which we did know we would have to do).  Hope let the doctor look into her mouth. She does have a small hole, but I'm thinking it's more like a fistula. Maggie needs to see an orthopedic also for something we were not aware of.

Wed night was the first night of youth for uprising 6th graders. So Tiff took Hope & Maggie. They were SO excited to go in Tiffs car.  Bill was at church and he said the girls did okay.  Maggie fell asleep while the youth pastor was speaking.  I'm sure it was because she had no idea what he was saying. LOL

Today we had to take the girls for blood work.  When we arrived at the lab, we pointed to our arms and motioned that they had to get blood. They were not happy.  But again, to my surprise, they did GREAT. They each had to sit on my lap when it was their turn. And they each held their arm out and squeezed their fist.  It was obvious they had done this before.  No tears, no fighting.  Just cooperation.   Once we get the labs back then their school physical forms will be finished.

The middle school called us back today.  The girls NEED to go to school.  The girls WANT to go to school.  They told me that since we do not have any school records that they will place them based on their age.  So that would be 7th and 8th grade. I said "there is no way they will survive. And we would like them in the same grade".  She said "So 7th grade?" I said "more like 6th". She said "Well the 13 year old is too old for 6th grade".  She said she would ask. I told her a few times that they do not speak English, they do not write English and that they are maybe on a 2nd or 3rd grade level.  She said she will call me back on Monday.  Please pray about this for us.  Pray that the district will do what is best for our girls, and not what is best for the district.

Bill got McD's today for lunch.  We had it several times in China.  But when I saw the girls faces light up when they opened their Happy Meals, and they pulled out the toy, I realized this was their first Happy Meal.  They ate it all. Well Maggie did not like the green apples.  So she ate more of Bills fries. LOL  Of course I took a photo of their 1st American Happy Meal.

After dinner tonight (Thanks Alisa for the amazing dinner) we popped popcorn and watched Wipe Out from last night.  All of our kids LOVED it.  So many laughs.  So many giggles.  A sound that I love to hear, a sound we have not heard a lot of lately......

Please continue to pray for our family as we learn to be a family of 8.  The girls are doing well.  I know that it's not as hard as it feels.  They are still trying to adjust to what it's like to have a family.  We are still trying to break bad habits from China.  So we have had some struggles. could be worse.  They are at least responding to us.

Hopefully they will be starting school soon.  I'll keep you updated....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


So today is the first day of school for Tiff, Abby & Jadyn.  Hope and Maggie looked confused.  And sad.  I think they wanted to go too.  I had a busy morning with having to reschedule (and find a new doctor) appointments for the girls and then I met my friend who is leaving for China on Thursday to go over last minute things she needed to know/have.

When I got home, I could tell they were bored. So I went online. I wanted to see if I could find something to teach them how to spell/write their name.  And I found something.  Super easy for me to print out.

They were already at the table coloring when I brought the paper.  I said "This is Hope, This is Maggie". They lit up and immediately started tracing.
Learning her name
Learning her name
While they were doing that, I thought we should find some Alphabet pages for them to do.  I found some and printed out 2 pages of each letter.  They could not wait to do it.  They had to write their name on the paper.  And guess what???  They knew how to spell Hope & Maggie without looking.  All it took was them writing it about 20 times and they got it.  I was so impressed. And happy.  They got a lot of praise today.

They did the letters A, B & C today and then I had to leave to pick up Abby & Jadyn from school.  I put their work in a folder. They decided to decorate the outside of the folder. They were so happy.
Their folders
Hope's handwriting
Maggie's handwriting
I plan on doing a few pages a day (or more if they want).  We have also printed out number pages so they can get familiar with their numbers too.

One thing I noticed, Maggie is a neat freak.  She had to color her pages first (and perfect coloring I might add) and then do the writing.  Hope was eager to trace the letters and then color. She really could care less what the coloring looked like. But if she went off of the line tracing the letter, well she would erase and do it again until it was perfect.

We are calling the middle school tomorrow to set up an evaluation for them.  They are also having their first doctor appointment tomorrow with another doctor.  Our pediatrician had a baby today and is now on maternity leave.  I'm praying this doctor will run all the test we will be asking them to run.  We can't wait 2 months for our pediatrician to come back to get the check up taken care of.

I'll keep you updated!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


We have success.  It took a while but the girls FINALLY took the plunge....

We drove down to Bill's brothers house today and I packed the girls swim suits. I hoped that if they saw the kids swimming they would want to swim.  Well Maggie was excited and she said yes.  So she put on her suit. She did not really like it.  I bought a 2 piece with a top and she kept pulling at the top saying "too short".  I told her "It's okay, look at theirs".  Then she was okay.  She slowly went into the water.  She held on to the handle tight.  Her sisters & cousins were great with her and encouraging her to come in.  I believe this is the first time Maggie has been in a pool.  Her face had the BIGGEST smile on it.  She was having FUN!  The girls were teaching her how to swim, kick her feet and encouraging her to put her face in the water.  And she did!  Then she went a little too deep and panicked.  Jadyn had to help her to the shallow end.  She was scared. She got out, wiped her face, sat for 30 seconds and then back into the pool.  About 15 min of swimming and she asked to take the bathing suit shirt off.  She was now in her bikini and having so much fun!

Hope was happy riding a little bike around the lanai. She kept complaining how hot she was. I kept encouraging her to get in the pool. She kept saying no.  Finally after about 30 min or so I said "Just put feet in".  I told her she needed to put her suit on though. She did. But was scared to go out. I put floaties on her and she was okay. Still nervous. She went outside and Maggie was happy and was encouraging her to come in the pool.  Hope did. And was smiling and laughing the whole time.  She had fun.  And the kids were trying to teach her how to swim too.  

Maggie giving Hope a "High 5" for coming in the pool

How did we get so many kids? And there is 1 more on the way (our new niece or nephew due in less than 2 months)

I'm SO happy they were having fun.  

We had a good day. Another first for the girls.  Who would have thought we would still experience so many of their first of things.  They swam for a long time. And are exhausted now.  I'm so glad that they got the courage and took the plunge.  Hopefully this will help Hope's legs/hips too.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Playing Catch Up! & We're HOME!!!

 OK, I was told last night at the airport "You can't keep us hanging like this."  LOL  Sorry I have not updated the blog since Tuesday.  We have been non-stop since Wednesday China time.  Facebook was the easiest way to update.  So now, I will do my best to recap the last 2 days.  So beware of a long post. LOL

We checked out of the China Hotel around 2:45 on Wed. We were so ready to leave.  We got on the bus, drove to the consulate where our guide Kelly picked up the girls passports with Visa's inside. Praise God!  They were ready.  Then we went to the train station.  It was not that bad.  We were worried about Hope getting lost.  Kelly told her something and whatever she said worked. Hope has not wandered off since. She has stayed with us and always reaches for our hands.

Our AWESOME guide Kelly
We were in train car 3 I think with a few of the other families. The girls liked the train. It was a smooth ride. So much better than the 3 hour city bus ride we had to take 2 years ago.  The train was just under 2 hours with 1 stop.  We got off at our stop with no issues.  

Us on the train
We stayed at the Hong Kong Sky City Marriott at the airport Wed night.  We were in room 777.
Yeah, the girls were excited to go to the US
We left the hotel at 7:45 and got to the airport. All checked in and got some breakfast. The girls chose a sandwich.

Breakfast at the HK airport


The girls & I sat together and Bill was across the aisle. The girls were happy to have their own TV monitor.  Unfortunately it was touch screen. The lady in front of Hope turned around about 1 hour into the flight and said "Can you please not have her hit the chair?"  Goodness lady.  So I kept watching Hope and telling her "quiet" (meaning hit hit softly).  She & Maggie played a Winnie the Pooh matching game. They loved it.  The food was gross.  We were definitely not in first class anymore. LOL  Thankfully we were in economy plus so we had a little more leg room. The girls did great on the flight. I gave them some melatonin about 3 hours into the flight.  They slept for a while. I ended up being used as a human bed.  I was SO uncomfortable.  The flight felt like it was never ending. But, they slept, and slept for probably 10 hours of the 15. So I'm not complaining.  :-)

Ready to get HOME!

Too long of a flight

Games kept Hope occupied

Maggie liked the games too

Our dinner

Hope slept

Maggie slept

The girls breakfast

My breakfast
We landed in Newark and got through customs & immigration with no problem. It took about 1 hour 30 min or so to complete.  The girls are now officially US Citizens.  So glad they make this easy for the kids.  We should receive their citizenship papers in about 45 days or so.  Of course, we go and check the status of our flight to Tampa.  DELAYED!  No surprise there. Just thankful it was not a huge delay.  The girls were tired & cranky. We got some food (found noodles & rice for them).  Then we found our gate.  Maggie had a tantrum because I wanted her to wear a skirt home.  She grabbed her dirty pants and ran off to the mens bathroom to change.  We had a power struggle and then I said "Whatever, wear the dirty pants".  Then she was happy.

Newest US Citizens

Completely wiped out
The girls sat with Bill on the way to Tampa. He pulled out the iPads and let them watch a movie. That kept them happy.  I tried to nap but it was hard.  I only slept what felt like maybe an hour on the whole flight to Newark. It was definitely catching up to me now.  But I could not wait to get off of the plane and get to my kids.  Hope & Maggie had no idea what was about to happen.

In Tampa, ready to meet family
We got off of the tram and I see everyone.  And I see Jadyn crying hard.  I ran to her.  I think I scared Hope & Maggie because they looked scared.  I had to comfort Jadyn and hug on my kids.  I turned around and tried to get them to come to me and they were frozen, scared.  Maggie did come around but was very shy.  It took Hope about 10 min to move. She cried a little.  She finally did move to a chair and we all got around her for our first family photo.

Finally all together
Seeing our family & friends at the airport was priceless to me. Knowing we have such a huge support system means so much. I feel like I did not get to spend enough time with everyone who came out. I hope you understand.  We love that you were there and I can not wait to see you again.  

We got home. The girls were excited.  Exploring everywhere.  We showed Maggie the playroom and she gasped and had a HUGE smile on her face.  We showed them every room, and told them who's room it was. They seem to like their room.  Then Bill opened their closet.  Maggie saw the dresses hanging in there.  She beamed!  

The girls took a shower and got their PJ's on.  I snapped this photo before they went upstairs.  Our 5 daughters.  Wow! Never ever thought I would have 5 daughters.  (Ethan was already passed out asleep).

Sisters forever
Abby & Jadyn asked "Can we have a sleepover together?"  So we put blankets on the floor and gave everyone Melatonin and they all smiled, said goodnight and we went downstairs.  We did not hear a sound.  I snapped this photo this morning before they woke up.

First sleepover as sisters
Ethan woke me up at 7:15 this morning announcing "I'm all done playing!!!"  So I got up and gave him some extra loving. Oh how I've missed my little man.  Maggie & Jadyn woke up around 8.  Jadyn is so precious. She wanted to make blueberry muffins and was showing Maggie how to make them and even let Maggie help.  Hope & Abby woke up around 10:30 or so.  Hope is very curious and is touching everything.  

Maggie ate the blueberry muffin for breakfast.  She did not ask for anything else.  Hope wanted baked beans, rice and noodles for breakfast. I gave her the choice of granola bar and/or muffin.  She took it, did not want it though. She ate a few bites. I said "That is breakfast".  She walked away.  She went back a little while later and finished it.  

For lunch I made Ramen noodles.  All 5 of my China kids were excited.  They also had apples too.

Our 5 miracles from China eating lunch.
I'm going on 6 hours of sleep.  I hope I can make it all day.  Tomorrow I'm spending the morning with Tiff. Can't wait!  The girls are doing well. I'm trying to have the kids bond with each other.  They are doing well.  We have not done much today.  But they are finding things to do.  Maggie is the little mother to Ethan and Ethan does not like it.  He has already yelled at her a few times.  :-)  Maggie has also washed dishes without being asked too.  And she keeps cleaning up.  

School starts on Tuesday.  I will be calling the middle school on Wed to set up an appointment to have the girls evaluated.  Right now, I feel sending them to school is the best option for them.  We'll see how I feel after I meet with the school though.  

Your love, support, encouragement etc have meant so much to us.  I will keep updating this blog with things that pertain to the girls. So keep checking.

Love & Hugs from FL!!!