Saturday, December 29, 2012

How we are doing.

WOW, you know when you read people's blogs about their perfect little adoptions and then don't ever read their blog again cuz they are living in fairytale land (especially when all he$$ is breaking loose at your house).  Skip the part on Griffen and go to the middle of the post cuz I would hate lose my bloggy friends!

You know some kids are jsut easy.  Griffen is one of them.  We have our adoption issues ~ mainly he likes jsut about anyone else over me which breaks my heart but then I get an evil laugh in my head and think Buddy another week and your stuck with me LOL!

It's not even that bad,
you know he cries when I pick him up & he is sitting with JieJie,
cries when I discipline one of the other minions,
screams bloody murder when he has to take a shower,
or bath.

He was crying when I walked in the door so now he comes with me LOL!

He also smiles and laughs when I feed him,
falls asleep on my shoulder,
hugs our friends but if I put my coat on he is ready to come with me.

I guess it's a perspective thing.  As long as I take my hurt feelings out of the equation, he has adapted nicely.

He is NOT banging his head on the wall,
scratching and clawing the siblings
wiping gross unmentionables everywhere
like some child who will remain nameless, did.

Griffen LOVES his brothers and sisters,
he plays with them all.

He is happy, happy, happy (except at bath time).

He didn't stress over Christmas,
loved his presents,
played with his toys,
loved the food.

Dude, the child is a dream

AND I thank GOD every day (not saying God wasn't their with Cav) but to be honest I spent more time praying over Griffen.  I jsut couldn't have done another Cav.

And I sure couldn't have done a hard child right now.
Daddy sells guns, to say daddy hasn't been around much would be an understatement.  We have not seen him except for Christmas day.  In addition, he takes one of our two big kids to help him at the shop.  Even with 20 employees it has been nuts.  I had my meltdown, Christmas is about family and well we had momma and the kids with no daddy around.  My vision of our ideal little Christmas was being shattered while I tried to hurry up and make a real Christmas for the kids, get last minute supplies and deal with the adopted child's holiday meltdowns which it is nice to read is normal.

All this while trying to find a new normal.

People don't really understand this part.  When you have a new baby you get a lot of grace.  When you adopt - well, you asked for this.  Um, hello nope answered God's call, not really my idea LOL!  

Folks, I can't for the life of me figure out how many plates to pull out at meal time.
3 times a day for almost a month and I still can't figure it out.
Laundry is a joke,
clothes - people my dang pictures are so messed up from Christmas because the dang kids didn't change their clothes for 2 or 3 days and I didn't even notice.
I can't find the envelopes for my gorgeous Christmas cards,
I still have to collect poop and pee from our angel.
We have been home a month and realized that although he wears 6-12 month clothes he has been dry for days and onsies do NOT work.
And my list of utter failures go on, and on, and on.

SO, I have come to conclusion that adoption is plain hard.  No matter how perfect the picture, there are challenges.  The best solution is a glass of wine and grace for yourself.  And if you haven't read this post (not the videos although they are cute)  you MUST!

When I change my haven's into accolades you know what ESHET CHAYIL!! 
I traveled across the world for a baby I never met,
My kids love a complete stranger with all their hearts 
I actually made 3 meals on the same day!
I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher on that same day!
I love my husband so much that I miss him when he is gone . . . .ESHET CHAYIL!!

So, as we enter the new year I am hoping to have a new perspective on my life and the incredible women around me (not vicinity), to encourage and lift up for what we have done!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I just can't get over the immence blessings we have experienced over the past year.  I have spent the last few days as I have been driving - in tears.  To think that God would choose our family for such incredible gifts.

Everyone did incredibly well - ok I think everyone of us was in tears at some point (for me the extended families surface regardless of the day or because of it.)  but I think we are past the "overwhelmed so I will throw a fit"

I think I had bought almost everything before we left.  Except the big kids "new" snowboards* which I found while they were on their Santa flight!

Anyhow here are pics - although I am having camera issues so they aren't the best LOL and we would all die from old age if I edited them before I posted so here they are in their crappy nakedness LOL!

I am so disappointed that this was the only pic I have int their Christmas eve clothes ugh!

Remember our rainy Black Friday in China - these are what I bought LOL!

Stocking opened waiting for Mom & Dad to wake up!

Fei loved the items in her stocking!

So did this little guy!

Before they dug in - Snowboards under our blankets from Kunming!

* I am cheap, ok my friend Sarah says that should be thrifty LOL! Anyhow, I refuse to pay full price for our kids items (and 3 adoptions in a year has done us in) - so the big kids snowboards are actually pre-loved AND I have to say I am beyond proud of my big kids for being excited for the items they did receive and NOT complain about the fact that they were previously loved.  I am not sure IF I could have been as awesome at that age.  Also the BEATS headphones we got from the market off Beijing Rd worked awesome!  Way cool for 300 RMB!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Cav ~ What? There's NO figgy pudding!

Wishing you all a very Merry CHRISTmas filled with His love and Glory.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Tears

I decided to brave the cold and loaded all the kids, all their gloves, snow pants, jackets, hats and sleeping bags into the truck and off we went to the Electric Safari tonight.

Well, mainly we sat in a long line of cars but your know.

It was so fun to share with the little kids the 1 million lights, and even the jaunt around our dang zoo wasn't bad (it is built into the side of the mountian - I swear the thing is straight uphill both ways.)

Anyhow, we had our double Bob stroller with 3 piled onto it and the kids actually oohed and aahed at the lights and the night dwellers that were alert and awake.

We got their jsut as the last tickets were being sold - so daddy jumped in line while we found a parking spot.  Then as we passed by the Santa Hut we grabbed one of their numbers jsut encase.

Well, we were one of the last numbers to be called to meet Santa.

Things like this I still really cringe at - really 4 little kids of which 1 has really sat on Santa's lap before, plus the logistics of getting short people up on Santa's lap, one not accidently kicking Santa's shins with his metal legs - ugh jsut creates a Calgon moment for me.

I expected tears, I did NOT expect them from Santa.

Brahm went first and we heard him say XBOX game blah, blah, blah (the kid has the gift of gab) so I elbowed hubby to try and listen what the other item was he wanted as the XBOX game was out.

As Santa placed Brahm down he looked at me and said "excuse me Ma'am"

With the same fear as I get when teachers call me - I walked up to Santa wondering what on earth our boy had said to warrant a direct intervention from Santa. (talk about quivering in your boots LOL)

Santa says to me "Your son asked if I could take the pain away from his joints so he won't hurt every morning!'

Oh sure a room full of people and I am going to start crying as I have a private conversation with Santa

"Could I give him a special treat to maybe help a little?" asked the Santa.

 I looked into his crystal blue eyes, wet with tears and a sadness that struck straight from his heart - no child should ask for these things.

I smiled as he pulled out a stuffed toy from his bag hidden on the left, in a room full of children who would only be getting little candy canes and smiled

What til you see who is up next LOL!

This crazy baby loves men with beards?!?!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unexpected sadness

Although I thought of great pictures to take for this post . . . I finally realized it was better to just get it down.

When we were all decorating the tree last weekend, I would carefully unwrap each and hand them out.

And in that joyful moment I realized another heart stabbing reality of adoption.

My oldest has . . . Like 6 ornaments from his first year - cuz, you know we were psychotic.

The othwers had a few from their first Christmas.

And then I had 3 brown faced children - their deep brown eyes looking expectantly at me for their special ornament . . . And my heart shattered for them.

Yesterday, it dawned on me . . . EBAY!

So today on our snow day I went on eBay and ordered them each a first Christmas ornament - from their birth year.  Some day they may realize what a dork I am, but darn it, these children were born that year, and as I review the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season of 2007, 2008 and 2010.  i would have loved to hold their tiny self in my arms, searching every store for just the right ornament - to commemorate them.

I of course also ordered the forever family ornament from hallmark for this year, and have to still find something for for last year.

I am thinking my new search in the after Christmas sales will be a new ornament for each child for each year.  A friend had once told me his grandparents did this for him so when he went to college his first tree was NOT bare but filled with memories.  

It's those memories I want for my kids - but especially our 3 youngest.

I did have this one made this summer and my husband just laughed!

Griffen - 1 month

Can you believe it - a month and I lack the words to express what this child means to me.

In January, when Brahm looked at me and said "You know you left my twin in China*."  I am sure I looked at him like he had 4 heads.  We were in the midst of our struggles with Cav, and truly the very last thing on our mind was adding one more.

BUT, God had other plans and we FINALLY listened - to our children.  They played a very big role in seeing what we could not.

I MUSt tell you that I am fairly new in the faith, and somewhere along the line I equated that

A Leap of Faith = hard times.

Now that we have this little angel, I can truly say that although I knew God would hold my hand and support me through this journey - it NEVER occurred to me that

A Leap of Faith = my greatest Blessing.

By saying this I am not negating our other children, and I am not saying he is our favorite


there is something about this little guy.

talking after a diaper change

He seems to be the key that completes EVERY one of us.

THe baby we were NOT even sure was alive when we sent our paperwork,
weren't sure of a diagnosis,
didn't know his size,
had never seen his smile,
or his dimples.
And expected the worst

He is now our SON,
he loves to talk,
he is smart,
he wears 9 month clothing,
weighs 20 lbs,
and is not even on the dwarf charts,
he gathers others to him,
and we think God sent him to do some work. (different post)
And we have found the best.

 * Although BRahm and Griffen are born 4 years apart - the twin comment intrigued me. 
We looked at several other children with closer birthdates, and even checked the shared list for his birthdate to no avail.  These are the answers we have figured out so far.  All I know is God used one very special little boy to help his parents see God's plan for them.

~ The meaning of the names Brahm & Tao are very similar - basically the way to peace or the answer

~ Brahm always affected others in a way I have never seen before - Tao is the same if not more.

~ One day as I sat with Griffen's picture on my computer screen, it was in such a position that when I looked up, I saw Brahm's baby picture and Griffen's - they are almost identical.  Mainly their big eyes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FeiFei - 1 year

Sorry, things are crazy here and this was supposed to go up the day after Cav's.

FeiFei came to us after a 5 hour car ride and stopping at 3 other hotels to drop off the other cildren she had traveled with.  Wanna talk about a disaster waiting to happen ugh!

We would find out months later (June) that her foster mother must have said something to get Fei into the car that made her (Fei) believe this was temporary and she would be coming to get her.  Wanna talk about a disaster waiting to happen ugh!

We had been told when we got LOA (in Sept) that FeiFei had been returned to the orphanage awaiting our arrival (you know in Dec).  Apparently she threw such a fit (or the foster mom did) they returned her until the "big black car" came.

So a beautiful little girl arrived wearing 4 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a thick coat, with her hair all done up and two huge bags full of vitamins, food, candy, toys - you name it.  And we were puzzled.  She was 3 hours late and Cav had already made himself at home (this would become an issue later and a warning to other dual adoption parents.)  ANyhow, it was dinner time, we were already in shock over Cav, but had been awaiting our princess.

The kids were so excited!

Fei was beyond frightened.

The orphanage workers were tired.

THey gave us all of her information in a matter of fact manner in our cramped little hotel room, and then left.  No sooner had that door closed then her wide eyes turned into alligator tears - she ran for the door - and the most heartbreaking guttural scream came from her little body.  (I had to go with them to get something and I heard her in the elevator).  I was heart broken as those elevator doors closed, praying the other 4 would be able to calm her (daddy and our 3 bio kids).  Iquickly finished my work and literally ran back to our room.  All was silent.  I walked in and our poor terrified girl was sound asleep on our daughter - all f her clothes on, her fingers tightly clenched around her backpack.

I prayed, and slept, and woke, and prayed.  All night I prayed for this little girls heart.

Morning dawned, she looked at us, we handed her food and she. . . gave us a weary smile.  When she saw the big kids & Brahm she smiled big and really things have not slowed down from there. 

 We know that people with dwarfism seem to have a happy gene, and we saw this with her.  She has a zest for life,  that exudes from her very pores.  Her signature smile draws everyone in and all of my months of worry about her disappeared.

And jsut like Cav, no story is always rainbows and unicorns (although she is pretty close LOL)  We know we are blessed.  Cav was so hard and Fei was so easy that she got lost in the shuffle a bit.  What I know now is that we had to really llok for signs of distress in her.  She presents "sad" as acting like a "normal" child - meaning her smile isn't quite as bright.  We have learned to use her pearly whites as our signal LOL!  The happier she is the brighter her smile.

When she was very recently home and I pulled out her book from China (half the sky) she cried and I held her.  But it was hard on both of us, so we put it away for a few months.  The next time was much better.  In June, I found her in her room crying.  She finally said - my China momma no come get me. . . dis my family?  Oh I was crushed.  All those months she must have woken up thinking that today might be the day they were coming.  

We talk about CHina momma alot (foster mom).  It's funny the things that jog her memory.  We have decided to make it a natural part of our conversation.  I have noticed within the past month she really hasn't talked about them so we will see.

She was the child who bawled giant tears when I walked in the door with Griffen.  I had to sit on the stairs with her and remind her - "we are a family, Family ALWAYS comes home."  I think it really was a defining time for her.

Feifei likes food - ALOT!  This has been really our only issue with her - that and her lack of movement which doesn't help with the food issue.  She will still sneak some food, and feels deprived if anyone else had food left on their plate.  She gained almost 5 lbs while I was gone (and this was with instructions not to overfeed her.)  I know, you all can think I am mean BUT her short little legs carry a lot of weight and I would hate for our vivacious little girl to be wheelchair bound or need surgery early because of her weight.  So, I make up everyone's plates and then serve them - Cav needs extra, Brahm has terrible eating patterns, and I give Fei a normal child size serving.  We also talk about focusing on her food instead of zoning out.  Also we try to get her to move a little more.  I am talking about sitting in the same exact spot for hours if we forget.

School - FeiFei was a child who related going to school with a family - so she started prek shortly after coming home.  I had to jump through hoops but luckily got her into the one at our church.  She was completely on target when she came home.  Her teacher finally pulled us to the side and asked if her birthdate was correct - we don't know.  She said well by birthdate she is the youngest and by fine motor skills she was the msot advanced.  She thought Fei was closer to 9 months when found not 3 mos and we concurred.  We won't make any official changes but it helped to decide on sending her to Kindergarten.

I have to tell you this girl in the social aspects is a rockstar.  Everyone loves her!  Academics are coming slowly.  Some concepts she has no issues with and others she can't remember at all!  Our biggest struggle is her freezing when she is questioned.  She gives my this wide eyed look like I am an idiot for questioning her (whether in trouble or how many apples are there.)  We are slowly getting her to understand it is ok to answer even if she doesn't know the answer.

Health - besides her scary surgery she is doing awesome!  She will still probably need her tonsils out but I am putting it on the back burner for a bit longer.  Her breath still is bad, but her snoring has decreased significantly.

There is a special bond with our 3 children with dwarfism.  She and Brahm immediately hit it off as they did with Griffen.

She is truly a blessing and brightens everyones day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cav - 1 year

Ya'll can ignore these next few posts if you want LOL but my memory is so bad and this year has been so life changing, I wanted to document in one place
(I recognize that the negative is longer and more detailed than the positive but I never want to forget how bad those first months were and truly how far he has come.)

Today on 12-12-12, will be the one year anniversary of Cav stamping his hand in red ink and becoming our son.  In the days to come, we will have still had reservations if we had made the right decision to bring him home.  Would he destroy our family? Were we equipped to handle his extra special needs?  Was this fair to FeiFei who was actually the "first child" we chose to adopt?  and a thousand other questions in those dark first days.

Our first week was a rollercoaster and exhausting as we had to go to FeiFei's city (2.5 hrs each way) but had been smart enough to leave most of our luggage in Jinan and spend the night.

The hotel we stayed at was a business hotel which must have seen very few white people.  We were the freak show.  It did not help that Cav threw food, screamed, and hit constantly.  We went to a museum and the guide finally told me that they don't discipline their kids (I had left where we were at and took him to the bathroom because he had thrown another temper tantrum.)  In talking to her I realized that the biggest difference is that they have ONE child.  When I had one child things were very different.

By Friday (our last day in JinanI was done
* we were charged for "overuse" of the towels since I wiped up a beverage Cav had spilled
* our guide never thought we needed to feed our kids
* we had paid a 500 RMB bribe for Cav's passport to be on time
* the pillows were literally made out of straw

We prayed that getting to Guangzhou things would be better.

They weren't.

I was sure by then that we were dealing with institutional autism.
*he screamed terrified of the plants
*he screamed terrified at the bronze statues (yeah shamain island was fun
*he screamed terrified at any animal that walked by
* he had explosive diarrhea and numerous accidents (thus the name stink)

We gave ourselves 3 months - this was our safety net.

We arrived home Dec 23rd.
THings were still super hard but they would even get harder as I would come down with pneumonia AND what they think was the Norwalk virus a day and a half later.  I wanted to die.

This is how we found him our first morning home - heartbreaking
And him seeing the man-eating cat which saved us as he roamed the house at night
 AS January dawned we tried hard to find the precious boy we had prayed for all those months.  We had marveled at how incredibly adapt he was at moving despite the fact his legs were useless.  By medical standards he shouldn't have been able to stand on the longer leg - but he did.

We slowly, started focusing on how to make him a little more comfortable, treating his chronic giardia, and make him all around healthier.  Lots of Dr appts.

February we saw the first glimmer of hope.  We noticed one day he had lined up the train tracks - he actually PLAYED!

He had already started school by that time as I knew I jsut couldn't do it, he needed regulation and so it was school or daycare.
I found this one day and cried - they are a picture of our boys

He was still hard - we had to constantly by on guard as his manipulation skills (which helped him survive) were incredible, along with the triangulation and mommy seeking (not me LOL).  On the other hand he was very much a baby.

March - Connected child came - I got a last minute seat and only was able to go one day but it gave me enough hope to invest in Cav for a little longer.  We changed our original deadline to after he had healed form his surgery.

We were seeing tiny steps forward AND he had finally stopped terrorizing our other kids - so we no longer feared for their safety.  We stayed home a lot, it was jsut easier then having to deal with his fits.  My kids dreaded when he would come - even to their games because he was either mommy shopping or screaming.  At home he was stealing, lieing and destroying.

June dawned and he had his much anticipated surgery.  Everyone asks how we prepared him.  We talked often about him getting shoes and showed him dolphin tale.  BUT living in an orphanage where he was very different was probably the best preparation.  He jsut wanted walk, he wanted feet and most importantly he wanted shoes - yeah if that doesn't make you cry thinking about it.

The stinking kid left the hospital less than 48 hours after double amputation surgery!  When people would come in - he would ask if they wanted to see his owie (they would look horrified, but I would smile and nod yes.)  It was his IV he wanted to show them.

EIGHT long weeks in casts as they had to place a rod in the remaining tibia to straighten it.  We went back to Denver new casts about every 10 days.  BUT we began to see a new boy emerge.  We finally began to fall in love with our son, the resilience of the human spirit AND he finally calmed on the mommy shopping LOL!
THis will always be my favorite picture of him - our on guard child looked up and found peace

By Sept - exactly 9 months to the day we signed for him - he received his first set of legs.  Holding onto the parallel bars he got up and walked.  My step dad who was in Vietnam used to talk about POW's reviewing things like golf or piano in their heads while in captivity.  Once they were released they could play beautifully.  THis is our only explanation for Cav besides God.  His gait was perfect, he walked alone in jsut 2 days and he hasn't stopped since.

He also became a brother
His fits have calmed and we can now talk him through it.

Everything he should NOT be able to do he does.  He is so inspirational
THe newest is of course adding Griffen.  Cav is born 5/12/08 and Griffen is 5/13/10.  Griffen seems to have given Cav a purpose.  We are seeing him sit and play with the baby, he will come get me when Griffen is done with his meal.  I am in shock and disbelief that the child we almost didn't bring home because it was jsut to hard in those early months, is now the glue.

AS for language - Cav had almost NO mandaring - they call it alingual.  He didn't say much of anything for months.  We learned partially this was because of his very high seratonin levels (also why he was on guard sleeping those early months).  All of a sudden in May he started talking like crazy.

We think he is at about a 3 year old level (which is awesome since we had to start at newborn when he came home.)  I am not sure if he will ever completely catch up after so many years of "neglect" but I do have hope.  Today one of his classmates said Hi, Cav and without prompting Cav said Hi right back!!

 THings aren't perfect and we still have a long way to go, but a year later we are no longer wondering how long he will be with us.  We have embraced him warts and all LOL!