Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I think the number one thing people ask us especially adopting an older child has been language.

Some people even use the lack of knowing another language as an excuse NOT to adopt.

I don't know Mandarin - although several of my kids have a knack for language I do not - thus the partially used rosetta stone sitting in my growing pile of good intentions!

AND for some reason people are under the impression that our son - who lived in an orphanage in basically podunk China knows English.  I know it's so bad - but I am sure I give them this look that says - really - really you can't be using up air to ask me this question.

But alas - the same question keeps coming.

SOOOOO, the answer is NO - I speak maybe 10 whole words of Chinese - I know 10 whole words of Chinese because

a.  it was the one word a particular child needed repeated the entree trip for my sanity
b. it's easy
c. my children learned it on said trips and kept correcting me in fits of laughter until I got it.

So here is how our day goes -
Good Morning,     Ma    Ma
Good Morning Dawson did you sleep well?
followed by this grunt that sounds like a baby dinosaur yawning.

Then I gesture shoveling food into my mouth
he smiles, and nods if he has already eaten (daddy makes the breakfast).

Then I point to the broom,
his teeth,
his shoes,
 and eventually his backpack before he leaves the house.

All this time the other kids are incessantly chattering away.

I get him from school (see below)
AND he smiles with a Hi,. . . .  Mama (although yesterday he called me mop lol)
I say my few pat words
Swayshowe - How or La  (school good or bad)
Pengyo - How or La?
Shovel food into my mouth and do a thumbs up or down.

HMMMM, writing this I am thinking no wonder he looks at me like I am a dork LOL.

Luckily, he goes to a Mandarin immersion school, so the teachers all are from China and can speak to him for the most part -
Since I am ADHD today - his stinking teachers can't get he or she right either LOL

If we have issues at home, or questions about school, we go in with him and have them translate to him.

Also his ESL teacher works on him answering in English.

Anyhow, I write all this because I can see how having him home with me all day, with no one to translate would cause many of the frustrations that I hear about with older kids.  We do use the translated on the phone to get important facts across but my guess it's not always exactly what I am trying to say.  In addition, because of where he grew up - they have a very strong dialect (his Mandarin teacher told the principal he needed to work on his Mandarin heehee - she said no he needed to work on his English LOL!)

Dawson can read the translator but doesn't understand what the voice is saying much of the time.

As far as English - we have pulled out the preschool prep videos, the preschool apps on my phone and right now we are just working on letters.  My goal is to have him proficient in letters, sounds and beginning to blend by the time school starts next fall.

A summer home with our extroverts will hopefully help.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter 2014

For the most part we had a fabulous Easter
The weather was nice,
it was Dawson's 1st Easter,
he is a JOY!
we shared our time with cousin's
it was low key and simple!

I don't know whether to call this pure joy or redemption 

I hate dyeing eggs so we now have chickens that do it for us - and they have been busy!

Heehee Tao looks like a Cuban grandpa

We really to Easter egg HUNT!

Finally got smart and the little single loaders our littles with little hands can do themselves!

One particular child had a meltdown but recovered midway through the day - we just kept celebrating this year and it did our family good!

Got himself together to join us for a meal together!

Ended the day watching Frozen!

Friday, April 18, 2014


First and foremost, and although I eluded to it, I did NOT mention how absolutely TERRIFIED I was to bring an 11 year old boy home.  We have so many struggles with Cav that I could NOT in my wildest imagination think about adding to that stress.  We were ultimately obedient to GOD but now I realize the whole time I was holding my breath, not even really looking forward to the next step in the process simply because it meant we were getting closer to D-Day (coined that in every sense of the negative image it brings up.)

Of course I am ashamed to admit it now.  We were faithful but not really joyous and definitely NOT trusting in God's plan that He cares about us - ME - as much as He cares about these kids.  It's with tears that I write these words now.  It is with tears that I think about this boy who so many passed over  in the SIX years he was available for adoption.  Because adopting an older boy from an orphanage only situation has to singly be one of the best things we have ever done PERIOD.

That doesn't take away from our other adoptions, that doesn't take away from our bio kids in the least - they are ALL treasures.  But Dawson - it's almost indescribable (I know really helpful to say on a blog LOL!)

I don't know if it was the months of fear,
I don't know if it was because we thought of turning away so many times,
I don't know if it is because he only had 2 1/2 more years before he turned 14
and became unadoptable,
forever lost, without a name, a family, a connection.
I don't know if it is how he embraces each new thing,
How he rolls the word mama around in his mouth,
trying it out, practicing it,
adding it a little to late to the few words he knows.

It's probably a combination of all these,
plus the bravery this child has shown in changing everything he has ever known,
and still wakes with a smile.
Playing silly word games with his new brothers Ha-zhu (baby)
back and forth until I want to poke my eyes out.
Trying new foods,
learning table manners,
taking on the chore of sweeping the kitchen
and starting at his brand new school.

Our communication is lacking,
words only spoken through a translator,
but still he lets us tousle his hair,
rub his back,
and smiles, oh the smiles.

This isn't a unicorn and rainbows story, I know we will have our struggles.  This is more of a story of redemption - of MY growth, of learning God loves me as much as my kids.  That God knows the plans he had for Dawson AND for our family.  Of the pit in my stomach to think of wanting to turn back,  - away - because I thought that would be easier.

    Jeremiah 29:11

    New International Version (NIV)
    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Home -

I am so sorry we got home last friday - and a week later this is the first day I can even think lol

We designed and had these shorts made last summer to eventually announce our adoption.  In addition for an older boy joining 6 other kids we thought they were the perfect way to have him join our family.

So we flew from Guangzhou to Beijing to Houston to Colorado Springs.  So in Houston I had the boys change into their purple shirts.

It was amazing to round the corner at the airport and see a sea of purple shirts, barely held back by the "DO NOT CROSS THIS LINE" sign.  So excited to meet their new brother!

Morgan made him a hat

I loved that after the hugs and introducing - they turned around and started showing the numbers on their shirts.  I think this was especially important since Dawson is smaller than Cav who is 5.

It was so fun as we were meeting each other, we heard squeaky shoes.  Heehee our friend came to meet Dawson and brought balloons YEAH!! 

He did great on the flight, Air China was great AND Houston has the best immigration area of all the airports we have flown through!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


The song Worn by Tenth Avenue North has played in my head all day.

This non tech savvy mom really should have had a lesson on how to play music on the ipad.  I listen to Christian music almost all day long at home and so this has been the single most thing I have missed besides my family.

Let me say there are parts of China I love, the culture, the history, the elderly and the babies, the parks, will always have my heart but tonight I'm worn.

Tonight as we said goodbye to our friends and my 11 year old decided to lose it - I'm worn

I am tired of carrying my life on my back.
Of walking, or shoving into taxis always on guard.

I am worn from the absolute filth.
I am tired of men spitting,
People throwing trash at their feet,
I am tired of the cigarette smoke,
The smell,
the masses of people
And the traffic that has come within inches of an absentminded 7 year several times.

I am tired of the Haalo lady,
The hey Missy's and even the madam's.

I am tired of the dealing,
For heavens sake give me a fair price
Or let me go next door for a better deal.as business owners, we eat and breath capitalism.
I love deals but even I am worn.

I am tired of living with 2 little boys in a single room,
Of trying to get them to somewhat behave at every meal
Because we are in a restaurants.

I am worn from finding key cards,
Waiting for elevators,
And searching for chilled water bottles.

My heart aches for a boy who thinks I am a bank,
Who wants Disneyland and Has gotten it for the most part these past two weeks.
I am Worn from watching for the little facial changes indicating sadness,
I am worn from an 11 year old who says he is 12 and acts like he is 3

I am worn because I know even with these faults,
We are blessed by him.

I am worn worrying about home,
And missing my kids like crazy.
I am worn knowing that at least one of those kids
will make me pay for my absence with rages and tantrums.

I am worn from months of paperwork,
Of fighting to get to this point.

I once saw a post asking why Christians adopted.
It was a duh moment for me but I never really had the words to articulate the answer.
I know now.
Because the prayers of my village,
And God himself are carrying me home.

Now only an early morning,
Three flights,
Countless hours,
4 checked bags,
3 carry ons,
Countless presents for little ones,
And one family finally together.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Marriott - china hotel executive suite

After being here 3 times I really think paying extra for the executive suite and thus larger bedroom is worth every penny.  We did stay for free with points and when booking this online I was given the option to upgrade for $50 for the studio or $65 for the 1 bedroom. I did look and the studio and 1 bedroom are basically the same size just with a wall between the bed and the living area instead of just the rotating big screen tv. 

This is where we put the rollaway but last year my oldest slept on the couch. 

Then there is a desk next to the bed and an office area we put our bags etc. I believe it is 400 yuan more for the studio and 500 for the 1 bedroom per night if you wait until check in. This does includes executive lounge privileges and breakfast buffet (not sure you get the buffet with just a points room)

The most important I think is try to get a room on 16,17 or 18rh floor. They are all connected to the lounge by a private stairway instead of the elevators. 

The executive suite is open all the time using your key and always has 7-up, Pepsi or Pepsi max (what china calls their diet Pepsi) look it says no sugar (only took me a week to figure that out lol!  Waters and then juice and coffee which you can make cappuccino and lattes. 

The can feels like it's dirty but after trying them all over I think this can must be made this way (I have tactile issues lol)

The executive lounge also offers breakfast buffet up there. The selection is primarily what is on the 2nd floor buffet but not as many choices of congee or the noodle soup station. For appt days and kids who are overwhelmed the executive lounge is a God send. 

There are atleast 5different sitting areas that we found the adoptive families congregated to atleast one especially in the evenings. The chairs are a little plush for kids but seem resilient and high hairs are available. 

The same amount of food is available from 5:30-7 (I think But maybe it's 7:30) each evening. We have always found enough things people will eat (I am the pickiest of the group) each night we have gone. They always have a chef at the grill and then the metal hot chafing dishes. Plus salad and fruit. 

And now don't think bad of me but it's worth the adult beverages alone. By evening I am done. Especially since the entire wee has looked like this

They have wine, beer, and you can mix your own drinks (if you know how). They have desert until 9 pm. Needless to say our food bill has been minimal. 

Also these are pics of the downstairs breakfast buffet - today we didn't go til 9 so it was way less crowded. 

There are more stations around the corner. I think there is more of each item but not necessarilya significant amount more choices.