Thursday, March 26, 2009


We kicked off the celebration of Nathan's 4th birthday with a terrific afternoon! My parents' gift to Nathan and Emily were tickets to see Disney On Ice...featuring The Incredibles. We had a great time! The kids really got into the show. They enjoyed helping save Mickey and Minnie by clapping and chanting "Mickey...Minnie...Mickey...Minnie" (Emily was still clapping and chanting for days afterward!) Even Nathan was clapping and chanting with us. Here's a picture of them sitting on Grandpa and Grandma's lap where they sat for most of the show. They even got a little singalong from Grandpa as he sang the Mickey Mouse song. Grandma got lots of snuggles from Emily too! So neat to see things through the eyes of a really makes it that much more special!

The next day we flew to Sanibel Island, Florida to visit Jim's Mom (Grandma Chris). It was the first time she met Nathan and we got to celebrate his official birthday while there. Grandma Chris gave him a fishing pole...which he was so excited about. He even knew what it was for. He pointed to the gulf water and said "me...ha..yue". Which means "I'm going to catch a big (ha) fish (yue)". He's so funny! Well, we fished but the only thing we caught was seaweed. So we spent the week going to the beach in the mornings and swimming in the pool after naps. Such a great way to wear out two toddlers! Emily was so excited to see Grandma Chris again and loved "doing her exercises" in the pool like Grandma Chris. She'd just so funny the things she picks up on!

I was worried about Nathan thinking that we were going back to China since the last airplane we were on we were coming home from China. I made a photo album for him that included pictures of Grandma Chris, lots of pictures of Emily and Jim on the beach, pictures of the room the kids would be sleeping in, the room Jim and I would be sleeping in (FAT CHANCE ON THAT ONE), and the living room of the condo. It really seemed to help him understand where we were headed and he was pretty comfortable once we arrived because he's seen the pictures. It even helped Emily settle in quicker. That idea worked great!
After arriving home, we celebrated Nathan's birthday with Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Jason. He really got into the whole birthday thing and enjoyed spending time with his Grandparents and Uncle. Grandpa helped him hit the ball off the tee (which was one of his presents from them) and he really liked when the ball flew far. Emily REALLY wanted to do it too and had more concentration with it, she hit the ball without hitting the tee first most of the time. We had a firefighter theme which Nathan got a kick out of. He kept trying to wear the firefighter helmet like a baseball cap with the bill in front. When he did that, it would fall down over his face and he'd walk around with it that way since he could still see a little bit through the thin plastic. Anyway, finally got him to understand how it is supposed to be worn and got a great picture of him in it. We gave Nathan a big boy bike and just today he got the rhythm of the peddles. His face lit up so big and you could tell he was very proud of himself. I love that kiddo!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Family fun time!

Emily and Nathan are right at home on the little school bus at Amazing Jake's fun place. We also took them to the zoo and Nathan loved the train and as always Emily loved the merry-go-round. It was a 70 degree day and it was wonderful just to let the kids run outside. I think we only saw the monkeys and elephants because the kids were having too much fun just exploring on the paths.
Nathan's one cool dude in his shades! So funny, now every time we get in the car everyone has to put on their sunglasses before we can pull out of the driveway. Emily announced today that all of the movie stars were ready to go! That was our cue to get going I guess.
Quite a bit has happened since my last post. Nathan started preschool. On the days that Emily went to preschool, Nathan would cry and sob. We realized that he was used to going all day to preschool in China, I think he thought we were punishing him by not allowing him to go. We got him enrolled at a different preschool on Tues/Thurs. When I told him that he could go to xue xiao (school), he gave me the biggest hug and kissed my hand. He's starting his third week and LOVES it!
We had our appointment with the Cleft Palate Team at Children's Hospital. Here are the results:
  1. All of the doctor's were very impressed with Nathan's repair. They said it was one of the best repairs they have seen coming from China. It was the same technique they use in the U.S. The small whole that he has in his upper gum is normal for anyone his age with a repaired cleft. I wish our pediatrician or someone would have explained this to us sooner. This whole time I've been worried about it. The whole will be closed when his adult teeth come and he is about 9 or 10 yrs old. WHEW!!
  2. The audiologist tested his hearing and discovered that he has a mild to moderate hearing loss due to fluid behind the ear drum. The doctors state that 9 out of 10 children with a cleft palate have fluid behind the ear drum. So in a month or so Nathan will have to have tubes put in his ears. Once the fluid drains, he'll obviously be able to hear better and that will help his speech and English.
  3. The Speech Therapist said to begin speech therapy as soon as possible. She said not to bother with teaching sign language because he is already picking up English fast and due to the quality of his repaired cleft, he has the proper mechanisms to speak English clearly. He would need speech just to learn how to speak clearly.
So, I am so glad I pushed to have him evaluated so quickly. I had told him that day that we were going to see some doctors and they will be looking in his mouth and ears. I emphatically told him "NO SHOTS" to reasure him since his blood work, he thinks we are always taking him to get shots when I say the word "doctor". The Cleft Team all laughed when one of them asked Nathan to open his mouth and Nathan opened it really wide and said "AH". He is such a wonderful boy...he cracks me up!
Emily has been having difficulties sleeping in her bed still. She will ask us repeatedly if we are going to leave her. She holds onto Jim's finger so tight at night. She asks him to tell her about the first morning we had her in China. About how when she cried Mommy and Daddy jumped up to see if she was wet, hungry, cold...etc. She is reassured by the retelling of that morning that we will always take care of her. Now we just really need to help her understand that we will never leave her..EVER! I know she's thinking that if Nathan was with a family and he is older but now he's with our family...that other family must have left him. How do you handle that logic?
I am so thankful that we have such support from family and friends to help us help our kids. Our social worker has been wonderful and we're meeting with her again (without the kids) to discuss some of the issues and hopefully come up with some tools we can use to help Emily and Nathan.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blessed Sleep

It is amazing how much of a difference sleep can make! We all slept the whole night the past two nights. YEAH!! Although Jim is still sleeping on the floor in Emily's room and I am still on the floor in Nathan's room...but it's still progress. It's surprising how comfortable a crib mattress and comforter are! Someday soon we'll kick the dog off of our bed and finally be able to sleep in our own bed. I think Jim's going to have Emily help him clear her room of his bed to help her realize that he won't be in there at night anymore. I think he's planning on doing that this weekend. Emily seems secure in her big girl bed and secure with her place in our family. She is getting along well with Nathan outside of the usual sibling stuff. She has finally forgiven me for turning her world upside down. She now will let me hold her and she told me "I want to snuggle with you"...which is the cue I have been praying for since I have really been missing our snuggle time after nap.

Nathan is doing fantastic! He is the sweetest little boy and seems relatively happy about joining our family. He is my little shadow and follows me wherever I go. Now I can tell him in Chinese "" and he knows that I'll be back in a few minutes. This has been a wonderful development which has allowed me to run to the store quickly or run upstairs etc. He knows I'll come back. That says a lot for his bonding to me. He's still a little afraid of Jim since the male figure is the disciplinarian in China, Jim has taken on that role. When Nathan was trying repeatedly to sit on the dog or kick the cat, Jim would give him a stern look and say "Bu hao" (meaning not okay). Nathan would burst into tears and either come running to me for comfort or close himself in the bathroom. Nathan loves to tickle Jim and they play together but when I walk into the room, he runs to me. I've been trying to give them some bonding time which has allowed me to reconnect with Emily. Such a long post I know but I finally got the chance and am awake enough to be somewhat coherent.

We are really trying to get back into our routine and Emily started back to preschool two days a week. She looked relieved when she walked into her classroom. It was like the structure and normalcy that she needed. Hopefully we can all get back on track since routine and structure really help her out. It would do wonders for Nathan so he can know what to expect at certain times of the day. His Foster family really did a terrific job of raising a responsible, kind, and loving boy. For that I cannot repay them, but I can honor them by continuing what they started.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dad's Turn

I have had a great time with the unofficial Blog. It is nice however to see Julie Blogging again and realize just how amazing this experience is and watch the joy in Julie's face as she tells our story. Last night we went out after the kids fell asleep Julie's parents are in an adjoining room so they listened for the kids. We just walked around stopping at Starbucks for me and 7 11 for Julie. We were both so tired and sore it wasn't much of a walk. The kids have been waking up at about 6:30 each morning and I have been taking them down for breakfast to give Julie a chance to sleep in a little while. It would never have worked last week I would have been a crazy man attempting to take both kids to breakfast. It is funny to watch them just sit and wait to get their food. The trick I have found is getting the exact same items on each plate. I found out this morning that Nathan loves eggs boiled or scrambled.

We did a family day out today we just strolled around the island and ate lunch at Lucy's. I had to go to the bank to exchange money and right before our number came up Nathan announced that he had to go to the bathroom so off we went. When we got back we were now 6th in line to get the cash. Julie in the mean time was in a panic trying to figure out where we had gone since it took us about an hour to get the cash. Tomorrow we are going to the Zoo and to the Embassy in the afternoon. Julie's parents have been a great help with the kids. They have been taking in the sites. Today they went to Pearl Market and Pat ended up buying a pearl necklace and then Jim told her he had bought one for her for Christmas. He's going to take the one he bought her back. You can't beat getting them local.

We are becoming a family

It seems like so long ago that we updated the website. We are enjoying Guangzhou (GZ) and the warm weather. Yesterday we went with a bunch of other CCAI families on a tour around GZ. We visited the Six Banyan Pagoda and arrived just in time to have the monk's perform a blessing on all of us with the kids. I have no idea what he was chanting but it was so moving. Emily kept asking why he was dropping water on everyone's head. Nathan had to have been in a temple before because he put his hands together to pray and bowed 3 times. After the blessing, there was a procession of monks playing drums as they entered the temple. Nathan was sitting in his stroller and put his hands together in prayer. It was so amazing!

Then we got back on the tour bus and that's when poor Emily completely LOST IT. She threw the worst fit I have ever seen and screamed so loud that our tour guide and everyone on the bus stopped talking...the place went completely quiet except Emily. Everyone turned and looked at us like "what are you doing to that poor child". I told them Emily was throwing a fit and apologized. I wanted be invisible. Emily has been so good for most of the trip and being 2 1/2 she just had enough. One thing with adopting Nathan, we have noticed just how much we have endulged Emily in a lot of ways...just like any other only child. Now with Nathan, things that she used to be able to get away with, or our ability to quickly redirect her has changed. We no longer have a single focus on her and the chance to catch her behavior before it escalates.

Nathan is such a mild mannered boy but is starting to come out of his "angel" phase. Still he is so well behaved and such a funny kid. He has a great sense of humor and even with my limited Chinese, we seem to communicate just fine. He and Emily are so funny together. If Emily is doing something he thinks she shouldn't, he says "mama..mei mei". Meaning hey Mom look what little sister is doing. It's just funny. They really play well together figuring they only met last week and have been in the same room 24/7 since. I am proud of our little family and can't wait to get home!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From the Proud Dad

It is hard to know what to write since so much has happened in the past few days. I a proud of Emily she has been amazing. From the time we got to China until now she seems to have grown up right before our eyes. She seems to understand the importance of her role in this journey. Emily seems to already have a connection with Nathan if he starts crying she comes over to see if she can help and then comforts him. They are playing together and act like normal brothers and sisters which is sometimes good and sometimes interesting. Nathan's first kiss was for Emily. They were both sitting on my lap and he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. I am not sure who was more shocked Emily or me. The second day I was attacked by two toddlers and we got into a tickle fight. It was great to hear such deep laughter from those two. Nathan is attaching to both Julie and me. It is a great feeling to get that hug and realize that he is feeling safe and secure. I love watching him discover new things and how he reacts to them. He gets the biggest grin when he sees something new or figures something out. We took a bullet train from Tianjin to Beijing and he just got the biggest kick out of watching the countryside go by. He loved sliding on the marble floor of the train station...Julie wasn't thrilled at all since she was the one holding him at the time. That was pay back for the Great Wall since I had Emily sliding on the ice and it was me that was worried about falling on my backside. Nathan had a tough time when we got to Beijing. He is having trouble with adjusting to change. I was worried about the move to Guangzhou but he is now making the adjustment after one day. The sleeping arrangements were challenging last night we were all in a king bed so we could get a bigger room. We moved a mattress in from Julie's parents room so we should be able to get a good night sleep. Last night was the first night Emily slept all night which was great. It is amazing how well the family is growing together. I think about Gracie Cork and how well she adjusted and hoping before we got here we would be that lucky and we are.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet Nathan!!

We went to the orphanage today and received Nathan. They brought him into the office and they said "ta shi mama" (she is mommy) and pointed to me. He came and calmly sat on my lap and looked at me. He is SO TINY!! He is only maybe an inch taller than Emily and only weighs a little more. He is so quiet. He understands Chinese from our guide but cannot clearly be understood when he speaks Chinese. Yesterday when it was time for his nap, he cried himself to sleep while I rocked him and sang the Two Tigers Song. Turns out the only song I know by heart is one of his favorites! He finally fell asleep after 20 minutes fully clothed complete with his socks on. I managed to take his socks off when he fell asleep but as soon as he woke up he cried to have them put back on.

We are so proud of Emily. When they first brought in Nathan, Emily said "Oh, there's Nathan!" She went right up to him and wanted to play with him. Grandma and Grandpa gave him a little Magnadoodle. Emily went up to him and showed him how to use it and then how to swipe the picture clear. AMAZING. Yesterday afternoon they kinda got into a little shoving match because Emily touched his car (his comfort object) and he shoved her. Just a little not hard at all but that got Emily's stubborn side up and she threw a fit. We are so glad she came with us to meet her brother. I had major doubts earlier in the trip but now I am so thankful that they have this time together.