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.