Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alex Turns 6 !!

Our "big guy" turned 6 today, and everybody at Target, Publix, and the Lab knows it! He's been very excited all week. On Tuesday he had a small party at Chuck-e-Cheeses. He said it was the best party ever with the best cake ever, and he wants the same party and cake next year! Today he got to pick anything he wanted for dinner (hotdogs), and we had a picnic in the family room and watched his movie of choice......Toy Story 2. Then we had cake, and the ice cream he picked out today. This was followed by every child's favorite part........presents! He was so excited about the cars his brothers and sister gave him, that he ran over and gave them each a huge hug. He picked Tyler up right off the ground! He also loved the hot wheels track mommy and daddy got him. He said to us in a surprised tone......"how did you know that I wanted this?". Well honey...........could it be the way you drooled over it in Target and begged us to buy it for you??!! He was very thankful and appreciative of all his gifts.

I've been thinking a lot about Alex's birthmother and her family. We've talked with Alex this week about how the phone rang in the middle of the night with the call to let us know that the baby was coming. How we packed up the car as quickly as possible and headed to Oklahoma. We've talked about seeing him for the first time and holding him. The wonder of looking at this precious newborn boy and knowing that he was our son.

It was such a happy time, but our joy was mixed with the sadness of his birthmother and family as they prepared to say goodbye. Adoption is a miracle and has brought so much happiness to our family, but it is also full of sadness for the birthfamily. Alex's birthmother wanted us to be his parents, and she hugged us and wished us well, but she also cried as she held her son for the last time. The memories still bring tears to my eyes. Alex's birthmother will always have a special place in our hearts and we pray for her and her family often.

About our Alex................
Alex is very personable. He will talk to anyone and is so sweet and friendly that he always puts a smile on others faces. He also likes to ask lots of questions. He's very curious about how things work and what things are used for.
He's also our active child. Full of energy and always on the go.
But he's also very gentle and caring. He loves little children and is always taking care of his siblings. He was the first one to get both Michael and Lily to smile when they came home.
He's very loving and still wants to hug and snuggle.

Our Alex is a wonderful and incredible gift from God. We love him so much!

(scroll down to see another new post below)

Alex's birthday party at Chuck E Cheeses

Trying to catch as many tickets as possible. Of course he only wanted the big ones!

Lily wasn't quite sure what to think of the giant mouse!
Michael took on one of the big kids at the air hockey table
One of Alex's favorite presents
Alex at 3 days old with his elephant
6 years later.............oh how he's grown!
Cake and ice cream at our family room picnic
Showing Tyler how thankful he is
So happy with the Hot Wheels track (see another new post below)

A Hard Week for Lily

Lily's week started with sleep issues. She had been sleeping through the night or occasionally waking once, but all that changed over the weekend. Saturday night she woke 4 times. I was able to calm her easily, and we thought maybe she was experiencing some new grieving. Sunday night was awful. She was up multiple times during the night, including a period of 1-1/2 hours when she was up every ten minutes. I lost track after 10 times. Monday she was tired (as was I !), so we thought she would sleep, however, if anything, Monday night was even worse! I did try sleeping with her through part of the night both Sunday and Monday, hoping that would calm her, but it didn't have any effect. She would still wake up thrashing and kicking. I did notice something new Monday night. She was sticking her finger in her mouth and touching one of her right, top teeth. As most of you know, Lily's teeth are very decayed and damaged. Ever since she came into our lives in China, she has fingered that tooth. It was usually after meals, and we assumed that she was getting food stuck there. I had noticed that she had been touching it more the past week or so, but I still didn't make the connection to her sleep issues. Not until Tuesday morning. Lily was laying in our bed watching Curious George (her favorite), when I noticed her fingering that tooth. She then started to whimper, crawled into my arms and gave me that look every parent has seen............that look that says, "Mommy, please make it stop hurting!" I knew then that we were dealing with a very bad tooth ache. If you've seen her teeth, you would know that her tolerance for pain must be really high, so I can only imagine what she must have been feeling. I immediately put her on Motrin, which did seem to help. I contacted the Dentist we had hoped to see in the next couple of weeks, and they were able to get us in on a cancellation Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, Lily spiked a 104 fever while on the motrin Tuesday afternoon, so it was off to Children's Healthcare that evening. They didn't find anything, but did give her an initial dose of an antibiotic.

Wednesday morning, we were up bright and early to go to the dentist. The doctor spent some time talking to us first, and explained that most procedures are done there in the office with sedation. Only the truly urgent cases are done in the hospital under general anesthesia. Well, as soon as he opened Lily's mouth for the examination, all talk centered around the hospital. The tooth in question was quite infected and needed to come out immediately. I've been to a lot of nice doctors, but I've never experienced anything quite like the care we received from this practice. Without even saying anything to us, the doctor had one of the staff volunteer to give up her lunch, and they asked us to come back at 12:30 for the extraction. They didn't even want Lily to wait one day for an open appointment. The doctor's partner, who is actually the one that does the major surgeries, came over and consulted with us even though we didn't have an appointment with her. Her OR time is scheduled for the 2nd Tuesday of every month, which would put Lily's surgery on Oct. 12th. Well, Thurs. morning, I got a call. The doctors were so concerned, that they arranged for OR time next week. Lily's surgery will be next Tuesday, 9/28. They are really doing everything possible do help our little girl. Besides the obviously infected tooth, there was an abscess forming on another tooth. They said that it was just a matter of time before another tooth was causing her a lot of pain.

It was hard seeing Lily go through the extraction with sedation. She was still aware enough to look so scared. It's all so confusing to her. She doesn't understand enough for me to explain that they are trying to help her. She actually started whimpering as soon as we went back to the office for the extraction. She didn't feel any pain though, and the doctors said that the relief would be immediate. She cried part of the way home, but once we were home, she fell asleep on the couch, slept most of the afternoon, and woke happy and hungry. She has fingered the area a few times, but mainly just to check out the hole. It's obvious that she feels so much better. She slept great Wednesday night which made us all happy!

The surgery on Tuesday will be pretty intensive. Every one of the 19 teeth in her mouth will need some work. Four to six of her front teeth on top will be coming out. The other teeth will either need a crown, filling, pulpectomy, or a combination. At some point after she heals, she will be fitted with an appliance with new front teeth. Not only will this be good aesthetically, but she needs the teeth for speech, and to act as spacers for her adult teeth.

We now wait until Tuesday. If she catches the cold 2 of her brothers have, the surgery will have to be postponed. They have to put a tube in her nose, and won't do it if she's congested.
Please pray that Lily stays healthy and all goes well on Tuesday. Please also pray for a quick recovery.

Here's a few pictures of the last 2 weeks.

Lily loves the Cozy Coupe and fights Michael for it when we're outside!
Showing a little spunk!
The boys like to play in Daddy's car

It's very obvious that Lily has never been on a playset. She didn't know what to think of the slide and held on to it for dear life. When I first coaxed her up the ladder to the fort, she wouldn't even stand. She looked really nervous as she crouched and looked around.
Finally standing up to try out the steering wheel
Lily is finally starting to enjoy her baths. She's still not fond of hair washing, but she only cries briefly now.
Alex dressed as a policeman for Community Helper day at school

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Home 1 Week

We have now been home a little over a week, and Lily has been with us for 3 weeks. It has been a real joy watching her personality come out! She is just full of laughter. She laughs at everything and anything. On Friday, Lily and I ran some errands. We were stopped at a red light and she started laughing and pointing out the window. I looked, and saw the side of a house. That's right, the side of a house with a garage door. I have no idea what she was looking at, but it must have been hysterical!

She also laughs at her brothers a lot. Sometimes I think they wonder what is so funny, but all she has to do is hear their voices and she laughs. She loves to be with them and follows them around the house. We've also seen her disappear, and go off by herself. I'll find her in the dining room, or sitting on the stairs. It must get so overwhelming at times. She has a new family she's still getting to know, and all she hears is a totally unfamiliar language. It's amazing to me with what she's gone through, and is still going through, that she can laugh so often!

She is still very shy and timid with others. When we're around other people she wants to be held, but she is opening up a little more there too. She'll now usually look at the person, rather than hide her face in my shoulder. When we walk to the bus stop, she likes to get down and walk herself. As soon as the other parents and siblings arrive, she wants to be picked up, but she's now watching the other kids and has even smiled at the little girl down the street. Of course when she sees Alex's bus, it's all I can do to hold on to her! She jumps around in my arms and squeals, and laughs. She is soooo excited to see her big brother. Alex always comes over and gives her a big hug. Then she wants to get down and run home with her brother, laughing all the way.

We haven't seen a lot of "orphanage behavior". Maybe it is because she went home with her nanny, who was more like a foster mother, so often. We did notice in China that sometimes she would take her snack and go to a corner and turn her back, basically "hiding" to eat it. Since we've been home, we've had one incident where she found a piece of chocolate and hid in a dark corner of the study to eat it. When I found her (not knowing what she was doing), she handed me the partially unwrapped chocolate, and fled into the other room. It took me a little time to get her to look at me again........and, I did give her the chocolate. She is also eating a lot right now. It may be that she never had quite enough to eat, or maybe it's all the new flavors. From the information we were given, she had a very bland diet. Right now she'll eat anything, except cheese. And Mom..........she loves Grandma's spaghetti sauce and meatballs! She cleaned her bowl tonight!

There are so many times that I wish I could explain things to her and she could understand. It was different with Michael. Although he understood Korean, he was just a baby and was dependent on us for everything. Lily is her own little person. She has her habits and ways of doing things. I can't explain to her that we are her forever family and will never leave her. I can't tell her that this is her home, and unlike the 2 previous hotels, we won't be moving again. I can't explain to her that it's ok to ask me for the piece of chocolate, and that she doesn't have to hide from me. She doesn't understand how much we love her and how happy we are that she's our daughter/sister. I talk to her throughout the day about what we're doing, and where we're going. She usually looks at me and smiles (or laughs!), but I know she doesn't completely understand. She is understanding more every day though. She understands if I ask her to go potty, or when it's time to eat, or if she wants some water. She knows 'all done', and 'more', and of course all of her brother's names. She also knows how to give a high 5! She still hasn't tried to repeat any english words, and remains rather quiet with the exception of an occasional Chinese phrase. I've heard that some children will wait a few months, and then start talking in short sentences. I look forward to the time that I can "talk" with Lily. I know she'll remember her time in China and when she met us. I can't wait to hear about it from her perspective.

Lily has become quite affectionate with me. She'll run up behind me and hug my legs. If I hold out my arms, she'll run to me and jump in my arms. Sometimes she pretends to run away, but when I chase her, she'll turn around and run towards me........laughing of course! Friday, while we were waiting in the carpool line, I leaned over to kiss her and she turned her head. (with a smile) When I tried again, she started shaking her head really fast. She thought it was just too funny that I kept trying while she shook her head. Now she does it all the time, whenever she thinks I'm going to kiss her. I just love that playful side of her. I love that she feels comfortable enough with me to run to me laughing, and throw herself at me! I know we still have a long ways to go with our bonding, but it sure feels like we've made a good start!

Unfortunately, she still very reserved with Daddy. I know how much Ruben longs for her to run to him for a big hug, but she's just not ready yet. She does let Daddy hold her, and she's been smiling and playing games with him, but from a distance. We try to make sure that she gets a lot of "daddy time" in the evenings. Tonight when I was putting her to bed and she was giggling, I told Ruben that I can't wait to be downstairs and hear the giggles coming from her room as Daddy puts her to bed.

Speaking of bed time and sleep, we decided to stop her naps last week. That seemed to be a time of a lot of tears and crying out in Chinese. After crying, she would only sleep a short time, and then cry more upon waking. This was usually during the time I was trying to do school work with Alex. She doesn't seem to miss her naps and likes the extra time with Alex. Night time has been going pretty well. She awakens sometimes and whimpers, but goes back to sleep easily. She is sometimes 'mad' when she wakes in the middle of the night. She'll kick at the blankets (she does not like blankets), and kick at us, but she goes back to sleep and wakes up happy.

Last night (Tuesday) was a big night as we moved her into her own room! She was fine when I first put her down, but after about 10 minutes, she started to cry. She kept crying out the same phrase in Chinese, and nothing I did seem to comfort her. Finally I asked if she wanted some water (that's not what she was saying), and she nodded yes. I gave her some water, and put her back to bed and she fell asleep. We fully expected her to wake and cry during the night, but she slept until 7:30am!!!! We are so happy!! Tonight I put her down, and she didn't cry at all. We'll see how the rest of the night goes, but I'm optimistic. Last night was also the first night that Michael did not get up. Finally, a night we could sleep straight through!

Last Thursday was Lily's first doctors appointment. No surprises, which is good. She's 26.75lbs, and 35".......just a little thing. We now have to head to the lab for blood work, and stool samples. Besides the lab, our next stop will be the Urologist for a scan of her kidneys. Then it's to the Dentist to decide what to do with her teeth. It appears, like many babies in China, she was given a bottle of sugar water at bedtime. The tongue protects the bottom teeth when sucking on the bottle, which is why her bottom teeth look so good. Sugar water at bed time and no teeth brushing are a bad combination. Lily will have a lot to deal with in the days and months to come.

We are truly blessed to have this precious girl in our lives. We look forward to watching her grow in our family.

Watching Curious George (Lily's favorite show), while Mommy gets ready in the morning. Trying on her jewels

Hamming it up for the camera
Lily discovers the kitchen
Alex monkeying around (in case you're wondering, those are sandals on his arms!)

We want to go play outside!
Lily loves the shopping cart at the grocery store!
Dressing up in high heels with Lily
Michael lounging while he takes in some football
All the kids wanted to try on the play aprons. Well, Alex didn't. He said they were for girls. This is coming from the kid who was walking around in high heels the day before!
Playing together
Lily hasn't show much interest in dolls yet, but she loves the strollers

Down on the Farm

Last week, a petting zoo came to visit Michael's preschool. Lily and I went out to watch. Lily got very excited when she saw her brother file out with his class. It was impressive how still all the little 3 year olds sat as they listened to the Farmer talk about what all the animals do on the farm. A favorite was the rooster who kept getting away!

Michael was very serious when it came time to feed the animals. Didn't even crack a smile as he fed the goat and the sheep. His face did light up though, when he saw the bunny. Couldn't drag him away from that bunny cage! When Lily and I had to leave, he looked a little confused, but was quickly distracted by more bunny petting!

Learning the proper technique for goat feeding

The bunny
Still here at the bunny cage! The other kids had a hard time getting a turn!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our Arrival and the Next Few Day

We arrived at Atalanta right on time, but not realizing that American has their own baggage claim, we took the long way around. And what did we find when we came upon them??? (from behind since we came down the wrong way) My good friend Dawn and her family, and, the big surprise.........Grandma and Grandpa!! My parents don't live anywhere around us and had to drive quite a distance to be here to meet their new granddaughter. We were all thrilled with the surprise! Dawn's kids Nicholas and Olivia made a welcome home sign for Lily and they brought balloons for our kids. Dawn also brought a bag full of snack and an ice cold Diet Coke for me!

We visited for a little while and then headed home. Lily did excellent in her car seat. It didn't seem to bother her at all. The boys were excited to be home and see all their toys. I have wonderful friends and they had stocked our kitchen with food, and even left a cookie cake! Grandma jumped right in and started doing laundry. That was wonderful as I wasn't sure when I would get it all done. She said she had never seen so much laundry! :) (she had also already stocked my freezer with frozen meals!) Lily took it all in. She's very timid, so she stayed close to me. After lunch, the 6 of us went down for naps. Grandma continued with the laundry, and Grandpa started washing windows. We slept for a few hours, and then started to wake the kids. That was a tough job........especially with Tyler and Michael. We all went outside to play and show Lily the play set. I don't think she's ever been on one, as she was a little unsure of the slide and swing. Then it was dinner and bed for our exhausted crew.

Monday was a quiet day of playing inside and outside, and hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa. On Tuesday, the 3 boys went back to school. I know Lily must have been confused when her brothers disappeared. When Grandma and Grandpa came over, she came to me to be picked up and stuck very close to me the rest of the morning. This all changed after we picked up Tyler and Michael. When we got home, Michael ran into the family room and Lily ran after him laughing! She's much more animated and less clingy when her brothers are around. After lunch we said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa as they headed home. We are so thankful for all they did for us

She's still a little slow to play, and it takes her awhile to begin interacting with a toy. She seems to like the cash register and Alex's marble run game. I also saw her lining up cars like her big brother! Although the orphanage said she likes dolls, she hasn't shown much interest yet. I'm still working on that as I loved dolls when I was little.

Our Jet Lag.............
The first night home was fair. Alex did the best. He fell asleep around 9pm and didn't wake until 8am..........he rocks!!!! Michael and Tyler both woke up crying a few times. Tyler ended up going back to sleep until after 9am, but Michael stayed awake in the wee hours of the morning and played on his bed. Lily just whimpered a few times during the night, and cried a little in the morning. Not bad........but that changed the second night!

The second night was awful!!!! Alex and Tyler both did well and slept through the night. Not so for our two 3-yr olds! Michael was up every 1/2 hours starting at 2am crying and saying he had to go to the bathroom. Lily woke up about the same time and just cried. For the first time in over a week, she cried for her nanny. She did this a couple of times throughout the night. I know it's a combination of the jet lag and all the changes she's been faced with, but it's just so heartbreaking to hear her cry in such a sad way for her nanny. The interesting thing was, she was so happy in the morning. She was playful and smiley. At one point, I held out my arms and she came running towards me and threw herself in my arms laughing! It was such a sweet moment!

The third night was much better. Michael did wake up a few times, but not as often, and did end up sleeping until about 6:30am. Lily also did a lot better. She whimpered a few times, but was easily quieted with just a pat on the back. She woke up quietly and happily.

This morning (Wednesday) she was again, very playful. She played a game with me where she would run towards me, stop, and then run the other way laughing. Very cute!

We are very happy to be home and are so grateful for all of our friends and family that have welcomed us back. We ask that you continue to pray for Lily as she continues to adjust to her new surroundings. Thank you for following along in our journey!

I'll try to post again in a few days, and let everyone know how we're doing.

Our airport greeters
The "happy to be home" travelers
Strapped in and ready to go

Lily trying out one of the ride on toys
Showing her the yard
Lily brushing her pony's hair. She seemed to like this toy.
She seemed to know what to do on a tricycle
Playing with Grandpa

OK Mom..........enough with the pictures!