More on sleep

Yes, that is my theme-song these days.  :)

You see, I have the sweetest, funniest, most loving, mischievious three year old on the planet.  But as I’ve mentioned before, he spends his days so intent on charming each and every person he encounters (even people in passing cars as we drive along!) that when he finally lays down, his sweet, sensitive, deep, old-soul self comes all but crashing down upon him and I think it is more than he can bear on his own.  My job, then, is to find ways to help him take those times in the midst of his awake time to pause and snuggle and calm and be still.  Brief times throughout his day just to be still.  Then at nap and night time, I have to find ways for him to feel connected to me and yet maintain physical safety.

As life would have it, he dearly wants to be with his big brothers in the “boy’s room”.  But he also wants his Mama.  Stephen needs to travel regularly and so co-sleeping in our bed is out of the question.  It’s just not safe for him to be there with me without another adult to make sure he doesn’t vault himself off of our bed in his sleep (as I mentioned, he moves all.the.time. in his sleep).  And sleeping in a toddler sized car bed with a child who (by anatomy or desire, I haven’t totally figured out yet) sleeps with his legs bent at a 90 degree angle from the hip makes for a rather unpleasant sleeping experience for his bed mate.  Especially when said child could easily outperform most gymnasts.  ha

So, off we went and bought a crib to put in our room.  I was thinking that if I had it smooshed up against the side of our bed he could be very close to Mama and yet be secure.  Steve and James went upstairs and built it (Our friends call assembling a crib a “marriage tester” – Can I get a witness?).  I bathed Samuel.  Then I brought him into our room to show him and see if he’d be interested.

Ummm, yeah.  Of course not.  {slap forehead.  again.}

He took one look at that thing and pointed.  “‘Nigh, ‘nigh bei bei!”  (He calls all baby beds / doll beds this.)

“Yes!  Samuel’s chuang!” (bed)

“NO!  Wo yao chee che chuang!” (I want car bed!)

And off he went around the corner into his room, muttering to himself, “Wo de chee che.  Wo de chee che.” (My car.)

And he allowed himself to be tucked in, read to, sang to, snuggled (“Twinkle, Twinkle”), nose and tummy rubbed, prayed with (“Ready!” – more on that for another post) and off to sleep. 

Yeah.  We just spent $XXX on a crib as a sleep aid.  And it was worth EVERY PENNY! 

Tonight we had a repeat, with the exception of a few tears (three or four seconds after closing the door with he and Garnet in the room) and then I popped back in to reassure him after 3 or 4 minutes of quiet.   After doing this 3 times, the fourth time he was no longer drowsy, but fast asleep. 

Let’s recap (for my memory in later years) my children’s sleep histories.

James: Hardly slept through the night until age 14 months.  We had routines and patterns we would follow – tunred ourselves in knots to help him and he would wake every hour to two hours. 

Faith: slept wonderful.  Almost went to be with Jesus at age 2 months from Whooping Cough.  Then had to sleep upright for 2 months in recovery.  Then was unable to sleep through the night until around 18 months.  Sleeping is still a challenge for her at times.  For her too, i think night time is when she does her best (or worst) thinking.  We do our best to pray with her and work out her stress before bed, but sometimes it is what it is and she has ways to help herself rest (music, special things).

Garnet: He is our dream sleeper.  The first evening we came home, put on his jammies, read a story, snuggled, sang, rocked and prayed and tucked him into his crib.  He rocked himself (his head) to sleep and woke up 9 hours later cheerful and lively as usual.  He had night terrors at a few momentous times in his first months (after EMDR therapy or after his English had improved enough to tell a bit about his time in China). 

Grace: Struggled with her memories and fears at nighttime.  It was heart wrenching.  The plus side, her loved ones in China were up at that time of day and so we had late night phone calls suring those early months home.  After six months home she was able to get to sleep around midnight and then sleep through until morning.  Since our trip to China, she settles in quickly and easily and sleeps through.  When morning comes she is generally cheery and ready to enjoy her day. 

Samuel, well Samuel’s story is still being written. 

I suppose the reason sleep has been such a focus for me this time is the fact that we are still so new to having four other children who sleep well.  It was a long year for Grace and for me.  I have consistanly been the one the kids want at night and so I guess I have been the most nervous about this area of adjustment. 

All in all, we will weather this new phase.  It all goes back to what we do in the day time to help the kids feel better at night.  And when I hold to that truth, things always seem to go better.


So tired

Are we.

Happy, but tired.  :)

We go through our days, schooling and snacking, playing at the park, visiting friends. 

Life moves on. 

It has to. 

So different when you are adding number 5 to an already busy mix.

Thankfully we are in a slower time. 

Spring break. 

Well, not really for my kids (Didn’t they just have a month off?!).

“Wo yao Mama.”

That is what I hear throughout my days.

“I want Mama.”

He has a nervous tummy. 

I’ve been doing a fair bit of laundry.

Oh, and sleep? 

Not his favourite thing to do.

We share his car bed sometimes.

Or the floor.

Or my bed, if Steve is home to block off the other side.

He (Samuel, people) likes to roll around a lot in his sleep. 

Or should I say flip around. 

He’s even fast when unconscious. 

His voice. 

“Oh Tay!”

Sends goosebumps up and down my spine.

I love his voice.

And I love my baby. 

And now I’m off to see if I can find some sleep, before my baby awakes yet again.

Good night!




Zhongshan visits

Ah, how to sum up today…

Maybe saying we went 3 for 3 as far as the homeland visits went would be best. 

Yueyang was amazing.

Yinchuan was surprising and yes, amazing.

Zhongshan, well, it definitely was otherworldly in so many ways!

We visited the orphanage for a few hours.  We toured the usual places everyone has been in as of lately, but this time with personal stories and lots of children accompanying us (older ones mostly – I’ll upload all of the photos including other children to my private photo blog once we are home for all of you who are waiting for your kids just in case you see them). 

We then went to a local restaurant with Grace’s closest adult friends and the director.  Wonderful Dim Sum.  Grace’s volunteer had had his wedding party there.  Beautiful!

Afterwards Grace, Faith and Garnet got to ride scooters with Grace’s adult friends over to first one volunteer’s home and then the other!  I haven’t ever seen them grin so much!  Through traffic, over a huge bridge, zipping here and there.  We have had an amazing guide and driver here.  Our guide is super spunky and our driver purposely drove down the middle of two lanes of traffic at times in order to provide a sort of “pilot car” for the scooters carrying our children!  Talk about personal service.  haha

Just a note about Zhongshan.  I knew it was beautiful and full of flowers and palm trees before.  But now that I have seen the old town and its side streets and also the modern urban centre with its riverwalk and koi ponds, I’m very taken with it.  It’s got so much character and beauty.  Blue skies and soft breezes. 

We found out so many personal details about our little girl.  We feel as though she is finally ours.  And Grace?  She’s now claimed us for sure!  We had the opportunity to receive blessings from a number of people who dearly loved her and she was able to finally see with all of us in the same room, that we all love her and that the relationships do not have to end.  I think we were all (Chinese and Canadian alike) holding our breathe, but it went incredibly well. 

She (we) are all exhausted tonight.  And she’s a bit strung out.  Pretty normal considering!  It was draining to say the least (a very emotion packed 7.5 hours) and we fully expect lots of ups and downs yet, but the new foudation has been laid. 

Mission Accomplished.

On to Hong Kong via ferry tomorrow.


Challenging Day

We ended up travelling with all 9 of us to and from Yinchuan.  Samuel works better with everyone at his disposal and it was great to have everyone there to support Garnet.  Unfortunately, this morning, both girls woke up with bad colds.  Grandma is still recovering from one she caught last week (all three were sharing a room this past week).  Samuel refused food and slept through breakfast.  After his impromtu nap, he rose to the challenge and downed 4 sausages though.  We rearranged some of our plans and had a slower morning, a Hot Pot luncheon including an interview with a local journalist (“Surprise!” our guide sprung on us as we drove into the restaurant parking lot with sick and tired and rumpled kiddos – Oh well!) and a tour of the Wetsern Xia Tomb site and museum in the afternoon. 

This evening, we arrived at the airport and attempted to check in only to find that some of our tickets had odd comments attached and so we almost missed out on our flight, but for the diligence of our facilitator and our guide.  Yay!  Then we cleared security (they let Samuel be carried through this time and thankfully didn’t confiscate our liquid cold medicine or “Grandma Soap”/hand sanitizer) only to find that our flight had been delayed two hours.  Many odd gift shop food iems later, Samuel took a long crawling tour of the departures area and we finally made it onto the plane intact.  Half the kids slept or dozed.  The other half caught a meal on the flight. 

After sending four of us in the first taxi at the Beijing airport and almost being charged highway robbery for a van-taxi, we found a regular cab driver who would take the remaining 5 of us in one cab (the cabs are only supposed to take 4 passengers).

Arriving at the hotel we found out that our gear was still in our rooms, but our key cards no longer worked.  The front desk quickly made new ones up and after picking up some gifts left for us at the Concierge desk courtesy of our dear facilitator and friend, we made our way upstairs.

Soft snoring is calling to me from the other side of the room. 

Off to Guangdong tomorrow afternoon. 

Good Night!


Please pray for health and rest for our bunch.

We received some information that we hope to persue for Grace, just this evening.  Pray that God would move clearly one way or the other on her behalf.

Pray for Jia Yi who I referenced in the other posts (Yinchuan).  She is a very special little girl who very much deserves a forever family.

Pray for my brother and his family who are holding down many forts with us all gone.  They are all very ill with strep and eye infections.  Healing, rest and encouragement for all of them. Love you guys.  Thank you for everything.  It had meant so much to all of us. 



State of the Nation

We are all doing really quite well for only having been a family of seven for eight days! 

That being said, here is what that really means:

  1. Samuel is becoming more needful of Steve and I to be in close proximity to him.  He becomes more concerned if one of us has to leave the room.
  2. Samuel is eating and sleeping marvelously.
  3. We are completely out of his element and he hears people speaking about his legs a lot.  We fill him with as much love and reassurance as we can about our pride in his abilities and appearance.
  4. He is baby and he is boy – all rolled into one.  Diapers and cooing.  Preschool songs and bossiness. Needful of snuggle time and wanting to test the limits of his strength and agility.
  5. He is most definitely a dominant lefty – Grandpa H. rejoices (it only took 2 kids and 8 grandchildren!)  😉
  6. Faith is having a great time in familiar territory and yet is needing Mom and Dad to be close.
  7. Faith has really shown more interest in this little person than I have ever seen her take interest in a child before.  She’s really enjoying being a part of caring for him and playing with him.  
  8. James is struggling with the fact that he has a fair bit of independence on this trip and yet still needs supervision.  Boy – Man.  It’s a tough place to be.
  9. James loves his new brother.  Samuel reaches for him and asks for him to carry him.  Steals his glasses and James grins. 
  10. Grace is doing really very well.  She’s remembering amazing details suddenly about our adoption trip (we stayed in this same hotel) – things she adamantly refused memory of before haev now been brought to the surface.  She’s rolling with it very well and we are seeing our daughter blossom into a new settled place at times.  Amazing.
  11. Grace is very patient with Samuel.  This surprised us as we thought there would be more jealousy.  Samuel loves to stroke her hair but often will add a playful tug to a handful and she scolds him gently.  Today she told in a very mature way that she doesn’t mind him playing with her hair, but that we just need to work on helping him not pull it.  Wow! 
  12. Garnet is having a tough time shifting up a rung on the family ladder.  He is super kind to Samuel and goes out of his way to share with him and be kind and play. However, he sidles up to me whenever given the chance for an extra snuggle or a game of chopsticks.  It’ll take time and reassurance.  I also believe the visit to Yinchuan next week may help him too.  He’s anxious about the unknowns.
  13. Garnet is a super sharer.  He lets Sam have the last bite of a snack.  He wants to play on the floor with him.  He teaches him silly faces and like to make him giggle by tickling him gently on his little legs.  Samuel calls him Gege and that goes a long way in Garnet’s books. 
  14. Steve had a new experience today.  Samuel was in the carrier at the Dirt Market and wet through his clothing, the carrier and Steve’s jacket and shirt.  We happened to be in our favourite shop and the proprietor had remembered our family.  We were chatting and then she offered for us to change Samuel’s clothing and diaper right on the framing table (it’s a photographic print shop).  She even offered her winter coat to change him on and hand carried the stinky diaper outside to the trash by hand.  She was very sweet! 
  15. Another vendor saw Samuel’s runny nose (it was cold – it snowed today in Beijing!) and offered some of her toilet paper for his nose.
  16. The taxi driver we took back to the hotel cooed at Samuel in Chinese.  He also narrowly missed rear-ending a car when said car slammed on its brakes in order to avoid a bus at 80 km/hr on 2nd Ring Road. He saved us 27 RMB over our family’s other taxi by speeding and dodging though.  hehe
  17. One of the other children in our group calls Garnet “Barnacle” much to the chagrin of her parents.  She’s terribly cute.
  18. The kids are missing their cats.
  19. Grace has asked after home a few times. Such nice things to hear from a little girl who wasn’t sure which place she wanted to call home a short time ago.
  20. Have I mentioned that Samuel is FAST!  Oh, and agile?
  21. At the Dirt Market: Grace spent $14 Cdn (5 items – pretty and mostly wearable), Faith spent $11 Cdn (4 items – dainty and decorative), Garnet spent $1.50 Cdn (1 item that frightens me to no end – can you guess what it was?), James spent $30 Cdn (a pair of somethings that may or may not be removed by customs from his checked bag – any guesses?)  
  22. Our trip to the countryside is cancelled tomorrow.  We are visiting a new butterfly gardens here instead. 
  23. Your prayers, comments and e-mails have meant so very much to us.  Keep them coming!  We’ve been praying over things you’ve shared with us too.

Off to bed after some quick laundry in the tub at our 5 star hotel.  Motherhood…


What lovely locks you have, my dear!

Grace has been trying so hard to grow out her hair.  In the Spring, her hair finally kept clips in for longer than 15 minutes.  In the summer, with the help of those tiny micro elastics, she was able to have pony tails.  And today, finally, when we went to get our hair trimmed, our friend and stylist was able to french braid her whole head of hair! 

Talk about glee!

(Click on each of the photos to enlarge them.) 



How it Really is


From an e-mail I wrote this morning…

Hi Friend,

Ahhh, your blog has people calling me and saying certainly Grace and Grace’s friend must have some of the same DNA. Seriously! Okay, that isn’t exactly what they mean though. They are referring to the control issues, the anger, the sheer force of nature that is our girls experience right now.

I could’ve written every word that you have written lately. And that is why I haven’t Skyped or written or attempted to even call.

Am I a wimp? Yeah, maybe. How do I empathize without sounding negative? Some days drive me to the brink of the crazy house. And yet honestly we have come so far in a year. A year. And that is again, why I don’t write. It takes time. If someone had told me that we’d be fighting these battles still I would’ve burst into tears. I know why. I know it is logical. If I were chatting with another Mom and they were wondering why it is taking so long then I would have all the answers. But when you’re in the trenches, it is just hard to see it all clearly some days.

And right now Grace is fighting for control with all her being. We are facing her demons. The reality of the golden China that she dreams of is always looming for her and she knows or at least fears that it won’t be what she remembers. She is scared. I mean terrified. But we have to face it together. Hopefully on the other side of this trip she will have clung to us more and trusted what she can see without the mask of the confusion of the actual adoption clouding her vision. Really, when we visited the orphanage the day or so after the adoption, she was just plain shell-shocked and it was all rosy. And it’s only grown from there.

So as for talking with Grace’s Friend. Grace hasn’t been up to it. She has pushed away from her friends or at least the reality that her friends are actually adopted now too. It unnerves her. Of course it does. I think seeing that they are no longer in China will help draw her closer to the girls here in North America too. Perhaps finally she will see them as part of a shared experience.

All this to say that I am walking right beside you in this. Grace is struggling right now behind her brave face of control. Praying that once we are home again, we can begin again with her from a new place of understanding.



Catching up

So I think I am over my general feeling of malaise.  Now I am onto Full Speed Ahead.  Haha 

Thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed to check in on me.  I really REALLY appreciate every word.  It’s so good to know I’m not the only one…

In the meantime, we made a quick trip to Grace’s specialist at the closest Children’s Hospital.  She’s doing really fantastic and somehow those words always put me at ease.  We visit that particular specialist twice per year and it’s easy to forget that there is even a need for the visit until just beforehand and then suddenly I get to wondering how things are beneath the surface.  As usual, those thoughts were for nothing.  And for that I am truly thankful!

We also celebrated a really big milestone birthday as James turned 15 this week.  Everbody says this about their kids, but How On Earth did He Get this BIG?  And how come every year we enjoy him more and more?  We are really thrilled with our young man and we had an absolute hoot the other night on our birthday date with him.  Accoring to a certain arcade game, we are Ace shots at killing giant spiders and leeches, but are not really all that compatible as mates.  Uh ,yeauuuuh?!  Lame plot line, but too funny laughing with our teenager.  :)

I’ve been polling friends for tips on which size diapers or pull ups to bring with us.  Samuel is trained duirng the day, but we expect a regression (you know, hope for the best, prepare for the worst and all that…).  He’s about 20 lb.s and will be 3 (!) next Tuesday.  factoring in his limb difference, but knowing he’s a little guy has made me go a bit crazy.  Input welcome.  :)

The realization also dawned that while we way over pack every time we travel, we also like to bring a lot of donate-able items.  But, on this trip, we will be flying into Beijing and then taking a bunch of domestic flights followed by an international departure via Hong Kong.  That means less than half our usual luggage allowance.  Not sure if our arrival into each city will allow enough time to shop for items to bring to each orphanage.  We’ll have to see…  Any tips (Americans!) on what you do when you fly into Beijing and exit via GZ or HK? 

We received our last monthly update on Samuel (which I will post separately) and it said something that made us curious.  Guess we’ll understand more once we meet him. 

We were able to Skype last Sunday night.  He is a total monkey boy (and we LOVE monkeys in this house).  He loves to climb all over the desk, point the web cam around, show us his belly button, flex his muscles, play peek-a-boo (his favourite), and accost the pig shaped light on the desk. hehe  We notice that his rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is getting clearer and clearer each week.  His new haircut is often styled by his nanny into a very manly swoop across his forehead and he is often dressed to chat with us in a sharp little sweater.  Very adorable handsome.  :)  We have played with him this way for so many months now.  What a tremendous blessing – one we never dreamed of. 

I am ignoring the second half of my Chinese New Year cleaning by writing this post.  We are beginning CNY early this year as our church group is coming over tonight and treating us to some very yummy sounding homemade Chinese food.  Our contribution will be a little more western in that it will need to be picked up from our local restaurant shortly before the party.  :)  Grace has told me that my version is just not quite right and so we jokingly order what we call Fake-Chinese food and don’t even try and pretend its the real thing.  I’m even serving Chocolate dipped fortune cookies from this site.  She has amazing ideas – totally worth the look!

I think I have just about come to the end of my catching up, but before I go finish catching dust bunnies (Hey, it’s the Year of the Rabbit – aren’t I clever?!), I want to make a quick mention about a very special little girl by the name of Sharaya.  Our friends the Berzenji Family is raising funds in order to bring their newest child home.  We travelled with them on our journey to Miss Grace and their daughter Jade Ping is Grace’s orphanage sister. 

Anway, back to Sharaya (don’t you just love her name?  Brings back memories of a certain Amy Grant song – and yes, I am that old.)  Sharaya is a young friend of the Berzenji family.  She has decided to raise money for their adoption fund and the Canadian Cancer Society by cutting off her beautiful, long tresses and not only donating the hair to make a wig to bless a person fighting their cancer, but is also taking pledges in order to give financially to this special family trying to bring home their child from China.  Who says kids don’t have great big hearts?  In addition, both she and Adrian (Baba Berzenji) are taking part in a Congee fast right now!  You can read all about it and all of these fantastic people on their blogs: Sharaya & Adrian’s.  And please, do more than read.  Won’t you encourage them with a donation? 

Off to herd up those bunnies….

And don’t forget to weigh in on the great diaper debate & luggage fiasco of 2011.  I could really use the advice.  😉



Some of my favourites from today…

Grace began“peelahno” lessons tonight (very successfully I might add :)). 

On the way home Grace told me this joke (knock knock jokes are also a new favourite): 

Grace: Knock knock!

Mom: Who’s there?

Grace: Grace!

Mom: Grace who?

Grace: Grace! (Said with an air of disgust that I have already forgotten.  ha)  It’s your honey, Mom!

She loves that I call her honey – it tickles her something silly!

At bedtime I was helping remove her hair barrettes.  She said, “Thanks for taking out my clicks!”   Yes, well I guess her hair clips do make a “click” when the are opened and closed.  :)


Giveaway to benefit Grace’s orphanage

An “e-friend”, as we call them in our home, is having a really (I mean REALLY) fantastic giveaway that ends today. 

All of the proceeds (100%) will go directly towards this family’s orphanage donation.

The really exciting part for us, is that this family is adopting one of Grace’s orphanage-mates, Kaleb.

Follow this link over to He Leads Us – Faith Walkin’ to Kaleb.

Anita is giving away an I-pod Touch, a bunch of Visa gift cards and lots more.

Won’t you take a look?