11
Jun

Da Boyz

No Children were Injured in the Making of the Photos.

Click on each image to see them larger.

4
May

Just a Moment

For just a moment,

all seemed calm,

quiet,

and I breathed deeply,

in thankfulness.

29
Mar

The Tooth Fairy Cometh

Some of you may remember our little visit from the Chinese Tooth Fairy while we were in Changsha.  Grace had lost her first tooth with us, and there was much rejoicing when she found her Yuan under her pillow the next morning.  She’s saved that Yuan, by the way, and the local branch of the international currency exchange (aka. Mom and Dad) will be called into use soon in order to make sure she has the required Canadian currency with which to puchase her “Barbie Airplane Set” {cue the music}.  She’s been saving for this bad boy for quite awhile now. 

Anyway, after our latest visit to our dentist this past week, we discovered that indeed, not one, but both of our daughters have a mouth full of wiggly teeth.  Stephen made a few comments about needing to take out a loan, while I began altering my mental menu to sustitute apples and corn on the cob for bananas and salad greens. 

Over the past 36 hours two of those wigglers have fallen out – one from each daughter, and tonight I realized that all our talk about the tooth fairy hadn’t entirely sunk in…

Grace: Why didn’t the tooth fairy come yet?

Me: Oh, the tooth fairy must have taken all his change with him to work.

Grace: Okaaaay.  Wait!  His?!  You mean like in the movie?

Me: Ummm.  Remember honey, we talked about the tooth fairy just being a game we play in our family.  Kind of like a silly joke.  If it’s just a family joke, who do you think the tooth fairy really is?

Grace: Dad!  {suddenly bouncing up and down on her bed} Does he have wings?  I bet he gets really small!  Wow! 

Me: Ummm…

Grace: Yeah!  That’s so cool!  Hey Faith?  {Faith is above her in the top bunk.}  Dad has wings!

Faith:{smile} 

Me: Well, um, it’s time for sleep girls.  {So suave – snort.}  Remember girls the tooth fairy game is just for fun!  You’ll have to ask Dad more about it when he gets home, but I doubt he’ll tell you his secrets. 

Me: {thinking: Poor Steve.  Little does he know what I’ve just set him up for.  Sometimes I think my imagination gets the better of him!  Hope he has time to read the blog.  hehe}  Godd night girls!

Grace: My Dad has wings!  My Dad has wings and he shrinks reaaaaaaallly small! 

Me: {quietly shuts door, shaking head}

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And in other news?

James learned his first song after his 2nd guitar lesson.  Mucho proud of him.  He whipped out his guitar and asked to go past Grandma’s to show her.  I love that he’s still into his family.  His professed highlight?  The fact that as he was waiting outside with his guitar for me to come pick him up, a whole pack of young ladies were walking by and he was, ahem, noticed.  😉

Grace recently began practicing her first piano song using two hands – Old Mac Donald.  Great job Miss Grace!

Faith cleaned our bathrooms today and for the first time ever I think she has passed my fussiness level.  I’m so delighted!  I love that look of pride on their faces when they have learned to do a job really well and they know it!

Garnet has become very opportunistic.  The second I sit down he literally flies over and plunks donw on my lap.  I’ve missed him too.  He hates it when I say this out loud, but he’s still my baby and I need a good dose of snuggle time with him each day or I feel out of sorts too.  I’m glad he is coming to me when he sees the chance.  Never pushing his little brother out, but certainly not passing up the opportunity for his own turn. 

Samuel is currently heading into night number four in his car bed.  Last night was another full night of rest.  We had some good snuggles today.  He is such a deep soul like his brothers.  I really heart my boys. 

Hey, and I got all 5 kids out for lessons, errands, AND a big grocery shop and made it home alive.  :)  Moments like these must be celebrated.

28
Mar

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.

26
Mar

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!

 

 

26
Feb

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…

4
Feb

Doing up CNY Flat-style

Have you all heard of the Flat Stanley series of books?  I highly recommend them for the early chapter book reader. 

My nephew Lane recently sent James and Garnet a “Flat Lane”.  He drew a small cut out picture of himself and sent it along with a letter.  The letter asked for James and Garnet to take Flat Lane on some adventures, document them and then send them back to him.  Lane then has to create a report and present it to his class. 

Here’s how it turned out:

#1

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

(Gong Hay Fah Choy)

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

(Shin Nyin Kwhy Luh)

Happy Lunar New Year!

I travelled to James and Garnet’s family and was just in time to celebrate the holiday with them. 

 It was exciting and a little dangerous. 

You can follow along as you look at the pictures in order.

 #2

Lunar Calendar

Many people around the world follow a different calendar than the one we are used to.  It follows the movement of the moon and has a 12 year cycle, with each year representing a different animal.  Have you heard?  This year is the Year of the Rabbit.  If you are born this year or are 12 or 24 or 36 or 48 or…  this year, you are said to be  lucky, kind and peaceful!

 

#3

Symbols of Blessings

There are many special foods and symbols that are eaten and used at this time of year.  Eating a whole fish is said to bring you more money.  Dining on long unbroken noodles will give you long life.  If you want happiness and good luck, then eating eggs and round fruits like pomelo and oranges are said to help you.  These oranges were delicious!

 

#4

Celebrating Spring

Lunar New Year marks the coming of spring time.  Many families have fresh foods and flowers around to celebrate the return to warm weather and a new growing season.  It’s not too warm here, so this family bought some flowers to add to their spring holiday. 

Aren’t I beeeeeeautiful?

#5

Getting Ready

To prepare for Chinese New Year there is lots to do!  I was there just as the family was getting ready.  They all got new haircuts, a new suit of fancy silk dress clothes, the house was cleaned from top to bottom and lots of food was bought and made, including jiaozi (yummy dumplings with all kinds of fillings!). 

                                 

#6

Bringing in the New Year is LOUD!

There is a story that talks about how the Chinese people were saved from a large and hungry Dragon.  By using loud firecrackers they were able to save their people.  In some places at the New Year, there are LOTS of firecrackers and even a dragon dance with people acting out the story!  I hear the family is going to watch a dragon dance soon, but I had to head back to school before it began.  I’m kind of happy as the one on the book scared me enough!  Whew!

 

#7

Gifts

My favourite part!  People like to give gifts at Chinese New Year, but they are different than the ones we give at other holidays.  Children and unmarried young adults receive Hong Bao (Red Envelopes with money inside).  Adults give each other flowers or fruit.

The family gave me some to share with you and your classmates!  The money they used is really yummy!

#8

Family and Friends

Lunar New Year is a time for family to come together.  People travel long distances to be together with their loved ones.  There is much laughing and chatter as families make the jiaozi or set off firecrackers.  I missed my friend Lane, so I asked them to mail me back to you.  Thanks for sending me on such an exciting adventure!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

28
Jan

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.  😉

15
Jan

Travel Plans… almost

Got you, didn’t I? 

Nope.  We’re still plugging away.  We have narrowed our plans down to three different options and are now pricing them out.  My head hurts.

We also have a houseful of teenage young men this weekend.  They are really great guys and I love having them here.  No really, I do!  But it has just hit me this evening just how blessed and amazing it is to be the Mom of an almost 15 year old and an almost 3 year old, all at the same time.  There is just nothing like having the giggles of the little guys in combo with the deepening voice of my almost man-child. 

So, while I am overwhelmed with the details tonight, I  just wanted to pause for a minute and be thankful. 

I am truly blessed.

And deeply grateful.

21
Sep

Back to Homeschool

With the numerous interuptions and false starts we’ve had this Fall, today was finally the day I declared the official “Back to Homeschool” day.  Somehow with all the physio appointments, homestudy visits, clean up after our various home projects, our first day kept getting pushed back. Our kids always start back a week after the rest of the local school kids return to class.   Usually this is our “Not Back to School” celebration involving a trip to a very quiet mall in which to shop for fall clothes, one last trip to the beach or to Grandma’s pool in the middle of the week, and it usually gives me some extra time to get the rest of my straggling to do list all caught up. 

Without further ado, here are the somewhat smiling faces of this year’s class of students to Beacon Rock Homeschool.

First, we have James.  Entering Grade 10, at least a foot taller than last years photo and sporting a lot less hair, he has chosen his Star Wars Role Playing Guidebook as his favourite memorabilia item for this season.

 

Next up, we have Faith.  Also showing that summer growth spurt, she has chosen her favourite pet, Sparkle, and the latest script that she has authored, a sequel to her first show, Hannah’s Doom. 

 

Now we have our newcomer to the world of first day of  “Back to Homeschool”, Miss Grace.  Grace has been excitedly asking for us to begin for some weeks now, and she chose as her favourite item, not only her Princess dress, but also her fairy wings (courtesy of cousin E.).  An elegant choice, don’t you think?

 

Last but not least, we have Garnet.  This will be Garnet’s first year of full day homeschool with us.  He is unsure if that is a good thing at this point in his career, but he is unwilling to let it get him down.  He eagerly chose his Indiana Jones sword and his “frog gun” (it apparently turns all items in its path into… you guessed it, frogs.  100% for spirit and imagination, my delightful First Grader!

Won’t you join me in congratulating them? 

It looks like a great year ahead!