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.


Arrived in Zhongshan

Thanks for the prayers!  More than I can say. 

Faith is on the up swing, as is Grandma.  Grace had a high temp and threw up just as the bellboys came for the luggage before our flight to Guangzhou.  She’s amazing though and we carried on with a good dosing of Advil and Gravol.  Garnet is having a tougher time since we landed.  Even let Grandma snuggle him a bit (unheard of as he says he’s too old now).  We’ll beat these bugs yet!

Beautiful, new boutique style hotel here in Zhongshan.  Wonderful guide (Joanna).  We had teeny rooms at first and shuffled around enough to get enough beds and all are alseep now. 

We approached the city from a new angle (for Adrian & Roberta).  More factories than we had seen (we knew they were there, right?).  Loads of ads for LED factories.  Porsches and RAV4’s.  All shiny and new. 

Cantonese now.  Lots of smiles.

A crazy, speeding driver for our minibus tonight.  We made it here in record time!

Saw 2 parents each on a scooter.  Each carrying a small child in a Mai Tai wrap.  One on Mom’s back and one on Dad’s front – legs sticking out and around Dad.  Mom grinning as she raced after Dad’s scooter to beat the red light.  Hair blowing.  I will never forget, 

Our Grace is doing amazingly well.  She has crossed the line and now claimed us.   The may sound strange, but it has taken until this week. And yes, that’s a long 15 1/2 months since her adoption.  We still have a ways to go, but so many things have shown us a determination in her to claim us that we are actually starting to believe it may be real. 

Faith is struggling.  She’s tired.  She’s asking many questions of her own.  We are praying for her and trying to help her carry on until the end of our trip.  It will do her heart good when we are in one place for longer than a few nights again and can actively build our new normal.

Samuel is doing really well.  Loves his naps and yet will snooze in the carrier or our arms in we are on the go.  Loves water.  We hear “He shui!” all the time.  🙂  We are working on the please and thank you.  He knows so much English.

Our Beijing guide (“V”) has a strong ND connection.  Sponsored 3 kids there until their adoption.  Visited frequently.  We were delighted to hear of her heart and her spunk and excitement for ND!  She recognized Samuel from the photos online.  She told us that she initially found ND online herself after deciding to do something to make a difference (since her exposure to FOI adoption groups).  Huge and amazing thing.  We are thankful for her heart and will be praying she finds others to join her in carpooling out to ND as that is all that is preventing her from more visits!  WOW! If you ever read this V – you are amazing!

Gifts are packed.  Diaper bag packed.  Camera packed.

Time for some sleep for Mom.


Yinchuan CWI photos


Protected: The Last Week…

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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.  😉


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?


One Year Later…

On November 16, 2009, one year ago today, we anxiously waited for our tour bus to crawl through rush hour traffic on its way to the Civil Affairs Office of  Guangdong Province.

We nervously rode the slow elevator upstairs.

We shed our coats, readied our paperwork, prepped our cameras, held our breath.

And then there she was. 

Entering the room timidly from behind a curtain.

Smile firmly attached to her face.

My heart stopped.

I could not catch my breath.

There she  was.

I pulled her stiffened body towards me and embraced her gently.

She called us each by name.

We fumbled over hers.

She came to us bearing photos, gifts, memories of a life lived. 

We spent many minutes poring over the photos.

She would chatter away and point with her long slender fingers.

I think we all fell into shock.

This was no apparition.

Here was our girl.

Our daughter.

Our sister.

Our granddaughter.

Her Mother.

Her Father.

Her siblings.

Her grandparents.

She was so beautiful and intelligent and confident.

She had so many who had invested in her.

Who cared about her.

And suddenly the real little girl was appearing before us.

The pre-drawn image fell away and the reality was there.

And again, it took our breath away.

The beginning had arrived.

We love you little Grace Qiao.

And so we need you to know…

We love that you are such a strong young lady.

We love your direct spirit, your willingness to probe until you understand.

We love your imaginative artistry, your ability to strive for accuracy and creativity in your play.

We love that you have a whole pile of people who stand behind your need to grow and love and be loved.

And nothing, not an ocean nor a fractured language can ever stop these people from caring for you Miss Grace.

Because we are so blessed to know you and to be known by you.

“Forever and ever?”, you say.

Yes, sweetheart. 

Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever…..

With our whole hearts we promise.


Mom & Dad


Grace’s Friend is Coming Home!

I can’t even describe how excited I am for our new friends Barb & Mike

They just received their Travel Approval and are hoping to leave in about 3 weeks to bring their daughter, Nora, home.  

That special little girl is also very special to my little girl. 

{You might remember my posts here & here, which led to our amazement when this happened.}

They’ve shared many years in their orphanage together.

(Grace is on the far right and Nora is just to her left, holding the red lollipop.  The girls were about 3.5 years old.)

Nora has watched Grace leave.

And now it’s Nora’s turn.


Hop on over to their blog and congratulate them, won’t you?

Let’s throw them a party to remember – something special to tell Nora about once she’s home!

(And just in case you are looking, I know of at least 2 more little girls from the same orphanage who are looking for their forever family… just thought I’d mention that!)

It was T-H-I-S big!

Tonight at supper Grace became very animated while telling us a story from China.  I happened to have started a new novel tonight (I read out loud to the kids when Stephen isn’t home for meal time), The Mouse and the Motorcycle.  Something about Ralph S. Mouse struck a chord with Miss Grace and she was off and running with a story that she had never told us before. 

Apparently one day when she was still in China (at the orphanage), someone spotted a mouse. 

And here is where I interject a little. 

This mouse was actually quite large by the sounds of it.

(I’m thinking rat, at this point in her description.)

A couple of the grown ups came running.

One of them used an umbrella to try and hit it.

Another person grabbed a fire hose.

Again, I must interject that she was adamant that the hose was much larger than our garden hose and it was for putting out fires!

Then Grace proceeded to describe in great detail the antics surrounding the capture and killing of this mouse

The story ends with a different grown up running to the kitchen for a pair of rubber gloves, bending over picking up the mouse by the tail and throwing it outside in some tall grass.

Seriously, I don’t know when the kids as a collective group have been so engaged in a story.

This girl’s got talent.

Or it might have been the, ahem, mouse.