Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little One From My Boys' Orphanage

We met this sweet baby when we visited our boys orphanage in May. When I looked into his eyes I just knew he needed a Mama to come soon who would look past the hair on his face and see the handsome baby boy underneath. He is now on shared list as of February 8th. His special needs are hypertrichosis (primarily on his face and thighs), malformed fingers on his right hand, and patent forament ovale. These are all relatively minor special needs. His date of birth is 11/05/10 and his initials are GQH if you are looking for him on the shared list..

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After....

This will be my last blog post on Starfish and Stones since readership has dropped now that we are home. Wouldn't it be nice if life were a fairy tale and everything could be an easy happily ever after. We are still in the middle of transition stuff here. Isaiah seems to be doing better this week but I am sure we will have plenty more ups and downs this next six months to a year. Levi and Jacob continue to do well despite Jacob acting like a normal active four year old boy who loves to harass his siblings. Susu is her typical self on most days. My four children are a real blessing but some days parenting four children is just plain old hard work. No surprise really for anyone who has parented a few kids. Even on the hard days, I know this is the path we are meant to be on and that God is with us in this journey.

If you are a grandparent, you will still get email updates and pictures. I think most people who are reading this blog have my email so if you would like to get update emails on the boys, just send me an email.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jacob Saves a Life

Our house has been overrun with these medium size brown beetles the last couple of weeks. They are a little bit bigger than fireflies and we get rid of about 10 or more a day. Jacob has no problem picking up any bug with his bare hands and so his job is to get the beetles and throw them in the potty. Tonight Susu was yelling about two beetles in her room so I sent our little beetle exterminator in to get them. He very proudly rushed in to save his big sister from the yucky beetles. Susu then came in and said, "Thank you for saving my life from the beetles Jian Wei!" and she gave him a big hug and kiss. Jian Wei takes his job of saving lives very seriously and is not afraid to battle the horrible brown beetles.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Levi's Top Five and Prayer Request

Tonight Levi and I were having a pretty long conversation about things when he lived in China and things here in America. I have learned quite a lot of Mandarin in the last month and Levi has learned a lot of English. It is so cool for us to be able to have a real conversation already! Anyway, the part I wanted to share was Levi told me some of the things he likes best in America. He listed playgrounds, our house, the beach, the food, and the music at church. I had to share with our pastor and his wife that the music at church made Levi's top five favorite things in America because I knew they would love to hear that.

On another topic, I would like to request prayer for Isaiah. The last couple weeks he has been having some issues. I thought it was just transition issues getting used to two new brothers but I have been surprised at the level of things we are dealing with that don't necessarily seem related. They certainly could be but I also realized that we stopped giving him his fish oil capsules for about eight weeks. Prior to traveling to China, we gave him the fish oil daily for the symptoms of ADHD that he used to have, especially before the gluten free diet. I won't go into specifics on Isaiah's latest issues for privacy sake but the gist of it is that his impulse control has completely gone out the window and we haven't had issues like this since before the gluten free diet was implemented. He has been back on daily fish oil for three days and it will be interesting to see if that helps in another week or so. I certainly hope so! I was really expecting Susu to be the one to have some big transition issues along with Jacob and Levi but I was not expecting Isaiah to be the one struggling. Please pray that we would have wisdom on the best ways to help Isaiah deal with what ever the problem is. I had initially tried giving him a lot more positive one on one attention and outings out alone with Aaron or I but that has done nothing to improve the situation so now we have implemented some big consequences for misbehavior. Parenting certainly can be challenging and sometimes it is just impossible to predict how a child is going to react to things or what the real cause of an issue is.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cousins and Stickers

Jacob has this habit of putting stickers on his own forehead and on the foreheads of anyone else who will let him. It cracks us up. Here is his latest victim, my nephew who is obviously wondering why his new cousin just stuck a sticker on his head.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Levi's Photographic Perspective

Levi's Early Happy Birthday

Today was Levi's family birthday party and it was definitely a success. Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins all showed up to celebrate Levi. Levi was so excited to be having his own party and he even woke up early this morning all ready to begin his day. He was especially thrilled to get the camera he had asked for and he spent the rest of his party taking hundreds of pictures. I will do a separate post with pictures of the party from Levi's perspective. Here are some pictures that Aaron and I took.

This birthday would have been a sad milestone if Levi was still living in China. When a child turns 14 years old in China, they are no longer eligible to be adopted by anyone. I can not imagine my son never having a family to call his own. A few years from now he would have very likely been sent out to make his own way in China with practically no education and limited mobility in a country where nothing is handicap accessible. I don't want to think about what would have happened to my sweet son. This is truly a birthday to celebrate since Levi now has a bright future ahead of him. I wish more people would consider adopting some of these older children in China who are available for adoption, especially those with physical special needs like Levi.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Month Home

It is hard to believe a month has already gone by since we came home from China. It has been a busy month with lots of new things for our boys to experience. They are easy to please boys who love to go places. In the last two weeks, they have gone to their cousin's birthday party, an educational wildlife program, a local state park beach and playground, the library, church, and our good friends' wedding. Levi had his visit to the pediatric endocrinologist as well and got lots of blood tests. He liked the doctor who was very kind and funny but he was not happy at all about the blood tests. We are waiting on results and our MRI.

This past week things really started to feel more normal. We are getting into some good routines, the boys are learning English, and Jacob is learning to do what we ask most of the time. The house is now all set up like we want it to be accessibility wise and we got a handicap placard for our car so we can use handicap parking spaces which is a huge help. Levi received his certificate of citizenship today and I was thinking how blessed the boys are to be Americans where people with special needs have rights and access to so much compared to people in other countries.

Levi now knows about 150 to 200 English words and communication with him gets easier every day. Jacob understands so much more English too and he is starting to speak many English words regularly. Aaron, Isaiah, Susu, and I now know a lot more Mandarin as well which is very cool. Having the boys has produced an unexpected positive side effect for me. I am getting some decent looking bicep muscles. I hate exercise that is just for the sake of exercise. Yes, I know it is good for a person's health but it is just so boring to me. God knew I needed two very good reasons to do some weight bearing exercise and it is fun to have some arm muscles for once in my life. My new exercise regime is called a365xx2. The very popular p90x exercise program stands for power, 90 days, extreme. My exercise program stands for adoption, 365 days/year, extreme, times two. I find my exercise program to be very emotionally rewarding especially when I get hugs and kisses during and after a work out.

This weekend we are having a family birthday party for Levi. He doesn't turn 14 until the 10th but this Saturday was the day that worked best for all the cousins to come. He has never had a birthday party before and he is excited! I really can't wait to see him enjoy his party. There is really nothing quite like experiencing firsts with an enthusiastic 13-14 year old. An example of this happened at the state park playground today. Levi has tried out swings a couple of times since coming home and he has been afraid of them. It was pretty obvious he had little to no experience with a swing prior to being adopted. Well today he decided to try swinging again and this time he was more adventurous and let me push him a bit higher. He realized that swinging can be very fun and he was happily yelling as he swung back and forth like he was on some really exciting amusement park ride. He kept talking about how much he liked the swings as we were heading back to our car. Who needs Disney when a regular play ground is thrilling!

I will close this post with pictures from some of our latest outings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Siblings Bonding

Warning to all friends and family who may be considering coming to visit us anytime in the near future. If you really like your peace and quiet, don't expect to find any here unless it is night time and all children are asleep.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Four Weeks as a Family of Six

On Tuesday, it was exactly four weeks since we adopted our boys. At the very beginning of the week I was feeling fabulous about being the mother of four children. I kind of didn't want to write a post because I thought it would come across as unrealistically positive. Well it is now Thursday and after a busy week of doctor's appointments, our yearly homeschool portfolio review, PMS, and a cold, I am not feeling so unrealistically rosy about being the mother of four. That is life isn't it, very up and down.

We actually only had one doctor's appointment so far this week and the second one is tomorrow. On Wednesday, Levi had his first appointment with the pediatric neurologist. We believe he has Septo Optic Dysplasia based on a CT scan that was done in China. This is quite a complicated syndrome and you can read more about it here for anyone who is interested. The symptoms vary from patient to patient and there are many things that can be done to deal with issues related to the disorder. Levi will be going to a lot of doctors over the next few months so we can figure out the best ways to help him. The neurologist we saw on Wednesday was very nice and was knowledgeable about SOD. He has a number of patients with the syndrome. He thinks there may possibly be something else going on as well and said Levi has symptoms of spastic diplegia which is a form of cerebral palsy. Levi will be having an MRI done soon and that should give us a few more specific answers.

Tomorrow, we have our appointment with a pediatric endocrinologist. SOD causes issues with the pituitary gland and can affect growth and hormone production. This was the appointment I wanted to get in as soon as possible because Levi may have a limited window for growth and untreated hormone issues can be the most serious. He will be getting lots of tests at the endocrinologist. Poor boy!

In addition to these appointments, we will be visiting our pediatrician to get all those post adoption tests and getting titers to see which vaccinations he needs and doesn't need. After that we will be going to the orthopedist, ophthalmologist, dentist (Levi has a number of cavities), and physical therapist. Yes, this is a lot of appointments and we haven't even started on Jacob yet. Fortunately Jacob's issues are pretty much strictly feet/leg issues and we can wait a while to start on that besides the visits to our pediatrician. I would never rush a four year old just home from China off to have major surgery anyway. So far the hardest thing to deal with is normal active strong willed four year old boy behavior. Is there a specialist for that (ha ha ha)!

We could not be doing all this without my wonderful parents. Grandma and Grandpa came over on Wednesday to watch my other three while I took Levi to the doctor. It was almost like a mini vacation only dealing with one easy going child for four hours. Doctors appointment with Levi might just save my sanity, LOL. My Dad spent the four hours we were gone installing and fixing things and then he put in tomato plants for me and weeded my carrots. My Mom was wrangling a lively four year old who reminds her a lot of another boy in our house who used to be quite the little wild man. Isaiah does not believe for a second that he ever acted like that but we keep assuring him that he did! Thank goodness Isaiah has grown into an incredibly helpful nine year old so there is lots of hope for Jacob. I just yelled out our bedroom window for Isaiah to go and water those tomatoes so they don't die. I would not want to be a plant in our garden this year since gardening has fallen way down on the priority list!!!!

Time to get the kiddos into bed. My very favorite time of the day!

I will continue to add some older pictures of the boys until I get my act together and get the camera out again for some new pictures.