4/29/11

Planting Strawberries :)

...With Big Sis. Look close, Asher is cutting the grass :)

4/28/11

It's been a very interesting month. So much has changed in our household, and much of it is drama! But it's all working itself out. We are becoming a family. Slowly. As we find our new "norm". Much of the past week I've been walking around sulking about all these medical issues I did not anticipate. Issues that will(and have) effected the whole family in some way. Issues we didn't sign up for...blah blah blah. Gosh, that is so bad, selfish, mean, wicked, ungodly, etc etc etc. I'm tired. But God. He is Good, Selfless, pure, perfect, and my strength when I'm weak. Oh Holy Spirit come! Come! ...and He did. and continues to be my strength in these momentary flesh talks I have with myself-He sets me straight. When I put it all in perspective - it's God that led us to this. It's God who gave us a new daughter. It's God who created her to be our child and knew her name before the beginning of time. God. He made the path clear and opened the door wide for her to be here. God.
So much is changing in her too, it's exciting to see! Really, sometimes I can't contain myself when I see her exuberance! What a delightful kid she can be.
I will go on but first I want to share Easter with you...Arielle's first! It was exciting. I found the Jesus Movie for Children and had her watch it in Mandarin. Daddy sat with her and they talked after (well, aided by google translate.) She heard the Gospel in Guangzhou when we were there last month. At least part of it, but I know that most of this is totally new to her. She gets excited about church too...
 Laurens birthday is on April 22 so we sang happy birthday to her and Taylor, who just happen to be here last week...visiting from the West coast :) Her birthday was in March. look close, I forgot to get candles, so we used tea-lights hehehe!
 We dyed Eggs...fun fun fun! Arielle tried not to be interested at first buy quickly got into it!


 See what I mean, look at that face. Totally engulfed in her project!
 And look how cute!
 Here's the loot... they got pillow pets this year. The boys have been asking me for these silly things for over a year. I finally broke down (at 20% off, of course) and I had to get Arielle a Ladybug! But will she like it? is she too old....hmmmm
 Asher got up first and to his surprise! Pillow pets! He then informed Daddy that a rabbit came and left him "stuff". Now, we really don't talk too much about the Easter Bunny. Honestly, I forget to mention him...and Evan knows anyway...but Asher, I'm not really sure what that mind thinks most of the time. I have since realized  that he didn't even know the rabbits name!
 And a little candy of course! I usually would get them a new Bible(or something like that) but I'm not sure what Bible to get Arielle. Maybe a bilingual Mandarin/English Bible. So we will wait until we are sure.
 Asher quickly went back upstairs to wake his sleeping bro. He was less than happy to get out of bed. But still liked the pillow pet.
 They got a glimpse of Bradley before he was off to church and singing on the worship team. Brad got a little basket too...no pillow pet.

Then it was time for the boys to get Arielle up...she likes her Ladybug :) In fact, All 3 sleep with them nightly.
 They got dressed (Arielle is wearing new shoes! you have no idea what an achievement this is! And a blouse!)
 After Church the kids came over and we took photos and ate and had an egg hunt!





 Brad was just a tad bit excited about the Easter Egg he found...the big and littles both joined in on our hunt. Taylor, below, found the golden egg!
Gosh it was a long, but really nice day! And Arielle's first Easter. She loves being with family. She loves her family. And I see her trusting us more and more each day. Back to what I was saying before...

I've been trying to figure out all these med problems-problems I had no idea about, and how to keep this girl healthy. While keeping my other 2 healthy. How am I ever going to do this?! Another special needs kid who needs multiple docs and daily medical care...what the heck! And she doesn't speak English, do you realize how difficult that is to prepare her for these appointments?

But God

He Knew

Then I remembered something. Evan. Before we adopted him, his file opened wrong on the computer and we lost the page that told us his tumor was growing back. Had we known this, would we have looked the other way? It turned out to be wrong information.

Then I remembered something else. Asher. We were never told he had sickle cell. That was not revealed until he came home...I suspected it but...well...would we have looked the other way if in the very beginning we knew?

If we knew about these issues, we would have missed out on these beautiful children. They have so much potential and make our house a home. We love them to pieces! We would have missed this! These moments are so precious, a treasure. I see Arielle coming to life everyday. Growing and mature, and excited about Church! She doesn't fully understand, does she? She asked me twice tonight, "church tomorrow?" (youth group) Yes, church tomorrow. And that's what's exciting to me! She is hearing the name of Jesus. If we had known the truth about her, would we have looked the other way? We would have missed out on treasure more valuable than diamonds or gold.

These kids are mine. Well, really they are His. But I get to have them now. I'm choosing to see what's real and eternal. I'm choosing to see what blessing I'm given each day I wake up to these smiles. I have a choice, and I'm choosing to live for Him. As she color eggs, learns to ride a bike, and speak English, God imparts his TRUTH to me every day as I watch her... His plan is perfect. period.

4/20/11

It's been busy! & google translate :)

For those of you adopting older kids and wondering about Google Translate. We use this, but keep in mind  you will need an internet connection to use it. It's tricky to use, and can be time consuming, because it doesn't always translate well. But I found a way that works for us...You can find that info below this post :)

Asher has been sick and in the Hospital for Sickle Cell complications. Needless to say it's been very stressful but he is home now and we are trying to keep him home! Arielle became very upset when we had to take him. She had been home less than 2 weeks and very afraid of doctors and any kind of hospital-needless to say it was the first we have been separated since March 16th. She started to cry asI got ready for a hospital stay, then Evan started crying because he had enough of Mommy being "away" from home. But we got through it. I'm praying Asher's body gets stronger so he doesn't relapse. I think my extended trip to China was too much. I will never agree to that again. It was just too much for everyone. And I know that others worked it out that they did not have to stay that long in Tianjin. Hindsight is 20/20.



Arielle is really working hard on learning English with Rosetta Stone. I do like the program but I'm having audio problems...I think it's the microphone. I just doesn't pick up what we are saying. It even says I'm saying it wrong...so I'm sending it all back. I found a better deal with the program at half the price on My Father's World. And it comes with lesson plans. I also found that Starfall.com is helping her with simple phonics.

Asher is also doing phonics with Starfall.... I also secretly put on Sesame Street, and other Dvd's like Leapfrog Letter Factory, Word Factory, and multiple PBS programing for preschoolers...shhhhh. don't tell her she's learning with the little ones :) but she is. I had her reading Bob Books yesterday......I hesitate to expect too much. I know her eyes are bad and we don't have an appointment until the middle of May.
I know that God is working all things together for good. I know it. I feel a peacefulness throughout the house today. Not to say it's not busy here, just peaceful in the midst of it all. More settled...at least a little. Or maybe a better way to describe it is, settling into a "new normal." The one thing I have learned is this: you have to forget the way it was and settle into the NEW THING God is producing within the home. If I try and hang on to the way things were, I miss the blessing God is giving our family. It's definetly not easy to "let go". But very nessasary for growth. Once I learn to "let go" and let God take the reigns, the children soon follow. It's not always graceful either. I don't think it's ever been graceful or easy. It's more like sliding into "home" with someone trying to tag you with the ball blurting YOU'RE OUT. And you end up filled with dirt. But when you make it, you celebrate!....while Jesus washes the dirt off :)





OK, now about Google Translate.... I use this page HERE for the translator. First, when I'm translating from English to Chinese(simplified) I type in what I want to say. Keep it short. Us periods and commas often. Like:

#1 "Get dressed. We are going to the store. We need to buy bread."   instead of:

#2 "We need to go to the store and buy bread so get dressed. "

After you get the translation, copy it and paste the Chinese translation  back in the translator and switch it to "Chinese to English".

When I translated the "Chinese to English" this is what I got

穿好衣服。我们去商店。我们需要买面包。

Which literally means:
Dressed. We went to the store. We need to buy bread.


This may be confusing but it can also mean this: not sure how one would know which meaning to give it. But most of the time Arielle will understandme: You can change the translated words on the right by clicking on them to see alternate translations. And it sometimes alters the charaters on the left to say something completely different.
When I did this I got this:

穿好衣服。我们去商店。我们需要买面包。

Get dressed. We go to the store. We need to buy bread.



This is much closer to the original message and it gets my point across. You're probably thinking "wow, that's so time consuming"...well it is. And at first takes forever, at least it did for me. But I'm getting really fast at it now and I can kind of figure out what words/phrases are going to work and what isn't now that I'm doing this everyday. We don't always rely on it. But when i have to get a message across to her, this is how we do it. And when I need to let her know something, like going to the doctors, or that she needs to get up at 6am, this is how I do it. She is older, and learning English isn't coming quick like some kids. She gets overwhelmed with the unknown, this give her some peace.

When Arielle sends a message to me, we translate "Chinese to English" and click on Allow Phonetic Spelling box at the bottom of the translate box. When she types, she can choose the character she needs...they come up automatically. She can do the same as I do with re translating, but she normally doesn't as it's so involved and a little difficult for her for some reason. So I just try and figure out what she wants. Mostly, I'm trying to get her to use English though.

4/11/11

Keeps me going...

Older child adoption....some know what it's like. It definitely is different than our last 2 adoptions. But in many ways it's the same. I keep looking at this girl expecting "something older". But what I keep getting is a little girl. And I know that this is ok, good, and maybe even necessary, but it's weird for me. It's almost like I have to close my eyes and re-adjust my brain. Reminding myself Who lead us to this place. And the many miracles that took place in the past 12 months that confirmed her place in our family. Her family.

But it's rough.

And rewarding.

And scary.

And wonderful.

and and and and...... I'm tired.

But I'll wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready. Like I did the day I wrote this letter.


Arielle, 早上好!(Good Morning!) 4/8/2011


耶稣爱你. 妈妈爱你。


(Jesus Loves you. Mama Loves you.)


这是我们今天正在做。


(This is what we are doing today)





你需要洗个澡 (淋浴)。(You need to take a bath (shower))


穿上干净的裤子。穿上干净的衬衫。(Put on clean pants. Put on clean shirt.)


刷牙。梳理你的头发。(Brush your teeth. Comb your hair.)


我们将离开12:00 (We will leave at 12:00)


我们将采取的男孩 (We will take the boys) 艾米的家 (Amy's home)


我会带你到医生 (I will take you to the doctor)





不要害怕。(Don't be afraid)


我永远不会离开你。(I will never leave you.)


我们会一起祈祷。求神帮助你。(We will pray together. Ask God to help you.)


永远不要忘记,你是美丽的. (Never forget that you are beautiful.)


永远不要忘记,你很聪明。 (Never forget that you are very smart.)





你可以祈祷的祈祷:亲爱的耶稣,(You can pray this prayer: Dear Jesus,)


请帮助我不会害怕。(Please help me not be afraid.)


请帮我了解耶稣基督的爱。阿门 (Please help me understand the love of


Jesus Christ, Amen)





妈妈爱你!(Mama loves you!)
 
She was so excited to read this letter! She ran upstairs and a few minutes later she came down with this:
 
 
The top is cut off but she wrote her whole name.
 
It's challenging, it's rough. But the reward will one day far outweigh any fleshy feeling I have about my momentary inconvenience. She is His Child. Not mine. Later on that day, she had a meltdown at the doctors and I totally forgot our morning moments...until now.
 
But I don't think she did.
 
When we put the boys to bed, she joins us. We pray and snuggle with the boys and kiss them goodnight. The other night, maybe the same night as the meltdown, after we put the boys to bed, she started for bed too. We usually pray downstairs together but she wanted us in her room, next to her on her bed, praying for her at nite nite. We prayed hugged and kissed her goodnight. Like tucking in a little one! How often was she ever tucked in!?
 
NEVER.... until now.  Lord, Keep reminding me...

Family Time

I wrote an update at the bottom :)

We had a little sibling get together this Sunday and Arielle had a ball! She had all her sibs under one roof. Along with brother-in-law, Brads GF,  nephew and grandparents. I really think she likes us! (Next week we hope to visit Brad's mom!)

She got some gifts and she gave gifts too!
Love this picture of David! He had food in his mouth! ewe
I know you saw this at the top of the page, but I like it! My camera wasn't really working right so it's not a very clear picture, but we are all together! it makes mom smile!
At some point we lost control...hmmmmm.

This had nothing to do with the party but I thought it was cute...the boys were copying big brother doing push-ups :p
Very interested in Lauren's iphone... Evan informed me he wants one when he grows up...when he's 10, Ha!
Sisters!
Giving more gifts! nephew Levi
Gifts gifts gifts!
Grandmom and Pop-pop













Life has been very active lately. I have found out by experience that is takes at least 3 months to feel like we are all settled...probably more than that. It just happens, and one day you realize it.... I'm not sure there is any defining moment that says, "we made it over the hump". You just wake up one day and realize how normal you feel. :)

We had another meltdown. Doctor appointments. We had an appointment with the general pediatrician, an ultra-sound, and then time with the urologist. (it's all at Dupont Children's Hospital) We had a translator for the first two but stupid me sent the translator home after she had been with us for 2 hours. Truth is, I wasn't sure how she was getting paid. I know the hospital provides the service, but somebody is paying, and I don't think it is our insurance. Until I find out how much this is costing, we need to spread these appointments out!

Well, shortly after I sent her on her way, Arielle became upset. And the appointment ended! So now we need to go back in 2 weeks. I did find out some important info though. Like how this child has had at least 5 major surgeries in her short life. No wonder why she is afraid of doctors and hospitals.

Arielle starts school on Wednesday! We are excited, and nervous! But the school really wants to accommodate her so far. I'm hoping that lasts. And I'm praying it will give her some confidence too. I'm a little concerned about her first day though. Prayers please. I plan on making her a few basic picture cards to take with her to communicate things like, nurse, sick, bathroom, etc.

Family Life: I can see her totally blossoming already! I thinks she is still avoiding English. At least speaking it. But she's understanding it more and more. We have her first English lesson tonight! It's costing a fortune and not sure how many more we will have but I'm hoping it will be a step in the right direction.

4/7/11

Finally some pictures...more to come :)

This was the longest hardest trip of my life! It was hard, on me and my family. But I can even imagine the how difficult this has been for Arielle.
Once Evan caught sight of us, he ran up the ramp to mommy and sister Arielle. He even threw off his backpack halfway to run faster!

We were so tired but we went out to eat anyway...we were starving! You can see in Arielle's face just how exhausted she was!

The next day Grandmom and PopPop came over for our first visit

Brothers Evan, Bradley, and Asher, and sister-to-be Melissa :) 

I have to laugh at this picture because I look out of my mind with that hair do going on! I was out of my mind!

Playing in the yard together

Beautiful day for the park

It was really fun watching her find and throw stones in the water. I know that she is older but I get the feeling whenever we do ANYTHING that she's never done it before. At least that's how she portrays life...through the eyes of a child!

Loook Daddee!

So Sweet!

There is such an innocence about her. Sometimes she looks so distant and you can see a weight of pain and insecurity. But when you call her name her whole face lights up. I try to make it a point of everyday to wrap my arms around her and tell her how beautiful and smart she is. She is...

She asked MAA to find her a family. I often wondered if she really wanted one or if she understood what having a family is all about.  She lived a long time with embarrasment. Never really expeienced being a kid...with other kids. Was probably segrated in some way.  You know how kids can be... I have many photos of her with other kids that reflect this. She always a step or two away from the chummy group. Always.

She learned to ride a two wheeler today. I looked out my window to find Daddy running along side this big baby girl...and I teared up thinking she almost missed this. What else did she miss out on? Right now she's playing Legos with my 4 year old, perfectly content.


I'm having a hard time figuring this girl out. She was pretty rough when we met. But really she's a kitten. A LOUD kitten.


Lord, give us wisdom in teaching her. Give to us patience, grace, and mercy. And most of all I pray your Love will overflow into Arielles heart, to give her back what was stolen. To give her new life!

I'm still here!

I have oodles of photos but they are on my camera still. next post...and family photos all together! I can't wait to share that!

Re-entry has been rough! at least for this Mama! Arielle continues to grow and flower. Her bravery is amazing. We haven't been without struggle though...more on that in a minute.

My body is not adjusting back to this side of the world very well. In China, I lapsed in taking my thyroid medication. I didn't neglect it on purpose, I usually take it in the morning, which became nights in China...and I got confused and forgot it many days. So now I'm suffering with fatigue, aches, pains, and just a rotten head cold. But enough about me :)

EMOTIONAL HEALTH/adjustments- I had been concerned about Arielle and her emotional health. I saw very little grieving. And almost seemed like she was in a "fantasy land" throughout our time in China-and even first at home. Not the response I wanted to see. I am no expert, but I think I know enough about adopting older children to see signs of oncoming "future issues". Grieving is a part of life and very necessary. She's lost everything. Even if it was horrible, there still needs to be some form of grieving. But, the dam broke loose last night...and I realized just how brave this girl really is.

One of our dogs chewed up one of her gifts from a beloved teacher...this is one of two teachers I saw tearing up as Arielle was leaving the orphanage. Arielle cried for almost 2 hours...obviously crying over more than a chewed gift. We held her, sat with her and prayed for her, while she sobbed and listened to the same Chinese pop song over and over again. She stay in her room for the rest of the evening and was sleeping by 8:30pm. This morning when she woke up, she told me through her translator..."lets let bygones be bygones"...I laughed because she was forgiving the stupid dog! Not sure I would have so easily! But I really think she needed that cry.

EDUCATION/ENGLISH -I decided to enrolled her in school for the rest of the school year. We are all very excited about this. I was told that our school system has the best ESL program in south Jersey...so we will see what they can do. And I have to say I really like the staff so far. She may begin school on Monday.

I still may home school her...I'm waiting to see what the school system can offer her.

I also hired someone for the next month (or more) to give her English lessons. She is an older Christian woman from Taiwan-perfect! I also bought Rosetta Stone for English as well, so between the two I think we are on the right track. We haven't installed it yet as the computer is being repaired...maybe in a couple days. I'm hoping it can help her with her education throughout the summer.

MEDICAL - Tomorrow we have an appointment with the adoption clinic. I'm so anxious to get her there. There are so many questions about her health that I need answered. Her medical needs are more than we were told, but she is very responsible for her own health. I think she may have been born with spina-bifida.

FOOD - We are having some food issues...this kid was told she can't eat or drink anything cold...ever. And she abides by the doctors orders! Now I've heard about the hot/warm water in Asian culture. But food? Really? Has anyone else heard of this? And she is convinced she will become ill if she does. I noticed she does have digestive issues (but she's just been through one of the biggest events of her life! I have digestive issues too!) But nothing crazy. I can't convince her it's ok to eat a piece of fruit. "NO COLD". No juice, not even room temperature water. I did discover she will drink heated Almond milk which made me happy :) I can do that! But she boils water and drinks it steaming hot out of a glass. HOT! She also drinks a lot of hot tea. I need to make sure she is drinking the decaf! I was wondering if anyone else has ever had this problem?

FAMILY - The boys are great for her, and her for the boys. I have to say this is going great! The age difference is good for this family. I think if she had been closer in age that we would have had more "issues"...but so far so good. Arielle has a very compassionate heart. The whole family is supposed to get together all at once this Sunday! I can't wait to get some photos!

Daddy and Arielle hit it off right from the start. Especially when he played basketball with her! too funny! This girl has needed a daddy for a very long time.

CHURCH - She seemed a little overwhelmed at church. I'm sure the lack of language was frustrating for her. And our church is anything but quiet. She liked the band but it was more like a show for her. I've noticed that in social situations, she is often inappropriately loud. Church was no exception. I think this is just lack of experience and immaturity. She's really a good girl, just likes to be the center of attention :)

All and all, it's going great. We are getting to know each other and developing relationships already. She's clingy and whiny like a toddler at times...she's never really had a chance to be a toddler...loved and nurtured. I'm sure she was rejected on many levels. Giving her grace and mercy and allowing her to be a little girl at times may look/feel weird to some, but I know if she's ever to become the woman God created her to be, she needs to experience this. I tell her everyday how smart and beautiful she is...one day she's going to believe it!