Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Much Needed Break

While it's true in a rather unfortunate way that we've been averaging about 4 hours per day at the hospital, we have been having fun while being stranded in Thailand.  For one thing, there is cereal.  And milk that doesn't have the weird UHT aftertaste.  Kevin has also been loving the pad thai for a dollar.  For another thing, the sky is blue.  Really blue.  It even has fluffy white clouds.

Plus there's a zoo.  A pretty rad zoo.  I think "zoo" might be too narrow of a definition for this place though.  It's more like a maze of hills weaving through a jungle that has occasional animals.  Buying bus tickets to view the zoo would never in a million years have been something I would have done in my pre-parent days.  But when you strap a 20 pound baby to you in the sticky Thailand heat, why, yes, I'd love to pay 80 cents for someone to drive me around, thank you very much.

We started off with wild notions that we would actually trek the zoo.  Kevin studiously poured over the zoo map while Micah wandered about.  Do you see the two chicks in pink in the background of the top picture?  That hill was our first clue that the bus was a good idea!

This was Sami's posture for the majority of the day.  Between the hospital visits and our family outings, that boy has clocked so much time and taken so many naps in the Ergo that he gets fussy when he's not being held.  

It was a super fun day filled with all sorts of wildlife:


And not-so-wild life:

Sami also got a to leave the Ergo for a moment to mingle with the wildlife.  I can hardly believe that this perfect little face is struggling with seizures!

But then back up in the Ergo he went!  It's a rough life when you can't move by yourself.  On second thought, he doesn't look like he minds too much.  Maybe it's not so rough after all...

My favorite thing about spending so much time with Micah in Thailand is watching the world through his eyes.  I imagine that every two year old has a heightened sense of curiosity but based on Micah's time at the care center in Ethiopia, I wonder if his is even more acute.  They did a wonderful job of caring for him there but I'm sure the nannies weren't able to take him outside all that often, if ever.  So every truck, every animal, every shiny Buddhist statue he see here stops him in his tracks and inspires at least of minute of pointing and saying "oooo!"  I just love getting to be a part of it.

The funny thing to me about this picture is that everyone in it (minus the baby elephant I assume) is now on daily medicine: Micah is taking hormone supplements for his thyroid issue, Sami is taking anti-convulsants, and I'm taking meds for my TB exposure.  I'm just a regular old apothecary now!

We're still not sure when we'll be able to leave Thailand.  Sami had a second seizure on Friday, which forced us to push off our departure a second time.  We're hoping to be back home within a week, but there's no way to know for sure.  Meanwhile, we're thankful for cereal, pad thai, blue skies, and having so much family time together.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Day the Soup Boiled Over

I made tomato soup for lunch today at the little apartment where we've been staying.  I turned it on low to keep it warm enough to eat until Kevin came home.  But instead of just staying warm, it boiled over and made a big mess.  That's kind of how I feel like today has been: a boiled over mess.

Sami had another seizure this morning.  At the beginning of the week, Kevin was able to meet with the pediatric neurologist, and she informed us there appears to be one part of Sami's brain that shows signs of atrophy.  I'm not exactly sure what that means.  It might be something that could heal over time, or it might affect his development later on.  What I do know is that this second seizure means that we will not be leaving Thailand on Sunday like we had originally planned.  We have a second appointment with the pediatric neurologist tomorrow morning to see if this second episode sheds light on anything or if it will require further testing.

You would think that Sami's seizures should have been the end of all our hospital drama.  Quite the opposite in fact!  On Tuesday, it was another marathon hospital day with between 8-10 pokes for the little guys, including two rounds of drawing blood, four immunizations, and a TB test.  The nurses had a hard time finding veins in the boys since their skin is so dark, so the blood drawing was particularly painful, physically for them and emotionally for us.  They had their eyes checked and were sedated in order to undergo a hearing test.  After 6 hours at the hospital, we finally were able to bring our bedraggled boys home for some rest.

Wednesday was mine & Kevin's turn to be poked, prodded, and stuck.  Some friends of ours who are in town offered to care for the boys for us so we wouldn't have to chase them around the hospital.  Pardon me for being a bit jealous that they got to go swimming while we subjected ourselves to shots & docs.  It wasn't that bad actually.  Both of us managed NOT to pass out for our three shots and blood draw, which is a major accomplishment for us.  The most difficult thing has been the aftermath of still having to lug around two 20 pound kiddos with a painful Japanese encephalitis shot in one arm and a huge bruise on the other from having blood taken.

Friday found us once again at the hospital to get the results of the boys' blood tests.  Micah's thyroid levels are high, so we have been referred to a endocrinologist for later this week.  While we were visiting with the pediatrician, I showed her my PPD test (that's the tuberculosis test for all of you lucky enough to have never had to have one done!) since it had been hurting and bothering me.  Turns out it was positive, which means some where along the way, I've been exposed to tuberculosis.  The chest x-ray I took today will let us know if I actually have TB or if I was just exposed.

So what seemed like a quietly, simmering situation yesterday now seems like a boiled over mess.  We were planning on visiting the elephants this weekend instead of dealing with a second seizure, potential thyroid issues, and a possible case of tuberculosis.  In reality, however, it's not a boiled over mess.  We are trying to trust in and rest in the fact that whatever comes of any of these situations will be for our good and for His glory.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

MRI Results

For those of you who like to flip to the back of a book to figure out the ending without actually reading it: 

We got the MRI & EEG results back, and the verdict is that everything looks normal.  This is a huge relief & an even huger (is that even a word?) answer to prayer.  It's possible that the abnormalities on the CT scan were "artifact," which I think just means he moved a bit during the scan.  We're going to stick around in Thailand until the pediatric neurologist comes back just to make sure that the radiologist read the films correctly.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get some answers as to why the seizure might have happened in the first place.

And for those of you who would like to hear the drama of our night in the hospital: 

Sami & I checked into the hospital around 4 PM, having no idea what kind of accommodations would await us there.  Much to our delight & surprise (OK, maybe it was just my delight & surprise. I don't think Sami cared either way), we had a fabulously comfortable private room.  It was on the top floor of the hospital with a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the surrounding mountains.  The nurses came to take some of his vitals and asked me if he went "pee pee and poo poo" that day.  Gotta love language barriers!  We hung out in the hospital room until Kevin & Micah came to visit with Subway sandwiches for us.  By the way, is it normal for a two year old to be able to eat an entire 6 inch sub?  Because mine can.

After they left, I got Sami ready for bed. The hospital didn't provide a crib for me, so I rigged a few pillows around the end of the hospital bed and we shared it.  It wasn't the most terrific night of sleep for either of us.  The nurse woke us at 5:45 the next morning to prep him for anesthesia.  The whisked him off to another room while I got dressed.  That didn't really take long since I just slept in my clothes from the day before, so I sat down to take a few quiet moments in the word.  I was reminded by Luke in chapter 4 of the crowds of people that would flock to Jesus just to touch him in hopes that they would be healed, and by His power they were.  As I was reading, a bird flew past my window and Matthew 6 came to mind to prompt me to consider the birds, how they neither sow nor reap but are cared for nonetheless.

These were the words stirring in my heart as I realized quite a bit of time had passed, and Sami hadn't been returned to me.  In that moment of having no clue where my son was, I was challenged to again place him in the Father's hand, knowing that He is willing & able to care for him in ways that I can't.

Once I went looking for him, it turned out that he was only two doors down.  The nurses had successfully put an IV in his little hand.  To keep him from ripping it out, they had wrapped & knotted a cloth around his entire forearm, and you can imagine how unhappy my little guy was about that.

So I had an unhappy & hungry baby on my hands with nothing to do but wait for the doctors to come retrieve us and take us down to the MRI floor.  Sami screamed & screamed and there was not a thing I could do but hold him & sing to him.  I sang him every English worship song I could think of and when I ran out of those, I started on my Chinese repertoire.  Finally, he fell back asleep in my arms.  I didn't dare put him down on the gurney when the nurses came for us, so I carried him all the way to the MRI wing.

The anesthesia & MRI took about an hour, so I slept off & on in the waiting room.  When it was done, I heard Sami wake up and cry, which was comforting to know that he was ok.  They then took us to the recovery room, where he slept for another 45 minutes or so.  Not surprisingly, he woke up terribly hungry, so I was quite relieved when the doctor gave me permission to feed him a bottle.  After he had his IV removed, we packed up our things and headed home.

We are certainly grateful for the care & support we've had here and for the prayers coming from you all. The next few days will be spent waiting for the doctor and taking the boys back to the hospital for the orphan check-ups.  No time for elephants just yet but hopefully we'll be able to take care of our remaining medical stuff soon so we can do something fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Change of Plans

So there's been a change of plans...again.  The hospital here will not release the EEG results until their doctor has reviewed them.  The doctor is in Australia currently and it's unclear when she will return.  That means we can't take the EEG results to Bangkok with us, which means we would have to pretty much start over and re-do everything we've accomplished in the past five days.  That means we're not going to Bangkok.  

The plan for now is to stay put in Chiang Mai.  Sami & I will check into the hospital this afternoon at 4 PM in order to prep him for an 8 AM MRI tomorrow.  Then we'll stick around until the doctor comes back from Australia to interpret both the MRI & EEG findings.

Now that we're not going to Bangkok, having to make a border crossing into Laos or Myanmar is looking more probable.  So that will be an interesting adventure!

We're hanging in there I guess.  The most stressful thing has really just been the constant change in the game plan.  I am confident in the care that we're getting here. Sami's condition is stable, so there is no immediate danger to his health in having to wait.  There are some nice things about being stranded in Thailand: lots of green, lots of yummy Western food, and an elephant reserve that we would love to take the boys to.  Hopefully, I'll be able to post a fun update soon!

Please pray that the doctor will return to Thailand sooner rather than later.  Please pray for Kevin as he is fighting a cold and will stay at our hotel tonight by himself to care for Micah.  Please pray that we would have stamina to continue to respond well to the challenges at hand.  Most of all, please pray that this trial would cause our hearts to trust Father more.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frankenstein Baby Heads to Bangkok

I so very wish I had a picture of our adventure at the hospital yesterday but between lugging around CT scan films, a diaper bag, and a twenty pound baby, my camera bag did not make the cut.  We were able to make it in for an EEG yesterday, and Sami was transformed into a Frankenstein baby with 30 multi-colored wires glued to his little head.  Quite a pathetic sight!

When the nurse first started to apply all the censors, Sami was not a happy guy.  He writhed and protested as she measured his skull and made blue marker dots across it.  Finally, the frustrated nurse asked me to put him to sleep so she could work.  Easier said than done for a 9 month old whose entire life & routine have been disrupted by another international trip on top of daily visits to the hospital!  But by the grace of God, a lot of prayerful begging, and a lot of rocking, I managed to put Sam to sleep so the nurse could work.  It took her a while to finish wiring him up so by the time she was ready to begin the sleeping EEG, he was awake.  She must have assumed I was some kind of miracle worker or baby whisperer when she asked me to put him to sleep once more.  So after a lot more prayerful begging, a lot  more rocking, and a lot of benadryl, he was out again and the testing began.

There is something very strange & surreal about watching your baby hooked up to a bunch of medical machines.  Thankfully, this test didn't cause him any pain but instead steadily measured his brain waves as he slept.  He was pretty angry, however, when he woke up to still find all the sticky goo and wires on his head.  He was even more angry when the nurse took them all off!

So right now, the status is that we have an MRI scheduled for Saturday at 8 AM, so we've been asked to arrive at the hospital on Friday at 3 PM.  That should be a fun night!  We've completed the EEG but there apparently is no doctor available to read it.  I was informed today that the doctor will be in Australia until July 29.  The problem with that is that since the boys haven't finished their US citizen naturalization process, they are still traveling on their Ethiopian passports. Ethiopians can only stay in Thailand for 15 days so we have to leave on July 31.  We can't go back to China because we only have a double entry Chinese visa for the boys, which means that we would have to get another Chinese visa for them in order to go home when all of this drama finally concludes.  Another option would be to exit the country into Laos or Myanmar and then re-enter in order to apply for another 15 day Thai visa.

But that still doesn't address the question of how we'll get the EEG read for Sami.  The answer to that seems to lie in Bangkok.  One of the best hospitals in southeast Asia is in Bangkok, and it seems that might be a better place for us to take care of our little guy.  We would have to change our flights, but that seems like a small price to pay to be able to hopefully get everything we need in one location.

So more than likely, we will end up in Bangkok next week.  Yet another installment in this great adventure called parenthood!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Update on Sami's Seizure

The update on Sami is pretty much that there is no update.  I've spent the past two days visiting four hospitals and one clinic here in Thailand, and none of them seem to be able to help me get an MRI done for Sami.  One of the main problems seems to be that the hospital I went to in Beijing did not write up an order for an MRI, and the doctors aren't very willing to take my word for it that he needs one done.  Another problem is that a 9 month old needs to be sedated for an MRI, and none of the hospitals seem to have the equipment to monitor him while he's under.

I do have an appointment scheduled for an EEG tomorrow afternoon, but the verdict is still out on when and if I'll be able to get the MRI.  On Friday, we're supposed to see an neurologist who should be able to refer us, but my fear is that we won't be able to get everything done before we're set to leave the following Wednesday.  Changing our tickets isn't really an option either because Ethiopians are only granted 15 day visas.  The plan is constantly changing, so I'm sure by the time this blog even posts, we'll be moving in a different direction.  We're trusting that Father will provide us what we need for Sami to get checked out, even if it means leaving the country and re-entering in order to purchase a new visa for them.

Tromping around Thailand for the past two days has been exhausting but has certainly given me my fair share of memorable moments.  Here are a few notable ones:
  • When leaving the first clinic I visited, one of the doctor's patients gave us a ride in his motorcycle taxi to the next hospital.  The crazy thing about it was that he had just had several stitches removed from a large gash in his head.  If that were me, I would have been either passed out or too dizzy to drive, but thankfully he seemed fine.
  • At the second hospital, I was asked if I spoke Thai.  When I answered no, they laughed at me.  Then a nurse made sure that I moved out of the way from the fan for Sami's health.  As we waited to see a doctor, I became increasingly aware that this hospital wasn't going to be able to help us.  While I was pondering this, Sami blew out his diaper.  I took this as a definite sign I should leave.  I had to retrieve Sami's CT scan from the registration desk, so I couldn't sneak out of the waiting room.  I had to come up with an excuse as to why I had to leave.  I couldn't exactly say it was because I was out of diapers because then I would look like a bad mom.  And I couldn't say it was because I didn't like their hospital because then I would offend them.  They interpreted my lack of excuse to mean that I was unwilling to wait in line to see the doctor, so they skipped Sami's file ahead of about give people in front of us, which made me feel like a jerky foreigner.  Finally, a doctor wearing a Mickey Sport shirt saw us and confirmed that they were in fact not able to help me.  I paid $3 for my visit and happily left.
  • I shared a truck taxi with three Buddhist monks in orange robes.  
  • I stiffed another truck taxi driver out of two thirds of his fare because I thought he was trying to take advantage of my inability to speak Thai.  I got out of the truck, threw some money at him, and walked away as he shouted at me.  I thought I was being to clever to avoid being cheated but later found out that his fare was actually reasonable.  Oops!
  • Sami & I both fell asleep in the fourth hospital's waiting room as a nurse tried to schedule our appointment for the EEG.  When I woke up, I was served a glass of some yellow, fizzy drink that tasted like Froot Loops.  But then again, it might have been pee...

So there's been some laughing, some crying, some wishing I was in America where this would more than likely be a little bit easier to accomplish.  But there's also been a lot of prayer, a lot of one-on-one time with my little guy, and a lot of exploring a city that is so beautifully verdant.  Overall, God is certainly sustaining us all and we're hopefully for forward progress at tomorrow's appointment.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

I think this is what they call the deep end...

I've always been a wader, never the kid who whole-heartedly throws themselves off the diving board into the pool.  Nice. Slow. Steady.  Yes, that describes me much more accurately.  So I figured it would be nice if my introduction to parenthood would be a little bit more like the kiddie pool rather than the high dive.

However, yesterday threw me in the deep end in a big way.

Let me just preface all of this with the wise words of Sami's sage nanny: Sami is fine.  It's true Sami is fine. His mama on the other hand...

On Thursday morning, I was at home with the boys.  Kevin had left around 7 AM to head out to the countryside about an hour & a half away to help out at an English camp.  It was my second day of solo motherhood.  Everything was fine until around 8:45 AM when Sami was getting ready for his morning nap.  He was a little fussy, as most babies are when they'd rather be asleep than be subjected to whatever their well-intentioned mothers are trying to get them to do to hold out until their designated nap time.  But then the fussiness wasn't just fussiness.  It was a gasping for breath.  It was contorted swallowing.  It was clenched fists.  It was a tiny twitching foot.  I thought he was choking, though I didn't have a clue what it would be since he had been in my arms for the past 5 minutes.  To be honest, I thought he was dying, though I certainly had no clue why that would be happening either.

Thankfully, my friend YL, who has been helping us around the house twice a week, was there.  She held Sami while I sprinted to the building across the way to find my friend who owns a car to get her to take us to the hospital.  The elevator was in use, so I sprinted up 9 flights of stairs to her house, only to find her not at home.  Once I made it back home, I decided to knock on our neighbors across the hall to see if they could take us.  These are the same neighbors who provided us with Creepy Winker, Lover Bear, and the Happy Me Too bunny bank.  The same ones who hadn't paid much attention to us until we brought the boys home.

Well, I had their attention now!  The husband (who I later found out had only just gone to bed at 5 AM for some unknown reason) let us all pile into his car to take us to the hospital.  And I mean pile in a very literal sense.  He drives a teeny tiny Audi sports car whose backseat is virtually nonexistent.  But I wasn't too concerned with arriving comfortably.  I just wanted to arrive!

By that time, Sami was doing a lot better.  He was breathing again but was still extremely lethargic.  We arrived at the pediatric ER and instead of going through the typical Chinese procedure of registering and putting down your treatment down payment before seeing a doctor, we barged straight into an examine room.  I tracked down a nurse and explained the situation to her.  We were quickly seen by a doctor, who poked Sami with a popsicle stick to see how responsive he was.

By that time, our other American friends in town had helped us get in touch with a doctor in the states.  Both he & the Chinese doctor seemed to think that Sami had had a seizure.  It was a very surreal moment.  Here I am, in my third week of motherhood, in a Chinese hospital surrounded by kids with IVs stuck in the foreheads, being informed that my brand new son has had a seizure.  This was not the day that I was hoping for.

Both doctors also advised for us have further testing done on little Sam.  We could have stayed at the local hospital but we would have had to wait until the afternoon until the CT scan expert was available.  Or we could have hopped on the new mag train that only takes an hour and a half to get to Beijing and seen a doctor that speaks English.  We chose the second option.

We were planning on coming to Beijing on Friday anyway, so all we really had to do was pack in half an hour and get to the train station to change our tickets up a day.  A bit easier said than done but we made it.  Once we got into town, we took a cab to our friends apartment, while Kevin stayed with Micah and I took Sami to the international hospital.

We were there for about three hours or so.  They did a physical exam on him to rule out trauma as the cause of the seizure.  They also did a CT scan on him, which revealed some abnormalities in the gray & white matter of his brain.  Our American doctor told us this could be because of malnutrition from when he was little, which could also suggest that it could correct itself.  But we're also aware of the fact that it could be something worse.  The next step for us is to have an MRI for Sami when we are in Thailand the next two weeks.  

During this whole experience, God has been good to remind me of a few facets of his character:

GOD'S LOVING CHOOSING OF US--As I sat in a taxi singing over Sami and then later held his little band-aid clad hand while he laid on a hospital bed, I remembered that I've only really been with this boy for three weeks.  We were but near strangers before.  Yet I love him so deeply & so dearly because I've chosen to do so.  How much more has our Heavenly Father chosen to love us.  Chosen to sing over us.  Chosen to hold our hands.

GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL CARE--This whole incident could not have been surrounded by more providence.  The fact that we've been planning this Thailand trip for months.  The fact that I wasn't home alone when Sami's seizure occurred.  The fact that, though I feel a world away in China, I can still get quality care for my son.  

So that is where things stand for now.  In the meantime, Sami continues to be the happy, rolly, baby he's always been.  I will try to post an update as soon as we know more in Thailand.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Babies, Meet Beans. Beans, Meet Babies.

The reason we have Beans at all is because she couldn't handle living with kids.  But that was almost two years ago, so with her puppy energy behind her, I was hopeful that we could welcome the boys into a family that included Beans.  Most of our Chinese friends think we're crazy for having both a dog and kids, but the meet-and-greet-get-to-know-you adjustment has been going well.

Sami is pretty ambivalent to the dog.  If we'd let her, she would lick him for an hour straight, and I don't think Sami would mind at all.  (We don't let her, of course.)

Micah, on the other hand, has had a few more misgivings about the strange creature that is about the same height as he is.  Over the past week, he has progressed from screaming when in her presence to shirking around her to actually initiating interaction with her.  I think they'll be best good buds in the near future.

But the boys haven't been the only ones who have had to adjust to having a dog around--Beans has had to adjust too!  She's been a little confused as she's been trying to figure out exactly what to make of these two new little things in the house.  She's spent some extra time in her closet when we can't wrangle both her and the boys.  She's had to share some attention, but I've tried to compensate for that with some extra petting and head scritching.  I've literally looked her in the eye once or twice and told her, "You are a valued member of this family."  And I'm quite convinced she understood.  

On day two, Kevin was almost ready to get rid of her, but if that happened, then I would have to figure out a new way to clean up all the dropped food particles left over from meal times.  So if Beans can manage not to destroy all the boys' toys and not  to lick them mercilessly every time I turn my back, we're pretty sure we'll be able maintain our current floor cleaning employee. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Babies, Meet China. China, Meet Babies.

I have to admit the while I was excited to bring the boys home, I was a little nervous to bring the boys home to China.  As we shared with Chinese friends, neighbors, and strangers about our plans to adopt, their responses varied from excited & encouraging to skeptical & down right rude.  If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if I want my own kids (as if Micah & Sami could never truly be mine), then this adoption process would have been a lot cheaper.  I've had more people than I can count tell me that if I would just take some Chinese medicine (well, actually they said "eat" Chinese medicine because that's how they say it here!), then we wouldn't need to adopt.  I'm learning to respond gracefully and patiently, knowing that adoption is still a rather foreign concept for most locals.  But there are some days when we stay indoors to maintain my sanity by not having to explain for the millionth why our family is different colors.

I had hoped that maybe I was overreacting and that my fears of the barrage of questions wouldn't be as bad as I anticipated.  I was wrong though.  Very wrong.  No sooner had we set foot on Chinese soil at the airport in Beijing did the immigration official ask me if I  had my own kids.  "These are my kids," I replied, forcing a smile on my jet-lagged face.  "Oh...I you have other kids?" he corrected himself.  "Nope.  Just these," I replied as I gathered our passports and made our way through the customs line.  And so it began.

For the most part, people actually haven't commented on their skin color that much.  The first reaction we usually get is that they are twins.  They're not, which is obvious enough to me and anyone else who would take the time to notice that they are on incredibly different developmental levels.  But my merciful & patient husband reminded me that here in a one-child policy country, most people who see a family with multiple children automatically assume they are twins.  Besides, I'd much rather debunk the myth that they're twins rather than explaining that their skin is in fact not dirty and that in fact I bathe them quite regularly.

I know people all over the place say thoughtless things to adopted families.  Well-intentioned things but stupid nonetheless.  I keep having to remind myself that it happens in American too.  It's not just the Chinese who are out to get me and my little black babies.  On our first outing, a perplexed grandmother wrangled me within 10 steps of our doorway and started rapid firing questions.  "So do you know a black person?" she asked.  I hate announcing to the world that our babies are adopted because I don't want them to be labeled that way, but when I realized the intention of her question was more in line with the biblical sense of the word "know" (ie-and he knew a woman), I made an exception to my conviction. It wouldn't take long for there be rumors floating around our 2000+ people apartment complex that the foreign chick had an affair with an African and birthed two babies of different ages without any evidence of being pregnant at all.  Not only miraculous but juicy gossip!

She then turned to relay the situation to her friend, and for some reason included the detail that I was currently pregnant.  No.  Not pregnant.  No affair.  Just me and my babies.  Her friend then pinched the boys' cheeks and said, "They're too pretty to count as black!"  I'm still not even sure what she meant by that.

But then of course, we have had our dear local friends who have been counting down the days with us until the boys came home.  Friends who have prayed for us.  Friends who have helped us give them Chinese names.  Friends who have asked questions and tried to wrap their minds around the concept of adoption.  For these friends, we are incredibly thankful.

I even had a dear friend call me this morning and ask if she could come over and see the boys on July 12 at 9 AM.  Being in a culture where planning is often a peripheral thought, I was impressed with her commitment to coming.  So guess who now has plans on July 12 at 9 AM!


The other fun quirk of our China life with the babies is taking them out on our bikes.  We strap them into the Ergos and ride just like we used to.  Well, maybe not just like we used to.  Much slower now.  We're actually much safer with the boys strapped to us than we were before.  Instead of zooming and swerving around us, other bikers slow down and even stop to ogle as we pass by.   If we felt like we were living in a fish bowl before as two white foreigners, we've now reached a new level with the addition of two Afrikids.  The increased stares, points, and cell phone pictures are now just a permanent part of life.

Not that the attention is bad.  Our neighbor across the hall that has never once before paid attention to us came and knocked on our door the other night with gifts in tow.  We now have our first installment of rather strange Chinese toys!  We call the guy on the left Creepy Winker because he's...well...creepy.  The middle one is a bank whose shirt says "Happy Me Too."  Perfect for beginning to teach the boys about personal finance.  Not perfect for teaching the boys how to speak normal sounding English. The bear on the right seems tame enough but we didn't want him to feel left out from his other odd companions so we named him Lover Bear.  The innocent terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are often translated as "lover" here.  It's hard to keep a straight face when someone asks you how old you were when you had your first lover.  We think Lover Bear will be helpful in teaching the boys how to make the differentiation in their own English skills.

So now we truly are a black and white family living in a yellow world.  It has its challenges but it certainly makes life interesting!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Rolling Out the Carpet

Instead of rolling out a red carpet to welcome our family home, our carpet was of the car variety.  I transformed a corner of our yang tai into a play area for the boys.  A yang tai is a typical feature of Chinese homes and is basically an open area with lots of windows intended for hanging clothes to dry.  Our yang tai is at one end of our living room, so it makes a space for them.  I found a basket drawer set at a market in the southern part of our city and had a seamstress replace the girly floral liners with a fun jungle fabric I found at the cloth market near our house.  So now the boys have a fun place to play and look out the window.

They boys, however, aren't the only ones who have been enjoying the car rug.

The three other American families have been such a blessing in welcoming us home.  They have been eager to meet the boys and spend time with us but have respected our space as well.  When we returned home, they had our house clean, our fridge stocked, and a few surprises as well.

Our first week at home has had its high points and low points.  We've had lots of sleepless nights, lots of messes, and lots of tears (sometimes not just from the boys!).  But we've also had lots of laughs, lots of hugs, and lots of thankfulness.  Our main goals for the first few weeks is to try to establish a routine, including teaching good eating & sleeping habits.  It might seem a little ambitious but we've made a lot of progress I think.  Sami has started his first solids of banana and pumpkin puree (homemade stuff I froze before we went to pick them up), and Micah pretty much plows through anything we put in front of him, including vegetables (evidence that he is most certainly fit to be my son!).  He has a serious crush on his fork and refuses to begin a meal without it, even if he doesn't use it at all.  

While Sami is pretty much a dream at going down to sleep, he hasn't been sleeping through the night most of the time, requiring a bottle around 3 AM.  Micah is not a fan of naps or night time, but we're slowly discovering a sleep routine that seems to be working.  Micah has made it through the night once, but he typically wakes up a few times. We think maybe it's because of the residual itchiness from his scabies, so hopefully his sleeping will get better as his skin heals.

So this first week has been full of a lot of learning.  This is probably one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life.  More difficult than marathons.  More difficult than living internationally.  More difficult than learning Chinese.  But my husband is amazing, my God is sufficient, and our commitment to these boys is steadfast.