Friday, February 26, 2010
We only saw Claire get upset and ask for her nai nai (grandma) once, after that initial day, while we were in China. This was the afternoon of her vaccinations when she was tired and not feeling well. It didn't last long but it was a window into what we would probably see more of at home, and we have.
A few days ago Emily printed out a dot-to-dot for each of them to complete. Claire finished hers and I asked her if she wanted to color it; she told me no. I didn't push the issue and went upstairs to get ready. I came back down and the pictures were colored and I told her how great it looked. She was mad, very grumpy and pouty so I asked what was wrong. She didn't say anything and then went upstairs and sat on her bed crying. I followed her and held her on my lap. She eventually stopped crying but was still very withdrawn. Then Emily came upstairs and she was very upset as well. It seems that Claire got upset when Emily tried to show her what color the giraffe should be colored. I tried to tell Emily that it probably had nothing to do with her coloring on Claire's paper but something else. It could have been that she colored with her grandma or she saw giraffes at the zoo with her grandma and this brought back the memory, or it might have been as the oldest child in her foster family she was in charge and never had someone else show her how to do something. We will probably never know but I think it's safe to assume that it was definitely grief.
Today, Claire and I ran some errands. Our first stop was the school because Matthew forgot his lunch. On the way there I stopped rather quickly when a light changed red. I looked back at Claire and she gave me a very dirty look and was not happy with me. Then at the school I asked her if she wanted to go to school and she told me no. I stayed excited and told her she gets to go here in 20something days and again she said no.
After that we needed to run to Sams Club. Before leaving the house I fed her a banana because she told me she was hungry but after the school she told me she was hungry again. I found some goldfish in a baggy from a few days earlier and gave those to her. She didn't say anything or eat them before getting to Sams Club (she likes them because she has eaten before). When we got there and I opened the door she burst out in tears, just sobbing and uttered one word- nai nai.
I unbuckled her, held onto her and let her cry; there isn't really much you can say but I told her I loved her and "I know." She withdrew so much that she took off the crocheted hat that she had on. I gave it to her yesterday after Emily had one on and told her I made it. Yesterday her eyes lit up when she realized I made it for her but today she didn't want it on, at all. That was her way of putting up a wall, I think.
We perused around Sams Club; I got her a pretzel because she was hungry and she perked up a bit. Then, when almost home she started singing songs in Chinese. If she's happy when she's singing she enjoys entertaining people but if she starts singing when she's quiet and withdrawing it means she's about to start crying. I'm not sure if singing when she's sad brings China back to her or if she is trying to win our love or approval by singing because maybe she was told to? I don't know. Upon pulling into the driveway she started to get upset and I looked back to see the "I'm about to vomit" face. I hurriedly got her out of the van and she proceeded to vomit in the yard. I'm still not 100% convinced that her vomiting is motion sickness. We've given her medicine a few times since getting home but we've driven almost every day. She's only vomited twice in the car and today and both times were when she got quiet; today was worse though. I don't know if the vomiting is something she does when she's upset or if the stress brings on the motion sickness.
One thing I do know is that it will get better. This time she went 5 days in between grief episodes and from reading stories of other older adopted children the episodes should get spaced farther and farther apart the longer she is home. Right now when thinking about her grandma she gets sad and just like grieving the death of a loved one, eventually she will remember China and her grandma with a good feeling rather than a sad feeling.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Pictures are getting increasingly hard to get; she hides whenever she sees the camera next to our face. I think we'll have to bust out the telephoto zoom and start shooting wildlife style on her.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
She slept with us while we were in China which we were supportive of and really hoped she's be open to because it helps promote attachment. The first night with us she crawled up in the middle of the bed, parked herself there and stayed there for the next two weeks. But, she's a bed hog and in a king size bed she took up over half of it. Before our trip I had planned to have her sleep with us at home as well and then transition her to a bed in our room before moving her to her shared room with Emily. After two weeks with Miss Bed Hog I began to rethink that idea. The first two nights at home she slept on an elevated twin mattress next to our bed and then the third night she wanted to sleep in her room with Emily so we moved the mattress in there. She slept on the mattress next to Emily's bed (the bottom bunk) for 4 nights and then last night she wanted to sleep on the top bunk. She slept there all night without any issues so I think we'll put the air mattress away today. I was a bit worried about bedtime at home because in China she got upset if we weren't both in bed with her to fall asleep. But, having the other kids with a set bedtime routine has helped and we haven't had any problems.
She eats all.the.time. I'm trying to figure out if she is truly hungry or just likes to snack all the time. I know they eat smaller meals more frequently in China so I'm trying to keep that in mind. I'm also trying to feed her snacks that are more protein instead of carbs so I know she's getting food that should hold her for a longer period of time.
She's an adventurous eater; much more so than I would be, or was in China. She will try anything we give her but if she doesn't like it she'll wave her hands in front of her plate and say "all done." She tried goulash and didn't like it but then last night ate an entire plate of mini ravioli and sauce which is basically the same thing. We have frozen fried rice and dumplings in the freezer as a back-up but we haven't had to use them all that much. I will still make her some egg fried rice at breakfast because that is her favorite.
Our school is year round so after every quarter they have a 3 week break. 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off and then a 6 week summer. The next cycle breaks starts in 2 weeks so it is silly for us to enroll her in school only to have a break right after starting. If there wasn't the cycle break coming up so soon I would rethink my 5-8 weeks of home time before enrolling in school. This would be very dependent on each child but for Claire I think school would be a very good thing. She is wearing me out with her eagerness to learn. It is wonderful and I'm really not complaining but she wants to do the home school stuff all day and I want to take it a bit slower so she actually processes what I'm teaching and doesn't get overwhelmed. I think the challenge of school and changing of activities will be good for her. If she sits too long she starts to get a grumpy attitude so I've found occasional trips to Target to be therapeutic, for me and her but probably more for me.
So far she's learned:
number recognition up to 25 (thank you dot-to-dot!) I'm also working on the word recognition of the numbers up to ten so she knows that 'one' is the number 1, etc.
counting up to 30
primary and secondary colors
ABC's- she can almost sing the whole song and we're working on letter recognition right now. She can recognize some of the letters but I want her to be able to recognize the letters before moving into phonics.
shapes- we started shapes today. She remembered a few them right away but it is something we'll continue to work on for immediate recognition. I'm working on the word for the shapes at the same time so she'll recognize 'circle' as the shape of a circle.
addition- She can add every thing in the 1's family (1+2, 1+3, etc.) and I even started on mixed numbers up to 10 (2+3. 5+2, etc.). She has to think about it but she usually gets them right.
names for the basic body parts
I'm not sure if she really comprehends the words she's using but she is using more and more English every day. She is like a parrot and repeats most of what we say. Once she's heard or said the word for an object a few times she remembers it and will usually call it by its English name after that. She understand a lot of what we say and what she doesn't we will show her or motion with our hands. She still talks in mandarin to us (but not as much as in China) and it's really not too difficult to figure out what she's talking about. We can pick out mandarin words from what she's saying and can piece it together with her hand motions. She'll answer questions with yes or no now but in conversation will still say "boo sure" which is no. The Memory game has been great for language because I say, and she repeats, the name of all the cards when we flip them over. She's come up to me several times today with a memory card and told me what it is in English.
A couple of days ago she was being funny so I said "You're a silly girl" and she said "no, Mommy's a silly girl." She thinks that is funny because we laugh so she now interchanges the name for whoever she's talking to. She later said "Daddy's a silly girl" so we then had a lesson on boy and girl. We used the mandarin for boy and girl (nahn-wren and new-wren) and then the English- boy and girl. She understood very quickly and now calls everyone by the correct gender in English.
She loves Skype and asks to call people. Yesterday and today she looked at me and said "Nana, telephone?" so we had to call Nana. J's mom graciously agreed to stay with us a couple days after we got home and Claire took right to her. She's asked for Meme several times since she left.
She has come a long way from that first night home and introduction to Toby. She doesn't like to be startled by him and she's not real cool with him being right next to her but she's a lot better and doesn't want him in his crate all day. He's been so good with her too. It's like he knows she's scared and he treats her differently than every one else. He's never jumped up on her or gotten close to her without one of us right there. He won't go up or down the steps if she's on them (one thing she really doesn't like) and has never been hyper around her. She has pet him a few times while I hold him and she loves to throw his toys for him to fetch. I think she'll eventually grow to love him as much as the other kids but it is just going to take some time.
The other kids-
Just like bringing home a newborn, this is an adjustment. They have handled it with great love and patience (for the most part) and accepted her beautifully. They love to teach her words in English. I think they might be experiencing a little bit of attention overwhelmness (is that a word? spellcheck says no) like I have. You go from doing your own thing for the most part to someone needing/wanting your attention all the time and it's a bit of an adjustment.
Really, it is very much like bringing a newborn into the house. I know she's 7 and has different needs than a newborn but it is a very constant need for caring and attention. It is an adjustment for all; not necessarily in a bad way but just an adjustment. We'll get into a groove soon and just like with a newborn, we can't imagine our life without her now that she's here.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Her initial reaction to the kids was somewhat mixed. I didn't expect her to go running to them or anything but I know the kids were so excited so I was hoping they weren't too disappointed. Claire was very quiet last night, just taking everything in, I think. I can tell she is thoroughly confused and I wish I could explain to her that this is home. It is almost like the two weeks in China were the honeymoon and I know the real work starts here.
She hates the dog; she really wasn't kidding when she said she didn't like dogs. I'm torn on what to do about that. I don't want to scare her but yet the dog is part of the family and I don't want to crate him all day. We will work to keep Toby away from her when he's excited but the dog is so happy we are home that I'm not going to separate him from everyone either. It's just another thing to work through.
The next week or so is going to be a real transition. She's used to having us to herself, 24 hours a day and now we have to be mom and dad to all four kids; not just her.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
We dressed Claire up in her traditional Chinese dress she picked out in Beijing along with some white shoes we found at a store here in Guangzhou. She loved being dressed up and she is such a ham!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
We stayed in a nice hotel in Beijing for 10 days so I can't compare the White Swan to hotels in the provinces. But, compared to our hotel in Beijing I am less than impressed with the White Swan. The rooms are tiny, they smell musty or kind of wet and the walls/floor are thin. I'm paying a lot of money to listen to babies above me pounding on the floor or crying or even hearing someone else urinate in the toilet. I heard a lot "the service is 5 star" and "they speak very good English". I'm not finding that so much. The housekeeping staff has been great, the front desk staff is half and half on friendliness and English and the dining room staff in that "oh so wonderful buffet"? I have found they are pretty rude. I can't compare this to the Victory because I haven't been there but I would probably choose that if we were ever to come back to China. I don't need 150 things to choose from for breakfast because I'll choose the same 5 every day. I would trade a bigger room with a soft bed any day. But, I would choose to stay at the same place as my travel group again. Being in the same place as all the other families is very nice and Claire enjoys seeing the other kids in our group each day at breakfast and throughout the day.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I'm tired of the stares.
I'm tired of not knowing what they are saying to her.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
We couldn't believe it; she didn't cry at all when getting her 4 shots. Either she has a very high pain threshold or is one tough cookie. She had a TB test a couple of weeks ago but our guide said she would need to get another one. The nurses got all fishy when getting the TB test ready and were saying something about it being "different" so Daddy went all berserk on them and grabbed her arm to contaminate the cleaned area and got our guide. They got the doctor and after a bunch of back in forth in mandarin later, we won. Score one for the mom and dad team; Claire didn't have to repeat her TB test because the one from two weeks ago was negative.
Tomorrow I am going on a shopping tour with our group. We're going to ask Claire if she wants to go but if she doesn't she's going to hang out at the hotel with Dad instead. I can now get to shutterfly so hopefully we'll find the energy to put some videos online tomorrow.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Our last full day in Beijing, finally.
We have 5 English speaking channels on TV here. They are CNN, Bloomberg, HBO, Cinemax and National Geographic. How do you know when you've been in one place too long? You know what channel HBO is without going through the entire channel line-up. Yes, it is definitely time to go.
In a way we are sad to leave Beijing; but that would be a very small way. We had big ambitions of seeing many things in the city and our time has now come to a close and we didn't get to see as many things as we would've liked. Some of that was due to exhaustion, some was due to not wanting to overwhelm Claire and a lot of it was due to needing a barf bag everywhere we went.
We walked to a nearby clothing market today and bought more than we did the other day. I know all of it is most likely knock-offs of real brand names but the kids in middle school don't know that. J took a $60 risk and bought an I-phone. Turns out it isn't an I-phone at all but rather a sciphone that looks exactly (and I mean exactly) like an I-phone. One key giveaway that he didn't notice before buying it; it was "Dasigned in the US." Yea, that would have been nice to see before buying it. He's laughing it off and has let Claire enjoy the games on it. I told him to clearly establish that she can play with Daddy's phone because Mommy's I-phone (if I ever join the ranks and get one) will be real and completely off limits to those under 13.
Drama Queen Extreme and Miss Sassy Pants.
Tonight she entered her "I'm wired and deliriously-stupid-tired" phase and was bouncing around while walking home. She loves to be carried but we needed her to walk and burn off some energy and Dad is just plain worn out from packing around her heavy self. She kept running in front of him and stopping so finally I had to whip out the mom voice. I told her "Claire, NO, zow lu" (zow lu means walk). She stepped right beside me and held my hand.
She goes from being happy and giggly to mad or crying in the blink of an eye. She has no problem showing her emotions! But, she is also very caring and will always kiss your owies and say "Ima sorry" if she accidentally hurts you. She finished off the day with "Ba ba, I wove you." And how can you focus on the sassy attitude after that?
Tonight we walked and walked and finally decided to have dinner at the Korean BBQ a few blocks away. This was a challenge because they did not know any English. J told me to just pick something that looked like beef on the menu and actually, most of the pictures did look like sliced beef. I tried to say "English menu" any way I knew how and boy, I am SO glad I did! Did you know that many different, nasty things look just like sliced beef? We almost ordered things like stomach, ox tongue and many other things I'm still trying to block out. In the end, it was OK but nothing like the wonderful food we ate in Korea.
Tomorrow we have to get our bags ready by 12 noon and we leave the hotel at 12:30. Who are they kidding? We're so ready to leave we nearly have every thing packed tonight! We pick up Claire's passport first and then head to the airport and fly to Guangzhou. We'll be leaving the hotel around 10:30pm central time and arriving in Guangzhou around 4am Friday morning, central time. We'll be checking in to the White Swan hotel; the hotel famous for adoptive families. We'll also be meeting up with our travel group that we toured here in Beijing with and we are excited to meet all of their new children.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Our guide also said she thinks Claire is from a different area than Beijing. She named the same place that the lady in the shop did. She told us that people in Beijing rarely, if ever, abandon their children because they know they will have a good life in the city. This tells us that her birth mother either traveled from far away to leave her in the city for a better life or she was a migrant worker who did not get the same benefits as permanent residents of the city.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
*We're working on the English words for colors and she's already got pink, white and yellow. She gets those right every time now.
*We're fairly certain Claire thinks we live in this hotel. We think she believes this is our home, or our apartment. She knows which floor we're staying on and which room is ours. We pack up and make the trip to Guangzhou this Friday and I think we'll probably encounter a break down when she realizes she really is leaving and we're not staying here.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Our agency was finally able to get through to the civil affairs after calling for over an hour this morning. Our worry that the adoption decree wouldn't be ready today was relieved; they were told we could come pick it up.
You know, usually you are christened as new parents shortly after the baby's first feeding. We like to be nice and call it spit-up but truly? Your child just emptied the content of his/her stomach all down your back. You are now christened and officially new parents.
Our christening took 5 days but believe me, we are officially her parents now. We have the decree and dirty clothes to prove it.
She absolutely hates the car. We were able to distract her on the other trips today but she tells us (through our guide) that she just wants to walk to food; she doesn't care if it takes hours. I'm not sure how the first few weeks at home are going to go. I'm thinking some of it is simply anxiety and it doesn't help that we were in the same van today as the day we picked her up and the same office we went to shortly after receiving her.
We learned from Catherine (our guide) that 'mama yo baba' and 'baba yo mama' is Claire's way of saying my mom and dad are a good couple and mom loves dad and dad loves mom. J She also said she keeps saying it because it makes us laugh.
We learned today that she had two younger brothers in her foster home; she said they were 6. While having lunch we had our guide ask her if she wasn't allowed to waste food at the foster home. We have noticed she will eat all food. At first we thought she just ate a ton but then we wondered if she was actually cleaning her plate so it wasn't wasted. She confirmed that the foster family told her not to waste food so 7 years of that teaching is going to be hard to break. We put the snacks away in the room because we noticed she will help herself to them whenever she wants. She still eats quite a bit for her size, especially at breakfast.
We were planning on going to the zoo but Claire told our guide that she'd already been there. It feels quite a bit cooler here today than past days so I think we're going to go to the aquarium instead. It is close to the place she was found as a baby so we are going to go there as well so we can get a picture of that for her later.
Claire is very funny; quite the little jokester. She told our guide today that she loves to smile and be funny and when the younger kids or babies were upset she would do something funny to make them laugh because if you are always smiling there is love in the sky. Wow, it's hard to imagine her any older than 4 or 5 based on her size but she definitely has the smarts and wit of a child much older than that. That just melted my heart.