Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three steps step back

We have been home now for about three weeks and I feel like Madison is making huge strides... My goal this week was to get our family back into a “semi-normal" routine (yeah right!) As you will read below, it will become evident that our theme this week ended up being three steps forward and one step back.
By the end of the week, I was feeling a little out of sorts and the control freak in me combined with being cooped up because of the rain wasn’t helping matters! I began to miss work and craved adult conversation and was struggling to try to figure out a new schedule that allowed me to accomplish what I needed to do around the house, not be bored with the laundry and dishes, and didn’t include me napping when Madison napped. As I write this I still haven’t quite figured it all out but, I have decide to take one day at a time and enjoy every minute I am home with Madison even if it is a crazy busy day with no schedule or a lazy day snuggling in bed, because once I go back to work I will be missing these days and I will never get them back!

Overall, Madison is transitioning well and is like a little sponge soaking up English. She was definitely meant to be our daughter and it feels like she has always been a part of our family. It cracks me up, because she is sassy and independent like me but, also so stubborn like John. The full blown temper tantrums have lessened but the whining and fussing when she is unhappy has increased. She is ALL girl and loves wearing dresses and being the center of attention. She is also a total daddy's girl, if John scolds her she melts down and acts like the world is ending (yes she is a drama queen!). She also has him completely wrapped around her finger and knows it.
Playing and singing with her Tad and Violet dolls are one of her favorite things to do but she also loves playing with her baby dolls and is a very good little mother. She is total nurturer and loves to wrap the babies up in blankets, stroller them around and feed them bottles. Madison is also what I call a "collector" like her brother; she collects things that don’t belong to her (like our doorstops, things off my night stand and etc...) and puts them in the bottom of her shopping cart for safe keeping. At least with her, I know her hiding spot now, unlike her brother who’s spot I can never seem to figure out!

Jake and Madison are "working" on their jealous issues (with help from me and John). She is much better about not hitting him when we show him affection but, now she is on to pinching him when he touches her toys or gets too close for comfort. Most of the time though she mimics what he does which of course he loves. Some days are easier than others with them but, I am so proud of Jake. He is handling this transition like a champ and even though it hurts his feelings when she is mean to him, he is talking to us about his feelings rather than taking any anger or hurt he feels out on her.

After two weeks of battling jet lag and insomnia, I am happy to report though, that this mama is finally on a somewhat decent sleep schedule. It took Jake about a week to get back into the swing of things and with Madison it's a work in progress, I did realize that the poor baby not only has been going through all these changes and transitions but was also was cut off, cold turkey from her bottle. Yes... you read right she was still on a bottle. One afternoon I finally read the baby book the foster family filled out and it stated that she was taking an afternoon and nighttime bottle. So I decided (with John's support) to reintroduce her nighttime bottle (you don’t have to agree with my decision but, please respect it!).The first night I gave it to her, she rolled her eyes back in her head and was moaning (yes moaning) while she sucked it. She was sooooooooo happy with her bottle that after she was finished she rubbed my check and gave me a big (unsolicited) kiss!! That cemented it for me…I had made the right decision. It was also the first night she slept in her bed and actually went down without a fuss or fight. Finally, I had her nighttime routine figured out and hoped we would all get sleep we needed and wanted! Well... that lasted about four days and now she is cutting her two year old molar and has been up and down during the night but, she is sleeping in her own bed for part of the night, so it is a beginning but I am afraid sleep will for this mama will be a continually battle for some time.

Now that I had the nighttime routine established with Madison it was time to work on our daytime one. Well... so much for that!! John was home all week, as there was no work due to all the storms. The first few days were fine but, by Friday we all had CABIN fever, lucky I had errands to run or else I am sure we would have been on each other’s last nerve!! John being home did help with his "bonding" with Madison as I had lunch plans one day, Jake school & PTA stuff a couple of other days (which is a whole other post or rant that I will save for another time!. John being home allowed me not to have to drag Madison out in the rain and the good thing is I now can leave her with John and she doesn’t cry or freak out and actually doesn’t give me dirty looks when I return. Unlike last week when I left her with him for about 2 hrs (to attend a PTA mtg) and when I returned she was pissed at me and threw me dirty looks for about 2 hrs and then clung to me the entire next day! So on that front there has been a HUGE amount of progress.

We began our weekend with a Friday afternoon play date. But this wasn’t just any play date it was Madison’s 1st play date! We went over to the "other" Silva's (as I like to call them!) and both Madison and Jake had a great time!! I am thrilled Madison has a friend her own age and can't wait to have another play date with them. It was so much fun to see her play with other girls. People say boys and girls are way different but, I don’t think until you parent both you realize how true that statement is.

On Saturday we went to our adoption agency and were the panel family for their adoption class, meaning we talked about our adoption experience and got a chance to show Madison off. I hope that we were able to get the prospective adopted parents there to consider China's special needs program and also to consider albinism as a need that they could be open to. After leaving the agency it was time for lunch and to get Jake off to his baseball clinic and Madison down for a nap. After baseball we met up with our friends for dinner which meant Jake got to hang out with his best buddies. Dinner was fun as it was the first time Madison had been out with us and the gang. When you get all thirteen of us together there is bound to be craziness but also a lot of fun. Madison of course was darling and well behaved, more than I can say for her brother!

Hopefully John will work this week and as much as I want to work on getting our routine down, I don’t think it’s going to happen and that is okay. Madison and I have a busy week ahead of us as we have doctor and dentist appointments and even a play date (or maybe two) scheduled this week.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Yes we are home and yes we are alive!!

As the post below discusses we got home on Jan 1st. I can't believe that we have been home a full week already. Time is really flying....

First and foremost, if I have not returned your call or email yet, I apologize but everything has been a blur and I am exhausted and am suffering from terrible jet lag and insomnia. I promise to call/email you in the next week or so or as soon as my head stops spinning! :) BTW... for those of you who just wanna look at pictures, scroll down for more!

Now for the update......We are alive and well for the most part. We got home on Friday and after visiting with my parents, we put Madison down for a nap and I decided this exhausted Mama needed one too. John (of course) said he wasn't going to nap and promised that he wouldn't let me sleep more than 3 hours. Well, when I woke up six hours later, John and Madison were both sleeping and Jake was in his room watching cartoons with toys and boxes (yes boxes) of food surrounding him. He was in 7th heaven!! Man I wish I took a picture because it was a sight to see. So I got to be the meanie and wake John and a grumpy Madison up for dinner. That night everyone was exhausted and slept till noon the next day (mistake number 1).

Then it was off to my grandmas to celebrate Christmas and have a amazing home cooked meal. The kids had a blast and Madison quickly got the hang of opening presents and kept asking for more. Jake was shocked and excited that he got a bike, now we just got to teach him to ride it without training wheels! Once there was no more to presents to unwrap Madison of course wanted everything opened and put together so she could check out her haul. Jake and her did what every kid does and played in the boxes and had a blast.

Once home it was off to bed and I was counting a on good nights sleep. HA!! That so did not happen. John and I were wired stayed up till 2am fooling around on facebook and as soon as we were getting ready to go to bed, Madison woke up crying and then Jake woke up wired. They had their days and nights confused. So they both ended up in bed with me and poor John on the couch who declared he wasn't going to sleep at all to try to adjust himself back. So now with both kids in the bed and awake until 6am there was no sleep for me. I finally sleep for a few hours around 8am (mistake 2)

Sunday night wasn't much better as I had insomnia and was up when the kids woke up at 1:45am (Madison) and 3am (Jake). Poor Jake stayed up till 6am and then it was off to school at 8am, he was so exhausted and had a major meltdown during breakfast, but he had to go to school!(There goes my mother of the year award!) So once again no sleep for this Mama. I don't know what kind of day Jake had, I didn't want to know so I didn't ask the sub. After school we got out and ran some errands, I figured fresh air would do us some good and it did as everyone (except me) slept thru the night but, I did get 5 hours - finally I figured we were back on track!

Feeling slightly less exhausted on Tuesday I decided to run errands and get Madison's haircut. Her hair was choppy and driving me crazy. She enjoyed being out and loved getting her haircut especially the sucker she got afterwards. That night I prayed we would all sleep thru again. Yeah right, wishful thinking on my part... only John slept thru and the kids were both up again, Madison with night terrors (2am) and Jake pissed off that there was no room in our bed for him (4am). I of course was up at 2am watching the movie Taken on HBO (mistake 3) so once again no sleep for mama but, daddy came to my rescue (as he had no work) in the morning and got Jake off to school and took care of Madison so I could get 3 hours in so I could function.

This really is worse than having a newborn because now I have 2 who are up on different schedules. Finally today - Thursday everything caught up to us. Jake was having some jealously the night before and was exhausted as was Madison and well everyone slept thru the night but, no one fell asleep until after 11pm (mama after 1am). So of course Jake woke up with a massive headache and distraught and so I let him stay home from school and off to a happy slumber he went, then it was my turn!

We all slept until 11am (I know..I know) and even slept thru the earthquake, once we were up Jake was off to my mom's for some one on one time with grandma and Madison was here being my shadow and Velcro baby. I had enough sleep that I practiced being the perfect housewife by doing 4 loads of laundry (washing and drying), making beds, doing dishes and generally cleaning up. (For those who know me, yes it's really me, I can prove it and no I wasn't abducted by aliens!) Not sure that being a full time stay at home mom/housewife is my forte but, I am going to try to have fun with it until March 1st when I go back to my job (which yes... I do somewhat miss and yes I am still checking email a couple of times a day!). My goal for next week is to get Madison and I on a daily schedule/routine, as much as I want to, we can't stay in my jammies all day :)

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, that the kids will continue to sleep thru the night and that Madison keeps having a fairly easy transition. I admit we do have our moments and melt downs but all in all she is doing excellent and so is Jake. We are working on both of their jealousy issues and today I actually saw huge improvement from both of them and especially Madison (who is having major issues). I was so proud to see her comfort her brother when he was complaining about completing his homework. They are both trying and I keep telling them that both my lap and heart are big enough for both of them! Most importantly lets all hope I get over this jet lag/insomnia cycle I have fallen into!

This weekend is super busy for us. On Sat Madison gets to meet her Nina and great auntie and then it's baseball clinic for Jake in the afternoon, with a family movie and camp out in the living room to round out the day. Then on Sunday we are having Christmas with John's family and then Jake has a date with his mama and friends to see a science show. But, first I have to make it thru the social security office on Friday with my sanity, I hope it's not like the DMV.


Flight Home...Jan 1st

On our way home.........On Jan 1st at 5:00am we woke up to get ready to start our day of travel. John and I were so excited to be going home, it was time to get back to our house, family and friends.

We had a 9am flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and luckily this time had no issues at check in. The only issue we had was that Madison decided to throw a huge hissy fit while going threw security; First she didn't want to get out of the stroller, then she didn't want to take off her jacket and backpack. But rules are rules and they weren't making any exceptions for our cutie. Once we got through security she decieded she was going to show and tell and everyone else around, how pissed she was by all of this and started stomping her feet (yes stomping - just like her mama!), screaming and refusing to walk or get in the stroller. All John and I could do was laugh because she was so dam cute and nothing we did or say was going to make her stop (and yes we did try!) Finally after 5 mins and everyone looking at us like we were crazy, she was done and we could continue on our way.

The flight to Hong Kong was uneventful and dare I say boring but, we got there safe and sound with plenty of time to make our connecting flight. The Hong Kong airport was HUGE and we had to walk for about 20 mins (and we were not walking slow - it was at least a mile - I am serious!) to the United transfer to desk to get our boarding passes and have them fix our seat arraignments as they had Madison sitting by herself (yeah...the thought is too funny!) Back through security and we were off to our gate with 40 mins to spare. Just enough time for John to find the Burger King and get us food.

John made it back just in time for pre-boarding where we were searched again and I mean searched, they went through our bags and patted us down (including the kids) all in response to what happened the previous week. They let us take our food on but no drinks, not even ones purchased at the airport.

Then it was to our seats (middle section, 4 across) where we quickly ate the BK and I tried to convince Jake that he needed to go to sleep once we were in the air. Finally after 40 mins or so we were off and headed home! It was a looooooooong flight (12+hrs) and no sleep for this mama. Jake managed to sleep the most about 5 hours, with John coming in 2nd with about 4 (even though he says he wasn't sleeping, he was just resting his eyes - yeah right!) and Madison managed to sleep maybe 2 1/2 hrs (yes lucky me!). Again this flight was uneventful and very very boring but I did have a 2yr old to entertain so that did help me not to go crazy.

I was very surprised but back in coach they did feed us three meals and a snack. Not that any of the food was any good but, hey... they did try. Madison was sleeping and missed the first meal but, didn't miss the cup of noodle thing they served. She was so excited (and hungry) that she didn't want to wait for it to finish cooking (or whatever those things do) that she grabbed her chopsticks and attacked! I have to say watching her eat with chopsticks was the best part of the ride home (up to this point we hadn't seen her use them)

We landed at SFO at 9am on Jan 1st (so we picked up a day, I suppose) and made our way though immigration and customs with no issues. My parents and grandma where there to pick us up and we were all very happy to be home. Off we headed for a quick visit to my grandpa and then home to begin to unpack and nap.

BTW...For those of you wondering yes, I had us completely unpacked and everything put away that evening but, I did wait until after I napped to start!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 11 & 12 – Guangzhou – Sightseeing and more sightseeing

Day 11 & 12 – Guangzhou – Sightseeing and more sightseeing

This will be my last note until we get home as tonight is our last night here in Guangzhou. In the morning we are off (very early) to the airport and will arrive at SFO the morning of 1/1. We are ready to come home and sleep in our own beds and begin to get back into the routine of home life. However I am a tad sad that our time in China is over, this trip has produced many memories for me and will always have a special place in my heart. I think I will miss all the quality time we have spent as a family but, I will not miss strange people touching my children!

Day 11
We began our day as we have almost every other day in China with the kids not wanting to get up and John having to shower first with Jake going second and then me and Madison. We try to leave Madison for last since it is such an ordeal, never in my life have I met a kid who hates a bath more. As soon as she hears the water and you start undressing her, the fussing begins and once she hits the water the fussing turns into screaming and crying. Needless to say her shower/baths are super quick! Then it was off to a quick breakfast before meeting our guide Elvin.
Today he took us and the other family to a park. Well…not an American style park, more like gardens with trees, plants, and statues. Jake was a tad disappointed that there was no place to “play” and that there was no slide. I can understand why the Chinese are so skinny, we climbed more stairs and hills than I had all year. All I kept thinking was J-LO and Derbie would be in HEAVEN and if they hear about me doing this, I really will have no excuses!! Even with my knee killing me, I made it thru without complaining! Madison on the other hand, had a major meltdown and laid herself on the ground….all because Jake hugged me. Our guide Elvin wasn’t happy with Ms Madison and lectured her for about 10 mins in Mandarin while I carried her (yes all 25lbs) down the hill. Madison of course ignored him and wouldn’t answer back but, she did stop crying. The park was beautiful and there were many people there walking, exercising and playing games.

After the park (and workout), it was time to head back to the hotel for naps. Everyone rested till after 6pm and then it was off to the Italian restaurant, where we ran into our China Adopt friends and ended up having a very enjoyable dinner!

Day 12

Finally….our last day in China until we head home!! We are all ready to come home, if Jake has to have plain noodles and fries for one more meal, I really think he might lose it! We ran out of food I packed three days ago so, Jake is more than ready to come home, plus he is excited to see what Santa left him.

Today our guide took us and the other family to an amazing safari type park. When we entered we went straight to the train ride. You board this tram like train that takes you through an open safari type area, many animals could walk right up to the train and the dangerous ones had a moat separation which was well hidden. The tram ride took about hour and Madison was so into it she fell asleep in my arms! Once the ride was completed we walked around the park to the different exhibit areas. It was amazing how close they allow you to get to the animals. For example for 30 yuan ($4.40 usd) Jake got to have his picture taken while holding a baby tiger and feeding it a bottle. He also fed the giraffes, elephants, and then the baby elephants (of course we had to buy the food). Jake was also a little sad seeing how some of the animals lived, he didn’t like that a lot of them were in concrete type cages. He kept asking why they had to live like that and why
couldn’t they be released back into the wild. He also felt that many of them looked sad and unhappy. I must admit that I agreed with him and was quite proud that he was being not only thoughtful but very astute of the conditions. Even our guide was impressed that these concerns were coming from a seven year old. Don’t get me wrong, this safari park was well maintained and the animals looked well cared for but, it was not a San Diego or Oakland Zoo. Minus the tram ride, it reminded me a lot of SF Zoo when I was a child; a lot of concrete and small habitats. They did have a lot of animals unlike US zoo’s, they didn’t have 1 or 2 tigers, they had 10 and the same goes for all the animals they had multiples of each. We also got to see the nice, new panda habitat and the only twin kola’s in the world.

Overall the day went well, except for when Madison and I got separated from John, Jake and the guide and we got surround by (and I am not kidding) 30 Chinese people who all started taking Madison’s picture, touching her and a few even tried to get her to let go of my hand. Luckily for me, Madison started screaming and throwing herself on the ground (good girl) and they all backed off…Whew because Mama was freaking out a little. We spent about five hours at the safari park and then it was back to the hotel for dinner, last minute shopping and packing.

Happy New Year to everyone!!