Monday, July 13, 2009

One Week Home

Pictures from our local FCC chapter picnic and pool party.
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My favorite picture of Kara - getting ready for the water balloon fight.
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Kara and Mia in the Lazy River.
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Leila tossing a water balloon and adorable Chloe looking on.
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Getting messy decorating cookies.
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Our little family of five has been together exactly one week tonight. I'm sorry for the delayed update. I have received lots of requests asking for an update on how we are doing, but I have had very little time on the computer since we've been home. Our internal clocks are still messed up and we can't seem to catch up on all the sleep that we missed. I think Leila and Kara are getting close to normal on their sleep patterns and I am just hoping that Nolan and I are shortly behind them!

It's difficult to find the words to express all that has happened over the last seven days, so I'm going to try the bullet point some thoughts:
  • For the first few days, Leila and Kara would wake up at 3 or 4 am and come into our rooms wide awake. Nolan (my hero) would take them downstairs, but we would all (except Mia) be up the rest of the morning. Nolan and I finally had to set sound ground rules and with the help of a translator for Kara, explained that they must stay in their beds until at least 6 am, at which time they could get up and turn on the lights and read quietly in their rooms until 7 am. I wish we would have thought to lay these ground rules ahead of time. Those first few days starting so early have really thrown Nolan and I off.
  • For the first couple of days, Kara would say, "Whoa", "Whoa", "Whoa!" to so much of what she saw. I think she really likes her room, but I did find out that her favorite colors are purple, black and blue. Her room is pink and red. Oops! Oh well... if she ever tires of it, I just might move in. It makes me happy whenever I walk into it.
  • Kara's room is farthest from ours and I really thought I would have to sleep with her to help her adjust, but that hasn't happened. Kara sleeps by herself in her bedroom. She has never expressed any fear of the dark or being alone in a new room by herself.
  • Kara's English vocabulary expands a little every day, but I quickly realized we were going to need to bring in someone to help with formal English lessons. We are starting her with an ESL tutor this week. Her favorite words are to point to something and say, "What is that?" Unfortunately, she doesn't yet understand our response. She is a smart girl, though, and I am sure she will continue to learn quickly.
  • Our biggest struggles thus far have been sleep and setting rules. Kara, like all kids, is testing our authority and her boundaries. It helped that yesterday, our Mandarin-speaking friend was able to explain that if she doesn't obey us, that she will begin to lose certain priveleges, like her DS, Wii, TV or going swimming. (Thanks a ton, Lily!!!) This afternoon, all three girls lost TV time after misbehaving in a sporting goods store and I think she realizes that Mom means business. I am sure this will be an ongoing struggle, though, and I will just continue to pray for God's strength and guidance to help me through it.
  • I love to watch Kara in her element. Yesterday, we went to our local FCC family picnic and swim party. Kara was able to communicate to some of the people there in Mandarin and she is so expressive, animated and so inquisitive. I can't wait until she can communicate with us like that. But I also hope that she doesn't lose her Mandarin. It is so much a part of who she is and the life she has led to this point.
  • Speaking of Mandarin, Kara was able to Skype her two friends, Lela and Hannah, last night. Oh my, can those girls talk. And talk. And talk!!! I SOOOOOO wish I knew what they were saying. We have scheduled weekly calls so the girls can talk. (BTW, if anyone knows how to get a picture when you three-way Skype, please let me know. We lost the ability to see each other when we added a third person to the call.)
  • Over-stimulation does not seem to be a problem for Kara. She handles everything we have thrown at her with ease. She was quite confused and unsure of the place we took her to on Sunday morning (church), but she ended up going to Leila's Sunday School class and staying for the second service for the kids' program and really enjoyed herself.
  • On Friday, we had to do the three-hour visit with our local Children's Hospital International Adoption Clinic. Kara was a champ. All of the doctors, nurses and specialists that came in to meet her instantly fell in love with her. This morning, we had another one hour visit downtown for hearing, checking her TB test (no reaction!) and psychological evaluation. So already, four hours in the doctor's office since we've been home.
  • Yes, the girls have other bathing suits, but they have no desire to wear them. They only want to wear their matching suits. They just may fall apart from all of the constant wearing and washing. :)
  • Our church is holding a soccer camp in the evenings this week and all three girls are attending. The coaches let all three girls stay together and it was so much fun to see! Mia has waited for this day for a long time, as she is always watching her sister from the sidelines. Kara is already learning that being Leila's sister means lots of soccer. For the first time in my life, I have three pairs of shin guards in the wash. Is it time for me to go out and get a "Soccer Mom" bumper sticker? :)
  • Kara is the most affectionate and loving girl. It is night and day from the girl who didn't like hugs, kisses or touching on Day 1. Only three weeks later and she is constantly giving me hugs and kisses. (As long as I haven't just said "no" to her, of course.) She and I shared a very tender moment on Thursday, after she did something I asked her not to. A difficult moment turned into the most long and loving embrace with my dear daughter, at which time she said, "I love you." It was such a special moment. I hope I remember it forever.
Kara was used to a much later bedtime than Leila and Mia were used to, so we have tried to meet in the middle... at least until school starts. Their later bedtime means that I have had very little time to spend on the computer... or do anything for/by myself, for that matter. Please bear with me as I try to adjust to our new normal. I see it's already past my bedtime and I'd better get going. I don't think it's possible to "catch up" on sleep, but I'm going to try!!!


Courtney said...

Thanks for the great update. Love the new header. The girls look like they have been together forever!

Jill said...

Thanks for the update...I have been thinking of you guys!!!
I swear you have the most incredible posts and pictures!
Glad all is going so well! God made Kara for your family!!
Hugs, Jill

Joe and Jane said...

Thanks for the detailed update! I'm thrilled to hear about your special moment with Kara. It is so wonderful that she is affectionate.

I recall the older kids from Taiwan had a late bedtime too. Around 10 or 10:30, even the toddlers. (BTW, we have the same rule at our house... out of bed no earlier than 6 and room no earlier than 7!)

Missy said...

Such a wonderful post, Michelle!!! I am thrilled to see pics of all three of your girls together and to hear how you all are doing. I think of you often.
Kara sounds like such a sweet girl. I got teary hearing of her hugging you and saying "I love you". Amazing how God can let our hearts grow and grow!
Get some rest!!! We'll be here :)

Terry said...

I was thinking of you the other day and hoping for news & pictures. I'm glad to hear that things are getting easier each day. Kara sounds like an amazing girl and fits in well. I love your pictures and they are all so beautiful. God blessed you with an amzaing family!

Julia said...

Reading your accounts of the days you've been together just brings tears to my eyes. Specially with having an 11 year old at home and knowing how difficult this transition would be from an emotion and a communication stand point - you all are just handling this so beautifully! The girls just look like they've been together forever. You have a beautiful family!

redmaryjanes said...

Oh, I so understand :)
You have a beautiful family. It was wonderful to meet you in China, what a small world it is sometimes. I am so glad that we crossed paths in Jordon's shop. I am glad that all is going well with your newest daughter, she is absolutely lovely.

Tisha said...


What a great update; thank you! I really need the tissue warning though. I was a blubbery mess when you described that precious, tender moment with Kara. I don't think it will be possible to ever forget that special blessing!

I pray that you and Nolan will get back to normal with your sleep and routine very soon. What progress though in only one week! Just think how things will be in one month!! I'm sure once Kara starts school, she will astound you with her English and how fast she picks it up. She is such a beautiful girls who exudes charisma and charm.

Love the new header! God has blessed you beyond measure!

BIG hugs,

JG said...

I LOVE the new header! You have beautiful girls! And it's great to hear how well Kara is adapting. Definitely an answer to prayer! So happy for you :)

day by day said...

Hi Michelle!! Sounds like you are all doing great...thanks for such a wonderful update!! You have done a really good job in documenting your adoption journey....I know it is not easy with such time constraints.

Have a wonderful week and hope you catch up on your sleep! : )

Keri said...

I love reading your updates. Your Kara is such a lovely girl as are your other daughters. You are truly a blessed family. I am so happy that bonding is going well.


Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful update!! So glad things are going well. Praying for you and Nolan to get that sleep in:)


PS - LOVE the new header!!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

So good to hear from you Michelle.....I have been thinking about you all!!! Sounds like the transition is going very well.....what a sweet girl!! Her personality shines through in her photos. I think it is so cute that the girls only want to wear their matching suits:)

Hopefully you and Nolan will catch up on your sleep and get back on a normal schedule!!

Enjoy your week:)


mommy24treasures said...

love the update. WOW to already get such a genuine I LOVE YOU! Huge progress is going on!
My babies were all misbehaving in a store today too! and also lost the opportunity to watch anything this evening. Must have been something in the air;)
I hope you feel caught up soon. Glad the girls are all so on love with one another:)

Natalie said...

You are amazing. I love the new header. Your girls are all so beautiful and I'm so glad that things are progressing and going so well.

a Tonggu Momma said...

So absolutely thrilled to read an update!!!! I've been wanting to ask, but not wanting to push. That first week home is difficult for anyone. All three girls look wonderful... now let's hope they let you get some sleep. Heh.

Stacy said...

Hi Michelle
Thanks for the update! Sorry we missed the picnic on Sunday. Mia and I have been sick, but I would have loved to have seen you and meet Kara. Maybe soon! Get some rest - and I love that she's hugging and loving her mom!!!

Kris said...

Thanks for the update- you guys are doing SUCH an amazing job and I'm just amazed at how Kara is adjusting- it must be more than overwhelming and yet she seems to be really easing into things~! SO glad to hear it!! Hope the ESL helps a ton and soon she is chattering away with all of you!!

dkinner7 said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey with us. You and Nolan are such amazing parents and your girls are absolutely beautiful! Hope you're able to "catch up" on some sleep this week! See you soon.

Donna said...

I would never ever guess by looking at the photos that it's just been a week. Kara looks like she's been in your family forever! Surely a combination of great family skills and a bit of good photography too!

I'm so envious. I've always wanted to adopt again -- especially an older child like Kara! Your blog just makes me more hungry to do that! Now all I need is to get my husband on board!

Our Blog: Double Happiness!

Stacy said...

Oh Michelle! I have been wondering about you! Thanks so much for the wonderful update. Sounds like things are moving right along and that everyone is adjusting well. I'm sure it will be much easier when you get the sleep thing figured out! I remember the jet lag was killer! Hope to see you soon! Can't wait to meet Kara!

PS- that is awesome that she can chat with her two girlfriends!!!!

Krista ~ Bits and pieces said...

Love this update post! What a week it has been for y'all. And the pictures are amazing!!!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!

Kelly said...

I really enjoy your blog and following your story of adopting an older child (something I hope to be able to do some day).

Thank you for sharing your journey.
Kelly O

Rachel said...

I'm so glad things are going so well. Kara seems to be adapting beautifully. The picture of her and Mia together with the cookie is just priceless.

Hope you continue to have smooth sailing!


Dawn said...

So happy that you are all adjusting so well to each other! She is a doll and seems to fit in perfectly!!

If you learn about the 3-way Skyping, please post it. I didn't know you could talk 3 ways, much less with video! I had considered using ooVoo for that reason.

Kristen said...

Wow, so wonderful to hear! :)

Steffie B. said...

OMW......I am jsut crying tears of joy for you my sweet friend....I can't imagine the journey you must be on right now with an older daughter.

The girls look so happy together....I pray that things continue to go well, that you start to feel a bit normal again and that Kara continues to adjust to her new forever family!


Heather said...

Fab update, girl. We love you and are praying for all of is going to take time, but it sounds like everyone is so on the same path...just beautiful.

Thank you for your transparency and bless us with that. God is using you and your family to touch hearts, a blessing and a joy!