Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On Being an "Older" Parent

I never thought that at 46 I would be the mom of not only two adult children, but also five younger children between the ages of 3 and 9. I loved being a stay at home mom and raising my two eldest children, but back in my twenties and thirties, life was so much about me. Was I being fulfilled as a “housewife”?  Had I missed out by not having a career and making my mark upon the world? And my husband! Back when he turned forty, we had our two children, one biological and one domestically adopted, and he was “done!” Now, at almost 55, he continues to amaze me with his heart that is so open to give what could be easy days towards the end of a career, to taking care of our often noisy bunch. And not only “taking care of” and providing for them, but doing it with a new gusto that sometimes comes with getting a second chance at parenting. 

Right now being an older mom means that when I chat with my adult daughter on the phone, she talks about her coming wedding plans, while I go on about the new crib and high chair that we purchased in anticipation of our new toddler coming home! It means being the oldest mama in my children's class instead of the youngest, as I was when my first child was in school. Having a large family for us also means that friendships are harder to maintain, as there is not much time for meeting friends for coffee or lunch, and frankly people are a lot more apt to invite you over with two older children than they are a party of littles. Admittedly, we don’t get out as often as we used to, but when we do we often encounter people who seem to be trying to figure us out. Driving a very tall 15 passenger van also draws attention to our troop, and sometimes leads people to ask me which organization I work for! We often receive very kind comments from strangers about our familly, but on occasion people like to remind us that we are completely insane. 

Yesterday we had our 9th winter snow day home from school, and honestly I was not looking forward to it, as freezing rain kept us indoors, and the kids were getting cranky and restless. However, it turned into one of those days that you just know is going to become a special memory. As I sat with the kids in the afternoon and worked on crafts with them, something I was loathe to do when my eldest were little, as there were always things that needed to be done around the house, or just something more diverting than messy glue and construction paper, I realized that as an older mom, sitting down and taking time to just hang out with the kids is not something that I have to make myself do to feel like a successful mom, it is something I truly enjoy. 

As older parents, do we worry about our children's futures? Of course we do. Will we be able to pay for them all to go to college? Most likely not. What I do know is that they are in God’s hands. They are loved, they cherish being a part of a family, they are home.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy One Year, Annie!!!!

This time last year I was wide awake in the middle of the night in China on “Gotcha Day,” too excited about the fact that we were going to meet our new daughter later that morning. What a treasure this little girl has been in our lives this last year! We have watched her gain confidence over the year in herself and her role in our family, and in us. 

She has always been our little ray of sunshine (I’m seriously going to buy her a t-shirt that says, “Hugs!,” because she is just a hug waiting to happen!) However, her big brother nick named her, “Gong Zhu Bing,” which translated from Mandarin means, “Sick Princess,” or “Princess Disease.” She tends to throw her head down into her arms when she doesn’t get to do what she wants, or especially when she doesn’t get to go on an errand with one of us - oh, the sorrow!! He has now just shortened this to “Bing-Bing,” to which she always responds, “I not Bing Bing. My name Annie!”

She really loves her American name, and in fact has refused to be called her beautiful Chinese name Ji Cui (pronounced Jee tSway) since coming home. She also pretends that she doesn’t understand people when they try to speak to her in Mandarin. And, oh yes, she did know Mandarin well, as she was always quick to tell me when her little brother who came home from a different orphanage at the same time said something naughty (more on that next week when we celebrate his gotcha day!)

Annie has always been my little helper. She loves to take care of everyone, and anticipates what is needed before she is even asked to do something.  I have a feeling she got lots of praise from her nannies in China for this, because she loves to pitch in around the house, and frankly when she came home, really did not know how to do much else. She had to learn to play, learn to look at a book or even decide what to do at all. For the first months she mostly stayed glued to my side, telling me over and over again how much she loved me and asking for a hug. She is still very demonstrative and affectionate, but she is now finally able to come up with things to do on her own, pretend-play with her siblings, look at books, watch a movie, etc. 

Annie also loves school! We weren’t planning on having her go to school until the following year, but a few months after she came home we decided it was just what she needed, and boy were we right! Right off the bat she was a huge hit with the students and teachers there. The principal told me that she was the new rock star of the school! Part of this I’m sure if due to her sunny personality, but also because of her total confidence in herself there. She just goes up and talks to other kids like she knows they will like her, and they do! I have watched in awe as it happens!! These kids don’t care that she spends half the day in her general-ed. class and half in special-ed, or that she walks with a brace, or that she doesn’t quite speak English fluently yet. They just like her because she is sweet, cheerful, confident, and because she likes them!

This coming year will bring Annie two new little sisters, to whom she is very excited to become the big sister (or little mother). She loves to be in charge, and is kind of like my XO (executive officer), as she repeats my commands to her siblings just after I give them. I know that she is going to be a huge help to me, and it will be nice for her to have some other girls around since her only other sister is grown and lives a thousand miles away in another state. 

This last year has gone so very fast (much faster than the year that we had to wait for Annie to come home!) I have found myself being able to sit and enjoy hanging out, playing and laughing with the kids in a way that I don’t think I was able to as a younger mother. Even though I missed the first seven plus years with Annie that she spent in the orphanage, I am getting to cherish each day with her, watching her grow and experience new things. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Two Little Girls!

Two little girls that right now have no idea that the other exist! We hope that they will not only be sisters, but lifelong friends and companions. They might not even like each other at first, or they may never become close, but our hope is that they will have a very special relationship that will last a lifetime. Both girls are in wonderful situations right now in different parts of China. If only I could go into detail! But just know that God is watching over our girls and has placed them both in wonderful hands. From what we understand, Lillie has a very sweet, happy, gentle personality. Rosalie (or Lucie, or whichever name we end up going with!) seems to be outgoing, happy, and quite a character! It will be interesting to see how their personalities blend together!

Our kiddos that are already home are very excited about the girls coming home. My biggest surprise was how much Wyatt is looking forward to having Lillie! I thought that he would feel a little threatened, as he is definitely the baby of the family right now, and they are only 3 1/2 months apart, but he talks about Lillie all of the time, and makes things for her for when she comes home. Annie at 8 years old plans on being a little mother to the girls. The three girls will share a large room, and honestly I am thankful that Annie is my little helper around the house. She will be such a great help with the little girls!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


We have been home just over four months now with Annie and Wyatt. What a blessing they have been in our lives! I can't even imagine not having them as a part of our family now. Annie with her great smile, bright eyes, and amazing sense of humor, and Wyatt - that adorable cuddly boy that is just a complete character. They have definitely come home and taken their places in the family with gusto!!

Having just come back so recently, we were not expecting to go back so soon! But then there was Rosalie, or "Lily" as we are calling her. Brian and I both fell in love with her, and after some prayer and a few miracles, decided that she was definitely meant to be a part of our family. Lily is five years old (less than 4 months older than Wyatt!) and has Down Syndrome and Congenital Heart Disease. Her videos show a beautiful little girl who is full of personality! Our kids at home are already very excited about bringing Lily home. Annie, who will be sharing a room with her new little sister, keeps a picture of "my Lily" as she calls her, by her bed.

Please pray for us as we go through the process of bringing Lily home that everything will go as quickly and smoothly as possible. We will also be doing some fund raising this time around to help bring this sweet girl home!!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Heading Home!

Not a lot to report. Just so very glad to be going home!!! For those who didn't get the story yesterday, my little guy got up during his nap in our bedroom suite and managed to spread the contents of his poopy diaper throughout the room. I got the furniture and walls cleaned off, and the bedding taken off, but then had to explain to the maids that I needed more than just one sheet to get our room back in working condition. I finally drug one of them in and pointed at Wyatt in the bathtub, and the diaper I was holding and she finally got the drift and helped me replace the bedding.

That being said, it has actually been a good last couple of days with our kiddos. Just today they are starting to actually interact with one another in a positive way on occasion. Part of this has been me stepping back (feeling like I am already really bonding with each of them) and encouraging them to bond with one another. Instead of throwing the beach ball with them, I have had them throw it to each other. Stephen gave Annie a lesson in how to play on the iPad, and she and Wyatt enjoyed working on it together this afternoon.

I know that our plane ride is going to be extremely long tomorrow, but I don't feel quite as terrified by it as I did just days ago. Annie is not really one for watching movies, or drawing, or other things that you would usually do to occupy time on a 14 hour flight. I think though, with her new American Girls doll, some stickers, and her new iPad skills we will make it through. Stephen has it easy with Wyatt, as he loves to watch t.v. and is a great sleeper. Plus, if he has a stinky diaper, he can just pass him back to me!

I am so excited to start our new life as a family of seven! I have the most amazing kids ever, and I can't wait to have them all together under one roof in just a couple of days!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Consulate Appointment

Our Consulate appointment went off without a hitch yesterday, although the gentleman helping us had trouble seeing the seal on Wyatt's certificate, and had to hold it up to the light to make sure it was there. Thankfully he was able to verify it was so that we didn't have to send back to Nanjing for a new one. Especially since that would have meant staying here longer, which would not make me a happy camper at this point!
We were able to spend time with our really good friends yesterday evening who are here picking up their beautiful little girl. We went to an Irish pub with them, which was a really nice change from the usual noodles and dumplings we have been eating.
Stephen and I have hit inertial as far as wanting to get out and doing anything. The weather is not great out, and taxis are easy to get to places, but not so easy to get back. Thankfully we have a nice big hotel room, but this doesn't keep the new siblings from having it out frequently. Stephen has also lost some of the adoration that he had the first week with his little sister. She loves attention, and if you aren't giving it to her, she will find a way to get it, whether positive or negative. I tried giving him a break by taking them to the "play room" in the hotel, but Wyatt proceeded to throw things at his sister and hit her while I tried to talk to my parents on the phone. Another family came in with their new daughter and asked me if I chose to get two at once (like the agency just decided that for me!)

Actually, these kids are really amazing, and I couldn't be happier with them. It is going to take some time before they learn to get along, or even tolerate one another, but they both have really great strengths, and both have bonded really well with me. Despite being a bully to his sister, Wyatt is a real cuddle bug with me. Annie is a really good helper, and is picking up English really quickly. I have also discovered that Wyatt does really well with signs. I think this will be a great bridge for him with learning English. We are also working on potty training with Wyatt. His foster family says that he was completely trained, but so far he is not able to tell us when he needs to go.
Two more days til we get to head home. As much as I am dreading the 14+ hour flight, at least it will mean we are on our way back to the rest of our family! Both kiddos get really excited to see Daddy on our video chats with him, and I know he is ready to have us back and all together, too!