"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -Chinese proverb

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Best play day ever!

Today, Ella had her first field trip at school.  Ethan and I were both bummed that we couldn't go since siblings aren't allowed.  Every time Ella has something fun going on at school, Ethan gets very jealous so we decided to have a fun day at the bounce house.  Imagine my surprise when we get there and the first thing Ethan does is yell, "Come on Li-wanna!"  They both started racing around the place, chasing each other and having a blast!  Everything Ethan did, Liana did and they were both loving it!  He even held her on his lap on the slide one time and they went down together.  Now, I don't think she was thrilled with that but he was!  I have never seen them have so much fun together...ever!!!  It was the kind of day that I have been hoping for...they were actual playmates and friends today!  There were times that Liana didn't want to do whatever Ethan wanted to do and he got so upset about it that he cried!  I had to explain to him that her legs aren't as strong as his are yet, so it's hard for her to keep going.  But, wow, trying to keep up with her brother made that girl do things that I've never seen her do before.  Instead of having to do everything with her, I got to sit back and just watch most of the time!  I am so proud of them both.  The best part happened on the ride home.  Ethan said, "I love you, Li-wanna...wo ai ni!"  That is "I love you" in Mandarin!  My heart couldn't have been happier at that moment!  It has been a long road to get to this point.  We have had some good moments of them playing together but they are very rare and short lived.  But today, they were buddies and I cherish today. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

China...Ethan's perspective

Usually when Ethan brings up China, he talks about the dinosaurs that we saw at the Safari Park or, more often than not, he talks about when he "bonked his head on the TV."  This is how the conversation usually goes,
Ethan: Remember in China when I bonked my head on the TV and you were worried about me?
Me: Yes, I do remember that.  I was very worried about you!
Ethan:  I rode in a taxi!  I hope I don't bonk my head again.
Me:  Me too!
And that's about the extent of our coversation.

Today, when we were in the car, an aiplane flew over us and here was our conversation,
Ethan: Remember when we went on a airplane?
Me:  Yes, I do.  We were on the airplane for a really long time, huh?
Ethan:  Yeah, and we went on a lot of airplanes!
Me: Did you like riding in the airplanes?
Ethan:  Yeah!
Me:  !!!???!!!
Ethan:  And we got Li-wana in China!
Me:  Yes, we did!
Ethan:  Remember, you gave her a sucker?  That was nice of you.

Pretty simple conversation but this is the first time that Ethan has acknowledged that he remembers that day, the day that we got Liana, other than the head injury part of the day.  Not that long ago, I was having a conversation about this with Erik and how I hoped that Ethan hurting his head didn't make him somehow connect Liana with this horrible experience.  Like, gaining a little sister = pain.  I know I'm probably overthinking it but he's young and it has worried me that on the day that we got Liana, he had such a horrible, painful experience and that seemed to be the only thing he remembered about that day.  So this little conversation made me very happy.  I'm so glad that he remembers the moment he became a big brother.  It was a big day and I hope he always remembers!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Adoption's not always pretty

I accidentally published this post for a few hours while I was still working on it the other day so if you read it then...oops, sorry!  :-)

I think that people want to hear that adoption is a "happily ever after" type of story but it's not.  It's hard.  Really hard.  Adopting a toddler from an orphanage isn't always pretty.  There are times that something clicks and you figure out why Liana acts the way she acts and a piece fits into the puzzle of Liana's past.  Sometimes I get angry as I figure out some things that must have gone on in the orphanage.  It's exciting to see your child have a wonderful growth spurt when you bring them home or suddenly start sprouting a ton of hair to fill in her sad little head of hair but it also makes it obvious what a lack of nutrition she had.  It's great to see her learn how to eat...or even just chew so quickly but it's sickening to know that at 2 years old, she hadn't already learned this.  We were told in our first information about Liana that she sucks a finger or fingers (it was unspecific) but we never saw her doing this, at first.  We noticed her sucking her lower lip for comfort at times and I wondered if the nannies forced her to stop sucking her finger.  I think that I must have been right because I noticed her testing out sucking her index finger one day while watching me from the corner of her eye a bit nervously.  I noticed and told her that it's okay to suck her finger and then I popped mine in my mouth to show her.  She giggled and I see her doing it more and more.  I know, this may horrify some moms who are against thumb or finger sucking but I just think how sad it is that this poor little girl wasn't even allowed to comfort herself in one of the few ways that she could while in the orphanage.  I was a little "Linus" as a child and sucked my thumb, while toting my blankie with me everywhere so I'm perfectly fine with Liana being a "Linus" too.  They were not allowed stuffed animals or special blankies and we were even told on her Gotcha Day that she was afraid of stuffed animals.  Well, that very day, she met her Lambie lovey that is her bestest buddy who she always sleeps with and likes to bring wherever we go.  I don't know why they said she was afraid of them.  She loves her stuffed animals and sleeps with a bunch.  I have also noticed that she covers her face with her Lambie or a blanket when she sleeps.  She sleeps well now but we've gone through a lot to get there and when I see her sleeping that way, I wonder what she might be afraid of. 

The honeymoon is fading fast with Liana.  She is still such a wonderful little girl but we knew that what we were seeing in her super obedient behavior was not normal and it's a positive thing to see her becoming a more typical toddler.  We noticed fear behind her obedience to us that we did not like.  She has always had a little sass to her but now she's showing more tantrums and just typical 2 year old defiance.  As a mom of another two year old, who is, shall we say "spirited", I felt like wow, this child is just so good!  I really wanted to believe that and I do think that is true, to an extent.  I think Liana is just a more laid back child who would prefer to listen and do what we ask.  But no child is perfect and she was just a little too perfect.  I see her getting more comfortable with us and trusting us more and with that, she is showing us what's really going on inside.  She throws tantrums, she juts her chin out at us and says, "uh-uh", she does sneaky things behind our backs that she knows she's not supposed to do, she takes things of Ethan's from him and then screams when he grabs them back.  This is a good thing...sort of.  It's so great to see that she's opening up to us but it's also hard.  I know...suck it up.  That's what I feel like people think sometimes.  I told a friend during one of my low points the other day that she is always throwing tantrums at us and just being terrible for Erik when it's his turn to put her to bed or change her clothes and she reacted like she was disappointed in me for being frustrated.  Like I'm not supposed to struggle.  I feel like people think I'm supposed to just feel happy and blessed all the time to have Liana home.  I am blessed but I can't say that I feel happy when she screams and acts like I'm abusing her simply because I grabbed her hand to lead her somewhere.  I don't enjoy the looks that other people give me who don't know and clearly wonder what our situation is when she's screaming like that.  Is that her child?  Yes, she's my child and I wouldn't necessarily receive those same judgmental looks from people if it was Ethan, who looks like me, throwing a fit like that.  I don't appreciate people expecting her to be an angel just because she looks like it.  Something that we know about Liana is that she learned how to manipulate in the orphanage.  She can be extremely charming and give you a bright smile while ignoring you when you've just told her no.  She can lower her head and look up at you with puppy dog eyes when you aren't happy with something she's doing and then that "sad" look can instantly disappear if she gets the reaction she was looking for.  She can be wailing like she'll never stop but stop on a dime if you threaten to put her in timeout.  It's hard.  Really, really hard.  The thing about parenting a two year old that you just adopted that can make it tougher than a biological child is, you don't know what's behind some of the things she does.  With Ethan, I know how to handle most situations with him because I know that boy inside and out.  He's dramatic and sensitive and he wants what he wants when he wants it.  But I know how to deal with him in those tough times.  I can't say the same with Liana.  I'm learning more every day but it's hard when you don't know where it's coming from.  She's changing all the time and is unpredictable at this point so I don't always know what will set her off or calm her down.  Most of the time, I can handle what she throws at me but there are some behaviors that are just...tough. 

Others may not see the sides to Liana that are hard to deal with because she's a charmer so they don't understand that it's not all rainbows and lollipops.  It's my fault too.  When people ask about her, I pretty much give the usual, "She's doing great/adjusting so well" response because she mostly is.  But it's also hard to explain why things can be so difficult and I usually just don't want to get into it.  I also just feel like some of it is nobody's business but ours and those things, I will keep to myself.  But recently, I have felt the need to open up about our some of our struggles so that others don't think that it's perfect all of the time.  We love this beautiful little girl so, so much and we are so happy that God chose us to be her forever family but I'm still learning and she is too.  She's learning what family means.  I'm so glad that she feels comfortable enough with us now to show us that she's struggling.  I just hope that we can figure out how to teach her that we're here for her always and  no matter what.  It will happen.  It's just a matter of time, right?

Look at this little stinker with her "sad" face!

Liana and her beloved, Lambie

Precious girl

Friday, January 18, 2013

Four months of forever

Liana has been our daughter for the last four months, as of yesterday!  She's been our daughter in our minds since last March but we met her four months ago.  Four short months and she has adjusted so well.  We even joined the gym that's like 2 minutes away from us and she loves to go to the child care there and play.  It's fantastic for me so I can get a break from the 2 year olds during the day...oh, and work out too. :-)  Erik and I are even getting our first date night away from the kids in (gasp!) 3 years because they have a Parents' Night Out.  That's an embarassing confession.  Anyways, Liana is still doing great.  We're still adjusting and I've been working on a very honest post about that which I will publish soon.  But for now, here are a couple of pics of our sweet, mischievous Shanghai cutie!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Liana's First Christmas

I know this is late but I just haven't had the time to finish this post.  But I want Liana to know about her first Christmas so here I go...we had a quiet (haha...like it's ever quiet here) Christmas at home with just the five of us.  Liana's first Christmas!  On Christmas eve, we went out for pizza, came home and opened one present, got our Christmas jammies on, watched a movie and then took the kids for a drive to look at Christmas lights, while eating popcorn.  Of course, we set out some milk and cookies before bedtime and threw carrots and reindeer food on the lawn.  For some reason, Liana really got a kick out of throwing carrots on the lawn.  She bounced up and down with a huge smile on her face!  It was really fun and I just kept thinking that it was such a much better Christmas eve than Liana has ever had.  That night, we were woken up all night by a thunderstorm.  It was the first rain that we've had in I don't know how long.  So bright and early, the kids woke up and we opened presents.  Later that morning, the temperature dropped and the rain turned into snow!  Liana got to play in the snow for the first time on her first Christmas!  After the kids' naps, we had a great time playing in the snow.  LiLi didn't know what to think about it but after throwing a couple of snowballs at her, she got the idea and had a good time.  Overall, we had just a relaxed and fun Christmas and, mostly, just hung out in our jammies the whole day.  We were so happy to be all together with all of our kids with us!  It felt amazing to give Liana her first real Christmas!

Tons of pics...sorry, they're huge because blogger's picture uploader isn't working so I had to copy and paste from FB.

The five of us at a tree lighting ceremony.  Not sure how the "big kids" ended up being the ones on laps...?

Liana's first Christmas tree

You have to love a crying Santa pic!  Ella and Ethan have never cried so I kind of loved it!

Haha...Liana's skirt is so big, it looks like she's sitting on a cloud!

Sweet Ella

Mischievous Ethan

The three amigos

Christmas Eve in Christmas jammies

The newest member of the family...Ella's kitty, Sugar Plum

Look at her face...perhaps, too much sugar?

Time to play in the snow!

Ella is always picture ready...and apparently, Liana too!

What is this stuff?!

Think he's up to something?  Yep.  His arm was cocked back to throw a snowball at me!

Our little snow angel

Sweet sisters

Best we could do of all three...oh well