Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One Month!

We held Ewan in our arms for the first time one month ago today. It's hard to believe, because it feels like just yesterday that we were preparing to go to China. In other ways, it feels like we've had him for years and I can't remember how my heart felt before he was such a big part of it!

Ewan is doing remarkably well. He is happy, funny, darling, and finds something amazingly fun in every single thing he does. He's just delightful! Mei Mei (our 5 year old) said to me yesterday, "I wish I was Ewan because he's so cute and is always having fun no matter what he's doing!" We have Signing Time DVD's, and we watch them in the car. This has helped our communication more than I can say! Hearing the word "ball" followed by pictures of balls and showing the sign for ball is a brilliant way for a child to learn a different language. And he's learning two at a time: English and ASL! Perfect! When he forgets the English word, he always remembers the sign! It's the best! I filmed this on my phone a few minute ago to show just how perfect he is :) I always forget to turn my phone sideways when I take a video on it. Oops! Sorry!
We've been having lots of fun this past week! Ever since my mom was a child, her family would take trips to Lake Powell. We've had this annual vacation since I was born, and the tradition is still alive today. It's SO fun, but SO tiring and overstimulating. We didn't think Ewan could handle it this year, plus Quin couldn't take any more time off work. The big kids got to go with my parents, and the three littles stayed home. We promised Mei Mei we'd have a week o' fun since she missed China as well as Lake Powell. Quin and I each got to take her out on our own personal dates, but this weekend we did a lot of family activities. The 24th of July is a holiday in Utah. It's celebrating the Mormon Pioneers making it to the Salt Lake Valley and the eventual founding of the state. We started the day off by going to the parade. Ewan, in true Ewan style, had a blast.

 



 Clapping for the floats.


 Waving hello. So fun!

 Once the marching bands started coming down the street, that was the end of it. He could sit in his seat no longer. He had to dance, and dance he did! It was the cutest, most heart warming thing. He'd been home from China exactly two weeks, and here he is dancing in the streets with a large family (as well as all the surrounding parade-watchers) as a captive audience cheering him on. He's just the best.


 (You can see the marching band in the background.)

 This little man had fun at the parade as well. He's doing quite well adjusting to another sibling. He's been happier and more smiley than ever lately. I just love this little snuggle bug! I have an important Milo blog post in the works...soon!
One of the craziest things Ewan did at the parade was walk up to a man, say hello, then grab his vuvuzela right out of his hand and immediately put it in his mouth. Oh, man. I know we should be embarrassed and this shows an obvious need for parental intervention. He needs to know personal and social boundaries, yada yada yada. Truthfully, though, I just laughed and laughed. Oh, and had Quin buy the guy a new, non-slobered-on vuvuzela.



He didn't know how to blow it correctly and instead voiced a sort of sick sounding horn noise of his own into the tube. It was loud, though, and quite obnoxious (while simultaneously hilarious). This went on for the entire last half of the parade.

While I thought it was cute and funny, these ladies most likely did not. He might look like an angel with this horn, but they had to have thought he was the devil. He stood so close to them and blew that thing in their ears relentlessly. We'd get him to back up for a minute, then he'd go right back to their ears. They were good sports about it, luckily!
Milo played with a shoe for most of the parade. Our parenting skills were on fire this day, clearly.


We came home from the parade and had a mandatory family nap. When we woke up, we headed to the canyon for some campfire fun with Quin's family. Ewan helped roast his first marshmallow and enjoyed the fruits of his labor with his first s'more. He liked it for a few bites, then was disgusted at the sticky mess he'd become and quickly ditched the idea of the gooey goodness.
 There was also this perfect little hiking ledge. He was scared of walking up on the rocks at first, but with his Baba's help went up a few steps. He was SO proud of himself. This pictures makes me chuckle. You'd have thought he'd conquered Mount Everest with the amount of chest beating and praise he required. Ha! I love this kid!
 In the mean time, Grandpa and Milo were having a tickle/laugh fest. Too cute!

 



We had such a wonderful holiday! The next day we headed to a local "fun center". They have little rides and games as well as miniature golf and laser tag. Ewan and Mei Mei had lots of fun on the playground and even rode a few rides. Family time is the best, even if we are missing a few kids!

Mei Mei was invited to a play with her best friend the other day. She was getting fancy and even put some lip gloss and body spray on. Not to be left out, Ewan joined right in the fun. I love these two, sparkly lips and all!
Ewan has slept on his own in his room for the past four or five nights. He's done pretty well, and it's been SO nice to be able to sleep in my own bed with my own husband!! We have a video monitor so we can run down if he needs us. He's only woken up once in the night, luckily!

This first month has been a month of adjustments, learning, and growth for all of us. Ewan still has a lot to learn about what family means. He thinks every man who isn't a grandpa or child is Baba (dad) and every gray haired person is Yeah Yeah (grandpa). An older male child is always Geh Geh (older brother), etc. I don't know that he understands that his family consists of the seven of us, or that he only has two sets of grandparents. This seems to be a new concept, and I think time is the only way to resolve it. He's pretty attached to us, but I also don't know that he understands the permanence of us. He's also learning at lighting speed, however, and seems to be adjusting well. We've come up with a sort of modified system of cocooning (cocooning or nesting is an adoption term referring to making your world small and staying close to home while your child is still learning who mom and dad are. The whole point of it is to bond with your child and have your child bond with you. The most important part is that Mom and Dad fulfill all the child's needs.) We are venturing out more and more, but Mom and Dad are the only ones to take care of Ewan. We feed him his meals, help him get dressed, etc. It's working for now, but obviously we'll tweak it as necessary.

When I think back to the boy we met on that June 29th afternoon, I can scarcely believe this is the same boy sitting beside me today. There are a lot of things about adoption that are difficult and exhausting, but there are even more things that are rewarding, wonderful, and beautiful. I am so, so glad we said "yes".

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hooray for the USA!

We got our airport pictures back from the photographer, and they bring back a flood of emotions! These candid pictures are definitely not always the most flattering, but they tell a story like no posed picture ever could.






















































































































For a 7 year old who's never really had a family, all of this can be a bit overwhelming. We had to pull out the ol' iPad for a few minutes, but he got used to the attention quickly. Being greeted by so many friends and family was just the best. Plus, balloons! Truly, there's no place like home! Thank you to all who made it to the airport! You made us all feel so loved!!

We came home to a wonderful dinner with the family. Ewan had an absolute blast playing on the play set with all the cousins. He was laughing and having a great time! I was embarrassed at the weeds growing taller than the fence and the dead grass, but I guess that's what happens when you're out of town for over three weeks! Don't worry, I spent five hours weeding just a few days after we got home, and the yard's looking much more presentable now!














 



Coming home is always a whirlwind, as I expressed in my last post. Luckily my body finally adjusted to the time change, and I'm able to sleep through the night. This makes the biggest difference for me! I feel mostly normal again! I am still on the floor in Ewan's room. He was waking at ridiculous hours, so we got a blackout shade and put cardboard over the window well (our neighbors love us), and he's now sleeping in a little!
Here's a picture of a very happy boy at 5:30 am. His mama wasn't so happy.
 
Cute Ewan and Mei Mei in their matching Hong Kong Disney shirts. They are so fun together and have a great time playing...until they don't. Ewan is still learning to share, and Mei Mei is still adjusting to having a big/little brother with strong opinions, much like herself. 
 Here we are in one of our rare outings. We went to get a blackout shade. It was the first time we'd really gone to a store, and I honestly felt like I was hauling around a preschool. Look at all those kids! Can they seriously all be mine??
 We got to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house the other day to meet Great Grandpa Jack. Here Grandpa Craig is reading to Ewan.
 I knew Ewan would take to Grandpa Jack immediately, because he has grey hair! Anyone who has grey hair is Yeah Yeah (Grandpa). He spend the whole afternoon playing with Yeah Yeah. Too cute!

While I was weeding the other day, Ewan played outside for five hours straight. He is way too fun. He jumped and whooped and thoroughly enjoyed every single activity he did. He poured water in the water table from one container to another for a good hour before he decided it would make a fantastic swimming pool.

 Baba and Ewan playing...dressups?
I know I was extremely worried about how Ewan would adjust and how I would adjust to him, but I have to say it's been way easier than I anticipated! He has thrown himself into life without any reservations. He is so brave and trusting! He honestly and truly has fun no matter what he's doing. His fits have decreased, and he's learning how to be a family member. He has hit Mei Mei and Di Di a few times, but he's quick to say sorry and correct himself. He loves to play and be silly. He loves an adventure. We've kept our world fairly small. We tried to go to church the first Sunday back, and that was a mistake. He did fine until everyone started saying hello to him, and it was just too much. So we went home and had a nap instead, and stayed home this week as well. He already knows his grandparents and is so in love with all of his family! He loves to play ball and he loves fish. He's terrified of our family dog, but he's getting more and more used to her. He tries to be brave, and he even pet her today and fed her a treat! Big progress! The last few days he wakes up around 6:30 and climbs onto the air mattress with me and sleeps until about 8:30. I have never been a big co-sleeper, but I really enjoy those few hours of snuggles! He can't see in the dark, so he feels around my face and kisses my nose. 

I was worried I wouldn't bond well with Ewan, as is often the case with older kiddos. It's easy to see how it would be hard to feel like a 7 year old kid is your own who hasn't been with you for more than a few weeks. I knew this going in, and never worried or forced myself to feel anything. The thing is, though, I DO love him and feel like he's my own! I don't know how or when it happened, because there were definitely those days initially, but we've had him in our arms less than a month and I don't know what we ever did without him! He's my own through and through. I love him to absolute pieces. I love his smile. I love when he cries when he gets the slightest owie because he wants the love and attention. I love how he talks. I love how he sings to "Signing Time" (oh man, I have to record that! It's a hoot!!). I love how he rubs his nose on mine and kisses my face. I love how he says "Wo Ai Ni, Mama!" I love his enthusiasm for life. I love how he loves me to rock him. I love how much he loves his siblings. I love how brilliant he is. I love how we can communicate using very few words. I love how once he finally holds still, he falls asleep almost immediately. I love his smile. I love his spirit.

To think we might never have had each other makes me weepy. He was in a "good" orphanage, but he has scars that prove it wasn't always happy, and he didn't get to experience much of life. He was loved, but not loved like a child is loved by a parent. To watch him grow and change before our eyes is nothing short of a miracle. He is an absolute gem, and I'm so, so thankful we said yes!!! 

In a nutshell, we're still adjusting, but we're doing well. Quin went back to work Monday, and we're all still alive. There's still work to be done in finding our new normal, but we're on our way!!