Two China Dolls and a Prince!

This blog chronicles the story of 2 of our adoptions, both older children when they came home. It begins in 2008 and will continue in the hopes we can be of encouragement and information to anyone thinking of older child adoption.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Picture-Populated Post!

I was thinking of the secretary in the movie Mr.  Popper's Penguins , the one who starts almost all her words with the letter "P".  We are counting down to the Christmas program on the 20th.  For those who haven't read my earlier posts, NingNing's got a Xmas concert coming up.  He doesn't/didn't want to do it when he found it and got very mad/afraid/upset.  He "disappeared" inside himself for a few days, but has made a comeback :).  I had to bring it up again Friday to let him know we had to buy dress clothes for him, whether he chooses to sit with us in the audience or participate.  In any case, he will look good doing it, as we got shoes, pants, and a shirt (the nice shirt was his request, so maybe, just maybe there is hope ;).
The last few days he has been making a huge effort to communicate more with us, trying to actually tell us something or join in conversation with some carefully placed phrases, timed in such a way as to crack everybody up.  He has said "I don't like it",
"I don't know" (with a shrug and wide-eyed innocent look), "crazy" (referring to Dad and little sisters), "Mom", and "Ewwwww" (in reference to seeing his brother kiss his girlfriend, lol!).  We caught him out twice today also much to his amusement.  We were talking about something in Taco Bell, and he had the "I don't understand" look on his face....I said  "he knows what we're saying"....and he chuckled and nodded.  Then tonight, Jr says "Do you understand English?" to which NingNing says "No!" (see it yet?).  Jr says "If you don't understand English, how did you know to say NO?!"......NingNing grinning, dropping and shaking his head...he walked right into that one!  Too funny.......but we know he can understand A LOT now, so if we need to talk about something to do with him, we have to leave the room so he can't hear us!
Two of my special girls

My littlest special girl (who is an electronic whiz)

Teenage boys....need I say more?

NingNing loves our cat, Tux.  Here, he is trying to get Tux out from under the table!

Opening his first Christmas present (while keeping tabs on his computer game).  My aunt sends Christmas ornaments every year and the kids always love them.  NingNing was no exception.  When he opened his to find a jumbo jet, he got the point right away and laughed and laughed.  She wrote him a beautiful note, welcoming him to the family, which I read to him. 

Here it is...look right in front of his's a jumbo jet, symbolic of his journey across the ocean!

At one of James' basketball games

Same game...what a cutie (wouldn't he be embarrassed to read this?!)

Teaching the cat, Tux, and NingNing to play Phase 10

Jazmin's sweet little beagle, Brownie

Monday, December 10, 2012

4 months since Gotcha

4 months has passed.  Such a short amount of time, but when I think about it, it hardly seems we were ever in China, except that now we have our second son.

So where are we after 4 months?  Let's see.......
English........not happening as we'd hoped.  Ok, so I had SOME expectations that there'd be at least a measure of rudimentary communication by now.  I didn't take into account one's refusal to use English.  Now whether that is a reluctance to a)either draw attention to himself or b) a simple lack of desire to communicate with us (meaning attachment issues?), I don't know.  Teen adoption is a constant guessing game, because they've learned to hide and hold in their feelings.  I wish I could say NingNing trusted us, but the truth is I really don't know for sure.  Is he attaching/bonding?  I can't say yes and I can't say no.  How do you tell in a child who won't share any feelings?  Who tries to be so complacent (though that is changing a bit) so to be as unobtrusive as possible? WAS going ok, until NingNing found out they wanted him to do the Christmas program with the other 8th graders.  The very idea sent him into a tailspin, so the school requested at the very least that he be present, but that he could sit in the audience with us.  We brought an interpreter in to try to understand his fear about the program.  We didn't find out a lot, just that the idea of having to perform in front of so many strangers has him completely stressed out.  He's just not ready for something like that.  After "disappearing" into himself all weekend, we saw some smiles tonight when we went to a friend's party. It's great to see when he relaxes and allows himself to have fun and let his guard down.  Most likely, we will go long enough for him to watch his classmates from the audience (unless he surprises us and agress to stand with his class), and then scooch out of there.

Siblings.....ok there, except that I think that James still intimidates NingNing somewhat.  Sometimes Ning is ready to take him on and wrestle and other nights, not.  Like most teens, Ning runs hot and cold.  What I mean is, one time he'll be smiling and having a good time, the next it's like "whoa, what happened?"  His and James' relationship will have to evolve in it's own way.
   Jaz used to be more standoffish with Ning and he with her, but not so much anymore....they are becoming closer with time.
   Judi continues to be his favorite......don't know if it's her spunk or size that draws him in, but they act the most like a "true" brother and sister (complete w bickering/squabbling).  N does think Judi talks too much, and sometimes, we agree!

Christmas.....he's not too interested at this point.  Have no idea what the holidays were like to him in China, if he had any at all.  I'm just about positive he had no Christmas there, so we wanted this first one to be special.  But as he seems more stressed out, we are keeping things pretty lowkey and relaxed. We have explained the idea of Santa Claus and that we keep the idea alive for our girls, and what Christmas day is about.  We also explained presents, but when asked what he might like as a gift, he says "I don't know"....a very refreshing comment from a teen!

Since we are pretty much out of the honeymoon phase for sure, we're learning to roll with the changes and taking things one day at a time.  Ning's pushing a few more boundaries to see what we'll do; what he can get away with.  More of his emotions are coming to the surface; we hope that means he's feeling safe and secure enough to express even those small amounts.  We know he is a pretty sensitive kid and there are deep emotions running through that quiet exterior, but he's very skilled at presenting an unruffled appearance.  He doesn't like to be blindsided; likes to know what's coming up...seems to work better if he knows what's coming and has time to process it in his mind.

It's like a ballroom dance, with no one real sure of the steps.  Sometimes we step on each other's toes, but the important thing is to keep dancing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'........

keep those wagons rollin'...Raawhiiiide!  I think this should be our motto for life......just keep those wagons rolling, up hills and down, through the valleys, fording small streams (the little problems of life) or the deep rivers (bigger issues), to come out on the other side ready to continue the journey.

Basketball games have begun, so our evenings are full fitting in dance, games, Christmas events, etc.  James is starting varsity this year as a sophomore and Jr and I love to watch him play; it's always great to watch your kids do well at something they enjoy.  We hope to convince NingNing to play baseball, basketball, or even both, if only to get him out doing something and off the computer.  I think I've lined up a piano teacher, so that will add to the mix in January.
Judi's doing great in her basketball and has finally grown enough to make baskets with no trouble.  Amazing what a year and a couple of inches make!  Jazmin is also doing basketball this year and has started practices with games in January. 
Jessica's been accepted to State Fair Community College and will use the A+ program to start her college career there; in her words, she is "looking forward to getting out of the house"!    And Jaz has decided she will "move" into Jessica's room when she is not there, lol!

Still can't figure out what really happened during Thanksgiving to NingNing, but he's back to "normal", so to speak.  As December gets into full swing, he's not really taking an interest in Christmas so far.  We went to get our tree this last Sunday (we go to a tree farm) and got it set up in the living room, but all he really seems to want to do is play on the computer lately.  At least we got another family picture that I will post on the blog once I get it uploaded.
Sunday night there was a Christmas event in our small town I wanted to do with the family.  Ok, so there wasn't anything for the boys to do, and yes, they were bored, but's family time, right? 
James is more vocal of course and made his opinion clear, while NingNing demonstrated his feelings by playing in the syrup from his pancakes and having the most hangdog, dreary expression on his face.  This is his version of "pouting".  He doesn't act up, doesn't have tantrums, doesn't get angry, just "suffers" through whatever it is until he can return to his beloved internet.  Finally, I got sick of looking at their glum faces and just told Jr to take them home.  I try to keep in mind that NingNing is not used to doing things WITH family and AS a family (a foreign concept to him), but as time goes on, we do and will expect more of him in this respect.

The next afternoon, I sat him down and had a "discussion" with him (I had the same talk with James).  I asked him if he knew why I was unhappy the previous night when I got home and he knew (James had warned him that they were in "trouble", lol!).  I told him exactly how I felt, that my boys tended to lend more importance to their computer and video games than family/family time.  I made it clear that family time is very important to me and I want to spend time with my sons because I love them. And while I understand that they are boys and love their electronics (he agreed with me that we allow him plenty of computer time), family comes first and families spend time together.  I also told NingNing that I love the Christmas season and want to make his first one special. 
Basically ended up by saying, if I get my much-needed family time...with NO pouting or fussing....then boys get their computer time; everyone's happy!  Remember, the old saying "If Mama ain't happy, NO ONE is happy!"  James, ever the quick wit, amended that to say "but the reason Mama isn't happy, is because the kids aren't happy, and their griping is what makes Mama unhappy in the first place!"  Found out later that Jr had a scaled-down version of the same talk with the boys before I got home with the girls that night, so they were "primed" for my talk,lol!

One thing that was sweet though, no matter what caused it...that night, after I came home, I was sitting at the kitchen table just thinking with my head on my arms.  NingNing passed by me, reached out, and rubbed my back as he went by, finishing up with a little pat; the first truly spontaneous (unasked for, unsolicited) gesture of affection and empathy.  And as a mom to teens, who dispense hugs, kisses, and affection as rarely as my chances of winning the lottery, I soaked it up.