Friday, May 20, 2016

Three months

He now has too many English words to count. He asks less frequently for noodles and more often for "bro-co-li." His shins are bruised, and his arms are sun-gold. He knows all his letter sounds and can spell more than a dozen words (thanks to Elizabeth). He finished a 2K race. He tattles and is tattled on. Playing matchbox cars, building block cities or working through math problems...he is able to stay focused for longer stretches. He grumbles at schoolwork and shrieks with joy when daddy gets home. He sings everywhere and pets the dog. Over and over again he draws pictures of us in a house with hearts and writes, "Milo loves Mom and Dad" and presents his artwork with a countdown to the grand reveal and a hug.

This is what three months home looks like here. It is hard and sweet and exhausting and mostly just...amazing.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

One week

One full week home, and we are marveling at how Milo is taking every new adventure in stride. Aside from Monte's Labrador (who terrifies him), each new thing seems to bring him joy. Checking the henhouse for eggs (15+ times a day) is his hands-down favorite activity, but Lego-building, investigating the cats, working puzzles, helping Daddy plant trees, overseeing car repairs, playing with Moses, and eating, eating, eating...his days are full. We are watching him reach out for hugs, gain confidence in motor skills, connect with his siblings and learn new English words daily. I should have photos of these myriad firsts. But, honestly, my camera has not been in my hands. Jet lag has been a bear, and when I am not trying to catch up on sleep -- or life, I am trying to be fully present with my children. Eventually I will capture more moments on film, but until then, my heart is full.

Yes, there are transitions for everyone, and this busy little man is still a butterfly, moving from one thing to the next. But, we see him settling a bit longer at each activity, and he continues to be patient with us as we work our way through the labyrinth of language. Siblings are learning some Mandarin...and some patience with the changes in the shape of our days. And we are learning that God is faithful in all things. An emergency dental appointment for Milo was scary for all of us this week. But, we walked away with better-than-expected news about his smile -- and without a charge for his care.

Next week holds multiple appointments with specialists in Seattle. And the following week, we will try to figure out a new school routine. We are so thankful for a wonderful Mandarin-speaking friend who is also a teacher. She has already connected with Milo and is helping us understand where to begin with some elements of his education. As we count our blessings, she is among them. And I will attempt to continue to share God's gifts here, because this story isn't just ours. It is also yours. So many of you have sacrificed cheerfully, prayed faithfully and encouraged us continually throughout this journey. We are humbled and blessed.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coming home

We woke this morning to continuing damp and gray. Our last breakfast here was beautiful though, and we tried some new treats -- fresh spring rolls, French toast with rose-maple syrup, and pumpkin congee. I am not entirely certain how I feel about returning to peanut butter on toast for breakfast. Milo eats a lot -- and often -- but it is noodles, eggs, and fruit that seem to be favorites. I certainly have some things to learn in the kitchen to incorporate his "normal" into our "normal" at mealtimes. Suggestions from adoptive mamas would be much appreciated.

Much of the rest of the morning was busy with sorting and packing for the journey home. We leave for the airport at 4:30 a.m., with our first flight leaving for Shanghai before 8 a.m. Our first leg is 2.5 hours, and after another several hours of waiting, we start our final flight home -- a twelve hour stretch.

And so today, we moved, stretched, walked...around LiuHua Park. Alex particularly enjoyed the badminton games and Ping-Pong rallies going on at the edge of the park, and I think he might be envisioning a stone Ping-Pong table in our front yard. We also found among the palms and flowers a fantastic calisthenics/activity center. Silver heads bobbed above rowing machines and chin-up bars. Canes were leaned against balance machines, and although a couple of children (and one bare-chested teenager) moved among the equipment, this was definitely a playground for the aged. And it was such fun to be present. Our little family turned a lot of heads, and although we didn't speak the same language with anyone there, we had some tear-stained conversations with some very dear folks, one white-haired woman holding my hands tightly against her cheek.

Monte wrote in his journal, "Being here has changed my life in many ways...having the opportunity to witness the making of a family... The trails have been hard, but the time spent together and the beauty of China has been worth it. Milo is worth it."

Tomorrow, Milo is coming home.