Saturday, January 24, 2009

Looking straight ahead and trying not to swerve

As you may have already guessed, I was hiding at home near the fire in the fireplace when the sledding took place. Mike took the kids out to our local "sledding hill". They came home exhausted and pink! The girls were boasting of their numerous escapes from death as they crashed and tumbled during their brave escapades. I love to hear about it and imagine it all while staying toasty and warm! Apparently Amy had quite a bit of snow in Zheng Zhou too and was probably the most adept with the sleds. She has told us of how all the students (48 per class) would get together to throw snowballs at the 4 teachers. Hmmmm, now do you understand my hesitance at venturing out?

We were blessed to be able to spend our first Christmas with Amy. There were times when we wondered if we would get her home in time for the holidays. We are so grateful to have her with us after all of the waiting we have done. She is truly delightful. She took the gift opening with a grain of salt and was, of course, more excited about the Barbie stuff than the camera or other gifts. She is far more impressed with having a family than she is with all the things we can buy her (not that that is all that much). She not only loves us but also the extended family. She often says "we have a big family, yes?". I suppose compared to the one child households in China this does sound pretty big. But still, I like to think that there is room for at least one more?

Our days since Christmas have been filled with homeschooling. Amy is reading amazingly well, though the comprehension part will take more time. She has almost finished a year of math in the two months that she has been home. She does not realize that I am giving her a week of math each day. As the math gets harder we will slow down but for now it is working out. We got a break the other day when Mike was in the neighborhood and stopped by. The neighborhood kids all came running out to climb on the fire truck. Amy is still crazy about "Baba" and was happier to see him than the fire truck.... I was too!

My other children are carrying on as normal. Megan went to camp with the youth group and came home with her first black eye. From what I understand, everyone was quite jealous. Now, what is that about?!!! While playing broom ball she was "high sticked" by accident. She is quite proud of her war wound and the attention that she is getting from it. Anyone who knows Megan will understand! What a ham.

I love this picture. Cass and Amy both just got glasses and are thrilled to be able to see. I think they both look lovely and studious. Nikki and Megan are very lovely too, they just don't appear to be as studious (they are not going to like that comment!). I suspect that they want glasses too. Little do they know that though they are a blessing glasses are a bit of a pain. (Did I just say that?) Amy said, after she got her glasses, "Everything looks so clean!!!". She was very surprised and excited. We are so fortunate here to have the ease of glasses. Just one more thing for me to be grateful for.

Cass just had her 17th birthday. I could literally weep. Where have the years gone? Soon they will be gone and with families of their own. I appreciate the sweetness and thoughtfulness that my children show every day. How did they all turn out so wonderfully? How did they all turn out so unspoiled and kind? Don't buy into the myth that teenagers are out of control and horrible - I have found the opposite to be true. I am enjoying my girls more now than ever. I wish I could take the credit for the way they have turned out but I know better. I am thanking God for his grace.

Cassie had her birthday party at Adventures Gymnatics. It is a place full of blow up slides, trampolines, rope swings and other fun kiddy stuff. Typically this place is rented to 7 year olds, but Cassie has her own ideas of how to live life! Her and all of her friends seemed to have a great time. The only downfall was that her friend Amber wasn't able to make it. We will somehow have to figure out how to make this up to her.

Ta ta for now.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We're Home

Ok, so I have been a bit remiss in blogging. I have probably lost most of you but now I have so much to tell you!!! After being home only 6 days we celebrated Thanksgiving at home. We had been wondering how this would work out long before we ever met Amy. Would she be totally overwhelmed by everyone? Would she be shy? Would she feel out of place? Knowing that it was going to potentially be a difficult day for her we decided to have the family over to our house so that she could go hide in her room with a sister if necessary. However, we under estimated our new daughter. She is a tough cookie. She did not mingle very much and though her sisters tried to involve her she wanted to stay near Baba (Daddy). All in all I was very proud of her. She has learned to greet people with "I am pleased to meet you". Oh, if only you could hear her voice and accent when she says it. Truly, it is soooo cute. She liked the turkey and stuffing!!! She also liked the chocolate pie that Auntie Kim made as we all did.

In Amy's picture dictionary she showed us that she likes bowling so the day after Thanksgiving the kids and I and Cass's friend took her bowling. I wasn't sure that she would actually be pleased at the idea so we didn't tell her where we were going until we got there. We figured once she was there she would just have to have fun. As soon as Cass told her what we were doing she became very excited. She was a little confused as to why she had to put on their shoes, she looked at us funny and shrugged her shoulders and put them on. Then she preceded to boss Josh about getting his shoes on (you've got to love it!) I have no idea if she had ever bowled before or not but she definitely liked it and she did pretty well. Of course she had to have a pink ball even though it wasn't the lightest. Isn't fashion always more important? I suspect that we will be doing more of this. Next time we will drag Daddy along and see how he does!

As most of you know we at the Flatt household homeschool at least until high school. We are working on figuring out where Amy needs to be placed in each subject. We had been warned that some of the orphanages do no school so that is what we had prepared ourselves for. Thankfully Amy was in the public school that was just down the street. She is a great reader. Her reading level goes beyond her comprehension level so we will have to move slowly there. However, we bought the Rosetta Stone English and she is loving it. We will be doing an hour in the morning and an hour at the end of the school day. This program is amazing. You begin by recording your voice and then it teaches and corrects how you pronounce each word. Depending on what level you set it at you can't move ahead until you get it just right. Amy tells us that she loves english. Yeah!!! My goodness, that sure makes life easier. Monday I will order her math now that I have figured out where we want to start. Things are coming together. Obviously history and science will be put on the back burner until the comprehension is better.

Operation Christmas Child!!! What an amazing organization. We were able to go and tour with a few of our other homeschool friends. I don't think that Amy had a clue as to much of what was going on but they had games and crafty things that she was able to enjoy. We travelled from station to station to learn about the process and reason behind Operation Christmas Child. At the last station there was a girl from Texas with a heavy accent (y'alls included!). She shared her amazing story with us. She was now 20 and living in Texas but at age 8 she was put into an orphanage in Russia. At age 10 she was adopted by an American family. She had been a recipient of Operation Christmas Child and she told about how it had made her feel. At the end she asked if anyone had questions and let me tell you there were a ton of them. Josh raised his hand and when she called on him he pointed to Amy and said "see that girl over there? We traveled half way across the world to bring that orphan home!". Whoa - I was horrified!! Sure I can laugh now but only because Amy didn't know what was going on. Kids do say the darnedest things. I am praying though that next time it will be someone elses child.
Today we spent the afternoon cleaning our rental house. Talk about gross. I painted, I am not sure what Mike did but I am sure it was more than the rest of us, Cass cleaned bathrooms, Megan painted Kilz over the purple paint and Nikki and Amy scrubbed a hairy, greasy, saucy refrigerator and stove - welcome to the family Amy!!! She didn't complain at all, she is actually a very hard worker. She loves to help. It makes you wonder what life was like for her before. My sweet Cassie (who will be 17 next month) said to me, "Mom, I hope that someday I have a family just like this". I am so proud and grateful for her. I am still waiting for her teenage rebellion to set in!!! When is it supposed to happen?
Now here is the best part of all. First, I want to say that we have been praying fervently for Amy from the day that our hearts were matched with her. God has been faithful to answer those prayers in such a mighty way. I had just been thanking God and thinking that there was only one prayer that I was waiting to see if he would answer but this prayer was more time sensitive. We had been praying that God would be preparing Amy's heart for Him. Thursday she was writing a letter to her old room-mate who arrived in PA on Oct 31 and in the middle of this letter was what looked like a yellow cross. Could it really be? We had only been to church twice and the first time was a disaster as she wasn't feeling well and got sick. Ok, so I say to Amy, "Amy that is very beautiful" and she says in her singsong voice "Is for Jesus!". Whoa. You could have knocked me over with a feather. How could this have happened? Our communication is not that great. I know that I had been praying while in church that even though she couldn't understand the words that God would move in her. Then yesterday she was out playing in the snow with Josh. She came in the house mad. (I had never seen her mad before) I asked her what happened and she said that she was building a heart for Jesus and Josh broke it. Hmmmm. Tonight we watched The Jesus Film in Mandarin. She was very quiet during the movie. After the movie was over she looked at us, smiled and said "I have Jesus! I have Jesus in my heart". God is so faithful and so good. I am overwhelmed by his goodness to me. Amy has been home 15 days now. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would happen like this. This is the same girl that was bowing to Buddha 3 weeks ago. I am praising Jesus for being so present, so merciful and so loving.
More later

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Finally Home!!!

Ok, so we are home now but we couldn't resist putting this picture up. It is gruesome yet we couldn't help but be fascinated by it. It is the skeleton of a monkey. You can see the fur still on his paws and next to him is a tigers paw. It is orange with black stripes, just like the books I read when I was a child. Why would someone buy these things? Are they good luck charms to the lost? And how do they get them? I probably don't want to know the answer to that. Unfortunately this was not the only street vendor (if you can call a blanket on the side of the road a vendor) they were scattered throughout the market.

This is a picture of Amy's first steps on American soil. Home sweet home. Oh, how I love America!!! Amy became an American citizen with these steps. Isn't that amazing? I am not sure that she really understood what it meant but she will someday. I wonder if someday she won't want to return to China. Hopefully by then she will be prepared for the kindness and hopelessness of so many of the Chinese people. It was such a contrast as I had never imagined. Truly they were some of the nicest people I have ever met yet they are caught in a system that it is near impossible to break out of, one which doesn't allow people opportunity. Truly, we fell in love with so much of China. It really made me appreciate being an American. God Bless America!!

When we finally arrived home after a very slow start from DIA we were met with banners and streamers decorating our house to welcome Amy. What a surprise! She seemed to recognize her name and got a big smile. We have been so blessed by our friends here in Greeley. Some of our neighbors came running over in the dark to meet her (literally running!). Amy who had been a bit shy with strangers up to this point offered them all hugs! And not only had they decorated the outside but also the inside and lavished us with some of the most delicious treats!!! (And after I had vowed to start eating healthy!). Mimi and Papa were here waiting too. She totally knew who they were - Grandmahther and Grandfahther. She was smiling and hugging them too! They also gave her a photo album that had a picture of her on the cover and she said "thats me". What a blessing she is. This is so not what we had prepared for. Praise God!
There was even a gift for her from one of our sweet neighbor girls. Oh, was Amy excited by the gift - "for Bahbie!!!" They were Barbie clothes. Gosh, after that she wasn't even really interested in our house!!! She needed to get Bahbie out and change her clothes. I kid you not, this girl loves Barbie. She named her new Barbie "little Amy". Very cute.
Tonight she got to meet her Aunt Kim and Uncle Chris. She really lights up at meeting family. I am thinking that she has really missed that in her life. Okay, so they brought Amy a gift. Guess what it was? Singing Barbie!!! And guess what she is named? You probably guessed it, Little Amy! However this is a bit confusing so read carefully - They are both named Little Amy except when she is playing with both of them. When both are in use the first bahbie is Little Amy and the second bahbie is Little Cassie!!!! She also has designated one of the older Barbies, that we dug out, as Little Nikki. Poor Meg. She is not home tonight so she has lost out. Perhaps her next bahbie can be Little Meg. Or perhaps Megan should stop going out with friends so that she won't miss out on these great opportunities!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Hmmm. What can I say about yesterday? Truthfully we mostly just wandered all day. Between 10:30am and 11:30am Mike stayed in the room so he could wait to hear if our paperwork was in order. It was. We do no buying of anything without Mike. He is our bargainer. This is good because the rest of us can run away and pretend that we don't know him while he is doing it! Actually they all recognize "big family" and "Joshu". So we now painfully creep away while Mike talks down the price. We have been told by the Chinese that they expect this - we are NOT trying to take advantage of them! Really. This (in the picture above) is the most normal instrument Megan bought. She also bought this other interesting chinese flute, a set of hanging bells and a chinese violin (which is totally cool). Cass has spent a large portion of her money on quirky bags. They are very "Cass". Nikki, who knows?... she is totally random and full of surprises. Amy isn't as into shopping unless it is for Barbie stuff. I am sure that the girls will be changing that attitude!

This waterfall picture is taken in the lobby of our hotel. It is beautiful. There is much more to it than just this but this is all you get to see!!

This picture is NOT a set up. Amy loves this book. Points out things and says "I like this" or "I don't like this". It really is very helpful. It gives us a better glimpse of her personality. Amy likes swimming (as long as it is daddy), basketball, watermelon, the color pink, sunsets and sunrise, skiing and the snow, she likes soccer and she really likes the beach.... She does not like vanilla, snakes, braids, karate, football, smoking, alcohol or milk (many Chinese have a milk intolerance)... They told us that she does not like taking a bath and we have heard that from others too but she has been ok with it so far here. However, if I had to shower or bathe in the bathroom I saw in the orphanage I wouldn't have liked it either. I wonder if they even had hot water.
Tomorrow morning we have to be downstairs ready to go at 5:00am. After travelling for about 20 hours we should arrive at DIA at about 3:45pm Friday afternoon.
I will try to blog one more time before leaving. Today we will take another walk through the medicine market and pet market - I'll try to get pictures.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today was an amazing day!!! We went back throught the medicine market and once again saw huge bags full of dead seahorses. We saw chopped off tiger paws (eew) and a monkey skeleton for sale that still had bits of fur stuck to it. We saw big bowls full of live scorpians. What do they do with them, eat them? Eel, centipedes.... you name it. If it is gross we probably saw it and it was fascinating! Unfortunately my battery died before I got many pictures. The picture above is of octopus on a stick - a specialty I guess. The picture does not do it justice, you have to actually see the people heartily chewing on these moist delicious snacks on a stick as the legs dangle and quiver around. Whoa, it is something. We are going back to see more tomorrow. I will make sure that my camera is charged. Fortunately the people enjoy having their pictures taken. Wish you could be here.

Too cute!!!!!!

Red couch day. This is a picture of our portion of the group that went to Zhengzhou. All the kids here are special needs. The rest of our group had their picture taken separately. This was organized chaos and a lot of fun. You can imagine what it was like to try to get that many babies to cooperate after having each family's picture taken separately just beforehand. This is a fabulous group. We have fallen in love with every baby and every family. Can't wait to come home but also am going to hate to say goodbye. Amy was called on numerous times to help to calm the upset babies. She loves them all so much that this was a treat for her.

We finished off the day with a river boat ride along the Pearl River. It was absolutely beautiful. Amy gets motion sickness and so had to take a Dramamine before we went. She did manage to stay awake through the ride though, Yeah!!! The ride was not only beautiful but a lot of fun. We (the girls and I) made a game of trying to get the passing cruise ship people to wave at us. Most didn't wave back. I suspect that they thought that we were crazy Americans. Yes, even Nikki did this with us!!! (Kel, that is in case you were wondering!)
I have mentioned how crazy the driving in China is. It actually is MUCH calmer here in Guangzhou. However, last night our bus was involved in an accident. Nobody was surprised. The biggest surprise is that it hasn't happened sooner. We smashed a new BMW between us (the bus) and a barrier. The crazy car driver was trying to slip through ahead of us, which is pretty normal here. What in the world was he thinking?! Anyways, we ended up being stuck on the bus for quite a long time while we waited for a police report. Fortunately no babies cried and no one needed to "use the toilet". I say it like that because instead of signs pointing you towards a restroom they all just say "toilet".
Right now Amy (also known as MoMo) is sitting on the bed listening to her MP3 player. She sounds as if she is moaning (really) but I suspect it is singing! Hmmm, now this I think she gets from my side of the family!
More later guys. Oh, I was thinking that for any of you that looked at that site with the children I want you to know that kindergarten starts at age 2 so the grade level numbers don't match up with ours.
Blessings to you all!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day at the clinic

Today we spent much of our day at the clinic while all 8 of the families in our group had their children examined and paper work done so that we could bring our children home. Amy was a real trooper. She had more "stations" to go through because she is over 11. First she had a medical where they checked her heart. They told us that she has a heart murmur, which of course we already knew being that that is her "special need". Though they didn't say anything to us we could tell that she didn't do very well on the eye check up either. But this we also suspected since she reads with her books about 4 inches from her face. I hope that she likes glasses!! I told her that glasses are cool in America but I think that she thought I was talking about sunglasses. The question is, do we take her for an eye exam in the near future? I almost want to wait so that she can get a better "feel" for style. I have a feeling at this point she would pick the pinkest glitteriest glasses that she could find!!! (Did I tell you about the silver boots she wanted us to buy her as her one pair of shoes?) Seriously, I am scared!!

After she had her examinations she got the "priveledge" of getting 4 shots and one oral immunization. I know, you are thinking "poor Amy, poor poor Amy". Ok, stop. Do not feel sorry for her because she actually liked the shots. True. She smiled through them and then told someone in her language who then told us that she liked them!!! Isn't that wierd? In this picture she is trying to act sad but in reality was happy happy happy that she got 4 shots. Mike's family likes medicine, needles and blood so I guess that that comes from their side of the family too!!! One of the ladies in our group gave us some candy ahead of time to give her to cheer her up. She insisted that Josh eat half of it (the girls were out shopping). She can be so sweet.

This is one of those exercise parks. The equipment appears to be in better condition but it is not nearly as "cool" as the stuff in Zhengzhou. This thing in the middle is like an exercise bike without pedals. What would you do with that? I have no clue.
I forgot to mention our dinner last night. I wish that I had remembered our camera. There is a famous place here called the Cow and Bridge. We have only heard good things about it. Everyone LIED to us!!! It is Thai food. Wow, is that place.. um.. different. The menu was like spicy intestines and other equally grotesque things. One of the guys in our group ordered chicken and the head was still on it!!! We passed it around and those lucky enough to have their cameras took pictures with it. Oh I wish I had had my camera!!! Cassie and Josh ordered chocolate icecream for dinner. We have never let them do that before but the food was expensive and we didn't think that they would eat it anyways. Well, you would think that icecream would be a safe choice but it was one small scoop in a dish on kidney beans!!!! Eeeew. From what I heard a few of our group were sick and one even went to the hospital by ambulance. Ok, now I am getting off topic but I want to tell you about the cost of medical care here. She went by ambulance, had an EKG and xrays. The total cost was equal to $50.00 american money!!! My co-pay is $35-45!!!
Amy is happily sleeping with Barbie in her (Barbie's) new pink chinese dress. Amy spent much time today with a sewing kit and hair ribbons making Barbie's other outfit "beautiful".
One more thing before I go to bed - anyone who is not a weakling should check out this site. It is older children "interviewing for their lives". See it at (hope I got that right). The girl on 08-10-4 got me bawling like a baby and I am not even able to listen to the interviews because I don't want Amy to hear them. Nighty night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

At the White Swan Hotel, where we are staying, it is famous for being a five star hotel that caters to the newly adopted families. It is beautiful and big. I will try to get pictures tomorrow. However, we do lack modern internet commodities which is making life a little adventurous here, at least as far as the blogging thing goes, thus the lack of blogging.

Today we visited a Budhist temple. It really was very interesting. People were buying incense and presenting it to the statues. These people were totally serious. People carrying mats so that they could bow down to it (it or him?) Also we had the opportunity to have our children blessed by a Buddhist monk. We chose not to do that but many of the families in our group did have their child blessed. Amy wanted to bow to the statues, hmmm. She is sure in for some serious change. I am not sure whether she understood what was going on while this ceremony went on but we just moved outside and played with the water in the small waterfall. I want you all to notice the pyramid of bottled water at the feet of Buddha!!! Isn't that a crack up? Even Buddha can't drink the water here!! Poor Buddha, I didn't realize that he was suseptable to stomache ailments like us Americans!! (notice I said "stomache ailments"? I changed it from diarrhea so as to sound like a proper genteel lady, did it work?)

I have been so proud of Nikki here. She has really been diligent about befriending and being a good sister to Amy. Amy is doing well. I have heard that when the older children are adopted that they are immature and often regress to about 2 or 3 years of age. I have never understood what that meant. Thumb sucking? Temper tantrantrums? I am beginning to get a picture of it but it is not as severe as all that. If we ask her to do something she doesn't want to do she simply tells us "no". She wants to touch everything (I mean EVERYTHING). She wants to always have her own way and be in charge. She and Josh race to beat eachother to things like the elevator buttons and unlocking the hotel room door. You have to laugh as they are both dead serious about winning! The competition is fierce but with no hard feelings yet. I thought that this would come in time but the time has already arrived. I am glad to be able to get it out of the way now though. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to correct her. She seems to be a people pleaser by nature. She will say, "are you made (mad) at me?" when we do correct her. How can you be mad at that? She has been exposed to so little that I suppose she is over stimulated to begin with.

It is the tradition at the White Swan to present the adopted child with an Adopting Barbie. It is Barbie with a chinese baby. It is pretty cute. When we got back to our room today it was on the desk waiting for her. She was soooooo excited to have a Barbie that she was giddy. We weren't able to spend a lot of time with Barbie because we had to go. Now, most people keep Barbie boxed up as a keepsake but we let the girls bring Amy back to the room while we picked up the laundry and when we got back not only had Barbie been opened but she had had a shampoo and brushing!!! What can I say? I don't think that there was any way we would have been able to keep her out of that box anyways!!! When we went to leave the next time, Amy put Barbie in the box and put her in her bed and pulled the covers up so she (Barbie) could sleep while we were gone. It was very very sweet. That is what this picture is. Amy, now, as I am typing this is asleep with her Barbie. I guess that this does beat Barbie in a box!!
Tomorrow Amy goes for her medical and immunizations. I hear that she is supposed to get 5 of them. I have no idea if she knows or not. Do you think it is better to warn kids? I have never been sure. I tend to warn them as we are walking into the actual room where the doctor will do it. Why give them a chance to worry about it? I don't think I'd want to know.
Today was Mike's birthday. We brought birthday streamers which the girls and J0sh decorated the room with when Mike and I "stepped out" for a few moments. They were very creative, sticking them to the lampshades and walls with candy!!! NOT my idea. Would anyone like to hire them to decorate in your home? They would do it cheap?!! They also blew up balloons. Our guide Joselyn found out and when we got back to our room there was a table that had been rolled in with a Happy Birthday cake and candles. The people here are great.
It is time for bed and I just want to say that I am feeling pretty blessed today. I have 5 wonderful, normal kids that I wouldn't trade for a gajillion dollars. Sleep tight.