Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Though it seems quiet from here...

...it's definitely not.

Coughing, sniffling, whining, achey joints, nauseau, even a vomit...just keeps cycling around us. Derek has decided that "our" diagnosis is H2N2...yes, version 2 of H1N1.  What, you haven't heard of it?  If you constantly feel just blucky, tired, nauseau, but nothing comes of it, then you have what we have:  H2N2.  That's right.  Though Dr. Derek also made himself throw up and he got well in a few days, the rest of us wimps won't make ourselves throw up so we're just harboring it!

Sorry that I don't have any pictures of Ava to post.  I do have pictures that Ava took...of mommy trying to look good thru the sickness...

...And of Hogan and Sadie whom Ava has made peace with as long as it's on her terms.   In other words, she wants to measure and fill their bowls and tells them to "SHIT DOWN" as she delivers their bowls, but if they don't "SHIT DOWN", she gets louder yelling "SHITTT DOWN".   Luckily, we live on a farm so I don't worry about neighbors hearing her.  I haven't yet explained that shit is a bad word.  She also wants to walk Hogan as long as Hogan stays at least 5 feet in front of her.  If he circles back towards her/us, she lets go of the leash and screams; it's a retractable leash so it goes spinning and retracting straight at Hogan.  Poor Hogan.  I taught her to keep her hands and arms down when she is around them and if she gets afraid to walk with her head and eyes looking straight up and ahead and MARCH with determination.  (Really, our dogs are very gentle.  Hogan has been known to get excited once in a while, but he is only 2.)  He jumped up on her chest one day while she was running thru the backyard, but of course, her arms were up.  I tried to explain what happened to her.  I think she is figuring it out.  She does like the dogs though.

And then there's pictures of her little Polly Pocket dolls that she loves and is collecting.  They're all piled into the wooden car that Derek got out of storage.  His Dad had made these cars.  She thought they were really cool and perfect for a "Polly girl outing".

And lastly, a picture of Eliza looking scared as she watches Pooh and the "knocking" on the door while Pooh hides under the covers!

That's it!  School continues to go well.  There's a parent volunteer who comes and eats lunch w/ Ava 2x per week; she is native chinese and she loves translating for Ava.  Ava of course, loves it too.  Speaking of, I need to go pick her up from school now!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

The girls heading off to school for the FIRST time enrolled together!
Yes, Ava's now in school.  Loves it! 
She's in 1st grade (tho age-wise should be in 2nd).

Feeling peer-pressure already,
following enrollment in school came a haircut!
Okay, her long GORGEOUS hair
got in the way at the water fountain,
and the toilet, etc.

She was soooo exited and so brave.

Are you kidding me, that much?
Donated to Locks of Love.

Okay, this didn't phase Ava.
It made mommy tear up though.
Seriously, I think it was my first big mommy moment;
I felt like she was my baby growing up.

Ponytail cut off, next up a good wash and massage.

Wow, look at it!

Oh my, A-DORABLE!!!
The easiest hair; I'm sooo jealous.

Okay, enough mommy; you're making me feel self-conscious.

Stop it mommy!  Put the camera away.

Yes, yes, I do love it mommy!

Why can't mommy ever get in these family photos?
Ava's first pumpkin patch and she chose a small pumpkin.
Only because that's what Eliza chose!
Next year she'll want the biggest pumpkin.

Obviously, this was a week of firsts:  school, haircut, pumpkin patch.  She had a great week.  She's very happy.  We even looked at some foster family pictures the other day and she was all smiles and telling us all about the pictures.  She came up later and gave me a big hug and said (in english) I love you mommy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time flies...

...when you're having fun! (Turn on your volume for the song; and the video at the bottom of this post...)

Fun shopping consignment sales for skinny-waisted, long legged pants; Ava-approved skirts; festive long-sleeved shirts; shoes, (Sponge Bob, bright yellow) croqs, (Hello Kitty) rain boots; gum, candy, did-I-say GUM; dolls, bunnies and accessories.

Fun playing with the Little People house; her assortment of babydoll and stuffed animals w/ their "own" pack n play, stroller and bottles. Fun singing and dancing to her Chinese Children's Songs CD. Fun jumping on the mini trampolene and watching Tinkerbell (our barn cat) bounce along with her. (Tinker is her first "favorite" pet on the farm; she calls for him all day and he happily gives up a mouse chase to come running for a piece of whatever she's handing out.) Fun watching Winne the Pooh and getting as hooked on it as her little mei mei, Eliza; oh and yes, Barney too; Sponge Bob Square Pants...just to name a few others. Fun coloring and drawing wonderful pictures of her new life on the farm.

Fun asking Mom and Dad to "act out" Trick or Treat over and over again so she gets it just right come October 31, which no doubt will become HER favorite "holiday" since she is the biggest sweet-tooth I've ever met. Fun getting a balloon and free cookie every time she goes to the grocery store.

Fun adding the word "pee" to the end of every english word she repeats for us: Thank you Mompee; Trick or Pee; A B C Pee; 1 2 Pee 4; Hopee (Hogan)...and laughing hysterically at herself when she does it.

After about a week being home, Derek and Ava had run into a fast food restaurant to use the bathroom, so I moved over to the driver's seat to pull closer to the building for them. I slightly drove up on the curb and started laughing. I had to remind Allie that it was the first time I had driven in about 3 weeks. At that, Derek and Ava came out of the restaurant to get in the car. When Ava got in and saw me behind the wheel, she said "Uh oh!" and looked at Daddy with a startled look. We all started cracking up and it dawned on me that we took a taxi everywhere in China and Dad had been driving since we came home. She probably didn't know that I knew how to drive. We all had a good laugh over that.

Ava's doing really, really well. She seems genuinely happy. She's respecting boundaries better now with minimal re-directing. It seems that I only have to correct her once or show her once how to do something and she's on it next time w/ no prompting from me. She still tries to slighly squat on the potty instead of sit and we had an accident in Target when she was squating over a (I guess?) higher-than-normal toilet seat and pee'd all down her leg, into her undies and skirt that she had pulled down to her ankles. She came shuffling out of the toilet area calling "Mommy". I was a bit shocked, but told her to pull 'em up, wash her hands and out we went to purchase new undies and pants; pay for 'em; and return to the rest room.

She and Eliza are interracting well; seeing some teasing from Ava, but Eliza is pushing her back and in some ways seems more mature than Ava (lol). She has to wear and have everything that Eliza has. She no longer wants to wear her hair up because Eliza wears hers down (a short bob). She actually wants me to cut her hair short (yikes!) Considering Locks for Love, but would never go shorter than the 10 inches required to make a donation. When she wears her hair down, she sits on it or it gets caught in the back pocket buttons on her pants and she screams in pain. ... She wants the same clip in her hair that Eliza wears, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da. They get into the silliest giggle fits and I've caught a few on video. They are still happily sleeping in the same room and going to bed on time (wow, mom's dream come true).

She sets the table for me every night and has to count out the napkins herself. She also likes to put on an apron, pull up her sleeves and wash dishes. She helps me fold clothes and does it with such skill that it makes you wonder who is doing your laundry when you send it out in China!

She is still whining about not going to school like everyone else. I've got her reigstered and think she'll start soon. She's been in school (Half the Sky) since she was 3. She's an outgoing girl and in my heart, I think she needs to be there. She is "fitting herself" into the family more and more every day in many different ways...all good. She wants her artwork displayed in the kitchen like Eliza's. She had us hang her China things over and around her bed. She understands her seat in the car and at the table now. She draw pictures of herself with the family. She and I set up her closet and her drawers in the dresser.

Ava looking up at Daddy in airplane

Ava and Tinkerbell on the sidewalk

Mommy walking Hogan (Eliza ripped the paper in half)

Derek has had to travel 2 times now since we've been home (back-to-back weeks) and she's accepted it fine. We draw pictures of airplanes and count the days. Her eating is getting better; she loved my beef stew and was intrigued watching me make it. I love hearing her talking to her dolls or playing and talking to herself in Mandarin. She sings a lot. She is perfectly comfortable talking to the mandarin speaking people in our Chinese restaurants too.

As for me, I can't believe we've only been home 2 weeks and that it's only been 4 weeks since I first met Ava. She's an in-your-face type of child, which has taken me a bit to settle into, but her smile and laugh is infectious. The jet lag wasn't as bad this time for me, but I think that's because I had Ava talking and going non-stop every day vs. Eliza being a baby-toddler and me being home alone with her last time. I go to bed exhausted every night and my ears ringing from the noise all day (lol). I'm still trying to balance being a mom to every one and a wife to Derek; pretty irritable every day, but hoping that time and sleep will ease that...okay and compliance from everyone! I went for a walk alone on Sunday with Hogan; alone for the first time in 3 weeks. Wow; I require a lot of alone time. I walked so slowly that I was almost walking backwards! The peaceful, wind-blowing, cool breeze, sunshine, the time alone felt so good. The days go by so fast that I rarely have time to take it all in and give thanks for this beautiful, spirited, so-wanting-to-be-loved and accepted child that, frightened as she was, took my hand and let me bring her home.  There was a time in China, when I didn't think she would.  The song that I chose to play is for Ava and our time together.  "Thank you, Ava, for letting me be your mommy and showing you the world that you didn't know."

(To watch the video, stop the song in the sidebar so you can hear Ava.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good days

Ava and I have had 2 good days together; w/ Daddy on the road for work and siblings all off to school, I guess she figures she is stuck with me.  Just kidding.

She did tell me that she wants to go to mei mei Eliza's school.  ...We had our dr exam today and 3 shots.  Try explaining to a potty-brained, silly 7 yo old about how to collect a urine sample and stool sample too.  We both were cracking up over the mime demonstration that the visual required.  (She is so excited to try the stool sample, that she's been bugging me since coming home...poop on demand?...I wish I could do that...TMI)

Overall, she was a trooper, but then again "free and unlimited" lollipops and stickers are a way to this girl's brain and heart.  She didn't want the shots, but when I told her she'd have to have them to go to mei mei Eliza's school, she said okay.  LOL  If I told any other kid that, they'd pass on vaccinations in a heartbeat just as a way out of going to school!  Boy was she crying hard though over the shots.  (I also thought maybe it was just a good outlet for the tears that she might've been keeping in.)  Back home, all smiles again...and still asking to collect her poop!

Thanks for everyone's input about food experiences, suggestions and making me feel like every behavior is normal.   She's eating better (constant rice, noodles, Ramen, veggies, watermellon, eggs).   She's doing really well, settling in much more as each day passes and starting to like ME a little more again!  Hasn't stuck her tongue out since being put in timeout.  In fact, she's listening and responding to me very well now.

Except last night, she asked if she could sleep w/ me since Daddy was away.  I told her no.  So, then she told me to lay on Eliza's bed while Eliza and SHE snuggled in her bed.  Uh no.  I took back the control and told her if I couldn't lay w/ them, then Eliza would lay w/ me as usual.  She decided that Eliza was smothering her too much anyway, so she told me to take Eliza back over to her own bed.  LOL  (Couldn't blame her there!)

They've been falling asleep in 5 minutes flat.  Unheard of with Eliza.  Don't know what the magic is, but I'm thrilled!  I was back downstairs by 8:00 p.m. last night in time to enjoy primetime tv and tea for the first time in 1.5 years...seriously!  Of course, I didn't find anything good to watch so I started catching up on DVR recordings of Young and the Restless, Grey's Anatomy, Survivor...next thing I knew, it was midnight and they'd all be getting up in 6 hours!  Oh, but it felt so good to have ALONE time and control of the remote!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Call me AVA

The girls:  Sharing an afternoon snack of peanuts together

So, Miss Toot-sweet was in a pouty mood this a.m. when Derek went to work upstairs in his office and the kids all went to school.  Hrumph, she was stuck with me.  She stomped and pouted and ignored and stuck out her tongue at me...ONCE.

Okay, so back to the beginning of the day...  First she pouted on the way to driving Eliza to school because Eliza had a raincoat and she didn't have one...so I showed her the universal hand sign for money (pointer, middle and thumb rubbing together) and told her we'd buy one for her.  She didn't forget that and bugged me (and later Dad) about it all day mimicking the hand sign that I had showed her.   I think she was also pouting because she wasn't going to school.  I do empathize with her world being changed and the fact that she is trying to establish herself into the family dynamic and into possessions.  I also chuckle quite a bit because she is such a 6-7 yo...lots of pee-pee, poo-poo jokes and gestures; pranks.  She's really quite funny, silly, smart and we're all enjoying her and her personality that she brings to our family.

So, being stuck with mom... She and I came home from dropping Eliza off at school and she started in with the ignoring me and eventual sticking her tongue out at me when I told her I'd brush her hair after I finished loading the dishes into the dishwashwer...she swiftly got her toy taken away and into timeout for 5 minutes.  She sat there very obedient.  After 5 minutes, tear in her eye, I gave her a hug (she stiff hugged back, don't ya love that) and then she was happy again.  She was very compliant the remainder of the day.  Bored, but compliant.  Okay, "very" is a little over the top; she was better.  LOL

Maybe because I needed some control or sanity, I spent the a.m. cleaning, purging, bleaching.  Maybe because I lived out of a suitcase and a hotel for 10 days?  Maybe because I just didn't feel like entertaining what started out to be another pouty-child day?  Ha, ha...  Either way, she finally settled into the kitchen table with Play-Doh and accessories and went to town making enough Play-Doh Chinese noodles to fill platters, teacups, a teapot...to overflowing.   Tomorrow, she and I are going to our Asian market to see if she wants to pick out same familiar foods.  Hint, hint:  Chinese noodles, I got it.  She hasn't been eating as much since being home no matter how I try to fix things that she ate while in China.

We went across the street to my friend Kim's for a minute and she immediately started opening her fridge and freezer.  She pulled out cheese.  Oh my, apologies, boundaries... Kim took it all in stride.  She offered her some cheese and I said that I was quite sure Ava didn't like cheese.  Well, like she does with all her food, she shoved the entire piece in her mouth.  She walked around for 5 minutes, not swallowing it and we couldn't help but laugh before signaling that she could spit it out into the garbage.  She seems to want to graze all day and not settle down for a meal; she also seems to be trying everything, but not finding anything that she likes.  I feel bad.  She didn't even like our Chinese restaurant...can't blame her...American Chinese restaurants don't even compare to real China food.  Anyone have any food suggestions or easy recipes?

She also took it upon herself to gather up the white's (laundry that I had made her put aside yesterday) and brought them downstairs to the washer on her own.  She's giving my 13 yo a run for her money between laundry and doing dishes, I'll tell ya!  I had to remind my 13 yo that Ava didn't have the distraction of laptops, tv, texting/cell phones, etc. in her previous home and that if she doesn't shape up herself, she might not have those distractions either!  LOL

So, here's when she started being more compliant and agreeable:  At one point, I had Shutterfly up and was looking at pictures from China.  She leaned over my back and then chimed in with something that I couldn't understand.  I made out 2 words:  Meiying and Ava.  Finally, I figured out and she confirmed many times to me, that what she said was that she doesn't want to be called Meiying anymore.  She wants us to call her Ava.  Derek and I tested this through out the day and everytime we'd call her Meiying or even Ava-Mei, she'd yell NO and say Ava.  Huh!?!  Any insight on that from you BTDT's; what brought that on; disassociating or detaching or accepting?  She definitely seemed more interested in my requests or directions after that.

We stopped by our Chinese restaurant so that Derek could convey, through their translations, that he has to head out of town for work; and also that she need not be afraid of our passive dogs.  She nodded yes to both, but I think she'll be in a shocker when she realizes that Daddy is gone for a few days each week and she'll be STUCK with mommy.   (He's been home for a month, so he really needs to get back on the road.  I wish he could finish the week out at home.)  And we'll see if she is less afraid of the dogs.  Doubtful.  Even though she's watched Eliza practically stick her entire hand in their mouth and mount Hogan like he's a horse.

We had a good day overall.   I think things were clicking a little more today for Ava.  She gave me some gentle and unsolicited hugs as the day went on.   By 7:30, both girls had their baths together which they enjoy and were snuggled into their  beds ...ASLEEP.  Yes, by 7:30!  Eliza would normally be awake until 9:30 p.m. or so.  Also, this is the third night of Eliza actually allowing us to tuck her into bed in her "old" bedroom and staying up there all night!  I'm resting much better, but am missing those hard-as-a-board China beds.  Seriously.  They were so good for my back.  I'm probably the only person who actually like them. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I realize at some point I'm going to have to merge my blogs, E and A-M's, now that we're home.  So, speaking of E and A-M, they are becoming sisters a little bit more with each passing day.  The first few days, Eliza seemed to have this look on her face like "ugh, she's still here" and Meiying would watch Eliza, but didn't seem real enthused either.  Eliza has really come alive in the last 2 days though.  She's babbling more than ever, she's watching everything that Ava-Mei does; everything; and they're sharing the same bedroom!  (Remember, Eliza's been sleeping w/ dad and mom since last May.)  Meiying has made sure to tell us that she wants Eliza sleeping up there in the other bed too.  Last night was the first full night that Eliza didn't come downstairs in the middle of the night.  I heard her wake up, but she quickly went quiet again and they both slept until 8:15 a.m. when they showed up together at our bedroom door.  What a cute, cute site that was...like a dream seeing my 2 little girls standing side-by-side at our door with happy morning faces on.

So, yesterday was Derek's day #3 with A-M.  If you remember, my day 3 was the start of the rejection.  Ava-Meiying was certainly testing, rebelling, triangulating (*see more about that) and pouting and mixing some happiness in there too.  We called it the B-P day (bi-polar) because her moods were all over the place.  Today, she woke happy though and stayed happy all day...less busy...less chaotic in her playing with toys.  She enjoyed being a big sister to Eliza today, even picking her up a few times and Eliza would giggle with delight; helping Eliza reach for things that she couldn't get to and giving her kisses on the cheek.  I'm watching her carefully.  She tried to reprimand Eliza about something Eliza was getting into and Derek and both told her "no"; that's mommy and daddy's job.  Also, right now, I don't think she's perceiving Eliza as a threat because I'm Eliza's primary and so that free's up Derek to her.  I'll continue to keep a watch though.

We met our friend Marisa and her 3 kids at McD's playland then all went to Harris Lake Park for bikeriding and playground time.  Marisa's son, Jordan, is the same age as Meiying.  They had a good time racing around the paved path on their bikes...even though he's a boy and she's a girl...ewww.  She is picking up english very quickly (more translating then actually speaking it still), but she does repeat english very well.  We bought her a V-tech laptop that she's already mastering (counting, letters, etc.).  She and I have played a memory game that she enjoys and is very good at.  She also had to put on an apron (to match me) and stood at the sink washing dishes while I made dinner tonight.  She really seemed to enjoy helping out.  She's been a joy today and seemed very settled in...the most today.   She can get wild at times and whiney when we tell her she has to put something away before getting another thing out, but she's starting to get it.   We topped off the day by going to Dairy Queen after dinner.  It's 8:30 p.m. and both little girls are sound asleep already in "their" bedroom!  Hip hip hooray.  What a treat that is and what a beautiful site to see them both snuggled down in those beds in the same room.  I love it!

So, my Guilin-family friend, Adriana, has been so good at sharing her experiences with me and the behaviors of older adopted children.  She commented about triangulating when I mentioned that I was chopped liver and Meiying was now sitting in the front passenger seat.  I knew she was right in what she was saying and quite honestly, you can tell that it's more than just a child interested in sitting up front to "see" everything out the car windshield.  I knew that before I even read Adriana's e-mail to me.   It was an obvious "honing" in on my space.  (I don't mean for this to sound cruel; there were some other things that she was purposefully doing to try to move me aside for Dad's attention.)  The first few days, she made sure to sit at the same place at the table that she sat for her first meal at home.  Then, out of the blue, yesterday morning, she walked over to my seat while I was eating, holding her own plate, she gestured for me to switch seats with her (I sit next to Derek, of course).  I told her no.  Oh boy...she tried to nudge me out of the seat and tried pushing my plate out of the way.  (Derek and I had already talked about not letting her do some of these behaviors just because she was new to the family; that it was more important to establish the dynamics of the family right up front.)  So, Derek then spoke up and told her that was my seat and she needed to sit back down at the table at her seat.  That was the start of the B-P day!  The next issue was when we made her vacate the front passenger seat in the car and explained that was Mom's seat (which she already knew).  She went rag-doll on Derek when she refused to budge and he had to physically pick her up and move her to the back.  He felt awful, I could tell and I know my husband, he'd rather not deal with it, but I insisted that we stick to our guns about this.  So, the rebelling began.  She kept taking her seatbelt off while we were driving and stuck her tongue out at me when I told her to put it back on...oh yes (and it wasn't a sticking out of the tongue like you'd imagine, it was more like a throwing-up kind of sticking out of the tongue).  It was a joyful day for me.  She then started making Derek carry her everywhere.  I won't go into all the details of the day.  We certainly picked our battles and more importantly had to stick together like glue on some of the issues even though Derek thought more compassion was needed and all would work itself out (that's him).  Today was better and she "took her place" in stride and without any issues.  So, my recommendation is nip things in the bud right away and you'll have a more secure, happy child because they'll know what to expect and they'll understand the dynamics and how/where they fit in.  I'm sure there will be more to come.  In fact, she wouldn't share a piece of her candy with me after "lovingly" sharing it with her dad and dad took it away from her.  He started understanding what I was explaining to him as things happen.  She will still ignore us and more me, when she doesn't want to do something, but like parenting Eliza, I just "take away the distraction" and redirect.  It's tiring, but she started coming around today.  She is truly a blessing to the family and we're all enjoying the addition of Meiying (aka Ava-Mei, Mei-Mei, just Ava, just Meiying, etc.)

She was also very upset that she wasn't going to school yet like Allie and Eliza.  So, on the agenda for this week, a visit to our pediatrician to make sure she's current on her immunizations needed for school and then getting her registered.  She's really enjoyed going along when we pick up Eliza from school and I truly think she's ready to be be around kids again and learning.  She seems to be craving the knowledge in everything we do, write, say, etc.  I had even bought some Kindergarten and 1st Grade work books for counting and alphabet and she's loving them.   Anyway, I've uploaded pics to Shutterfly and some video too.  Thanks for continuing to follow our journey and commenting!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Home, Chopped Liver and Continuing to Charm

2:15 p.m. (Friday) North Carolina

Yes, we're home.  Still recovering from jet lag (re-entry as I call it).  It's like having a bad hangover.  Meiying seems to be fairing much better than Mom.  She's going non-stop all day.  She and I still aren't sleeping through the night yet, but that doesn't seem to slow her down during the day.  I'm uploading some of the latest pictures to Shutterfly.

She did great on the flights.  Bravely took my hand and let me lead her through 4 airports, 3 airplane rides; what a trooper!  A little Benadryl and Melatonin on the 13 hour flight helped her sleep for a few hours.  Otherwise, each time I started to doze off, she would turn up the volume on my headset as loud as she could and laugh at herself. 

It was soooo good to land at JFK and even though we had another flight still ahead of us, I felt like I was home.  As we were landing, the song that was playing thru my headphones from the airplane "radio" was Moon River.  One of my dad's favorites.  I immediately started tearing up.  Meiying even got to witness me getting into a little NY'er fight when a young "punk" of a kid cut in line right in front of me while waiting at the security check.  We already had been waiting and waiting; so I had to bring out my ugly NY'er inside of me.  Ah, it felt good.  I bought her an "I love NY" snowglobe since it was her first landing in America.

We arrived in NC a bit early.  I had to wake her and she was very shy when meeting everyone.  Still shy and somewhat shell shocked when we got home, we all sat up with her for a while playing Jenga and just letting her take everything in.  Eliza  played coy with me at first until she locked eyes with me, then she started squeezing my neck as hard as she could.  It never felt so good to be hugged, be home and hear english being spoken!  We arrived home to beautiful, cool, crisp early autumn NC weather too.  My favorite!

Eliza's been a bit whiney and not too sure about this charming, spunky sister who arrived in the house.  She watches her a lot and has a not too pleasant expression on her face.   She had a little fit at bedtime last night, not wanting Meiying to be in the room.  They finally warmed up to each other in the bathtub this a.m. and I got some great pictures and video of that.

Other than all of that, Meiying has been charming everyone.  She's in love with her daddy and he is the MAN!  Mom is now chopped liver.  That's great with me though, I love watching them interract and am enjoying the respite.   She has even replaced me in the front passenger seat of the car.  She has to be up front watching everything and sitting co-pilot with Daddy.  They've already ridden on the big John Deere together and she's already gotten her first bike w/ training wheels and is loving that.  She is scared of the dogs; though she calls for them constantly and "throws" them treats instead of getting too close to hand them to the dogs!  She has been fattening up my cats w/ bowls of milk all day long and everytime she gets something to eat, she ends up taking it outside to feed to the chicken.  She plays outside all day; in and out, in and out, in and out!  She's having a blast.  Happy, happy, happy.  She only teared up once and that was the first night home, she woke at 4:00 a.m. and I think she was just scared and disoriented.  She immediately became happy again when I brought her downstairs and she started exploring all of Eliza's toys.

The house was so clean and nice when I came home.  Derek did a great job being Mr. Mom and even steam-cleaned the carpet in the living room.  It's a wreck now though.  Meiying is a whirlwind as she explores everything!  We're all doing well and having lots of fun.  She hasn't missed a beat and other than her fear of the dogs, I'd say that she loves being home and on the farm.  More updates when I can "focus" long enough without the room spinning.  (I remember this last time too...it's an awful feeling for me.)