Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5 Months with Noah

And now it has been five months since Noah Hongjie became a Wilks!


5 months ago we met this shy, quiet little boy and he barely smiled.  He wasn't sure about us at all.  Once he got used to us a bit, he seemed to think we were okay, but he really thought of us simply as the next nannies to come into his life.  He had no concept of family.  He also had a really hard time being told "no" and we learned pretty early on that this little guy is a very, very stubborn guy.  In China, we talked over and over again about how easy Lily was and how hard Noah was. 

Boy were we wrong!


It turns out that once he got settled in, this little boy is funny, sweet, & a pretty happy-go-lucky boy.  I mean, don't-get-me-wrong... homeboy can throw. down.  Occasionally, we still see that stubborn little boy emerge who wants it his way or else we will allllll pay.  Overall, though, we don't see that many fits from him.  He doesn't say mean things to us.  He hugs us and tells us he loves us and he is just a very happy, chill dude. 


When he got home, we decided that the best thing for him was to stay home with Daddy.  School could wait, he first needed to learn about family.  He needed to learn that his mommy and daddy and siblings are different than his nannies and orphanage classmates.  He needed to bond with us, attach to us, and have months of repetitively having his needs met before he would be ready for school.  We are so glad we made this choice!  We are so glad Matt said goodbye to his Coast Guard career to be a full-time Dad.  Noah needed him and Noah has made huge leaps in every area because his daddy put him first and chose to stay home.


When he came home, he was in pretty rough shape on the medical and dental side.  He had a very large, very hard tummy; the result of poor thalassemia care and malnutrition.  After taking care of his immediate need for transfusions, we scheduled dental surgery.  This poor little guy had a mouthful of teeth that truly resembled a coral reef.  We're not sure what the cause was, but he had to have a lot of extractions, caps, & fillings.  A few days after his surgery he was looking in the mirror and pointed to the silver on his teeth.  He told me "Mommy, I like this.  It like pirate!" Haha!!  Since coming home he has also been eating on demand.  And he demands food a whole lot. ;)  It's not that he's truly hungry, but as a child who has known hunger, he fears it.  We've adjusted the snacks around our house to provide some healthy, low calories options just for him to have throughout the day as his fear sets in.  We want him to know that we will always meet his need for food and hopefully in time, that obsession over it will start to loosen its grip.  The side effect of all the eating and fresh blood transfusions is that his belly has shrunk and he's already grown over 2 inches since coming home!  We are really hoping to see this growth trend continue, as even after adjusting his birthdate to 5 1/2 years old, he will still not be on the growth chart for his age.  Grow buddy grow!!


Noah Hongjie has come a very long way in this first 5 months.  He will be ready for school this fall.  He's attached.  He understands what Mommy & Daddy & Family is now!  He loves his family and we love him.  Yes, he fights with his sisters and is fully immersed in the sibling rivalry around here alongside Laila & Lily, but that's okay! We just can't wait to see what the next few months bring for this little guy.  I can't believe he waited so long guys!!  I just don't understand why so many boys with thalassemia, just like him, are waiting right now.  If you knew this kid like I do, you'd be lined up for those boys I tell ya! ;)


Noah Hongjie, you are the cutest, sweetest little guy.  You have a long way to go, but you've already come a really long way from where you were.  We are so lucky and blessed to be your forever family.  Happy 5 months a Wilks bud!  We love you and can't wait to see all that God has in store for your life.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

5 Months with Flower

Yep, it's already been 5 months.  And if I'm being completely honest?  It's been 5 long months.
(As some of you might notice, I took these before her special self-haircut last week)

This girl...


We love her with all our hearts.  Truly we do.  We tell her and show her every chance we get.


And we think she loves us.  She certainly tells us she does & gives us both hugs & kisses.

But oftentimes, she still doesn't like us very much.  It's hard to go from taking care of yourself to moving into a family where Mommy & Daddy rule your world and you no longer get to do everything you want to do the second you want to do it.  Girlfriend has serious impulse control issues & we are working on those.  In fact, there's a lot we are working on, but that's a story for another day.


Lily is also a funny, goofy, loud, sweet, crazy, & silly girl!!  She has about a thousand facial expressions & tries to use as many of them as she can on a daily basis.  She LOVES to swim, run through the sprinkler with her school uniform on, draw & color pictures, but most of all, she loves flowers. Seriously, this girl tries to pick every, single flower she sees and if there's not a flower, she'll just pull leaves off.  No matter where we are out in public, she will bend down to a plant & Matt and I will have to yell over to her "DON'T PICK THE FLOWER" and she will reply "I JUST LOOKING"... but she's not. Haha!! As evidenced by last Sunday's journey two houses down where she picked 3 hibiscus flowers from the neighbors plant, then rubber-banded the stems together to make a bouquet.  Now that I think of it, she may be a florist when she grows up! ;)



She also decided that Mommy & Daddy's "Lily Bug" & "Lily Girl" & "Lily Bear" wasn't good for her... She has now asked us to call her "Lily Flower".  (Yes, I tried to explain that a lily is a flower, but that just wasn't good enough. It had to be Lily Flower!)


And after a long and tense first three months, where sibling rivalry was at an all-time high, she is finally starting to learn that Laila can be her best friend, if she can resist the urge to pester her and just be nice. ;)  It's a work in progress.  But we are seeing progress.



She is doing well in school.  Her language is growing extremely fast.  This girl is very, very smart!


Her health has drastically improved!  When she first got home she could make herself throw up on cue.  Seriously.  If she didn't want to do what we said, she could make herself throw up within only a few minutes of her fit.  She would also get terrible nose bleeds, often during fits, but also at night & in the morning.  She would cough uncontrollably at night to the point she would throw up.  She was so used to it, that often times it didn't even wake her up.  She would just keep sleeping... It was terrible to see her so sick.  On top of that, she came home desperately in need of proper thalassemia treatment.  I look at pics from our time in China and I am just sobered with where her health was headed there and where it is headed here.  It's a miracle, truly!  She is no longer sick and lethargic.  She no longer can make herself throw up (she gets really annoyed by this too when she is trying to manipulate during a fit. Haha) and we are down to only an occasional nose bleed.  We've figured out her allergies, and shortness of breath, and thal treatment.  She's doing really well!


We know that God has great plans for her life. 
Parenting her is a tremendous responsibility that we don't take lightly. 
We try our best for her everyday. 
Sometimes we mess up, sometimes Mama loses her cool, but every, single day we keep trying to be the best parents we can be for her.  She deserves nothing less. 

She is a treasure.  She is our daughter.  She is our "Flower".

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all."

Happy 5 months a Wilks, Lily Flower.  We love you more than you'll ever know!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day Two- Shanghai Stadium & YuYuan Garden

Our second day in China started with a subway trip over to Shanghai Stadium.  I'd stayed in this area during my trip in April, so I knew it had a grocery store to pick up snacks and treats for the kiddos before grabbing lunch.  It was only two subway stops away from our hotel so it made it an easy place to get to.


Chengbin was incredibly excited for this gigantic bowl of noodle goodness that was bigger than him!!


Everything we ordered was outstanding, a reward for our willingness to walk in to a restaurant and point to things on a menu completely in Chinese! ;)





I'm shocked to say that even Katelynn decided to be adventurous during this trip to China!  She tried absolutely everything we ordered and kept commenting how good it all was!! If you know how picky Katelynn is, you know what a big deal this was for us!

Honestly, we had walked around debating for a while on where to eat and decided to give this place a try!  It's more intimidating to walk into a restaurant in China where you have a language barrier and need to order than it is in European countries.  We had decided ahead of time that we were going to be as adventurous as possible this trip and not let fear of the unknown or language barriers hold us back.  Boy we were glad we did because this meal was soooooo good.  Looking back, we all agree it's the best meal we had in China!

After lunch we decided to go do a little shopping and exploring of Yu Yuan Garden.  The kids had a small list of China shopping must haves & we knew this was the place to go!




It was also so nice to have my good friend Michelle with us for our grand Chinese adventure.  She is an adoptee herself, and has been such a source of support for our family.  She has met up with us a few times down at Disney to vacation with us, so it only seemed natural for her to go with us to China to pick up the new additions to the Wilks Fam!

This random Japanese store made all the kids and Matt the big kid SUPER excited!!! Our family plays Pokémon Go as a hobby and this had legit Pokémon stuff the kids loved!  Plus it had an entire wall of vending machines!  The kids (& Dad of course) picked out little Pokémon & Gundam toys.  Plus each kiddo picked out a sweet, huggable little pokie buddy. :)


By the time we'd spent a few hours over there we were exhausted as jet lag once again began to set in.  We headed back over to the hotel, and at Michelle's urging, Matt and I went out for a little Shanghai date night dinner- just the two of us.


Back we went to the noodle house across the street from our hotel that we'd gone to the night before.  Only this time, we weren't about to fall asleep.  We sat there, drank our endless tea refills, ate some delicious food and reflected how long it might be before we had a nice quiet dinner to ourselves again. Haha!!

And thus, the end of Day Two in Shanghai.  We had one more day to explore the city before things changed forever.  One more day until Lily Day!  Going to bed that night we were torn between resting the whole next day or going out.  Ultimately we decided to sleep in, hang out around the room a good amount of the day and make one good journey out to do some sightseeing.  We were looking forward to it.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Shanghai Day One: A Little Surprise

Friday morning our kiddos woke up early and we decided to pull out the credit card for a little surprise visit to Shanghai Disneyland.  It is so much cheaper here and we knew how much they were wanting to go!!!  We didn't tell them where we were going and even as they posed with the character pictures on the Disney-themed subway car they still didn't figure it out. ;)


We arrived right around opening time and headed in to spend a fun day and one of our last days as a family of five. :)  They were crazy excited that we were taking them to it.  Kate kept telling me, "But Mom, you said we couldn't go there."  So sweet!!


They loved finding Uncle Scrooge's vault!! 


And the castle is AMAZING!!  Our family is a Disney family.  In fact, this was the last park I needed to visit to have been to them all... Usually Disneyland parks have a small castle.  This one is huge and gorgeous.  Probably bigger than the one at Magic Kingdom.


And that was just the beginning of the differences...


Oh.my.goodness!!!  Pirates of the Carribean blew us away!!! It was AMAZING.  THE BEST RIDE WE'VE EVER GONE ON.  It really set the bar very high for rides.  So many cool things that were unexpected and amazing.  It was Disney Magic.



Every Pirate Princess needs to have an "I mean business" face, right?


This boy... we were honestly both excited and terrified at the thought of taking him back to China.  He has a lot of hurts.  A lot of emotional baggage.  We kept questioning.. Is it the right time?  Will he be able to handle it?  He did great this first day.  We don't know if it is because Disney is familiar to him or because he's going to do well here, but we'll take it either way!!!





They have this cool "iron man experience" where you can fight there in position as Iron Man.  He was all about it!!!


Laila couldn't ride most of what was there other than Fantasyland, which was a madhouse, but she still had fun!!!  Ticket prices go by height, so it was free for her to get in to Disney anyway.  Wish they'd use that system in the US for tickets!!!


We only got to do a fraction of all they have at Shanghai Disneyland.  It's much larger than Hong Kong Disneyland was.  We all left hoping that one day we can bring the whole, complete family of seven back to China to do this park together.

But as Laila said, starting around 6pm... we were tired and got out of there before closing time.


We tried out a noodle restaurant in the mall across the street from our hotel.  The food was great but everyone was SO TIRED>  Jet lag is a beast!!


Chengbin fell asleep right there in that position at least 3 times while waiting on the food to arrive.


And when it was time to go Laila begged to be carried and put to bed.  She was a trooper all day so we just went with it. :)

What a great day!!  We are so amazed how well the kids are doing!! And only a few days to go until Lily Day!!  I can't wait to see her again!!!