February 22 marks 4 months that Hamilton has been in Birmingham. He has learned English, begun preschool, met a new babysitter, attended football, basketball, and soccer games, played with new friends, and attended church.-- also he has had many doctor visits. He had tubes put in, visited the International Adoption Clinic, the Cleft clinic, the pediatrician (numerous times), and our asthma specialist. Yes, he is wheezing like his brother and sister. What a whirlwind the little fellow has been through. I also forgot to mention 4 American holidays. We can not imagine life with out him. He is such a blessing. We have much more laughter in our house and a lot more energy. Bill and I had forgotten how active 3 year olds are. We are questioning whether we are too old, but love it also. Right now he is asking Bill not to give him medicine. However, he is very easy to bribe-- a little chocolate does the trick every time. He drinks gallons of chocolate milk a week. In the last two weeks, he has begun playing with other children, not just beside them. His speech comes in phrases or sentences rather than words, which has been fun for me to watch. Anything he does not like, he calls you "grumpy". Also, if he does not want to do something, he tells us he will do it "tomorrow". He is going to be a negotiator someday. He is struggling to learn his colors; he is stuck on yellow and purple. He is very social!!!! I took him to his first birthday party, Saturday, and he spoke to everyone. He also told me that he was supposed to wear a birthday hat and that the girl was supposed to blow out candles. We still have not figured out how he knew that information. However, he still does not like to be spoken to by strangers. He turns his head and pouts. We are telling him to say "hi" which is helping. For the most part, it has been a wonderful, yet surreal 4 months. We appreciate your continued prayers as we continue to adjust.
We celebrated Chinese New Year on Valentine's Day last Sunday with two other families. Fisher, the other little boy, is from Hamilton's orphanage and just came home Feb. 11. Lia Kate also goes to church with us. Our church has had five international adoptions this fall and winter! The kids loved the chinese food and celebration. Hamilton also loved the chopsticks. I need to purchase some. The other picture is of Bill holding Lia Kate's brother, Britton, and Hamilton is not happy about it!!
He had a ball in the snow last Friday! We rode a sled of our neighbors down small hills, which he thought was fantastic. He also had snowball fights with Will. He is used to cold weather. He is a pro at putting on mittens, hats, etc.
I am so sorry we are just now updating. Christmas was wonderful. Hamilton loved it. He took all of the activities a little too literally though. He made reindeer food at school. When Bill took him outside to "feed" the reindeer, he stood there waiting for the reindeer to come eat! Then he asked me until 10:00 Christmas eve for the BIG ho ho! He was waiting for him to come see him. Elizabeth was a little sad that Hamilton then slept until 8:30 Christmas morning. The big kids had a difficult time waiting to open presents. We had lots of family in town. It was wonderful. Hamilton has now officially met all of his aunts and uncles, one still by skype only. He also met his last cousin, Abby, from Boston. He loved her, because she is a baby.
Hamilton was sick a second time over Christmas. His colds seem to end up as sinus infections and wheezing. I went ahead and took him to Will and Elizabeth's asthma doctor. He said we would wait a year to call it asthma, hopefully it is just transition to new germs. But he is now on preventive asthma medicine. That made Christmas a little more tiring. But he is well right now!
We are in constant email with Hamilton's foster mother in China. She was so sweet to send us a "Merry Christmas" wish. She also knows Fisher Freeman's foster family. I gave her the Freeman's email address and possible travel dates. How fun will it be if the two boys recognize each other. Hamilton's latest interest is in China. He is asking to see "NeNe", his foster mom. We have an email in to the adoption counselor to inquire the best way to handle his inquisitive mind. He wore a sweater today and upon putting it on told us it was from China. My friend made it, so he must have had one similar in China. He also was able to tell me more about his sleeping arrangements in China last night. It is both great and difficult as he acquires more language skills. We have to remind ourselves that he is grieving his old home; it is very difficult to hear him verbalize it. I keep quoting his bible verse to him: " I have great plans for you, plans to prosper, not to harm..." Bill and I have to trust that God is faithful and will hold our precious son tight during his grieving and that He does have GREAT plans for him and for all of us!!
Okay, back to lighter topics. Hamilton loves his schools. He has two. One is at our church for 2 days each week, and the other is in a class for children with special needs. He needs the boost in language, and the teachers are working so hard. He has several other children adopted internationally in the class, so we feel quite blessed that they accepted Hamilton. He is a little sponge. He learns knew words every day, and is now speaking in phrases. He expresses his wants quite well, sometimes too well. The only problem is he expects to get what he wants when he asks. Although, when he cries, now, it is very short. He just started staying with our new friend Haley in the afternoons. She is a Samford student. She picks him up each day at school and brings him home until 3:00 or so. She is our friend Olivia's good friend. (Olivia lived with us last summer and is back for 3 weeks). Hamilton enjoys college age girls I think because he has taken to both Olivia and Haley quite well.
Elizabeth is no longer going to school with a new scratch on her face each day. So for the most part our baby has calmed considerably. We are having a blast with him and exhausted at the same time. However, there are no words to describe what a tremendous blessing he has been to all of us!
I am so sorry that I am not updating more often for our out of town friends. Life has been very hectic. Hamilton has started preschool. His language is improving tremendously. He likes school but does not like to separate from us. I am back teaching and Bill is taking half days of vacation. He takes Hamilton to school and picks him up. Then I trade off at 3:00 and he goes back to work. What a crazy life, but it works. In January we will begin having a babysitter for the afternoons. Yes, he still sleeps with us. We have been advised to continue the family bed through the holidays, most likely until February or March. It is getting better, although last night I woke up with a soccer ball on my chest. He has a hard time separating from toys also! We are just thankful that he sleeps! We were told that many adopted children have significant sleep disorders. So we feel blessed.
I am including random photos from play, Thanksgiving, Al/Auburn game, etc.
The hardest adjustment has been time. Our family is used to teenager activities, and we are having to slow down. I have no idea when I will complete Christmas shopping! The weekends are filled with playing, carpooling big kids, or going to games. Will and Elizabeth are also finding it much more difficult to study with a 3 year old brother. However, I see each week things getting easier. The best news is that Hamilton has not hit or scratched in the last week or two! He also is not throwing food! These are huge blessings.
Our ENT called this morning and had a cancellation for tomorrow. So Hamilton is getting tubes at 5:45 in the morning. He has mild hearing loss and fluid in his ears. Apparently, this is common for children with a cleft. Please pray it goes smoothly and safely.
The pictures are of his first trip to the zoo. We went with our neighbors. Alice, Amelia, and Eli. Eli is getting a brother from Hamilton's orphanage in China soon. Hamilton loved the zoo and has been talking about monkeys all evening. He saw more animals than monkeys, but zeroed in on the monkeys. He loves to be in open spaces where he can run.
Here are pictures from Hamilton's first day at church. We took him to the service with us and then I went with him to a 3 year old sunday school class. He did really well. He sits as long as there is music. But of course is not interested in listening to a story, because he does not understand. He sat better in church in China. But it was fun for him to meet more people who have been praying for him.
Tomorrow, we go to the ENT to schedule his surgery for tubes. He already has an ear infection, so we are anxious to get the tubes soon. Then next week we go to the cleft clinic and general surgeon. Too many doctor visits for the little guy!!
We have had a great day today! I think we are all feeling less tired and grumpy. Bill and I are also getting a little more used to life with teenagers and a 3 year old. It is action packed for sure!
Hamilton loved Halloween. We dressed him up in his traditional chinese attire. Our neighbors, Lydia, Alice, and Amelia, also dressed in chinese costumes. They were so cute! We ate pizza with our neighbors and then went to around 10 houses for candy. He figured it out pretty quick, but would stop every time he saw a ball. He got a little mad at trick-or-treaters who came to our door, because he thought I was giving away his candy.
We received new pictures yesterday. Hamilton has grown so much! We are waiting for Bill's birth certificate to come back to Birmingham on Friday. Then everything goes to China. We are praying that God will perform a miracle and I will be able to travel in 3 months. The agency says 3-6 months.