Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Home - Week 1

So I know I owe everyone a blog post. I hate those blogs where they post every day about their travels and then they drop off the face of the earth. I wanted to know what happened next! Well, I now understand it. Jet lag and laundry and kids and crazy means it was a LONG week!

First off, Manny is doing as well as can be expected when you pack up his entire life into 1 suitcase and 1 backpack and move him to the other side of the planet. Honestly, he is doing better than that. There have been more laughs and giggles and dancing than I thought there would be.

I have learned that he needs his own stuff – clothes, toys, books – stuff. He needs to feel as if he has things that are all his own. I have learned that Mikey needs some time away. He loves his brother dearly but sharing everything every waking moment gets really old really quickly. I have learned that it will be a day by day process to teach “gentle” and “no hit” but it will get easier. I have started to learn what trips meltdowns and I have learned just how bad those meltdowns can be. I have learned how hard those meltdowns are on the other kids because they don't understand and don't know what to do to help.

I have learned that Manny loves roller skating and he is a speed demon! I thought he'd be hesitant to try something he's never done before and at a loud, sometimes dark, chaotic roller rink but nope, this kid went all in even with the bumps and bruises he got.

I also watched this little guy get painfully shy when oodles of loving people wanted to say hi at church and I watched him try to get a handle on it by hanging on to his Spider-man figurine like it would come save him.

He is learning every day, we are learning every day, how to function as a family of 6. The kitchen is finally getting back in order and the laundry is almost caught up. We are trying to figure out our new normal. I will try to post consistently since so many folks have said they are following our story. Have patience if I don't quite make it. Quiet is a little hard to come by these days. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 7 - Last Day in HK

Today was our last day here and we braved Disneyland Honk Kong. Yep, I think our day was pretty self-explanatory. The only downside is that it rained for most of our day. Not a minor drizzle, but a full on downpour for a large portion of it. We also took Manny on Space Mountain first – we should have learned with Mikey but no - we had to terrorize Manny too. I will leave you with pictures of our soggy but fun day while I go pack.
Our Soggy Start

Daddy and Manny (with the tiny castle and mountains in the background)

Tomorrowland fun with Daddy and Manny

Mommy and Manny on the rocket ships in Tomorrowland

Mommy and Manny on the cars - Autopia

Manny posing with Buzz

Manny trying to pull the sword from the stone.

Tea Cups!

Posing with my favorite little alien.

Mommy and Manny on the Slinky Dog ride.

The Mystical Manor

Planes 2 Helicopter

Jack Sparrow - HK style

Treat time, sweet kitty.

The entrance to Disneyland Hong Kong

Finally a family shot.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 6

Today was a fun family day. We slept really well after a late dinner last night of brick oven pizza. Yummy! We took a few shots of the neon along our walk from the MTR stop to our hotel from last night. It really is a cool city.

After a bath and a cartoon we were all sound asleep. I think that may have been our best night of sleep yet – almost 8 solid hours! We got up, had some breakfast, and then met Pink and Manny's English tutor for 1 last good bye. Manny got a little sad but was really distracted by the idea of heading to the space museum. We Skyped with family and then headed out the door. It had been raining really badly all morning and we were worried it would be a wet walk but it ended up being once of the nicest days here because the rain cooled things down a bit. We started at the Batman exhibit located in a mall in Times Square. It was really neat but we missed the quota for the scavenger hunt to get a limited edition Batman coloring book. I was a little bummed but Manny was oblivious.

After Batman, we went to the Space Museum. Along the way, we found some fun outdoor artwork that we posed with. The Space museum was a cute little museum with lots of hands-on activities. We also saw an IMAX 3D movie about space and whether there is life out in space. I only saw the opening and ending because I honestly closed my eyes and took a little nap. :) Manny decided to pose like an old man with the umbrella.

After the Space museum, we went to Outback for a late lunch/early dinner. I will be honest, after 6 days of noodles, rice, and things I can't identify, I was more than ready for that steak and french fries. Manny had spaghetti and chicken fingers. Let me tell you, this kid can eat!!! He polished off all of it plus bites of my salad, Nick's soup, and a bite of my broccoli. I am a little worried he'll make himself sick but he seems to be ok.

We are back at the hotel for now, resting and digesting. I may send the boys swimming in a bit but I think we may have a quiet night in since we are supposed to head to Disney tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 5 - Our Gotcha Day!

We got to bring Manny home (well to the hotel) this afternoon!! We went to pick him up at the foster home and he was so excited to show us his suitcase and everything until he realized he really did have to leave Mr. Tong. He gave him this great big hug and didn't want to let go. Honestly, it's a good thing on many levels but it hurts to watch him hurt. He cried great big sobs as we walked out. Nick carried him and Pink and I carried his things. He watched that home get further and further away as we walked to the MTR and it hurt my heart to watch him cry. I know it means a lot of good things from a developmental stand point – he can form healthy attachments, he understood that he wasn't coming back for a long time, he has started to bond with us and hung on to Nick for dear life – but wow was it hard to watch. I was so grateful for Pink being there and helping to reassure Manny that all would be well.

Pink came with us to the hotel and up to our room to show Manny some of the things we got for him and rest for a bit before lunch. We then went to one of the restaurants in the hotel to have lunch. By then, Manny was back to the silly boy we knew. He got to try a marshmallow dipped into the chocolate fountain. What a treat!

After lunch, Pink left. Manny was a little sad but we reminded him we'd see her tomorrow and then we distracted him by showing him where the pool was. He was scared at first but then he reached out and stuck his fingers in it. I think we will be back when the weather clears up and try our hand at swimming for real. We went back to the room but housekeeping swung by so we went to the eClub instead. We had a drink and looked at pictures for a while and then came back to the room.

We are now just hanging out and looking at all the pictures Pink took of us this past week. She got some really good ones and a couple videos of Manny singing with his choir from yesterday. When Manny saw it, he started singing along.  Now the boys are watching Tom and Jerry or dancing to Asian MTV while I finish typing this and uploading pictures. LOL It is so blessedly normal to just hang out now. We're still working through the language barrier but it is getting easier. Thank you God!!!! Now I just want to get on the plane and come home. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 4

Today was the day to go visit Manny's school. It started bright and early at 9:15 am. Manny met us at the MTR station and was so excited to see us. I noticed that he looked a bit tired and his eyes were all red. He has eye drops because he rubs at his eyes and they get irritated. Pink mentioned that he was a little wound up after yesterday with us and so he fell asleep later than normal. Part of his condition or one of his coping skills is that he always carries a little pouch of clips or tiny toys – some things to keep his fingers busy. He had to show us every little toy in there today and practice the english names of the little animals he brought along. Ducks, zebra, etc. His school was pretty wonderful. We met his primary teacher, his mandarin teacher, his choir instructor, his principal, his speech therapist, everyone. His teacher made him a special photo album of him with his friends, doing different things at school, etc. She also gave us his most current report card and walked us through it. He is on his way to being tri-lingual (Cantonese, English, and Mandarin) and he loves to draw and sketch things. He seems to be at about a first grade level academically and preschool level with his english. I am hoping that if we can get him some ESL lessons this summer, he will test into about 2nd grade come August. His teacher even gave us her e-mail address so if we or his teacher in August has any questions regarding curriculum, we can contact her. I am hoping I can get Manny to e-mail her notes to let her know how he's doing too.

Although kids in US schools tend to be mainstreamed, here in HK the special needs kids go to special schools. Every child in this school had varying degrees of special needs but they were wonderful. We came on the day they were practicing for the graduation ceremony so we got to watch the rehearsal and Manny got to sing with his friends 1 last time. He loves to sing. :)

He seemed really nervous or scared while we were there. I asked Pink if it was fear of being left there instead of coming home. She asked him and yeah, he was nervous about that. We both reassured him and he hung on to Nick's hand pretty tightly the entire time. As soon as we walked back out the front door, he was much happier. We went and walked around a mall for a bit to cool off, had a drink, and then took Manny back home.

He broke my heart at the MTR stop by his foster home. He hung on to Nick for dear life and had what Nick called a temper tantrum. I swore he was crying without shedding tears. Only time will tell which it was. He didn't want to leave us and did not care that he was coming back to the hotel with us tomorrow. Pink tried to tell him that he had to go back to at least say good bye to Auntie and Uncle and to get his toys and suitcase. He didn't care and just kept saying bye to Pink. We finally got him through the gate and then he hugged us goodbye. Pink ran with him so he'd be distracted and we hit the escalator down to grab the train back to our hotel. She then called us after she got him settled back at his foster home and let us know that he was ok and calmed down.

We had the entire rest of the day to ourselves to regroup and rest before Manny comes with us permanently tomorrow. We rested for a bit and then caved and went to McDonald's for lunch. Yep, a fish sandwich and french fries taste the same no matter where you are. LOL We are both honestly craving a burger but we know we will be able to get one at Disneyland on Sunday. After McDonalds, we decided to walk up to the Jade market. On the way Nick took a picture of one of the few stop signs we have seen here in HK. :)

Neither of us fully realized it's more of a bazaar with everyone clamoring for your business. Neither of us enjoy that type of scene. We don't haggle or negotiate and we want to just be left in peace to look and shop on our own terms. Needless to say, we didn't stick around for long. Then we stopped at the Tin Hau Temple which is a temple to Tin Hau, the Goddess of Seafarers. We looked around but it was a sacred place and there were folks worshiping so we again left pretty quickly.

We are trying to decide how to handle dinner and the rest of our afternoon. We stopped at the 7-11 and picked up more water and some ice cream for me and then headed to the e-club here in the hotel to have a cup of tea and relax a bit to give the house keeping staff a chance to clean our room. It was also our chance to cool off for a bit.

 I think I may take a bit of a nap or read a book with my feet up in the blessed air conditioning. We have so many papers and photo albums for Manny and I really need to sort them out and figure out the best way to travel with them.