Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some of the "Bad Stuff"

Well, I wrote on February 28 about Shaling's battle of wills with us. We experienced something similar, but much larger, while in Florida last Friday. I don't think I want to share all of the details publicly, but suffice it to say that I think a combination of homesickness for familiar food, a strong desire to be able to speak with someone in Mandarin, an excruciatingly long wait for lunch, a disappointment that we were heading home to Illinois, and getting disciplined all combined for a major breakdown. She spent a couple of hours grieving and rejecting all of us. The good news is that by that evening, she was back to snuggling with us, smiling, and having fun.

Overall, I believe she is happy here (or at least not unhappy), but I don't believe it is home for her yet. She smiles and plays a lot. She loves school and loves playing volleyball through the local youth sports association. She interacts well with kids in our neighborhood. Did I mention -- she smiles a LOT. However, when probed by Chinese-speaking people about whether she likes it here, she always tells them no. If you think about it, that answer is not all that surprising. She hasn't even been here 3 months and though she has done great at forging relationships and even better at learning English (though we have a long ways to go), her entire world has been turned upside down. She is obviously not miserable. I would describe it more as homesick.

On another front, we did go see Dr. Huang, the Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist, yesterday. After cleaning out and examining her right ear (where she has had the persistent ear infections), he prescribed Ciprodex ear drops. He says she has a LARGE hole in her ear drum. He will see her again on April 18, but he suspects she is going to need surgery to repair it. He also suspects she has a history of ear infections and that in the past the ear infections never healed properly, causing the large hole.

Though Shaling didn't care for the ear cleaning, she took it very well and I think she appreciated getting to talk in Chinese with the doctor.

I'll have more positive things to report after this weekend as she will be going to her first baseball game on Saturday and she will be baptized on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Florida Recap

I neglected to post after the first Sunday of our week in Florida. We did boat rides and park visits and a trip to the zoo and lunches out and swimming and rides on the waverunner. I did post some pictures on Facebook, but didn't keep up with the blog. I'm going to include several of those pictures here now, with captions to help you "catch up" with Shaling.

Monday, March 21

Preston & Shaling stand in front of Grandma & Grandpa's front door. Shaling is holding a picture she colored at the restaurant where we ate lunch.

Shaling helps Grandpa uncover the "little boat" -- the waverunner.

Preston & Shaling get ready to leave on the waverunner with Grandpa.

Grandpa & the kids take off down the canal.

And the crew returns!

After they returned from going on the waverunner with Grandpa to various islands, Mom & Dad took them to a sprinkler park to cool down.

Tuesday, March 22

Grandpa took us all out on the boat Tuesday to go shelling at various islands. We saw lots of pelicans.

We saw a great blue heron.

Grandma is an expert "sheller".

The kids enjoyed looking for treasures with Grandma.

Grandpa & Dad chatted on the boat while waiting for the crew to return.

Wednesday, March 23

Wednesday morning, Grandma & I took the kids to the zoo in Naples. Grandma & Shaling stand in front of some talkative parrots.

Preston checks out a gigantic egg.

Preston & Shaling ride a camel.

Preston & Shaling stand by a magnificent tree.

On Wednesday afternoon, we took another boat ride; this one with some friends from Rochester that were vacationing a few hours north of us. The kids enjoyed swimming off the island.

We saw eagles up in the trees.

We found a miniature a crab...

...and a hermit crab.

Thursday, March 24

We see dolphins pretty much every time we go for a boat ride, but not like this. Today was especially fun, as the dolphins were feeling quite playful and really putting on a show.

We saw osprey.

We saw pelicans.

Preston had a great time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shaling's First Boat Ride

Grandpa got some advice about the boat and it worked, so we went out for that boat ride today. Shaling even got to drive for a short while. We saw dolphins and we found pretty seashells. Shaling is learning about sunscreen and life jackets. We enjoyed a sunny 85 degrees. It was just a beautiful day.

Shaling & Dad

Shaling & Preston find seashells.

Shaling enjoys the water.

Dad & Grandpa wait on the boat while Grandma & Mom look for shells with the kids.

Shaling drives the boat.

Preston gets a turn.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shaling at the Beach (& We Missed It)!

We left Illinois at 1:15 p.m. (Illinois time) Friday and drove straight through to the far southern end (Gulf side) of Florida to visit Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds, arriving around 8:45 a.m. (Florida time). The kids slept fairly well in the car, especially Shaling. However, Brock only got just over an hour of sleep and I got about three hours.

As Brock & I were unpacking, I dug out the kids' swim suits and asked Grandma & Grandpa to watch the kids in the pool. This was only Shaling's second time in a swimming pool. Even though Grandma & Grandpa's pool is relatively small, there is a deep end. Shaling must not have realized that. She switched from a swim ring to a raft and ventured into the deep end. As she tried to switch back to the ring, she fell in and was unable to bring herself to the surface, swallowing a bunch of water as she struggled. Grandpa had to jump in, fully clothed for tennis, and pull her out. For the first time, this fearless girl has shown some fear. She really didn't want to go swimming again. However, as you'll see later in this blog entry, she did eventually get back in the water.

Around 9:45 or so, Grandpa left to play tennis. He then called to tell Brock that there was an opening for him to play, so I & the kids dropped off Brock to play tennis, then we went to a playground for awhile. After about 20 minutes, I was nodding off despite standing up. So, I took the kids back home to be under Grandma's watch and took a cat nap myself. After Grandpa & Dad came home (and cleaned up), we all went to eat lunch.

After lunch, we loaded up on Grandpa's boat for what was to be Shaling's first boat ride. Unfortunately, Grandpa's boat seems to be having some mechanical issues and now it looks like we may not get to ride on it at all this trip. So, we unloaded. Brock & I were absolutely dragging, so we headed to the bedroom for a nap. While we slept, Grandma took the kids to the beach. She was on top of her game as she even thought to take the camera and get us some pictures of Shaling's first time at the beach. Thank you, Grandma (pictures below).

And two pictures from the swimming pool (prior to the unhappy event):