May 31, 2012
Well, I can't speak for Aaron, but I've hit a bit of a low point on our trip right now and I'm trying to blaze through. I don't want to be one of those ultra-whiney Americans, and I really do count myself a good traveler, but today I'm missing home like CRAZY. It doesn't help that Maya's birthday is on Saturday (and we're missing it) or that we've been gone from home over a week already. I'm tired of the food, of navigating my way around unfamiliar places, of trying to fill all this empty time, this waiting, with something meaningful, and of the really hot, REALLY humid weather. What I'd give for a cool Pacific Northwest rainstorm!
I'm sorry if I sound a bit crabby about it all, and I'm sure it's just a normal part of this adoption trip, but I'd do anything to be back in my own house, sleeping in my bed, eating out of my refrigerator, spending time with Matthew AND my two other children, all together. I think I've started to cry at least a dozen times today--every time something reminds me of Maya and Sam, I get SO sad.
The Internet has been very patchy the past two days, and trying to Facetime or Skype with family members and friends has been virtually impossible. I'm feeling a little isolated and lonely, and mostly I'm just starting to go stir-crazy with all this time in our hotel room.
So good people, if you have a minute to send Aaron and me a little "hello" email, we'd REALLY appreciate it. Might help to lift our spirits a bit. And a kind thanks to those of you we've already heard from during the past couple of days. Honestly, emails from home are a HUGE boost to our spirits right now.
I did have a chance to talk with Kaitlin this morning, and it appears that she was able to put the video of Matthew laughing on the blog'which I'm really glad you got to see. It's a wondrous thing, this transformation from orphanage kid to Russell kid. It doesn't happen quickly'it's very slow, like baby steps, and we still feel like there are so many things about Matthew that we don't know. But on Monday it felt like we were babysitting someone else's kid, and today, Thursday, we feel like he's our own. He smells like us, his body is familiar to us, his behaviors and patterns are beginning to be known to us.
Don't get me wrong--we haven't changed him really at all (okay, except for maybe his smell, since we've given him a bath, dressed him in clothes from home, and snuggled him next to our bodies about a hundred times now). We're just getting to know this amazing little boy who is our son. We're learning (slowly) to read his cues, to help him get what he needs, and to care for him not just physically but emotionally too.
So here are a few things we know about our son:
When he's tired, he sucks his thumb and makes this sing-songey noise with his voice'like a descending five-note major scale: humma, humma, humma, humma, humma.
He is really into his bottle. Even if it appears that he's fallen asleep while eating, HE HASN'T. And cursed be the mama or dada who takes away the bottle while it's in the boy's mouth!
When we lay him down on his back to change his diaper, he immediately sticks his right thumb in his mouth. He also thinks that 'back time' is tickling time, and he begins to laugh without anyone even touching him.
He can entertain himself for a really long time playing on his stomach. We try to make sure he doesn't play alone for long, but he has a very long attention span with toys. This is likely due to his life in the orphanage for so long.
Along with the Little People bus and the yellow giraffe, his favorite thing is the blow-up beach ball we brought along. He loves to hit is with his palm, causing his entire body to jiggle. Then he gives a huge smile.
When Matthew's tired, he reaches up his arms for a 'hug.' This means he wants to be held close, with his arms wrapped around a grown-up's neck. Aaron figured this one out'and man alive, are those two boys cute, the little one all wrapped up in the big one's arms.
Matthew sleeps best when he's close to one of us'in our arms, in the Ergo strapped to my body, or on the bed beside us. And after so many months of sleeping alone, we're happy to let him sleep next to us as much as he likes!
I guess that's all from Guangzhou today. We do appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers during this journey. Perhaps this trip is a little like running a marathon: you're always a little anxious starting out, but then there's the thrill of the race that sustains you for the beginning miles. But then somewhere between miles 12-15, you begin to lose steam and get tired. The heavy fatigue sets in--you hit the wall, but you have to keep going and push through it.
I think I've hit the wall today--but there's no way to get over it but just keep going, so keep going I will. We will. And in a few days I'll be blogging about coming home, and this will all just be a memory.
But a blessed memory, truly.
At the Chen Family Folk Arts Center
This photo is especially for Nathan. I'll leave you to figure out why!
With Sarah Gao, our guide, at the oldest Buddhist temple in Guangzhou
A family shot at the temple
The famous White Swan where so many adoptive families used to stay
Matthew taking a turn at walking