Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hard to Believe We've Been Home for 2 Weeks!!!

Well, this is my last blog for a while.  It's so hard to believe that 2 weeks ago tonight, Lucee was sleeping in her bed, in her home for the first time ever.  A lot has happened over the past 2 weeks.  It's so hard to recap everything in one little blog post. I'll try to do my best.
The first week we were basically in survival mode.  Thankfully Ben, was able to be off of work for the first 4 days.  Ben, Lucee and I were still dealing with jet lag.  The first night Lucee slept through the night was Friday night (8 days after coming to America).  We were so thankful for our church family providing meals for most of that first week and the care packages that were sent from friends afar, especially in that first week.  Lucee loved playing with the toys and going through multiple outfits a day along with her sister (it about drove me crazy, I told Ben I needed a lock on their closet ;)  Thankfully the excitement of changing clothes throughout the day has subsided.)
The weather was pretty nice that first week back, so we were able to play in the yard and we took her to a nearby park one day.  She LOVED the swings- But what kid of mine doesn't?  She learned to ride a tricycle in 5 minutes on our front sidewalk, even though her feet couldn't quite reach the pedals like they should.  she learned to use momentum by pushing backwards first and then pushing forwards after it had rocked for her.  We continue to be amazed at how smart this little girl is.  The first couple days we catered to her meals, but after that we served her what the rest of the family ate.  Thankfully, she watched the other kids and peer pressure seemed to work positively in the eating department.  We have introduced 2-3 Chinese style meals a week to our menu and even started a tradition of once a week we, as a family, can only use chopsticks.  Noah and Lilee picked up on it fairly quickly.  Gavin reverts to stabbing his food with one chopstick or using them like a post-hole digger (if you know what one of those are ;) ) to grab his food.  Either way, it's good for Lucee to see us including her heritage in the home.   There have been times that it seems like she doesn't want to do things because she thinks they are bad in America.  For example, at a Doctor visit in Cincinnati, the Occupational therapist wanted her to answer what color blocks were or what a picture of an animal was (in English or Mandarin as she had an interpreter) and Lucee seemed to only want to answer if she knew the answer in English.  We had to remind her that it was okay to answer in Mandarin.
Speaking of keeping her heritage fresh in our family, the first Saturday we were back, we were invited to a Chinese family's home (who we met at Apex -our church a few months back) for their Chinese New Year celebration.  We were hesitant to go, but figured it would be a good way to let her talk with and hear people who speak her language and grow in relationship with this family.  We got to their house and there were about 35 other Chinese people there.  We were the only Americans.  We were shocked and thankful at the same time that Lucee was extremely clingy to us!   In her poor little mind, she probably thought we had brought her back to China to take her back.  We felt awful at first until she started warming up to them and gradually began to realize we weren't leaving her there.  We love it how God provided this family and group of people who love Him and are willing to come along side us so that Lucee will have positive role models of her ethnicity in her life.
After that first week, we began to feel like life was becoming more normal and not just survival.  Lucee's meltdowns had lessened tremendously and she seems to be able to understand and communicate more and more each day.  Thankfully, I figured out how to get the google translate to work on my phone and I can communicate issues that she doesn't seem to understand that way.  Unfortunately, it doesn't recognize her Mandarin yet, but she has been picking up basic sign language quickly and nonverbal communication works wonders, so we are managing.
Three more things before I go that I want to share...
1) This little girl has a personality that is beyond adorable.  Her giggles and smiles are super contagious!  Her biggest struggle is learning to share with her sister and vice versa. Her rough and tough brother, Gavin, becomes the most sweet little boy when around her and would do anything for her.  Noah loves introducing her to all of his friends.  Lucee loves her daddy and has a great bond with him and I'm so thankful that she seems to be bonding with me more and more each day.
2)  If you think all of this adoption and bonding and thankfulness, and joy is because Ben and I are such wonderful people, you are completely wrong.  We have never relied on God more than during this whole process!!  He has changed our idea of what we thought was best and has given us what He knew was best all along.  He has provided more than what we needed- emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, relation-ally, etc.   For us to think we know what we are doing and we've got this under control is foolish and false.  He has heard our cries, seen our failures, and given us grace.  So, if you find yourself wanting to say that we are such good people, please take that praise and give it to God who first adopted us and first loved us and who is the only One that deserves it. :)
3) What's on the horizon?  We have decided to cocoon for about another month (Cocooning refers to the time you keep your schedule as clear as possible and keep the contact of people with the adopted child to a minimum in order to establish what a "family" is.)   We will gradually expand the contact with people over the next month or so as long as she seems to be attaching as well as she has thus far.   I'm thankful for this period of time for many reasons, but one of the main ones is all of the appointments that she has had already with doctors and will continue to have.  For starters, she will have an MRI in a month to see how much of her brain is affected by the Cerebral Palsy. She has already visited our dentist but has been referred out to a specialist to help with all of her major cavity repair.  She will visit an Ophthalmologist to discuss her vision issues (more than likely a surgery involved).  She will begin physical therapy to help with her muscle tightness in her ankle/calf area to help her walk with more stability (hopefully surgery won't be necessary and wearing braces at night and during the day will be all that is necessary? We shall see.)  Oh, and we also have more paperwork to do with her social security, insurance, post adoption paperwork, and post adoption home study's ...  So, as you can see with a "cleared" up schedule, this allows all of these other required things to not feel as hectic as they would if we had a lot of stuff going on.
 Thanks for coming alongside our adoption journey!  If you have ANY questions or comments feel free to email or message Ben or me. (believe me, there's no dumb or offensive question to us)

Happy Chinese New Year 2016 Year of the Monkey :)

Eating traditional Chinese meals at the party

Mr. Yu and the Chen Family

I'm pretty sure this picture was taken in the wee hours of the morning during that first week ;)

Gavin and Lucee sword fighting

Dance parties happen often in this family!!!

Beautiful Lucee in a Cinderella costume and rain boots :)

They were playing a hand game that they made up :)

We may be in survival mode, but at least we're surviving together...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Jan 28- Jan 31 Flight Back and Reunion with the kiddos

We made it to the airport just in time to get checked in and immediately had to board the plane.  All thanks to our new van driver who would press on the gas and then almost slam on the brakes even though nothing was in front of him and then press on the gas, then brakes, etc.  I've never seen Ben so uncomfortable being a backseat driver ;) .  We got in the plane and had to sit on the tarmac for about an hour, which at the time seemed like forever, but we later heard of some friends who were traveling back later in the day who had their flight delayed for over 24 hrs! 1 hour isn't that bad.  The almost 15 hour flight was good for the most part.  Lucee slept for about 4 1/2 hours and the rest of the time, she listened to her Chinese kid songs, drew, snacked and watched American cartoons.  As soon as we landed on American soil, Lucee officially became a US Citizen.  We went through immigration and met Ben's uncle, Miguel, who had graciously offered to drive down to get us from Chicago to bring us back up to Milwaukee. 

Back at Ben's parents house, we enjoyed having a relaxing night with Ben's parents.  My parents would be bringing the other kids down tomorrow from Orr, so we had about 24 hours to rest up for them.  It was great how Lucee really enjoyed being around Mamaw and Gumpa.  She liked helping them bake and having all the toys to herself. 

The next day (Jan 29) I'll never forget the moment that the kids arrived!  Noah walked in the door first and gave the biggest hug ever, his face buried in me.  When I looked at his face, he had sweet tears in his eyes.  Next, came Gavin who charged at me and gave a quick big hug and then went on to tell me about something that happened in the car.   Then Lilee slowly walks in and with her head down walks up to give a hug.  She says, "I really missed you, Momma".  Oh, melts my heart.  

It was so great being able to all be together under one roof.  Our family of 6, Mamaw and Gumpa, and Nana and Papa from Friday night till Sunday morning.  It also was wonderful not having to worry about anything other than loving on the kids.  Both nights there, the kids wanted us all to sleep in the same room.  So, we did.

Noah, Gavin, and Lilee were so happy to finally have their sister with them.  Lucee seemed excited to be around them as well. She obviously had a bit of issue with sharing, but what kid doesn't :)

Sunday morning we headed south to Dayton, while Papa and Nana headed north.  We are so thankful for Mamaw and Gumpa's hospitality.  Also, for the love that both sets of grandparents shared with the 3 kiddos while we were apart from them for the longest we've ever been apart.

The 7 hour drive wasn't too hateful, even with the traffic jams due to accidents.  Lucee did great sitting in her carseat and we were all so happy to get back to our home, which we'd been gone from for 3 full weeks!

It's been a long, wonderful trip. We are thankful it's over and look forward to the whole family coming with if we get to travel to China again!  

3 1/2 hour Van ride to Hong Kong Airport

Walking to the Plane :)

Lucee's first plane ride...

So far, so good

Ben and his brother Jake (His family came over Friday night to hang out before the other kids came the next day.)

Papa and Lilee meeting Lucee after she woke up from her nap.

1st Photo of our family of 6!!!

Lucee sewing with Gumpa

Sisters!!! ( Thanks Mamaw for the dresses)

Daddy's girls.

Papa and Nana with kiddos

Gumpa and Mamaw with the kiddos

Lovely Welcome home sign waiting for us when we got home (Thanks Sara and Evie!!)
Photo of all 6 of us in our room at Mamaw and Gumpas. We slept pretty much just like this, all snuggled together. The things you do for your kids... There was an empty room down the hall, but it felt so nice to sleep next to them.  Due to jet lag, I vividly remember laying there listening to them breathe for at least an hour.  Usually, I would've been frustrated, but after being away from them for over 2 weeks, it was like a sweet song.  :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jan 27, 2016 - Last Full Day in China

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This is our last full day in China. Hard to believe it's coming to an end! Our last breakfast, lunch, dinner. Our last views of the city we have come to become familiar with. For the past 2 ½ weeks we have lived in a hotel, haven't had to make our bed, had most of our meals prepared and cleaned up after, haven't driven a vehicle, haven't had to clean or go to work, and have been in cities with 5, 10, and 15 million people in them! We are getting ready to go back to life in a suburb area, with 4 kids, work, school, and daily chores, grocery shopping, and all the other good things that come with regular life. Hopefully it's not too much of a wake up call. :)

Today we let Lucee sleep in as long as she wanted (9am) and got ready for the day. Ben had learned yesterday in that group that they serve the same breakfast on the 30th floor that they do on the 1st floor. Both have a great view, but since we've never been on the 30th floor, we decided to go there today. The first floor breakfast area looks out to a garden with a tall waterfall and huge goldfish (close to 50-75!) swimming in a pool. The 30th floor is a circular room with the walls being windows that overlook the city. We were thankful to have found out before it was too late to take advantage of it.

We decided to venture out by taxi today and went back to the Shamian Island. Yesterday Ben got to see the cafe called Lucy's Place that we were told about to come get American food at. So today we decided to go eat lunch there and walk around the Island since it was a warmer day (in the mid 40's).
This place has a special meaning to us... A guy that Ben worked with adopted a girl about 10 or so years ago from China. When Ben had told him about us adopting (about a year ago- we hadn't completely decided on naming our daughter Lucee, but we were in the stage where we were jokingly referring to her as Lucy) the guy said, “Oh, when you go there, you've gotta go to this little cafe called Lucy's Place, it's got great American food!” we went there and Lucy enjoyed something like Chicken Noodle Soup, Ben had a double cheeseburger, and I had a grilled Cheese sandwich. Great food and service and of course we had to take pictures :)

Thankfully, we didn't have any issues with the taxi drivers. We did make sure to write the license numbers down before getting in and we gave exact change. We had spent the entire afternoon there walking around that by the time we got back to the room, it was time for dinner. Ben went out and got more noodles for Lucee and a pizza for us. Lucee ate some of the pizza and enjoyed tomatoes tonight. It'll be interesting to see how quickly she ventures out with new foods back home. I don't think I'll be making noodles for every meal... hopefully she'll copy the other kids and eat what she sees them eating.

When Ben left to get the food, Lucee began to cry and whine for about 10-15 minutes before I was able to get her to laugh by helping me wash daddy's “stinky socks and shorts”. This girl is going to flip out when daddy has to leave to go to work for 24 hours at a time! Hopefully she'll have so much fun playing with her brothers and sister that the time will go by quickly for her, and me ;) .

After eating, we packed a little and decided we'd show her a picture of a plane and talk about us all getting on it to go bye bye. She seemed a little nervous and we prayed that God would give her peace and not be afraid. She's really starting to understand what we are saying now and repeating some of the words with meaning and not just copying us like before. Tonight when Ben read her a story, she was repeating him as he read it and used some sign language in the right context. We are so amazed at how quickly she is catching on, especially with her diagnosis of “moderate retardation”. Tonight while eating dinner, I told Ben that when I look at her, I don't even see a disability, I see a sweet, smart little girl who seems to be connecting very well. He said, “their loss, our gain.” So true. We are so thankful for this little girl, we can't express that enough! 

30th Floor Breakfast

Lucy's Bar & Grill

Lucy's with our Lucee 

Last dinner in China - Silly Lucee (spoon in her mouth)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Jan 26 - US Embassy Appointment and other stuff

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This morning we had to wake up early in order to leave for the US Consulate by 845am. We skyped with the kids as they were finishing up their Monday which was the 100th day of school back home, so they were celebrating it up at Nana and Papa's house. They were just finishing up trying to sled down the hill in the backyard for the 100th time. They also made t-shirts and ate their ginger bread cookies. Noah and Ezra had a date with Nana at Pattenn's Cafe in Orr, MN to have a giant cinnamon roll. As exciting as it is to be counting down to the day that they see us, they will be a bit sad too as they have really enjoyed spending so much time with their cousins Ezra, Zek and Ike. Noah and Gavin have slept next to Ezra and Zek for all of the nights except for 2 of them. (8 out of 10) and they are each like 2 peas in pod. Lilee had fun painting her nails and soaking her feet with Aunt Simie. They have all had so much fun and life will be different when they head back to Dayton. I'm so glad they have gotten this good time with cousins and grand parents at both my parents and Ben's parents. I just wish we all lived closer together :)

Lucee was hard to wake up this morning, we have learned that she enjoys being woken up to her Chinese kid songs being played on the computer. We put this on and she didn't even move. Not even with it turned up loud and the curtains opened and lights turned on. It wasn't until I gently roller her over and said good morning that she began to stir. Thankfully, once she got up she was pretty cooperative with getting dressed and ready for the day. She was excited to head down to breakfast.

When down at breakfast we saw our guide and he let us know that we weren't going to leave until 9am now, because we are riding with 2 other families together in a big van. This was the first time we had done anything with other families. It was definitely different, but okay. It made us appreciate the one on one time and chauffeuring that we have had on the other 2 weeks in china. When you are the only family, you don't have to wait for anyone, you just go and do what you want to do with your guide. Now we were needing to wait on them, which again, was fine, just different.

We got to the US Embassy and went inside while our guide stayed outside. He gave us the heads up on what to do and where to go once we were inside. Unfortunately we weren't allowed any cameras, cell phones, or mp3 players inside otherwise we'd have taken lots of pictures. Our appointment was at 10, we got there at 930 and didn't get to leave until 1140. usually it only takes an hour, but today they were having issues with their computers and so the 20+families that were there took what seemed like forever! We left and went back to meet with Jack, but still had to wait another 30 minutes for the other families.

Despite being there for over 2 hours, Lucee did amazing! She enjoyed sitting on Ben's lap or being in my arms. The toys I brought to occupy her time didn't really get used, cause she mainly just liked being with us and watching the other families. Ben and I kind of feel like she was nervous because the last time we were with a bunch of adoption families was when she got her blood drawn and we think she might have been worried that something painful would happen again. Thankfully, nothing painful happened, other than just being patient for our turn to turn in paperwork, give an oath that the paperwork was correct, and have an interview with a lady about Lucee and our adoption. Now that this appointment is done, we just have to wait and pray that all goes well and we get her passport with her visa on it by tomorrow afternoon so that we can bring her home on Thursday. If something is wrong or delayed than our flight will have to be delayed as well.

We had planned on going back to Shamian Island to finish up buying souvenirs (this will be the last place to buy them before coming back to the US) after the Consulate appointment, but with it taking much longer than anticipated and since we were with a group, we decided to go back to the hotel first and get Lucee lunch and a nap. The other group was leaving to go to the Island in about 45 minutes, so we decided I'd stay with Lucee while she napped and Ben would go with the group to finish up any shopping.

I was a little nervous since the last time I put her to nap by myself, there was a battle, but I said a prayer for God to bless our time and laid down with her and she was asleep in 20 minutes without a peep. I got up and was able to catch up on the journaling while Ben is out at Shamian Island and I have a quiet hotel room to myself. It's crazy to think we have 1 more full day here and then we will be on a 14 hour flight back to America. Can't wait to get everyone back under the same roof and start living life together as a family of 6! Until then, I'll soak up this quiet time :)

She ended up napping for about 3 hours! Hopefully she'll sleep good tonight, but the good news is tomorrow we don't have to do anything until 415 pm. So, if she stays up late tonight, we can at least all sleep in tomorrow morning.

Well after Lucee woke up, we watched some Chinese cartoons and ate a snack. At about 5pm I began to wonder where Ben was and decided I'd call our guide to contact the group he went with to see when they'd be back if he wasn't back at 530pm... At 515pm I started to get nervous that the group had left without him and he was stranded somewhere with no contact information, so I called Jack. He was surprised that Ben wasn't back yet and called the other guide from that group. Just as he was calling me back, Ben walked in the door. Ha Ha. Everything went great for him and he was able to walk around the Island more since the weather wasn't as wet and cold as when we went the other day. He also met a family from Dayton who knows our friends, Russ and Camy Nelson. They are adopting for the second time. Ben really enjoyed meeting them and we can't wait to all get together when we all get settled back in at home. Russ and Camy travel to China 2 weeks after we get back to bring their daughter home. We are so thankful for the network of other families that we are meeting so that the kids can get together and play with other kids from their same country.

Even though it began raining, we decided to venture out to a Chinese restaurant not far from the hotel that we heard had amazing food. The food was great, even though our waitress seemed to find it comical with how much food we ordered. We went back to the hotel and let Lucee play again in a long bubble bath (the pool at this hotel is outdoor, so we don't get to enjoy it:( , the tub is the next best thing to her though). Then we all went to bed at about 930-10pm. 

Not many pictures taken today... Ben holding Lucee while eating dinner...

Jan 25 - Guangzhou Zoo and Playing with other newly adopted kiddos...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Today we didn't have to meet the guide until 1030am to go to the Guangzhou zoo. We wanted to let the sunshine warm up the day a bit before heading outside. Today is the only day it's supposed to be sunny while we are in Guangzhou... it's also been a week since we've seen the sunshine, and a week since getting Lucee! Hard to believe it's been a week already. In a way it feels like much longer.

It seems like each day we meet the guide a bit later, and each day we sleep in longer. We ended up getting down to the breakfast area at 10am and only had a half hour to eat. We got Lucee her usual yogurt, banana, lemon muffin, and this time she wanted a boiled egg. She wanted it in Changsha too, but didn't eat it, so I was doubtful that she would today, but she ate everything!

We met Jack, our guide, in the lobby and went in the van to the Guangzhou Zoo. The weather was still sunny and in the 40's. It felt great and Lucee loved seeing the animals. It was great bonding time, as she would say the animal name in Chinese and we'd say it in English. Then she'd repeat it in English and make the animal sound. She really seemed to love the monkeys and liked the Elephant. We were a little disappointed that the Panda bears were inside their hut and the glass around them was kind of foggy so we couldn't get a very good view of them. We stayed there for about an hour and a half and then left. We wished we could've stayed longer to see all of the zoo, but I think the guide didn't want to push it with the weather being colder and it almost lunch time.

We ate lunch in the room and laid down for a nap. This time, Ben and I laid down with her, but she never fell asleep, she just laid there quietly for an hour. After an hour the door bell rang from a worker at the hotel who needed to change out the beverages in the little fridge. Oops guess we forgot to put the do not disturb light on. Oh well, it worked out to our advantage as she was still happy, but will end up falling asleep quicker tonight for us to hang out after she goes to bed.

Ben had a test online that he had to finish today, so I took Lucee to the playroom while he worked on it. In the play room, we met 2 other families adopting. One from Montana and another from New Hampshire. It's so easy to think that the way Lucee acts is how all children adopted from China act, but just like all kids, each one is so different. Lucee wanted nothing to do with the clothes she got from the orphanage, but one of the girls we met in the play room didn't want to go anywhere without at least one layer of her orphanage clothing on. Also the other 2 kids wanted to eat constantly and their parents were dealing with having to limit the food for them, where as we haven't heard Lucee tell us that she's hungry ever and until recently barely eats anything.

After about an hour and a half, we went back to the room to check on Ben. When he was done with the test, we all walked around to go to the Thai restaurant (it ended up not being far at all, just across the street on the 5th floor of a shopping mall we never went into). We were a little apprehensive with going since Lucee didn't have a nap and wasn't quite acting as happy as she has been. We were worried she would have a meltdown in the restaurant. As long as she was sitting with Ben, she was fine and we were able to find her a noodle and veggie dish that she loved. Ben had a green curry chicken dish, and I had a chicken and garlic dish. Mine was good except the chicken had lots of bones and fat in it... I really miss the boneless skinless chicken chunks that are served with the meals back home. Ben's curry was delicious (a little too spicy for me, but still great!) and we had these little flat tortilla like sweet bread things that we all super enjoyed!!! On the way home, we stopped at a Turkish dessert shop and each picked out a dessert. Lucee seems to be understanding us more and more. She wanted to eat the cake right away, but we told her that we were going to eat it in the room and she seemed to get it and didn't throw a fit (like she would've in the earlier days). She really enjoys riding on Ben's shoulders and this was the way she went home. The weather was still pleasant and we really wished the weather was like this or even warmer while we were here.

We got back to the hotel and enjoyed eating the desserts. Then we put Lucee to bed (she fell asleep within 10 minutes) and we got up and spent time together, which was the first real quality time in a week! That night we didn't get our usual 10 hours of sleep, but the time spent together was well worth it. Lucee seemed to toss and turn a lot in the middle of the night as well. But all in all, it was a good nights sleep. 

Outside the Zoo

She loved the monkeys!

And the elephants!

The pandas were in the Panda House so we couldn't see them that well. :(

Snuggling with Daddy

The view from our room.

Fish in our hotel garden area.

Happy girl with her dessert!

Ben's tiramisu, I had a blueberry cheesecake :)

Jan 24 - Sightseeing Shamian Island

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Well, Ben and I got about 11 hours of sleep last night and Lucee over 12. What are we gonna do when reality hits and we can't sleep this long??!! We got to Skype with the kids this morning before heading down for breakfast. The boys got to go ice fishing with papa and Lilee had a date with Nana. They are so cute and we miss them sooooooooooooooooooooo (there aren't enough O's to show how much we miss them) much! It seems like the end is in sight, only 5 more days till we see them!!!

This morning, Lucee seems to be more attached to Ben than me. It's kind of hard, to love someone so much but they don't want to interact with you. I know this will pass and in bit she'll want me again, but for now, it's difficult. Anytime I try helping her or ask her something she says 'no' to me.

We go down to breakfast and I was able to talk with a family from Kentucky who is here for their second adoption of a girl who turns 2 years old in 7 days. Their first girl they adopted when she was 9 months old and she is now 6 years old. It was nice to see there is hope for the future, she will eventually feel a part of our family and feel safe with us.

After breakfast, we met our guide to go to Shamian Island to do some shopping for souvenirs. He took us to an area that had been built by the British when they invaded over a hundred years ago. It is called an island because it is a bunch of buildings together with a waterway built around it like an island. The buildings are beautiful and there are statues throughout that are famous. We went into 2 shops where we found most of our souvenirs for our kids back home. We wished the weather was better, because we would've loved to walk around and explore it more. However, it began sleeting so we decided to head back to the hotel. On the drive home it began snowing a few big snowflakes. Our driver who is almost 60 years old and has lived in Guangzhou his whole life has never seen it snow here. We saw people come out of buildings and take pictures of the “snow”. I say “snow” because it didn't even stick, but just a few sparse flakes here and there. But to them, they may have never seen it at all. So it was a big deal.

We got back to the hotel and Ben went to get our lunch to bring back to the hotel for us all to eat. He got chicken and rice and a Big Mac from McDonald's. This was the first time Lucee ate most of her meal, which was encouraging cause she hasn't eaten much the past couple days besides yogurt and bananas. After lunch, it was Ben's turn to attempt to put her down for a nap. Shockingly there was no struggle at all. She just laid down next to him and she fell asleep without any crying or screaming. She slept for about an hour and a half and then woke up in a great mood where everything is fun and she laughs at everything.

We heard there was a great Thai restaurant nearby so after playing in the hotel room, we decided to brave the windy, cold night and walk around to find the Thai restaurant. After walking around for about a half an hour, with no Thai place in site, we decided to go with the good ole' trusty Beef and Noodle place we've come to rely on. We got beef noodles for Ben and I, and tried a different dish of noodles and chicken broth with veggies for Lucee. We got back to the hotel and she ate about half of her dish (again, a huge improvement and we were thankful that she is eating more.) and we enjoyed our beef and noodles. Tomorrow we will ask our guide where this famous Thai restaurant is... Tonight, Lucee enjoyed another long bubble bath while I washed as many clothes as I could in the bathroom sink.

Tonight we were planning on spending some time together after she fell asleep, so we acted like we were going to sleep with her, but since she ended up taking over an hour to fall asleep, we all fell asleep at basically the same time tonight. 

Fancy car in our hotel lobby... Ben would remember what kind it is, I have no clue :)

Shamian Island

There are lots of statues here!!

Shamian Island - beautiful building

The baby whisperer... and his baby.

Her favorite transportation :)  Daddy's shoulders.

Eating dinner in our room...

She loves noodles!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jan 23 - Health Exam and First Day in Guangzhou

*** FYI - All families who adopt from China have to go to Guangzhou to complete the adoption process.  Also, you pronounce it like Gwong Joe :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Today we got up and got ready for the heath exam. I made sure to pack a sucker (for after her TB blood draw – they do a blood draw to test for TB rather than the usual test of giving a shot and checking 2 days later for a reaction... the blood draw is generally more accurate than the shot.) and toys to occupy her time as it could take up to 2 hours being there on a busy Saturday morning. We went down for breakfast and were shocked to see tons of American families with adopted children! We had to of seen at least 14 families sitting and eating breakfast with their kids. It was comforting, but also we wanted to talk with each one of them and hear their stories. We found out later that there were 2 large groups of families ( one group of ten families and another group of seven families) that were traveling together. We saw the family that we met at the jade factory in Beijing and talked with them to see how things were going. They were surprised by the fact that their 18month boy that they adopted seemed to have never left his crib while in the orphanage. He would go stiff when held at first and didn't make eye contact. She said that after a few days, they have seen progress in his interaction with them.

After breakfast, we met Jack in the lobby. We drove to the clinic and had Lucee's photo taken for the visa and then went upstairs to a packed waiting room. People were waiting in lines with their children. There were 4 rooms that each child had to go into. It seemed like our guide knew just what to do, because other families had been there for over an hour and we only ended up being there for about 20-30 minutes. We had her hearing tested, her temperature/weight/height taken, a doctor checked her body to make sure all was healthy. He seemed shocked that she could walk on her own without any device to help her. Then the last room was the blood draw. They thankfully don't let the parents go in. We waited outside and she emerged screaming and crying. I held her till she calmed down and then we left. Jack came up to our room to get all the paperwork that we brought from Changsha. He would be organizing it and looking over it to prepare everything for the interview on Tuesday at the Embassy. He noticed that the documents had a gap in them. They said that she was found at the hospital 6 days after her birth, but that she didn't go to the orphanage until 5 months later. He said that the Embassy might not be okay with that information gap and that he would find out where she was for those 5 months. Come to find out, she was in the hospital during those 5 months because it was better for her to be there with her condition as a small infant than at the orphanage. After 5 months, they moved her to the orphanage where she could be cared for until we picked her up 4 years later.

We ate lunch in the room and decided today was the day we'd try for a nap. We began by praying for her and asking God to help us have patience and her to understand we love her. I took her potty and laid in bed with her, telling her in Chinese as best as I could, we are going to sleep. She began screaming and trying to get out of bed. I just kept holding her and saying, “It's okay, we're going to rest.” over and over. After about 30 minutes of her resisting, she finally calmed down and fell asleep. After she was asleep for 5-10 minutes I turned on the tv and watched '50 First Dates' with Ben while she laid in my arms fast asleep. It was like a mini date for us and we soaked it up. She slept for the entire movie and then woke up in a wonderful mood , laughing a lot and giggling with us. I took her to the play room in the hotel (MUCH better than the one in Changsha!!!) while Ben worked on homework in the room.

Then we went to the Mexican restaurant, which was very yummy. The only disappointing thing about it was they didn't serve chips and salsa like most do back in the states. :(

We got back to the room and I gave Lucee a long bath while I washed clothes in the sink. She enjoyed playing with an empty water bottle and the rubber ducky that the hotel gave her. Our other kids would love this bathtub! It's in an enclosed area that they could splash all they want and the water just runs down the drain. A kids splashing heaven. :) Lucee enjoyed it too! Then we all went to bed around 8pm with no battles or meltdowns... yes, the nap is something we need to make sure she gets most days from now on. :) 

At the Health Exam

Getting weighed and measured.

Getting her hearing tested.

Real orange trees they had everywhere in the lobby of our hotel for Chinese New Year decorations.

Jack looking over all the paperwork, making sure everything looks good for our Consulate appointment on Tuesday.

Paperwork, Paperwork...

Mexican food made by Chinese servers... love it!

The amazing bathroom...