Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reality & Blessings

The reality of being home is that Emma has a hard time staying asleep.  She is awake all night tossing and turning, checking, and rechecking to make sure we are still there.  We have been co-sleeping with her but she still wakes up to check and recheck.

When we first got home, I thought  she just wanted to co-sleep (I had been fighting that in China to keep my rest). We thought that perhaps her foster family co-slept and that if we did that she would sleep more soundly.  It didn't help. 4 days later, we were just all exhausted.   Then, 2 nights ago,  my DH agreed to sleep on her floor as she slept in her toddler bed (as opposed to the crib she slept in while in China). She still popped her head up every 40 mins to check that he was there; however,  as long as he was there, she was good and went back down to sleep (on her own!).  She didn't need us in bed with her, she just wanted to make sure we hadn't left her. :-(

I have a great online community of adoptive parents that are helping me brainstorm my way around this while Emma learns we are not going anywhere.  We are pulling out every stop in the book -- natural products, music, a lovey, etc.  Honestly, I underestimated it when they told us that most kiddos coming home have sleep challenges.  I thought 'Oh i had a newborn, I get it'.  Nope. This is totally different from anything we saw with Alexis.  I want to openly say this so adoptive parents who are waiting know. You gotta prepare yourself for a tough first week home. Tougher then anything we saw in China at night.

During the day Emma is a dream and such a blessing to our family.  A few updates since we have been home:
  • She eats like a champ & continually uses the signs for 'more' food and 'down' from her high chair. 
  • She can traverse her way up the stairs (I found her on the landing one day this week so the gates went up immediately) and she just learned yesterday how to go down the stoop to our mudroom (1 step) backwards so she doesn't fall.  :-)  
  • We had our first Dr's Appt and she did great. Poor thing was pricked 4 times for the 12 vials of blood but they got it all eventually and so far so good!
We have wonderful friends and family who have been bringing us dinner so we haven't had to cook this week at all, thank God. Thank you to everyone who brought us something, we so appreciated it!

Lexie is loving being a big sister but having a hard time sharing our time. To be expected.  Funny day this week Matt walked in the playroom to find Lexie with a pair of kids scissors behind her back and a guilty face. He asked her what she did and she said 'I gave Emma a haircut'.   It was all we could do not to smile.

Emma's 'first' haircut from Lexie

Even with all the sleep issues, we were bound and determined to do some 'family' events this week. We went ice skating on Monday (before everyone got sick). Emma slept through the event.  Lexie loved her new skates but is still warming up to the idea of being on the ice. She has already asked to go again though so that is a good sign!

Emma sacked out as Lexie and Daddy come back from hitting the ice

We also hit the pool yesterday morning.  It was good for about 20 mins until everyone got cold.  Still 20 mins is pretty good for an outing!The only glitch -- getting two kiddos plus parents dressed and undressed in a small locker room is clearly still something we need to master, lol.

Emma's first swimming adventure

That is the update for now. We are doing freaking thankful for our employer who give us maternity and paternity leave for the next 9 weeks.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome Home!!

We are home!!

Here is just a snapshot of what we had waiting for us at the airport when we arrived! Seriously, we had an absolutely huge group of people waiting for us, we are so grateful for everyone who came to share the day with us!

Kiddos waiting outside customs

 Coming through from customs

My girl who I missed more then I could have imagined

 Our family of 4!

Emma was pretty much exhausted so really didn't open up and start smiling until we got home.  Here are a few pictures from that evening:

 Girls in their new dresses

Aunt Catherine (who helped watch Lexie while we were gone) & Emma

If you like what you see, view the full set of pictures here

We are exhausted and trying to get on the right timezone but I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who followed our blog, sent me emails, and supported us by helping out with Lexie while we are gone.  We love you all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 11: We are in Hong Kong (again!)

We took a mini van from GZ to Hong Kong this evening. Aside from an hour crying from Ms. Emma, we had a pretty uneventful evening. When we get to Hong Kong we had a few last drinks in the lobby with Patrick, Tracy & Emmilene.   We absolutely love this family and cannot wait to watch our families continue to change over the years.

 Matt & Patrick in the lobby

 Emma and Patrick (notice the delicious Boddingtons, this is clearly needed after our long trip!)

Emmeline and Emma, not quite friends yet but we have years to go!

We are on our way home!  Wish us luck on the 15 hour flight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 10 - We are ready to go home

We have tried to 'soak' in the Chinese culture over the past 2 weeks. We have eaten more Chinese food then I have probably eaten in my entire life in the span of 2 weeks. We have learned everything we could from our guides.  Today we broke down today and ate this...

We are ready to come home.  The last two nights Emma has woken up  at midnight, 2, 4, and up for the day at 6 am.  She wakes up confused as to where she is and who we are. I don't blame her.  I wake up and wonder where the heck I am. We are exhausted  - both emotionally and physically. Being away from our DD Lexie for this long has taken it's toll.  It is time for us to close out this chapter of our adoption.

Oh yeah, we did have Emma's consulate appt today as well. All went as planned -- tomorrow we get her visa and she will be a US citizen when we land.

Tomorrow at 4:30 we will be heading to HK.  Our next post should be our last from China!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 9 - videos of Emma & more site seeing in Guangzhou

Here are a few videos over the past few days of our adorable Emma:

1. Figuring out how to blow kisses (we are at starbucks btw):

2. Learning to babble with daddy:

Today we went sight seeing  to a local park - Yuntai Square.  It was a huge park filled with beautiful flowers and lots of Green space. Emma had a great time running around and we captured a few good pics with all of the beautiful blooming flowers.

Chinese New Year Celebrations have begun all over the city..

There was an 'angry birds' real life game that matt attempted (he actually did pretty well)..

And then we put Emma in the slingshot..parents of the year, right?!  

Just kidding btw, we didn't actually use this with her in it! :-)

View of Guangzhou from Yuntai Square:

Wrapping up with dinner at Tao Tao Ju Cantonese Restaurant with our guide John:

Tomorrow we have our consulate appointment, yea! And then Thursday we get Emma's visa and head to Hong Kong.  Friday Emma will officially be a US citizen and our family will be united, yippee!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 7 & Day 8 - Guangzhou sites

We spent the last 2 days site seeing around Guangzhou with our guide John (who we absolutely love).   I will let the pictures explain what we have done!

 Lunch on Saturday on the island with our guide, John

Breakfast Sunday morning @ Starbucks. Emma made a mess, as usual!

We then went to church on Shaiman Island. The service was in English and Mandarin; too cool!

As usual Emma had all of the folks at church around us laughing!

We then went to the White Swan hotel to get the famous 'red couch' picture

 Of course Emma did great with the pictures

She started laughing hilariously when we started making faces. :-)

We then went home in the rain and Emma feel asleep in my arms!

 Monday morning we got up early & visited 'Six Banyan' Buddhist temple. The structure above was built in the 1200's -- I believe the oldest structure I have ever seen.

The temple was decorated for the Chinese new year with the red lanterns above. They are seriously everywhere right now (along with Tangerine trees!)

Buddhas in the six banyan temple

 Family picture in front of one of the banyan trees

We then went to visit the 'Chen family' house, displaying traditional Chinese Architecture

Emma hammed it up all weekend with our driver and our guide. The driver told our guide that Emma is 'absolutely adorable'. We know we are in trouble as he is not the first person to tell us this!!  Here she is blowing  a kiss (we learned how to ask her to do it in Mandarin and she does it, freaking the cutest thing ever).

One of the other things that came up this weekend (that we were not prepared for) were questions about Emma's race. Apparently she is a minority in China -- that is to say, she is not typical 'Han Chinese'. Her eyes, lips, and nose look different then Han Chinese (which represent about 80-90% of the population in china). Her skin is also darker so I think that throws people off. Anyway, we had a few people (both American & Chinese) ask us if Emma was in fact Chinese.  It threw me for a loop at first b/c I thought perhaps they were asking if she was my biological child but I quickly learned that they wondered if she was another race or from another country.  We talked to our guide frankly about the scenario and he explained why he thought she was a minority (eyes, lips, nose) and that it is not disrespect that they are asking, they are just curious.  We will never know what minority she is 100%  & we don't care. She is adorable and that is what I tell people when they ask. They all quickly agree so I do think they are honestly just interested. 

Thank you all for the support and emails re: night terror advice by the way! Things are going better in that department and we are learning how to address it when she does wake up.  She is napping great and we have started to try to nap during those times as well.  

Tomorrow we have one last day of site seeing with John including dinner at his favorite Cantonese restaurant. We plan to try the rice wine (apparently comparable with a vodka drink) as well so we will see how that goes! 4.5 more days and we will be home!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

God is so faithful

The adoption community is an amazing one.  While we were in Kunming we had two amazing experiences.

The first I have already shared with you all. Dear sweet Jane and how she helped us provide details to Chun Xiao's past.

The second experience is one that I have not shared with you all yet.  Please go to my dear friend Kam's blog to read about our experience in her words:

We feel so lucky that we were able to meet the 'R' family and help bring closure for them.  God is good and I continue to be amazed at how he is working in our lives.   We continue to pray for peace for the 'R' family as they move forward.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 5 & 6: Travel to GZ & Medical Exam

We packed up our hotel room and flew from Kunmimg to Guangzhou on Friday evening.  

Chun Xiao helping with the packing

It was hard to leave Kunming. Hard to leave Chun Xiao's birthplace where she was clearly loved by those at the orphanage, the foster family, and almost everyone we met after gotcha day.  I know in my heart she needs to come with us but it was sad to think of her loosing this piece of her history. I am so thankful for the people we met and I hope to stay in touch with Jane as Chun Xiao grows and hopefully return to Kunming for a visit when she is old enough and ready.

Back to the travel...the airport was nuts. Seriously, nuts. It reminded me of the airport in 1985 when you had to get there 3 hours early, stand in line with your paper tickets, push people of your way, and you may see someone smoking while waiting.  Our guide was great though, he stood by our side all the way through to security.  Chun Xiao is so adaptable -- she just rolled with the punches as our flight was delayed, we ate the only airport food available (KFC), as people tried to grab her out of my hands to say how cute she was, and as others commented about the number of layers she should be wearing.

The flight was good, Emma was a trooper. By the end of the flight she had the entire plane looking at her as she made faces at the other passengers.  This girl knows how to get people to like her.

We were very happy to get to Guangzhou at around 10 pm. Chun Xiao passed out right away. Her thumb continues to be her favorite comfort item!

GZ is the 3rd largest city in China - after Beijing and Shanghai at 14 Million people (twice the size of NYC). Again, I am amazed at this 'china is huge' thing. We are staying near an area called 'Shamian Island' that is very touristy and comfortable for us. The island has very few people, lots of Americans, tourist shops, and even a Starbucks.  The island has British architecture and beautiful Banyan trees that are hundreds of years old. Lovely place to walk with our new daughter.

Shamian Island - Guangzhou

Emma had her medical exam this morning on the island. She was up bright and early (at 5:30 am she was up for the day after an hour of crying) and was ready to roll by the time our guide got there at 9 am.

At the hotel in the morning

The only glitch at the medical appt was that the doctor recognized Emma's cold and then told our guide that we should put more clothes on Emma because she has a cold.  Seriously, she was wearing a Patagonia Puffy coat to the appointment (it is 55 degrees out by the way) and was wearing a dress and tights inside (where it was ~80 degrees and stuffed with people).  It is just such a cultural difference between the US and China. We had many American parents tell us how cute she looked in her ballerina dress and flower hair bow and  yet we had other Chinese people tell us we were not dressing her warmly enough. :-)

Waiting for her medical exam

Throughout the day Emma kept falling asleep in the stroller (on the way to the appt, & on the way home). I guess that is what you do when you are exhausted from  not sleeping during the night!  Anyway, here is her signature sleep position with our Happy Dino stroller. Our guide thought this was hilarious.

We also ran into Tracy and Patrick from Linguine or Lo Mein today which was a blessing (notice the matching Happy Dino strollers below!). So nice to see friends and give each other the 'I am not crazy' pep talk.  They are staying with us at the Holiday Inn, also a blessing!  Emmeline and Emma had a good time together sharing some cheerios. I really believe children do better with other children. We parents are just too boring for them!

The next few days should be very relaxing. We are planning to go to church tomorrow morning (service in english) and then to see a few different sites in GZ on Monday & Tuesday.  We will of course continue to post pics of the sites in the days to come!