3. She is still learning how to play with things and sit for a little bit. She never sits...
Today, C made a gingerbread house. Because he doesn't eat food dyes, it was slightly challenging...
Pretty good results, I think...
Well, its been two weeks and a day and how's she doing? She is doing well, on the whole. She is playing well, although often by herself. The older are too fast for her and r2 has lost patience with her and has become possessive... its been a learning process, but he's been doing well. Its been a lot of changes for him, but he's a real trooper and doesn't usually complain.
She enjoys rolling/bouncing a small ball back and forth, being tossed in the air, and bashing balloons.
The dogs are also not much of an issue either. She even pet the pug earlier today, then realized what she was doing and smacked him in the face instead. :-)
She's eating well as well. She just ate an entire pbj for lunch! That's been an uphill battle that we are slowly winning. Steff even managed to get three bites of banana yesterday, which she usually hates. She's not big on fruit. In fact, she won't eat any of it. Her favorites are anything starchy, breads, rice, etc. Steff is doing a really good job at being persistantbas well as trying different foods.
She and I went out this morning to get her blood work. It took 3 techs, one to hold her arm, one, o a age the needle, an one to manage the vials, all while I was holing her. She's a strong cookie :-) the good news? We'll probably have to go back next week, since she's so small and they can only take so much from her. Poor thing.
The bad news? She's stopped sleeping well. Rather, going to sleep well. One out, she typically has been doing well. I suppose its that she's comfortable enough to tell us that she's scared to be alone. We've trie night lights and all that and she shares a room with r2. What she wants is us in the room. I'm not a fan of Co sleeping, but we may have to try her in a pack and play for a few days until she's more comfortable. 2 nights ago she as up until midnight, which is probably also a factor of jet lag.
Please be in prayer for us, as going to sleep is very frustrating. Its situations like those that bring out the grouse in me and my family doesn't need to be the target of my pointless anger and frustration.
Also plz pray for Steff, as she isn't sleeping well. She's been waking around 2 and staying up until 5. Its starting to affect her health.
If i don't check in before then, have a great Thanksgiving everyone!! Thank you to everyone for your prayers and for your support with comments and even by simply reading the blog. Its very comforting to know that people are curious enough to want know what's going on and by taking an interest and the time to read he blog. I think that last sentence was worded poorly, but you know what I mean. :-)
So far all seems to be going well. She's doing much better with the dogs and the boys are continuing to dote over her, although some of that newness is wearing off. She was able to repeat 'all done yesterday, one of her first English words, the first being 'hi.'
Personally, Steff and I are doing well, but adjusting slowly back to the time. We seem to be taking turns at being up at nite, tonight being mine :-)
As for the trip, we're glad to be back, but also happy to share our stories, most of the major ones already being recorded here. For my Facebook friends, I posted an album of our trip.
There are a few things I missed about China, I'll put a few here:
1. Bfast consisted of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, potatoes, mushrooms, omlettes, all at one sitting :-) is it any wonder I only ate two meals a day?
2. No where to be. Hotel rooms can be cramped and it happens from time to time that one person blocks the other. It was really nice being able to say to her apology, don't worry about it, I've got no where to be.
3. Guangzhou weather is awesome this time of year.
4. The last few days, it was nice to be able to talk with other families in the exact same stage of life. Its sort of like having a baby added to your family, but with a different set of challenges. Imagine if they came out walking, moving, eating, etc. but still had no language ability. They still cry a lot and sleep continues to be an issue with international adoptions because of the time change. Nor does she have the experiences that a normal 16 month would have: no idea what a car seat is, let alone a car, never seen a dog, we just learned today that dogs bark loudly, no concept for stairs, doesn't know what a book is, falls off of couches, thinks the word for 'more is to scream like the Tasmanian devil, has already seen, in the last two weeks, more different rooms than in her entire last year, doesn't like ice cream or apple juice, in short she's a lot like a grown up new born.
5. Lets go back to that buffet. They had the best mushrooms I've ever eaten and I'll never be able to get them again...grrrr
6. Water pressure. Our trickle of a faucet pales in comparison to the Chinese fire hose they call a shower. Its like washing with a power washer. Grunt.
7. Driving has become boring here. When I watch some poor sap slowly trying to pull out into traffic, while being careful not to offend other drivers or put any car t risk, I am reminded that we may have invented the car, but driving is being invented in other countries. I've seen two busses merge from opposite directions into the same lane with a car in between and all come out happy, with no trace of panic nor even concern in anyone's face. We don't know how to drive. They've mastered the merge and cut. They wait until the narrow gap appears between cars and in full, heavy traffic make a full 45 degree turn into that line, filling the space between cars. Now, as long as the other car stops, and the merging car pulls straight, after making he initial cut, all will be well. The maneuver works identically for busses and trucks, and doesn't produce that primal fear we all get think that a truck's trailer is going to merge right over my car. The mistake we make which causes that is too deep a turn into the opposite lane. 45 degrees, no more, then pull straight into the lane. Works great in a country that legally has to ground 1 7th of its drivers everyday due to over trafficking.
On a side note, I have been rightfully accused of horrific spelling on prior posts. Please first let me apologize, as I certainly want my posts to be easily legible and having a semblance, however slight, of common literacy. Secondly, by way of explanation, please let me explain that most of my posts have been made on a 7 inch tablet. If you've ever typed on one, you are aware that here is no comfortable way to do it for long periods of time, the best probably being to hold it in one hand while typing with the opposite index finger. This takes a while to do accurately, so i play a balance game between accuracy and speed, and sometimes as my neck and finger get tired, speed wins. :-) my apologies.
This message won't post until I get home, but I wanted to let every one know we made it back to the states safely, we're just waiting for our local puddle jumper flight. This message won't send tho, until we're home. In short, the flight went much better than expected. We're extremely tired, its been 26 hrs since we've slept, (pray for Todd, as he's riding home in the car with me driving :-)
Hope did great. She was busy, of course, but slept through the last 4 or so hrs, along with a few shorter naps. We didn't get the bassinette e were hoping for, but God had better plans as the fantastic lady next to us gave up hers so we could have an entire row. I've never been so comfy on a fllight, never mind that it was 15 hrs. In short, praise God for as positive as flight as possible, and much better than we thought.
Hopefully we're able to get on the right plane, as we're having trouble performing the simpleest on tasks, such as calling on a cell. We're pretty zonked.
Unfortunately, this message won't send until we are home, so if you're reading it, it means we're home safe.
Well, its our last day here, and I've got butterflies. I'm excited to be home, but I'm going to miss this time alone with Hope and Steff, both being excellent company.
Today, we went on a rather long walk to an old house, which is itself an art museum. The roof is made of sculpted clay and depicts scenes from folk history. The walls are all hand carved, dad you'd love it. They also have some ivory carvings, a tea house, in which time I spent much longer than the last, and even bought some of their jasmine tea and a mug that changes colors, I'm such a sucker.
Steff and Hope went up to follow jack through the local herbal market, where he told me what each of these do for your health. I remain impressed by his English, being able to carry on a very deep conversation. They sell all kinds of things, from dried sea horses, dried mushrooms, ginseng in over 100 varieties, and lizard on a stick. They keep snake in alcohol that they drink and make soup from scorpions, which they sell live.
We leave early tomorrow morning, so plz be in prayer for us, as the trip will be very long and we're really hooping for a bassinette, which can only be confirmed at counter.
She's a citizen! Or so they say... there seems to be a difference in opinion over when it actually becomes official, but the leading voice seems to be when the lady at the us consulate goes stamp stamp. There a re remaining formalities, but legally she's a citizen. There's really nothing to say about the process. You go in, give your paperwork, they stamp, you go home. I'm just thankful we didn't have to go back to Chongqing to get or change something.
We finished much of our souvenir shopping as well. The ppl here expect you to barter, and I can never tell how badly I lose, its probably better that way. Went back to lucy's again, had Chinese this time shana, beef and basil stir fry.
Please be in prayer for us as we prepare for tomorrows flight. Also, we're pretty tired of being here, and we're both getting a little edgey.
Hope is doing very well, showing a lot more personality. She likes to wiggle and dance when she's eating something yummy. She's really enjoying life right now, which is great!
Today, we're off to an old house/art museum and an herbal market. Todd, Steff says I should buy you some dried sea horses, which apparently are an herb?!
1. Hope finally let brian give her a bottle. Major progress, folks.
2. Hypothetically speaking, if you clog the toilet twice they will send at least three people and then when they leave mutter something in Chinese as if we can understand.
3. The smell of fried squid makes my stomach churn.
4. The weather in Guangzhou rocks, sunny high 70s
5. I would pay big money for some breyers Icecream.
6. The buffet here has the best bananas and potatoes.
7. I really thought I would be sick the entire time we are here but I've been more healthy than at home.
8. Reading emails/comments from loved friends and families makes me cry each time.
9. Leaving the kids at home was the best choice but I miss them more than I could ever predict. I cannot wait to touch down in the USA.
10. Besides the obvious, I can't wait to have ice, eat a salad or use a fork. I can't wait to use dollars because every time I hand someone a 100 rmb I feel like its highway robbery until I remember its only $15. I can't wait to stop doing laundry in the sink and hanging it out the window,
11. Hope is the sweetest little girl and I still can't believe she was born half way around the world.
I seem to do this about every other day, wake up about 4 am. No big deal really, nothing to feel sorry for. Since we have no routine, my body isn't tired. Weird really. I'm usually one of those people who can set their watch by their belly. Not here, we've usually eating two meals a day, whenever we get around to it and feeling just fine.
Guangzhou is like an American outpost. I may have said this in the last post, but its really a lot like Tampa. Its warm, laid back, lots of shops, river running through it. Its by far the best city yet. There are also plenty of Westerners here. It sounds funny, but when everyone you speak to, you have to speak slowly, in small words, and repeat yourself, communication becomes a drag. It was really nice to have a conversation with someone yesterday on the way to the grocery store with whom I could speak normally. No Chinese person, that we met, can speak perfect English. They all struggle at some level. Our guides have by far had the best English, each one getting subsequently better (jack, our current one is pretty good), but you still have to watch how you phrase things and they sometimes get lost in our grammar.
Yesterday brought us to a Buddhist temple. It was a complex of smaller shrines with different Buddhas, who apparently have different powers, some larger than others. Assured it wasn't sacrilegious, I dodged suplicants to take good pics. Btw, our camera won't turn on so I have to use the camera in the video camera, grumble. Pretty, but tough to understand, as we have no familiarity with the religion, despite jacks very thorough explanations. Of the massive chinese population, only 7% are Buddhist, 4% Christian, and an even smaller number are home grown Taoist. The nation has no desire for religion. Their pride seems to be in their tradition and their professionalism. This temple was only the second to be built in south china and is over 1400 yreas old, which apparently to them is nothing. I terms of professionalism, I have seen only one slacker, and that was the lady at yesterdays checkout line.
She just didn't care. No emotion on her face what so ever. The American in front of me forgot to weigh her cucumbers and kiwi first, so when she got to them, she slammed to the side and gave a real annoyed look. When she finished ringing her up she glared at my friend, and tossed them into a basket behind her, then pouted. Rude by american standards. When it was my turn, she asked if I wanted bags (you have to buy them here, its a law) then rang it all up, put it in a pile and set one bag on top. Apparently, I can bag it all myself, and fit it in one bag. :-)
On the whole, however, they are very thorough in all they do. Service is full and complete and they seem to be 100% reliable. I've never had so many bags held, doors opened, buttons pushed for me in my life. Poor William (or so his name tag tells me) was in utter disgrace the other day at breakfast as I got my own high chair. When he saw he carrying it, he came running over to me, insisted I let him carry it the remaining 20 feet and had a conniption when he realized it needed to be wiped - I never saw any dirt. He was horribly embarrassed that I would take on that level of self-service.
After the temple, we went to a park and had a very nice stroll through. Jack works in tandem with a driver, and they really make a great team, so we were able to walk through it and be met on the other side.
It was the perfect day for a stroll, except for Steff who is in a sweat shirt and long pants, but more on laundry later. The park has great scenery, good shade and plenty to look at. There was a Kung Fu class, which I was forbidden from taping:-), for boys going on just inside. Several parts have large groups sitting down doing a group sing along of old folks songs. There's a small carnival section with rides, some new to us. They have a go cart track for kids, where the cars run on batteries, like a power wheels car. There is a round, flat metal track that looks like a roller coaster track, with what looks like individual coaster cars on it, but they're not. The cars are actually pedal powered. Lastly, they have these large mechanical animals that run on wheels about the park that kids can ride. There's also a playgroujd, but we tried one yesterday, but hope is afraid of it, so we didn't try. Many people spend times at these parks using exercise equipment. Jack explained that apartments don't have enuf space for exercise, not even for a fold up ping pong table. But man, they're good at it. (Sorry Pastor Eric, its called ping pong here.) Its on TV every day and we even stood outside a sports school is Beijing, specializing in ping pong.
Lunch brought us to pizza hut, hallelujah, we didn't get sick from the soda! It was a weird menu, much bigger than ours. Sorry shana, we got a cheese stuff crust. Perhaps tomorrow we'll be more adventurous. I should add, however, that we have eaten Chinese several times. I typically split my breakfast plate between Chinese and western. We've gone out several times for Chinese and we even got Steff to use chopsticks once, but she usually uses the ceramic spoon. :-)
There is no such thing as a Chinese Laundromat. Doesnt exist. They all do their own, so you have to get a service to do it for you. Apparently, we aren't the first ones to ask for a way to bypass these services and do it ourselves. The first person actually had to explain to jack what a Laundromat was. We've tried doing it in the sink, but it takes at least 2 days to dry, no matter how hard we ring it, then smells of mildew. I even tried to iron some things dry, which worked for some things, but not others.
Tonight, we went swimming. Rather, I did. Hope wasn't interested, but she did look adorable in her suit. It was freezing cold, I swam a few laps, got sore very quickly, and got out..... and fell right on my can. :-) Steff was pleased, not just that I was OK, but that she got a front row seat. It wasn't some stumbling, bumbling thing... when I got out, my feet shot out and rolled right onto my side. Sigh.
A strange side note, Hope hated the water and wanted nothing to do with it. Not just that, but she was upset by me going into it. She was very afraid for me. We just wonder sometimes, what have you seen, my little dear, over the last year? She was in a good orphanage, but I keep realising, there's a big difference between a day care and an orphanage, even though they look the same. A day care watches kids, whereas an orphanage manages them. I beg you to pray for these kids, over several hundred million world wide, who's heads are getting flat because they lay down all the time, who's bed time routine is lay down with a bottle in your crib, and who have never had a proper bath. As we uncover more of her personality, we uncover more and more things that must have been so stressful on a little girl. We'll talk in person about some of them for those who are interested, but this is certainly not the place for details.
Praise God for the two babies who will be adopted out of that room shortly, 1 in only two weeks and thank you for the families who bring them into their families.
It is important to note, that despite my prior words, this is a good orphanage. The nannies genuinely care for them and perhaps even love them. They were very happy to see Hope go, knowing she would have a better life. The nannies work hard and seem to be happy doing what they do.
Despite Biblical mandates, we are spending a lot of time worrying for tomorrow, or specifically Wednesday's flight back. Steff has many more strengths than I, but holding a squirmy, cranky, 16 month old who doesn't know you for 15 hrs on a plane isn't one of them. Hope has chosen Steff to be her anchor through this time of transition (praise for a good step in the right direction) but she will only sit with Steff. I can carry her, play with her, whatever, but I cannot sit with her, she'll scream. We're praying that we'll be granted a bassinette seat, but there's no way to confirm that until we arrive.
Thanks again to all for your verses, that was a big blessing. Plz continue to pray for Steff, as she's horribly, terribly homesick. Plz pray for me so that I can find good ways to support her and love her.
PS> today is consulate appt day. Hopefully we got the time right, cause there was a discrepancy in the paperwork.
Hey! We found some fellow Americans who let us pal around dwith them yesterday. They're both families from Michigan who are here for te same reason. We went on a fun filled adventure to the....... grocery store. Which really was an adventure. We had to walk ttghrouggh the local market... which is like MD,s board walk multiplied by 10. Tyheyre all yelling at you for your attention. When the locals see ou they just scream hello!! And out have no choice but to look up. When you do, the ye naik you wittgh 20 offers. Most people have these yellow boxes of saffron just sitting out. When they see you, they yell hello, pick up the box and offer you a good price on t. What's with the saffron? Enuf ppl must buy it or else they'd use some thing else, but who? I think its a bet, who can sell a box of saffron first?
The grocery store was crazym, as is everyytyhin around d here. Too many people. Check out was not a line... rattyher a mob.
Went for her health check yesterday, seemed fine. Came back for a nap, then went for a walk on the local island. Its a European style tourist area, actually kinda nice. Brides and models everywhere. Even saw this Chinese Goth punk rock band doing a photo shoot. ?! Had lunch at lucy,'s, dbl cheeseburger and a local Chinese beer. (Eat your heart out eric...:-) you would have liked it) overallm, good day. Hope was. Ot t all interested in the play ground. Cried on the slide.
Today, a Buddhist temple and local park. Sinccd yesterdays pics seem to have wormed, I'll try one of hope having breakfast.
Well, we're here in Guangzhou and much happier. Bed is much softer (a huge plus), city smaller, more Americans, better wifi access (still not in room), better baby behavior, another good guide, more to do, warmer weather, and one step closer to home.
Plz continue to be in prayer. We have been marveling at how the little details have been working themselves out. Plz be in prayer about the flight home. Hope is usually well-behaved, but hates sitting on laps.
I'm not sure if this is going to work, as I have to email blogger to post this, but I'll CC someone with the email who can post it directly, but I'm going to post a pic out the window of the city scape. I'll do 2, one of he city line and another of the market below.
It is with heavy hearts that we leave Chongqing today. We do not take her lightly from her home province. Nevertheless, we fly out tonight, 6:00 our time. W went to a local temple today, over 300 years old. Neat, but very dirty. There is a giant statue in the front of a god of water. He was a man, who became a god after he figured out how to keep the city safe from water. Drum roll..... he moved the city to higher ground <cymbal crash> sheesh... they'll let anyone be a diety these days. They also have this thing with doorways and thresholds. The door closes about a foot off the ground and the threshold rises to meet ot, so one can easily trip on it. Why? To keep out evil spirits. Steff wanted to know why the spirits can't step over it like we do, but thankfully, she held her tongue until later. These ppl don't laugh at themselves very well.
Please be in prayer for us. Especially for Steff. Hope has decided that Steff is going to be ttghe one to help her through this time, but hope is also being very difficult about things. She cries most of the day, and when she's not crying she's eittgher sleeping or screaming. We love her dearly, but this new attitude makes ttghings tough. Plus, we are both extremely homesick, which compounds the problem.
Thank you for those who send verses chapters and even entire books!! A very large blessing!
Spent a lot of time around the city today, mostly in the morning. Went to a zoo, where they specialize in pandas. They have 8, all sitting right out in the open. They even have a red panda- yes Todd, I know its not really a panda or a bear... more of a racoon. Our guide shared with us his best panda jokes. The:-) highlight being, why does a panda sleep all the time? Do get rid of the dark circles under his eyes.
Also went to goose park, not a single goose, to climb a pagoda and get a good view of he city. Too much smog for a great pic tho. Also attended a tea where we offended the tea lady by lookimh like we don't care. Not that, just we know how long a one year old can sit still.
Then to the book store. Its a pretty big store with several levels. Steff asked a lady if she spoke English.... 4th floor was the answer. Went to 4th floor... never figured out why she sent us there. No magic help desk, nomerican section...? Any way, I found the word of the book we were looking for and he sent us (in English) to the 6th floor.
Thanks Chris for your verses, exactly what I was looking for.
The 2-hr car ride from Chongqing to Fuling goes thru the hills and mountains. While still considered Chongqing, this is a pretty rural area. Land is at a premium here, as most of them out there are farmers. They have devised methods for farming on a hillside so steep that I would find it hard to walk on.
The orphanage itself really isn't much. There's about 100 kids there total. In Hope's room, there was around 20 beds. We were worried that te trip back was going to make it hard for her to leave. The opposote was true. She didn't want to be there or see her nannies, who were perfectly kind and caring to her and the other orphans. Many tried to hold her, but she only wanted Steff, which was a joy to the nannies.
on ttghe whole, the center looks like a day care center. Its difficult to realize that they rarely leave the room.
We then went on a tour through the countryside to see how the common people lived. It is believed that most abanadonded BA ies come efrom the rural poor. We even stopped at a peasant's house, which was very eye opening. The house was built entirely of cement, looking 70 years old, but it was only 20. It and a layer of dirt and dust on everytghing that mde it look as if it hadn't been touched in 30 yrs. The beds were little more than wide work benches with hay and a straw mat. I never saw any blankets.
They and the local people are pickle farmers. We unwittingly tried some at the food court the other night. :-) they grow this cabbage-like vege and let it soak in salt and other spices for a week, then its sliced into fine strips. We even got to walk thru part of a pickle factory.
As a side note, we didn't pack a number of things in favor of space, thinking we would have easy wifi. So, we are w/o a Bible. To my Christian friends, it would be an encouragement, that if you leave a comment, could you also type you fav verse?
A little bit about her. She's really tall and skinny. 18m pjs fit perfectly. She is still on bottles and formula but we've got her on some table food. She loves Gerber puffs. She would eat them all day. She's eating out of a bottle well and in the 24 + hours we have had her, her Pincher grasp is so much better.
She babbles and learned how to wave tonight. She loves any toy and congee. We've gotten some smiles and a few laughs. Things are going really well, in general.
Some prayer requests
The biggest is two part: isolation and missing our kids.
We are in a big city but almost no westerners. I saw an American couple in the elevator and wanted to hug them. We stick out and get a lot of stares. We are alone much of the day so finding food that is cheap and won't make us sick is a challenge. Everything is difficult. We have no wireless so if we want to skype or check email, we have to walk to Starbucks.
We miss the kids so badly. I can't even talk about them without crying. Pray that God would calm my heart.
Tomorrow we visit the orphanange. Its a long drive and I have been getting car sick. We're looking forward to seeing it.
Although I can't see the blog, I can see your comments. They get emailed. Please leave us some it helps our homesick hearts.
That's all for now. Thank you for your prayers.
Its snowing here in pa, a lot!
One less day to get everything done. 5 more days....
The pug is not happy about the snow.
The boys still love the hair bows
I hope its warm and sunny where you are.
we got our travel itinerary....holy cow its expensive!
Did I mention we leave in 5 days?