Sunday, September 28, 2008

The LONG journey home!

Ellie enjoying her first meal with her new family at home. It felt so good to be back together again- all 8 of us! Thank you Father for safe travel and for reuniting our family.

First night at home and ready for bed. Thankfully Ellie slept all night in a pack n play in our room.

The journey home was long and mostly uneventful other than a huge problem at the very beginning in Guangzhou. Our travel agency instructed us to have our seats assigned when we checked in on the day of our departure. We almost missed our flight out of China because it was not an easy or quick task for the Northwest agent to assign all 5 of our seats on all 4 flights back to the US. We stood at the counter for over an hour and prayed. I was so afraid we were going to miss our flight. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity and after watching all the other adoptive families head towards the gate, we had our seats assigned and could proceed through customs and security. We asked two Chinese gentlemen who were ahead of us in the security line if we could go in front of them. Thankfully, they both agreed which probably saved us from spending another day in China. Fulton, the girls, and I ran ahead of David who was still trying to get through security. We made it to the gate after everyone else had boarded. A very kind Northwest agent who knew what we had just endured told me it was ok and that they would wait on my husband who had all of our boarding passes. I was almost in tears at that point. David finally made it and then we boarded and had only 3 seats rather than the 5 we had paid for because only 2 seats were together, and we certainly could not let Ellie or Lilly seat alone . Several kind passengers offerred to help by switching seats. The flight attendants could not believe the situation we were in and were very kind and compassionate. They said it was unacceptable, and they wrote up a report and instructed us to file a complaint and request a refund. Eventually, they worked it out so that we had 2 pairs of seats, but we were still one seat short for Ellie so she rode on my lap to Japan. Moral of the story: Do NOT postpone making your seat assignments. Make sure it is done in advance of the day of departure. After all of that drama, the rest of the trip was very smooth. Thank you Lord!
Ellie was a little overwhelmed when we arrived at home. This was the first picture in her new house although she was less than thrilled at this point.

Thank you Sharon and family for the decorations on our gate. We felt so loved and missed! Thank you to Hayley and her mom too for the balloons. That was SO sweet of you!

Our Ethan had been fighting the stomach bug for a day or two so he is looking a little pale here. He was so happy to see us and to meet Ellie. Hopefully, the worse was over before we arrived home as I can not imagine dealing w/ a stomach virus sweeping its way through our new family of 8 while we are still recovering from jet lag!
Our family was so happy to see Lilly again too. They really missed her as well as Fulton.

Shelby taking some pictures of her newest (and last - per her father:) ) younger sibling!

Supper on the run in Memphis. I was feeling very ill at this point so I skipped dinner. David enjoyed the BBQ which Memphis is famous for. I had to sit away from them or else I would have been in the bathroom. Thankfully, my stomach settled down before we landed back at home.

Lilly started sleeping in the seat and then squirmed her little self onto the floor. She slept so well until a flight attendant came by and said it was unsafe. Thankfully it was almost time to land by the time we had to wake her to get her back in the seat.

Ellie fought sleep for hours until I finally pulled out the Benadryl and held her in my lap. She cried because she did not want to give in, but after 5 minutes or so of pretty loud fussing she was sound asleep! Here she is having breakfast with Dad before landing in San Francisco and becoming a US citizen!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Last Post From China

It is hard to believe our journey in China is almost over. We have had a wonderful time in here, but we can not wait to get back home and be reunited with our other 3 children. Our journey to Ellie is almost complete, but our life journey with Ellie has really just begun. We thank our God above for calling us to adopt Ellie and leading us all along the way. We give Him the glory and praise for without Him none of this would have happened. The way throughout this adoption has not always been easy nor will raising 6 children for that matter, but with God as our guide, we know we can, through Him, accomplish all that He sets before us. Thank you for following our journey. Thank you for the comments and e-mails which have really helped us while being away. Stay Tuned: The fun has just begun!

We have to be in the lobby of the hotel at 5:45 AM to head to the airport. We should be back home in our local airport Friday night around 10. Please pray for safe and smooth travels!

Enjoy the photos from our last day and night in China:

We have been walking to and from the Holiday Inn to Shaiman Island. It's about a 15 minute brisk walk but there are 2 huge staircases to take you over a road. As we were preparing to go back to the hotel tonight after dinner at Lucy's, Fulton begged us to take a taxi. We had extra yuan to spend, so I hailed us a cab. Fulton was so thrilled not to have to walk back to the hotel. Here are our 3 kiddos in the back of the taxi enjoying ice cream from the White Swan Deli. Yummy!

The guys at Lucy's-another great meal. This time David has sweet and sour chicken, Fulton had spaghetti, and I had the fried rice. The girls ate a little of everything.

The girls at Lucy's. We did not eat this way- only Ellie ate on my lap!

On our walk to the island, we pass through a very poor area. Tonight, I spotted this little girl and boy doing homework on top of a cardboard box in an alley. Show this picture to your children the next time they complain about school work and remind them that it is VERY hot where these children live.

Sweet Ellie at the White Swan. She is doing unbelievably well! I can't wait for all of you back home to meet her.

Another version of our double stroller. The only problem: Ellie drools a good bit due to 4 teeth coming in and an unrepaired palate, and Fulton gets really upset about "baby spit" getting on him. Lilly says "Mom, Ellie is dripping again!" It makes me laugh.

Lilly and I missed the traditional Red Couch photo last trip because she was in the hospital so we took lots of pictures this time around.

A little silliness during all of our photo taking! They really did good and tolerated lots of pictures.

Aren't they cute in their Chinese outfits? I thought they would like playing dress-up in these outfits when they are a little older.

This is the area we walk through from our hotel to Shaiman Island. We are glad we stayed at the Holiday Inn because otherwise we likely would have never walked these streets and would have missed the many sights and sounds and smells (lots of smells- David said it was the most aroma-filled street he had ever walked on. I tend to agree!) of an average neighborhood in China. The shops were on the first floor and people lived on the floors above them.

This lady was selling this "stuff". We could not figure out what many of the items we saw were.

Our Wednesday night: This was at the Italian restaurant on Shaiman Island- another most delicious meal! Lilly and Ellie absolutely LOVE noodles! Can you tell?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Day in Rainy Guangzhou

Our 2 little girls gazing out our hotel window. We are on the 13th floor so there is a great view of Guangzhou from way up high!

Dressed in their red, white, and blue outfits! These are actually both hand-me-downs from friends. Thanks to Sharon for Lilly's outfit and thanks to Beth for Ellie's dress.

During Lilly's adoption trip, she was sick from day 3 of Gotcha Day until we got home and was hospitalized for most of our trip thus we saw and did very little. Our days and nights consisted of switching off with each other at the hospitals. We are really enjoying be able to see and do all the things we missed the first time around like eating at Lucy's. This is a tradition for many adopting families. The food was very good! I had cheese quesadillas, Fulton had chicken strips and fries, and David had a burger. The little girls had tasty fried rice with veggies.

Fulton wasn't feeling well this morning so Lilly and Ellie were checking to make sure he was ok. He has a low grade fever and a stufy nose. Lilly now has a runny nose. We'll likely all be good and sick with a cold by the time we get home so we can share it with Shelby, Katie, and Ethan. Hopefully not, but I can see it coming!

2 cutie pies watching a movie after breakfast. They are doing well together most of the time!

This was our Lilly last May during her hospitalization in Guangzhou. This is when we first met Nikki, the most amazing guide! She went above and beyond the call of her job to help us in any and every way she could. The above picture is how Nikki last saw Lilly- a very small, frail, and sick little 19 month old.

This is our Lilly today with Nikki! What a difference 16 months, heart surgery, and a loving family made in the life of this precious child. We have kept in touch with Nikki over the last 16 months and finally met up with her at breakfast on Tuesday morning. She is with another adopting family who is also staying at the Holiday Inn. We had told her when we would get in town. She recognized David and walked over to our table. Of course Lilly does not remember her, but Nikki certainly remembers Lilly and how very sick she was. She showed me the pictures of Lilly from the hospital that she still has in her cell phone. Nikki simply couldn't believe how much Lilly had grown and how healthy she was. She shared with us that after we left last year, she was really sad because she missed coming to the hospital to spend the days and evenings with us. We missed her too. She is a special person!

A picture from our trip in May 2007 when we adopted Lilly. Here was Nikki with Shelby and Katie.
Shelby, Katie, and Ethan- we miss you. Only 2 more days and we will be home! Big thank yous to Granny, Mimi, Gabby, and Bobby for helping to care for the 3 we left behind. Also, thanks to Sheri for covering the first week and to Marybeth and family, the Waters family, and Bethany for pitching in too. We are so thankful for all of you!!! Miss you all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Swimming and All about Ellie

I wanted to share a little bit about Ellie now that we have been with her for one week. Yesterday at her medical exam, we found out that she weighs 23.6 pounds and is 33 inches tall. Sometimes we wonder if she is only 2 years old, but she does not have her lower or upper canine teeth yet. I believe those typically come in at 18 months. Lilly was late in getting hers too probably due to nutrition. They appear to all be coming in now which is one reason we have lots of drool. I guess the other reason could be that she still has an unrepaired palate. Anyway, due to the teeth just coming in, we assume that her age is pretty close to 2 years. She is a very happy child and has come out of her shell now. She laughs, smiles, and plays hard with Fulton and Lilly. She loves to eat and does so very quietly and independently; therefore, she is a pleasure to eat out with because she keeps herself busy shoveling in the food. (I do feed her also to aid with bonding. She also likes to feed me which is a great sign of attachment!) She did not like the formula we brought and with the milk scare over here in China, she is only drinking juice and water which she likes fine. She is doing well now with a sippy cup w/out a valve. She does not use her top lip much yet which I assume is because she has only had it for 6 weeks. She makes lots of noises but mostly it is just babbling. She loves the soft doll we gave her on Gotcha Day, and she does say the Chinese word for doll- "wa wa". She has said "ma ma" very plainly a few times. She does like to get her way but what 2 year old doesn't? She does hit, bite, and scratch but we are working on teaching her to "give love" rather than hurt people. Overall, she is a delightful and happy child, and we feel very blessed and honored to have been chosen by God to be her parents. In the orphanage paperwork, she was described as "outgoing, lively, and full of joy". A very accurate description indeed.

Our happy girl Ellie who is warming up a lot more with her Ba Ba especially if it's in the pool!

Views of Guangzhou from the rooftop of the hotel. Lots of buildings and people everywhere!

Having fun in the rooftop pool at the Holiday Inn Shifu! Ellie loved the water, but she did not want to get her face wet. Hopefully there was plenty of chlorine in the water because she drank a good bit!

Monday, September 22, 2008

In the Heat Wave of Guangzhou

After walking around Guangzhou this afternoon and evening, we all had to have a bath. It is SO hot and muggy here. Little Ellie loves the tub. She probably has never been in a real tub with lots of water. Most likely she was just sponged off. She certainly enjoys it now though. She and Lilly had a great time playing and splashing. By the way, Lilly is much better. I think she had a 48 hour virus which just caused fever. She never had any other symptoms and is back to normal except for her appetite which is not quite back to where it was. We are so thankful to our God above for healing her, getting us to Guangzhou safely, and for allowing our consulate appointment to be changed to Wednesday that will still allow us to travel home on Friday. This has been an awesome experience so far, and we are so very grateful that we are all healthy again and that Lilly did not have to visit a Chinese hospital this time around.

After a tasty dinner at Cow and Bridge, we decided we would try to make our stroller a double stroller. It worked! Boy was I glad because we were all SO tired, and we had a 15 minute walk ahead of us. On the way back to the hotel, Lilly and Ellie were hugging and kissing, and it just melted my heart. What a blessing they are to us and to each other- at least for right now anyway!

The other Lily really took to Fulton tonight and had to hold his hand as we walked around the island. We have thoroughly enjoyed having Fulton with us on this adoption trip. He has been so helpful and kind to the little girls including one who is not his sister.

David and Lilly fooling around w/ the camera as we waited for Ellie's exam. Lilly was sweating profusely as usual.

Ellie is still upset even after it was all over. She is still really attached to Mom. She wants to be held by me which is good. I did wear her in the Snugli today all around the airports and all the way to our medical exam. Have I said it is HOT here. Boy was I sweating and so was Ellie afer our walk from the Holiday Inn to Shaiman Island.

Now the torture begins. Nothing hurt Ellie, but you certainly would have thought she had to get several shots the way she cried.

Waiting for Ellie's turn to be examined. There was a basket full of toys and Ellie, Lilly, and FUlton all had fun playing with them while we waited. We used lots of sanitizer afterwards!

We were able to get Ellie's medical appointment done today. It went well, but it was obvious from the start that she has a "white coat phobia" probably from her recent lip repair hospitalization. She cried about everything even getting on the scale. I had to get on with her and then they subtracted my weight. Going to the doctor won't be pleasant for a while w/ little Ellie, and we have quite a few appointments when we get home: cardiologist check-up to ensure her VSD was repaired correctly, cleft clinic, and our pediatrician.

Fulton was great today helping us with all of our luggage, backpacks, and his two little sisters around the airports. Here he is enjoying the sights of Guangzhou. We made sure to point out the poor homes that we saw. One man lived in a make-shift shelter made from pieces of tin. It was very sad and yet it helps to remind us how blessed we truly are to live as we do in America. The area around our hotel is also extremely poor, and it is hard to believe that so many people in this worl live in such impoverished conditions.

We made it to Guangzhou around 12:30 today. Ellie did really well on the plane. There were a few tears but mostly just when she did not get her way. Yes, I believe we have another strong-willed child. Here she is enjoying the air conditioned van and being silly w/ mom as we head to the Holiday Inn Shifu.

Today we had to make our way to Guangzhou to complete the US side of our adoption. It was a little bit of a challenge travelling with 2 little girls now rather than only one, but we made it! Here, Lilly is talking with one of her sisters back home as we are heading to the Kunming airport around 9 this morning. She can really carry on a phone conversation now.