Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Bit about Our Little Guy

Piano -playing


Daddy - loving Junior Gamecock
(National Champs as of last night - GO COCKS!)

Water and Jie Jie loving

Blueberry -picking and eating

Temper -tantrum throwing
(Mama wouldn't let him have any more berries. Needless to say, he LOVES blueberries, and he ate a TON)

Car - pulling
(day after arriving home - note suitcase is still on bathroom floor!)

Dirt- digging

Cozy  Coupe driving

Gu-Gu loving. . . . special little guy!

I don't have enough time to share just how wonderful these first 2 weeks home have been but let me try. . . 

Hudson is truly  a different child than the one we met and spent 14 days with in China.  He has literally blossomed before our very eyes.  In looking back, it appears that Hudson put up walls and was almost refusing to let us in for a while.  Then he went threw an anger stageI suppose as part of his grieving.  Now he has become a happy-go-lucky-little fellow!  We have had one rough night, a few very early mornings, and temper tantrums here and there, but overall, Hudson has been a delight.  He still likes to be held while you are walking, but he is getting better at tolerating us sitting down.  He still speaks Chinese mostly, but he has added a few English words like Daddy, car, ball, cat, and Bubba (for Fulton).  He hasn't learned "Go Gamecocks" yet or "We are the National Champs in baseball" but we are working on that!  He calls me "Mama" now but only recently was calling me "Ayi" - nannie in Chinese. And he blew me a kiss today after I put him down for a nap.  I smacked my lips as if kissing him, and he did it back - so sweet! 

Our other children are doing amazingly well with Hudson.  There has been really no sibling jealousy to speak of - yet.  Lilly tells me all the time how much she likes Hudson.  He has even made her "best friend" list.  So all is well here for which we are so very grateful.  God has blessed us with a remarkable little boy who fits in beautifully with our family.  Once again I have been amazed by the miracle of adoption.  Once again I am thanking the Father for calling us to adopt - again - even though many thought we were definitely insane (with Ellie they thought we were just bordering insanity but now we are really there).  Once again I am thanking the Father for giving us the courage, faith, and strength to obey His call. Is He calling you to care for one of the 147 million orphans who wait for a family ???

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We Are Home!

In our hotel in Hong Kong waiting for the shuttle.  Caught a great pouty look from Hudson.  He can get the lip out pretty far just like his 2 older brothers.

Once again Ethan amazed us with how well he did on the 14 1/2 hour plane ride.  That doesn't even count the extra 1/2 hour we had due to having to wait for clearance to take off.  Ethan enjoyed playing with play dough, his toy plane, and matchbox cars.  He also took walks on the plane to talk with Wei's family who were seated a few rows up from us.  Thankfully he did sleep 2 different times and woke up happy and cheerful. 

This little fellow did pretty good as well considering his age and all the changes he endured prior to the flight.  He had 2 good temper tantrums in the beginning which got us a few concerning looks from those around us.  I am sure they were hoping that his screaming would not last the entire trip.  Thankfully, it did not.  Hudson also played well with his stacking cups and toy cars.  He had a short nap and then later slept about 5 1/2 hours.  Unfortunately, he did not wake up happy and cheerful!  However, once we got off the plane, and he got back into his Baba's arms, the crying subsided.  He took another short nap in David's arms and then he did wake up  happy and cheerful - full of smiles - as we all enjoyed dinner at Chili's in the Chicago airport.

This was right before his nap as we stood in line to eat at Chili's.  David and I wanted to sit at a table rather than on the floor, and I was craving a salad which of course was off limits in China.  Ethan and Hudson enjoyed chicken and fries.We left there thinking we only had an hour til our already delayed flight would take off.  No such luck.  The terrible thunderstorms had flights backed up considerably and some even cancelled like Wei's family who had to overnight in Chicago.  Thankfully our multiple delayed flight did finally depart around 8:45 PM CST.  Although I smocked Hudson's "coming home outfit" and had it packed in my backpack, David and I decided it was not worth putting Hudson through changing his clothes as he was so tired, and we knew that would not go over well!   

We were so happy to see our family waiting for us.  Lilly and Ellie were so excited that they ran pass the secured point and all the bells started sounding.  Thankfully the airport was deserted and the security guard just smiled and reset the alarms.  It was late - 11:45 PM - but Lilly and Ellie weren't the least bit tired as they were SO excited to have us home.  We got lots of hugs and kisses.  Hudson was not too thrilled with the hugs and kisses though.    

Ethan was so happy to see Lilly and Ellie - his 2 favorite playmates.  As we were walking out of the airport, the 3 of them were in front of me hand in hand.  I was too tired to pull out the camera, but it was a sweet moment.

Hudson screamed the entire way home.  He wanted David who was driving and thus he screamed.  I am really glad we don't live too far from the airport.  We all had heard enough screaming.  Once home, we quickly got everyone ready for bed and SLEPT! 

Some thank yous to some very special people:
Thank you to my dear cousin Sheri who stayed with my children for the first 10 days of our trip.  She only has one son so that was a huge change for her to care for 6 children in all.  Thank you also to her mom, my dear Aunt Lulu (I couldn't say Louise when I was little so "Lulu" stuck) who came to give Sheri a helping hand for several days.  Thank you both so very much!

Thank you also to Drew and Linda, friends of ours from church, who kept the children after Sheri returned  home.  Drew and Linda went from NO children to 5 children in an instant.  The children had a wonderful time staying at their home with their many pets - cats, chinchillas, visiting raccoon and babies, bunny who is litter boxed train, etc.  Thank you also for staying up late and driving the children to the airport so they could welcome us home.  We are so thankful for your sacrifice.

Last but not least, thank you to my dear friend Jen who kept the blog running for us.  Jen has 5 children of her on and is a teacher who didn't finish school for the summer until June 10.  I know you are extremely busy, Jen, so thank you for sacrificing your time to update the blog for us.

It's great to be home and a family of 9!  We are still trying to recover from jet lag and are waking up way too early.  Hudson is doing better now that we are no longer living like nomads and seems to be enjoying getting to know his new siblings and his new home!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Step Closer To Home

Hong Kong:
We are so thankful to be able to report that we are one step closer to home - we made it to Hong Kong by train after our consulate appointment.  Hudson has a US visa and upon landing in the US - in Chicago - he will officially become a US citizen.  Hudson has made tremendous progress today - at the consulate he let David sit in a chair without shedding any tears.  He then chose to get down and stand on his own 2 little feet - a rare occurrence other than in our hotel room.  Before leaving the consult, he amazed us even more by letting David put him down in the toy section in the back of the room where Ethan and many other children were playing.  That was indeed a FIRST!  He did great and played with Ethan as well as his 2 buddies from Baotou, Wei and AJ.  After leaving the consulate, we headed straight to the train station - a new experience for us.  Thankfully Wei's family as well as 2 other Holt families were there with us.  We all stuck together.  The train ride was uneventful - no motion sickness - thank goodness!

We arrived in Hong Kong around 8:15 and then had our only real scary experience for this trip. . .

Our friend Elaine had told us to take a taxi to our hotel from the train station.  We had no guide, but we thought it would be easy enough.  Well as soon as we neared the exit doors, a "taxi driver" came up, spoke to David, and took over our luggage cart.  We followed him as he spoke English and we assumed all was well.  I became a bit suspicious as I noticed all the other taxis were lined up in front of the train station.  We went left - away from the other taxis.  He lead us to a parking lot and kept talking about his new, nice car.  He then loaded our bags into a very nice mini van - no markings of a taxi though.  Once we were all seated, I noticed there was no meter.  Then I asked him how much money it would be.  He said "500".  Well, we didn't know if that was Hong Kong currency or RMB from China.  When we tried to press him, he seemed to get anxious and was rapidly firing off words in broken English.  I guessed Ethan sensed my stress as he began to cry next to me because he was so scared.  David was counting money because we knew we didn't have but about 150RMB plus US dollars.  I finally said to David that we should leave.  M granddaddy was a policeman, and I grew up hearing lots of stories so I am always a bit more suspicious of others whom I know nothing about.  I just knew this was not right and had a bad feeling.  Then we couldn't get the door opened.  Ethan was sobbing at this point.  The man was getting angry as he continued to try and work out a price with us.  We wanted out and became concerned when we couldn't get out.  Finally, he yelled "OK, OK, OK".  Thankfully, he finally let us out of the car, and we gathered our luggage cart and our bags and set off back to the official taxis!  By the way, our official taxi cost us 202RMB or for us 150 RMB and $10 US - much cheaper that 500RMB.  We almost got ripped off but thankfully God sent the clear message that we needed to get out of that situation!

Now we are ready for bed here at the Mariott which is only a 5 minute shuttle ride to the airport.  We plan to be on the 10 AM shuttle as our flight leaves around 12:30PM.  Internet is not free here and I am too tired to upload pictures - so NO pictures - sorry!

Please pray for Ellie who has been sick with vomiting and tummy aches.  She had one episode last week and has started back as of Wed.  I pray she is better and that we don't walk into a stomach bug sweeping through our other children when we get home Friday night  - and then possibly us!

Thanks for following our journey!!!  And praise God that it is almost over!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Red Couch Photo and More Shopping

Red Couch Photo:
I'll just let the pictures tell the story - all we could do was laugh! This is a tradition among adoptive families to pose on the Red Couch in the White Swan Hotel. We were with the other 2 familes whom we met in Hohthot. All 3 of the boys, Hudson, Wei, and AJ, were from Baotou SWI, and Hudson and Wei (the boy in the blue Chinese outfit) were in the same room at the SWI and said to be good friends. We hope to stay in touch although neither family lives close to us back home. At least we did get one good family photo in front of the waterfall at the White Swan - note: David is standing and Hudson is happy!

Shopping on Shaiman Island:

Since we have our US Consulate appointment tomorrow and then take the train to Hong Kong, today was our last day to do any shopping. And shopping we did. We purchased several gifts for Hudson to give him each year on the anniversary of the day we met, known as Forever Family Day or Gotcha Day. Of course we bought several gifts for Shelby, Katie, Fulton, Lilly, and Ellie back home. Ethan has been wanting a stuffed panda as every other child in our family received one when they visited China so today he finally found a quality stuffed panda that was just the right price.

Hudson decided today was "Daddy Day" so Mom has not been able to hold him. As you can see from the photo, David had about had it at this point - combine the heat and humidity, toting Hudson for about 2 hours straight(remember no sitting allowed), and shopping for several consecutive hours - yeah, that just about did David in!

We enjoyed lunch with Wei's family at the Cow and Bridge Thai restaurant - delicious! Hudson loved the chips - I took one bite and had trouble swallowing as they tasted just like fish. The waitress brought a basket by our table shortly after we were seated. We assummed they were free like chips are at a Mexican restaurant - nope. We were both charged for the baskets of fish chips - at least all 3 of our boys devoured them including Ethan. I was shocked that he liked them.

Lastly, here's a glimpse of Emma's store on the island and my attempt to buy shoes for Hudson who cries every time you take his shoes off, and for Lily and Ellie - I measured their shoes before I left home. Emma's store had the best selection of children's shoes. I purchased Hudson, Lilly, and Ellie several pair for the fall - 6 pairs for less than $45. Plus the storekeeper gave Ethan a whistle and Hudson a toy drum - yeah, just what we needed!

We haven't heard from Nikki yet although we will try to call her soon. We plan to stay around our hotel tonight and then pack up tomorrow as we leave for the consulate at 2:30 and from there we'll go straight to the train station and catch our train for Hong Kong. We'll overnight there and then our flight leaves around 12 noon on Friday for HOME!!!! I'll try to post some pictures one last time tomorrow. We have so enjoyed our time here and getting to know our new son, fiesty one that he is, but of course we long to get home and reunite our family. Thanks for following our journey to Hudson and for all of your prayers, support, and love.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pearl River Cruise and Other Happenings

Last night we went on the Pearl River Cruise. I had always wanted to do this, but it just never worked out for us until this trip. The food was all Chinese and not real appealing, but we all enjoyed fried rice and chocolate ice cream. David and I both tried a variety of dishes, but we weren't thrilled with the selection. However, the overall experience was fantastic. We enjoyed the sights of the river and the lights were gorgeous. Ethan loved the boat ride and looking at all of the other boats going by.

After the cruise, we stopped by the hotel lounge as we heard live piano music and singing. Do you see more evidence of PROGRESS? Yes, that is indeed David sitting in a chair w/ Hudson on his lap - and no tears or screaming or kicking or thrashing of arms! I couldn't believe it. This comes after Hudson had his biggest fit to date - over David sitting down on the playroom sofa whild holding him. This picture was taken about 4 hours after that temper tantrum. We enjoyed the music for a while, and I think the young lady singing really enjoyed singing for Ethan and Hudson - she kept smiling at them. She and the piano player waved goodbye as we left.

This morning we headed to the Pearl Market. I had purchased Lilly a necklace and bracelet back in 2007. On our last trip to adopt Ellie, the guide in Guangzhou was not local and she did not know where the Pearl Market was. I was determined to purchase some pearls for Ellie on this trip. Mission accomplished! While I made my decisons and bargained a little, Ethan and Hudson enjoyed riding on this toy - I don't know the correct name but I do know David Myers has one because Ethan pointed that out. I could not believe my eyes when I saw Hudson out of David's arms standing on the floor walking toward his "gu gu" on the toy. The boys both had fun!

We went swimming after our short shopping trip. I had to swim this time as I made a deal with Ethan - he has been dog paddling rather than swimming and so I said "If you swim to the ladder, really swim not dog paddle, I'll get in and swim to the ladder and back." Well, he did it, and then I had to keep my word of course, so I braved the very cold water and swam!

Tonight we are heading to Shaiman Island as I have lots of gifts to buy for my sweet children at home! Counting down the days til we head home but absolutely dreading the thought of that flight again!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Church and Yuntai Gardens

Last night went well other than the temper tantrum in the taxi on the way to Shaiman Island. I simply tried to turn Hudson's book right-side-up. Well, just look at the picture, and you can guess how that went over. . .Not.Very.Well. Next time, Hudson can just admire his book upside down!

We enjoyed dinner with Nikki. We all agreed on Chinese since we had Nikki to help us order. She also admitted that she prefers Chinese food over Western but that she would eat anywhere. We were glad we opted for Chinese as it was delicious. We had fried bean kurd with spicy sweet and sour sauce - pretty good. Fried rice and sweet and sour chicken as well as broccoli with garlic - scrumptious!

Church was wonderful. Although the service was in Mandarin, we recognized many hymns - the choir entered the sanctuary to Amazing Grace and Blessed Savior was another. We said the Apostle's Creed and spent time in silent prayer in a sanctuary full of Chinese people - truly beautiful. Nikki said the sermon was about choices in our lives. The scripture was Peter 1:3-4. Nikki didn't say much after the service, but when I questioned whether she felt the service was helpful for her, she replied that she didn't understand and still felt very confused. We hope to spend a little more time w/ Nikki on Wednesday as it is a holiday - the Dragon Boat Festival- and she has the day off from work. Please continue to pray for God to work in her heart.

Today we visited the Yuntai Gardens and although it was beautiful, it was also miserably hot and humid - again. As you can see Christopher and Ethan are none too thrilled with this sightseeing. Oh, and this photo was taken near the beginning of the tour. Hudson only wants to be carried - ok, maybe that's not asking too much, but he also wants to be held standing up that is unless you are in a car. Don't dare sit down on a shady bench to take a break from the sweltering heat or sit on the sofa in your hotel room. No sir - he will have none of that! We tried Debbie and Darren's stroller - yesterday at the park, Hudson tolerated it for a half hour, but today, he pitched an absolute screaming fit. We finally took him out as he would not calm down. We have a carrier which we use daily, but it is just so HOT. I am open for suggestions or advice. Anybody????

We are really enjoying our stay here at the Garden. It is a lovely hotel - the rooms are quite spacious, the breakfast buffet which is included with your room is excellent, and McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Hagen Daaz, and Subway are all within walking distance. We are really glad we decided to stay here.

Ethan loves to ride up and down these escalators - by himself. He pretends he is travelling alone. It's so cute and every time we return to our room, he opens the door and then we have to knock or ring the bell and then he lets us, his visitors in. Ethan has had a wonderful time and he and Hudson have been playing together much more these last 2 days. Hudson calls out "gu gu" for big brother. Still is not saying many English words - only Chinese. Today for lunch we walked to KFC and brought it back to our hotel. Hudson enjoyed chicken nuggets, corn on the cob, french fries, and tangerine - a little nutrion in there I hope!

Some special messages…..
For Fulton (and Bandit)

Hey, buddy! We miss and love you so much. Thanks for being the "man of the house" while cousin Sheri was there and have fun with Mr. Drew as you two keep all the girls straight :) See you Friday!

For Katie, Lilly, and Ellie. . .
Mom and Dad miss you SO much. We love you and can't wait to see you on Friday!

For Shelby (and Callie too)
We miss you and love you very much and look forward to our reunion on Friday. Thanks for helping out with things at home!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Busy Sunday!

Liuhuahu Park:

This morning we headed to Liuhuahu park with the only other BAAS family here. We met them yesterday as we did the medical visit with them. They are not staying at the Garden as we are so we only see them on our excursions. Today was great fun for Ethan because the other family brought their 8 year old son, Christopher. Ethan and Christopher rode a roller coaster, bumper cars, and one other ride together at the park. Ethan, David, Christopher, and his dad, Darren, also rented a boat and rode it on the lake. While they were enjoying their boat ride, Hudson cried the entire time - 30 minutes - because David was the one holding him when he had to leave to go on the boat ride. I know Hudson needs transition time - that became crystal clear very early on - but since we don't speak the same language, it is very difficult to transition him at times. Several Chinese ladies offered their advice to us - one rubbed her tummy, one told our guide (we had our friend Nikki today as our other guide had meetings to attend. Nikki was our "personal hospital tour guide" with Lilly in 2007) that we should give him water. Of course I knew better, Hudson was just angry - period! Once David came back from the boat ride, Hudson was fine. It was a wonderful morning and the park was beautiful; however, it was excruciatingly HOT and MUGGY. David and Darren were literally soaked and I actually felt a little sick. But we made it back to the hotel where we cooled off, ate some Ritz crackers with peanut butter, ramen noodles, and fruit.

Then we went swimming. . .
You may recall Hudson was petrified of his first bath so my expectations were low. I'll let the pictures tell the story. . .


Yes, much progress indeed. Ethan and Hudson enjoyed a warm bath after their swimming pool time

The Gamecock Boys - we're missing Fulton!

Although you will likely be reading this after the fact, please pray for Nikki. We have been witnessing to her since our trip to adopt Lilly in May 2007. We even gave her a Bible on our trip to adopt Ellie in September 2008. Tonight we are thrilled to have the opportunity to attend a Christian worship service in China! The service is on Shaiman Island and guess who is going with us? Yep, Nikki accepted our invitation to dinner and church. The entire service will be in Mandarin so although we will understand nothing, we pray that God will speak to Nikki during this service. I have been praying since last night, when our plans were made, that God would open Nikki's heart and should would be receptive to what she hears. Nikki said she is excited to attend the church service. I'll let you know how it goes in tomorrow's post.