Sunday, February 27, 2011

Road trips, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Snow and Turning 2 . . .

It has been a long while since I last posted. Who would have thought that one small child could keep me so busy ~ obviously not me. So here is the short version of the last few months:

Since my last post we have taken two road trips (Are we there yet?) to visit grandparents. The good news is we had great visits. The bad news is our built-in DVD player did not work and the car time was awful. Journey absolutely does not like sitting in her car seat for long periods (who can blame her?) and even though we stopped frequently, it wasn’t enough for her and she let us know at the top of her lungs. I have to say, the kid is persistent. We have had the car into the dealership twice to have the player repaired and don’t plan on taking any more road trips until we’re sure it works.

Christmas was definitely much more fun this year and Journey quickly learned that presents were a good thing. She did pretty well at not touching the tree – I’m sure she wondered why we had put that big thing in our living room.

We also celebrated Chinese New Year, the year of the Rabbit, by attending a couple of celebrations. Our friends from China helped us with the traditions.

We had LOTS of snow this winter and Journey was not sure what to think about it. She received some beach toys for her birthday and they worked great for playing in the snow.

On February 5th we celebrated her second birthday. I took some time to reflect on how much she has grown since we brought her home in July, both physically and emotionally. She is still quite a little character, mischievous and charming people with her smile. She has learned the sounds of the all the letters in the alphabet and can name most of them. Her vocabulary has grown, although Doug says I’m the only one who can identify the words. Even though we don’t understand all of what she says, she is quite happy to chatter away most of her waking hours and she has started singing songs (her own) with lots of hand movements and in a very loud voice. She especially likes to do this when we are grocery shopping, so we get quite a few looks.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hoops, Touchdowns and Travel . . .

It has been some time since I posted, although I did start this post on September 14th and then got interrupted and several weeks just flew by. That seems to happen on most things I intend to do. September and October were busy months…

Doug thinks having a little girl is very nice. He thinks having a little girl who loves watching football and shooting hoops with her daddy will be GREAT. So Journey’s training has begun. The Saturday of Labor Day weekend we got up early, ate breakfast, and headed to the park. Doug packed his new basketball in the car; I took care of the diaper bag, getting Journey dressed, applying the sunscreen, finding a hat for her to wear, packing a few snacks, getting our water and making sure Pooh was with us. Finally we were off, first stop the basketball court. Doug did a great job demonstrating how to toss the ball through the hoop and then let Journey have a go at it. Unfortunately she was unable to pick up the basketball and, frankly, was more interested in walking in the grass. So Doug practiced his shots a bit more and I chased Journey around the court. Finally we decided that was enough for the first training session and we spent the rest of our time walking in the park and looking at the ducks.

On Labor Day we had planned to go to the Dallas World Aquarium, but while getting ready to leave we heard that Trinity High School football team was playing at Cowboys Stadium along with three other schools. I had been wanting to watch Trinity play (they were State champs last year) and I really wanted to see the new stadium, so it wasn’t difficult to talk Doug into changing our plans and going to the game. And it was an excellent opportunity to get Journey started as a football fan. The stadium was very impressive. She didn’t really show that much interest in football but she loved being able to yell with the crowd, say hi to lots of people and lay down on the marble tiles. While her first football “training session” wasn’t a big success, Doug has had her watch the Cowboy games with him, pointing out the very few touchdowns that have been made in their 6 games, and helping her overcome her serious disappointment when they have lost.

In September we took our first trip to visit family and traveled to Montana to see my mom, sisters, and lots of extended family. Our travel days were long and Journey was not happy to have to be contained while the seatbelt sign was on (let’s just say that I hope we don’t have to fly again for a long, long time), but the week in Billings was great. The weather cooperated and we had warm, sunny days and nice cool nights – a wonderful break from the heat in Texas. Besides being able to spend time with my family, a childhood friend flew in from Seattle and we were able to get together one evening and catch up on the last 30 years. While Journey was a big hit with the family and did really well meeting so many new people, the trip itself was a little unsettling for her and she had trouble sleeping while there and for several weeks after we returned home. She has just started sleeping through the night, but we will soon be taking another trip to visit Doug’s dad in Nashville. The very best thing about the trip was that Doug and Journey were able to finally bond. In the mornings she would sit on his lap and they would look at pictures on the computer while I took a shower. Before the trip she wouldn’t let me out of her sight so this was definitely answered prayer. Since we have been home they have grown even closer and have actually gone on daddy-daughter dates to the park without me. Thank you, Lord.

Journey continues to grow in her new environment and learn new words. Her teething is getting better and so she is eating more and even willing to try tasting a few new things. She is still VERY busy and keeps us hopping, but we’re having the time of our lives.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Journey Girl

Today is a special day – Journey celebrates her 19-month birthday and we celebrate our 2 month anniversary of adding Journey to our family. And what a difference two months makes. I think back on the first day we had her and how much she slept and how quiet she was. Now she is constantly in motion (even when she sleeps) and chatters up a storm. I now understand a few of her words – cracker, shoes, milk, thank you, monkey, and duck, just to name some of them. Nobody else would probably get what she is saying and I do have to translate for Doug. But to be fair, he just returned from a 10-day business trip to Europe so he is trying to catch up. A good friend gave her a Winnie the Pooh bear about a week ago and Pooh is now her constant companion. She started out calling him “Poop” but now usually refers to him as “Peesch”. I’m not sure where that is coming from. They have great conversations together, especially in the morning when they first wake up and during nap time. She enjoys being around a lot of people but still doesn’t want them to get too close, touch her, or try to pick her up. She and Doug are making great headway, even with him being gone for so long. One of their favorite activities is throwing the ball and they also wrestle around on the floor. She is such a happy little thing, smiles most of the time and loves to laugh. She is still getting teeth so her appetite is sporadic and we’re still supplementing with formula. She definitely has a mind of her own and can quickly spot anything that she shouldn’t get into. We have implemented “time-out” for a few of the more hazardous things she likes to explore and I’m praying that it is an effective form of discipline.

Mom has learned some very important lessons during these two months, also. First and foremost is never, ever leave her diaper off, even if it’s just for a minute. It took me three times to get this lesson. Secondly, it is critical to make sure the baby gates are closed and the toilet lids down. I’m still learning this one and it is a very messy lesson. Third, never ask her to whisper or be quiet; it is one sure way to get her to crank up the volume. Fourth, the carpet will need to be cleaned very frequently. There are more, but you get the picture. We will soon be traveling to visit family and I’m sure more lessons will come from those trips.

Our life is quite the whirlwind now, not at all like the quiet, peaceful environment we used to enjoy. But we wouldn’t change a thing. God has blessed us beyond our expectations and His gift to us is good and perfect in every way.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Small package, BIG personality . . .

Journey is taking a nap so thought I would give an update on how we all are doing. But where to start…

Journey has quite the personality, and while she is not willing to let anyone pick her up except her mama, she is very generous with smiles and throwing kisses. This includes people in the stores who happen to look her way and give her a smile. She is learning how to use her spoon, stack blocks and use the remote for the tv. She loves to talk on the phone and if there isn’t one available, anything that might slightly resemble a phone is used. She is learning new words and can now say “hello, hi, baby, bye, mama and dada”. She understands quite a bit and will mimic many words.

She had her first social outing last Saturday when we took her to a BBQ restaurant where a friend from church was playing with her band. They were playing out on the patio and Journey danced, clapped and visited with people sitting nearby. She really slept well that night so we have learned that if we take her out partying before going to bed, we will get a good night’s sleep. She did so well on Saturday evening that we decided to try our first visit to church on Sunday. She was a little overwhelmed by the number of people who greeted her, but did very well and was comfortable enough by the end of the service to venture off my lap. Several people offered to hold her but she would just shake her head no and grab on tight to mom. She did give many people smiles as long as they kept their distance.

Journey had her first doctor appointment last week and so far the results have been good. We took her to International Adoption Clinic at Children’s Medical Center as they have experience with seeing the medical differences in children coming from other countries and can determine what is “normal” for them rather than different from U.S. kids. On the U.S. growth charts Journey is in the 5th percentile for weight and the 45th for height. The doctor told us that generally internationally adopted kids from institutions are about 3 months behind in skills (motor, verbal, walking, etc.) but Journey seems to be close to her age group with the exception of the verbal skills, which was to be expected since she did not hear any English until she met us. She was surprised that Journey was already saying and understanding English words. We are still waiting for the results from some other lab tests, but overall she is doing well.

Mom and Dad have been learning lots of new things, too. Opening and closing our new stroller presented a challenge but we were able to master it within just a few hours. My second learning experience with the stroller was while shopping at the mall and trying to figure out how to get it (and her) up and down the escalator. We did make it up but I elected to use the elevator to go down. We’re also getting slightly better at recognizing when the crying means hunger, tired, mad, I don’t like this food (used along with flinging it off her plate) or frustrated. They all sound the same but generally we use the process of elimination to narrow down the cause. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that addressing the problem stops the crying. But we do realize that she is going through quite an adjustment and it will take a good while for her to become comfortable in her new environment. We try to patiently meet her needs and give her lots of love and kisses. The crying and temper tantrums are less frequent and we spend lots of time playing and laughing – her laughing because she’s having fun playing; me laughing at her funny personality and the things she does. We’re generally exhausted by the end of the day but it’s well worth it.

The wailing from the bedroom tells me that naptime is over, so more later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Busy Days . . .

We are having so much fun! That doesn’t mean that we haven’t encountered a few issues, but Journey is such a character and her personality continues to emerge. We had sleep problems from the first night. She would go to bed around 8 or 9pm but then wake up several times during the night and wail. I would finally get up with her, usually about 2 or 3am, and hold her. She would drift off but as soon as I tried to put her in bed, she was wide awake. This made for very long days and extremely short nights. Finally, on Monday, my brilliant husband suggested that she might not be sleeping because she’s not used to being alone in a room and we should try moving her bed into our room. So we did and while we’ve not had cry-free nights yet, the episodes are few and short-lived. She will wake up, see that we’re there and usually go back to sleep within a very short time. We’re hopeful that sometime in the near future we’ll have an uninterrupted night.

It amazes me how quickly Journey is understanding what we say to her since she was not exposed to English until she came to us. I can tell her to pick up a toy or shut the door, and she does it. She also likes to wave and say bye-bye and throw kisses. She finds it very entertaining to make faces and sounds and have me copy her, and she’s very good at mimicking me when I make faces at her. She’s not saying a lot of words but she does have lots of baby babble and does well playing by herself. She loves music and will dance whenever she hears any, and she has some great moves! She’s also learning to do Pattycake (we practice A LOT), but won’t say any of the words yet. She and her daddy are still working on bonding, but if I’m holding her she will give him the sweetest smiles. When we want to take her picture, she will wait until she sees the flash indicator come on and then give us a big smile. She has been a trooper about being strapped in to her stroller and car seat and really enjoys going somewhere in both. Today she and I went shopping and she tolerated it for about four hours before she let me know she was ready for lunch. But that was okay ~ it was 1:30 and I was hungry, too.

Overall, I think we’re doing pretty well. We appreciate all the prayers that have come our way. Please continue to pray for Journey as she adjusts to her new home and for wisdom for Doug and me to know how to meet her needs.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Home at last

Sunday update: We arrived home from China on the 15th and we’re still trying to adjust to the time difference. Journey is busy discovering her new home and becoming acquainted with her toys. She has been sticking pretty close to me but today she was willing to venture into other rooms by herself and actually let me out of her sight for a few minutes at a time.

As our friend Lauren wrote on our blog, our computer crashed and we were unable to blog or check email, so I thought I’d share some of our experiences in Guangzhou. We flew from Nanning to Guangzhou on Friday night, the 9th. Our hotel was absolutely beautiful. We arrived late on Friday and had to be up early on Saturday for medical exams for the babies. That was quite the experience, lots and lots of babies getting poked, prodded and measured and not enjoying it one bit. Journey was quite the trooper even after she had to get 5 shots. The heat and humidity followed us to Guangzhou so we didn’t venture out of the hotel very much. We did visit the zoo on Tuesday morning and it was very beautiful with an abundance of trees, plants and flowers. Unfortunately, because of the heat, most of the animals stayed in their covered areas and probably thought all the visitors were crazy to be wandering around in such hot weather. Tuesday afternoon we had an official trip to the US Consulate where we had to take an oath swearing the information we provided was true and that we would take good care of our little girl. This visit was also part of getting Journey’s immigrant visa and our last official business before returning home.

We were able to see more of Journey’s personality during the second week of our trip, which was quite an eye-opener. During the first 5 days she was pretty docile and slept a good part of the time. After arriving in Guangzhou she began to come out of her shell and we experienced a couple of episodes where our sweet little girl became a crazed demon. We found out she can throw a very impressive temper tantrum, but this usually only happens when she’s tired. We also saw more smiles. One evening we visited the swimming pool and she really enjoyed playing in the water and gave us her first laugh.

The flights home were long. We flew to Beijing on Wednesday night and didn’t check in to our hotel until 11:30 pm and then had to leave for the airport at 5:15 am on Thursday. We were able to use our miles on American and get seats in business class so we would have a little more room on the long flight from Beijing to Chicago. We even got 3 seats so Journey could sleep in one and we wouldn’t have to hold her for hours. Unfortunately, she didn’t like that idea and insisted on sitting in my lap the entire trip. When we changed planes in Chicago, she became a happy child and was smiling and really charming the other passengers and flight attendants. Journey officially became a U.S. citizen when we touched down in Chicago.

Overall, our adjustment to our new lives is going well ~ Journey is getting used to her new surroundings and Doug and I are building up our stamina in order to keep up with one very busy little girl. More later . . .

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An update from China ... all is well

Just heard from Debby ... it appears their computer has crashed leaving
them cut-off from the internet world. She has asked me to give a quick
update, so here goes ...

First, and most importantly, everyone is doing just fine. Journey is
adjusting well to her new family and has rediscovered her smile. She's a
good little sleeper in that she sleeps through the night with no problem
at all and she even lets Debby know by pointing at the crib when she's
tired and needs a nap.

Journey still doesn't quite know what to make of Doug as she cries when he
appears in the room after being absent for a while. She does eventually
relax and allows him to pick her up and walk with her ... and these crying
episodes seem to be getting shorter each day. I do believe Doug is
adjusting well and he is a little more at ease, too.

If all goes as planned, they will be traveling home next week ... and they
look forward to introducing their new daughter to everyone.

Prayers and best wishes ...