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 ...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gotcha Day Video

A short video from Gotcha Day on July 5th.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A quiet day

It's Wednesday evening here so thought I would do a quick update. We had a free day today so Journey and I stayed in the hotel room and she slept most of the day after sleeping 9 hours last night. She is running a slight fever and is fussy when she's awake. I think she is getting teeth on both the top and bottom. She definitely wants to be held and she wants you to hold her standing up, and she really is persistent in letting you know she is unhappy when you don't do what she wants. She goes to bed very easily at night and is a sound sleeper, for which I'm greatful. We have a very small room and usually have the tv on when she goes down and she doesn't fuss at all. We hope that continues. Doug took her on a couple of walks inside the hotel today to give me a break so they are having some good bonding time. We are enjoying getting to know her personality even though we could do with less wailing. She has the most beautiful black eyes and long lashes and such a sweet mouth, which we are looking forward to seeing smile one of these days. Can't wait for all of you to meet her.

We ate at Pizza Hut last night and it was pretty good. Then we went to Walmart - OMG! It is 3 stories and had more people in it than any Walmart on Christmas eve in the US. You wheel your carts from floor to floor by using an escalator with no stairs, just a ramp that locks the wheels in place to prevent hundreds of run-away carts. I'm hoping we don't have to go back there ;o)

Doug had a good laugh this morning. Journey has hardly eaten anything since we got her, so last night I bought some baby food fruit that I thought would appeal to her. I was feeding her this morning and she was doing well, eating about 6 spoonfuls and drinking some water. All of a sudden she just upchucked this orange applesauce-carrot concoction all over me. A lot more came out than went in! I was stunned and it took Doug by surprise, too, and then he started laughing. He was trying very hard not to, but just couldn't manage it. It was pretty funny, especially when I just handed him Journey and went to take a shower. He wasn't sure how to protect himself from another explosion. Such a great way to start the day.

We will have another easy day tomorrow and Friday and then leave for Guangzhou on Friday night. Hopefully Journey will be feeling better soon. Please continue to pray for her health and her transition to us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gotcha Day!

It's Tuesday about 1pm here and we have taken care of all of our official business for the day and Journey is now officially ours.  Our Gotcha Day was on Monday and we met her for the first time at about 4pm.  Picture this:  A small room with little air conditioning and very hot, 2 or 3 other families also receiving their children, none of which are very happy, me soaking wet from sweating, Doug getting the camera ready.  They bring in Journey and she looks exactly like her picture.  She decides she's not as happy to see us as we are to see her and starts wailing.  I finally take her and she and I walk around the room for a bit and she moves from wailing to whimpering and occasionally wailing.  She's not too sure about Doug and decides I'm the lesser of two evils.  We are only at this location for about 30 minutes (it seemed longer), then we head back to our hotel for the "Harmonious period."  I say that with tongue- in- cheek as it is anything but harmonious, but it is supposed to be the time we get to know each other and decide if we want to adopt her.  We will have to give an answer to the officials on Tuesday morning.  She does quit crying pretty quickly and does well as long as we are holding her, but only if we're standing up.  We go to dinner at the hotel restaurant and she won't eat and doesn't want us to eat either.  We pass her back and forth trying to give each other an opportunity to shovel some food down so we can leave.  I'm sure the other restaurant customers were happy to see us go.

When we returned to our room, we all had a shower and got ready for bed and it was only about 8pm.  I fixed Journey a bottle and she did take it and was fast asleep by 8:30.  We were prepared for a sleepless night but she was so exhausted that she slept until about 5:30 this morning.  I actually woke up before she did as I was asleep about 2 minutes after she was the night before.  On top of all the trauma of being with people she doesn't know, I think she is also teething as she has a slight fever.

We were able to talk to the director of the children's center at the orphanage and she gave us information about Journey's personality.  She said Journey is "spoiled", which I think means she likes to be held and won't take no for an answer; she climbs all over things and likes to climb high; she's emotional and very intelligent; she's shy and will not go to anyone she doesn't know well.  I think we're in for the ride of our life.  After returning from the Registration office today, she has actually been playing on the floor and talking to herself, both of which she had not done yet.  It's like she knows there is no hope of her going back to her old life so she might as well make the most of the situation.  She has actually fallen asleep on the floor which is why I'm writing this now.  This evening we are going to go to the Walmart shopping center to shop and then have pizza at the Pizza Hut there.  This will be the first western food we've had since arriving in China last Thursday.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Ming Tombs and the Great Wall

Day two of our great adventure in Beijing started out sunny, warm and humid and then quickly progressed to HOT and HUMID.  We met up with our guide and driver at 9am and drove out to a location about 30 miles north of Beijing for a tour of the Ming Tombs.  The Ming Dynasty ruled from 1368 to 1644.  This is the resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming emperors.  Where the other 3 are is a long story, best left for another time.  The 13 tombs are spread over a 15 sq mile area, so needless to say, there was much left unexplored.  As it turned out, we really didn't see any of the tombs.  Instead our guide took us down a long road, known as the main Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs.  It was part of a 4-mile ceremonial route that the emperor's funeral procession took on their way to the burial place.  It is in fact a peaceful, tree-lined, stone paved "street" with 12 large statues of various animals (some real and some mythical) placed at regular intervals.   The ¾ mile section we walked down ended at a monument pavilion containing a large stone stele covered with Chinese characters extolling the virtuous exploits of the particular emperor responsible for it's construction (imagine that).  As the day was heating up and we still had much to do (even though there were no tombs in sight), we called it good and moved on.


After lunch, and a nice 90 minute drive into the lush, green mountains north of Beijing, we eventually arrived at Mutianyu.  This 20km section of the wall was restored in recent times, and is the 2nd most frequented site along the Great Wall.  By 2:30pm, when we arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature must have been 99+ deg F, so only the brave, desperate and foolish tourists were to be found.  In other words, there were very few people there.  In fact, the local souvenir vendors had us outnumbered by at least 5 to 1.   The approach to this section of the wall is quite steep, so after a rather strenuous walk up a stone paved lane (being harassed every step of the way by the souvenir vendors), you finally reach a cable car which takes you up the final 500 – 600 vertical feet to the wall.  After bravely enduring this portion of the hike/climb in the heat, Debby was ready to call it quits, and retreated to a bench in the shade to "admire" the wall from below.  Having come this far, I pushed on, and climbed the last flight of stairs to go up onto the wall.  I had wanted to see the Great Wall ever since I was a kid and had first seen pictures of it.  I was not disappointed, the Great Wall is an impressive example of ancient engineering, audacity and sheer man power.  As you stand there, gazing in the distance as the wall stretches before you, rising and falling and finally disappearing over the distant mountaintops, you cannot even  imagine the incredible human effort required for such a gargantuan construction project, in the most the most inaccessible of places.  It makes you tired just to think about it.   If you ever get to Beijing, visiting the wall is definitely a must (just try to avoid visiting in July).


Sunday morning we depart for Nanning, and our rendezvous with Journey.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hello from Beijing

We arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening after a very L O N G flight.  Even though it is extremely hot and humid, we have spent most of our time outdoors doing some sightseeing with a guide.  On Friday we visited the Summer Palace and went to a hutong.  A hutong is an ancient neighborhood with small narrow streets and best seen via a rickshaw ride.  Most of the hutongs have been torn down to make room for new modern  buildings but fortunately the Chinese have realized the value of preserving these neighborhoods and are taking measures to make sure they are cared for.  We were able to go into one residence and visit with the woman who lives there.  Her husband's family has lived in that home for 150 years.
Today we are going to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs.  We are learning a great deal about Chinese history as our guide, Jerry, is very knowledgeable.  I will post some pictures later as my tech guy is out trying to find a fan for me (a hand fan, not electric ;o)  Really, the heat and humidity are brutal.  Even the people who live here are miserable.
Please pray for Doug as it seems he has a pulled muscle in his shoulder and is really suffering.  Fortunately I brought my pain pills as I am usually the one to hurt my back and they seem to help slightly.  Also, because of the long flight and the heat, my hands, legs and feet are really swollen and are not getting better.  Any suggestions?  Email me if you can help.
I am having to post this via email as we cannot access blogger directly from China, so I hope it works!