Monday, March 31, 2014

A Recap

I sat down many times last week, looked at my blank blog post, and ran out of steam before even beginning.  It was my first week on my own with the three kids, and it's been a bit of an adjustment.  But here are a few highlights from the week.

Monday:  We went to see the cleft palate doctor here, and he said her lip/palate repair is one of the best he's seen from China.  No more surgery until she's at least 5!  We also got to see Liz learn to free stand, and she's turned into quite the little walker.

Tuesday:  We had our first excursion as a crowd of four to knitting group at the library.  Liz spent most of the time toddling back and forth between the play area and my chair.  I even got to knit a few rows.  :)

Wednesday:  Choir crossed my mind, and it took me a good two-three minutes before I realized that a) choir was on Tuesday, and b) it was Wednesday, and c) I had totally and completely spaced about it.  We also did our first grocery trip with all three kids.  Liz handled it like a pro; Luke, on the other hand, kept wanting to throw the mangoes around in the back.

Thursday:  A little more rough, and my thoughts kept going through the following cycle:  "Why can't they go play/go to sleep/let me get something done," followed by "If that's how I feel, why did I have kids?"  Regardless of how you do it, going from two to three kids is not easy.  I realized by the end of the day that I needed to change my expectations about my schedule, the kids' schedule, and what all we can get done.  Of course that night, Liz was up several times before midnight and awake for about 2.5 hours after midnight.  

Friday:  God sent respite in the form of my sister's capable help for the morning.  Thank you!  I was able to get the kids' rooms tidied (I tried to start moving Liz into Katie's room earlier in the week), and I also sorted through all the clothes and figured out what to keep/what to send to Baby Mya.

Some people have asked how Katie and Luke are doing.  At the beginning, I think Katie was a little confused because Liz was too big to baby, but not big enough to really play with.  We found some things she can do (like help feed Liz at the table), and I'm hoping to find some things they can play with together.  I was a little more concerned about Luke, but he really seems to be rolling with it.  He doesn't seem bothered by her, and while there was a little bit of grabbing at the beginning, it hasn't been a huge problem.  He and Liz have done some great parallel play at the little kitchen.  We'll see how things go when Liz starts wanting to play with them or with their toys, but right now I'd say everyone is adjusting quite well.  

Monday, March 24, 2014


--Liz has slept through the night several times, and the nights she hasn't, we're only making one or two trips down the hall.

--Our meal times are a bit more relaxed now that Liz is less demanding about food.  She is willing to wait after we put her in her seat for at least a few minutes, giving us time to all sit down and eat together.  She also does not get upset when we sign "All done" to her.

--Books are much more fun now that we can read them instead of using them as a wrestling tool.  :)  Liz is happy to sit on our laps and read short board books, as long as she can turn the pages.  Our absolute favorites are the DK Baby Chunky Board Books:

And here are a few pictures of our weekend.  Grandma left on Friday morning, but thankfully David had his long weekend.  Overall, we are doing pretty well!

Reading together

Playing with balloons from the Chia family

Katie feeding Liz some fruit

Katie preparing plates for her special "tasting restaurant" with Grandma

Playing outside while we prune peach blossoms

Cooking together in the kitchen!

Dedication at church

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Magic Time

I have this magic time now in the early morning when I have both energy and free time (i.e. no kids) to get things done.  At first when we got home, I tried really hard to sleep longer, but it's kind of dull to lay in bed and not sleep, especially when you are thinking of all the things you could get done.  The last two nights have been better, so when Liz wakes up at 4:30 or 5:00, I just stay up and get started on my coffee.  :)

We survived all our flights and made it home to NM on Friday.  We didn't have a super restful night in Chicago (surprise, surprise), but it was nice to get a little sleep and to see my brother and his family before we headed back.  My sister picked us up at the airport, and my dear friend brought a delicious pot roast for dinner.

We got unpacked on Saturday and even managed to get all the laundry done.  Yay!  My mom has been a huge help with everything--dishes, putting away clothes, getting lunches, shopping--and my sister was able to hang out with us on Saturday and Sunday too.

It was wonderful to be back in church on Sunday.  Standing there with Liz in my arms, singing with our church family, I definitely had one of those future moments...the ones where you realize this little baby is yours forever.  I'm so excited to see her grow up in our church.  Many people at church have been praying for us as we traveled through this adoption journey, and it was exciting to finally introduce Liz to some of them.  They've also been bringing us meals--a huge help when you are tired and adjusting to three kids!

We took Liz to our doctor on Monday morning, and thankfully there were no surprises.  We figured we'd need to get her checked for the typical adoption stuff--vaccination titers, parasites, etc.--and we got referrals for the cleft-related things.  Liz was a little fussy in the afternoon after getting three shots, but she calmed down after a while.  I'm glad to say she's joined right into our evening routine, although the bath is a little full now!

Yesterday was the first day I didn't take a nap, and although I only made it through one song at choir by the evening, I feel like my sleep has finally turned a corner.  My mom took the kids out shopping (all three!) so I could work on our taxes (yuck), and then she and my sister took Katie and Luke out for Indian food so David and I could have a quiet dinner with Liz.

Reading with Grandma

The laundry basket was a big hit!

Horsey with daddy

She'll be walking in no time!

Reading with Aunt Susie (they were taking turns lifting the flap!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Home at last

We have been home since Friday afternoon, but it's been hard to find a convergence of free time and energy to update the blog.  I'd like to write about the orphanage, some thoughts on coming home, and just general 'how are things going' sorts of things, but my eyes are already drooping.  Jet lag has been no fun--much worse than going there.  Of course, this time around we had a jet lagged baby with a cold.  So I'll leave you with a few things:

It's wonderful being home with everyone.

Liz still laughs a lot.

Our sleeping is slowly getting better.

Katie and Luke are getting used to a little sister.

Thank goodness my mom is here for this week.

We love our church family!

In LAX, waiting to fly to Chicago (to meet up with Katie and Luke)

Our first night home...all very tired.  :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Last days

Day 7

Today we visited the Guangdong Folk Art Museum, housed in Chen's Family Temple.  Definitely my favorite sightseeing place!  They had rooms with different examples of folk art and craftsmanship from Guangzhou.  First, the temple itself was beautiful, especially when you consider how old all the porcelain and wood carvings are.  My favorite was the embroidery.  It looked as delicate and detailed as a painting, but as you moved around, the light hit the threads and changed the look even more.  They were incredible, and if I had money to burn, I'd buy a huge one to put in my house.  They also had examples of ivory carvings, wood carvings, and many painted scrolls.  It's too bad we were meeting the other families at shamian island, because I would have loved to stay there longer.

Decorations on the temple walls

The picture symbolizes good luck, so our guide wanted us to get a picture with it

The beginnings of an embroidery picture

The full sized embroidery

Don't touch!

Tuckered out from shopping at the Jade and Pearl Market

We had lunch at Lucy's, and institution of sorts on the island.  They serve Classic American diner food along with some Asian flavors too.  I had a burger that was pretty good, although no mayonnaise.  :(

Day 8

Consulate day!  We met bright and early in the lobby with the other families to head out to the US consulate.  I was a little worried about this paper that we needed, but Lily had assured me we'd be able to get it there.  We pushed our way through the crowd at the entrance and followed he signs for "adoptions" to a bank of windows.  There were about 8 families in all who we're waiting to get visa paperwork.  Our paperwork was indeed easy to finish, and we took our oath with the rest of the families saying that all our paperwork was correct.  Then we each got our paperwork turned in, our fingerprints done, and we were on our way back to the hotel!

Ready to go!

At the Consulate

We had an early lunch and got Liz down for a nap because in the afternoon, we took a trip to visit her orphanage.  I think I'll probably write a post just on that when we get home, since I have too many thoughts to finger type on the iPad.  At least Liz did well and wasn't to upset to visit or return home with us.  I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to meet her foster family--her caretaker said that Liz had improved quite a bit when  she returned from the foster family.  I will always be grateful for their work with Liz.

Day 9

Our guide, Lily, took us on one last sightseeing visit to Yie Shu park.  According to legend, five fairies visited guangzhou riding five rams and brought gifts of prosperity and fertility to the city.  The fairies left, but the five rams remained and became a symbol of the city.  The park holds a small bronze statue of the five rams and a large stone replica of the statue.  It was a beautiful, large park with a lot of paths and steps leading all over.  We also walked up to a monument to the revolution, and visited the Guangzhou city museum.  The only problem was that I was a bit worn out from my cold.  We ate lunch at a little cafe and took a taxi back to the hotel.  We hung out till 4:30 when Lilly brought the precious visa back to our room--success!  We were not in the less than one percent who have issues.  :)

Hello, little snail!

The ram statue

Day 10

Let me just say that by this point, we were both sick and tired of eating out.  :)  I had a few more gifts to buy, so we took a taxi to shamian island one last time.  Some of those souvenir shops pack a ton of stuff into there!  The weather was the same as it had been all week--wet and gray--and probably the foggiest day yet.  So we didn't linger.  Back to the room for nap and then packing!  We took a little trip to the local version of Walmart for some snacks for the plane, but mostly we just hung out in the room and got ready to leave.

Day 11

I'm writing this post in the van--we are just coming up on the airport in Hong Kong, about 4 hours before our flight leaves.  That's just the way I like it...I wonder if I will ever feel comfortable getting to the airport.  And here we are!

Woke up too early!  Not even lunch would keep her awake, which is saying a lot.

Heading home

We are doing the final sweep of our room before we head home.  Yay!  By the time you've been living out of a hotel room and eating out at every meal for two weeks, it doesn't matter how exciting your locale's time to be home.  

We have a two hour van ride to the Hong Kong airport, so I should be able to finish our last blog post about China then.  I think the airport has free wifi, but if not, you'll get to see it with some pictures.  :)  Can't wait to hug Katie and Luke, introduce Liz to the family, and sleep in my own bed! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

More about Liz

I feel like I need to be blogging about what we do, since I'm already forgetting.  :p. But here's a bit about Liz to give you a break.

Her back is very ticklish.

She loves being thrown up in the air.

Her communication sound is something along the lines of "goo goo ga."

Her favorite thing to do in the elevator is push the buttons.  

Her fine motor skills are great...gross motor, not as good.  So lots of carrying!

She mimics us and has already learned to sign "more."

When she is hungry, she gets very cranky.

Falling asleep is still hit or miss.

She likes she loves her shoes!

She eats everything (so far).

She gets frustrated easily and isn't very patient when it comes to food.

She loves walking/running to and from us.

Books are definitely toys right now.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

All caught up for now

Day 4

Our guide scheduled a visit to Shamian Island so we could do some shopping.  They used to have the US Consulate and other adoption related things there, so they have several souvenir shops geared towards adopting families.  I was able to get some clothes for the kids as well as our niece and nephew.  They attend a Chinese language school and need to wear traditional clothes for the Chinese New Year program.  I'm sure we'll see these clothes again too!  

We also ran into another adopting family who is on the same track-we had chatted a little at some of our mutual apps, so we decided to meet for lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  We also had a chance to just wander around a little--the island is very tranquil and picturesque, and we could see the harbor.  

A classic adoption picture--the trail of children on Shamian Island.  :)

Back to the hotel after lunch, and after dozing in the van, Liz transitioned right into the crib.  We walked around another side of the hotel and found a restaurant called "Oppa House."  I thought it might be Greek, but we quickly figured out it was Korean.  David said the bulgogi was as good as in Korea, so that was fun.  We also got mandu (dumplings)--I try to get those everywhere I see them on the menu.  :). Still no fried ones, but they've all been pretty good.

Day 5

I can't remember if I've mentioned the breakfast every's the biggest breakfast buffet I've ever seen at a hotel.  :)  They have a lot of American food--eggs, omelet bar, sausage/ham/bacon, pancakes/waffles/French toast, tons of bread products of various sorts, and lots of fruit, yogurt, and juice. Then you add in all the other International breakfast items--noodles, porridge, steamed buns, Japanese something, halal curry, baked beans and tomatoes--and you can understand why I still feel a little overwhelmed.  

Today our guide took us to a famous tomb in Guangzhou.  Here is the link if you want to know a little more.

The shroud of the Nanyue King

We actually made it most of the way through before Liz got totally bored and wanted to eat lunch.  :)  We had Chinese for lunch--this time dumplings (yum!) and noodles.  Here are the cheap dumplings--12 for 16 rmb or about $2.50.  And you can watch the chef make them at the front of the restaurant!  I should have gotten a whole plate for myself, but it turned out to be fine, because we had them again for dinner.  A few more families from our agency rolled in this afternoon and we ended up taking one family to this restaurant.  

Day 6

That's today!  Almost caught up!  Our guide asked us to be ready at noon to fill out more paperwork, so we chilled at the hotel and just briefly walked around before grabbing a quick bite and heading back to the hotel.  Paperwork was almost a breeze--there was one item that we thought was optional and isn't, but our guide said it wouldn't be a problem to do it on Monday.  

This afternoon we did a little shopping with our much better than trying to wing it on our own.  First she took us to the silk market to look at getting a handmade pure silk traditional Chinese blouse for me.  Sticker shock!  As gorgeous as it would have been, we couldn't justify the price.  Maybe next time.  :)  After that, she took us to a wholesale tea shop so David could buy some loose leaf tea.  We were able to taste everything, and even the highest quality tea was pretty inexpensive.  We ended up getting some of both black teas and an aged oolong.  

Checking out the slide in the hotel playroom before dinner.

Daddy, are you sure?

Wow, this is fun!

Tonight we ate at the Malaysian restaurant next to the hotel.  I was a little worried when the server said "just a little spicy," but we risked the coconut curry.   Not too spicy at all, and my only complaint was the very bony chicken pieces.  We are kind of spoiled with all boneless in the US, but I'm sure the bones add a lot of flavor too.  The menu was huge, and if wouldn't mind going back there again.  

Only bummer today is that I'm getting a sore throat.  It may be the same cold that Liz has, or just something else.  I hope if doesn't interfere with our sightseeing tomorrow--we will be visiting a temple and maybe heading back to Shamian island with some of the recently arrived families.

Day 3

I figured that post was getting a little long...which is why I should try to post every day.  Well, onwards.

Look, I sleep just fine!

Day 3

Our scheduled appointment was not until 3pm, so we decided to do some exploring and shopping in the morning.  We walked up the street and looked around--the most interesting thing we saw was a walled park with many older people exercising.  They had one area with all sorts of exercise equipment, and then of course there were open areas where people were doing aerobics and tai chi.  We couldn't find a way in (and we didn't want to wander too far), so we looped around and headed towards the supermarket.  The bottom floor of building was all food stuff, but the upper floors was more like a department store...a very expensive one, as we found out after looking at the children's clothes.  We went back to the food floor empty handed, but did find some dried fruit snacks along with some instant oatmeal.  We headed back to the hotel and went around the corner to check out a noodle place that another adoptive family recommended.  The noodles were fine, but I bet the spicy ones were better.  Sigh.  Next time we'll get the dumplings.

Strolling at the shopping mall

David discovered that afternoon that her bottle was a good sleeping aid--when he got her on her side and let her keep the bottle, she stayed asleep.  Of course, we let her sleep too long, so that night she was wide awake until almost 10.  Oops.  The afternoon appointment was for her passport, and again, it was pretty straightforward.  I did get in trouble for taking a picture of them, and they asked me to delete it.

After the passport appointment

We tried some shawarma for dinner from a little street restaurant--the meat was good, but I waved off the tomatoes and greens (only cooked vegetables! Which immediately makes me want a salad...).  David wasn't feeling great, so we grabbed some chicken nuggets and headed back to the room.  Nothing lasting, thank goodness, and besides being wide awake till 10, Liz did fine too.

First taste of chicken nuggets!

Catch up

I knew I'd wish for a real keyboard...I hope everyone appreciates how much I manage to write on this iPad keyboard.  :)

Day 2 with Liz

We went back to the adoption office in the morning to finalize the adoption.  They asked if we were satisfied with Liz (of course) and why we were adopting (we wanted to?), but I'm pretty sure they were all formalities.  Then it was official official!  The last stop was the medical exam, where I got grilled about the "American medicine" that we were giving to her.  It was a little frustrating because I didn't know what they were trying to communicate, but I suppose it's good that they seemed to care what we did with her.  Maybe they are afraid if she doesn't get better, we will not want her?  If I were at home, I wouldn't have even taken her to the doctor for this cough, so we are not worried about it.

Waiting to finalize everything

Not a huge fan of the doctor's office, but she handled it pretty well

Our guide has been telling us to feed her congee, which is like a thick rice soup, so on the way home, she took us to a little shop and got us some to feed her for lunch.  We tried to explain that we wanted lunch too, but we ended up just eating ramen in the hotel room.  Her schedule said she usually went to sleep around noon, so we figured she'd be ready for a nap...haha.  She might have gotten a few catnaps in between bouts of crying, but we definitely did not have things figured out yet.  

We gave up around 4ish, then headed out for some Italian food, which was expensive and unsatisfying.  The food has been a bit challenging, especially after hearing my siblings rave about how you can get great food for a buck or two.  The area around the hotel is very upscale, so even the Chinese food is expensive.  And, by the time I've had some Chinese food with my breakfast, then Chinese for lunch, I'm ready for something not-Chinese for supper.  It's not super expensive by American standards--$10-$20 per plate at most places--but when you're eating that every night, it feels like it adds up.  But it is what it is, and it's nice to sit down at the end of the day and not have to do dishes.  Most places have been very accommodating with Liz too.  We did stop at a little bread/pastry shop and got a very yummy chocolate sponge cake roll to share.

As my last post mentioned, she did go right to sleep that night.  We headed to bed soon after.  :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Heartfelt prayers

Thank you.  She went to sleep with hardly a peep, and now we are on our way there too!

Oh sleep where art thou?

I should have tried harder to post last night before we discovered how much she dislikes falling asleep. First off, please pray that she will transition to sleeping a little better tonight.  She wailed all afternoon while we tried to put her down for a nap, but you probably know that sleep deprivation does not mean the next sleep time will happen.  :)

So back to yesterday, which seems like forever ago.  I woke up at 4ish, unable to sleep.  We managed to make it until 6:30am before heading down to the biggest breakfast buffet I have ever seen.  I will try to remember to take the iPad down tomorrow for pictures.  I also finally got my fill of coffee.  After breakfast, we skyped with the family and figured out the Chinese characters for haw fruit snacks (according to our update, Elizabeth's favorite snack).  I just wish my Chinese speaking family members were here.  ;). The concierge pointed us to the nearest supermarket, and we found lots of snacks, noodles, and even bakwa.  We had some lunch, then hung out (somewhat anxiously) until 2:00.

Buying some special treats for Liz.

Our driver took us down to the civil office, and after a few minutes of waiting, there she was.  She came right into my arms, but oh so serious the whole time.  We brought her back to the bench and got out the fruit snacks...instant friend!  I was struck by how curious she was about the toys we brought--we will not have to teach her to play.  :)

I filled out a bunch of paperwork, then the orphanage caretaker came over and gave us some things for her.  She brought a whole box of formula--we had planned to buy some, so it was nice not to worry about doing that right away.  Then our guide mentioned that Elizabeth had a little cough, and the caretaker proceeded to take out 4 different types of medicine and attempted to fill me in on all the dosages and schedules.  Thankfully, our doctor gave us a prescription for any kind of upper respiratory infection Liz might have.  Of course, I broke out the "we will just give her American medicine," feeling somewhat bad about the fact that they brought all this other stuff for her.  After getting grilled by the doctor at the medical exam this morning, I no longer feel bad and am trying not to be annoyed that they keep trying to tell me how to take care of her...mostly related to the whole 'hot/cold' theory.

We ended up taking all the medicine along with the little girl who is our daughter.  She was very serious but very calm all the way through dinner.  She enjoyed the hybrid bath/shower, especially when she discovered splashing.  Again, I have just been so struck by how curious and inquisitive she is.  

Then we tried to get to sleep and the crying began.  Suffice to say she eventually fell asleep in her crib. Now it's time for dinner, but before we leave, I will also say that we've gotten many more smiles and laughs today to make up for the miserable attempt at napping from this afternoon.  She is also ticklish!

Monday, March 3, 2014


David has gotten her to laugh, but this is her most common expression.  Selfie!  We are heading to dinner soon, but I figured you'd want to see this.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I'm afraid if I wait too long to post again, I won't feel like I can get caught up.  Of course, you are probably just waiting for tomorrow, just like I am.  :)

First, I apologize for the lack of pictures.  They are all on my camera, and I didn't think about how to get them from the camera to the iPad.  I do have one from this afternoon:

Here I am finishing up Liz's blanket on the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, and yes, it is done.  :)

So, back to Friday morning.  David roused himself enough to do a little sightseeing in the morning.  We walked down to the Flower market and the Bird market, then wandered around a street market for a while.  We ate some potstickers for lunch, then just managed to get back before David nodded off to sleep.  I still think there must have been something going on besides jet lag, but whatever the reason, he slept all afternoon and still managed to go back to sleep at 7:30 (after some nice, hearty German food).

Birds at the bird market

You can also buy live grasshoppers at the bird market too.

The next day was our big sightseeing day.  We started off at the train station to get our tickets for today, then walked over to the harbor and followed the promenade all the way down to the ferry.  A short ferry ride and a meandering walk lead us to the Victoria Peak tram, straight up the side of the mountain to Victoria peak.  The views are supposedly spectacular, but let's just say the weather might be a reason late February is not peak tourist season.  

Cloudy harbor

On the ferry!

The cloudy peak

It's four in the morning here.  That's been my wake up time for the last few days, but my bedtime keeps getting later and later, so I hope this starts shifting too.  I gave up around 8:20 last night and went right to sleep.  

After taking the tram back down the peak, we took the ferry back across and found ourselves in the middle of some super high class shopping.  Of course at that point, all we wanted was some cheap food!  We wanted around until I spotted a sign for "Traditional Chinese Noodles."  Perfect!  The server dug out an English menu, and David and I shared a bowl of delicious soup/noodles.  I wish that shop was around the corner here in GZ...well, it might be, for all I know.  :)

We had a light lunch because our next stop was afternoon tea at the Penninsula Hotel.  This hotel was prominently featured in one of Mom's books, and it was pretty thrilling to sit in one of the chairs I'd only read about before.  This was also the first time I tasted a macaron that I really liked...I kind of wanted to ask for a box of them to take home. 

We went home and napped (well, David did), then had some Malaysian/Indian food at one of the restaurants around the corner from our hotel.  The next morning was pretty lazy--pastry for breakfast, then hang out in the room till checkout.  We had lunch at the train station (beef rendang for David, Chinese BBQ for me, then hopped on the train to GZ!

And here we are now, waiting.  We splurged at a nice Chinese restaurant last night (survived ordering with minimal language comprehension between parties), since we're not sure how well Liz will handle restaurants.  We ordered Peking Duck for the two of us, which I'm confident would have been enough for us.  But our server insisted we order a vegetable too...the first one she suggested was mushroom with tomato, and I tried to explain that David doesn't really like mushrooms.  So I pointed to the steamed vegetables in clay pot next, and she tries to explain that this also has mushrooms in it.  So then I tried to explain that I love mushrooms, and if there is a mixture of vegetables, we'll be okay.  Turns out it was about half mushrooms, but David ate the other things, and I enjoyed all the mushrooms for him.  

I hope we will be able to find some cheaper food (our guide mentioned going to the supermarket, which would be nice), but I also know we'll be gone before we know it, back to our normal life.  Well, our new normal...10 more hours till that arrives!