Sunday, January 31, 2016

Surgery Tomorrow

All week I've been thinking, "I wish the surgery was tomorrow!"  Now, that is finally true.  We've had one last week of almost normal before we go back to not normal (maybe never normal?) for a while.  The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, starting around 7:30 and lasting about 3 hours.  The surgeon is planning to repair part of Titus' lip and hard palate.  This is a slight change from his original plan, so now he is thinking we may only be in the hospital one night instead of two.

A song by Jars of Clay has been in my mind often over the last week.  We have been so blessed by people who have offered to help with the kids, with meals, with prayers, and with whatever else we might need.  I'm sure that if David needed to work this week, we would have been covered.  I'm just so grateful for the family God gives us through His church.  We could not do this on our own, and while it's true that God gives us strength, I love that He provides such tangible offerings of His grace and mercy.  In Philippians 1:3, Paul writes, "I thank my God every time I remember you."  And we thank God for every one of you, near and far, who is supporting us in this adventure.  Praise Him!

I took a slew of pictures this afternoon, knowing that sweet little smile will change tomorrow.  There was one look in particular that I hope will survive the surgery--when he scrunches up his nose, it looks so cute.  It only took 19 pictures to capture it, and every one was adorable!  I leave you with a few...

He's already mastered a great eye roll...very helpful.  

I don't understand why you want a specific look...don't I always look cute?

How about a big smile instead?

How about a shot of my tongue?

Oh it is.  So cute!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Back to China, Briefly

The days and weeks seem long right now, but they still manage to pass by in spite of that.  We are getting settled into a routine, just in time for the surgery!  We are officially approved for Titus's first surgery on February 1, so we'd really appreciate prayers as we prepare.  The first surgery will repair his lip and part of his palate, and it'll be at least two days in the hospital.

I've got to wrap up our China trip, or it will fade into even more distant memory!  But it's been pretty exhausting with four kids now that my mom is gone, and we are still trying to unpack and put our house back together from the trip.  So I'll leave you with two days and some very cute pictures!

Day 7, December 29

We got up and met our guide bright and early to do the medical check.  Every person who applies for a US visa has to undergo a medical check, but thankfully the clinic that process them was not to busy.  We went back to the hotel and finished up the visa paperwork, then our guide took me on a tour of the area around the hotel.  She was very conscientious about telling us all the American food around the hotel, until we finally had a long conversation about how my family fully embraces the "eat to live" mantra, especially when it comes to ethnic food.  When in China, eat Chinese!  So she took us to a little noodle shop next to the hotel and pointed out a few other Chinese restaurants as well.  We went back there around lunch and got some dumpling for take-out...they were delicious, although a little different than I was used to.  There were some halal signs in the shop, so I'm pretty sure the dumplings were beef with some kind of warm spices in them.  Still, pretty yummy.
After Titus woke up, we walked over to Yiexiu Park.  I wanted to see the flower pavilion, but it had just closed, so we walked around the little lake and did a brief jaunt into the park.  But I was still pretty tired from traveling, and it's really a vigorous walk due to all the hills.  We tried out the executive lounge for dinner at the hotel and then hung out in the room.

Day 8, December 30

I had my shopping list all prepared for our visit to Shamian Island and managed to leave it at the hotel.  The consulate used to be located there, and although it's not as popular with adoptive families now, they still have a lot of shops that have cheap souvenirs.  I did a little better in my bargaining (husbands are a great foil, right?), but the highlight was running into a few French families that we'd seen in the hotel.  I was able to carry on a conversation with them in French (!) and it was interesting to hear about their experiences.  Of course we took some pictures at the statues:

We were going to eat at a Dim Sum restaurant, but Titus was starting to get tired, so we headed back.  For dinner that evening, we went back to the noodle place and ate--Titus approved of the dumpings, noodles, and mushrooms!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A few thoughts so far

Given how cheerful, happy, playful, and affectionate he was on the first day, I spent the first part of the trip waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Titus would snuggle up under my chin and push his head against my face so I'd kiss him.  He laughed and played with us, and he really did go right to sleep that first day.  And as the days went on, he continued to show this super sunny personality full of smiles and laughter.   All the pictures you see on the blog are a good representation of his overall outlook on life.  Obviously we've had some bad nights since we got home (jet lag is the pits), but the even with that, it's been okay.

We went to church this past Sunday...even jet-lagged, it was such a joy and blessing to worship together, to sing, to hear the confession, and to pray together.  And of course, we missed our church family while we were gone.  We sang How Firm a Foundation, and one of the verses struck me anew:

"When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine."

I went into this adoption in a defensive stance, wondering how hot the fires would be this time.  And of course, we still have several surgeries in the very near future.  But it seemed appropriate that our pastor preached on prayer from Luke 11--here is the last verse from the passage:

Luke 11:13  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Once again, God has been so gracious to us in this endeavor.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for this adoption, that everything would go smoothly, that Titus would transition well, that we would make it home safely, that he would be happy here--mark those prayers as answered, and praise God!

I will close with another verse that has been on my mind.  In my heart of hearts, I sort of hoped that it might be even smoother than Lizzie's adoption, but the worries and fears were pretty loud.  I think I should try to imagine more and fear less.  

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more 
than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 
to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus 
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2016

We're home! Plus more China days...

Yes, we're home, deep into dealing with jet lag, unpacking, and trying get our new routines going.  It's a little harder to just drop everything and nest when you have three other kids to deal with, but my mom and sister have been a HUGE help.  6PM is like death warmed over when you're feeling jet lagged, and even if you are too tired to eat, there are other little people in the house who seem to need something to put in their mouths.  :)

So, jet lagged, but needing to get caught up before I forget everything, here goes.  I'm shooting for coherent right now...

Day 5, December 27

We asked our guide about visiting a church on Sunday, but the only one she knew about was a Chinese church, and she seemed a bit confused when we asked about when the service started.  Between still feeling sick and not wanting to crash a Mandarin service with a little baby, we opted for a quick trip to the store instead.  We thought about visiting an international church, but the service was in the afternoon during nap time.  The highlight of the day was our return from the shopping plaza--the metro system in Nanchang had just opened up on Saturday (like, brand new, never used before), and our guide was eager to try it out.  It was so easy to use!  We resolved to try the metro system in Guangzhou, and ended up returning to the shopping plaza that evening for dinner.  We celebrated 13 years of marriage with dumplings, pepperoni pizza, and a scoop of ice cream from Hagen Daz.  It's been a crazy ride, but each year is better than the last.  I'm excited to see what this year will bring.  :)

Day 6, December 28

And just like that, our stay in Nanchang was over.  Our schedule was very different from other families due to the passport office being closed on Friday.  We had the option of staying in Nanchang or going to Guangzhou early, and looking back, I'm glad we opted for Guangzhou.  Our hotel in Nanchang was nice, but we were in a single room with two (twin) beds instead of one king-sized bed.  Titus loved crawling around, but there just wasn't much room for him to roam.  With the metro right outside our hotel, our food options opened up considerably, but I was ready to go.  My one regret is that we weren't able to visit the orphanage, but I hope to return someday with the kids, and maybe we can visit then.  We were able to pick up some porcelain teacups for the kids, so that will be a nice reminder of our time there too.  We took a bullet train--very nice, and with western-style toilets!--and the only downside of the trip was that Titus hardly slept at all.  Our guide met us at the train station and got us checked into the China Hotel.  We got settled into our very nice suite (especially compared to our room in Nanchang!) and headed to bed.

Waiting for the train.

Here it comes!