"Tell your children of Him, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." Joel 1:3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Say what?!

Poor Olivia has had some major diaper issues since we got her 3 weeks ago. Let's just say, she has either been constipated or just the opposite....never just in between.
Today, I was changing her and she was a total mess!
I mean, mess!
Like...lay her on a garbage bag so the floor is protected....kinda mess.
Tanner was standing there at one point and plugging his nose, saying 'ewww' when he said to me..
"Is that what China poop looks like?"
Oh my Lord....where do my kids come up with this stuff?!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Snapshot: Changes

After watching our China videos yesterday, I was reminded just how far our new little peanut has come in such a short time. It was 3 weeks ago today that we first met her, first held her, and could first finally call her ours.

This is what I know.....

Three weeks ago....


video
~She was physically shaking for almost 2 straight days
~She would rock back and forth when we sat her down, she had learned to self sooth.
~She would hold her bottle because it was all she ever knew
~She didn't make any sound. No babbling, talking, laughing
~She would only eat noodles and congee
~If she wanted something, she didn't know how to tell us
~She had never been in a car, train, or plane
~She lived in 2 rooms at her orphanage where her daily scenery never changed
~She never saw TV or movies
~She turned her head away when we tried to take pictures
~She slept in a hard crib
~She was so scared and her face showed it
~She didn't really get tucked in or rocked at night
~She didn't know the love and protection of a big brother
~She didn't know what it was like to have a mom and dad that would love her no matter what
~She was an orphan

Today....only 3 short weeks later.....


~She is no longer shaking or rocking back and forth because she knows she doesn't have to sooth herself, she has us
~She doesn't hold her bottle anymore because she's learned that she doesn't have to
~She is saying words like "Uh-oh" and "Hi" and lots more that we think are probably Chinese
~She is eating things like applesauce, cheese, meatloaf, and bananas
~when she needs something, she taps our arm and points to what she wants....she manages to let us know exactly what she needs
~She has been on a train, 2 planes, and many car rides and done great
~She now has a house with many rooms and play areas for her to discover and call home
~She loves Barney and Toy Story and when we took her to see her first theater movie (Yogi Bear) this weekend, she kept pointing to the screen and saying "Hi" to the characters.
~She loves getting her picture taken and will pose by putting her arm around us and smiling for the camera
~She sleeps in her own soft bed decked out in pink just for her
~She doesn't look scared anymore, she looks happy
~She gets rocked every night before bed and tucked in warm. I just put her down for a nap and she kept puckering up for me to give her a kiss...it was adorable. When I turn to go, she waves and says "hi". For now, that also means "bye".
~She has 5 big brothers who totally dote on her and she's eating it up every day
~She has a mom and dad and is very affectionate with both of us. She gives out hugs and kisses every chance she gets, it's the cutest thing. She has bonded with us so quickly and it's been amazing to see the transformation every day.
~Today, she is no longer an orphan.
She is a child of God and a child of ours.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Welcome Home Olivia

I know so many of you are curious to know how she's doing at home with the boys. Well, let's just say that if I could have prayed for the perfect scenario, this would be it. Honestly, it has gone better than Jason and I could have ever dreamed. I had no doubts about the affections of my boys towards their new sister.....but had no idea how she would take to them at first.
It's been amazing to watch. They are completely enamoured with her and she is soaking in all the attention with a giddy heart.
We had showed her pictures of the boys the whole time we were in China and we talked to them on Skype with her on our laps. I really think there is some recognition there and for some reason...she just seems to know. She just knows that these guys are here to stay and that they love her.
By the first 20 minutes we were in our home....her new home....she was upstairs playing in her new room with her 5 new brothers. Everything new and yet, comfortable to her to her little spirit. Only God can make that happen.

How precious is that....

She smiled and played and interacted with them as though she'd known them her whole life.
We had only a few people over that night and then it was time for bed after such a long day of travelling. She slept in her own bed for the first time. It was so sweet to see her there finally after seeing it empty for all those months. Surreal, actually.

The next morning, she was all over her toys like it was Christmas morning. Which for her....is not so far from the truth. She's never had so many things at her disposal, all for her.

We spent the day as a family on Saturday and then had the whole family, cousins and all, to the house on Sunday after church.
With 5 brothers, 8 cousins, 3 uncles, 4 aunts, and 3 grandparents there...she didn't even flinch. Her records had told us she liked noisy and busy places, and they were not kidding. I don't think much phases this peanut. I even took her to lunchroom duty that I do every Monday at the boys' school and she was loving it.
She had fun opening gifts from everyone too. I wonder how many presents she's ever gotten. She got the hang of it real quick.


All the attention didn't slow her down one bit. She even played Legos with Uncle Pat.


The cutest thing was on Saturday afternoon....a mere 20 hours after first meeting her brothers.....she was sitting by me at the table and Timmy came up with a camera to take a picture. As soon as he lifted it, she put one arm around my shoulder, looked at the camera, and smiled. She posed. Seriously? She's posing for pics already? This little thing is a dream. The boys thought that was just too darn cute to not get a piece of it, so they sat by her to see if she'd do the same with them. Much to their surprise...and mine...she did. Only this time, I had the camera and she has a bro on each side so she lifted 2 arms around their shoulders and, once again, posed. It was absolutely priceless. Any concerns I may have had at how she'd feel around all these crazy boys just melted away. She was home and she knew it.




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home Sweet Home - Part 2

We arrived home to a very nice welcome.
The driveway had been artfully coated in chalk drawings welcoming us all home....(I asked Timmy to get a picture of it for me and this is what I got...not exactly what I was thinking, but you get the idea)


There was a balloon tied to a "It's a girl" sign in the yard.

When we got inside, there was more balloons and crepe paper...pink, of course....


The boys and all our nieces and nephews had made great welcome home signs.



One of the best parts was seeing a huge area of the wall covered in pictures of the boys and all the things they did while we were gone. My mother in law and Jason's aunt, who helped watch them for us, had made it. It had pictures of walks outside, their wrestling matches, Tyler's spelling Bee, playing board games at home, and doing some craft projects. Then they had all written nice side notes around all of it. It was soo nice to see all of that, I still haven't taken it down.

I took a much needed shower and we had some cake.

This was after I had emptied my suitcase to show everyone all the fun stuff we bought while we were there. I had bought a silk scarf for my mom, Jay's mom, his aunt, and his grandma. We got my dad a great hat and a t-shirt with the Chinese character for grandpa.
It was fun to tell some of the stories that didn't make it to my blog, like how crazy the driving is over there and how Jason said "si" to a taxi driver one night. Ya know, "Si".....as in Spanish for yes. It just spilled out as we got out of the cab. I looked at him as the driver took off and said...."did you just say "Si" to him? He just said it before thinking. Um...Jay....it's China, not Mexico. Whoops. Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard that night.....good stuff.




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

P.S.

I forgot to mention the funniest part of our airport homecoming. In the midst of all the excitement and happy tears, Trae.....who has obviously heard us talk about saving up for the expense of this adoption just one time too many....looks up at me and says, "so.....are we pretty much broke now?"
Oh my gosh, do you want me to pee my pants in the middle of the airport?? HAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home Sweet Home - Part 1

We're here. I can't hardly believe it. After 17 hours of travelling, we made it back to Mpls. on Friday at 4:30pm. Of course, for the three of us, it felt like 5am on Saturday. The past couple days have been a blur of family, home, jet-lag, and sleep....sort of.
We left our hotel on Friday morning at 10am to get to the airport for our 12:30pm flight. We flew first from Hong Kong to San Fransisco which took 11 1/2 hours. Olivia had her own seat since she was over 2 yrs. old and we were thankful for that. We sat her in it and didn't pick her up as long as she didn't reach and ask. We knew that as soon as one of held her once.....we'd be holding her and passing her back and forth the whole time and that just sounded exhausting. So, there we sat on the plane and she was soooo great! She never moved from her seat, once.
She just played with her little backpack of toys....

When she got tired I laid her down with her doll.

We even put a Barney video in and oh my goodness...she was mesmerized.

When we arrived in San Fran. we only had 1 hour and 22 minutes. Seems like enough time to connect to another flight, but we had lots to do. First, because it was our first stop in America, we had to go through not only the line for citizens and show our passports.....we had to then go to a second line for new immigrants for Olivia. We had to show her Chinese passport and give them all the paperwork from the US Consulate. That took some time. This was actually a pretty exciting moment because ya see, as soon as Miss Olivia had stepped off the plane on American soil.....she was officially an American citizen. That was enough to get this overtired mama all choked up....right there in the customs line.
While we were waiting in the customs line, I was hoping the employee who chooses who's luggage they rummage through would show a little mercy on us. After all, we were a sight. We had 4 suitcases, 4 carry ons (our duffel bag, one diaper bag, computer bag, and Jay's sleep machine) AND....a 2 yr. old strapped to Jay's chest. Well, he did and we sailed right by without a hitch. We re-checked our bags and got to our next gate just in time to start boarding. That flight was over 3 hours, but by this time we were so completely exhausted. It was the middle of the night for us and we had barely even slept. We were so excited though to be on our last leg to get home though that I didn't even care. I think I was also to tired to even care that I had forgotten my plan to get my makeup out of my luggage before re-checking it. I hadn't put any on that morning. I figured it would be a mute point with all the travelling we were going to be doing. Well, my plan fell through and so I was headed home looking awful. Ask me if I cared....I just wanted to see my boys.
Back home, they were just as anxious as we were.


I had emailed my family and asked them to make sure to let the boys come to us first before letting everyone else. I wanted to see them first and give them a chance to get the first glimpse of Livi. I'd say my brothers did a good job of holding them back.

I remember getting off the plane and heading to the baggage claim area. Jason saw them first...off in the distance. Then I did. I had already been crying as we headed through the airport, but seeing them I waved real high above the crowd so they could see us. Oh my goodness, did they come running.

It was the best thing I've ever seen. I was bawling by the time they reached us....this, of course, made me even more beautiful than I already was for all the pictures I was going to be in....and they just surrounded us. It was soooo good to see them. I can't tell you how much we missed them and how hard that was to be away all that time.

Jay and I had predicted that our 3 oldest would be crying and we were right. They were very emotional and looked very happy. They looked at their new sister for the first time. She was a bit stunned by all the commotion. She just looked and watched them. It took me a few minutes, but I soon realized that my whole family was now standing behind us and had been watching.....along with everyone else in the airport....
After giving everyone hugs, we had the fun task of getting to finally show her off in person. The grandma's were the first ones in to see her...and everyone else followed.






Olivia didn't cry or seem overwhelmed. She just watched and held on tight. I think she knew she was in for a ride with this big family.
After spending quite a bit of time at the airport, we said goodbye to everyone except our parents. We wanted them to come back to the house with us. We thought it would be too much for her to have the rest there, but they were coming over on Sunday.
My dad helped by grabbing some of our bags and we all left. We were heading out of the parking garage when I realized that dad had taken the diaper bag. That was the bag that had our wallets, our passports, our licenses, our money, our debit card....everything. We had no way to pay for our parking. No way. We didn't even have a cell phone on us to call them back. Besides, they had almost a 30 minute head start on us (mostly because Trae realized he had forgotten his jacket with his DS inside back in the airport and we had to go all they way back in to the baggage claim area only to find that a security guard had taken it away since it was 'unattended' so it posed a security threat. We finally tracked it down and convinced them it wasn't a bomb). We pulled up to the cashier and told her the problem. We said we didn't know what to do and was there a way we could send in our payment....something? She didn't seem to have an answer for us. We all kinda sat there for a minute trying to decide. She said she'd probably have to call her supervisor who would have us call our parents back to the airport to help us out. I said okay, but that it would be a while. She asked if we were at the airport often, we told her no..we just got back from China adopting a child. We hemmed and hawed for another minute or two about the dilemma and then I saw her reach for a purse....her purse...and start to pull out her wallet. I asked her please not to do that. She said "you did something good and adopted a child and I see you have other kids too....now, I'll do something good for you". We offered to pay her back, but she wouldn't let us. So, of course, I start crying and telling her "God bless you". She says "God bless you too, and your family". There really are a lot of good people in the world. The poor thing probably got yelled at by the car behind us who kept honking. Makes you think twice about being impatient, huh. You never know what's going on up ahead.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our Trip to Hong Kong

If I said we had a busy day would you believe me? I mean, it's not like we've been busy any other day, right? Well, couldn't help it today....we had to go to Hong Kong. We got a better deal on our plane tickets by flying out of Hong Kong rather than Guangzhou. I was up late packing last night and then we were up early to get everything ready and have some breakfast with Mark and Barb before our driver came for us at 10am. Before leaving though we had to do something very important that we hadn't done yet. We had to get the kids' pictures done on the Red Couch. It's the famous red couch in the White Swan hotel that all adopted kids have to get their picture taken on. It's become a real tradition for all people there for adoptions.

I got some of Olivia on her own......

Then we added Logan and Megan too.....

I've seen so many pictures on that couch with other kiddos so it was very cool to finally be there taking pictures of our own.

We had to be at the train station on time for a 12:12 ride. Our driver brought us and Lucy had arranged for someone to go in with us and make sure we got to the correct place. I've been pretty nervous about this trip all week because I just couldn't figure out how we were going to manage with all our luggage and Olivia in tow. We had 4 suitcases (this included the extra one I bought last night for shopping stuff) a computer case, a duffle bag, a diaper bag, and Jay's C-pap machine case.....plus a 2 yr. old. Luckily I had brought the snugli so Jay was able to "wear" Olivia while we each pulled 2 suitcases, each with a carry on on top. It was enough to make us both literally sweaty by the time we finally boarded the train.


There was one strange thing that happened when we boarded the train. I was ahead of Jason a bit and when he got on the main car where the seats were, Olivia totally freaked out! She about jumped out of the thing Jay was carrying her in. She acted terrified....but of what? It took me a while to calm her down, we've never seen her so upset. There was nothing obvious that triggered it....just getting on the train. So....here's what we think. We think she actually took a train for her trip from the orphanage and we wondered if maybe she thought she was going back. Maybe? I know she's only 2, but she's smart and something that significant in her life only 10 days ago is not easily forgotten. It's the only explanation we could think of.....I mean if she could have jumped out of Jay's arms and off that train, she would have. I just rocked her and held her tight and just kept whispering in her ear...."we're not taking you back......we're taking you home.....we're not taking you back....we're taking you home" ...... I realize she doesn't understand my words....but I believe a lot can be said with just a tone of voice, and I think, somehow, she understood.

We arrived at our hotel at about 3:30 and were completely amazed at what we saw. Holy cow....I had read all good reviews about this place and it was listed as a 5 star hotel, but SHEESH!!! I said last week that the White Swan was the nicest place we've ever stayed in.....it's now the 2nd nicest place. Funny thing is....I found it on Expedia for only $90. What?! Is that a typo?!

The room is twice the size of any room we've ever stayed in. We have this amazing view. And....we have an entire balcony overlooking the beach. It could fit 40 people...it's huge...and it's only for our room. Sweet! Off in the distance you can see the mountains and the coast line.







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I'm going to go take a hot bath, so Jason is going to take over and tell you more about our evening in Hong Kong......over and out.
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Unbelievable!!!!! We walk in this place and marble floors everywhere, stone granite tops for the check-in area, beautifully decorated. Outrageous views! As you walk inside there is a huge water fountain area, nice restaurant, gazebo type hut which the bar wrapped around, and also a lounge area where you could play games or socialize this was equipped with nice couches and love seats and then two coffee tables made of stone granite. The floor in this place sparkled just gorgeous!!!!! Did I say the floors looked nice.




Then outside there was another place just off the courtyard where they were serving an outside buffet dinner. NICE!!!!!!!!! This is also right off where the huge outside pool area is as well.
We then checked in at hotel, and then noticed they have both inside elevators as well as outside elevators to your room. Wow, what a view!!!!! We can see the hotels, yachts, boats, ships, and beautiful channels of the ocean. And our room is huge as Jenny already explained!!!!



We sat in our room at just chilled for a hour watching an actual English speaking movie called Premonition. Good flick.

Then we ventured out to the restaurant and seven eleven grocery area. We ate, you won't believe it, we ate at an Italian Restaurant. We ate BBQ chicken pizza with bell peppers and onions and mushrooms. Not bad!! I forgot, we started off with some bruschetta and Olivia ate for the first time, tomatoes and some bread. She loved it. Then Jen decided to try to give Olivia some chicken from the pizza and she ate it. She is really trying some new things lately and surprised both Jen and I tonight. That is good news!

We were done eating and waiting for the check, when two small children from the area I guess, a boy and his big sister (maybe 7 and 9). She stopped as she walking on by and looked and asked Jen, in English, "what's wrong with her lip?" Curious !!! So Jen asked them to come over to the table and proceeded to explain to the girl and the boy Olivia's cleft lip and palate situation. Explained to them that she is okay and some babies are born like this, but it is okay, this can be fixed very easily. And I have to say this little girl was very sincere and cute and she made a final comment and said, " I thought she was bleeding from her nose". We laughed and said , "No she is okay". And then the little girl took another look closer and asked, "can she breathe through there?" And we said absolutely she is okay, she has adapted to this condition all her life. I'm sure when Jen takes Olivia to Epiphany for lunch room duty on Monday some of the kids will have something to say or talk to their parents about that night.

Afterwards, we went and got Jen a Diet Coke!!!! They actually had some coke light at the seven eleven. And then we headed for home. We decided to look around and take a few pictures of the hotel entry level area. We went over to the fountain area where there was 3 fountains creating little bubbles in the water. So Livi and I took to the bubbles and decided to start popping them. We had a good time, and I think she did too.


I have to say, that Livi is getting more and more brave with each passing day. She will wander off sometimes a little bit from us and then look around and notice that she is too far away, and come running back to us with this big grin on her face. It is so cute!! She is pretty daring too, she will go right to the ledge and lean over to see something without hesitation. She is becoming very independent little girl at times. But, this means that she is getting that much more comfortable with us and trusting us to care for her.
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Hi, Jenny again......Thanks dear........Well, this is my last post from abroad. Tomorrow we board a United Airlines plane (that will certainly have REAL diet coke!!!!!!!!!!) and head home. We leave at 12:30 Hong Kong time and arrive home 4:30 Minnesota time. Kinda funny, cuz it will be about 20 hours later but only 4 hours later in the day. I doubt I'll feel like posting tomorrow night so I'll try and catch up this weekend. Thank you sooooo much to all of you for your sweet comments and for caring enough about Jay and I and our family to even follow along all this time. We feel very blessed.

Okay......America or bust!!!!!! We're going to be home soon boys!!!! We miss you!!!! XOXOXOXO