Sunday, October 28, 2012

First Couple of Days at Home

Life is already starting to take on some normalcy.  The kids play together and hang with dad and even go off into their own rooms to do things.  Emmy and Sarah were working on homework and Ian was busy doing one of his favorite things, cutting and taping!  I think I better buy some stock in SCOTCH!!  LOL    Here are just a few more candid shots of 1st couple of days at home...

 
This was the welcome we came home to along with flowers and dinner in the fridge ready for heating!

 
This was Ian's "test drive" the first night in his big boy bed.  He didn't actually sleep in it until the 2nd night.

 
After several humungous meltdowns, Ian finally became brave enough to get to know Gracie our beagle dog. 
 
 
This was a HUGE breakthrough!

 
After touching her, he says "Gou Pew!!!"  He's right... even a couple days after a fresh bath, our sweet beagle dog smells.  (fyi...  Gou = Dog)

 
Our sweet friends Maddy, Paige and Jane came to visit with a lovely and yummy chocolate chip cookie cake!  Ian put on a show!!  He just LOVES all the attention these girls want to give him!

 
Love hearing Ian yelling for Baba!!  He couldn't wait to finish his breakfast and get outside with him!




 
Fun stuff!!
 
 
Ian LOVES to color and cut and tape!

 
He is very happy to do his own independent activities when one of us is not available to play with him.  Earlier (no photo) he got the beads out and started beading a bracelet all by himself. 

 
Lunch boxes packed for our first day back and Ian's first day of Kindergarten at SRCS!

 
Ian's first string cheese!!  Emmy gave him a lesson on how to eat it.  He loved it!

 
We also introduced him to baby carrots dipped in ranch dip.  He wasn't sure at first, but he caught on.  I didn't think he was liking it and I took his out of his lunch box and he came rushing over to me to put it back into his lunch box for tomorrow.  Guess we will see if he eats them or not. 
 
 
 
 



Video of Our Friend Elvin in Guangzhou

Elvin and I became quite good friends during our short stay in Guangzhou.  He is a very interesting character with a great heart and a fabulous sense of humor.  I will miss him a lot.  This is just a quick little blurb of him.  He made our final week in China quite pleasant and enjoyable and look forward to maintaining contact and friendship for years to come. 
 
video

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yup...more pics

 
Sleeping arrangement first night home - Emmy and Ian - Sarah was smart enough to sleep in her own bed!!
 
 
Heading to school to meet Mrs. Huey and the Kindergarten class
 
 
Walking with his class to his first ever pep rally
 
 
 
Looks like he has the same look on his face as some of the other boys in his class :)
 
 
First night in his room all by himself in his big boy bed.  This little guy slept in a room with 8 babies for the past 3 1/2 years... He looks peaceful, doesn't he???  

More pics

 
Interesting sleeping positions for the last drive to our home sweet home...
 
 
2:30 am dinner from Ms. Ronnie and Ms. Frances!  YUM!!!
 
 
Loving his new room!
 
 

LEGOs!!!!!

Pics to go with the last posting

 
Sleepin' on the first plane ride home...
 
 
So happy we found the colored pencils and crayons for the BIG PLANE ride
 
 
Enduring the 4 1/2 turned 6 hour layover in Chicago
 
 
Same layover... Poor babies...
 
 
Finally in our car and on the way home!!!
 

Home Sweet Home & The Long and Winding Airplane Journey - Guangzhou to Tampa

When I was younger the idea of spending hours upon hours in the air flying to the pther side of the world, was exciting! I mean who wouldn't think that was fun, right? Now on our second time on a 14+ hour flight, within 2 weeks, I am questioning my sanity just a little. :-)

So we survived the trip over from Tampa to Chicago to Hong Kong to Changsha, then to Guangzhou. It was still pretty exciting flying a medium size plane then a huge plane then a couple of little bitty planes. Part of the original excitement was probably following it through the eyes of our daughters who were experiencing flying for the first time. Both girls willingly welcomed the adventure and I can honestly say they have been well behaved, well mannered, non-complaining participants through the entire adventure! I am so proud of them. The other excitement likely stemmed from the mission at hand, going to meet and bring back our son! It has been an exciting, emotionally draining and sometimes overwhelming experience, but I wouldn't change it for anything!

Ian has been a trooper. He got on his first ever fast train to meet us the first day and then 5 days later hopped on his first itty bitty plane. Now only 11 days from that first train ride that took him away from the only home he has ever known, he is telling across the globe. He travels really well for a little boy, never mind the fact that he
is a little boy with a brand new family he is trying to get used to and the fact that he is traveling to the other side of the world.

So we started out in pretty great shape early this morning (10/25/12) but then somehow we managed to lose the little man's back pack before getting on the first plane. None of us can even remember where we saw it last. It must have been at the security check. I was seriously bummed about the idea of losing his little Chinese flash cards from his orphanage and his new crazy goat..I mean pleasant goat, pencil holder with all his crayons and colored pencils in it, not to mention all the brand new stickers, sticker books, note pad, wipe board, alphabet wipe board and snacks etc..etc... Now the dreaded thoughts...we have nothing with us for this child to do for the next 24 hours of traveling. No time to worry now...We raced to make it to the plane on time. Whewww.. we made it!!!! Praise God I had to take his kindle out for the security check and it wasn't in that back pack! That first flight was ridiculously short but the panic hit when we realized we had approximately 45 minutes until take off of our next flight and we were still on the first plane. Fortunately when we finally got off there were attendants waiting to escort all those going on our next flight over to that gate. Good thing, because the trek was HUGE and we never would have made it on our own. In the nick of time we made it thru immigration and got our carry bags checked and boarded the big plane. Poor Ian's little legs barely kept up going thru the airport. I'm sure he was as relieved as we were to finally get to our seats.

Wow... I'm tired just WRITING about this!! LOL

Ok...so we arrive on the plane in the seats we will occupy for the next 14 hours and 55 minutes. Now let me tell you...the flight home FROM Hong Kong is much different from the flight over TO Hong Kong. To begin with there are numerous adoptive families on the flight and most of the families have little babies. One family has TWO!!!!! We have our 5 year old and the folks behind us have an 8 year old, but otherwise it is pretty much babies. Now I don't know about you, but in my "previous life", the worst thing to have on an airplane is a crying baby. HAH!!!! We have like FIVE or SIX!!!! Now I know 20 years ago it would be driving me nuts, but as I sit here listening to these moms and dads try to calm their babies, I can't have any other feeling besides pure empathy. It is a long brutal flight to begin with, but to have an inconsolable little human being along for the ride is just a major bummer! I have been doing some praying, sharing dum-dum pops and smarties, and sending Emmy, "the baby whisperer" into the trenches to help.

Our girls are doing great! Have I mention that I'm so proud of them!? They have experienced so much on this trip! They are world travelers at 10 and 13 years old! They have welcomed a little brother with big open arms! And they have willingly given of themselves and helped others!

The time just popped up on the super cool GPS screen and we have about 8 hours and 13 minutes of fly time left. We just passed Kamchatka!!! That was always one of my favorite countries to conquer in the game of RISK!!!

The only big pain in the tushy that I find on this flight is the fact that they insist on darkening the entire plane for people to sleep. That os just fine and dandy if it were night time, but they start it in the afternoon right after the first food service. Sorry, but Jeff, the kids and I are WIDE awake at 3 o'clock in the afternoon! Ian just finally conked out next to me. He didn't have a nap yet today and he has been up since 5:30am and it is 6:30 now. He may just sleep right thru to the next food service now. Me...I'm still wired!!! I really think there should be a sleeping section for this flight.

Oh...I forgot to mention that apparently before we left the hotel this morning, I moved a couple of Ian's things out of his back pack to lighten it up and I put them into Emmy's which was pretty empty. The good news is that included his flash cards from the orphanage and his crazy goat pencil box with all his crayons and colored pencils! Thank you Lord Jesus for small miracles!!!! Emmy insists that someone will be kind enough to ship the back pack to us, but I'm not holding my breath. We will see. There is a luggage tag on it, so she could be right. But if not, we lost about $60 of stuff including the back pack itself and the adorable jacket my friend Erin bought for him. No doubt we will have to run out and buy a new back pack for school for Monday, but that's ok.

We just crossed the international date line!!!!! Whooooohoooo!!! I can see Anchorage Alaska on the GPS!!!!!! 7 hours 53 minutes till landing!!!!! You know what happens then??????? Our sweet boy lands on American soil for the first time and becomes a US Citizen!!!! How exciting!! I know that Ian doesn't comprehend the significance of that landing, but for the rest of us, it represents the culmination of all the prayers, paperwork, preparation, money spent and travel time, all coming together for a single purpose... to bring Ian home!!

The last 6 hours were interesting as our living, breathing, giant-sized, bobble-head slept next to me. What an adventure. I couldn't have dozed off if I wanted to. This little man is all over the place in his sleep and it isn't any better in an airplane seat than it is in a bed or on the floor. So many times I had to catch him from flopping around like a fish out of water and prevent injury to his head or complete bodily invasion of the young man in the seat on his right side who basically slept for about 12 hours! Several times Ian actually popped straight up in his chair with his eyes wide open, looked around, and fell back in his seat asleep. Totally bizarre!

Now we are just 45 minutes from landing in Chicago. Oh how I wish this was the end of our trip, but alas we have a 4 1/2 hour lay over in O'Hare and another 2 1/2 hours in the air to get to Tampa and then another 1 1/2 hours drive home.

Forgot to mention...I must have been extra stressed because I chewed off all my fingernails this flight...ugh....gross!!!!!

It feels really good to be on US soil and done with all the trips through immigration and customs. Our poor little guy conked out...posted the pic from my phone. The girls did too. We are all beyond exhausted. Meanwhile I'm sitting here feeling like the building is swaying?!?!?!? Is that normal?!??!?!?

While we were gearing ourselves up for the last leg of our flights, we experienced a huge delay of our flight from Chicago to Tampa. This has been extremely frustrating. First the plane was over booked and they were asking for volunteers to give up their seats. But then it turned out the cockpit door needed repair and they were debating switching out the plane. I'm thankful that we finally departed but now we are looking at an 11:35pm arrival time instead of 10pm. So frustrating but in the big scheme of things I guess its not that big of a deal. At the time...in the gate waiting area..it was a big deal. Oh and to top it off you have to pay for WIFI at O'Hare. Not cool!

We are split up on this plane. Emmy and I are sitting with Ian and Sarah is by herself and Jeff is by himself. Its only a 737 plane this time which is pretty small so being separated isn't that big of a deal. Oops...and there went Emmy's coke all over sleeping Ian and the floor... funny...I don't eve care! I have officially lost my mind! LOL

Next stop Tampa!

My frustration level lowered as we got closer to home and the adrenalin began to build. I'm not mad at American Airlines anymore. We finally arrived home at close to 2am. We came in to balloons, flowers and dinner in the fridge to be warmed up, all from my dear sweet friends Ronnie and Frances. By 3am we were having a feast! I'm pretty sure this was the first time Ian ate any of those foods, meat loaf, scalloped potatoes and German chocolate cake, but boy did he enjoy them! Next it was lego time. Ian (and Emmy) LOVE legos!!! He is very coordinated with his hands. He is obviously a kinesthetic tactile learner and he is very quick to watch, learn and do. We have observed this a lot over the past two weeks.

While the kids played and our adrenaline pumped, because we were home and because it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon China time, we went ahead and unpacked every single thing from our trip! Jeff and I were unpacking machines. So funny! But around 4 pm, the 36 hours of being awake kind of caught up with us and we forced ourselves to try to sleep. I woke up first around noon and got brunch started and then got the rest of the clan up by 1pm, fed them and we got everybody cleaned up over to the school by 2:15pm. We made it to school during free choice time in kindergarten so it wouldn't interfere with a lesson. The kids were so excited to see Ian! Ian carefully handed out a Chinese lollipop to each of his new friends. And he said hello by name to each student. We visited there for a little bit and then it was time to clean up and go to the pep rally. Ian jumped right in to help clean up and then lined up with the class! I loved watching the interaction between him and his new friends. I truly believe he is going to fit in with this group of students perfectly and I pray he will build long lasting friendships with them at SRCS. Ian said hello and high-fived so many people!!! He was swarmed like a rock star at one point. I got him safely tucked in with his class on the top row of the bleachers and he went along and did whatever the other kids in his class did. People were afraid he might be overwhelmed, but considering his lack of sleep and all the activity, I think he handled it beautifully!

After the pep rally we hustled over to the pediatrician's office where it was confirmed he 45" tall and weighs 52.5 lbs and he DOES NOT have a heart murmur! Turns out our little guy is missing quite a bit of his immunizations so he had to get 4 shots today!!! He was amazing! He never flinched, never cried... quite impressive. Then he walked out with a handful od stickers and lollipops! The nurses just LOVE him and a couple I understand have also become blog followers!!!! How cool!!!

Next was a visit to the dance studio to see some of the wonderful ladies that have stalked, I mean followed, this adoption journey since the first initial conversation back in January. We watched a little bit of jazz/across class, high-fived here and there, got some hugs and off we went to Winn Dixie for provisions.

When we arrived home we had the task of introducing Ian to his pet beagle, Gracie. To say he was not impressed would be an understatement. He indeed screamed at the top of his lungs and clung to my leg. We gradually worked to show him how sweet band good Gracie is. While we at a yummy dinner, Ian's eyes remained clearly attentive to Gracie's locale at all times. We still have some work to do but I think we made substantial progress.

Finally there was the first bubble bath with the dinosaurs at home and then he hopped into the brand new big boy bed! He woke crying one time earlier (the baby monitor works great) but has been sleeping peacefully for several hours now. Emmy was tucked in very shortly after Ian and then Sarah. I'm really hoping we will all wake up on a Florida time schedule tomorrow. And yes, it is around 1:30am as I finish and post this, but quite honestly, for people who know me, this is sort of "normal" for me.

Love & Blessings our friends and thank you for following our journey! Now for the FUN stuff!!!!!!! Stay tuned!

晚安 Wǎn'ān!

Georgia

Thursday, October 25, 2012

UGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Delayed in Chicago! NOT HAPPY CAMPERS!!!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Not a great start

Not a great start...lost the little man's backpack at the first airport...now we have nothing for him to do for the next 24 hours of traveling time!! And to top it off...we have to shop for a new backpack for school this weekend so he has one for Monday. Let's hope that's the worst of what's yet to come on this long trip home.
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First flight

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Tuesday Shopping in Guangzhou

These are more pics of our shopping day after our Consulate Appointment. We went to the tea store, the fabric market and the "Trust Mart" which is basically a multi-story WalMart with "Great Value" products and everything!! It was a busy day, ending with a second bubble bath with his dinosaurs.

The Last Day!

This is our last day/night in Guangzhou!  We are definitely READY to go home!  I am so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.  We originally were going to stay at the hotel in Tampa tomorrow night and drive home Friday morning, but have since decided to just get our car and GO!  We should arrive home by about 12:30am Friday morning.  It's not terribly late.  We will be able to sleep in and then venture out to SRCS to introduce Ian to his classmates and Sarah and Emmy's classmates.  3:15pm on Friday afternoon he goes to see Dr. Fialko and get his shots.  Hopefully he won't have a feverish reaction or Ms. Kim is gonna kill me when I need a sub again on Monday!!  But.. he needs his shots for school, so we have to do it. 
 
Last night we had some fun Skyping with Emmy's 5th grade class with Mr. Goh and then with Sarah's 8th grade class with Mrs. Welter. It was encouraging to see and hear all the crazy kids at a point when we are clearly homesick.  I think it gave us the little boost we needed to get through the rest of the trip.
 
Our last day in the hotel today began with a the wonderful breakfast buffet and then a trip to the playground.  The kids had lots of fun there and then we decided to try swimming.  That was an adventure.  Ian is not real fond of the water.  We worked through it a bit and made some progress, but needless to say I am very glad we installed the safety fence around the pool before we left.  We have been taking it easy most of the afternoon and now it's time to finish packing.  We need to get to bed early tonight since we need to be down to breakfast by 6am or so. 
 
I hope all the little blurbs I got posted on the blog and Facebook today will be good enough to hold all you "stalkers" over for a while.  I won't be able to post much while we are traveling tomorrow.  At this time I'm asking for lots of prayers!  Ian has experienced one, 60 minute airplance ride so far and now tomorrow he will have 3 different planes and a total of about 19 hours flying time and 7 hours layover time.  Thank you in advance!  Love you guys!!! XOXOXO 
 
This picture is Ian working on his letters.  He loves to write his letters and numbers. 
 
 

Sunday at the Zoo & Safari Part II

Here are some more photos of the beautiful animals we saw at the zoo.

Mu's Story

ICC's education manager wrote a story about Ian/Mu for the annual report this year.  We are blessed to be able to share this with you all. As an update to the end of this article, I can confirm that Ian has not cried to go back to the orphanage since early last week. When we returned from visiting the orphanage I gave him his school papers and flash cards. He was very happy to have them but did not get sad. The next day I showed him the pictures of Mama with his nannies and teachers. He was looking and naming them but not sad. He LOVES the card his teacher made for him. He names all of his friends. But still no tears. 

Mu graduated from the kindy in January and moved to the CE group class. He is the only physically able child.  Of his other 4 classmates, 3 of them have CP and need a wheelchair or walker to get around. Another boy Tao (known as Moses) has some physical limitations and walks slowly. So Mu became his teacher's big helper.
 
Everyday, Mu is the first one to arrive at the classroom. Then he will help his teacher to help the other children into the classroom.  Besides, he is also the water boy. Every school day, he will go to the office to get some water for his classmates and will proudly tell our office lady Mary that he is not stealing water but getting water for his classmates.
 
He is also the message boy. His teacher is teaching him to take message for others. Though it took a few back and forths to get the message across at the very beginning. He loves running this errand and enjoys the free access to offices and some other function rooms, since he is doing a serious job for his teacher.  Because of this, he has become the "Mr. Know All".   He will tell you that there are lots of new toys in the office donated by visitors, and that the rats damaged the baby room's air conditioner, that the canteen will serve eggplants for lunch.   Many times, his teacher couldn't find a piece of paper or some small stuff, he would know and find it for her in his classroom.
 
Recently he was very excited to know that he would soon go to America. When he got the letter and package from his American family, he proudly told everyone he saw and showed them the new toys mom and daddy sent, and their pictures. He was looking forward to seeing them and being with them. 
 
He has lots of friends in the center. His teacher developed lots of his pictures for him to make thank you cards for his friends before he left. He made a long thank you list n told his teacher which pictures was for who. He is so loved and popular in the center. No wonder he has so many friends to thank. His teacher helped him write in the card for Kyla, "Dearest Kyla, thank you very much for bringing me into ICC family years ago, and thank you for finding me a forever family year later. I will miss you very much…."
 
Mu is in America now and is very much missed by his classmates. They all felt a little lost, since Mu took his joy away too.  Yuan said.  "I really hope we can go to America too, so we can play with Mumu."  Oh…Mumu…we miss you.
 
Mu is missing them too.  Since he was very attached to the center his American family paid us a visit without him. We were told he cried the day before and so he stayed back rather than disrupt him emotionally. We all had tears welling up in our eyes.  His classmate bought an apple for him from the class shopping time. So they were a little disappointed that Mu didn't come, but they still waited and waited for his mom, to give her the apple. That apple is the apple of love, and carried their best wishes for Mu.  We all know that he will be happy and bless his family and everyone in America, but we will still hold him in our hearts.
 


 

Sunday at the Zoo & Safari Part I

I have been trying to update the blog with our adventures on Sunday, but the Express VPN has not been cooperating.  Instead of a large post of photos and information, I will have to post in little bits as I have connectivity. 

What a terrific family experience at the Chimelong Safari & Zoo!  I was personally thrilled that we weren't scheduled to leave the hotel until 12:30pm, which meant we got to sleep in a bit and have a relaxing breakfast and then go back and relax in the room for a while.  We are trying to find as much relaxing down time as possible, in an effort to create a more realistic family atmosphere.  Ian is doing a great job of entertaining himself with individual play, as well as joint play with one or both of his sisters or mama and baba.

We had such beautiful weather for the Safari & Zoo day!  We enjoyed every minute of it.  Here are a few photos of the Safari part of the day.






 
We even got to see a llama wedding!!! :-)
 
 
This beautiful creature came right up to Emmy's side of the train.




After the Safari, we walked the zoo.  So many beautiful animals to see and share with you. 


This gorgeous tiger was resting in his pool.
 

We fed the giraffes.  Such beautiful creatures. Well... not Ian... he was scared to death.  He has a pretty substantial fear of anything with fur.  I do believe we made some progress with that at the zoo though. 

 
Sarah, Ian, Emmy and Elvin... our FABULOUS guide!