We are home!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome home, precious Jin Bei.

What a trip! I will blog more about it a little later. But I just wanted to let all of you who were following our journey know that we have arrived safely at home, about 8:30am today after taking the red eye from LAX last night. Although we've only been gone 2 weeks, it really seems like much longer. Anyway, we're thrilled to be home and are going to do our best to get the kiddos on EST as soon as possible. Thank you to all who have shared in this wonderful journey with us. Your prayers and support mean the utmost to us. I'll check back in in a little while.

Red Couch, Consulate Oath and final day

Friday, July 30, 2010

I apologize for not posting to the blog last night. But I felt it was important to rest up as much as possible before we fly out tonight. Yesterday morning we attempted our red couch photos of Jin Bei. She was in no mood to be photographed, as you will soon see. She did fine with Baba and Ge Ge. But then she had a complete meltdown before taking photos with Mama because I wouldn't let her have Caleb's camera. Caleb was also in no mood to take photos. But we managed to get a few.

After taking photos, we headed over to Lucy's for lunch. Jin Bei did really well, surprisingly. We had to head back to the hotel quickly so that we could be ready to meet Helen at 2:15pm to head over to the consulate for our oath taking ceremony. Helen surprised all the kids with carmel lollipops. They were quite a hit...and quite a mess, too!

Once at the consulate, we ran into a few families we've met elsewhere: a really nice family from Chicago we met in Wuhan and a family from Atlanta that will be on our same flight to LA tonight. It didn't take long for all the families to be called up to finish our applications for our children's immigration visas. We soon said our oath and were back on our way to the hotel. Leaving the consulate at rush hour certainly made the trip back longer. And precious Jin Bei couldn't resist a nap.

After arriving back to our hotel room, I stayed back with the munchkins while Baba headed out to our favorite noodle shop. In typical fashion, the kid munched on pringles while watching TV until Baba returned with dinner. We all enjoyed our meal. And then it was time for Jin Bei to have a bath. Baba poured her bath, and I busied her with some lovin'. But as soon as Baba came over to her, she started to cry. She knew what was coming up. Boy oh boy, did she cry. But she eventually settled down and actually sat down in the tub and finished her bath without crying.

Bedtime was really cute. Baba read a story to Caleb while I read a story to Jin Bei on the other side of the bed. Naturally I read the story to her in English, but she laid there the whole time and then started pointing to some of the pictures in the book. It was really really sweet. Then for the first time since she was placed in our arms, she went to sleep by herself. She actually didn't want me to place her on my chest. She just laid next to me. It was the first time we could see how she's put herself to bed. She likes to suck on her middle and ring finger on her right hand. And then, as part of her self soothing she likes to rub her eye with the corner of the bedsheet. She has done this type of thing before, once with the shoulder tie of her dress and just earlier in the bus with the curtain. But after last night, we finally know why she does it. It calms her down.

This morning, we just finished packing up. We also headed to our favorite noodle shop one last time for lunch. We took some photos of the pet and spice markets that we'll have to share once we get back to the U.S. We have truly enjoyed our time in Guang*zhou. It was so great to see much more of where Caleb was born. We will surely miss this place. Our flight leaves tonight at 9:00pm. We will arrive in LA at 7:00pm today, 2 hours earlier than when we leave Ch*in@. We will have about 3 hours to make it through customs and will then catch the red eye back to Orlando. We are so excited to come home and have you all meet our precious daughter. We're signing off for now from Ch*ina. USA, here we come!

Baba and his precious little girl

This was the only photo I got of all 3 of them looking in my direction.

Our two precious kiddos

A brief moment of no tears

Clearly not interested in having her photo taken anymore

If you look closely, you can see Jin Bei blowing bubbles with her mouth. Too funy.

Jin Bei getting some sugar from mama

She finaly stopped crying and relaxed a little while taking her bath

Rainy Day

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jin Bei woke up quite content this morning, which made us all smile. She did well at breakfast too. This morning was our Consualte appointment. So our guide, Helen, dropped off all our paperwork for us. This meant we had to hang out in our hotel room until 11:30am, just to be sure there were no problems with our paperwork.

After Helen called us to confirm everything looked great, we decided to head over to Shamian Island to drop off laundry and do some shopping. Since it was raining pretty hard, we took a taxi over. Jin Bei decided she wasn't interested in mommy holding her today. So Baba had his work cut out for him. We dropped off our laundry and then got some lunch at the Deli Shop. I had a delicious spicy beef soup. Jin Bei thought it was delicious, too, as she helped me finish it off. Although she was not in to me holding her, she at least let me feed her. So I wasn't totally in the dog house.

After lunch, we headed over to Sherri's Place and Jenny's Place to buy some squeaky shoes and dresses. We bought Jin Bei several dresses and squeaky shoes in different sizes. We also got Caleb a Ch*inese gong, and Patrick picked up a few plaques for his office.

Since the rain had let up some, we decided to walk back to the hotel through the pet and spice markets. I really enjoy this time, as it gives us a glimpse into the real daily life of the Ch*inese people. Jin Bei let me hold her in the carrier on our walk back, but she didn't fall asleep. But since she was so tired, we thought we'd try to lay her down for a nap. To our great surprise and relief, she willingly laid down on my chest and went right to sleep. What a moment!

At 5:45pm, we met up with our group and Helen to try some dim sum. Julie and Derek invited another family they met in their province. So there were 4 families in all. Helen did a great job ordering for us. Jin Bei tried everything I fed her. She didn't like the shrimp dumpling or the jelly vegetable "thing" local to Guangzhou. But she devoured her fried rice, the bok choy, and the spring roll. All in all, we had a lovely evening.

Tonight at bedtime, we experienced our first....first night of absolutely no crying! It was awesome. Jin Bei was a little roudy when we got back to our room because she was so tired (and had quite a full belly!) She went potty and then got changed into her PJs. She grabbed her pink teddy, climbed up into bed, and reached for the devotional book and settled herself in. It was quite precious. She thought she was pretty funny, too. Since she was doing so well with Patrick today, we thought she should lay down on his chest. And she did so without crying! As expected, Caleb got a bit jealous. So we eventually transfered Jin Bei over to me. And shortly afterwards, the whole crew was asleep.

Today was one of our best days with Jin Bei as far as her tantrums go. That, of course, makes Caleb happy...and Mama and Baba too. She also had no potty accidents. So we're really proud of her. Tomorrow morning, we will attempt our red couch photos at the White Swan hotel. Then in the afternoon, we will head over to the consulate for our oath ceremony. It's hard to believe we only have 2 more days here in Ch*in@. Although I'm anxious to get back home, settle into a routine, and start homeschooling again, I am already missing Ch*in@. Every time somebody asks us where Caleb is from, and we tell them Guang*zhou, their faces light up. This city is so very special to us. It's where we first became parents almost 3 years ago to the most precious, loving boy ever. We are so grateful to this wonderful country for entrusting their children to us. We are truly humbled.

Since it rained a lot today, I didn't get to take too many photos...just a few at bedtime. So I am including a few photos from yesterday at the Six Banyan Tree Temple.

Our kids doing what they do best: eating Pringles and watching "Pleasant Goat"

Mama and her precious girl at the Six Banyan Tree Temple

That candy sure is yummy

Licking the candy wrapper clean

Spilling water all over herself and wondering how she got all wet

Playing with my lens cap

Beautiful girl

Just precious

So tired

Getting ready for bedtime devotions

Being silly at bedtime

Six Banyan Temple and some poolside fun

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This morning our precious Jin Bei decided to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. We tried to convince her to get back in and wake up on the right side but to no avail. We gave her a bath, all the while she cried. She did pretty well at breakfast but still had a way of trying to declare who's in charge. She's a good eater, no doubt. Now that she trusts us, she'll eat just about anything.

We met up with our travel group to head to Six Banyan Temple. It was interesting to listen to the history of the temple and the three buddahs. Several of the families in our group chose to receive a blessing from a monk. But as Christians, we simply chose to observe and respect the practice rather than participate. It was so hot and humid while we were there that Jin Bei cried most of the time. Caleb was dripping sweat too. I don't think any of us were too comfortable.

After the temple, we all headed to a tea shop to enjoy some tea. Our guide Helen has been so wonderful. She explained all the teas the lady served us. I had a cranky baby on my lap the whole time, so I lost count of all the teas we tried. But I do remember having green tea, green jasmine, ginseng, puh er, chrysanthemum, and perhaps a few others. We managed to buy some tea to bring home. And thanks to Helen's phone, I was able to communicate that I wanted some gunpowder tea.

We all headed back to our hotels once our tea excursion was over. Since it was lunch time, we thought we would try the noodle shop near our hotel. I ordered a delicious vegetable noodle soup. But I had to have Patrick bring it to me in the hotel room because Jin Bei was throwing quite a tantrum about wearing her bib. Patrick and Caleb finished up their lunch quickly and brought mine and Jin Bei's back to the room. She finally relented and wore the bib, and Patrick was able to feed her her soup, which she devoured.

Again, we had a low key afternoon in the room. Jin Bei won't take a nap. So we let her munch on some pringles and watch cartoons with Ge Ge, Caleb. The two of them really love their pringles. But Jin Bei isn't happy unless she's got the can in her arm. So we're working on that. We decided we wanted to try swimming today for Jin Bei. The pool is located on the top floor of the hotel, and we are on the floor just below. So it is quite convenient. It started to drizzle a little, and the pool attendant told us we couldn't swim. So we headed back to the room. About 20 minutes later, we tried again. This time there was no rain, so we were allowed to swim. Jin Bei laughed a lot when Caleb was swimming, but we could tell she didn't want to get in when she refused to take off her shoes. So she spent most of the time watching from the sidelines. I did convince her at one point to squat by the side of the pool and put her hand in. She discovered that splashing the water with her hand was quite fun. So she did this for a little while. Then she felt comfortable enough to stick her feet in, shoes included. But she was more intrigued by the big steps to the shower area than actually swimming in the pool. Perhaps next time she'll want to get in the water.

After swimming, we thought we would give the noodle shop another try. We got dressed and headed over. The same ladies that tried serving us lunch were still there, and we cried "Oh no" for them. But to our great surprise, Jin Bei did well. This time she wore her bib without too much fanfare and enjoyed her miso soup. And to top it off, Baba fed her the whole time! Naturally she wanted to try my soup, which was a very spicy beef noodle (and absolutely delicious by the way!) But I did fine convincing her it was going to be too spicy. Patrick had a delicious spicy, Korean chicken dish that he really liked. And Caleb enjoyed his miso soup and fried shrimp.

We came back to the room to get ready for bed. And it just wouldn't be a typical night if Jin Bei wasn't splashing around in the potty. She thinks it's hilarious. But we're growing tired of it. And those silly toliet locks we got when we brought Caleb home but never used will be coming out of storage ASAP. She's a very smart girl. And while she knew we were all getting our PJs on, she marched around the room pretending to be busy, so as not to change into hers. She eventually relented and got changed. She semi participated in bedtime stories, which was progress for her. We turned out the lights but she continued to just sit up in bed. When I finally managed (with Patrick's help) to get her to lay down, she cried pretty hard. But it was really brief, and she was soon asleep.

Right now, Mama and Baba are fighting colds. Caleb and Jin Bei seem fine for now. But you'd never know Jin Bei wasn't sick because she's always pretending to blow her nose like Mama. She really does like to imitate me- going potty, blowing my nose, you name it. It's precious.

We really do love our Jin Bei a lot. She's a lot to handle right now. I know I have talked about how well she can throw a tantrum. And she really can. But we know that God has crafted us for her and her for us. Patrick and I talked about how sometimes when we're out in public and we see a child throwing a fit, we think to ourselves that their parents don't know how to control their child. Well, that would be us at the moment! LOL. This transition has been huge for our precious girl. She has been plucked from the only life she's known for over two years. She has these two white people telling her to call them Mama and Baba, is eating sometimes different food, staying in multiple hotel rooms. We talk different. We smell different. It's just so much. We know that in time, she will come around and truly realize she's in a safe place with safe people, and that it's okay not to be in charge.

This hasn't been easy for her, or for us at times. I share all this with you because I want you to know that this adoption of Jin Bei is quite different than Caleb's adoption. Caleb is quite resilent. He's so easy going that it took him 4 days to finally cry and grieve. Even then, he never had a tantrum, kicked, hit or threw things. Madeline Bei has done all of the above. Please do not expect her to be the same as Caleb. Caleb came from a huge orphanage and quite likely was relieved to get outta there. Madeline Bei, on the other hand, (as Patty has so eloquently described her own son's adoption from the same orphanage/foster care program) acts as if we've kidnapped her. Her reaction is actually much more typical than Caleb's. So her initial transition will be much more difficult. And we can already see that. Please be patient with her and show her grace during this time. Her life is not rosey, despite the love and affection we show her. She's too young to truly understand our intentions at the moment. It will come with time, no doubt. But it will not be overnight. Despite the rollercoaster of a ride this has been, we couldn't be more blessed to call her our daughter. We love her like crazycakes, and we can't wait to introduce her to you all. Enjoy the photos from today. I had some issues with uploading some more photos, but perhaps I can share those next time.

Caleb actually indulging me a bit and looking my way with camera in hand

Always finding a way to mess with her brother's TV viewing

Beautiful little Bei Bei

Ge Ge and Miss Tiney Hiney looking longingly at the pool

More interested in chewing on the room key, at this point

Lounging by the pool

A little bit of everything

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today started off rather well for Baba and Jin Bei. At breakfast, she actually let him feed her for most of the meal. We were floored. It was a nice change. When Patrick and Caleb excused themselves to use the bathroom, she went looking for them. She was none too please with me when I made her return to our table, after bringing her all the way to the bathroom to explain it to her. If she could get anything in her hands, she was throwing it. Oh, it was not fun. She finally stopped her fit when the boys returned, as if nothing ever happened. This was when she decided she would finally give in to Baba and let him hold her. It was quite a break through.

Then we headed off to the medical clinic to have Jin Bei's TB test read. As we suspected, it was negative. But as soon as we walked over to the room where the shots were administered, she began bawling. Her TB test was actually read even before the hysterics started, but that didn't matter.

After the medical clinic, we headed over to Jordon's to buy a few toys for Caleb. The Drewes came with us, so that was fun for Caleb. We decided to head over to Lucy's for lunch because we were right there. Unfortunately, Jing Jing was out of sorts. So the Drewes headed back to the hotel. We actually ran into a family that sat on the plane near us on the long flight over from LA. So it was nice to see them. We also saw a few of our Wuhan families; it was nice to catch up with them. Since it was raining when we finished lunch, we got a taxi back to the hotel. Actually Caleb did a fantastic job hailing our taxi again. Too bad our taxi driver didn't look closely at the room key we showed him, as he started driving us to the other Holiday Inn in Guang*zhou. We had to tell him to turn around. Thankfully, he returned us to our hotel without too much delay.

We met up with the Drewes and our guide, Helen, at 2pm and headed over to the pearl market. On our way, Helen took us to a vendor to indulge in some fried Ch*inese specialties: fried scorpion and fried beetles. We tried the little ones first. Well, actually I had Patrick try first. Helen explained that it tasted like chips. But I wanted to hear it from Patrick. Sure enough, that's what he said. So I ate one. And it wasn't bad at all, just crunchy like a chip. Even the Drewes got in on the action. Patrick decided to try the really big scorpion, and so did Mike. It just seemed like it would be "juicy" to me. But I later found out from Patrick that it was just as crunchy and the spices weren't too spicy. Patrick also tried fried beetle and said it tasted the same.

After enjoying our local treats, we went to the mall to a DVD store. We bought Caleb and Madeline a "Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf" DVD for $3USD. It's all in Ch*inese with Ch*inese subtitles. And although Caleb doesn't understand it, he really enjoys it! We quickly finished up at the DVD store and made our way over to the pearl market. We bought Madeline some pearls that she can wear now as a little girl and some to give her when she is older.

Since Madeline had yet to take a nap, we decided we should try dim sum another day. We headed back to the hotel to chill out. Madeline really let Patrick play with her, and the two of them had their first great day of bonding. She let him swing her upside down and cuddle. It was really so sweet to see. FINALLY, I was able to get some photos of the two of them together. At one point, Jin Bei told me she had to go potty. But she didn't quite make it in time. Instead she peed all over the bottom of her dress and the floor. Then she refused to put clothes on. So she toddled around without them for a little while, quite contently.

After a while and no nap, we headed up to the pool so Patrick and Caleb could swim. Madeline was very intrigued and laughed a lot as Caleb swam. She really wanted to get in, but we decided to hold off on that for another day.

Then Patrick headed out to pick up some snacks for us, as Caleb tried to watch his new DVD and his sister tried to throw some nice hissy fits. She has certainly gotten quite comfortable with us, although one word she's not quite comfortable with is boo (no, in Ch*inese). Yup. That's something we gotta work on with our precious little girl. She is quite different from Caleb in that respect. We never even had to use the word "no" with him. He was/is easily directed and doesn't throw tantrums. I guess his sister is trying to make up for that lack of exposure for mommy and daddy. LOL.

Anyway, Patrick made it back from the convenience store with snacks galore. And he also made it to a pharmacy to get some cough drops for me. Both types of cough drops tasted great. However, this liquid herbal medicine he brought back smelled awful. He gave me water to chase it with, and I laughed. It was so awful smelling and tasting, I had to chase it with coke. And even that was tough. Hopefully this stuff works because I am dog tired of blowing my nose and coughing. We decided to order Pizza Hut and have it delivered to the room. It wasn't that bad. We all ate it, but Jin Bei only made it throug a few bites before she could admit she didn't like it.

We all finished up our pizza and decided to try to get to bed. Jin Bei has become quite fascinated with the bathroom. She is constantly wanting to sit on the potty to pee, so she can wipe herself and flush the toliet. She is far too enamoured with the toliet paper and is constantly ripping pieces off to throw in the potty. If they don't quite make it to the bottom of the bowl, she reaches right down in there to move it. So we are constantly having to wash her little hand. She really didn't want to come out of the bathroom at bedtime, even after I let her pee one more time and wash her hand. Oh boy, it was as if the world was going to end. She came to the bed crying hysterically. But again, she laid there on my chest without protest. She eventually cried herself to sleep, all the while with Caleb and Patrick channel surfing on the TV in the bedroom. I couldn't believe it. But I guess she was just that tired.

Tomorrow morning, we will head out to the Buddist temple. And in the afternoon, we will attempt dim sum. Enjoy the photos from today.

My lens was so fogged up from the humidity. Patrick ate the big scorpion you see in the middle. We got some photos of the actually consumption with his iphone. We'll have to post those at a later date.

Happy with her pringles

Our guide Helen explaining the DVD to Jing Jing, Jin Bei, and Caleb

Caleb is none too pleased to take a photo with his sister

Sophia and Jin Bei

Madeline enjoying her chocolate chip cookie and time with Baba

Caleb enjoying his DVD, while his sister gives us her sassy look

Down time for all of us

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thanks for all your prayers and support. We're continuing to give Jin Bei tylenol, and that is helping with her fever. This evening, we headed over to Shamian Island to have dinner at Lucy's with fellow members of RQ (Rumor Queen). For those of you not familiar with Rumor Queen, she has a blog and is known for gathering rumors related to Ch*inese adoptions. She also has a forum for information sharing. So one of the members arranged for us all to meet up at Lucy's for dinner. "Hi, my name is Eva. I'm paddygirl." Yep, that's how we all introduced ourselves: name, followed by screen name. It was pretty funny. It was a lovely time. Unfortunately, Caleb was out of sorts because he got up early and didn't have a nap (his sister started one of her tantrums just as he drifted off to sleep. So the nap never happened.) As we were leaving, we ran into one of the other families from our agency staying at the Victory, Christine and Rick. It was nice to see them, although it was brief.

As we stepped outside of Lucy's, Patrick wanted to hail a taxi back to the hotel. (We have really enjoyed walking through the pet and spice markets to get to the island. But with thunder being heard, we opted to take a taxi back.) Caleb was so precious as he held his hand up high to hail the taxi for us. You should've seen his face beaming when I told him how proud we were of him for getting us a taxi. Oh, I just love my boy so much!

As soon as we got in the taxi, precious Jin Bei closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. I knew that as soon as we hopped out of the taxi, she would wake up and this would make for a rough bedtime for her. So we dragged out our bedtime preparations, took more showers (because it's just that hot and muggy). Patrick finished eating his dinner. Caleb watched some TV. He just loves to watch sports on TV. Last night was badminton, and tonight was ping pong. It makes us happy. Tonight, as I was showering, Jin Bei discovered how to exit one of the bathroom doors, walk through to the living room, then the bedroom, and then back in the bathroom through the second door. It was so funny to watch her circle through the bathroom doing this. It was really really precious.

Well, bedtime rolled around. And as soon as I picked her up to put her on my chest, she began crying her fake, no tears cry. She tried to get down once but then stopped resisting. She only cried a little bit when Patrick kissed her on the head, and then she stopped! No more crying. Baba's kiss did the trick. Soon after she fell asleep. Praise the Lord.

After acknowledging to myself a few days ago that my throat hurt, I now must admit I have a cold. It totally stinks. I had a cold when we adopted Caleb, and it was no fun. Ugh. Paper products are a hot commodity here. So having a runny nose just plain stinks. Tomorrow morning, we will head back to the medical clinic to have Jin Bei's
TB site checked. It looks good. So we're not too worried. I think our guide, Helen, is going to take us for dim sum tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that. We might be trying scorpion tomorrow, too. Exciting! Anyway, enjoy the photos from our lazy day.

Getting into trouble as she plays with Ge Ge's Go Fish card box

Chilling out after eating a bunch of pringles

Yes, she actually blew her nose on the curtain as we were playing peek-a-boo

So tired after napping just 45 minutes earlier this morning

Having fun with her stickers

Loving her Mickey Mouse phone

Caleb watching some Ch*inese TV before bed- ping pong! He really enjoys this!

Sporting Baba's sunglasses

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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