Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snowstorms and diapers

I had to take a break from blogging yesterday after waking up with some kind of inner ear 'thing' that caused me to be dizzy and nauseous. School was cancelled due to a snowstorm, so all the kids were home for the day. That was actually a good thing because all I could do was sit on the couch like a blob and try not to move my head.

Well...that is until Jake pooped his back AGAIN and Zoey christened her new underpants by dropping a small load in them. (Lynsay--I threw them away!) I was trying to deal with the mess without looking down, as that brought on waves of dizziness and nausea. It was special. After cleaning both of them up, I headed back to the couch to wait for their next onslaught. Zoey was fine the rest of the day, but Jake produced another fine mess a few hours later. This time, it wasn't his was on the outside of the seat of his pants! Now I just cannot figure out how so much of the ick ends up outside of his diaper. I mean, what does he do, open it up and let 'er fly? How is it scientifically possible for so much of it to end up on his shirt and pants? Sigh...

The good part of the day was how my girls pitched in and took care of the little kids. Jillian even took them upstairs and played school with them. They all had art class and made Mommy 'get well soon' cards. How sweet is that? :) Chloe made sure I had a blanket all tucked in around me and they all kept asking me if I felt any better. Awwww.... Taylor shoveled us out and Ryan took all the kids to Awana at church last night. I have the best kids!

I guess I WILL forgive number one son for coming home with a tatoo last week....grrr...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ding-a-ling Barnum and Daily Circus is a bit of a circus right now, and I had better not wake up tomorrow looking like the bearded lady.

Yesterday, some type of tummy bug must have invaded the intestines of Jake and Zoey. Zoey made it to the bathroom, but Jake had poo up to his neck. As I finished cleaning him up, Kate came strolling over with a stinky diaper. Sheesh... Our whole house reeked. This was all before my morning cup of tea! Taylor came downstairs about that time and said, "'s a poop fest."

SaraGrace, relishing her role as big sister, has been overheard giving orders to her young siblings. "You better not even THINK about hitting Mommy." (That was for Kate, who has some orphanage habits of hitting mommy in the face.) Also heard, "Jordan, you KNOW you aren't 'pposed to do that."

Jake has become more independent and doesn't want me to hold his hand when he walks down the steps anymore. I asked if he was sure..which he was, and just when I was about to say, "Ok..whatever..," he said, "Whatever." I cracked up! I guess I say that more often than I realize.

Zoey had been getting out of her bed at will and it was becoming a safety issue. Jeff found her down in the family room at 4:30AM the other day. Yikes! He rigged up a way for her not to be able to get out of her bed and she is SO mad. When we go in to get her, she is always sitting in her bed, pointing to it and yelling, "Baba, Baba!" She knows it is his fault that she lost her freedom! However, she returns to her happy self as soon as we get her out of bed.

Both girls are doing remarkably well. Zoey loves all the noise and contributes happily to it! Her infectious giggles echo through the house. Kate is quiet, hangs out with Mommy, and loves to have me hold her. I hear lots and lots of "bao bao" which means 'hold me,' as she stretches her little arms up. Needless to say, I'm getting very little done since she wants me to hold her so much. She is so sweet, though, that I really don't mind. My arms are going to be really buff in a few weeks. haha

We bought these shirts in Guanghzhou--probably not politically correct, but we were amused.

This week we have been completely spoiled by Taylor's homeschool co-op group who have been bringing meals to us. The mom who organized it adopted twice from China and says she remembers all too well, the transition of the first few months home. We are humbled and overwhelmed by the kindness of these women bringing us dinner--some of whom do not even know us!

Please help LWB help more orphans in China!

Kate--before the heart surgery that saved her life.

Love Without Boundaries has a chance to win $35,000 to help even more orphaned children in China, and we need your help! Casting your vote for LWB is an easy way to change the lives of children in need. There is no donation involved, just a few minutes of your time to go and vote. If not for LWB, SaraGrace and Kate would most likely have died in China. There are many other little ones needing the help that LWB offers. Please vote...and forward to your friends and family. Thank you!!

Simply visit
Click on the circle next to the video about LWB. It is the first one, next to Amy Eldridge’s photo.

Fill out the rest of the information needed and click submit. You do not need to fill out the “about you” section if you do not wish, and you can opt out of receiving any information in the future from Cookie Magazine by checking “no” on the boxes asking which information you desire.

Each person over the age of 18 is allowed one vote. This contest is open to people in the US only, unfortunately. If you live in another country, you are not able to vote. Voting takes place from January 6th to February 10th.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Prayer Answered

After returning from an adoption trip, I always give a status update on how God answered prayer.

The most recent requests were for our trip.
1. Prayer for safety: God kept us totally safe
2. Prayer for health for all of us. This one God answered differently. He kept Jeff and I healthy, but the girls, especially Kate, were sick. I believe that her misery allowed her to accept help and comfort from me, and helped with the inital bonding process. Same with Zoey, although on a lessor scale since she wasn't as sick. So God had purpose in allowing the girls to be sick!
3. Our luggage would not get lost: It didn't.
4. Our paperwork would be fine: It was.
5. Our computers and camera would work: They did.

In my prayer journal, I had written other prayers. (I keep one because my memory is so faulty!)
1. We prayed that China would approve us. We waited four long months to be approved for Zoey and then when we asked for the special privilege to adopt Kate as well, we were miraculously given approval very quickly.
2. We prayed that both girls would be loved and cared for. Both of them are bonding well, giving kisses, and accepting love. We are SO THANKFUL!!
3. We prayed for mutually fast bonding, and that the girls would feel safe with us from the start. We are amazed at how well they are bonding!
4. We prayed for babysitters for our kids. God put it on the hearts of some special friends to offer to babysit. We didn't even have to ask anyone!
5. We prayed for finances and God is working on it.

For those of you who stood with us in prayer, we thank you with grateful hearts. We cannot adequately express how much it means to us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

That's Mandarin for Happy New Year. Monday is Chinese New Year, and I took some photos of the kids to celebrate.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kung Fu Panana

Jordan told Jake he wanted to watch Kung Fu Panda but it came out as Kung Fu Pana. Now Jake thinks it is Kung Fu Panana (as in: banana).

There is something hilarious about a little Hispanic boy speaking Chinese. His new favorite word is...surprise...'bu yao!' He picked up on that very quickly. He uses it very matter of factly, as if it is completely normal for him to be speaking Chinese. His favorite rendition is, 'bu yao, bu yao, bu yao.' Passionate...that's Jake! He also says 'thank you' in Chinese and Kate has taught him the cute little hand motion that goes with it. In China, they have the kids clasp their hands in front of them and then move them up and down while they say, "Xie xie." We cracked up when we heard Jake say it while using the hand motion.

We are pumping Kate with raisins to help her intestinal woes, but Jake is not allowed to eat them. They have a tendency to make him 'poop his back.' Translation: the diaper will not hold the contents and they go up to his neck. Well....Jake LOVES raisins so it is torture for him to watch Kate eating them. He has been seen sneaking a few that fell out of her box, and ended up with a 'poop my back.' Gross! When I opened his diaper and groaned, he said, 'Take a bath?' and grinned at me.

Well...back to my glamorous life. I need to attack that laundry pile that is rivaling Mt. Rushmore.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Activity Inside the "Shoe"

Inside the Shoe today, I overheard some giggles coming from the stairway. Oh...don't tell me... Jillian, who was home 'sick' with strep, was instructing Kate and Zoey in the fine art of sliding down the stairs. The first stage was bumping their little bottoms down each step. This resulted in a flurry of giggling. Next, as their courage grew, Jillian asked for volunteers to sit on her lap and take a ride. Zoey was the first to jump on board, and off they flew down the steps.

I wonder how long before they start looking for the baby mattress that they were using last time?

They also had a wonderful time emptying the dress-up bin. Poor Zoey, aka Sponge Bob, fell over and couldn't get up without help, due to her bulky costume.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New respect for Old Mother Hubbard

I'm glad I don't live in a shoe...but there have been occasional moments these past few days when I "have so many children, I don't know what to do." haha God has been merciful and things have been going pretty well but there definitely have been some uhhhh...moments.

Like when Zoey kept waking up every hour from 11:30 to 2:30 and then Kate woke up at 6:20 and thought it should be morning. She then woke Zoey up and the two of them were like sirens, awaking the entire family. It was close to the time the girls needed to get up for school, so they did. The whole squabbling mass of humanity stumbled down into the kitchen to forage for food. Some didn't get what they wanted and began to howl. Others loudly proclaimed what they needed for school snack. Mommy tried to keep it together with a prayer breathed to please help her cope. Finally they went off to school and the day got a bit better. There was a lull in the action while they napped and Mommy took Jillian to the doctor with a fever and sore throat. Upon returning home, we had to wake the girls up so they wouldn't sleep too long. Zoey got up with a smile but Kate went into total meltdown mode and screamed in my arms for an hour. That was fun. She needed to grieve, though. I think it was a delayed reaction to everything that has happened to her the past few weeks. She is smiling again today.

"Spanking everyone soundly and putting them to bed" sounded tempting but it would have taken far too much energy. haha Jeff is out of town so he told me I could just send number one son out for fast food every night so I don't have to cook. Fast food is not my favorite, but the truth is that I detest cooking. If I never had to cook again in my entire life, I would not miss it one iota. Isn't it amusing that I hate cooking and yet end up with a humongous family? God has such a sense of humor. I'm trying to laugh, too. hehe

I'm sure we will eventually get into a groove but right now it's pretty much chaos at dawn.

Some cute moments this morning.... Jordan and Kate, two peas in a pod, snuggled for a few minutes on the couch. Later, Jake and Zoey, also two peas in a pod (God, help us, please!) were jumping back and forth from the couch to the ottoman. How Zoey can jump on that sore leg is a mystery, but the girl is a rock!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The kids are in bed and I am fading fast from jet-lag, but I will try to send a quick update. Thank you so much for praying for us. We could feel the prayers!

The girls are going through the usual transition. It's never easy but they are doing as well as can be expected. They are both terrified of their room. Kate slept in the same room as her foster parents, and Zoey slept with a room full of kids. Every time I carry them up there to get a diaper change or get them dressed, they both freak out and start screaming. I tell them 'no sleep' in Chinese but I don't think they believe me. ha The first week home is always the hardest part of the adoption, so each day should get better.

Jake is very jealous and Kate has taken a strong dislike to him. The first thing he did when he met her was take a toy away and she is holding a grudge. They did hug each other once today and smiled, so I think they will eventually be friends.

The other kids are doing well and having fun playing with their new sisters. Ryan and Taylor, who groaned at the thought of two more little tykes running around, have been holding them and working hard to gain acceptance. It blesses me so much to see them welcome their little sisters home. This afternoon at nap time, the girls were screaming and Taylor volunteered to lie down on the floor in their room until they fell asleep. sweet.

Photos from the trip home...

Baby and Kate sit on the luggage at the airport in Hong Kong

Baby checks out our plane before we board

Two happy, brand new American citizens! And Happy Birthday, Kate!

A sweet and thoughtful friend had this "Welcome Home" and "Happy Birthday, Kate" cake waiting for us at home.

Our friends not only babysat our kids, they made banners welcoming us home!

Chloe's kindergarten class also made signs to welcome the girls and their very own Baby home to the USA

Our eight youngest treasures - the older boys were at camp over the weekend

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We're home! was so weird to log into my blog and not have it be in Chinese!

We made it home, despite delay after delay. We were originally supposed to arrive home at 3:30PM on Friday and ended up getting home at 12:30AM Sat., which meant that it was 2:30AM by the time we got home. By the time we got the girls fed (because it felt like lunch time to our bodies) and in bed, it was 4AM. argh. But least our plane didn't crash into the Hudson!

I will post more later, with pics, after I get some sleep. But just so you know, the girls did very well meeting their large group of siblings today! Thank you so much for your prayers. We appreciated them more than you could know

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yesterday, the girls and I were at a park and noticed some couples dancing. Our helper told me that that they come every day and dance for exercise. They were so graceful. It was fun to watch and reminded me of watching my grandparents dance. We eventually attracted a crowd, all wanting to know if the girls were twins. Since our helper was Chinese and could converse, she was peppered with questions. At one point she looked at me and said, “They ask too many questions, too fast, I cannot answer.” I just stood there looking like I was watching a tennis match with my head swiveling back and forth as they all spoke at once. Finally one woman dug in her purse, produced her camera and asked to get her picture taken with us. Her friend jumped into the photo, as well. Too funny!! This happens a lot and I always wonder what they tell their friends. “Oh…we asked a stranger on the street for a photo and here it is.” I had our helper take one on my camera too. So…here is MY photo with some strangers on the street in China. ha

We are safely in Hong Kong, preparing for our last leg of an amazing journey to get our daughters. The girls are currently crying in stereo because they don’t want to go to bed.

Friends of ours in Hong Kong arranged for a van to pick us up at our hotel in Guangzhou and drive us to HK, so that we didn’t have to deal with schlepping our ridiculous amount of luggage through the airport or train station. It was very much appreciated! We had a very comfortable ride from our hotel to the doorstep of our friends’ home. It was a beautiful day and we ate lunch outside and then walked around the infamous Stanley Market. Jeff still had a list of items that Taylor had requested, so he did his best to fulfill Taylor’s wishes. And no, Taylor, they will not allow us to bring fireworks onto the plane.

We had fun catching up with our friends and the day passed way too quickly. Baby thought that Hong Kong was very beautiful but he is bummed that his people only got one picture of it from the van. The rest turned out blurry. Sorry about that! Baby did pose in the window of our friends’ house, though, so you can see the water and mountains in the background.

We are always sad when we leave China. We love being here, we love how friendly the people are, and we love getting to know our children’s country a bit more each time. We are anxious to see our kids at home, though, so we must say “Zaijian” to China. (Kids…. I bet you can guess what the word Zaijian means! It means, ‘good-bye’ in Chinese. It is pronounced: zy geon. )

Some random thoughts as we leave….
--It’s the last time for awhile that I will smile and say hello to so many people in one day—and get a big smile in return!
--I probably won’t hear horns honking at cars waiting in line at a toll both in the US
--I won’t be in danger of getting T-boned by a bicycle while I’m riding in a car
--I’ll be able to use tap water to brush my teeth
--I forgot how good it feels to walk everywhere until I spent these past two weeks in China
--I won’t have strangers asking to get their picture taken with me
--I won’t see grandma’s carrying babies who are wearing ten layers of clothing to keep warm, but leave their freezing little butt cheeks hanging out of their split pants
--I will deeply miss China because I love to come here

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Speaking Chinglish

You know how you begin to pick up an accent when you visit a place like Canada or down South? Jeff and I now find ourselves speaking to each other in Chinglish. We don't bother using a full sentence like, 'Yes, we have it." Instead, it has now become, "Yes. We have." We say other things like: "No problem for you," and "Very cheaper for you." Since it's harder to understand English speakers when we use contractions, we have stopped using them. We now sound very stilted, which gets amusing when I hear Jeff talking to other Americans and forgetting he can use contractions. So rather than saying, "We'll go to the store," we use the formal, "We will go to the store." Other fun phrases, 'Come and have a look,' "have some healsy (healthy) water," and "This one please." (This is from the elevator guy who waits for the 'ding' sound of the elevator arriving. Then, stating the obvious, he points to the elevator and says, 'this one please.') Jeff finds this highly amusing, so if there is no elevator guy, and Jeff hears the ding, he makes sure he turns around and tells me, 'this one please.')

This afternoon, my Chinese helper and I were heading back to the hotel when she decided that I should go shopping for some new clothes since they are 'very cheaper for you here.' Sigh.... I knew it would be fruitless. Nothing fits me here. Sometimes however, it is just easier to go along, rather than try to explain. So off we went into the sea of holiday shoppers with two strollers. Like I said, it's like Christmas shopping-on-steroids. It is their Chinese New Year soon, so they have an even higher volume of shoppers. Compound that with the blaring music in each store and you have a recipe for utter chaos and noise. I am no stranger to shopping in heavy crowds, but I leave the kids at home. My sweet helper was determined that I would find something, so we went to shop after shop. After two hours, she had to admit defeat and head to the hotel.

The girls did very well today without Jeff being here. Last night was a bit rough for Zoey but today she was fine until about 30 minutes before his return. She began to cry off and on. When she saw him, she burst into tears and held her arms out. My heart turned over! She was SO happy to see her Baba again.

Neither child is used to being disciplined, so when I have to tell them no, they get a bit peeved. Kate's knickers were in a twist much of the morning because I wouldn't let her have Coke. Overall though, both of them are very happy the majority of the time. They are doing remarkably well!

Yesterday we saw these dismembered manequin body parts lying in the bushes. It looked like something from a CSI show. A guy was leaning over examining them and before we knew it, he picked up the torso and carted it off! I didn't get my camera out quick enough to get his photo, but here is the rest of the 'body.' We passed it several times that day and each time, the parts had been rearranged. Last night, they were gone. I wonder what happened to them?

We leave for Hong Kong in the morning. We will spend the night there so that we don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch our Friday morning flight home.
Here are some more pictures of our time in China.

Parking lot for bikes

Interesting modes of transportation

If traffic is heavy, no problem. Just drive on the sidewalk. And don't forget to honk at pedestrians because you can now act as though you have the right of way.

"Your washing machine is on the delivery vehicle, Ma'am."

Very Fresh Meat

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taking the Oath

Today was our U.S. Consulate appointment where Zoey and Kate received visa's to enter the United States. Each time we raise our hands to take the oath for our kids, I get teary eyed. Zoey and Kate have no idea the gift of citizenship they are being given, but as their Mama, I am acutely aware. When those visa's in their passports are stamped in Chicago, the girls will become U.S. citizens. Kate will have this momentous event occur on her 3rd birthday! We were not allowed to take camera's to the Consulate, so there are no photos to share.

We did nothing else noteworthy today, so I will post some random pictures from the last few days.

Jeff wanted me to take this picture to show the lack of railing next to this drop off into the canal.

If you send your clothes out to be laundered, they will come back neatly folded and/or pressed and packaged.

Follow the Leader...Baby follows, too

Signs that brought a smile to our faces...

Monday, January 12, 2009's what's not for dinner

Baby decided he wanted to try some authentic Cantonese cuisine. Cantonese is much different than northern Chinese food. The northern Chinese have a saying that the Cantonese will eat anything with legs, except a table. After seeing today's choices, Baby would probably agree! These were some of the choices at a nearby restaurant.

Yes, these ARE huge waterbugs
Baby decided that he would rather just have a bottle of milk and forget about dinner
Our hotel in a district that is surrounded by many stores. They are not the type of stores we would normally buy from, but we decided to take a look around. The number of people crowded into the available space was astonishing. Even I was overwhelmed! It was like Christmas shopping at the mall…on steroids. The population is so dense here that the Chinese are not used to the same amount of personal space that Americans are…which brings me to my next funny moment.

Yesterday at church, Jeff and I were sitting in a pew with the girls. We had our diaper bag and jackets on the seat…so we were kind of spread out. I should have known better. Part way through the service, a young girl came in and started to move into the pew we were sitting in. As I was trying to move our stuff so that I could scoot over and sit beside Jeff, the girl just wedged herself between us and sat down! Jeff and I smothered smiles and spent the rest of the service handing baby toys to each other behind her.

I went to my usual place to get a massage. I had a wonderful, hour-long massage for about $12.50! It was heavenly. Her shop is pretty bare bones, but it’s clean. She then wanted to shampoo and style my hair. I noticed while she was doing this that the shampoo bottle had a very odd translation. It was: “…for the energy and superior fertilizer for dry, forked hair.” No idea what forked hair is? Jeff says that he wants to try out the hair fertilizer and see if he can get some of his hair back!

The girls are feeling so much better. They still have slight colds, but I think they are almost over their illness. Zoey goes in and out of liking me. Jeff had to go to the Consulate this afternoon to straighten out a paperwork issue, and she stood by the door crying hysterically and saying, “Baba, Baba.” I felt so bad for her!! It was naptime, so after I held her a bit (she let me, so that was good!), I put her in bed. She was so mad! She did finally go to sleep, and when she woke up, only cried for a little while. She then seemed fine and we went up to the roof to play by the pool and get some sun. (It's too cold to swim.) We are really praying that she gets used to Jeff being gone, because he has to leave tomorrow afternoon (Tue.) and won’t come back until Wed. evening. He has a plant here in China that he needs to visit (for work). He hired a local girl to come over to the hotel on Wed. to help push one of the girls in a stroller so that Mommy and girls aren’t stranded in our hotel room all day. Amazing how little it costs to do this (wish I could do it at home—haha).

Baby works out on the roof of the hotel

Stylin' girls