Sunday, December 30, 2012

1 Week Home

It's hard to believe we've been home for 1 week and with Annie for 3.  It has gone really quickly.  What a great time of year to bring Annie home--no school and no schedules--perfect!!  When our travel dates were unfolding I must admit that I was cringing a bit.  I had been praying for God's perfect timing but I couldn't understand why He'd have us travel again at Christmas time.  Even without traveling it's the craziest time of the year for me and for most.  Now that we are home and together, I am thanking Him for this down time for everyone to get to spend time with Annie and each other.  

Yes, we traveled to China at Christmas time both times now.  We celebrated Mei Mei's special anniversary of when she joined our family a few days ago.  Hard to believe she's been with us for 3 years already.  We ordered Chinese food and she got to have a soda-woo hoo!  That tradition started the day that we first met her.  The orphanage told us she was potty trained but she screamed and cried when I tried to take her to the potty.  I can understand--a total stranger trying to help you go in a squatty potty. (Most potties in China are basically a toilet that is flat in the ground.) Anyway, it was after lunch and we had met her in the morning and she still had not gone to the bathroom.  Our sweet guide offered to go and get her something to drink to help her go.  When he returned, he brought her a Coke.  We didn't have the heart to not give her at least one drink.  So, she thinks she's a pretty big girl on this special day and she is really--5 1/2 already!!  Watching her blossom has been miraculous.  Here is her video that we put together of her first year home:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8iRAtkAFHQ  or search Mei Mei's Gotcha Day Adoption Video

Not much has been going on here.  We have been playing outside almost everyday.  Being that Annie and I are both Southern girls, we do not like being cold so we have really been bundling up.  Mei Mei is from Northern China so she is right at home in this weather and is usually sweaty when she comes in.  Annie did not like wearing hat or mittens at first, but it didn't take long to convince her to once we were outside.  Cole and Ethan and Cole's buddies have been playing hockey on the pond so everyone has been busy getting the ice ready.  We've also been catching up on some Christmas movies while Annie naps.  Other than that, it's been pretty low key around here.  

Annie is settling in wonderfully. She and Mei Mei are still trying to figure each other out.  We were told that Annie was the little Mama at the foster home and I can totally see that!  Mei Mei wants to feed her so badly but then Annie ends up feeding Mei Mei.  






They are pretty funny together and often need a referee.  Annie is a little chatterbox-- I really can't believe that she held out on us for as long as she did in China. Her little voice is adorable and so is she!!    


And here she is watching the kids on our neighbor's snowmobile, saying "Annie outside".....


 
I am feeling like one blessed Mama today.  My heart has been so heavy for the families who are grieving in CT --I really can't imagine their pain.  And now, for the families who were in process to adopt from Russia.  I know that right now,  we are truly blessed and thankful.

Merry Christmas!!!
Deb



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Around Here

We're settling in around here.  Annie is still struggling a bit with her night time sleeping (or should I say Mama and Baba are....).  It could be that she has not eaten dinner since she came home until tonight.  She has been eating 2 meals per day but refuses dinner.  So, we'll see if that will help her get a full night's sleep.

Everyone is loving her.  Mei Mei is super sweet with her but Annie isn't always very receptive.  She spends much of the day telling her "No, No Mei Mei".  Mei Mei told me that Annie was a nasty girl yesterday because Annie hit her when she was trying to share something with her.......I assured her that she will come around.  They are starting to play together a bit but usually Annie just wants to pack everything up as soon as we get it all out to play.  She seems to be bonding the best right now with the 4 older kiddos which I expected.  She likes Cole to hold her and wants to see his truck whenever she sees him.   She started to cry the other night when Ethan was gone but luckily he returned as soon as she started.  She is obsessed with our "go go"--aka Lilly.  She was afraid of her at first but now likes to pet her.  She often asks where she is and wants her inside.

Today was the best day yet.  She was very happy all day and seemed to be more relaxed roaming around the house.  I am so happy that she is home!!

Here's what's been going on at our house:
A little nail painting


 Making muffins with Mary Claire

Going out to play in the snow for the first time  



Press On!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Home

Home at last!!  Between Christmas and Jet lag it's been a fog around here!!  Everyone is loving Annie and this morning she is finally in a consistently good mood.  She is really struggling with the time change (so are we) and sleeping (so are we) and eating (we are not) so it can only keep getting better (I keep telling myself)!!  I won't post any pictures of her 2 hour crying spells (sorry Pops) but here she is home at last!!

First picture of all 6 together

First bath with her big sister





Christmas morning




 Nan and Pops made it through and Nanny even cried when she left--I guess that's a sign that it wasn't too bad!!



After church, dresses off already(told you we are in a fog).  We were shocked that we never had to step out--Annie was perfect in church!! She seemed to be mesmerized by the bells and singing........I was, too--so great to be home!!


I'll post more pics later!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Leaving China

We're getting closer.......we made it to Beijing this afternoon and will leave bright and early in the morning.  I am so behind in pictures but will try to catch up once we get settled in at home. 

Annie is talking SO MUCH!!!  IN ENGLISH!!!  She has the sweetest little voice!!  Everything is "Annie's......."-- Annie's water, Annie's airplane--she is so funny! And, she is quite the mother. Even though she no longer has little ones around, our teenagers are happy to oblige to her instruction(Especially if it gets them out of doing their homework). She likes to "put E-man to bed" by having him get in the crib and then she turns out all the lights and tells us to "shhhhh" and tells him, "I'll be back, ok"  and then she opens the door and says, "Hello!" and turns all the lights back on.  What a great big brother to endure that!!  She likes to brush Hadley's teeth for her at night and they are always doing something funny together.  She has been giggling so much tonight and you can't help but start laughing yourself!!  It's hard to remember the sad, scared little girl from 12 short days ago. 

Here's a couple of pictures of traveling today:



 
Press on!
Deb

Friday, December 21, 2012

Goodbyes

Believe it or not, I am sitting in a quiet hotel room, having a cup of coffee, thinking about the packing and travels that are ahead.  It's dangerous for me to have quiet--I think too much.....and I was thinking about "goodbyes".   I am a little teary-eyed just thinking about leaving tomorrow.   CANNOT wait to get home to our family-don't misunderstand me!!  I just never really thought we'd be back in China when we left the first time with Mei Mei unless we were bringing her back to visit.  So, saying goodbye to China this time is different. I have finally learned that you just never know where God will lead you. I get a little sad though just thinking about taking Annie away from her birth country.  It is so heart breaking that her birthparents had to make the decision that they did.  And believe me, we are overjoyed that she is part of our family; but underlying it all at times is sadness for her loss and for theirs.  Sometimes when I am walking and holding hands with Mei Mei and she is singing and smiling and I look down at her and see that dimple and her beautiful eyes, my heart soars with joy and I love her so much and I am saddened that her parents never got to this chance.  And, now with Annie, as I feel that same way.  I just feel blessed to be born in America where we don't have to make those hard decisions. 

And, with Annie, I KNOW she was in such wonderful hands here and with people who loved her so very much.  Goodbyes can be hard......but they can be beautiful new beginnings and for that, I am thankful!!




Prayers were answered in a BIG WAY yesterday!!  We took a very special trip to visit some very special friends and it was AMAZING!!!  Our hearts are all so full and we are so thankful!! God is good!!


 
PRESS ON!!
Deb


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Becoming......

 
We received a picture from home yesterday that caught both Jeff and I off guard a bit.  Mary Claire had her Christmas program at school last night and they sent us a picture of her all dressed up for it.  When did she grow up????  Our pony-tailed little girl just looked so beautiful and all grown up--it made me kind of sad........... and really sad to miss seeing her singing.  We asked for a solo concert recap but she refused :) 
 
 

She has grown into such an awesome big sister.  I think it was tough on her when Mei Mei first came home and she lost "baby" status at our house.  But as the days passed and we saw their sisterhood blossom, we saw her willingly let go of her position.  It was confirmed last spring when we had a huge storm at our house.  With the first crack of thunder I knew we'd have a visitor in our bed.  The storm raged on but no Mary Claire to be seen.  The next morning we asked her if she'd heard the storm.  She had, but she didn't want to leave Mei Mei because she knew she'd be scared.  Yep, that's a big sister--not thinking about herself just looking out for her little sister.  
 
 
And here is Annie today blossoming right before our eyes!!!!
 
 
They say that beauty is only skin deep but this girl is beautiful on the inside,too.  Last night I was giving her a bath and she so sweetly washed my arms (about 10 times).  She is quick to share a drink from her water bottle with us and use the lid to wipe any water drips from your lips.  She just has such a sweet and gentle way about her with all that she does.
 
 

Tomorrow is a big day for us!!  We take the oath for Annie and she will become a U.S. citizen when we touch down in Michigan on Sunday!!  After that we are going to take a special trip to see a little more of China outside of Guangzhou!  Not too much longer now!!

Blessings,
Debbie

Monday, December 17, 2012

First words

BIG NEWS: Last night she whispered her first words to me!!!! We were all playing with Play-doh and she gave me some and said, "Mama roll"!! Melt this Mama's heart!!!!! She is starting to whisper words here and there so we know it's coming!! 



I am feeling like we're on the homestretch.....my little Mei Mei told me today when we were "facetiming" (is that a word??) that we only had 4 more days.  Got me all excited because I really don't know what the date even is but when I checked I realized we weren't quite that close.  She and I make a lot of chains together to count things down.  When we first started doing it, she would rip a couple links off thinking that would make the event happen sooner.  I'm wondering if that's the case here, too, since we made a little (ok-long) countdown chain to help her.  She seems to have done wonderfully but I know this has to be a little hard on her.  Good thing she has Cole and Mary Claire with her.  It's hard to believe she's only been home 3 years --seems like she's been with us forever.  We can't wait for Annie to meet everyone.  We have been "visiting" with them every morning which has helped take the edge off being away.  This morning Annie saw that they had Play-doh out and she ran and got hers to show them.  She was quite pleased that they had rolled Play-doh balls too and that her balls from the night before were still in her can for her to show them. 


She is so funny...She loves when we go to the elevator so she can push the button.  And yes, being the germaphobe that I am, she does use her knuckles :)!!  She pushes the button and then watches to see which light comes on and then runs to that elevator.  She's got our routine down pat.

We are meeting so many amazing families.  I love to hear the stories of their journeys.  I am always reminded of God's amazing love when I do.  On our first trip I was so surprised to see so many couples that were our age or older adding to their families and it is no different now.  In fact, I feel like we might be on slightly the younger end.  There is one young couple in our agency's group from Chicago that decided to adopt before having biological children but the rest are 40ish and 50ish and maybe a few 30ish.  I guess that's when we all start wondering what we're on this earth for really.  There is another family in our group who is adopting a beautiful 11 year old girl who is in a wheelchair and cannot walk.  Every time I see her Dad carry her up the bus stairs I cry--it's so beautiful for so many reasons!! 

Thanks so much for all of your prayers!!  We cannot wait to see all of you and for Annie to get to know what amazing family and friends she will be surrounded by!!
Love to all!
Deb


 At breakfast this morning....yes, #6 child gets a glass instead of a sippee cup and no bib :) HA HA!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Memories

We started our day in our favorite way--talking to everyone at home.  Seems like Pops and Nan are not too exhausted!!  We heard they've been baking and playing games--what a special time for the kids to spend with them!  We are so grateful!!
 

A room with a view:



 
Then on to Shamian Island where we stayed for 9 days when we came here 3 years ago to adopt
 Mei Mei.  We had so much fun remembering all the places that we hung out with her and our new friends. 
 
 
 
 

We were also happy to meet the priest at the Catholic Church on the island and just missed Mass.  Annie received her first blessing from Father Peter -- a newly ordained priest.  Not sure what that looks like in China or how it happens but keep him in your prayers as he puts his life in service to our Lord.

 
It was great to go back!!





Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guangzhou



We are finally on our last leg of our journey.  We left Nanchang yesterday and arrived in Guangzhou and settled into our hotel after midnight.  Annie did great traveling.  It was only about 1 1/2 hour flight here so it was a great trial run for the biggie that's coming.  She loves to color and play with stickers so we had fun.  She even said a couple of words when I drew some pictures for her. Yes, that's right......she is still playing the quiet game.  I awakened Jeff a couple of nights ago because she was jabbering away in her sleep so we know she will share that with us when she is ready!! 

Annie is an amazing little girl and we are so thankful that God placed her in our lives!! She is a different girl than the scared, sad, little girl we met 6 days ago and is really starting to open up.  She even has a little bounce in her step.  She is so lovable and sweet-natured (unless she has had enough of the kids bugging her)!!  And smart--wow-- is she ever smart!!!!!  And, this girl does not miss a beat! 
 
Hadley and Annie have such a cute relationship and are having a lot of fun together!
 
 
And of course, Ethan is as sweet as he can be with her!!
 
So, we're almost home and we are ready!  We love China but we are missing everyone and can't wait to get Annie home!!  It's hard to imagine what must be going on in the states while all of you are getting ready for Christmas!  I hope you are having a wonderful Advent-- Waiting patiently to celebrate the BEST GIFT EVER!!!
Hugs,
Debbie

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sounds of Heaven

Friends I will not waste  your time with words......Listening to this clip should put a smile on your face.  The sound we have been praying for!


video

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Leaving a Comment

So many have emailed to say they can't leave a comment.  Just go beneath the post that you want to comment on and click on "No comment"  or "2 comments" or whatever the number is and it will direct you to where you can comment.  Then pick "google account"  and it will redirect you to sign in to your existing account or set up an account.  Or, you can just email us.....we miss you all and love to read your comments!! 


French Fries & Ice Cream....What else!


 We finally got out of the hotel room yesterday to take in some of the local culture.  As you can read from Deb's last post, Annie comes alive at night and we seem to make progress only to wake up to those sad eyes as she wakes up thinking, I am still here with these crazy people. :)  We did manage to get her to eat a little more yesterday morning which is always good.  However, as you can see from the picture below it did not go so well for Ethan.  You see, I told Ethan to go try the pork ribs which are cut up to the size of a quarter.  I happened to be getting Annie something when I came back to the table to see a white face.  It seems Mr. Ethan got pork ribs and chicken feet mixed up and it was not so tasty! 





Doing my best to try and get a smile, we stopped off at McDonalds for french fries and I am happy to say she loves fries and ketchup....Anut April you have a friend! To top it off, what would the day be like without ice cream?








And, saving the best for last, we saw the best thing in Nanchang last night:









I know most of you find this as no surprise but Haddie is to thank--that girl is a kid whisperer if there ever was one!!

















Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The first Video

We are starting to build a little trust day by day wity Annie.  Last night we went out for a while to walk around and Annie held Deb and Hadley's hand while we walked through the lobby.  I am trying to attach the video one more time.

video

Day #3 in Nanchang

We saw first smiles early this morning!!  We were facetiming with Cole and she was playing with the keyboard.  He was trying to take a picture of her on the screen.  Somehow we lost connection and she thought it was something she pushed and she started giggling and saying something.  Quickly, though she was back to quiet and just taking it all in.

We went on a little outing in Nanchang in the morning.  We were supposed to go to Walmart but we really didn't need anything(we sure had made enough trips there before we left).  We were tempted out of curiosity but decided to go look for something special for Annie from her home province, instead.  Jiangxi is known for their porcelain and amazing needlecrafting so we were able to find her a special keepsake for when she is older.  She was great and didn't make a peep except when we went to get in the taxis to go back to the hotel (we had our guide from our agency with us so we had to take 2). She noticed that Jeff had gone in the one in front of us and she started wimpering and saying "Baba, baba".  I couldn't wait to tell Jeff since all of our kids have been Mama's babies when they were little.  I think he is really enjoying that she is digging her Baba. 




The doctor came to our room to examine her and thought she looked great.  We saw a glimmer of the trust that she is developing in us as she was quick to move into our arms when he had finished so we were very thankful to see some progress.

Still no talking and still very solemn for most of the day.  She did get happy when she saw french fries and we saw even more of that little personality in there.  We are patiently waiting for her to trust us more and more with each passing day.  We know that she was so strongly attached with her family at New Day andwe know it will take time.  She is super sweet though and will do whatever you ask of her.  We are in love with her and are enjoying this time together.  Poor thing probably would be happier if we'd back off and give her some space!!  At times all 4 of us are surrounding her playing!  And you wonder why Mei Mei is the way she is--it started early!!


 
 
Look how beautiful they made Jeff's dinner:

 
 
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Day

It's 5:30 A.M. and I am so happy that I made it until 4:30 today.  For those of you who have made this journey to China, you know what I am talking about!  That jet lag is hard and when you awaken, you just pray that it is a decent hour and you can get up. 

I was thinking a lot about New Day this morning.  For almost the last 2 years, it was one of the first things I did in the morning or right before I went to bed.  I would click on their blog or go to their Facebook page to see if there were any new pictures of Annie.  That's one of the reasons that it was so special to go and visit their main home in Beijing.  So many of these kids stories are just miraculous and it is so evident that God is right there with them and taking care of the details.  So, last night, I had to see what was going on with the kids and the post about did me in.  Go to http://newdayfosterhome.blogspot.com/  and scroll down to Monday, December 10th post.  This time, indeed, as I always hoped, it was a post about my girl......it was a post about her becoming a daughter and no longer an orphan.  God is so good and we are so thankful to be on this journey.....so thankful we said yes........

I know so many of you are finishing up your Christmas shopping and stressing about what to buy some of your "harder to buy for" people in your life.  A great gift might be to sponsor one of these kids at New Day as a gift for someone.  You could even divide it up between a few people you want to give a gift to.  When you sponsor a child, you get monthly updates, photos, and you really make a difference in their life and even help to give them the gift of life in some cases.   At the top right hand, you will see more information about the foster home and sponsorship info as well.  They really are an amazing place that is changing lives and your money would be well-spent.  

Look how happy these kids are:


The little girl above was smiling so big......she is undergoing chemotherapy.....New Day taking care of her and a family is already trying to adopt her.....
 
It is an amazing place and we are so thankful for the amazing care and love that they give that is so evident in our Annie!!