Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today, We SHOP! And, a tip for families yet to travel.

Good morning from Guangzhou!!! :) Today, our guides are taking us back to Shamian island for a bit of shopping at the markets. We have been told that you can get great things there for much less than anywhere else we have travelled in China. We were told, "Hold off on buying anything until Guangzhou!!" So, we plan to have fun with the girls today! No appointments, no paperwork, no doctors!!! :) Just fun! Can't wait! And, this place is gorgeous!! We walked through it yesterday to get to our appointment. There must have been 15 brides and grooms getting their photos shot at the same time!!! And, there was a movie being filmed there as well. We'll get pics!! :)

And, my tip??? For families getting ready to travel? If you have an Iphone, be sure to get the "Jibbigo" app. It is only like $5, and it has SAVED us in restaurants and other times we've been out and about and couldn't otherwise communicate. It translates your English question into Mandarin, and Mandarin into English!! And, it is wonderful. It has also helped us with Mei Li at times. We have taken Mandarin (focused on adoptive families), and much of what we learned from our Mandarin classes has helped us with Mei Li. But, there have been a few times, when we've needed to tell her something that wasn't covered in class. Jibbigo came to the rescue! It will be a life preserver you'll carry with you, that will save you when you run into communication barriers. And, it is amazing how that communication barrier makes even the most simple things. . . impossible.

So, get Jibbigo before you come to China!! :D

Off to check on my girls.

The Medical Exam. . .

Well, today was our first day in Guangzhou. We have an incredible guide and China adoption coordinator walking us through. I don't think you can get any better than Rebecca and Lily. But, today was a necessary evil. . . the medical check-up. And, this week is a BUSY week for Guangzhou processing adoptions as they are trying to get families pushed through before the Chinese holiday coming up the first of October. So, what that amounted to was a packed waiting room of crying little ones. There was really no where to go to be private and wait your turn. We stood in line and waited our turn. You could see and hear the other little ones getting their check-ups. It's just the way it is. . . but, it makes it tough on the little ones. One gets scared and cries and the whole group joins in, and before you know it, you have a whole room of screaming babies. None of them were being hurt at all. They were just getting checked. But, most of these children have had hospital and doctor encounters before due to their special needs. So, they were terrified. It was hot and packed and very loud.

Mei Li was in a state! She cried and cried until she wore herself out while we waited in line, pointing to the door and begging to leave. What's insane was that she cried through the physical check-up and line wait. But, she didn't flinch when they gave her her TB skin test shot at the end of the visit.

One funny moment today, though. . . Mei Li informed me that she needed to "pee pee" while we were waiting for her Visa picture. So, I ask our guide to show me to the restroom. There are only Chinese potties in the restroom---no western toilets. If you don't know what a Chinese potty looks like, it is basically a hole in the floor with little places to put your feet on both sides. Geoff and I refer to the potty styles as "sitties" (Western style American potties) and "squatties" (Chinese potties) . Mama has not mastered (or even tried) the Chinese potty. And, I had my chance to try to help Mei Li use one today. Did not go well!! Haha!! First off, trying to get her feet placed properly (wide) with her pants on but pulled down far enough was an issue for me. Then, I'm holding her carefully over to let her go, and her little sunglasses (which I had carefullly tucked in my shirt) fell out and straight down the toilet. I gave up and went to get our Chinese guide to help us out. Whew!! I guess losing the sunglasses was better than dropping her in the potty. Hahaha!!! It was truly comical!

We have some wonderful days ahead and the hardest part was today! I'm happy that it is finished and Mei Li can smile and giggle for the rest of the trip. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, We're safely in Guangzhou!!! :)

Yesterday was a long day of waiting and travel and it was "hot" everywhere we were. Just couldn't cool down. In China, it seems that air-conditioning is not embraced. So, most places have pretty warm, still air. And, when you're holding lots of luggage and a 30 pound baby. . . you FEEL it!! Haha!!!

So, our little Mei Li has conquered bus rides (and that is a HUGE accomplishment in China, let me tell you!! I've almost resorted to fetal position and thumb-sucking myself if I actually watch out the window!) Traffic is INSANE here in China! I consider myself a good driver, but there is NO WAY I'd get behind the wheel of a car in China. People just pull out in front of you, there's bumper to bumper traffic, there don't appear to be any lanes that anyone observes and there is no safe distance between cars. If someone wants over, they just come. And, if someone is there, they just come on top of you. There have to be inches between cars. I have thought we were going to be hit numerous times---but, somehow, it never happens. I have NO idea how there aren't wrecks all the time here, in China. But, I rarely see an accident. They must have incredible spacial awareness and hand-eye coordination skills here. We drive much more carefully in America, and yet, we have more wrecks. I'm at a loss. ;)
Anway, I got sidetracked. Mei Li has conquered bus rides, and plane rides, and our little girl LOVES to be on the GO!!! She is not one to sit still for long. She likes to ride in her stroller and see the world!! She will be an excellent candidate for a jogging stroller when I get home, and that will be great for mama too!! She is so open to new things. She couldn't wait to get on the plane (fay-gee-lah is the Chinese for airplane). All we heard yesterday leading up to our flight was "Fay-gee-lah!!!" and she would make an airplane noise and put her arms out like wings! :) Such a happy little soul!!!
Our guide in Shanghai described the cities we have visited in China this way. "Beijing is the "Ancient China Lady", Shanghai is the "Modern China lady", and Guangzhou is "the Girl Next Door". You will love Guangzhou!" Well, we go out for our first adventure today. Our main guide, Rebecca and the China coordinator, Lily, are here and have walked us step-by-step since we stepped off the plane. They are truly amazing!!!! I feel so at home with them and well taken-care-of. I've always felt more like "the-girl-next-door", myself. So, I have a feeling Guangzhou is going to be my favorite. Hands down, the Garden Hotel is a palace compared to everything we've stayed in up to now. Anna Grace says she never wants to leave. Mei Li did a happy dance all around our suite. And, did I mention that the air-conditioning works???? Hallelujah!!!!
All this to say, that this is the most incredible journey of our lives that God has taken us on. We learn new things every day about ourselves, our little girl and His incredible mercy and grace. I can now appreciate this beautiful country across the sea, and we are forever changed and better because of it. I am counting my blessings!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Memorable Moments in Shanghai!

The Bund

Former Customs House modeled after Big Ben
Taking a stroll :) Mei Li LOVES to GO!!!
No explanation needed ;)
Jellies at the aquarium
People asking us about our Mei Li
New Shanghai skyline (all new development since 1996)

Official Adoption Ceremony where we received Mei Li's certificate of adoption
The girls :)
All decked out in Aunt Emmalie's bows!!

Hi everyone!!! We are heading out to Guangzhou this afternoon, so we will officially be telling Shanghai goodbye. It has been fun, but we are ready to move on to GZ!! We hear it is the most fun part of the trip and is more kid-friendly. Mei Li is doing AMAZINGLY well!!! She sleeps well, she eats like a champ, she adores her big sis and her daddy, and she thinks her mommy hangs the moon. She is happy almost all the time---unless she doesn't get her way. Then, her little temper will flare. But, it is not long before the giggles and smiles are back.

Yesterday, we went to Mei Li's finding spot which was the waiting room at the Children's ER. I will not complain about American hospitals again. And, I am so very glad she will never have to be there again. So thankful she is with us now.

We will update again in GZ, but for now, here are some fun moments in Shanghai!!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heading out this morning!!

Just a quick post this morning, because I left daddy upstairs with 2 sleeping girls to come down to the lobby to post. There is free internet down here. AG is cool with Mama leaving, but Mei Li is rather attached to me, and will not be happy if she awakes to Mama being gone. So this will be a quick one.

Today, we go to Mei Li's "finding spot". I look forward to seeing this place and piecing together the pictures of her story from the beginning. It will be a very quick visit, but an important one. We were denied the opportunity to go visit her orphanage. They are redecorating.
She is precious and she is a mess!!!! She is happy most all the time---except when she doesn't get her way. Then, she lets you know about it.
She is already learing SO much!!! And, she is adapting to us so very well!!! She went to sleep last night and cried very little--only about 5 minutes. And, that is a HUGE improvement. The first night was all night long. The second night, we tried to settle her down to sleep three different times before success and with about 30 minutes of crying each time. Last night, 5 minutes and she was "out"! ;) She is still asleep now. :)

Well, Mama better run! Don't want my girl to wake up and find me gone. We'll update again later!!!

Another Day with our Mei Li :)

We had a tour today in Shanghai. We went to the famous Bund and it was amazing!! The city on one side of the river is Old Shanghai and the city on the other side of the river is the new Shanghai. It truly is a beautiful city!!

We went with another family and their little one, and after a short tour of the Bund, we made our way to the aquarium. The kiddos enjoyed it. Mei Li was a little afraid, at first, of all the fish behind glass. She has never seen anything outside of the walls of her orphanage, so she had to test things out and make sure it was all okay. It doesn't take her long, though. Mei Li is a very high-spirited, outgoing little soul. So, she was ready to run before long. I have to pull her back and hold her more than she would like. Although, I am thankful she reaches for mommy most of the time. She loves to be held by me. But, her little foot has a pretty bad wound on it that we are trying to get to heal, a pressure ulcer caused by her brace at the orphanage, and I let her walk very little. I'm so worried that her wound will get worse. Her little foot turns on its side when she walks (as she had surgery for a club foot a few years back) and she literally walks on her ankle. That is exactly where the wound is. Mei Li is a little firecracker who doesn't like to sit still for long. She is loving and lovable and loves to be held by mommy, but trying to keep her off her feet with her high energy is a full-time job. That is why my blog posts have been less since we got her. And, thankfully, we just got a stroller!!!! This little happy bundle we call Mei Li is pretty heavy in these arms unaccustomed to holding a little person!!! Haha!!! I will now have great biceps! And, as much as I'm running after her to keep up, this is best weight loss program on the market!!! :)

Have I mentioned how crazy we are about this precious little person??? She is so smart and so sweet and so full of mischief!!! She is sleeping well (although it takes her a while to go to sleep. That seems to be the time that she grieves for her friends and her nanny at the orphanage whom she calls "orphan mommy". She cries quietly for a while every time she lies down to sleep. I lie next to her and console her and tell her I love her, not to worry and that we will take very good care of her. After a little while, she cries it out and falls asleep.) Once she falls asleep, she sleeps all night. She loves to brush her teeth, take showers, she goes potty and tells me every time she needs to go. She truly is an amazing little girl!!! We love her very much!!! Oh, and have I mentioned Mei Li eats like a champ??? OH YES, she does!!!! :) She also loves her Big Sis, too!! She kisses her and shares her snacks!!

Anyway, I need to try to get little missy down for a nap so I gotta scoot!! But, just wanted to update and let you know how it goes!!! It goes GREAT!!!! :D

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mei Li is OURS and We are Hers!!!!! :)

Mei Li and Mama
The girls snuggling and playing with sleep masks
Mama feeding Mei Li. . . Mmmmm. . . noodles!!!!
Waiting for our ride! Windy!!!!!
Baba, Jeh Jeh and Mei Li!!!!
A kiss for Baba!

Today has been the most amazing, blessed and awe inspired day of our whole journey to China, so far. . . and rightly so. Today, our beautiful little girl who was born in our hearts was finally placed in our arms. We were not sure what to expect. We are from the other side of the planet, we look different, smell different, and we certainly sound different from anything she has ever experienced. The orphanage has been her "home". The other children have been her family. The orphan mommy (nanny) has been her only mama she has known. There is no guessing how a child is going to respond to all of the trauma of this change.

We heard Mei Li before we saw her. Her vibrant, happy voice bounced down the hallway to greet us before we saw her little smiling face. Then, she appeared. As soon as she saw us, she yelled out, "Mama!!! Baba!!! Jeh Jeh!!!!". She came right to me, sat in my lap and kissed me on the cheek. She grabbed the Gerber Graduates and went to town eating. She drank her apple juice and was delighted that Minnie Mouse was on the cup. She was all smiles the entire time we were at the Civil Affairs Building. She told her orphan mommy "Tsai Chen" (goodbye), and we made our way to the van to go back to the hotel.

Since we have returned to the hotel, we have had a fashion show of all of the new outfits we brought for Mei Li. She would grab one and start stripping her clothes off. She has played, run around the room. . . she is a firecracker of energy!!! Mama is pretty worn out! :) But, in a GOOD way! She is SO happy. Her favorite item, it seems is her toothbrush, strangely enough. She has brushed her teeth so much, we had to hide the toothpaste. Haha!!! She eats like a CHAMP!!!! She has pee-peed in the potty about 5 times. She is an absolute angel!!! She calls to me when she needs anything. "Mama, gore lie!!" I have learned that phrase very well. It means "Mama, come here" . When Geoff and Anna Grace ran out to pick up a burger at the McDonalds, she immediately starting asking where they went. I took her to the window and she pointed out saying "Baba, Jeh Jeh.. . Gore lie!!!" (Daddy, Big Sis, come here!) :) She is already attaching to us and is understanding who her family is. Praise the Lord!!!!! That is HUGE!!!!!
We are praying we will get to visit the orphanage this week to see where Mei Li has spent the first 4 years of her life. There is no guarantee as of now. But, if overwhelms to to know that there are 150 million orphans (such as our precious Mei Li has been until today) in this world, and they all need "Mamas and Babas". It breaks my heart to think our sweet Mei Li could have grown up in an orphanage and never known a family. And, the outcomes for children who grow up in orphanages are heart-breaking. They are considered the "unlucky ones" in society, so for the chance to have a good education, or marry into a good family is slim to none. We may not be able to change the futures of all 150 million, but we can make a difference for at least one!! And, I'll let you in on a little secret. The "real blessing" is on "us". This little precious one has already blessed our hearts and changed our lives for the better---and I have had several conversations with the Lord today thanking Him for this incredible opportunity to love and be loved by this wonderful child!!! She is ours and we are hers. . . and we call her daughter.
Here are some pics for you to enjoy of our morning, and a video is on its way soon!!