Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hayden is on a Mission


I am not so crabby at the moment so thought I should write.

Kory is giving Hattie her bottle and rocking her tonight. I read books with the boys and tucked them each in-which led to a great conversation with Hayden. He has joined me in my passion to adopt from China. (yes, I still have a passion to adopt despite my fatigue at the moment). Yesterday, during dinner he was quite matter of fact as he said, "When we adopt a baby from China next time, Can we go with you? " I was cheering wildly as Kory and I exchanged looks-right now, Kory is still seeing dollar signs:)

Anyway, tonight at bedtime Hayden told me he really likes Hattie. We were talking about adoption. I asked him what the word adoption means. He mulled it over and said, "It is when you bring people into your family forever" I asked him who in our family is adopted, He said, Daddy, Me, Culley, Hattie, Sophie (the cat) and Sadie (the dog). I told him, "hey, no fair, I am the only one in this family who is not adopted!!!" He thought that was pretty funny. I think that fact is cool!

Hattie is doing very well. She enjoys playing with her play kitchen. She mostly loves playing with her brothers. She becomes very animated when they are around. She loves to eat. She loves to have a bath. She likes being outside and in the car. The only thing she doesn't seem to excel at is related to sleep. We are just going to keep working on that one.

Today, we played outside a bit and walked to the neighbors to drop something off, ended up having a playdate. Boys had haircuts, I actually made a meal from the newest Food Network Magazine, while Hattie yelled at me from her seat.

Tomorrow, while the boys are doing their normal Tuesday morning routines, Hattie and I are picking up grandma to go shopping. Grandma wants to go girl shopping and have Hattie "spend grandpa's money" :)

Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Who knew this part of the process would be the one that was the most difficult?

Before you all email me- yes, we DO want to adopt again from China if possible. Doesn't every girl need a sister? The boys though want a little Chinese brother now, too.....uh-oh! But the process is expensive and if the Bush Adoption Tax Credit is cut, who knows what will happen.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


You all want blog posts? I am not too sure if that is a good idea right now. But you can count on me to be honest. I am crabby. I am tired. I am frustrated. (no regrets, just longing for order in my life again and 10 minutes of peace and my bed to myself and a chance to get something accomplished.

Hattie is great, although still very clingy to me. She reached her arms out to Kory last night as he headed down to play with the other kids. He took her and said, "Oh, you want to go to the fun room?" She already knows there will be noise, hysterical laughing, rough housing and she is ready to get right in the midst. In fact, if I tickle one of the boys, she giggles and throws herself on the floor and is ready to be tickled too.

She had been doing really well sleeping in her own room, in her crib all night. But that seems to have gone out the window and she has been back in our bed, which means no sleep for us.

I am really unsure of how much to push some of these issues. Part of me wants to help her understand the rules here in our house (sleep in your own bed, fall asleep on your own etc.) yet I am sensitive of all she has been through and don't want to add to her issues. So, we are taking a middle of the road approach;trying to gently introduce the rules but not being cut and dry just yet about it. Maybe that is wrong? I have no idea. I will say that I am sick of not getting a shower so today, I put her in her crib with the lights on, a little stack of books and toys and told her I would be back in a minute. I could hear her crying all the way down the hall as I took a shower. Then I had an even more clingy girl when the shower was done-ugh!

Culley is still unhappy. He has for the most part been kind to his sister but today I caught him throwing a rubber block at her (it is soft, but still!) so he was sent to his room.

I think the hardest part has been trying to get a break. How do you get a break when you have to rock one kid to bed with a bottle for at least an hour, then another kid breaks the rules by yelling for you and the kid you just rocked is now startled awake? I am telling you all, this has been driving me NUTS!!!!!!! And it is all day and night. Maybe, we had too good and easy of a time in China? But home has been a RUDE Awakening.

Anyway, feel free to give me ideas.

Hayden loves his new sister and dotes on her like crazy, it is so cute. Also, last night he informed me that although the meal was good it wasn't like MY recipe for meatloaf. A sweet neighbor brought us dinner last night and all of us enjoyed it-even Hattie! Anyway, he said he was really into my cooking about a year ago and then not so much. (Maybe a health food quick ruined his enjoyment? ) but he said, he is "kinda liking my cooking again"

Ok, over and out. Sorry to be so crabby......just keepin it real.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hello Again!

So it sounds like you all are missing us? Ok, we can't promise we will keep this blog up until Hattie is 18 but we will do our best!

We have been home almost a week. It has been quite interesting/difficult around here if I am honest. Hattie has been wonderful. She fits rights in and takes it all in stride. I was worried that the noise of of our two boys would be too much for her, but she actually seems to like the activity and energy. (ha-see, I am trying to be positive by saying ENERGY!)

The real deal is that Mr. Culley is not too thrilled to have been booted out of his baby in the family position. He is not a happy camper. It has been a rough week as he has been whining, crying, complaining, grumbling, fit throwing, etc. Thank goodness he is not mean to his sister, but he is not being his normal sweet self.

For those who will be traveling to China, just have a heads up. Your trip will be great-your first week (please let it be only a week!) at home will not be so great. No one warned me!

So, since I have such a hard time sharing my true feelings, why don't I just paint the picture for you. Since we have been home, I have held Hattie probably 23 hours a day. With one hand, I have set the table with-thank goodness for nice neighbors- meals that were made for us. I have attempted to get things unpacked and put away. This means out of the suitcase and on the hearth. Then to the stairs. Then to the bed. Then to the chair, etc. So, our room looks TERRIBLE and there isn't much I can do about it right now.

As I give Hattie a bottle and rock her(which is another new thing for her-no rocking chairs in China, can you believe that??) Hayden struts by in his latest dress up outfit. Culley just whirls around singing about "twinkle twinkle little poop" as he is ready to get in big boy unders and only talks about poop. And Hattie, just keeps poping her head up checking out her new world.

Good news-the last two nights she has slept in her crib all night, which was great for us.

Crazy news? I thought since everyone wanted to see Hattie we would have a first birthday/welcome home Hattie party. We mailed our invitations from Chicago Airport on our way to China. We had the party tonight. Yes, less then a week after getting home. But everyone wanted to see her and rather than have lots of visitors scattered we figured it would be nice to have a casual party and have everyone at once. She did great but stayed in my arms almost the whole time. So one handed coffee brewing was done tonight. Cake and ice cream duty was delegated to Kory. Kory's parents were called to pick up pizza and Sams made the cake and supplied the other goodies.

The boys were excited to wear their Chinese outfits.

Random News you need to know (sounds like a book series, what do you think?)

Hattie goes to Target. (she loved it)

Hattie goes to Miss Heathers. (had a playdate!!)

Hattie goes to school. (Hayden had to show her off)

Hattie scares Culley. (when she cries)
Hattie and the Bottle. (she now will "allow" Kory to rock her and give her a bottle)

Enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Reality!

For those who have asked how we are doing-here is is in a nutshell.

1. Hayden had a loose tooth and it decided to come out the night we were home. Chinese Yuan probably wouldn't have fit the bill, so American money was sought and not easily found in 1 dollar bills. There are a few crisp 100's left, but that wasn't happening! A pile of quarters had to do the trick.

2. Culley is mad at me. He says he wants me to go back to China so he can live with Grandma.

3. Sadie, our 11 year old dog, decided it would be the perfect time to become incontinent while we were away. Thus, our first day back to real life a lovely trip to the vet was on the agenda.

4. Jet lag and Sleep deprivation have left me waking up with the oddest thoughts. This morning I thought we were on a boat. I truly had no idea where we were when I woke up. I have also had dreams that in order to change Hattie's diaper, I had to go through security checkpoints. Wouldn't that be fun?

5. I still can't seem to get ready for the day. I tried to take a shower this morning. Hattie doesn't like me to be out of her sight. She opened the shower curtain, sending water all over the wood floor and her just put on outfit. I had the world's quickest shower, cleaned up the floor and redressed the baby.

6. Tried to leave to take the dog to the vet. Strapped Hattie in her car seat (remember no car seats in China) she tolerated it. I strapped Culley in and went to get the dog. Hattie started crying. Culley freaked out and he started crying and yelling at her to stop crying which made her cry more and I was frozen in place trying to decide what in the world I should do.

7. Culley informed me he is NOT a big brother. Hayden is a big brother, Hattie is a baby sister and he is just Culley.

8. Kory just troops on as usual. Nothing ruffles him and he was off to work like he was all rested up.

9. Hattie is afraid of the cat and dog. This puzzles Kory. He said, "she can hold a baby tiger but she can't be in the same room with the cat?"

10. You know you are back to reality when during dinner your new code word with your spouse is simply, "China" as in, "I know the flight is awful and things can be weird in China but doesn't it sound nice to go back to China -when everyone is whining about not liking beans and being suddenly allergic to tomatoes?"

11. Then you remember that you were made to make a bottle in front of the security at the airport and told to take a drink ( I AM NOT KIDDING!!!) and you decide you will deal with dinner and chaos and spilled milk as it sure is nice to be back with your family!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Home Sweet Home

After 2 near accidents on the hotel shuttle, 28 hours of travel with NO sleep, four airports, three planes and way too many security checks, we made it home!

It was refreshing to land in the USA and have so many people excited and interested to know all about Hattie. When we first landed, a woman came up to us in the immigration/baggage claim area and said she had been sitting across from us. (I knew this, I could do NOTHING else but hold a sleeping baby and people watch) She said, all the people around us were talking about how tenderly we cared for Hattie and how good she was on the plane. I thought that was sweet of her to share.

I must admit, Hattie was PERFECT. I would have been crying if I were her to be traveling for 28 hours and to have to be contained the whole time. She NEVER fussed or cried. She was easy going and either slept, ate Cheerios, played with the airline food and plastic utensils, or read the Duty Free Magazine.

I was going a bit crazy as she wouldn't go to Kory and I thought my arms were going to fall off my body. But how could I complain?

When we did land in Chicago, we had to go through Immigration and then to an area to file Hattie's Brown Envelope, which we were given in China.

We boarded the last plane to TC and that flight was a breeze-it was only 39 minutes. What a treat! We landed in lots of fog and when we got off the plane, we were so tired, I think we just were numb. Of course, we were happy to be home and excited to see everyone, but we felt just flat and out of it. I spotted a group of people from afar and balloons and waved, and then heard my mom tell the boys they could come see us. They ran towards us and I set a sleepy Hattie(dressed in a pink tutu and silk Chinese top:) ) on the ground and the boys were all over her. She was all smiles and happy to have the attentions. She walked towards our small group and they clapped, she never seemed nervous or scared. She took it all in.

We will write more later, but we wanted to let you all know that we made it home safely. Our neighbors brought us dinner last night and it was delicious. Turkey Chili, corn bread, salad and cookies, it really hit the spot. Hattie was feeding Culley her corn muffins (oh, boy!!) and she just really fits right in to our family. We were worried that the noise and chaos in our house with two boys might be too much for her, but she doesn't mind it a bit. She sits right down on the floor and plays with them and they both fawn all over her. Hayden walked around all day saying, "Hattie, you are awesome!" Culley, just kept saying, "Welcome Home, Hattie."

All is well here at our house. We are happy to have made it safely to and from China. We feel so thankful and blessed. Thanks again for your prayers, we are confident that is the only reason our trip was such a success.

We leave you with a few new pictures. We will keep writing, so check back soon!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last Post from China

My Passport Visa

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for following our journey to Hattie! We can't believe this will be our last post from China and our last night to sleep on plywood beds! We are so looking forward to seeing the boys and being in our own home. But we are sad to say goodbye to such a special time in China and to the country where Hattie was born.

Today was a quiet day around here. We went down for breakfast a bit later and lingered watching the boats, eating banana bread(Hattie) and visiting with the last few families. We did some final shopping. Kory took a taxi to a place we had been earlier this week to buy some more art, while I took Hattie to the pool.

We packed and weighed our suitcases, so far so good.

Kory went for a massage. He came back and said it was intense. He said a guy (that made me laugh!) did it and Kory swears he used his elbows. He also said, he could tell the guy was rubbing his hands and then his arms to make the blood move up his arm until Kory's arm was numb. Whew, glad I decided against getting one today. They offer them here at the hotel but we were told to go to Shamian Island Medical Center. We were also told to have the hotel make the appointment specifying that we wanted a massage but did not want to see the doctor.
Apparently, the doctor pays you visit otherwise.

Shiyan called around 430 to let us know our Visa/Passport and all Consulate Paperwork was done. I headed down to her room to pick that up, what a wild feeling to have ALL we needed to have Hattie's adoption final and all the proper documents to get her home to the USA.

We played in the Swan room one last time, gave Hattie her bath and bottle, did more packing and now we will leave our suitcases outside our door tonight at 9 to be picked up. Tomorrow, we will leave here with the last of our group at 6 am Saturday Morning. We arrive home at 9pm Saturday night-don't forget the 12 hours time difference! It will be a long day of travel. We actually followed advice of those here and bought a stroller for the airport use and such. It was 220.00 yuan (about 30 us dollars and is pretty nice, Meredith....quit laughing!) We have tried to dwindle our yuan so we don't have extra. Hopefuly, we will have enough for some snacks and Starbucks at the airport. We didn't want to bother to exchange more money a this point.

Thanks again for all the prayers, the offers of help and for the emails. They have really helped make our time here enjoyable and smooth.

See you soon in TC!!!!!!!!! Time to get back to reality, oh, boy!

Hayden and Culley we can't wait to see you! Hattie is going to be excited too. We love you.

Notes for friends who will travel!.....

Hello from China on our last full day.

A few notes for those who will travel after us.

1. Be prepared, but do not worry! All will go well if you follow directions, research and plan.

2. Don't stress about clothing. Laundry was perfect, cheap and easy. Take it early in the am and get it back the same day.(Not at a hotel, ask your guide!)

3. Take ONE pair of shoes and a pair of flip flops. I brought old flip flops wore them for a change, to the pool, around the hotel and I will now throw them out here in China. The other pair was a comfy pair of versatile shoes. (the kind that can be dressed up or down)

4. Take travel packs of Puffs and Waterless Hand Cleanser-you will be glad you are prepared. We shared our supplies at times with others. Squatty Potties are not a big deal (unless you are at the Great Wall) but check each stall, the last one may very be a Western Style Toilet.

5. Don't worry about adapters/converters. Ask the hotel. They have supplied us at no charge for what we needed. However, be prepared to pay daily (maybe 5 bucks) for internet. This was no big deal to us as it allowed us to write our blog, check email and SKYPE with the kids. We didn't spend much time online doing anything else, but the money was well worth it to us.

6. Ask your guide what things are special to your child's Province and buy those items. Skip out on all the other stuff! In Nanning, we bought South Sea Pearls and Love Balls. In Guangzhou, we bought lots of art to frame at home, silk clothing and a few other novelty type things. Save your shopping for Guangzhou-most things can be found here.

7. What We would do different next time?

One pair of shoes plus flip flops (we brought 2 pairs and flip flops) I think I would bring my own blowdryer, they had them in the rooms but they were such a pain!
I would have packed many more snacks from home. Although, you can find familiar snacks, they were often stale. If you adopt a cleft lip/palate baby, bring your own cleft bottles despite what they tell you!! (This was a big mistake on my part!!!!)

8. No matter what, bring LOTS of medicine. There were many families who were sick and did not have what they would have used at home with them. We have not used anything we brought, but we were so glad we had it.

9. Truly, we were perfectly fine with what we packed. We forgot to pack the right USB cord for our camera and had to rely on our iphones for our pictures which was not ideal, but it all worked fine.

10. I bought -after much research- a Baggallini bag and after three days in Beijing couldn't use it anymore as the zipper came out. Had I had saftey pins, that would have helped. (The bag is going back to the store when we get home, they can order me a new one!) Someone else had a new pair of shoes and the strap broke after a few days in Beijing. So be ready!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some more photos from today......

Red Couch and more Pearl Shopping


We are just now getting a chance to write our post for the day. We had an early breakfast and then met for the famous Red Couch Photos. It was nice to watch as each family sat on the red couch and all the other families snapped pictures or waved and cheered to get the kids to smile. It was really beautiful to see the new families! After that, we did pictures with the people from the same Provinces. As we were the only family to travel to Nanning, we had Hattie on the couch with a few other girls who also were the only ones from their Province. The sweet thing is Hattie loves this other little girl and they always hold hands when they are together. It just so happens that the family also lives in Michigan and shares the same social worker with us. So Sarah, check out the photos.

After those photos we did mom and baby/child photos, followed by a big huge group photo.

We then had ten minutes to change clothing and then we met a few of the families to go with our guide to shop for more pearls. This was a different from our Province shopping. This was a huge building with wholesale pearls, jade and other jewels. Really quite amazing. I instantly get overwhelmed and can't think-but Kory keeps his focus! We went to the fifth floor and they had BAGS and BAGS of pearls. You pick a strand you like and then they string them right in front of you. We picked up some nice things for gifts. Then we took a taxi back with Shiyan (our guide/helper through this entire process) to the hotel. We had about an hour to get ready for the US Consulate Oath. We dressed Hattie in red, white and blue and we tried to dress up a bit from our limited wardrobe. We had to travel through lots of traffic and it took an hour to get there. When we arrived and saw the American Flag it was quite a moment. We then had to leave all phones and cameras in security. We put our bags through security and then went to a room to take a seat. It was a big open room with many seats. We all sat together and strained our ears in the noise to hear our childs Chinese name called. Once her name was called we had to step up and give our passports, sign a LAST document and then had to sit back down. One dad said he would be going up every other name as he still can't figure out how his child's Chinese name is pronounced:)

After all the names were called and there were maybe 50 families, a woman came out and talked about what goes on at the US Consulate. She mentioned a few names of special kids, like one who had a birthday, and another who turned 14 and was there to be adopted. In China, after 14 a child can't be adopted, so this was very special! Anyway, the woman talked about how their small staff of 7 does 1/3 of the worlds adoptions and how they are well aware of each of our files. Then she had us stand, raise our right hand and take an oath. Most of us were teary eyed. I think to be in our own country's consulate, to be reminded of the TONS of paperwork that led us to this moment and to be aware that the journey to China really was coming to a close was just overwhelming. It was also sad to hear that in our travels home to be careful as our new children are" no longer Chinese Citizens" and we need to follow the proper steps in our travel home. When we land in Chicago, we will need to do some paperwork with immigration to finalize the process.

I think Kory and I are getting over tired or slap happy. As we were riding the bus back to the hotel, he said, "the delay in traffic is due to someone changing a tire." I thought he said, someone is chasing a tiger!" We laughed about that because here in China that doesn't seem to be too far fetched.

I also had to laugh at Kory. I looked over and he was eating the Gerber Banana Puffs as a snack-he was starving! The dad to our left was eating his third Z-bar of the day.......see what happens after days and days in China?

Also, walking back into the hotel, we were met by name and we were able to respond back with her name -the girl at the store/laundry. You know it is bad when you recognize people out and about!

We changed yet again, then went to the Thai place one last time. The food there is delicious.

Tomorrow will be our last full (non travel) day in China. We are ready to come home but sad to leave China. This has been wonderful. Hattie is a wonderful little girl. We can't believe we get to bring her home!! WOW!

Hopefully, there will be no delays in our travel home. It was raining and is supposed to stay that way for the next few days. Our guide told us there is a storm coming in.....stay tuned!