Wednesday, March 30, 2011

hands full?

I can't just pretend that life is all cute videos... I wish it was but I've got to chronicle REAL life here. Not just cute video life.

I'm not complaining...we are living life. A good life. A great life. A life we could not have dreamed of. But, no doubt... it's not an easy life. But, we were never promised easy.

So you ask...how are the kids adjusting?

Um. Well.

I'll say this... They LOVE Grace. Love. Love. Love. Her.

They love her so much that...

Sometimes they try to hug her so hard around her neck she is almost chokes.

Sometimes they want to kiss and hug her so much she falls over screaming.

Sometimes they want to be so close to her they sit on her.

So, personal space is a little bit of an issue. I can't tell you how many times I say "please, leave her alone, please keep your hands off of her, PLEASE stop CHOKING her!"

But other that the personal space issue.... Things between Grace and her brothers and sister are great.

Now, how are things between brother, brother and sister (excluding new sister).... Ummm..... Not so great. We've got some attention getting behavior going on. All to be expected. But, challenging none-the-less.

It is especially difficult for S when he comes home from work... he has three kids begging for his attention, and little one that needs her Daddy (even though maybe she doesn't quite know it yet).
THEN... throw in a little stomach bug that seems to have caught up to one little blond haired girl. and a teething one year old.

and well... we've got your hands full. But (stealing from one of my blog friends)....

you think I have my hands full? you should see my heart.


Friday, March 25, 2011

HI!

Grace has something to say to all of you....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BOOK!!!!!

I BELIEVE our daughter has said her first English word. I think she has been saying it for several days... but today I think it's official.

It is an appropriate first word for our family. and just shows us AGAIN how perfectly perfect she is for us.

Her first word... "Gook"

BOOK!

We read a LOT of books in our house. Several dozen a day.

Thus far... the most challenging transition for K has been "but we haven't read books tonight!" Yes, the evening routine has been a little messed up with the arrival of her new sister. She loves her sister. But THIS does not make her happy.

So, it's perfectly perfect that Grace loves books. Just like her brother. and her sister. and her brother.

oh and her Grandma.

When I first took out a few board books I brought to China with us one month ago... she didn't know what they were. She would flip one over and over and had know idea that it opened, that there were pages to turn and that it could be fun sitting there turning the pages as her Momma reads the words.

Now, if I sit down on our living room floor, she heads straight for the bookshelf (or pile of books laying on the floor) and says "gook". She finds her favorite... "Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumb" and sits down on my lap.

and my heart melts.

again.

It seems that my heart has been melting a lot these days.

This video is a little dark... but hopefully you can see her drumming with the monkey's. :)


video

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Four precious gifts

Our.

Hearts.

Are.

Overflowing.


With Love. And Thankfulness.

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Oh Yum!

As S promised while in China....

we bought a wok.

and learned to make fried rice.

and some five spice chicken.

and it was delicious!

Grace ate a TON! and I ate a little more than that.

Should have taken a picture... but it was gone before I remembered to take the camera out.

So, while I don't have a picture of our dinner.... I just can't resist putting up another like the one a posted the other day... but this one....

Oh those eyes!





Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some things easier. Some things harder.


There are things that have been easier than I thought they would be.

To Love.

Easy.

Because how hard is it to love a face like this? :)

To make her smile.

Easy.

Some things harder.

Getting dinner on the table.

Getting to the grocery store.

Finding time for a shower.

After a challenging day yesterday... two more shots at the pediatrician, a discovery of an ear infection :( and a four year old that was, well... being four. Today, the sun was shining on us. and we laughed a bit more. I managed a dinner on the table.

and well... no shower. But, there's always tomorrow.

I know, I know... I could do these things at night after everyone goes to bed. BUT, I'm just too tired!

I know I promised a video of our active and smiley Grace. and I don't want to break any promises.

So, while it took me a week (!) Here it is... actually, this was taken a while ago... she's even HAPPIER now!




Friday, March 11, 2011

How emotions change reality

I just spent an hour or so watching videos from China.

Funny how my memories don't really jive with what I am seeing in the videos.

I don't remember sitting on the floor the afternoon after Gotcha and playing stacking cups with Grace. I don't remember her blank stare... and the tears in her eyes. I don't remember her wimper. And the absolute look of sadness, grief and fear on her face.


Perhaps I blocked it all out. Perhaps I was in such a state of happiness I didn't notice her emotions. Perhaps she has changed so much I have just forgotten. I don't know.

But now I have seen it. Oh boy... have I seen it.

I am grateful that I have this video. For her. For me. For all of us.

I want to reassure you... today, we are SO FAR from this video that was captured less than three weeks ago. I'll post a video of her now SOON!

Additionally, I finally brought myself to watching the video from the orphanage visit. Strangely... it wasn't nearly as bad as my memory of it recalls.

Besides the the screams of babies crying... I thought I remembered it being eerily quiet. Truth is... there was only one baby crying. Not several. And there was classical music playing in the background! The nanny was smiling and was happy to see Grace! She really was. Why I didn't see it the first time I'll never know. However, Grace's non-existent reaction was exactly what I remember.

So, these videos have brought me back... and helped me to remember the reality of the situation we lived through. Right now, strangely, it all seems like such a distant memory, even though it was less than three short weeks ago that we met Grace for the first time. And just one week since we have all been together as a family of six.









Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's been a busy couple days...

Oh who am I kidding, I'm pretty sure that this is just normal now.

Grace had her first pediatrician visit yesterday. 5 vaccines and one TB test. Yes... 6 needles. Poor girl. She actually needed more than 5 vaccines, but we are waiting on some, because well... 5 seemed like enough.

A variety of precautionary lab work tests were ordered and we had that blood drawn today. Poor girl.

In addition, today was her visit with the cranio-facial team at the CT Children's Medical Center. 6 specialists came in and out to see Grace in about an hour's time. She did great! They were great!

Going out of the comfort of our home is challenging. We haven't actually been out much... but when we have you can see that everything overwhelms her. Who could blame her. The moment I start putting her in the car seat I see the zone-out look in her eyes. But, today... I started to see a little progress. She was smiling and laughing in the car. At the doctor's office she was playing on the floor and smiling and babbling at the doctors. When she got a little uncomfortable she would waddle over to me raising her hands in the air to be picked up. Oh these little things just melt my heart.

I should also note that in the first 72 hours of being home Grace has...

Fallen off the bed (don't ask... poor judgement by parents due to sleep deprivation), fallen off the sofa, bonked heads with at least two siblings, bonked head on the coffee table (several times), been hit in the face with a musical instrument, and was accidentally scratched by someone's little fingers.

Good thing she is resilient because life as the youngest of four is a little dangerous!

A few snapshots around the living room...











Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There is something about 3 am

So, here I am again... rocking a semi-sleeping baby at 3am. I never thought I'd been sitting in the all too familiar propped up position in my bed trying to get a baby to sleep at 3 am again.

But here I am.

And I find myself loving 3 am. "HOW can that be?" you ask?

At 3 am, my daughter lets down her guard just ever so slightly. She rests her head on my chest. She breathes deeply and silently. And she sleeps.

In just a few short hours, she will become aware that she isn't all that comfortable yet in this place called home. She will refuse to put her oh-so-tired head on my shoulder. She will arch her back and cry with big huge tears that would flood the Yellow River "PLEASE LET ME BE, I'm overwhelmed, overstimulated and JUST PLAIN TIRED and I am really not used to all this cuddling!"

But, oh 3 am.

She forgets that she is in a new and strange place.

And I hold her. And I whisper words in her ear. In her semiconscious state she hears my voice. She smells my Mommy scents. She reaches up and touches my face and plays with my hair.

I pray that these 3 am snuggles will help her to realize deep down in her wounded heart that my heart is hers.

Forever.



Monday, March 7, 2011

Coming out of the fog.

Sadly, this is the best I got so far... taken at midnight the night we arrived home. All four kiddos... together at last.

We haven't managed to get a shot of all six of us yet. Maybe sometime soon. Maybe.

The new normal is busy. Even though it was only a few short years ago that D was 17 months... I had forgotten what it was like to have a busy toddler walking around the house.

Oh yes... she walks. Waddles, really.

She follows the other kids around. In fact, there have been a few "races" around our dining room table. And... for now... Grace always is allowed to win. I'm not sure how long that will last. :)

Or all four kids crawling down the hall... Grace the last one, following all her crazy siblings around. AND the giggles. OH the giggles. Music to a parent's ears.

Well... except when you are really tired and the giggles turn to screams. And the screams give you a headache.

Grace is doing really great. She is really happy. Smiles and giggles all the time.

LITTLE signs of attachment.... she finds Steve or I and reaches up to be picked up. She has even laid down her little head on my shoulder a couple times... I know that sounds like such a simple little thing that one would expect from a toddler. But, for her this is HUGE. While awake, yesterday was the first time that we have seen any sort of "cuddle" from this little one. It just isn't what she is used to. It isn't what she knows. And every little thing... so often taken for granted with other children... are signs of her little heart healing. We know that is will take a long time. But we rejoice with every sign.

Last night she slept. OH she slept. all night.

Too bad we didn't.

Jet-lag still has us up in the middle of the night.

and a little basement flooding at 2 am didn't help either. Ugh.

But, generally... we are starting to feel a little better. I little less dizzy. I little less sick to our stomach. A little less tired. Yeah... these last couple days haven't been a whole of fun. But, I think we are starting to come out of the fog.

Below are pictures from our last couple days in Guangzhou that I haven't had the chance to share. Enjoy.
Bubble bath!

Pearl River dinner cruise.

S eating chicken feet.

Dinner with our group the last night in Guangzhou.


Waiting in Beijing airport for the long flight home.

On the plane in her seat.


Happy (for now) on the plane.

Looking out the airplane window as we passed over the Great Wall. Saying goodbye to China. For now.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This is rough

Sorry friends, I know you are all probably wondering where all the pictures are from our home-coming.

Truth is... there hasn't been many.

We are just trying to survive here. The camera has barely made it out of the camera bag.

We are tired. More than tired. Exhausted. No, more than exhausted.

Grace slept about 6 hours total on our 30 hour trip home. She didn't cry much, just didn't sleep. She slept about 4 hours the first night home and she slept about 3 solid hours last night... and then tossed and turned and cried for another 4 hours or so.

We have barely slept through any of it.

Grace is happy, lively and smiley most of the time during the day. During the night... not so much.

The kids are LOVING her! If we could just wake up a little perhaps we could enjoy it all at little bit more.

I promise a better post soon... with pictures. Hang with me for a bit... I'll get there.

Hopefully.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Long Journey Home Begins

Sorry my posts have been a bit fewer and farther in between. Here in Guangzhou... the days sort of all stream together.

Tomorrow we leave for home. HOME. Yet another something Grace has never experienced before. What a bitter-sweet day it will be.

We CAN'T WAIT to get home see our B, K and D. We can't wait for something other than this Fred Flintstone bed. We can't wait to brush our teeth from water from a faucet instead boiled water.

And we REALLY can't wait for Grace to meet her big brothers and big sister. and for her to meet her FAMILY... Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Uncles and Aunts, and cousins!

Still, a very real and large part of our heart is very sad to leave China. We are very sad to say goodbye to our friends (more like family) that we have traveled with these past 15 days. 15 days that sort of feels like a lifetime. But, mostly, we are sad to leave the beautiful homeland of our daughter.

Tomorrow we leave the hotel here in Guangzhou at 6:45 am. We will arrive home at approximately 11 pm EST. That means (if everything goes smoothly) we will have traveled doorstep to doorstep for about 30 hours.

Yikes.

With a 17 month old.

Double yikes.

OH... Benedryl. PLEASE be good to us.

So, until we are home... I'll leave you with a short little video of our little walker.

video

What an honor it is be her mother.