Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hope's first trip to the zoo

We had been "hunkering down", and Saturday, Derek wanted us to get out in the sun for a few hours. So, we headed to the zoo for a quick visit.

Turns out, Hope came out of her little shell and constantly wanted to have her picture taken. (It was a good thing Derek decided to take the camera along to record Hope's first trip to the zoo!)

Derek snapped this picture, and Andrew wasn't interested in looking at the camera. He was too busy kissing me over and over again on my cheek! I love my little guy!!!

Today was the first day Hope began saying, "Daddy."
Actually, "Daddya".

She wanted her daddy's attention, and she got it!

She was so playful with Derek!

First day on the very fast concrete slide.
She was not so sure....

After we returned home, Derek helped get the ball out of the tree that I had accidentally volleyed there.

He used a broom to get the ball out!
Who knew it would get stuck?!

 Hope just hung out drawing with chalk watching daddy get the
broom out of our front tree!

It was a good day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Transition Time

Hope has had much to work through during this transition time. She has a couple of years of conscious memories to process, and the sadness that she feels from missing those she left behind is quite evident. At times when she is really feeling down, she'll take out the photo album her nannies made for her, and look through the pictures, telling us all about the people in the pictures. Though we cannot understand her (due to the fact that she speaks Mandarin), we are still available to sit with her, listen to her talk, and hug her during her sadness.

This morning, she woke up very sad.
Very quiet.
Very down.

Hugging and snuggling didn't seem to help.

For one of Cherish's school activities, she had to make a cat using spaghetti, beans, etc. Both Andrew and Hope watched intently as the cat Cherish drew took on dimension. What began as a simple school project, became over an hour of intense creative time for Hope and Andrew. Hope quickly forgot all about what made her sad as she entered a time of imagination and creativity.

I am so thankful that Cherish, Hope, and Andrew are friends and are helping each other through this time of transition! It is a real blessing having them all so close in age. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Getting to know Hope:

1. While in care in China, she only slept in a crib or a playpen. So, while we were in China, we requested each hotel to provide us with a crib or a playpen. Hope was going to have enough changes, we didn't want to add a change in her bedding and make her even more insecure.

The day we came home, she went to bed. We had a twin bed and a playpen for her to choose from. She chose the play pen. The next time she went to bed, she chose the twin bed. We put the railing up, and she has slept in the twin bed from that day forward. (I had noticed she was observing Andrew in a bed over the last couple of weeks, and she decided it was time to try it.)

2. We found out that Hope's favorite color is pink. Which, actually, is going to make my job hard. The children all want to sleep in the same room, and they had decided to wait to repaint the room until we found out Hope's favorite color--so they would have a room with all their favorite colors. So now, I have turquoise, green, and pink. Ugh! I have no idea what I am going to do....

3. Hope loves ketchup. I mean: LOVES! I mean: "May I please have a spoon to eat it?" And, yes: she uses a spoon to devour her ketchup before she begins to use the refill for dipping. Note to self: stock up!

4. While in China, I noticed Hope had small hands and feet, so when we got home I measured her. Hope and Andrew have EXACTLY the same size hands and feet! Even down to the 1/8 of an inch! Hope is 1" taller than Andrew, weighs 8.4 lbs. more than him, and is a year older than him.

5. She likes to smile, and she smiles a lot!

6. Her laughter is loud and boisterous.

7. She dresses barbie dolls like Chinese children are dressed--with multiple layers.

8. She "mothers" Andrew. He patiently lets her.

9. She colors her fingernails and toenails with crayons. Note to self: get the nail polish out!

10. She likes to splash in the bathtub. A LOT!

11. She is learning that she is allowed to leave food behind on her plate. In the begin she refused to leave the table until her plate was cleared. She used to be greatly disturbed (to the point of tears), if she couldn't finish her plate, and she would reprimand Cherish and Andrew for leaving food on their plates at the end of a meal. Now, she is letting us know when she is full.

12. She does everything with gusto!

13. She prefers to color with markers rather than crayons. Though, momma prefers she color with crayons--until she learns to color only on paper ;-). Granted, her nails would look better with marker color rather than crayon color, but that's for a different time....

14. She'd prefer I dress her, but she prefers to do her own hair. She loves to carry a comb or brush around (ya know: for touch-ups throughout the day).

15. She likes to play on the tablet. Therefore, I'm thankful for Zoodles--which keeps the tablet safe and keeps her only on approved children's sites. A win-win situation.

16. She likes to pose for a camera! (I need her to teach Andrew!)

17. She really enjoys playing in the sandbox.

18. When she understands us (i.e. when we use the translator app on our tablet), she is quick to obey.

19. She does not care for dogs. Yet. ;-)

20. She likes car seats. She thinks they're hilarious.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Our flight home went very well. The children traveled so well that Derek and I were surprised! The children slept about four hours on the international flight--leaving over ten hours to occupy them. They willingly stayed in their seats and played with the TVs that were available on the seat backs. In addition, we let them play games on our tablet until the battery died.

Hope's favorite movie on the flight was "The Muppet Movie", even though she couldn't understand the language. She watched the movie twice.

Also, she was my walking partner on the flight--as she hated it when I left her side. (And, I had to walk in order to prevent blood clots, so she ended up walking, too.)

She became a U.S. citizen in Chicago--the same place Cherish and Andrew became U.S. citizens. The transition through customs and immigration was quite smooth.

We had just enough time to get all our bags rechecked for our connecting flight home and to board the next plane. That's when we all crashed. (Derek and I had only had about 30 minutes of sleep on the international flight, so we were exhausted!)

We all fell asleep and felt drugged! When Derek and I awoke, we were landing. The children kept right on sleeping. We woke Cherish up at the last possible moment, as she needed to walk off the plane.

Cherish looked like she was sleep-walking. Since she didn't have the energy to get past the exit of the plane, we put her into the stroller. (Andrew was a lot easier to carry!)

Our darling friend Carrie and her children were there to meet us at the airport. She recorded our homecoming and prepared the pictures that I will share. She and her children were such a welcome sight!!

Hope woke up and received a homemade doll made by Carrie and her daughter! Hope took to the doll right away, and sleeps with it--hugging it tightly.

Cherish--exhausted. (She slept the least of all the children.)

Then the Alexander's showed up. What a precious sight! This family will be receiving their precious son in less than a week (through international adoption). Knowing how much they had to do to get ready to fly out of the States, their presence was even more special!

Balloons for the children =)

Hope, a little scared from the loving attention:

Reading the awesome posters made by Carrie's sweet children:

Hope liked the colorful posters =)

Then, Derek's father joined the welcoming committee

as did his mom. (A terrible car accident delayed their arrival at the airport):

The sweet welcoming committee:

An understanding daddy:

Carrie's children were so darling and patient!
Here they were helping us carry the balloons out of the airport:

Family. Permanently.

Daddy. Hercules.

On the drive home Derek asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I told him I was too nauseous to eat. When we arrived home, we found homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, and fruit waiting for us. We were squealing--especially at the sight of apples!

There were surprises all around the house--from notes and chocolates on each bed, to food in the refrigerator and freezer! We. were. shocked. We had no idea "angels" had entered our house and prepared it for our arrival!

In addition, there were 25 pink roses waiting to welcome us home! What. a. surprise! (I was too tired to think of the camera, so I took this picture a couple of days later. The roses still look wonderful!)

The ladies thought of everything--even to the point of turning our clocks back!

We felt like we had run a marathon and were checking ourselves into a hospital to be cared for. The ladies--"nurses" in this case--knew of our upcoming needs and thoroughly prepared for each of them. Even our lawn was mowed by friends!

We ate, and it tasted so good to have homemade food! Afterwards, we prepared the children for bed. Derek fell asleep in the children's room in the middle of dressing Andrew in his pajamas. We. were. exhausted!

When we woke up, we had the marvelous breakfast that our friend Kristi had previously made and put in our refrigerator--a hot, homemade breakfast! Wow! What a treat! Everyone devoured it!

We had the leftover chicken noodle soup and fresh bread for lunch and went back to sleep.

Between all the fruit and the healthy(!!!!) meals, our immune systems have been able to fight all the nasty germs we were exposed to on our flights. We are so thankful!

Our church family and friends continue to bring meals daily, and I feel like we are just so exhausted, we mostly just eat and sleep, eat and sleep, eat and sleep. (Well, some of us sleep....) We've been too tired to even play! The children mostly just lounge around the house.

Our church family and friends have become our "nurses", caring for us as we enter the final stage of birthing pains. The love and compassion of so many people have melted us to tears.

If not for these sweet friends, we'd be eating cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, beef and bean burritos (frozen) along with chips and salsa. Around the clock. Seriously. I stocked up before we left! The meals would have been fast and healthy--ya know: salsa is a veggie, and the chips are corn chips--another veggie....

Our hearts know that there have been so many hours and much financial investment put into helping us through this time of adjustments. We want to thank each and every husband and wife who have invested in us--and who continue to do so. "Thank you" beyond what words can express!

And, even more importantly, thank you for each prayer that has been prayed to get us to this point. Adoption can be hard, but the beauty that comes out of it cannot compare to the "birthing pains"!

God bless you all!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hong Kong

We spent one full day in Hong Kong before flying home. We got a quick overview of the city and tried all kinds of transportation.

We headed up to Victoria Peak via a double-decker bus.
The view going up the mountain was beautiful! 
But, I got a little sick and dizzy from the ride up the mountains.
We're talking instant death from a fall from those severe cliffs!
 After I recovered, Derek treated us to lunch.
Then, we went out and viewed the peak.

When we finished viewing the top,
we got on board the Peak Tramway,
and dropped down the mountain in minutes!
 Getting ready to fall down the mountain backwards:
After our stomachs joined us at the bottom,
we boarded a ferry and headed out across the water.
 We enjoyed it.
 This one? She slept through it.
We looked around the city and then headed to dinner.

Lastly, we took in the "Symphony of Lights" light show.
 Can you tell someone liked it?
After all the fun, we hit the subway at 9 p.m. and returned to our hotel around 10 p.m.
Then, it was showers for everyone and last minute packing time.
The following morning we got a taxi and arrived at the airport nice and early.
Off to the USA!
(It was SO nice to split up the trip home
with the travel to Hong Kong being on a different day
than the international flight!)