Thursday, September 29, 2016

Samuel meets Grandma

Today, Sammy got to meet Grandma for the first time. They hit it off! Sammy went to Grandma several times to sit on her lap. It was so precious seeing them together!

Here's Grandma hanging out with five of her grandchildren:

What a sweet time we had hanging out with Grandma. Family is a precious gift!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Caught being kind

 Cheering for Andrew:

"Thanks, Hopie, for looking out for all of us!" 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Leg Rides

Tonight before bed, I was given some special time with the little boys, as daddy had taken the three oldest children to BSF. I decided it was time to introduce Samuel to leg rides.

"Dear Sammy, there are a lot more thrills in Family Life. I can hardly wait for you to experience more! Love, Mommy"

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday afternoon observer

Just enjoying watching my children...

Samuel reminds me of Andrew.
He kisses the baby doll and loves on her/him.
It makes me think he is missing the babies at his orphanage.
(He was one of the older ones in his room.)

I love watching Hope and Andrew play together.
They play SO WELL together!!!!!
I love, love, love, love how well they play together!

"God, thank You for my children."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friends, food, and fellowship

Today was a day blessed by friends. Our friends, the Russells, came over to shine their lights into our lives. What a precious day of being ministered to, being cared for, and being fed by precious people who have been praying for us!

Though, sadly, my camera did not come out, my memory is full of sweet images. I loved seeing Mrs. Russell playing with the little boys and tickling Sammy's belly, watching the children smiling at each other while jumping on the trampoline together, playing chess, swinging on the tire swing, playing with Legos, and making all sorts of foods and drinks out of sand from the sand box.

And while the children were being kept busy, I got to sit and be an observer. And rest. What a gift!

Sweet friends, thank you for caring about us and ministering to us! We love you. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Lazy" Morning

I am SO thankful for slow mornings with no appointments.

When your morning is filled with blood, diarrhea (both little boys), etc., it is so wonderful not to have to run out of the house for meetings.

This is a snapshot Cherish took of Sammy while I was washing his face:

Apparently, Samuel had scratched off a cold sore scab that he had at the base of his nose, and he had been bleeding in his crib. He woke up with blood on him, his clothing, sheet, blanket, and crib. Thankfully, it didn't scare him.

Then, as soon as I had him cleaned up, the diarrhea blow-outs began. The timing was perfect.

As I went from boy to boy caring for their needs, I thought of what life might look like if they were still in the orphanage. Would their caregivers treat them (or any orphan in the same predicament) with harshness and anger? Would the caregivers leave the boys in their filth thinking they just didn't care or have the time?

And the beauty shown through. Lots of children suffer from even greater problems in orphanages, but there is no one to immediately care for their needs. No immediate diaper changes. No immediate change of soiled clothing. No gentle touches or voices to reassure them....

And then, Daniel went on his nebulizer, and again I marveled at the fact that we have a nebulizer! We are not like the millions who have to stand in line at the hospital waiting to use one of the two nebulizers that are the only ones in the capital city's hospital. And, we didn't have to take a bus or taxi to get to the hospital. We have one in our house.

The nebulizer we used at the hospital in Zhengzhou:
This morning and around the clock as needed:

And I am grateful. And I am at peace. Thank You, Lord, that these children are in a family and that they are having their needs met!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Diaper Booster Pads

Oh, my!!! Kindness showed up at my door in a form of a box!

My sister--who was here on Sunday--took note that the boys were wearing diapers from China. Derek had purchased a lot of diapers while we were in China, so we brought the remainder home with us.

We are so thankful that there are diapers to buy in China--since it is an oddity for the Chinese people to use them. So, the fact that the diapers are very thin and hold just a little bit of liquid is not that big of a deal. You just have to keep an eye out on the diapers and change them quickly--sometimes "midstream" as Sammy is peeing out his milk. (Yep, I said "peeing" in public.)

Well, Jen surprised me by purchasing a box of booster pads to put in the diapers and mailed them to me! Little did she know that Sammy's diaper had overflowed while he was sleeping (again), and his sheets were waiting their turn to be put in the washer...when the box was delivered!!!!! Oh, my!!!! How sweet!!!

Here's to less laundry!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The "Good"

Update: Thankfully, the boys do not have pneumonia. Sammy is on an antibiotic for an ear infection, and it will hopefully help with his congestion—that he’s had for a month. Daniel’s chest x-rays showed “Reactive Airway Disease” and he’s on albuterol every four hours.

Now that we know some results, does this make everything better? Nope. We still have crying babies, tired bodies, and others who have joined the “Bollinger Chest Congestion Club”.

So, to keep my spirit up, I’ve decided to look for the “good” in each day. It seems that when life is hard, it is so easy to see the “hard” instead of the “good”. So, beginning with yesterday, I’ll tell you about our day and how I looked for the “good” in the “hard”.

1. The “Hard”: Yesterday I had to collect Samuel’s stool samples and run them to the lab.
The “Good”:  I’m looking forward to finding out if Samuel has Giardia. If he is Giardia-free, I can begin bathing the little boys together, letting Sammy play in the sandbox, etc.

2. The “Hard”: I had to spend a lot of time at the pharmacy yesterday trying to get Samuel’s antibiotic filled. However, the pharmacy wouldn’t release the medicine unless we paid for the prescription in full.
The “Good”: Our insurance said to call the doctor’s office and have them rewrite the prescription for one of the free prescriptions offered at Publix, until the insurance snag could be fixed. I called the doctor’s office and they gladly changed the Rx and called it in to Publix for me. Derek was able to pick up the prescription on his way home from work, and Samuel started on his antibiotic that had no out-of-pocket expense. Yay!

3. The “Hard”: Daniel got his hand crushed in the back door yesterday.
The “Good”: His little bones did not break.

4. The “Hard”: Daniel fell backwards off the children’s picnic table onto the concrete of our back porch last night.
The “Good”: The gash did not need stitches, and his head—while very sore even today—is going to be OK.

5. The “Hard”: Today, the girls did crafts together that left a mess in the kitchen.
The “Good”: The girls wanted to spend time together, Hope worked on her fine motor skills, and they both used their imaginations to be creative. (And, they are old enough to clean up. He he.)

You get it. Looking for the “Good” instead of thinking about the “Hard”. So here’s more:

6. Yesterday, Samuel took to his sippy cup!!!!! YAY!!! And, he drank COLD milk!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cold!! He has hated cold! Now, I can give him his probiotics in milk! In addition, I am almost out of his Chinese formula, so his bottle is about to retire. I am so glad he is moving forward! I don't want losing his formula to be stressful.

7. Today Hope let Cherish do her hair the same as Cherish’s. Cherish wanted to be close to her sister.

8. While I was in the shower today, Andrew cleaned the windows in the living room and dusted the furniture he could reach. What a thoughtful way to help mommy!

9. I have a working dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer!

10. The boys have diapers and milk!

11. Precious families have been making delicious meals for us!!!!!!!!!!!!! We would have been just fine eating PB&J and cereal around the clock, but their kindnesses have made life a lot sweeter!!!! (THANK YOU!!!)

12. The Mowbray family gifted us with a baby/toddler carrier!!!!! THANK YOU!!!! Now, I can take the boys into places where the double stroller won't fit. I can put Sammy in the carrier and Daniel in the single stroller. Plus, it will help Sammy with his transition time.

13. I received an encouraging e-mail from a lady who read yesterday's blog post. The e-mail was a gift to my heart!

So, for the next while, I will be posting pictures as I look for the “Good” in each day. I want to focus on the positive and be thankful for the blessings God puts into my life.

God bless all who have been "holding up our arms" as Aaron and Hur did for Moses (Exodus 17)!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A blessed night's sleep!

Well, it looks like we may have kicked this jet lag all in one night. “How?” you ask. Let me catch you up…

Last week was very hard. Very hard. Um, like postpartum-depression-wanted-to-claim-me hard.

There was so much crying from the babies because they were sick and suffering from jet lag. I made it my ambition to sleep when both of the babies were asleep at the same time and let the older three care for themselves during that time. It worked out fine—since Cherish is very responsible. However, living on naps for over a week was taking its toll.

I became sick with the same chest congestion as the boys, and suddenly, the jet lag, the dishes, the simple tasks became unbelievably hard.

At one point, I was so tired and sick that for several hours I felt like I was floating along in an out-of-body experience.

Derek had been working 16-hour shifts Thursday and Friday, and by Saturday, he could barely make it through his 8-hour shift. He came home and crashed, not feeling well either.

On Sunday morning my sister Jen messaged me saying she was coming for a quick visit—to babysit. I knew most of us were sick, so I turned down the offer. However, she decided to wear a mask and drive the 3+ hours roundtrip to our house anyway. She came and babysat while Derek and I napped for hours.

Upon waking up and eating, she left. About 40 minutes later, our social worker showed up for Daniel’s 1-year post-adoption meeting. Thankfully, Derek and I were coherent from our much-needed sleep!

We were so excited for such a great day, that we decided to go for a walk after our social worker left. We didn’t go far, but came home feeling sick and exhausted again.

We got the children bathed and into bed.

Samuel—true to his daily schedule—woke up at 2 a.m. on Monday. Derek got up with Samuel from 2-7 a.m. so I could sleep. What a blessing!!

Because of that sleep, I had the energy I needed to take the boys to the doctor’s office that afternoon. The doctor suspected possible pneumonia, so off to the children’s hospital we went for chest x-rays.

Derek and the children went to the hospital with the boys and me, since Samuel had come completely unglued at the doctor’s office from sheer fright. (Samuel—in his “fight or flight” mode—is just about as strong as me!)

Derek took Samuel and I took Daniel (and the other three children). While we were at the hospital, the lab tried, and tried, and tried to get Samuel’s blood work complete. Poor guy!!!!! He was a mess from all the struggles, pain, and stress from the day!!

By the time we left the hospital, it was 10:30 p.m. I gave the boys snacks in the car—since they did not have dinner—and by the time we arrived home, both boys were sound asleep.

They slept from about 10:45 p.m. until about 7:30 a.m.

No, we hadn’t planned such an adventure for the afternoon, evening, and night hours, but perhaps one blessing is that we all slept.through.the.night! Perhaps this will be the first of many nights of sleep yet to come!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Our Samuel is Linus from "Peanuts". Simply insert Sammy's face, and wonga! You've got a living Linus!
(Image compliments of Google.)

I tried to get a picture, but Sammy moves a lot. So I waited for nap time. Here's what I got...

Getting ready to sleep:
"You lookin' at me?"
"Hey, you takin' pictures of me?!"
 "Mom, I gotta sleep."

Picture from behind, but you understand....

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Congee vs. Oatmeal

Sammy loves congee.
Loves congee.
Every morning for breakfast in China, Sammy ate congee. Plain congee. Chicken congee. Sweet potato congee. Pumpkin congee. Congee. It didn't matter what kind. Just congee, congee, congee. And lots of congee please. One bowl + a second bowl + a third bowl, please!

Well, I haven't made congee and my children love oatmeal. So today we had a test. I made oatmeal for breakfast, and introduced it to Sammy.

Sammy liked it! Sammy smiled. and giggled, and smiled. and laughed, and smiled, and banged his hands on the high chair tray to say "hurry!" and "more!"

I had never seen Sammy enjoy breakfast so much! It was such a joy to see his smiles and hear his laughter over something so very simple.

In the past, he never showed any type of expression during any meal. There must be something special about oatmeal! ;-)

I'd say: He's gonna fit right in as a Bollinger!

Side note: Since Sammy is on medication right now that requires he be dairy-free, I made his oatmeal without milk. It was simply oatmeal, mashed banana, and cinnamon. Super simple.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sammy Update

One fun thing about adoption, is that our new "package" is full of surprises. We love to learn about our new child, and each day is an adventure as we see little guy grow emotionally, mentally, and socially.

So, in no particular order (because I'm too tired), here's our Sammy:

Sammy takes his new medicine like a champ!

He has learned to love baths--to the point of crying when he has to get out. It's all about splashing!

Sammy loves food. However, he does not like any cold foods. He will only eat food that is room temperature or warmer.

Sammy eats food with his fingers. He has not yet learned to how to use a spoon--as his nannies always fed him.

Sammy puts everything in his mouth. (Mommy is staying BUSY!)

He likes to climb on everything and stand on chairs. (Gulp!)

 Sammy has had his first Heimlich maneuver done by his mommy. (Oh, my heart!)

Sammy knows what he wants and knows how to get it. Even if it means he throws his head backward onto the tile floor. (Gulp!) We are working on that.

Sammy's laughs is so silly that it makes us all laugh.

He likes to jerk his arms, legs, head, and body to get us to laugh.

Sammy LOVES his Cherish!!!!!

Sammy is beginning to like his new-to-him crib. (So many changes of beds have left him nervous.)

Sammy likes to ride in his stroller.

Sammy does not like stuffed animals, toy cars, etc. He only likes toys that light up and make sound. This is his favorite toy, and his nannies let him take it home from the orphanage:

Sammy likes the vacuum cleaner--probably because it makes noise.

Sammy is quite independent. He doesn't like to be held for very long.

Sammy still drinks formula. We've kept it that way so he has a "comfort food" that is familiar to him. If given water, he just gurgles it and lets it run down his face and shirt.

Sammy likes to push buttons.

He thinks the TV remote control is a phone.

Sammy likes to sleep on his tummy--completely sprawled out.

He can say momma, dadda, and daddy.

Sammy walks in a swaying motion--like someone who has had too much to "drink". His feet are faster than his body, and it looks like his body is constantly trying to catch up. He is hilarious to watch!

Sammy has no preference for male or female. He will go to anyone.

And, lastly, Sammy likes to sing. We love to hear his little voice, and it makes us smile!

We love our little Sammy!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jet Lag

When playing hide-and-seek, Dutch Blitz, Legos, cars, balloons, etc., and watching TV are all perfectly normal and acceptable after 12:30 a.m.

And, when conking out in the middle of the day while playing is also perfectly normal:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back in the USA

Thank you for praying us home! The trip went really well.

We had three flights and two layovers. The first flight with its layover put us flying internationally overnight. I had no idea what a blessing that was!!! Due to the time of the flight, the children slept through much of the longest leg of the trip.

The flight attendants didn't care if we put the children on the floor (this is not the norm for United!), so we put Sammy on the floor in front of our set of three seats, and Daniel slept on the floor in front of our other set of three seats.

Hope and Andrew slept on one set of three seats, and Cherish and Derek spread out on the other three seats. So, I was able to walk with no little ones needing holding or crying.

Daniel and Samuel's diarrhea had come back for the travels, but each time, there was warm water and paper towels to clean them up. It was wonderful!

In addition, our second layover was an overnight layover and allowed us time in a hotel. It was fabulous for all of us to be able to take showers/baths and for me to rest for several hours while Derek took care of the children who just couldn't nap very long. The long layover was also very helpful for the "travel bellies".

Our final flight was not too painful, though Samuel was "done" with airplanes.

We were graciously welcomed home by friends, and though I thought of our camera for about 15 seconds, I promptly forgot about pulling it out after those seconds had passed.

So, here are some pictures sent by Kristi and Beth:

What a beautiful welcome home! As you can see, our family and friends bought lots of balloons for the children to play with, and they have been the children's complete delight!

But, the kindnesses were not over! Our "angels" welcomed us home with food for our refrigerator, pantry, and tummies, they had mowed our lawn, provided us with an additional car seat, and provided laundry service--and quick laundry service at that!!! What sweet blessings!!! 

I want to say a special "Thank You" to George and Carileen, the Champagnes, the Kongs, the Parsons, and the Russells for being our angels during this re-entry time. You are making this transition/jet lag time quite bearable! ❤ God bless you!!!

And, God bless all those who prayed us home!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting ready to depart China!

So we have sick babies. We went to the pharmacy today with our guide/interpreter, and we bought lots of meds. Will they help in time? I don't know.

But, we are just hours from "Go" time. So, ready or not, we're leaving.

If any of our "village" wants to come out and meet Sammy, our flight into the Jacksonville Airport is UA6310 (United Airlines out of Dulles) arriving on Saturday at 2:50 p.m. Thank you ALL for your faithful support and prayers!! See you on the other side of the ocean!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Consulate Appointment Day

This morning went very smoothly. My wake-up call came at 5 a.m., but my eyelids barely opened. I kept thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a snooze button, but calls from the front desk just don't work that way.

Derek and I began our morning, and promptly woke the children up an hour later. Derek--true to himself--sang the children awake =). His made-up songs crack me up!

The children c.r.a.w.l.e.d out of bed. We all dressed and got down to breakfast by 6:30 a.m. By 7:30 a.m. we were on our way to the USCIS office.

En-route, the sky began to darken. By the time we arrived at our first stop, the drizzle began. Derek so graciously bought a large umbrella to keep the babies dry. (Daniel had woken up with what Sammy has been struggling with.)

We walked the distance to the security check (outside), at which time our umbrella had to be locked in an outdoor compartment.

We walked through security and on through that building and into another building.

Everything went smoothly inside the USCIS building, taking about 2 hours.

Then, we had to trek back through the rain to get to the exterior corridor to get our umbrella. Low and behold, our umbrella had been stolen! It turns out, each locked compartment has its own key, but the key opens MULTIPLE compartments!!!! Derek tried our key in about seven compartments, and all seven opened! Our umbrella was gone!

At this point, the rain was coming down heavily. We had a long trek through the pouring rain with all the children. The babies were soaked!

We got on the bus and requested the air conditioning be turned off. It went off for about 1/2 the ride.

When we got back to the hotel, we changed the children and blow-dried their hair, quickly getting downstairs for travel group pictures.

Here we all are--after our drenched morning:

(Both boys were just adopted)
Our group's children:
We all cleaned up pretty well.

Please pray that Daniel and Samuel will be able to kick this cold/sickness before our trip home.

We leave at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, ET, and arrive at our local airport 43 hours and 20 minutes later. Starting out healthy would be so helpful!