Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Must Read

Kisses From Katie is really speaking to my heart right now. 


Highly recommended. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hogwarts is Saved

I was hoping to take the kids to the coast today, but with predictions of a winter storm we will be sticking closer to home.  Mei Mei gets too over-excited to take to the normal crowded indoor spring-break fun spots. 

We may just have a pajama day/movie bonaza/game day. 

Yesterday we enjoyed Patrick's new Lego Hogwarts game. 



In trying to be helpful, Mei Mei took it all apart AND PUT ALL THE PIECES IN OUR BIG BOX OF LEGOS.  Not good.  BUT, we were able to go on a "treasure hunt" and eventually put it all back together.  Hogwarts saved from certain death! No harm done. 



The game is fun, strategic, ever-changing, and will, no doubt, be played again today.  In fact, I think I will orchestrate a Happy Potter themed day! 

Chocolate frogs anyone?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Firstborn!

I can't believe my baby is 29 today!  I must be old to have a son that age! 



But, given the fact that I was only ten when he was born, I guess I'm not that old! 

The years have been filled with joy and thanksgiving!  The only thing I really wanted from the time I was a baby was to have babies--to be a mother to a whole bunch of kids.  James was the beginning of that dream becoming a reality.  What a precious gift he has been! 

Never has a baby been so loved!



Somehow James survived being the guinea pig firstborn. 



He survived years of mom-made/mom-approved Halloween costumes, when his friends were all dressing up as mom-non-approved-because-of-violence Ninja Turtles (James--sorry you weren't born one child later when Ninja Turtles made the "approved" list.) 


He survived clearance rack clothing, homemade short-shorts, and hair-cuts-compliments-of-mom (sorry, sorry, and even more sorry).


He survived his mother's obsession with "Sound-of-Music-Style" matching clothing (NOT sorry--LOVE it to this day):


And his mother's insistence for pictures and more pictures including "The Line-Up":


And he survived that phone call as a freshman in college when his mother informed him she was PREGNANT!  (f.y.i. no apparent psychological damage done--James is an amazing big brother!)

Somehow he survived all our inadequacies as parents and turned out to be one of the nicest people in the whole world.  James is kind, loving, witty, wise and confident--and VERY, VERY LOVED!

Mei Mei sure thinks so (and so does James' wonderful girlfriend):


 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMES!  WE LOVE YOU! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunkering Down

It's a good thing my kids had so much fun being entertained while we were in China.

Because spring break has been pretty lame. 

Luckily Mother Nature came through with some snow (Mei Mei said she had never played in snow before--is that really possible after growing up in Beijing?).





 
And then some sun.




We've been doing the post-adoption-hunkerdown-try-to-stay-home-thing.




The journey (and work) begins to teach Mei Mei about family life.  We are starting at square one.



We are making progress in the Mommy-promises-she-is-not-going-to-eat-you-for-lunch-lesson.  It began with her playing hairdresser.

Lots of hair bows--it's all the rage you know!!



Mei Mei would fix my hair, then take pictures.

For some reason Hubby refused to take me on a date!

Then, we started to play this game where I would put one of the little boys on my back and pretend I couldn't find them.  I would ask Mei Mei if she had seen her brother (on my back), and then proceed to feign that I couldn't find him anywhere!  I would look high and low, behind the couch and under the table, and she would try to tell me he was on my back, but I pretended I didn't know he was there. 

Mei Mei laughed and laughed!

After playing this for a couple of days, Mei Mei surprised me by hopping on my back!  And then, OF COURSE, we all had to pretend we couldn't find her!!



Small steps.  Small steps.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Long Road Home

As long as I'm still experiencing middle-of-the-night jetlag I will share our crazy trip home.

It started out crazy and ended crazy. 

5:30 AM hotel pick-up

6:00 Arrival at airport wherein the airlines tried to tell us Lan Lan's ticket wasn't right and we would need to buy her a new ticket.  Say what??  She had already traveled TO China with this ticket and no problems.  China Air said we hadn't paid the correct fare.  After lots of stress and discussion we were eventually allowed to use her ticket (and when we returned home and talked to our travel agent, they said we paid the same price for her ticket as all the others, so we still don't know what the problem was!) 

8:00 board plane for 3 hour flight to Beijing
8:30 plane leaves gate
9:00 plane still sitting on tarmac in Guangzhou
9:30 ditto
10:00 ditto--we are finally told there is a delay due to fog in Beijing
10:30 ditto
11:00 breakfast is served while still sitting on the tarmac--FYI it is never a good sign when they start serving breakfast while still on the ground! 
11:30 still sitting on tarmac
12:00 we are told we will leave in one hour--yes, we are still sitting on the tarmac
12:30 we are told flight will be cancelled
12:35 we are told to buckle up, the cancel is cancelled, we leave 5 minutes later

Lan Lan is sick with cough and barfs 3 times
Mei Mei sleeps

3:30 land in Beijing
We have missed our connection to San Fran
Our luggage is missing
Wait in LONG line to find new flights
Super nice United lady

No seats available on original route for 2 days

Given choice of Chicago or Washington DC flight

Choose Chicago since it's closer to the west coast

Chicago flight is already starting to board--run to the gate and in a panic call home, leave texts and messages about not arriving home until the next day.

Cry.

2 of our bags have been found.  Still missing 2.
2 girls with bad coughs.

While sitting at the gate we are told the flight will have an unexpected stop in San Fran because of a shortage in pilots.  Say what??  But even tho we will be in San Fran nobody can exit the plane.  The arrival time in Chicago is extended 3 hours.  Sigh. 

11.5 hours to San Fran
Sit at gate for 1 hour--look out window--say hello to SF--call home and talk to sad kids knowing we should already be home!
4 hours to Chicago
Roughest landing ever--guess the extra pilot they picked up was a noobie

Lan Lan screams from ear pain on every landing and take-off even tho we try every trick in the book
Lan Lan fills 2 barf bags
Mei Mei fills 1 barf bag
In between all the barfing and ear-pain screaming, the girls do really well, watch lots of movies, play card games, eat, and sleep.

9:00 PM arrive Chicago
Immigration easy peasy
2 pieces of luggage missing
United great at putting us up in a hotel and giving us food vouchers
11:30 PM arrive at hotel
11:45 Lan Lan realizes she is missing her beloved I-touch
Know it's lost forever
Lan Lan thinks she left it on hotel shuttle
REALLY know it's lost forever
12:00 Hotel calls shuttle, wait, then told they found it!  Thank you nice, honest, hotel shuttle driver!!
12:30 showers, snacks, sleeping


4:30 AM wake up
5:00 shuttle pick up

luggage still missing

check-in, eat breakfast, flight is on-time with no delays expected!
8:00 AM Take-off for home sweet home!
Lan Lan screams from ear pain on take-off
NO barf bags filled--Horrah!
Lan Lan screams from ear pain on landing
Mei Mei sleeps most of the way
12:00 landing at HOME SWEET HOME!

45 Hours of travel

Luggage still missing

Lan Lan says she is never flying again--this might be the last picture you ever see of Lan Lan on a plane.


But it was all worth it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Settling In

Oh me, oh my!  I forgot how much more difficult it is to overcome jetlag when coming home.  Why is that?  Probably because I have so much to do when coming home!  But I must give a shout-out to all our family and friends who helped in our absence.  The house was clean and the kids were happy!  I couldn't ask for more!  YOU ALL ROCK!!! 

Mei Mei is settling in.  She LOVES all the toys!  She will take something out, play, then put it away before getting another toy out.  I am really hoping she can teach this skill to the other kids, since I have not been able to in 29 years of parenting!  Favorite toys are Matchbox cars, Beyblades, and Nerf guns.  Her brothers are thinking that maybe adopting another girl (as opposed to the brother they had hoped for), isn't so bad after all. 

Mei Mei is so attached to her daddy and loves Lan Lan.  She also enjoys the other kids, although she isn't quite certain how to interact with them yet.  Lots of parallel play.

As for her mama?  She isn't so keen on me.  In fact, she actually seems to be afraid of me.  She doesn't want me to touch her and prefers to get the help of other family members.  I know this is common behavior in an adopted child, but it's a first for me--I've always had a seemingly natural ability to interact with ALL kids. 

I now have a new understanding of how difficult maternal rejection feels.  It's one thing to know it's common, another to experience it.  At this point, I am just being patient and letting things go at her speed.  I'm remembering to make myself easy to love by being playful and only focusing on important discipline issues.  It has really helped her to see the other kids lovingly interact with me--maybe she's learning I won't eat her for lunch after all! 

Any encouragement or advice appreciated!

We've been spending our days getting back in the swing of things.  Instead of arriving on a Saturday we came home Sunday--so we were right back in the saddle with school and work, sifting through a big stack of mail and phone messages, and LOTS of laundry.

Pics of the arrival:





IT'S GOOD TO BE HOME!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tales To Tell

Home Sweet Home!  Crrayyzzy last couple days!  I felt like that mom in the movie Home Alone when she's trying to get to her son.  At one point we were within 600 miles of our town, but then slept 2,000 miles away! 

Tales to tell--but later, right now I have lots of hugs and kisses to catch up on!  It feels GOOD to be home!  Mei Mei is LOVING all the kids and toys!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Delay

I don't have means of contacting everyone who planned on joining us at the airport- but there has been a flight delay and Mom and Dad won't be home for another day.

Today's going be a bummed-out kind of day.

Not exactly the most fun voice message to wake up to just a few hours before you are expecting to go to the airport!

Wish them safe travels as they finish the trip home.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Packing Up

So ready to get back home to all my babies!  It feels like we have been away for so much longer than 16 days.  Too long!!!

Today we finished some shopping and went out to dinner with special friends.  Then packed.  And repacked.  Mei Mei has repacked her suitcase about 50 times.  We had our Holt guide explain everything including the fact that on Monday Baba will go to work, the other kids will go to school, and she will be stuck at home with Mama--at least until she is ready for school--which I expect will take some time. 

Here are the girls today.  These two are such a crack-up!

 
 

A lot has changed since our first day together.


Looking forward to the rest of our lives together!!!  FOREVER!!!


Can't wait for her to meet all the people who love her!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

River Cruise

One of our highlights in China was the riverboat cruise.



Lan Lan was so excited to see the TV tower lit up along the way.  Mei Mei was simply mesmerized by the whole experience!


There were many beautiful sights--Lan Lan took most of these pictures:










We had our consulate appointment today.  One more day, then
HOME SWEET HOME! 


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Magical Moments

We are now anxiously awaiting our departure home.  As the days have gone by, Mei Mei has become more easily excitable--there is only so much stimulation a child can take before reaching over-drive! 

It is going to take time for her to adjust to a new normal.  I can't even wrap my brain around all the changes occurring for her in such a short amount of time.  Honestly, I've said it before, but I just can't fathom it other than to imagine myself being taken to live with aliens!  She has much to learn both socially and academically, but she learns quickly, and it will be great for her to be surrounded by so many siblings. 

As we wait for our consulate appointment we have spent our days sightseeing and shopping.  We finally  found Mei Mei her heart's desire--a Mickey Mouse.  So happy was she! 



She is a Mickey NUT--I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more Disney in our future. 

Today we finished some shopping.  Mei Mei found some cool glasses!


We also went out to Shamian Island.  While resting at the park we saw some locals over to the side singing songs.  Soon Lan Lan went over and sat with them.  One person put up the lyrics and then everyone would just join in--including Lan Lan. 




It was one of those truly magical moments.

Happy Birthday Patrick!



Dear Patrick,

Happy Birthday!  It's just not right that we are not together on your special day.   I want you to know how much I love you and how much I wish we were there (or you were here). 

When we received our travel approval my first thought was how happy I was we were finally bringing Mei Mei home!  My second thought was how sad I would be to miss your birthday!

I know you have a fun day planned and your grandparents are taking you out to a special dinner.  Enjoy being spoiled!  I am saving up all my birthday hugs and kisses for when we get home!

Just three more days!

I love you.  I miss you.  The world was made a better place ten years ago today, when YOU were born!  I am so lucky that out of ALL the moms in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD--God picked me--ME to be YOUR MOM! 

Happy Birthday!

Love, Mom