Friday, July 30, 2010

Week Two plus



















It is really amazing how much we have done since returning from China. Some of you may be thinking we are absolutely crazy and I have those moments as well. However, as manic as we seem everything has gone smoothly. We are following a divine timeline and He really knows what He is doing. None of the events surrounding Sarah's adoption have occured on my preconceived time line and as difficult as that was for me to initially accept, it is actually a blessing to let go of my false sense of control.



Recap of the last week.... My Dad, children and I loaded up Thursday morning to head off to Kiawah Island, SC for our annual beach trip! Dave had work commitments so was unable to join us. After an amazingly calm and uneventful 20 hour drive we arrived. All of the kids were great on the road trip. We arrived a bit before the rest of the family and introduced Sarah to the beach. She wasn't so sure at first, but she was perfectly happy for Grandpa Bob to carry her around the beach. She did warm up after a while. Of course her brothers jumped right in swimming and digging. Soon the cousins arrived and we all had a fantastic time. Meg and I joked that Sarah's leg muscles were going to atrophy because between all the boys her feet never hit the ground. She loved the attention. At one point she had all 7 boys sitting on the sofa while she stood in front of them shaking her finger and giving them a piece of her mind. Priceless!

My cousins and aunt from North Carolina met us in Kiawah and it was great to spend sometime with all of them as well. We of course missed my Mother as the beach was one of her favorite places to relax.



The original plan was for Sarah to have surgery the first week of August however, that was on my time line not His. As things worked out the last week of July was when the surgeon was available. At first this was disappointing however as it has worked out it was for the best! So, Sarah had her cochlear implant surgery this past Wednesday. It went perfectly, we spent one night in the hospital and now are spending a couple of restful days at home. Sarah has been a trooper. She is hard to slow down and would like to be jumping on the bed and running wild. She is missing her brothers and so am I, they will be back from the beach on Sunday.


Isaiah 46:11 I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.



Blessings!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Week One




Wow! We have been home one week, officially tonight, and things are going really great! We had 3 days of doctors appointments and lots of family bonding. Sarah absolutely loves her brothers and they think she is pretty cool too. Sarah is such a joy, smiling and laughing through out the day we have only had a few melt downs. One giant hurdle was bath time. Recap, Sarah hated the bath and most especially washing her hair. We decide to let her watch Luke in bath on Tuesday night and she enjoyed that. Last night we ran her bath and she hesitantly got in. Then she pointed at Luke and the bath and let us know she wanted him in there with her. So he happily obliged her and they had a blast in the tub! Hair washing was done with no tears, amazing. I am not going to say she was thrilled but she sucked it up. After she got out of the tub, which she did not want to do, she was so proud of herself running around and pointing to her head! Too cute!



As far as all the info form the doctors... Sarah is a perfectly healthy and very bright young lady who is profoundly deaf. This is not a surprise to us just needed confirming. Everyone was amazed at her ability to communicate and her incredible curiosity. The doctor wanted to rule out any issues with inner ear development etc, and he did. With all that said Sarah is an ideal candidate for a cochlear implant. She has been scheduled for surgery on the 28th! Amazingly it is one month to day from when she was placed in our arms. Dave was just commenting it is absolutely surreal, she is here, she is perfect and things are progressing beautifully.



Times like these are when you (I) should really start a gratitude journal. So much to be grateful for. My mother was so wonderful and she kept gratitude journals, which have been an amazing gift and comfort to all my family. Speaking of my mother, I know that she is smiling down on all of us right now. I wish she could be here to meet Sarah however, I know that she knows her.



I Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.



Blessings,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Home Again Home Again

Alleluia! We are back int he good ole USA! The trip home was long and rather uneventful, thankfully. The only real stress on the trip was whether or not we would make our connection in San Francisco and with about 10 minutes to spare we made it. When that little plane took off to head to Austin, although I was extremely tired I was so happy to be on the last leg home to my boys and family. Sarah was a great traveler and slept for about 6 hours of the trip. We were greeted by my Dad, Joseph, David and Luke at the airport, it was so good to see them all. We headed straight to The Range to eat and introduce Sarah to her cousins. She was not a big fan of the car seat. She has been accustom to riding around in the car with no restraints at all, so who can blame her. She did warm right up to all her family members and ate really well, obviously she has great taste:)

We took it easy on Saturday. Sarah met a few of the neighbors and played outside. We are trying to get her on Texas time and that has been a challenge. No worse than waking every few hours with an infant. Sunday we headed to church where she acted like she had always been going. After running in the front doors and charming everyone she went to the nursery and hung out no problem. She played with more of the neighbors last night and fit right in. She is amazing us at every turn. She has also managed to wrap all of her brothers right around her little finger. I don't know if her feet have hit the ground yet:)

We have an appointment today with Uncle Matt to get clearance for all the tests Sarah will have on Tuesday and Wednesday. Please keep her in your prayers over the next few days.

I need to give a huge shout out to everyone who held down the home front while we were gone. What a comfort to know that we are surrounded by such a wonderful supportive group of family and friends. We have been truly blessed and through this process we have been continually amazed by God's awesomeness.

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Blessings!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 4 & 5 GZ

Day 4

We had a big day on day 4 here in Gaungzhou. WE decided since we actually had a free day we would go to the Zoo Safari. It was really cool, they probably had 100 tigers of all kinds and many other animals for viewing. Definitely one of the most impressive zoos we have ever seen.

However, it was a bit of stimulation over load for little Sarah. The heat index was 116, it was very loud with music, people and animals and she was a bit tired already from blowing and going all week. We experienced our first major meltdown when I told her we could not go back to one of the shops. She pulled her hearing aids out and proceeded to literally kick and scream. I tried to put her down thinking that was what she wanted but not so. She wanted me to hold her but not really. I felt bad for her and truth be told I wanted to join her in her tantrum. We were quite a spectacle and drew even more stares than usual. After a bit she wore herself out and fell asleep in my arms while we went through the safari on wheels. When she woke up she was back to her charming self.

When we returned to the hotel we decided to see if she would like to pool. The resounding answer to that was "No!" Since she was mad already I decided to go ahead and give her a bath and wash her hair, one of her least favorite activities. After she was cleaned up it was only about 6:30 but we decided to stay in and take it easy. We ordered pizza and watched the only English channel we could find, HBO. The movie "Seventeen Again" was on and Sarah really seemed to like Zac Efron, at least she has good taste :) We all turned in early and got a good nights rest.


Day 5

The big event for the day was going to the American Consulate and taking our oath. It was really cool. There were about 50 families with us all adopting. 57% of families were adopting special needs kiddos. It was fun to see all of the children interacting with one another in the play area. It took a little while to get everyone checked in before we all stood and took our oath together. We were then informed that upon arrival into the US the immigration officer will open an envelope that they gave us and Sarah will instantly become an American citizen. So cool!

After we were finished we went out to eat with the families that we spent time with in Beijing. We had Italian and it was great. Sarah really enjoyed what my brother Andrew would call "naked" penne pasta. We came home and skyped with the boys back home and hit the sack. We really can't wait to head home soon!

Thanks for all of your prayers and support!

Ephesians 2:8 It is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Blessings,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More pictures...

Mommy manicure

Sarah pedicure

Sarah is not happy that she cannot have a bottle on our way to meet Chris and Amy for dinner.



Day 3 GZ

Well, the scheduled activity for today was to have Sarah's TB test read. We went back to the "hospital" and because she has had the TB vaccine her test was positive. This was quite traumatic because it required her to have a chest few chest x-rays. She was not a big fan and neither was I. First they made us cut off her two necklaces, then she had to take off her dress and hearing aids. All of this was communicated through gestures because the x-ray tech did not speak english. I put on the protective vest and had to stretch her little arms up over the machine while the x-rays were being taken. It only took a few minutes but it seemed like forever with tears flowing. She recovered quickly after the ordeal was over and of course checked out fine. Fortunaley we don't have to go back there any more.

The other part of the day was spent shopping and eating. I was very proud of Sara at dinner. She wanted to have some of what Dave was eating and so she signed "daddy" and then "eat" and pointed to herself. She is very good at communicating what she wants and doesn't want.

We have really enjoyed our guide her in GZ. We are all getting anxious to be home and see all of our family and friends. Today we have planned an excursion with some other folks to the Safari Zoo. It has gotten rave reviews. We will let you know how it goes!

John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.


Blessings,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gaungzhou Day 2

Today, we were able to meet up with all of the families we toured Beijing with, plus our four new additions:) All of the little girls are doing great and seem to be adjusting well. It was interesting to see a little interaction among them. They were a bit tentative with one another and hung close by their new families. Sarah was by far the most verbal with her babbling and laughing. She is also the tallest and most filled out of the crew.

Our guide here in Gaungzhou is named Kelly and she is great, full of information. She is pregnant and already has a 6 year old little girl at home. She told us that the pregnancy was unplanned and she is a bit anxious about being able to keep her job with Great Wall. I was shocked! However, it is very important for Great Wall to keep a good relationship with the Chinese government and having 2 children is frowned upon. Makes me appreciate our country even more on this 4th of July. This is the first 4th of July that I have been out of the USA! A bunch of adoptive families are meeting at an American style cafe tonight, Lucy's, to have dinner and celebrate.

Be sure and shoot some fireworks for us!

Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

Blessings,


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Next stage...

Well, we have made it to the next leg of our journey! We arrived in Gaungzhou last night and settled in to The White Swan Hotel. It is pretty impressive and evidently the Mecca for people adopting children from China. There must be 150 families here going through the visa process. Sarah has continued to exceed every expectation that we could have possibly held. Truth be told I am embarrassed to share with other families how well she is doing. We have been able to "skype" with our family back home and of course their main interest is to see Sarah. Luke heard that Sarah enjoys oreos so on our last "Skype" session he was sure to wave one around in front of the camera and I loved his sign off of "I love you Sarah!" Joseph was chowing down on a New York strip while he "skyped" with us and it really made Dave, Meg and Me jealous! No New York strips have been available around here. David was hanging out in his Tae Kwon Do outfit while he "skyped" so I'm thinking he was getting into the China spirit of things! Sarah is so lucky to have 3 amazing big brothers anxious to meet her! David, Joseph and Luke are lucky too because Sarah is going to be an awesome little sister! Technology is so great!

Sarah had her medical check and TB test today. She was not a big fan of any of it but she was a trooper. I am so glad that's over! I have to say that bed side manner could use some improving. However, if you had 100 children lined up in your waiting room I am sure it would be a bit taxing.

We have been working on some sign language with Sarah and she is a quick study. She signed for more water today at the medical office and I thought some people would have to pick their jaws up off the floor. God is so good.

We are anxious for you all to meet her. We appreciate all of your continued prayers and support. We feel incredibly blessed and know that the best is yet to come.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Blessings


Update from Guangzhou

We made it into Guangzhou last night around 9:30 PM, and had a 40 minute +/- Van ride to our hotel "The White Swan". The hotel is over the top opulent, with humongous jade carvings, bonsai tree's, embroidery artwork, stained glass artwork, waterfalls, et cetera and that was all upon waking in the lobby. We unpacked everything as if we were going to stay for a week and then it appeared the A/C quit working. Upon the engineer's inspection around 11 PM, he concluded it was non-operational. We repacked all of our gear and moved to the 15th floor and settled Sarah down around midnight.

This morning we rose and had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel buffet. In addition to all of the traditional Chinese breakfast items which included noodles, rice, dumplings, steamed buns, seaweed, fish balls, and such we had classic choices such as Granola, Yogurt, Eggs cooked to order, french toast, bacon, assorted fresh juices, real coffee. It was quite a change, some would say an "upgrade", we would agree with the assessment however we thoroughly enjoyed the authenticity of Nanning. Don't get me wrong, we appreciate the cold blowing a/c, edible ICE, computer access and all of our other "creature comforts". We also discovered that Sarah is a big fan of the boiled egg, she pointed at one on the buffet and Katie handed it to her at our table and half joking she said "Let's see if she peel's it herself", before we were through laughing Sarah had cracked it on the table and began peeling it herself, we continued to laugh it up. She is a truly amazing little girl and she keeps surprising us at every turn, we are so very fortunate! She is really responding and doing better in every imaginable aspect than we could have hoped for, we are very encouraged and enthusiastic to see what the reports are once we have testing done at home.

We met our guide (Kelly) in the lobby this morning with some of the other families from Great Wall and headed off to the Dr.'s office for Sarah's TB test, and "inspection". All in all it went fine, however she definitely made it clear that she was not happy to be in the office, exam room or especially having anyone in a white coat near her ears. I felt so bad for her, Meg and Katie almost cried as well. It was a very sad experience, but it was over quickly and we were on our way. We walked down the block and saw more than one bride taking advantage of the beautiful landscaping for wedding photo backdrops. We saw brides in classic Chinese outfits to wedding dresses as we know them in the USA today.

As you will see in the picture below, on the Island we are staying on which is really a "sandbar" separated by a river there is a "Starbuck's". We dropped in for a Hibiscus and Mango flavored Tea with a cup of fruit.

Nanning baker and coffee shop, Katie and Sarah.

Sarah at the bakery.

Dave and Sarah "Leaving Nanning" while shamelessly plugging The Range

Sarah working her egg.

We are on our way to the Dr.'s office.

Sarah posing on a pile of books. This sculpture is in the middle of a glorious courtyard that is under construction for the upcoming "Asian Games".

The Iced Tea was really that good.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

More photos from today

Meg with new friends, served corn on the cob

stranger desiring photo

World Cup is HUGE in China

Thursday, Nanning China

Yesterday Katie discovered a place that makes good coffee near our hotel, and it was appreciated by all. Today, I rose early and walked for coffee at roughly 7:30 AM and there were what seemed to me more people on the streets then I remembered any other day at any other time. Remember that Nanning is a "small" city with only 8 million people.

Sarah ate more for breakfast this morning than she has for any other meal thus far, she is a very dainty and delicate eater. She is particularly neat and likes to keep everything very tidy. Katie let her hair out of their braids for the first time last night and braided her hair again this morning, she is so cute. I truly look forward to your opportunity to meet her, her laugh is infectious and she has loads of energy (look out Luke!).

Today we went to Green Hill park, the tallest hill in Nanning, roughly 200 meters above downtown. It is a beautiful, lush landscape of tropical plants and palms, with large lawns, ponds and walking trails. There are also some sculpture gardens the first one we stopped at is dedicated to the Chinese Calendar, with a different animal dedicated to every twelfth year. Sarah and I share the year of the Pig, Meg is the year of the Monkey, Katie is the year of the dog, et cetera. This garden was beautiful and the carvings are incredible, lots and lots of granite carvings throughout the park. You could easily spend an entire day in this park. There is a newly finished Buddhist Temple at the top of the hill, a 9 story pagoda with a man playing a snake skin lined "banjo" like instrument. Ponds loaded with Coy, a restaurant, a Taiwanese temple as Nanning is a "sister" city for Taiwan residents.

fish fighting for food

We fed the fish, as you can see was an absolute feeding frenzy. I mean frenzy in the sense that fish would wind up stuck above water on the backs of other fish as people would throw food. Fish would leap out of the water and splash the water like crazy. While feeding the fish Meg made some new friends on what would be considered a reunion of sorts, I will allow her the opportunity to share her story. They were super nice folks and sang "We are the World" for her and also spoke very highly of Michael Jackson.

glasses on head

We then hiked to the top of the pagoda for a view overlooking all of Nanning. At the top is where we met a man playing music for Yuan, who was pleasant and kind. He handed me his instrument and pick and expected me to play music, I strummed a few awkward cords for a small crowd that assembled. As you may imagine I do not resemble ANYONE else around here, and often times cause quite a stir. Today, we were all asked to pose at different times to have our pictures made with folks at the park. Everyone we have encountered has been so very pleasant, and if anyone knows any English they really want to share it with you.

Katie with the Dogs

As I scribe this letter, the salon mentioned in earlier notes (Amethyst) has allowed me to connect my laptop to their network. That may not sound like a big deal, from here it sure feels like one as "cloud software" and email programs, combined with the versions of software on the machines they run here do not play very well together. That's a lot to say, that I very, very much appreciate their hospitality. I am expecting Katie, Sarah and Meg any minute as today is the day Katie can have her hair washed after having her straightening treatment done. We are cautiously optimistic Sarah will allow them to wash and braid her hair, fingers are crossed.

Meg & Sarah with the Monkeys

It is hard to believe tonight is our last night in Nanning. Tomorrow, we will pick up Sarah's Chinese passport and fly to Guanxo. In Guanxo we will reconnect with the families that we met in Beijing as well as the families we have met here in Nanning.

Dave, (Katie, Meg & Sarah)

Sarah walking tall


Tall Pagoda

China time

Texas time

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