Sunday, December 30, 2012

The End

 China blog 2012 is done.  It’s a wrap. 

Before I go any further, let me address the one question that I know is on everyone’s mind and we have been asked a lot since arriving home….will there be a China blog 2013?  I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  We aren’t planning on one but we didn’t plan on a 2012 blog either so your guess is as good as mine.  I will say this, Mason really needs a brother.  The boy can braid hair and friendship bracelets like nobody’s business and is the perfect brother to all his sisters but he needs some additional testosterone here in the house.

The one thing that I do know is, Dan and I feel lead to do more in the area of adoption and orphans.  But the more part is what we are seeking clarity on.  More as in being mentors or advocates?  More mission trips?  Giving more of our time or giving more financially to orphan causes?  Being adoptive parents to more???  It’s just not a question that I can answer yes or no to right now so like us you will just have to wait and see.

The following will sound a bit like an Oscar speech and I would totally be one of those celebrities who goes on so long they have to que the music when giving an acceptance speech but there were so many people who were with us during this journey that I must thank…..

I want to thank Karin, Noelle’s advocate, and all waiting children advocates who have the passion to advocate for those who do not have a voice.  I can’t imagine how much longer Noelle would have waited had it not been for Karin’s involvement.  Noelle had been waiting on the shared list for almost two years by the time we found her.

Thank you to our family members that supported us in this journey.  Many of you may have secretly thought we were crazy but you kept it a secret and loved and supported us anyways.

The Byrds.  Oh wow, what on Earth would we have done without you?!  Mike & Magan, thank you for loving our kids as if they were your own.  Thank you for being the “fun” parents.  I know Mason thanks you the most.  And as far as Mikah and Mason go?  We are totally in on that whole arranged marriage idea you got goin’ on.

Thank you to Jerry Jay.  Thank you for the hilarious good morning emails that you sent us in China.  I don’t care how many times I see a picture of a dog answering the phone it’s hilarious every time.  Hello.  Yes, this is dog.

I want to thank Kelsey for taking the time to be my Blogger and Facebook editor in chief.

A huge thanks Chris and Kristin, our fellow travel mates while in Guangzhou.  You two were such a blessing to us and Noelle.  Thank you for being such great listeners and fun dinner pals.  Promise to stop in and say hi the next time you’re in Portland.

Many thanks to our Remember Nhu House church for feeding the Byrds, our kids and us.  

Thank you to those of you that lifted our family, Noelle, Dan and I up in prayer.  There were days that it was the prayers of many that sustained us and helped us get through the day.

Much love and thanks to my Man.  Thank you for being the voice of reason during my many moments of just pure insanity during this journey.  I love your heart for always wanting to do the right thing and for being obedient (and we both know that this was a journey of obedience).  I can’t imagine going through five adoptions with anyone but you.  I love you, Danny Boy Meister. 

These photos have nothing to do with this post other than it’s not only the end of this blog but it’s also the end of 2012 so I thought I’d post 12 of my favorite photos from 2012:

12.) Little One was a princess this year.
11.) It was Bonich who said it best, "Hey folks, it's Honey Boo Boo's Asian cousin."
10.) My Man.  Just as handsome on the inside as he his on the outside.  
9.) Saying goodbye to Willamette's newest bear cat.

8.) She wanted a picture with me.
7.) He cleans up well.

6.) My very own Pinkalicious.
5.) Saying goodbye to TCU's newest horned frog.
4.) I thought it was Mason who was most excited about his first day of baseball practice but really it was Dan.
3.) It is without a doubt the hardest thing ever not having her like me but seeing how much she loves her daddy is a very beautiful thing.
2.) It's not often we get a non-scrunchy smile from our little gal.  This is one of my very favorites of  her.
1.) The picture that stole my heart just 47 days into 2012.
 Thank you again for being with us during this journey.
With love and blessings, 
The End

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Life Rules

I forget how many Life Rules there are for new-to-the country-little-ones to learn:

Stickers do not go on car windows

Toilet paper can be flushed and does not go in the garbage can.

Sharpies are only to be used on paper.

Stickers do not go in hair.

Do not feed the family dog anything unless you ask me or Daddy first.

The dog food is just that, dog food.  It is not people food.

Stickers do not go on the wall.

It’s the toilet paper that gets flushed not balloons.

Do not spit out gum that you are done with on the sidewalk, on the floor of the car or put it on your dresser.

Curling irons are hot.

Use a Kleenex.  I’m serious.  Use a Kleenex.

When pointing, use your pointer finger and not your middle finger.

Stickers do not go on the flat screen tv.

Life Rule for the Mama with a new-to-the-country-little-one: no stickers.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Week Home

Our first week home has come and gone.  Overall it went really well.  Noelle has started to reach out to me for affection and comfort.  After our time in China I thought for sure it would be awhile before I saw any so for it to happen so quickly was very encouraging.

She seems to love being a part of a family.  She enjoys her older sisters and brother quite a bit but the jury is still out on Reagan.   She isn’t exactly sold on her younger sister and I think it’s safe to say that Reagan feels the same way.

A few odds and ends about our new little girl…..

She loves her room but can you guess what it is in her room that she loves the most?  Her dresser.  She practically hugged it.  For the first few nights after we tucked in the girls we would hear dresser drawers opening and closing.  We went in to see what the noise was and there she was in the dark, rearranging everything with a huge smile on her face.

She completely won her daddy’s heart over by asking for seconds (which was a first) of his homemade taquitos and guacamole.

Pretty sure she is keeping the Clementine orange business in business.  She literally eats at least 10 a day.  She is starting to expand her diet and is finally including meat.  At 38 pounds (& that is after gaining 1 pound since getting her) the girl needs to seriously get some meat on her bones. 

In China she wore the same clothes every single day.  She would not wear any of the clothes we brought so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got home.  Since arriving home she only wants to wear her new clothes and wants nothing to do with her China clothes.  I thought I would be happier when this happened but I actually find myself a little sad that she has already started distancing herself from her life in China.

She can say…let’s go, I’m hungry, I’m full, brush teeth, pee pee, Mason, Reagan, Bonich, Kanika, Buddy, Christmas, her abc’s and count to 20.  Her printing is amazing.  She will go to school this week but only for 15 minutes each day.   She is meeting with a teacher that will help with her reading but I think being able to be in a classroom with no other children will help get her ready.  We are taking it slow.  She gets very nervous and anxious when we are at the school and actually backs up and just freezes when children come toward us but I can tell she really does want to go to school.  She wears her backpack when we take Mason and Reagan even though she is not staying.  After I drop off the kids, she and I walk the halls of the school so that she can get more familiar with it.  She is always excited to lead the way to Mason and Reagan’s classrooms and the library.  I think she is slowly getting ready and will be ready come the first of the year.

One of my favorite things about older child adoption is watching them discover common everyday things.  Like microwave popcorn, the washing machine, a can opener, going through a car wash, the water and ice dispenser on the fridge, an electric pencil sharpener, the garage door opener or the switch for the gas fireplace.   The look on Noelle’s face when making these discoveries was truly priceless.

We will tackle a few medical issues this week.  She will go in for a full evaluation of her eyes.   We thought she had some vision in her right eye but it was evident during the medical exam that she can only see light out of it.  She desperately wants glasses, she is always grabbing mine and if we are in a store she will ask to go look at the glasses.  She saw our pediatrician and the doctor brought up some issues we knew about but she also brought up some others that caught us by surprise.

(No, those are not my glasses.  She pleaded for them when at the store and I gave in thinking it would be fun to have play glasses which I thought I had clearly explained to her via charades and broken Chinglish.  Can you say, Major Mom Fail?   She got home and was so disappointed when she couldn't see any better.)
Noelle is full of spunk and sweetness with a dash of sass.  She is the perfect fit for our family.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Last Post from China

China 2012 is done.  In less than 12 hours we will be on a plane headed home.  In a weird turn events Noelle is very excited to be going home tomorrow.  She has been dancing around our hotel room, asking to see the plane tickets and telling our guide how excited she is.  I haven't seen her this excited about anything the whole trip so this is big happy surprise.
I don’t have a lot to say in this last post here in China .  There will be no deep thoughts.  I think I’ve hit a wall and am just really China ’d out. 
I thought I’d post some pictures that did not make the cut for the blog. 

Thanks for following this part of the journey with us and THANK YOU all so much for the love and prayers you sent our way.

Gotcha Day Smiles

Terra Cotta Warriors

Dan started talking to these guys and he asked them where they were from.  They said, "South Korea.  You know, like Gangham Style?"  And then of course we just had to take a photo.

So not only is this the best picture of the three of us but it also shows you that I packed and wore something other than that purple jacket!

Our Shaanxi guide, Tom (in front), his in-laws and "sweet" daughter, Candy.

Mexican Food via the subway with my favorite Mexican

Consulate Appointment
There are sooo many Beaver fans here in China!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3 More Days

We are alive and well.  I’ve gotten some emails inquiring if we are okay and yes, we are!  I’m sorry for not being a better blogger.  There just isn’t much to report.  We are just buying time until Friday which is only 3 days away, not that I’m counting down or anything.
We haven’t done much and if I blogged what it was that we have been doing it would read like the movie Ground Hog Day because that’s what life has been like lately.
Wake up, eat breakfast, return the room, hope for an appointment to waste time, if no appointment walk the streets of Guangzhou, stop in at the 7-11, say hi to clerk who knows us almost by name, buy some Ramen noodles, return to the room and watch Chinese soap operas.  That has been our life for the last couple of days.  

Last night we did venture out with our travel group.  We were all trying to meet up for dinner with another family that is staying at a different hotel (The Garden Hotel, WOW! and Colleen if you reading this, you weren’t kidding about that place:).  The line for a taxi was very long and was going to take too long so we as a group decided we would take the subway.

(Me, Noelle and friend, Kristen, braving the subway!)
Let me just say that was an experience.  I have never been on a subway and I’m okay if I never have to go on one again.  I have never in my life seen so many people smashed into such a small space.  I was worried about Noelle the whole time as she really does not do well in crowds and the crowds were insane.  I’m sure to the locals we were a site for sore eyes; 20 whities with our Chinese children in tow, all holding a piece of white paper that our concierge had given us with our hotel name and the name of the other hotel written in Chinese in case we got lost or separated trying to navigate the Guangzhou subway system.  It was quite laughable but we all made it.  As much as we all said we enjoyed the experience/adventure not one of us took the subway home, we waited for a taxi…no matter how long it took. 
(Whatever you do, DO NOT LET LOSE THIS PIECE OF PAPER.  This was our lifeline last night.)
Noelle is still very fond of her Daddy.  She and I have had our moments; both good and bad but the bad isn’t bothering me as much as it did a few days ago.
Today we headed over to Shamian Island.  The island is where all adoptions took place up until the last year or so.   Many of the stores and shops have closed down and the streets are very quiet.  While there we wanted to see if one of the shops was still open that we hung out at last year.  It’s a shop owned by a woman named Judy.  Last year she and I talked for hours about life, Jesus and family.  I admit I had selfish motives; her shop was one that always had really good air conditioning so it was easy hang out at.  As soon as I walked in she smiled and said, “You’re back?!” and hugged me.  I couldn’t believe that she remembered me.  I thought maybe she was full of it and just saying she remembered me trying to get me to buy something but she remembered Mason and Reagan.  I couldn’t tell if she had good or bad memories of them but she definitely knew who they were.
(Me and Judy)
 And speaking of those two….only 3 more days!
Thanks to those of you just checking in to make sure we were ok and letting us know you were thinking of us.  We can feel the love, thank you.
The statues represent the modernization of the Chinese woman. 

She is pretty darn cute.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Baby Steps

We flew out of Xi’an yesterday without any problems.  Noelle was frightened at the airport.  We’ve noticed that she gets very scared in crowds.  She held onto Dan's hand with a death grip the whole time at the airport and she put on her game face.  We knew she was scared and she had tears in her eyes but she held it together.  She loved the plane ride and thought the free meal was the greatest thing ever.  I am so proud of her.  I know yesterday was a lot for her to take in but she marched through it like a champ.

We’ve also noticed that mornings are not her thing.  It’s like she wakes up and realizes that this is not a dream so we just give her some space.
Today we had her medical exam.  It was very chaotic with a lot of people and once again she froze and wanted to stand in a corner with Dan. 
She and I have had some baby steps in bonding…
Yesterday while waiting for our flight she came and stood next to me and asked Dan to take a picture of just her and I.
Yesterday I was trying to read a flat screen at the airport to find our gate.  Dan and Noelle kept walking but Noelle stopped told Dan that they needed to wait for Mama.  She would not walk any further with him until I caught up to them.
And today she and I played with Play Do for two hours and enjoyed each others company. 
Today, I am thankful for baby steps.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Her Final Goodbye

Yesterday we went to Orphanage.  It was a good visit but a strange visit.  

When we arrived the doors to the building were open and there was no one in the lobby so Little Miss decided she would be the tour guide and went right over to the elevators pushed 3.  The tears were in her eyes the minute we pulled into the parking lot.
(Noelle's Orphanage)
Once we got on her floor a little boy saw her and ran into a room and yelled, “Xiao Xu!”  The nannies came running out and appeared surprised to see her.  As soon as she was in their arms she started crying and they started crying.  They all huddled around her and were talking softly to her trying to calm her down. 
Dan and I just stood there trying to interact with some of the children.  There were two children that we specifically wanted to see; her best friend and her friend, Jake, who will be coming home to the US in January.  Neither one was there.  Jake was at school down the road and her friend was somewhere in the building.  They told us they would go look for her friend and that maybe we could go see Jake at school.
Dan and I started taking pictures and were then were told that we could not take any pictures inside the building.
(Noelle sharing her snacks)
Yesterday, prior to going to the orphanage, we walked down to a supermarket and picked up some snacks.  After Noelle had calmed down with the help of the nannies she put her backpack on a table where all the children were sitting and started pulling out all the snacks that we had bought the day before.  Dan and I had no idea that she had packed them in her backpack.  She had also brought some of the toys we brought her and put those on the table.  It was a very sweet moment but a very emotional moment for me.  To see her heart for her brothers and sisters she was leaving behind. 
A few minutes later her friend arrived.  The girls embraced and cried.  This is where the visit gets a little chaotic.  I was too busy helping the children open their snacks that I hadn’t noticed the director had arrived.  She was not happy that we were inside the building.  We found out that she only authorized a visit outside of the building.  The visit was quickly shut down and I did not get any pictures of Noelle and her friend.
We were told we could visit Jake but the visit would take place in our van.  So we drove down to the school with a nanny.  Once we got to the school we were instructed to stay in the van and the nanny went to get Jake and brought him to the van.  I had some pictures that I delivered to him from his Mama and our guide made small talk with Jake.  He and Noelle quietly said goodbye to each other and then he was whisked away.  The whole visit from the minute we drove up to the orphanage to driving away was about 20 minutes. 
As we drove away I had a couple of thoughts….
Ok, that was a really weird visit.
Was it worth it?  20 minutes? 
Did she get what she needed out of it?
(Noelle and Jake)
We were about half way home when Noelle stopped crying and started initiating interaction with us.  Her smiles were back.  I guess she got what she needed in those short 20 minutes and as weird as it was it was worth every minute.  She remained in this sweet happy mood for the rest of the day.
Today we head to Guangzhou .  Dan and I are looking forward to a change of scenery from the COLD and smog to the hopefully...sunny and less smog. 
I know many of you were praying for us and some of you crazy people were even fasting for us…we can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the love and prayers that are being sent our way.  Please continue to pray for us as we are only halfway done with the trip.  Only 7 more days!!  I miss my Mason and Reagan so much.

On a side note…for any of you reading this that are familiar with Bonich’s story, does this totally remind you of Bonich saying goodbye to family and giving things away and having closure?!  It's almost identical!