Monday, February 28, 2011


1 Week!

Today marked our one week anniversary as a forever family and it's amazing to me how resilient kids are.  Livvie is getting more and more comfortable with us every day and the awful grief she had the first few days is almost non-existent.  She still has her sad times, but the pain seems less intense and much shorter lived.  I've heard many families say that kids usually attach or favor one parent over the other at first and boy-oh-boy has that happened in the last two days Livvie has decided that she only wants "ma-ma-ma" and gives Cale the stink-eye when ever he comes near her.  If I won't hold her she sobs until I pick her up (not fun in 85 degree heat and 100% humidity!).  She doesn't want anything to do with Cale (unless I tell her No for something, then she tries to tun on the charm for Daddy...which we've made it clear is NOT going to work).  So for the time-being, it's all mama, all the time.  Let me tell you, I'm looking forward to below zero temps, just so I don't have to haul her around in the heat anymore.  I'm a stinky, sweaty, frizzy-haired mess!!  
Today we went to the Safari Park which is a HUGE zoo in Guangzhou.  Very different than zoos in the US....all the animals are very close up and they really don't have much fencing or security.  We got to see a lot of cool animals, but overall it's pretty depressing because the animals are cooped up in tiny enclosures and hotter than heck.  Lucky had a blast and I think it was his favorite part of the trip so far.  Livvie was scared of pretty much every animal, so she really didn't enjoy it.  We're thinking she is not going to be too fond of Penny when we get home.  She definitely has a fear of animals.
Lucky is living on PB&J sandwiches and Cale and I are living on Subway.  We've had turkey and ham subs every single day and Lucky eats PB&J for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Livvie will eat anything, so she's been the most adventurous eater out of all of us.  We go to McDonald's every few days, but ordering is really tough with the language barrier and you only get 1 packet of ketchup with your meal....yep, just 1 sad little packet.  We tried to get more and they won't give you any.  Everything is very, very rationed her, food, electricity, water, napkins.  Even toilet paper - in the public restrooms, you have to bring your own or you're out of luck.
Talk to you all soon!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Little Stinker

The kids are napping so I figured I better do a quick post so you all don't think we're in a Chinese prison somewhere.  Sorry it's been two days, but we were moved to a new room and it doesn't have wireless Internet.  So to blog, I need to go down to the bar on the 3rd floor. 
I don't really know where to begin to explain how things are going.  Things are better in some ways and worse in others.  Livvie's grieving has definitely gotten better and she is much happier overall.  She is a silly, funny little girl.  She's not crying when she wakes up with us and mostly just crying at bedtime.  And the girl LOVES to eat!  She can pack away more food than I can.  And she will eat pretty much anything (big change from our picky little Turtle).
But on the bad side, we are starting to see more of her true personality and are learning quickly that she was spoiled rotten by her nannies.  She is used to getting what she wants, when she wants and if she doesn't .... meltdown city!  When we first got her referral and the paperwork said "she is sometimes obstinate", we laughed and thought it sounded cute.   Oh boy - not so cute in person.  Stubborn, Stubborn, Stubborn.  And she is already trying to play Cale and I against each other when one won't give her what she wants.  We constantly have to leave restaurants, parks, stores because she doesn't get what she wants and then throws a fit.  We know things will get better with some consistency and routine, it's just going to take time. 
Here's what we know so far:
- She's a girly-girl.  When I give her the option of pants or dresses, she will always choose the dress and bright socks (sound familiar Annie?)  She also loves makeup and has to play with all brushes when we get ready in the morning.
- She loves to sing and babble.  Developmentally, I would say she acts like a 1 1/2 year old (which has been tough since 1 1/2 year olds get into EVERYTHING!!)
- She LOVES to take baths and play with the stacking cups in the water.  She laughs and laughs when we let her splash us.
- She's picked up on sign language like crazy.  She knows the signs I taught her for "more", "eat", "drink", "potty".
Overall, things have really improved since the first day, she's started to trust us and I think is slowly starting to realize we're not leaving.  We're so looking forward to getting home and getting back into a routine.  I think she'll really blossom with some's tough to set any sort of routine living out of a hotel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Three- The Black Sheep

Livvie had a good day, but has a really tough time when she wakes up in the morning and from naps. Those times seems to start the grief over fresh for her. But we had a HUGE break through tonight with her right before bed. I gave her a bath and found out she loves to have the faucet running a trickle to fill up cups. She filled her stacking cups over and over and was actually having honest-to-goodness fun doing it. She was smiling and giving the cups to me to pretend drink out of. Turtle came in to say hi and the little fart took a cup and splashed him with water. He started laughing and then she did was the first time they've had any interaction together. They ended up splashing back and forth about 10 times and then I got her out of the tub.

I took her in the bedroom to get ready for bed and I could see it in her eyes she was starting to go to that "grief" place. I had grabbed some baby lotion and started putting it on her and all of a sudden, she wanted to help to. I would rub one leg and she would do the other, then I would put lotion on her foot and she would do the other foot. And then the best part, she wanted to put lotion on me too (which was huge in the interaction dept!!!). Once lotion was on, we got Minnie Mouse PJ's on (thanks Annie!) and she pointed to the bed (I was shocked). We laid down and I sang about 100 versus of "hush little baby" to her and she fell asleep without one tear. I wanted to jump up and do a happy dance!!! And by the way, you can make up some pretty interesting lyrics to hush little baby when you have to sing 100 versus and the person you're singing to doesn't know any English. I was singing gibberish by about verse 30 and just making up words. And Annie - just for you a couple of versus about Llama Drama :)

And boy oh boy are we going to have Llama Drama....we we're waiting at a govt office today for our passport interview and to help keep the kids occupied we brought a small set of wooden blocks. There was a very old (probably very expensive antique) coffee table and we were letting the kids build block towers on it. Livvie's tower fell over when she put a block on it and she got so mad she actually tipped the ENTIRE table over on the floor. It happened in the blink of an eye and then she was inconsolable upset because we reprimanded her. Let's just say we magically were next in line for our photo and interview and when we were done, our guide said "let's wait outside for the bus, very old, important furniture in here". So I think we were the Black Sheep of the American adoption community today. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

Just so everyone knows, I'm not able to access my blogger site to do updates, so I'm sending these updates via email.  I have no idea how it looks or if all the pics are actually coming through, so I apologize in advance if the blog looks kinda funny.
Livvie slept more than 12 hours last night (she was understandably exhausted from the day before).  We were very surprised she didn't cry when she woke up with us.  She was shy and quiet at first, but we actually got a few smiles out of her.  We had her watch us give Lucky a bath and then decided to see if she would let us put her in the tub (she needed a bath something fierce!).  We filled up the tub and put her in with some stacking cups and she was great about it.  I wouldn't say she had fun, but she definitely wasn't scared.  She played with the cups and let me wash her up and rinse her off with no fuss at all.
After the tubby, we got dressed and went down to the hotel lobby for breakfast,  The girl likes to eat!!!  She will eat anything we put in front of her.  The orphanage staff actually cautioned us to take food away from her or else she will eat to much.  It's so sad that these kids never have enough to eat and typically feel hungry, you can see it in her eyes when she sees food that it's just a primal need for it. 
She was great during breakfast and then we had to head back to the Civil Affairs office to make the adoption official.  We got to the offices and they asked us "if we would promise to never abandon her", "if we would give her a good home and education", "if we liked her", and "if we still wanted to adopt her"  Yes, Yes, Yes, and Hell Yes.   So it was official, in the eyes of the Chinese government, Livvie is ours.  :)
During our time at the office, she really started coming out of her shell. She was running around laughing and actually called me "mama". She loves to run and give these coy little smiles and shake her head.  I'm going to try to attach a video clip of her to the blog, but I don't know if it will work.
Here's what we know about Livvie so far:
- She's a girly-girl.  When she noticed me putting on lip gloss, she went and brought me her Hello Kitty purse and held out her chapstick to me.  I opened it up and she put it on her lips and smacked them together and smiled at me.
- She loves the ipod touch - we are going to have to beg, borrow, or steal to buy her one of her own when we get home.  Because if we don't, there's going to be a war between her and Lucky (and she's scrappy enough, she just might win).
- She seems pretty ditsy (in a adorable way).  She has this way about her that is almost valley-girl / airhead / ditsy.  Hard to explain, but pretty darn cute.
- She was SPOILED by her nannies.  She doesn't seem to know the word no and is downright stubborn when you try to take something away from her.  She is going to be a challenge (Annie - stop laughing!)
So overall, today was a much better day.  But things got REALLY rough again around bedtime and she started grieving again pretty hard.  She keeps trying to put on her shoes and coat and going to the door and we know she's trying to tell us to take her back.  When she finally accepted we weren't going to, the defeat and grief in her was like a knife through the heart.  It took about an hour for her to finally fall asleep.  You can read all the adoption, attachment, process, books and websites in the world and nothing will prepare your heart for the absolute grief they go through and how completely helpless you feel while their little body is racked by the most heart-wrenching sobs you've ever heard.  I'm not trying to be a downer, but I do want to paint a realistic picture for all the followers I have that haven't picked up their little ones yet.  This trip has been harder than anything I could have imagined and I would be lying if I didn't say there weren't times I wish I could just pack up and go home.  But I have faith that we're doing the right thing and things will get better.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring more smiles and less grief.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gotcha Day!

Yesterday was the best day and the worst day of our lives all rolled into one.  We took a van to the Civil Affairs Office with one other family at around 2:30pm.  They told us ahead of time that there would be a total of 13 families at the office all receiving their children at the same time.  Our guide Lee told us that when we arrived, we wouldn't get to see the children right away.  The plan was to complete paperwork first and then sit in the waiting room and they would call us one by one to meet the children.  Well, let's just say it went nothing like that.  We got off the elevator and all the other families were already there and had gotten their children.  And standing there in the middle of the room was Livvie looking right at us with two of her nannies.  They pointed to us and said something to her and she waved.  Of course we went right over by her (forget the paperwork!) and I knelt down to say hello.  At first she was fine, super shy, but not scared.  The nannies were talking to her and she was just kinda looking at us.  Then one of the nannies picked her up and gave her to me to hold and that's when everything changed.  She immediately started crying and screaming and trying to get away from us.  Lee told us that this would probably happen since she is older and that the best thing to do is to get her away from the nannies so she could start bonding with us.  So we walked with her down a quiet hallway to try to calm her down.  She screamed for more than an hour, calling out for her nannies. 
I didn't go into this process naive, I knew to expect this, but it was a million times harder than I expected.  Her grief and fear was so strong there were actually times during that first hour I thought about giving her back and just walking away. 
After the first hour, Lee asked me to come and fill out paperwork and talk to the nannies to get info about Livvie's routines, eating habits, etc.  Cale and Lucky stayed with her out of site so she wouldn't see the nannies again.  I could still here her screaming the entire time I was talking to the nannies and I could tell they were upset to.  I think they wanted to go and comfort her, but Lee told them no.  After we were done talking, Lee told them they needed to leave and I could tell they were very sad they weren't going to get to say goodbye.  I asked Lee if they wanted to go and say goodbye and she said she told them they couldn't because it would only make things worse.  I felt terrible.
So the nannies left and Cale brought Livvie back into the waiting room and we let her walk around.  We could tell she was searching for the nannies (still crying), but then it was almost like she realized they were gone and she started to quiet down.  We filled out paperwork for another hour and she slowly started to calm down.  During the last 15 minutes, Cale gave her to me while he was signing some papers and I got out the container of mini M&M's....I showed her one and ate it to show her it was food.  She stretched out her hand and took one and ate it.  Now this may not seem like a big deal, but it was!  It was the first time in over two hours that she even made eye contact with either of us.  So we ate some more M&M's and I started showing her the other treats we brought (My Little Pony, a stuffed monkey, a light up keychain).  She was interested in looking at everything and really latched on the the keychain (thanks Mom!).  She clicked the light on and off on it about a 100 times.  Still no smile, but at least she wasn't crying.  Then the moment that I will never forget, Lucky showed her his ipod and she looked at it and stretched her hand out.  He gave it to her and she started pressing buttons on it and then looked up at me and smiled.  It was the tinyest of smiles, but it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  At that moment, I knew there was hope.
Then, the cutest moment of the day.  I tried to take the ipod away from her (since she was waving it around and I was scared she was going to break it), the little turd hid it behind her back and then gave us the most devilish little grin and this little coy shake of her head.  Oh Boy - we are in TROUBLE!!!!!    :)
I will post more later about our first night together.  We miss everyone and can't wait to get home! 
Oh, one more thing, she just got over the chicken pox last week, so that's why she has the scabs on her face in the pictures.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guangzhao Day 1

I'm too tired to be clever, so this post is going to be pretty boring.  I can't even begin to explain how sick we are of traveling.  24 hours of straight travel (car and plane) on Thursday, only 4 hours of sleep on Friday, full day of agency orientation and then sightseeing at the Great Wall, 5 hours of sleep becasue Turlte woke up at 3:30am this morning and was ready for breakfast, and now 10 straight hours of travel today.  We left our hotel at 8:00am this morning and went to the Beijing airport for our flight to Guanzhao and we just got to our hotel (The Victory). 
Here's the highlights (or actually low-lights). 
- Great Wall was beautiful, but jet lag really hit us when we got there and me and Turtle both ended up having meltdowns on the Wall.  No sleep really messes with a person and when you combine a pretty grueling hike on the wall, you get two very emotionally and physically exhausted people and one bewildered Cale (who has yet to feel any jet lag). 
- Food in Beijing was not great and make us pretty queasy.  The highlight of our trip so far was finding a McDonalds in Beijing....yes we came all the way to China and the best part so far has been McDonald's.  As an added perk, we were quite the rock stars in Beijing (I think because of Turtle's red hair) and when we couldn't find a place to sit in McDonalds, the staff actually made other customers get up and move and gave us a big table.  The manager also came out and gave Turtle a free ice cream cone.  And everywhere we go people stop and give him candy????   :)
- I shouldn't have bragged about how wonderful Turtle was on the flight because now the universe has decided we need to be humbled.  He has been a absolute BEAR the last 24 hours.  Whiny, crying, llama-drama, nothing we've ever dealt with him before.  We know it's the jet-lag, but man he has been a handful.  He's sleeping now so hopefully a good nights sleep will help.
- Living out of a hotel is very challenging, especially one with no drawers and only 5 hangers.  I have 2 weeks of clothes for 4 people and no where to put it all.
Now for the good stuff. 
- We get Livvie tomorrow at 2:00pm....which will make all of this completely worth it.  At the airport we saw a handful of little girls that looked to be about her age and it made us grin....looking at them and realizing we get our ladybug tomorrow is unreal.
- We will post pictures as soon as we can.  :)
Signing off for now....

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Made It!

After being fogged in at Central Wisconsin Airport and then driving like maniacs to Chicago to catch our connecting flight (we made it to Chicago with 10 minutes to spare!).  We arrived at our hotel in Beijing at around 1:00am this morning.
We're a bit tired, but not as bad as we thought.  Taking a overnight flight was definitely the way to go.  Lucky was a CHAMP on the plane....24 hours of total travel time in the car and in a plane and he was an angel the whole way.  Not one tantrum or fit.....I swear, the kid is so good it's unreal!  He told me this morning: "I had a really fun time traveling with you last morning mama"   :)
I'll try to post more when we get to our province on Monday.  TTFN.....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

34 Pounds!!!

Can I get a woot-woot!! I finished packing our largest suitcase today and on a whim decided to weigh it (fully expecting I was going to be way overweight and need to do some rearranging). We weighed it by itself on the scale and then with each of us holding it (just to make sure we got a somewhat accurate weight). All three times it came out to 34 pounds on the dot (for those of you who have heard me stressing for the last month know that the weight limit to stay under is 44 pounds. Yeah, oh yeah, I made that luggage my..... (you can fill in the blank since this is a family blog). :)

On a sadder note, my little turtle made me cry on Friday night. He's been very clingy and overly affectionate the last month. I hear "I love you mama" and "I need to give you hugs mama" about 200 times a day lately (not that I'm complaining, I've been loving it). But we knew that on a subconscious level it had to do with the adoption. We talk to him all the time about how much we love him and how bringing home Livvie won't change that and we hype up all the positives about being a Big Brother. He always seemed satisfied with our talks and we've been asking him over and over again if he's sad about anything (he always says no).

Well Friday night he said he had a "tummy ache" again (another reoccurring ailment in the last month that magically goes away with some cuddling and attention). So we were snuggling in the chair and I asked him if he was sad and he said no. So I took another approach and asked him if he was scared of anything? He sad yes. I asked him what he was scared of and he said in the saddest little voice "Livvie coming to live with us". I asked him why and he said "because you won't take any more pictures of me then". (which makes perfect sense when you consider that the main topic of conversation with family lately is "did you get any more pictures of Livvie?" and also considering I started adding pictures of Livvie to all our family pictures in the kitchen, living room and bedroom, which meant some of his older baby pictures got taken down). So we had a talk about that and I assured him I would always take lots of pictures of him and we talked more about how our love for him will never change. Then I asked if he was scared of anything else and he said "Livvie taking all my toys". :) I figured that wasn't the time for a talk about sharing, so I promised him that for now, his toys are off-limits to Livvie unless he decides he wants to share them with her (we'll cross that bridge when we get to it).

It's just amazing how their little minds work and I feel terrible I didn't get to the root of it earlier. And funny thing is, we had a tummy-ache free day yesterday for the first time in a month. :)