A much needed positive post

I am so thankful for all of the advice and support I have received from my posts since being home. I am remembering to take it day by day and know that so many of you who have been through this have told me the magic word "TIME." Everyone is adjusting, slowly, but we are moving in the right direction. The weather has been cooperating and everyone loves to be outside which is wonderful. No matter what language you speak, we all understand the fun and value of PLAY! We are getting lots of practice taking turns and sharing- nothing out of the ordinary for us anyway. Anna is sleeping for longer stretches at a time and naps at the same time as Carter, hence the time to blog. I am relaxing and letting life unfold. She really is a joy and literally makes everyone around her smile with her big smile and laugh. It's amazing to step back and look at this child and the journey we all took to get to this point. It's a miracle.

Carter and Anna are EXACTLY the same size, height and weight. It's funny to see their little bodies next to each other but the shape of their faces so drastically different.

What a better way to get indoctrinated to American food that a good ole bag of cheetos. I don't think she really had a problem with it.

My friend's daughter came over to play with the kids and help out.

4 little birds patiently waiting for breakfast.

Anna wants to do everything her big sister does. I think we'll hold off on the rollerskating for a while. Not sure the C*A* would appreciate the first post adoption report showing a kid with broken bones.

Jack actually took this photo- isn't it great.

We love our swingset!

Good morning Mama.


Home 5 days

I have been very neglectful with my camera. I am taking it to the park this afternoon so I will try and get some pictures since that is always the highlight of people's blogs!
Life continues to be really hard. I so appreciate all of the comments and encouragement people have offered to me. They truly mean a lot to me and keep me grounded and hopeful.
Anna continues to learn about her environment and we are learning about her. It is a challenge to teach her our routine and it breaks my heart to discipline her and see her tears but she has to learn the rules too. I feel like our days are going from one crying kid to another, everyone fighting for attention. My kids have big hearts and are really wonderful children but this is an adjustment for them too and it shows. Poor Brian is giving 110% with eveyone and back to work full time. We are all maxed out. I said this before but I tend to not be the nicest person when I am extremely tired and still have guilt about being too hard on Anna. She is understanding English at an astonishing rate and doing a lot of repeating. I am amazed how quickly she is catching on. She is still in a crying heap ifshe loses sight of me in our house but does great out on the playground with the kids.
I have read so many other people's blogs about how great things are when they get home with their adopted child and wonder, is it really that easy for them? Am I missing something? Yes the ages of my kids are young but you would be amazed how many people end up with "virtual twins" through adoption. I just need to vent the truth about what is going on in our house- it's hard. I hope none of this is miscontrued about our decision or how we feel about Anna. I would not go back and do differently, and we (my kids) will learn to love her as they love each other. And, we DO HAVE really cute moments that give us light and hope and insight into what will be. It's not like this every minute. Anna is happy and smiling and the kids love to hold her hand (sometimes.) Bless her heart, I am pouring out how I feel about all of this and it must be tenfold for her. She has no idea that this is it and we are her family, forever. Again my answer is faith and time. We will get there- together.


We're home

I am sorry for the neglect of the blog. We made it home safely and it has been incredibly busy since we walked in the door. Anna did amazingly well on the 30 hour journey home. She only slept about 4 hours of that time but was good minus a couple of crying spells. I have to admit I had a couple of crying spells myself on the long trip. It is just a long trip. Brian and Jack, along with both of my dads and a family friend were there to greet us at the airport. My Jack was so tearful and would not let me go for such a long time. Just a reminder how much I missed my children. Then he and Anna started playing a bit and she loved him. It was the perfect end to our trip. I was kind of bummed that we were arriving so late on Friday (9:15 pm) because my other 2 kiddos were at home in bed. There is no way they could have stayed up that late. We got home and my best friend was there- it was wonderful to see her too. Finally we got everyone in bed.

Anna got to meet her other siblings in the morning. Callie was thrilled and had Anna in princess dresses right away. Carter saw her and said "oh, there's Anna" as if he knew her all along. The morning was spent with everyone playing together.

I wish I could say that everything is wonderful, and on a lot of levels it is. Anna is adjusting so well considering she is in a completely new environment with nothing familiar. Sleep is hard right now as she is on China time so she is up at night and sleep deprivation is not something I take lightly. It's kind of like having a newborn. They get up in the middle of the night and you are so tired and just want them to sleep but there is nothing you can do. She is napping during the day right on schedule and she did sleep at night in China so I know it will come. Once the kids got over the initial excitement of having her here, they pretty much went about their own stuff. The hard parts are that everyone wants my attention and I want so badly to give my kids all I can. Anna, although I am trying to keep in mind that this is such a hard time for her, is displaying some behaviors that need to be addressed. She is hitting, grabbing, and doing other completely normal 3 year old behaviors but I have to discipline her. I don't want my kids or her to think any of this is O.K. I feel like I'm constantly walking a thin line because I know she needs to learn but I'm trying to be nurturing at the same time. Anna is also never more than 2 inches away from me at all times. She will not let Brian be with her and she wants to be with her siblings but only if I am in the room. It's a bit overwhelming for me and I really want some space, but I feel guilty about that. No criticism please, I really am doing the best I can. I guess the bottom line for me is how to find the perfect balance for how to spend my time with Anna and be nurturing but also keep all the rules intact for her to learn and my other kids to see that all is equal. I feel like I am failing at this. Now we are only on day 3 of being home. Maybe this is a learning curve for us all. Time will help with sleep. Time will help us all get used to one another. Time will allow me many opportunities to see what works and what doesn't. So yes, overall I couldn't really ask for anything more- I guess I was just so caught up in the joy of finally getting my daughter I didn't think of the reality of all of the little things that are hard in those initial days. It will get better and I wouldn't change any of it for the world.


Prayers please

It hit me hard tonight, when I was skyping my kids. The only thing between my and my children and Brian is the plane ride home. I'm not sure if I mentioned in a previous post that I am only scared of 2 things in life, sharks and flying. Sharks are easy to avoid. Flying is not so easy, especially since I am halfway around the world and need to get home. Please keep us in your prayers as we embark upon 3 flights and a ton of travel time to get home to my babies. I need them, I crave them. I know it seems a chapter in China is ending but our real life is only just beginning with Anna as part of our family. Please dear Lord get me home safe!


Last Day in China

No pictures to post today. We had a group dinner last night and said our (my) tearful goodbyes. The people in my group were such a large part of my overall experience here I feel so lucky to have met them all and shared this trip. I know people can travel in groups with 15-20 couples but having only 3 families made the relationships so much stronger.

We spent the morning in the hotel and started packing. It is POURING so there isn't much to do anyway. If it's not raining after Anna's nap we might walk to the park to get her out but otherwise we will just stay in. I thought I would try and summarize things I will always remember about my trip:

1. Driving. It's car versus van versus man versus bike- all on the highway and small streets. There are no lanes and not necessarily directions either. It's the craziest thing I have ever seen but somehow it works.

2. Menus and eating. They eat EVERYTHING here- need I say more?

3. Squatty potties. Yep just a hole in the ground and no toilet paper. I can honestly say I only had to use one and became very adept at planning bathroom stops at the hotel only.

4. Smoking inside all the buildings everywhere-yuck.

5. Sightseeing. All the things we saw in Beijing and the temples and mouments here in Guangzhou. It's all amazing and so old and beautiful.

6. Our group- this is well documented in the blog.

And obviously my daughter. I will never forget the ride to the adoption center and then seeing her walk out. It all happened so fast. It's hard to believe I have only known her for a week and a half, it seems like much longer. So here is my list on the things I have learned about Anna:
1. She is smart.
2. She is an observer and needs time to take things in before jumping in. Once O.K. though she joins in all the way.
3. She knows what she wants and can throw a fierce tamtrum when she doesn't get it. But she is easily redirected and tantrums are short lived.
4. She talks a lot once she is comfortable and has the cutest little voice.
5. She likes to play with other children- thank goodness because we have a house full of them.
6. She has a wonderful smile and loud laugh. She makes everyone else around her smile when she does.
7. She can eat a ton, and is an adventurous eater!
8. She is very active and like to run and play, and she is fast.
9. She is learning to trust me and will soon learn that she is a member of our family and what our family is all about.
10. She is an Ulllery and we love her!

We have a 36 hour trip home tomorrow and I guess I will also learn what kind of a traveler she is. Next post from home- the good ole U.S.A.


Winding down...

Yesterday we finally found a playground for the kids to play. They were so happy and had a great time running around. Despite the fact that it was in a public park, we had to pay to get in. I guess maybe that is for crowd control because I can tell our money was not going to the upkeep of the playground equipment. The cool front is definately gone and it is hot and HUMID! Anna had on a cute little sundress for the park but we had to put a long sleeve shirt over it despite the heat to avoid being scrutinzed. It's just easier to do what is "right" in this culture at this point in time and that's fine. We have all summer at home for cute sleeveless dresses!

In the afternoon we went to the White Swan Hotel for our red couch pictures. For those at home reading this, all adoptive families have to come through this city because the American Consulate is here. Somewhere along the way it became tradition to dress your child up in authentic clothing and take their picture on this red couch with your group. So we took our pictures. Poor baby Lexi was not happy about this but it wouldn't be as fun if we didn't have at least one crying child in the picture! Notice how the only picture with Anna smiling is when she is sitting with our guide- not us.

This morning we went to the zoo. It was actually very nice but not really comparible to the safari park. My camera battery died but my mom got some cute pictures of the kids. The families and kids are getting tired. This is actually the last day for the other 2 families so we will be on our own all day tomorrow. Anna has really had it with me. She is doing some hitting and biting that I'm hoping stops quickly. I was reading another friends blog who has been here the same time that we have and she wrote something that really stuck in my head. She said how important for us to remember what it has been like to be in a foreign country not knowing anything and everything being so extremely different (and we have had a guide translating everything.) The first week I was here I was scared and not very adventurous and learning about this new child. She said this is exactly how our child will feel when we get home. The child will be completely lost with the exception of me, Brian and my mom. Nothing will sound the same to her, smell the same, taste the same, look the same. And Anna will have no way of knowing that this is HOME, her new life.

So keep us all in your prayers as we start yet another monumental journey. Tomorrow we have nothing planned except getting Anna's visa tomorrow night. We will spend the day packing and maybe back to the park to let her run around. Tonight is our last dinner as a group. I know we will all stay in touch. What a wonderful experience or as Anna would say "Wow!"


Chen clan temple and Pearl River Cruise

Sorry again for the delay in the post. It is taking me about 2+ hours to get all the pictures downloaded and then put onto the blog. We visited the Chen Clan Temple here in GZ yesterday. It was beautiful and so full of rich history. The colors were amazing and the gardens so peaceful. The local artists display their work here also. We saw embroidary pieces that were incredible. I guess needlepointing a belt is nothing compared to the embroidary they do. It's stunning. The ivory carvings were incridible also. The detail is amazing. I know the pictures don't do justice but these are true artists. We went to the pearl and jade market but it was hard to shop with the little ones. I did buy pearl neclaces to give to each of my girls for their wedding (someday!). Thank goodness we had our guide with us to help navigate. We ended the night with the Pearl River Cruise. Going up and down the river gave a completely different view of the city. All the buildings and bridges are lit up and you see a much different economic situation that what is all around us at the hotel. The view was wonderful and we really enjoyed the cruise.
Anna is really coming into herself now. She is a little stinker to say the least but so full of energy. She has a great smile and infectious laugh. She can easily charm anyone when she wants to. She is also becoming an expert at temper tantrums and can turn tears off and on in an instant. She is 2 1/2 !!! Seems right on track to me! My mom tried to take her to play without me today and she would not go. She calls me mama and recognizes Brian on skype as Baba. Today we are going to take the famous red couch pictureat the White Swan. I should have it in the next section of pictures. We only have one more day with the other families after today as they are leaving on Thursday morning. I can honestly say I will miss them deeply. The one family has a 7 1/2 year old daughter they adopted here 6 years ago and came back for a son, age 5. Their children are awesome and in the pictures above. Anna loves them and Xiara, the 7 1/2 year old is my new BFF. She is funny and such a great kid. She has done such a great job going from only child to all attention surrounding her new brother. Xiara has kept me grounded and light spirited about life here and I love her for that. My heart will always be with our other family too who went through such an incrediable ordeal but in the end got their precious daughter. I'm hoping to stay in touch with both families. A week ago if you would have asked me about going home, I would have cried and asked to get out of here as soon as possible. What a difference time makes as with everything. Now I'm sad to be leaving our new friends and feel comfortable here, not so anxious. I am very looking forward to going home to my family, my babies, but am sad that these are the last couple of days that Anna will have in HER country, with HER language, and what is recognizable and comfortable to HER. She has a rough journey ahead but one that will be filled with so much love and attention. I've said it before but will say it again- WE ARE BLESSED!


Safari Park

We spent the entire day at the safari park today and had a great time. The one couple from our group arrived and so now we are all here, 3 sets of parents. I see how people become so close to the people in their group. I will so dearly miss the other 2 famlies and hope we all stay in contact. This is such an emotional journey that we all share with each other and friendships are formed quickly and strong. The safari park was huge- I'm thinking much like Busch Gardens (I've never been there.) I was shocked how close we were able to get to all the animals- much better than the zoo at home. However- I was a bit concerned for the treatment of the animals. It just felt a bit overwhelming at times. At one point during an elephant show I metioned to my mom that I felt like I had woken up in the middle of the night and turned on some very wierd cable show. It's so hard to describe. Our guide was very big into the shows and I preferred just waling through the park and looking at the animals.

Anna is starting to show her true colors a bit and acting like every 2 1/2 year old should. She threw a MAJOR tantrum because I would not give her my camera. If she were my first I'm sure she would have the camera and I wouldn't even care if it got broken but I didn't give in and she did not like it. It's hard because she is tantruming and people are staring. At home this wouldn't bother me one bit but here I feel I am being scrutinized and condemned. One old woman was very upset that Anna and another little girl in our group did not have enough clothes on and made a scene about that. The Chinese people bundle their children despite the temperature and bare skin is a no no. Oh well- I am truly doing the best I can. We had several other tantrums throughout the day but as a veteran mom that is the least of my concerns!

Anna crashed in the van on the way home since we missed nap. When we got back to the hotel room she just stood there looking at me and whining. I thought she was upset that I was on the computer trying to get Skype back up and running. After a minute or two of continued whining, I got on my knees at her level and tried to figure out what was wrong. It was at that point I noticed the waterry poop running down both of her legs. Poor sweet girl- I felt SO bad. She is fully potty trained and did not go the bathroom all day at the park. Maybe she tried to tell me and I did not understand??? So we got cleaned up, took a bath, threw an entire set of clothes away, and she was much better. We ate some snacks for dinner because I was worried about her tummy and off to bed. Overall we had a great day at the park. I am so enjoying our group and this time we have together.

My computer is not cooperating so downloading pictures is a chore. Once again only about half of the pictures I took today made it in the slideshow. For those yet to travel to Guangzhou I would totally take the time to go the safari park- the kids LOVED it! Tomorrow is Pearl and Jade Market and the Pearl River Cruise. Hopefully I don't get sick on the boat!!


Giving thanks and praise...

My mom arrived safely and Brian is home with our children. So many praises to Jesus for their safe journeys. Despite jet lag and the long journey, my mom hung in there all day and little Anna is enamored by her. It's wonderful that Anna likes her so much but also another painful reminder of her lack of attachment to me which again reminds me that she is so lost right now and needs so much attention. I'm trying to give as much physical attention through touch- hugs and so many kisses and I know the rest will come in time.
I am so thankful to my angels, the Glickels, who without knowing have been so wonderful to be around the past couple of days. I was really worried about being here alone with Anna and they are the other family here with my agency. They have allowed me to tag along and I have loved the time with them and their children. Anna loves their children as well and it has been entertaining and comforting at the same time.
I also have been praying so hard for another family with our agency and God answered prayers in a BIG way. Brian and I spent the day with this family in Beijing and we spent so much time talking about our journeys and excitement to meet our children. When Brian and I landed in Guangzhou, our guide told us there was a problem with the other family. It turns out their daughter was blind and this was an undisclosed special need. This has truly been my biggest fear in this whole process- that we would get Anna and she would not be functional and we would be faced with a life decision. I knew this was a possibility since we knew she has a malformation in her brain but have been praying so hard and it turns out she is wonderful and smart and on track developmentally thus far. This other couple turned down the referral and I truly can't imageine the heartbreak after years of waiting and the past 6 months of planning and excitement. Our agency definately went to bat for this family and they were given another referral, a baby girl with a minor heart defect. I met the mother in our hotel this afternoon and felt such emotion for her. I was so tearful and grateful for God's work. IN the end they received a healthy baby girl and feel blessed about the entire situation. I am still so emotional for them and so happy for them. I absolutely cannot imagine surviving an ordeal like that. So now I am once again in a quiet place giving thanks and praise to God for all that has transpired the past 48 hours. How blessed we all are!
On another note, our guide took us out to dinner tonight. I have been worried about what my mom would eat- she is not the adventurous eater that I am. Let's just say we ordered roasted chicken (there were chickens in a cage at the door!) To set the scene, remember the movie A A Christmas Story (a classic-my favorite) when the family has to go to get Chinese food because it is the only place open on Christmas and the dogs ate their Christmas turkey. Well the turkey they order comes to the table with the head still on and when the mom freaks out, they chop the head off with a cleaver at the table! So back to us tonight -chicken arrives in whole, head and feet in tact. I seriously thought my mom was going to pass out or get very sick. Our guide immediately asked them to please remove the head so what do they do- chop it off and put it right on the plate! Our guide finally asks them to take it all apart. I think my mom is going vegitarian the next week!! I wanted so badly to get a picture but they took it away so quickly- oh well. I have to admit it was tasty chicken. I've been here a week so I can be adventurous right??? Anna continues to be a sweet angel. Tomorrow we are spending the entire day at the safari park so I SHOULD have pictures to share. The above are pictures of her with the Glickel children.
So I thought I would let my mom write a post- just for fun!!
OMG! It took 32 hours and a lifetime to get here, and I could not be prouder of my family! I sit here and tears are flowing, this is such an incredible journey. Brian and Jen are so dedicatd to be doing such an amazing thing. Anna has such achieved an incredible view of life, and our family has gained an incredible exposure of life, and love. I have had the opportunity to travel in Europe in the past, but this is such an incredibly different environment, ancient world, ancient development. We are in a 5 Star hotel overlooking an apartment with laundry hanging out to dry. The parents involved in adoptions are here, grouping the families together, and they are all amazing, so giving. I will not even give the details of the dinner which involved a cooked chicken with head and all, I am eating vegatables from this point forward! I am so grateful to Jen and Brian, they have expanded our world enormously! Good night to all. Gail


No pictures today, sorry. With Brian gone it's hard to take pictures and keep track of Anna at the same time. She is also camera shy so as soon as I get the camera out, she turns the other way. So what have I been doing since Brian left... shopping of course. I spent the afternoon yesterday at a children's market and went back to the island today for more shopping. I wasn't quite sure what to even buy the first time but I'm getting the hang of it now and can think of lots to buy- sorry Brian. Anna has been quiet lately. I want so badly for her to want me but completely understand her perspective. I think she thinks I am just the person taking care of her at this point in time. She is so willing to go with anyone who speaks to her in her language. Sometimes I am watching her and she looks like a lost soul. It just breaks my heart. She is so well mannered and will do whatever she is told in Cantonese. I know it will change when we get home but is a daily reminder that love and relationships take time and this little girl has a long way to go before she trusts in me and our family. She will need a lot of time to grieve and that is O.K. I'm sure her siblings will help as they are so anxious to get her home. They are all so cute talking to her on Skype. I am doing some paperwork this afternoon then going out for ITALIAN food with our new friends for dinner. My mom arrives at midnight tonight. Poor mom will be so tired and we have a busy day tomorrow. Luckily Anna naps every day so that means she can nap too. I promise to work on picture taking because I know that is all everyone wants to see and I can't blame them. She is after all an adorable little girl!


Rain, rain, go away...

I have many more pictures of the temple that should be in the slideshow but I had been working with photobucket for over an hour and the connection was so slow so I gave up. Yesterday after we went and filled out the paperwork for Anna's passport, our guide took us to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. It was beautiful despite the drizzle. She gave a lot of history about it but Brian listened while I was running after Ting Ting so I didn't hear much. I'll ask Brian to write a post later. Another family from our agency arrived last evening which is wonderful for me, espcially since Brian left this morning. We went out to dinner with them and our guide. They just adopted the most adorable 5 year old boy. He is absolutely charming and so fond of Ting Ting. This is their 2nd adoption from China and they brought their 7 year old daughter with them. Ting Ting is enamored by her as well. The 2 little ones chatted immediately- of course we had no idea what they were saying. Brian had quite a few thoughts about what they were saying- like "why the heck are we here with these strange people!" We had a wonderful dinner. I continue to be amazed at what this little girl eats. She ate spicy shrimp curry, crab, spicy chicken... I'm not sure how much she is going to like of our bland chicken nuggets and pizza reperatoire at our house. I gues you can add tobasco to anything!

This morning Brian left around 5:45 am. I was so sad to have him leave but told him I am so happy that he is going home to our kids. Despite skyping and seeing that they are fine and happy as can be, I know they will be so happy to have their daddy home. My mom is coming tomorrow around midnight and I will be equally happy to see her. I know parents have come on this journey alone and I'm the first to admit I could not do it.

Anna had her medical exam this morning. It was a bit more invvolved than I was lead to believe but everyone was very nice and she only had to get 2 shots and her TB test so I was very grateful for that. We were supposed to go sightseeing but it is raining (again!) so we came back to the hotel. Actually it worked out well because we were already an hour past naptime and despite my lack of worry about Anna living on lollipops while we are here, I'm trying to stay on top of her sleep schedule. We ate crackers in our room for lunch and she is napping here now. When we got dropped off I asked the other family if we could meet in the lobby this afternoon to do something. What I'm not sure but I really want the company. They have also been here before so I'm up for anything they want to do. Tomorrow we have NOTHING planned so once again I will ask our new friends if we can do something together. Hopefully it will not be raining so we can go back to the island and walk around.


Anna day 3

Because the best time for me to blog is Anna's nap time, some of the pictures are from yesterday (teaching her to dip french fries in ketchup. Any other method of eating french fries would be completely unacceptable in our house!) Since this is Brian's last day, we decided to venture out and head to the island. Our hotel is great (China Hotel Marriout) but we feel a bit isolated here. We don't see many other Americans and since we are not in a group we are on our own a lot. We took a cab to the White Swan and ventured from there. Immediately we saw adoptive families all over the place which was nice. That hotel is beautiful and I'm sorry we are not staying there. We did some shopping, basically little things for our kids. The people here comment a lot on Anna- how big she is, how cute she is, how ACTIVE she is! On that note, we bought a stroller because my back is starting to hurt. Luckily she was game to riding in it. The island is completely under construction and a big muddy mess but I can see how beautiful and nice it would be under different circumstances. I plan on going back again to check out some of the restraunts there. I am so sad Brian is leaving first thing in the morning and jealous that he gets to go home to our children. I am on my own for 2 days then my mom will be here. It's going to be rough and luckily we have things with our guide planned for part of both days. Otherwise Anna and I will be hanging out at the hotel. Anna still isn't sure about him so I had to take a picture of when she fell asleep and I handed her to him. This is the onlt time he has even touched her. He tries but doesn't want to force it. It all takes time. We are going to apply for her passport this afternoon and then we'll hang out this evening and get Brian packed. Keep me in your prayers as I continue to bond with Anna and pray for safe travels for Brian and my mom.

It's official

Sorry for the late post. I had time to load pictures but not write yesterday. Despite taking a nap with her for a couple of hours I was totally exhausted by her bedtime and needed to go to sleep too. I think there is so much emotional and physical effort going into our time with her. I do feel we made the right decision to not bring Jack. While I would love for him to be here and Anna would love having him, this is good bonding time for her.

We went back to the Adoption office this morning and finalized our paperwork. Bao Guan Ting is now officially Anna Francis Ting ULLERY! So what did we feed the newest little Ullery member for dinner- french fries and ketchup, coke, and a McDonalds shake for dessert! I kind of regret the coke because she had a rough night but who knows if that was the cause. Yesterday when we got her the nanny told us she was a headbanger at night and not to be alarmed by this behavior. The first night she only did it for a little while in the middle of the night but last night she did it ALL night long. She seems to be sleeping but I'm not sure how since she is propelling her entire upper half up and down in the bed. Needless to say we did not sleep at all. It's loud and she also moves all over the place. She fell out of bed twice so I'm constantly watching her to be sure she is O.K. She will definately need bed rails at home.

After we finished at the adoption center, we went to a large park and walked around. Anna has a lot of energy and can walk forever. I can't believe how many stairs she can climb without getting tired. It's very interesting looking at the culture around us. The park was filled with people dancing, playing hackysack, practicing tai chi (?) or something like that. Our guide told us most of these people are retired and spend their days there. It's very social for them. We ate crackers and peanut butter in our room for lunch and put her down for a nap, us too. She slept 3 hours. Poor little thing was so worn out.

The rest of our day was fine. Anna is getting more used to me. When I kiss her cheek she kisses me back. She still prefers our guide but until we get home and get out of her culture, I think it will be this way. We are loving this little girl so much. What an experience!

Brian's thoughts for the day. We met another couple that I have been communicating with on my website for China adoptions. It's great to see someone you have been talking to for months. Anyway her husband went to Ohio State and they are from Ohio. Brian had an Ohio State shirt on so they did the O H I O in front of the Adoption Registry sign. Oh Brian... His other input for the day is that they have yellow mustard here so he is surviving just fine!


We have Anna!! (Ting Ting)

I wanted to get this post out last night but Anna needed all of our attention and working on the computer was not an option. It's hard to put into words how our day played out and so much will be lost in writing. On the way to the adoption office I was so nervous, unexpectedly. I started hyperventilating. Brian kept asking me if I was O.K. I was so worried about passing out there but ended up fine. I know it's not comparable but I felt the same way when I was minutes away from from having my c-sections, laying on the table. The focus is just breathing at that point. You know your life is about to change and that's O.K. but it's all so overwhelming. Also, just the environment all around us on the way there was such a statement on the standard of living here. I had Brian videotape. Their middle class is what we would consider povery level and it's eye opening, shocking and sad.

Once we got to the office, things happened quickly. We filled out a form and Anna was brought out to us. She looked exactly like her pictures, adorable. But she is BIG, much bigger than Carter and much heavier. My arm muscles will get a great workout these next few weeks. Initally she was O.K. She played with the toys we gave her and sat in my lap. About 10 minutes into that when she was done with us, the crying started. It was heartbreaking. She tried so hard to get away from us and go back to her nanny. I felt so sad for her and worried for us. Our guide tried to hurry the rest of the process along and felt it would be better if we left quickly. Thank goodness for our guide. She was able to talk to her and calm her down a bit. We then went to the grocery store to buy some snacks and drinks for her. She is called Ting Ting so that is what we are going to call her for a while. As we handed her each snack in the cart, you could tell this made her happy but still no smiles. We got back to the hotel and our guide had us go to our room for a half hour before coming back down to do paperwork. Poor Anna cried and wanted to stay with our guide. I can't imagine how hard this is for her. She was only taken from her foster family 5 days ago. The first thing we did in the room was BUBBLES and the smiles starting coming, then the laughter. She loved them and finally relaxed. We then started to see some of her personality and honestly the rest of the night was great. She laughed a lot and seems comfortable with me. She's not to sure about Brian yet. We were able to Skpe the kids and they were excited. God bless Skype or I could never last here this long. She blew kisses to them and learned "Hello." Our first impressions of her are that she is smart, very active, loud, loves toys and snacks, fully potty trained!!, and a happy little girl. We are so blessed. This has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I am so happy. She is wonderful and perfect and will fit so beautifully in our family. Oh I forgot we were told she likes "to be pretty." Callie will have her full make-up, nails and dress-ups on in an instant! I do see a very active summer in my future, this girl likes to RUN. Our guide said she listens well and was easily redirected. Really this is all incredible. This is way more than we could have ever have hoped for and we LOVE her! Thank you God for this wonderful little girl. By the way, she slept through the night!


We are in Guangzhou

I survived yet another flight so I have to give thanks and praise for that. No matter how many more flights I have throughout my life, I will never get over this paralyzing fear of flying. We had no idea that Guangzhou was such a large city. Thirteen million people!! Our guide gave us our schedule for tomorrow and she is picking us up at 1:30pm to go get Anna. Even though we have been here a couple of days, it still seems very surreal that after all of this time, we will meet our daughter tomorrow. Please pray that Anna is O.K. tomorrow. I feel prepared, but I have no idea how she will react. Tomorrow night we will post pictures. We did not do much exploring today. I seem to hit a wall around 4pm daily (following van rides.) I know I said this already but driving is CRAZY here and since I get car sick, the van rides pretty much do me in. The Marriot is very nice so we are happy to hang out in our room and relax before tomorrow. The next time I post, we will new parents again and a family of 6!


Beijing pictures!

Beijing sightseeing

Day 1:
I'm going to let Brian write part of this post for Mrs. Heinicke's class so he can give some of the history we learned today. We met another couple from Nashville and we all spent the day with our guide at Tiennamen Square, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. Our guide Cindy was fantastic and so knowledgable on the history of Beijing. It is so different and amazing to be around culture that is hundreds of years old. Everything here was built for a purpose and all words have so much meaning. The colors and architecture were beautiful. In downtown Beijing it feels much like any city but once we were out we quickly realized how drastically different this culture is from our own. Driving is a serious hazard. You make your own lanes-cars, bicycles and people all share the same road space- and somehow it all flows. Food is very different. I can't imagine trying to be in a restaraunt without a guide to order for you. We were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day and I'm so glad we chose to come here first. Tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou for the duration of our trip.
Here is Brian's history lesson:

The Great Wall was built over 2500 years ago and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After several modifications and extensions, it now measures over 3,800 miles of actual wall (that is bigger than the distance across the continental United States). It was built to protect the Chinese people from invaders from the North as its height and watchtowers allowed the Chinese archers an advantage over the invaders.

The Forbidden City is the palace of the former emperors (rulers) of China. It contains over 900 buildings and over 8,700 rooms (which means you could live in a different room each day of your life from birth to age 27). Almost all of the buildings have roofs which are colored yellow which was the official color of the emperors. It is the largest surviving palace complex in the world.


We are here!!!

We made it. We are in Beijing and exhausted. Tomorrow we will head out for a full day of sightseeing including The Great Wall. I will post pictures tomorrow when we get back to the hotel. I wish I had more to write but we've been awake for 24 hours now and I can barely think.

Blessings and Prayers

I meant to post this before I left but I was so busy, it just didn't get done. We are so blessed to have so many friends and family that have been a large part in making this journey possible. We are blessed to have family and friends that will be watching our children at home, loving them, taking care of them, and making sure they are O.K. without Mom and Dad. Thank you so much mom for watching our kids. I am grateful to all of my friends that will be stepping in for playdates and carpool. I am thankful for my Sunday school friends who are providing meals for my family. I am eternally blessed to have such an incredible best friend who will do whatever it takes to make sure I am O.K. on this journey. Again, thank you to all. We can't wait for you to meet Anna. So many have told us how blessed this little girl is to be coming into our family. I wish I could say I feel the same way but the truth is that I feel that we are the one's blessed. Anna is our blessing.
Please keep us in your prayers these next 2 weeks. While this is an amazing journey for us, it will be a difficult one for Anna. She is leaving everything she has ever known and coming into a completely new life. Please pray that God is preparing her heart for this transition. Please pray that our children at home are happy. Please pray that I allow myself to take in everything about this trip and focus on my time here without being too heartbroken about missing my kiddos. Thank you for all your prayers and positive thoughts.


Countdown to China

One week from today, we will have met our daughter and officially become a family of 6. Instead of looking at the same 6 pictures of Anna throughout the day, I will be watching her, holding her, loving her and learning about her. Our children here will be able to talk to her on Skype and she will see them. Amazing isn't it!!
We started the packing process last night. Luckily we are both light packers and I am planning on doing laundry once or twice there. It's a daunting task but I keep telling myself they do have stores there right?
I've been working on a binder for my mom on the kids. I think I'm done- it's about 50 pages long. Every hour of every day for the kids is detailed. How to put them to bed, what they like to eat, how to get to all the parks, medical releases, phone lists...everything I could think of. I've sent a ton of e-mails to all the people involved with the kids on schedules and contacts. I know this is a bit overboard, but I need to do it for my own peace of mind.
I have today and tomorrow, then were off. Unbelievable.


Happy Easter

What a beautiful day. We spent the afternoon with extended family and the weather was perfect. We have done Easter egg hunts in winter coats but today was 83 and sunny. Thank you Jesus for this glorious day.
Decorating sugar cookies on Saturday afternoon with friends.
Easter morning. Breakfast menu: marshmallow peeps and chocolate!

Smile. Yes, Mom is taking pictures AGAIN.

Posing with our cousin Bryce. Aren't the boys cute? Carter and Bryce are 5 days apart in age.

The great Easter egg hunt

All the cousins together.