Thursday, May 31, 2007

We're Home!!

And amazingly, all three kids are asleep in their own rooms! Yay!! Now time for Steve and I to sit down and unwide with a Coke and ICE!! It's the little things we missed. I'll post more later and pictures tomorrow.

Stephanie

BTW - I didn't have time to post after our Consulate appointment but Steve, Caleb & I were interviewed by CNN. They were there filming the swearing in ceremony & interviewed us. I have no idea when/if it will air or if it will be here or in China but hey, we're celebrities now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Two more days!

Well, I tried to post before and somehow my post disappeared. Hmm, maybe the problem is that everything is in Mandarin except what I'm writing. Who knows where I sent that last message.

Anyway, I only have 3 minutes left in the business center here so I'll have to be brief. We leave Thursday morning at 8:20 and couldn't be happier! All I want is a little more space and no more squatty potties!!! Claire had her first experience with one the other day and let me just say, it made an impression. Having Zach with us, of course we have seen every squatty potty in Guangzhou. Even some down dark alleys and up rickety stairs. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. Especially when you are four.

The kids are still doing well but tempers are flaring. Zach is antagonizing Caleb, Caleb is biting Zach and Grace is scratching and pinching everyone in reach, including Chinese ladies who make the mistake of turning their backsides to her. She pinches and they whip around to glare at Steve! By then Grace is back to looking angelic so no one suspects her!

My time's up so looking forward to seeing you all! And I hope this goes through.

Stephanie

Only two days left

And we leave! I don't think I've ever been so ready to leave somewhere in my life. Not because it's been a bad trip, but it's just been so long. Plus three kids and two adults in one small hotel room is just a recipe for disaster. I'm going to hide my eyes when they give us the final bill for the hotel. I know we've already got Crayola decorated sheets and a broken glass on there. Then there's the twice daily room cleaning. As the housekeeping staff put it, "You need vacuming two times a day!" It took a staff of three over an hour to clean it yesterday. They will be so glad when we are gone!

Caleb continues to adust well except for the biting and the temper tantrums. We don't think he's ever been told "no" before. He has a complete meltdown any time we take something away or tell him no. It's getting better so I'm not worried about it but it is wearing thin quickly. In fact, I think all of the kids will settle down once we get home. Zach is acting up, I think jealousy is the problem, and Gracie's schedule is so thrown off she doesn't know what to do.

We leave Thursday morning so this might be the last post from China. Our flight leaves at 8:20 am and we leave the hotel at 5:30 am. Fun! Oh well, at least we'll be home that much faster.

Stephanie

Sunday, May 27, 2007

And the biting continues...

As you might have guessed from the title, Caleb is a biter. And not little nips here and there, big, jaw clenching, bruise leaving bites. He got Zach twice, once on the arm and once on the stomach. Poor Zach, he has half dollar size bruises. It looks so painful.

Today we were trying to sort out some money issues with our guide (they didn't give us the right price before we left so when I wired them the money it didn't include Mom & Claire) and the boys were running around the lobby of the White Swan. Now this is a very nice hotel. The kind that if it were a restaraunt, and not the place that almost every American stays when they adopt, would have on its menu - "Well behaved children are welcome." As you can imagine, one blond headed American boy and one dark headed Chinese boy running through the lobby screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs was getting us quite a few dirty looks. Eventually, I felt I had to intervene and tried to pull Caleb back over to us.

That's when he tried to get me.

The minute I reached for him, the screaming began and the mouth opened. Little did he know I've had 18 months with Grace, Queen Biter. He might bight harder but he doesn't bite faster. I grabbed his hands and stretched them out so that he couldn't lean into me and said, "No biting!" Of course his mouth was still open and he was straining with everything he had to chomp down on any piece of me he could get, but I escaped this time. But he didn't give up easily. Since he couldn't bite me, he settled for hitting and kicking. But at least I don't have any little teeth marks anywhere!

We went to the Six Banyan Trees Temple today and even in the rain it was beautiful. Steve, Zach & Claire climbed to the top of a seventeen story pagoda. I made it to the fourth floor but as you have to inch around this tiny balcony that's on the outside of the pagoda and I hate heights, I gave up and climbed down praying that I wouldn't topple over the very thin rail and splat on the concrete below.

Everyone is still well but Grace had a fever this morning. We only have one more official day and that's Tuesday at the US consulate. Then, as long as we can get a cash advance from our credit card to pay the rest of the fees we can leave. If not, they might hold us hostage and put us to work!

Love to all,
Stephanie

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gracie's Midnight Song

That's what Zach calls it when she wakes up between 2:30 & 3:00 everymorning screaming. We thought we had that little issue ironed out when she slept until 6:00 for the past two nights. Not so. Last night she woke up screaming at 3:45 and we couldn't get her to go back to sleep so Steve walked her up and down the halls of the White Swan where she sang and laughed until the breakfast buffet opened at 6:00. Well, it was quite an experience. Those of you who have dined with Gracie know that there needs to be at least a three foot radius of clear space around her. Anything that enters the space either goes in her mouth or on the floor.

Anyway, they were seated and Steve told the attendant not to put anything in front of Grace. Somehow Grace ended up with a glass of orange juice right in front of her and of course, it ended up on the floor, shattering the glass and splattering orange juice everywhere. After this, all of the waitresses mobbed Steve, demanding to know "Where baby's Mama?" I was up in the room with the boys, blissfully unaware of the chaos in the dining room.

Well, they moved them to another table, right next to some Asian business men in nice suits with their laptops and papers out. Steve, knowing Grace as he does, asked to be moved but the waitress said no, he was fine there. So they sit and not more than two minutes later, Grace grabs her bowl of cheerios and flings it over her left shoulder, onto the Chinese man behind her. He was soaked. Milk and cheerios from his head to his toes.

Again, Steve was cornered by women demanding to know, "Where Baby's Mama?!" Then they strongly "encouraged" him to come back later with Mama. Steve said no, they would eat then and finished the meal. Poor guy! Traveling with 3 young kids, one of them autistic, is nothing if not exciting!

Everyone else is doing well, if tired. And we are all ready to come home. Caleb is thawing toward me and even cried this morning when I left to get some food. Having me be his primary caregiver is really working. Even with the difficulty in bonding, we feel like we've hit the Kid Lottery. He is such a character! Mom bought the boys matching shades and you would think they own the streets of Guangzhou! He waives and grins as we walk past people! Such a little ham. He's fitting right in.

We're stuck in the hotel right now because it's raining now. So I'm off to take the kids to the play room to run off some steam.

Love you all,
Stephanie

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One more week!

And boy, will we be glad to be home. Other than the bonding issues with Caleb, which are slowly sorting themselves out, this has been a much better trip than last time. We've been able to see a lot of China, even took the kids to a amusement park where Zach played in such places as "Fruit & Vegetable Land", and "Phrase Land". We even got Gracie on a ride with him & she seemed to enjoy it also.

Even so, we're ready to go home. Two adults & three kids in a room that's about the size of our bathroom is a little tight! Plus it's very difficult to bond with Caleb when we're always going somewhere. I'll be so glad to be home & in a routine.

As I said, things are getting a little better with Caleb. I'm trying to do the caregiving activities -- holding him, soothing him, feeding, changing, etc. And he's beginning to loosen up a bit around me. It's really tough for him since he's lost every mother figure he's ever had. Of course he thinks I'll leave too. I'm just really trying to sort some of it out here because we get home on the 31st & Steve goes back to work on the 4th. Then it's just me and the Terrific Three. It will be much easier if Caleb accepts me then. Oh well, it just takes time.

We will be so glad to see everyone!

Stephanie

BTW - Zach is engaged. One of the vendors has decided that she is his finance. We can't walk more than two feet with him without being mobbed! I think all of the fame is going to his head!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Medical Exam Today

Today is the medical exam and I can't help thinking back to eighteen months ago when we had Gracie's medical exam. Such a hard experience. There we were, surrounded by 3 Chinese doctors being told our daughter was retarded. Turned out they were right, but we didn't care. She's ours and always will be. This whole trip has brought back memories of our time here with Grace, both good and bad. I'm so thankful though that we have her. We met a couple here who were originally given a child with cerebral palsy. They didn't feel they could handle the need and gave her back and got another child. I understand their fear, heck, we lived it, but I can't stop thinking of that little girl who had a chance for a family and it just slipped away from her. Everyone deserves a family who loves them no matter what. I just wish people knew they are strong enough handle situations like that even if it seems they aren't. Sigh.

Well, I'm sure Caleb's exam will be fine. It's in 2 hours and I'll tell you what, there's nothing wrong with this little guy other than a quick temper! This is one child in need of some boundaries!

Love to you all and we'll see you soon!
Stephanie

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cloud Mountain

Today we went to the Cloud Mountain. It was this beautiful mountain surrounded by gardens with sunflowers everywhere. It would have been perfect except that it started raining really hard so we all got soaked. Oh well, it was still really neat. We're getting to see so much more of China this time -- since we can actually leave our room. We went the the Toy Market a few days ago and as we were waiting for a taxi (again in the rain) an old man street vendor came up to me and pointed at all the kids, asking if they were mine. I motioned to all three of them and then to me, and said they were, he smiled and then went and brought his grandson over for us to see. It was really touching to see how proud he was of his little grandson. Zach of course was a big hit again.

Everything is still going well except that Zach and Steve are sick. Good thing we have antibiotics this time! Caleb is starting to come around to me a bit more but still really prefers everyone else to me. At least he's letting me feed him now, although he did try to bite me this morning. Hmm, maybe he's already learning from his big sister?

Stephanie

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A few stumbling blocks

Well, we've had a few stumbling blocks. Nothing big. Everyone is still doing well but whereas in the beginning Caleb really took to me, now he doesn't want much to do with me. It's normal but it's hard on me. He such a great little guy and it hurts so much when he pushes me away. Yesterday he cried at the site of me and went to everyone except me. He'd turn his head away from me and scream if I held him. It really just broke my heart. But as I said, it's normal and expected.

Today was better as he let me hold him and feed him. And last night, after such a hard day, I was in the room alone with Caleb and Grace and he let me kiss him then he'd point to Grace & I'd kiss her. It was really cute. After that, he seemed to feel more comfortable with me. It'll just take time. It's still so much easier than it was with Grace.

Speaking of Grace, we saw our guide, Daniel, from when we adopted Grace. He remembered us because of all the trouble we had. He was such a great guy we were so happy to have the chance to talk to him again and thank him for all of his help when things were so hard with Grace.

Everyone else is fine. Zach has become a local celebrity. We went to the electronics market today and a crowd surrounded him everywhere he went. The salesgirls were making origami (sp?) planes, flowers, everything for him. As we left, he turned to me and said, "I like playing girlfriend!" All of the girls fuss over him everywhere we go. Yesterday he took to saying, "Ladies, ladies. Calm down." I'm sure you can just picture it! As for how all of the kids are getting along, actually it's better than expected. Caleb looooves Zach and gets a kick out of Grace. Zach and Caleb nap together in one bed and it's the cutest thing you've ever seen. Of course, they squabble, but not too bad yet. All in all, it's pretty good.

Still, we'll be so happy to get home. Grace hasn't adjusted to the time and wakes up every night at 2:30 in the morning. So we are all tired.

Well, we're off to dinner. I won't be able to post pictures until we get home, but we've got a lot!

Stephanie

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Day 2

And all is well. He's still a sweetheart and still just picking up on everything. He definitely has his own ideas about things. He picks out his own clothes, feeds himself and cleans up after himself. He's just a great little guy. We're getting some tears right now so I've got to be brief but just wanted to let everyone know things are still going well.

Stephanie

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WE HAVE HIM!!

Well, we have him & he's great!! He is sooo smart! No delays at all! There were a few tears in the beginning but then we broke out the bubbles & stickers and rice crispy treats and he was sold. That is until he tried to put a sticker on Grace and she bit him. Welcome to the family! He's already learned several words and we've only had him for 3 hours. He's said - mirror, more, baba (mandarin for daddy), bye bye, cars, & more that I can't remember. He has a great personality. Smiles and a great sense of humor. He will be a great fit for our family. We are sooo glad & relieved. After Grace, we were really scared but this kid is smart as a whip. We all love him already. And the best thing is that having Zach & Grace here has really helped.

It has been a wonderful transition so far. Of course we expect some bumps in the road. He has a little cold but they've already put him on antibiotics. It's not a big deal at all. We all just love him already.

Thank you all so much for all of the prayers. They have made a HUGE difference. We just have to thank God for such a blessing.

I can't wait until you all meet him. He is wonderful.

Love you all,
Stephanie

P.S. - Terri, Claire is doing a great job! She is a great kid. You should be so proud of her.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

3 1/2 hours to go...

We don't have him yet but soon! We finally called got in touch with our guide and she will be at our room at 1:00 pm China time. We get Caleb at 2:00. We are all tired, nervous, excited...everything you can imagine. All is well. We got some rest yesterday but Grace is still on US time and not sleeping yet. So hopefully that will work itself out tonight.

Thanks for all of the comments! We love hearing from you all. I'll update again after we have Caleb!

Stephanie

BTW - One of my stories was published on Mother's Day. If you want to read it it's at www.literarymama.com and it's called Hearing is Believing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

We're Here!!

Well, tried to post this once already and it didn't go through so here we go again. We made it to the hotel late last night after one cancelled flight and a missing guide. We flagged down a taxi and made it to our hotel. We checked in around 1:00 am.

We're all tired but good. Today we'll just take it easy because tomorrow we get Caleb! I'll post an update tomorrow evening.

Stephanie

Friday, May 11, 2007

Zach & Grace's last few days as a twosome





Here are the kids enjoying some much needed down time this week. Wonder how Caleb will fit in here? Hope he likes tickles and giggles!

Stephanie

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Well, not yet, but close. Our flight leaves on Sunday at 12:16 pm and we arrive in Guangzhou at 10:45 pm on Monday. Then we have a day of rest on Tuesday and get Caleb at 2:00 on Wednesday! Seems like these past two weeks have flown by!

The good news is that Mom and Claire both have their passports and visas! They got them yesterday morning so everyone is good to go!

We'll be updating everyone through the blog while we're in China but won't be able to post any pictures. We'll be using the hotel business center instead of our own computer so I can't download any pictures.

Stephanie

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Almost time to go...

Well, we leave in 5 days and I'm scared. Terrified actually. I keep thinking of our experience with Grace and I'm so afraid of the same thing happening with Caleb. The past year and a half with her has been many things, but easy isn't one of them. She has brought so much to our lives and honestly, I'm a better person for having her in my life, but I really don't want to do it again! I know we're all worried about it, even Zach, yesterday he asked if Caleb would be "artistic" -- his word for autistic. All I could think was, boy, I hope not.

I know God will give us the strength to deal with whatever comes our way, but I just keep thinking, "Please, let this one be easy!"

Stephanie

Monday, May 7, 2007

New Pictures of Caleb!




We just got some new pictures of Caleb! He's such a cutie, I can't believe we'll be in China in a week!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Passports for everyone!!!

They're all here! Claire got her passport today & we sent it off for a visa. What a relief. We were down to the wire here. It has been so stressful trying to get the passports and visas at the last minute. We really needed someone with us since we will be there longer this time and have Zach and Grace. My Crohn's flared the day after we got Grace last time and Steve and I were both having nightmares of me sick with a Crohn's flare and Steve with all three kids. But thanks to Mom and Claire, even if I do get sick, we have backup.

Have I mentioned that family is wonderful and ours is the best? Really, we couldn't be doing all of this without our families. Every time we've needed help, they've been there. And let me tell you, we've needed a lot of help! Between all of my surgeries (four in the past four years) and Gracie's doctor's & therapists, it's been really rough. So thank you everyone for your help & prayers! Now send up some prayers for safe travel and a good transition for Caleb.

Stephanie

Friday, May 4, 2007

One down, one to go!!

We got my mom's passport today!!!! It came this morning so we rushed around and pulled everything together for the visa and sent that off to the courier today. With luck we'll have her passport back with the visa by Thursday.

I talked to my sister-in-law last night and Claire's passport is finished & we should have it either today or tomorrow. Yay!! Then we'll send it off for the visa and hopefully everyone will be ready, passport & visa in hand, by Friday. Boy are we cutting it close!

Keep the prayers coming. We still have a lot to do. Tomorrow we will paint the boys' room & start packing. I can't believe we leave in a little over a week, but this is always how it is in adoption. A lot of waiting in the beginning and then, rush, rush, rush at the end. Having done this before you'd think I'd learn and be a little more organized. Oh well, maybe next time...or not! Three's enough, especially with Grace. She counts for two!

Stephanie

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Good day for Grace


This morning was a rough morning for Grace, and therefore, for the rest of us. Last week she had a reaction to her seizure medication -- stuff coming out of both ends (trust me, you don't want details) and hives from head to toe. Poor thing. She was miserable. Well, after two trips to the dr (between trying finish painting the boys' room, packing...etc.) they finally decided to switch her meds. Well, she's been a bear since then. Crying, scratching, pinching & hitting anyone who crosses her path. This morning was more of the same. She fell asleep for a bit then I took her to school.

I was anticipating another bad day at school -- yesterday was bad -- but when I went to pick her up, here she comes, walking down the hall and when she sees me she starts flapping her hands and squealing with a big smile across her face. It's the first time she's been obviously happy to see me when I picked her up. And one of the few times she's actually walked down the hall. Normally she flings herself on the ground. I picked her up and tickled her and she laughed some more. Her teacher told me that she had a good day and is making friends with another little girl in her class. It's a structured learning class for autistic children so it's big for both girls. They sit together on a bench and look at books or play. I had to blink back tears I was so happy. Those of you who saw her when she came home know how detached she was from everyone and everything. It's wonderful to see her "waking up".

Now if we could get this medication straightened out before we leave -- and the room painted, and packed...

Stephanie