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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri


Day 4 Guangzhou 2007

Today was a good day.  Joy woke up without crying.  She slept well, and I only heard her bang her head on the crib a few times.  She also seems to be getting over her terrible cold.  I'm sure that cold contributed to her crying a lot.  Slowly, she's interacting with all of us.  She's smiling more often and seems to be much more content and at peace with us.  Her appetite has picked up.  She usually has about 5-6 ounces of formula with some rice cereal mixed in.  For breakfast she ate a little more congee and a few bites of banana.  She still doesn't eat enough food, so I'm sure she'll be on the bottle for a while.  Physically, she's probably at about 9 months old.  Mentally and emotionally, about 6 months.  She's already been exposed to so many things that she's never experienced.  At dinner, I give her some food to eat and she feels it and tries to put it in her mouth.  That alone is an accomplishment.  Just a couple of days ago, she didn't know what to do with food when I put it in her mouth.  She loves to be outside.  Tonight we were out a bit, and she was very well behaved.  There is so many things new to her.  I'm so happy for her; that she has a new opportunity in life, an opportunity that she probably would never have if she stayed in the orphanage.

Today we went to Baiyun Mountain.  It is a beautiful mountain with wonderful gardens and a path all the way up.  Because of our family size, we had to take 2 taxis.  All of the girls with our guide were in one taxi, and Mike and the boys in the other.  Mike left before us, but we got there before him.  When they pulled up, Seth looked green.  Apparently, the heat, cigarette smell, and lurching in traffic caused him to lose his breakfast on the floor of the backseat of the taxi.  Mike felt badly for the driver and gave him some extra money.  We found out later, that Mike's taxi fare was much more than ours.  Maybe the driver took the long way?  No wonder Seth got sick.  We rode an open seated vehicle to the top of the mountain, walked around a bit, then took the tram down the mountain.  All the pics off the tram are compliments of Seth.

I have to post a funny episode that happened the other day.  We went to a walmart type store.  When we got out of the taxi the girls each got in their own stroller.  Jack wanted to push Eva.  We were in a hurry to get out of the way and Eva wasn't buckled in.  Jack was moving fairly quickly to get onto the sidewalk.  Sure enough (I saw it coming) Jack rammed the stroller into the curb of the sidewalk.  Eva flew out of the stroller and slapped the ground with her hands and fell flat on her belly.  After making sure she was fine, I couldn't help but chuckle about it all because it was such a funny site.  Jack looked completely shocked at what had just happend and didn't want to push her anymore.  Poor guy.

Tomorrow we're planning on heading into the city to the walking street.  I hope things go well with the girls and it will be less than 100 degrees out.  Yes, the heat index was over 100 today.  It is very smothering.
 Our First "Family of 7" picture.

On the Tram


Day 3 Guangzhou 2007

Can you believe that I didn't know what day of the week it was?  I had to figure it out by my posts.  I'm a bit scatter-brained lately.

So, we've had Joy for 2 full days now.  She slept peacefully last night.  No headbanging or coughing.  I started her on an antibiotic and gave her motrin at bedtime.  When she woke up, she cried.  I was hoping for a good start to the day, with some smiles.  It didn't happen.  She has finally started taking a bottle with cereal for me.  Even at breakfast she ate tiny spoonfuls of congee and watermelon.  It is definitely not enough to fill her tummy.  Late morning, we went to the pool.  The boys needed to burn off some energy, and I wanted to expose Joy to as much as possible.  She seemed to like the pool after the initial shock of it all.  We only sat on the steps.  She hated the sun in her face, just like Eva did.  She christened the swim diaper that I bought for Eva.  I doubt the stains will come out. 
After her lunchtime bottle, she ate 1/4 of a banana and about 20 cheerios.  I was so excited.  It is very hard to get a smile out of her.  She's so serious all of the time.  After lunch, she interacted very well with all of us.  She stroked Seth's face.  She even wacked Eva in the head with a toy a couple of times.  Jordan got her to chuckle briefly.  I think she tickled her tummy.  I'm just loving her the best I can to let her know how much we care for her.  She seems to really enjoy being held and cuddled up to our chests.  It seems to be the preferred position.

After a short nap, Mike, Eva, Joy, and I, went to the passport office to apply for Joy's passport.  For the next week, I think, we've nothing but time on our hands.  I think we'll go to White Cloud Mountain tomorrow.  The boys are going stir crazy, and I am too.  We finally made it out to dinner tonight, near the hotel.  It was nice, but expensive.   I guess it is expensive anywhere with the whole family.  Dining just isn't as fun here in Guangzhou as it was in Nanchang last year.  

Some things I've discovered about Joy:  she has only 4 teeth, terribly dry, rough skin, she has many bruises on her, which is quite concerning to us.  Tonight at dinner, I saw a naughty streak in Joy.  She was swinging a toy around, dangerously, so I told her no and held it down.  When I removed my hand, she did it again, so I took the toy away.  Then the screaming started.  She was mad.  She doesn't like things being taken away from her, especially if it is not replaced with something else.  Lots of training is in store for this little girl.  I think more than what Eva has needed.  This morning, she was playing with stacking cups.  She ended up carrying the smallest red one down to breakfast at around 8:00.  She held that cup all through breakfast, while in our room for a bit, while I changed her clothes, and the whole time we were at the pool.  Total time: at least 4 hours.

The mother bear in me has emerged.  I knew it was coming in regards to Joy's hand; I just didn't know when.  Her hand is not a pretty site.  It is something you have to get used to.  I know it is only natural to want to look at it and want to know about it.  Two times, people have looked at her hand; one with a look of disgust, and another straining his head to get a closer look.  I find myself carrying her in a way that people cannot see her hand.  People can be cruel and a mother's heart only wants to shield her from all the hurts that will come her way.  Even Jack saw Joy's hand yesterday and exclaimed, "Mom! Look at Joy's hand!"  It was like all of a sudden, he noticed it was not normal looking.  I guess he forgot that she's not "perfect".  Joy has no problem using her hand.  She was actually holding that tiny foam elephant in the left hand.  She passes a toy from one hand to another and even picked up rice with her hands.  Currently, it doesn't hinder her.  Jordan pointed out, that she won't be able to play the violin, flute, or clarinet.  But, I'm sure, if she's persistent, nothing will hold her back.  She just needs opportunity.

Seth and Mike are in the hotel gym.  He'll do the posting when he returns.  I got a couple of good pictures of Joy today.  Again, thanks for your prayers.  Please continue praying for us and Joy.  She has a long road ahead of her.


Adoption Day

Wow, what a day!  I didn't sleep well last night.  Joy coughed most of the night, or rather gagged on her congestion.  It was rough on both of us.  I also discovered that she's banging her head on the crib.  She also throws her left arm over her mouth and puts the sleeve to her lips.  She doesn't suck, but likes to have it right at her lips.  She was doing the same thing to my shirt.  Joy did not eat anything for me until after being with me for about 20 hours.  She wouldn't eat anything at breakfast either.  She sucked on a couple pieces of watermelon, but that is it.  I really don't think she has had any solid foods because when I put food in her mouth, she reacts like a baby trying food for the first time.  She pushes it out with her tongue.  She'll turn 16 months just before we return home.  It is hard to believe she's not eaten food.

Today, we finalized the adoption of Joy.  It didn't take too long, but it was hot.  Afterwards we headed to a walmart type store and bought a few things to keep in our rooms.  The place was jammed packed.  I didn't realize that 8 million people live in Guangzhou.  When we finally arrived back at our hotel, I prayed Joy would take a bottle.  She did, but only about 3-4 ounces of formula with cereal.  That was about noon.  She took a nice nap, then didn't eat again until about 6-7:00 p.m.  Joy is going to lose weight if she doesn't start eating better.  I'm thinking her throat hurts.  Whenever she coughs, she will cry/whimper.
After being in the hotel all afternoon, we headed out to walk around.  Eva and Joy were in their strollers.  Seth and Jack took a soccer ball.  I bought the girls a couple of really cute summer dresses and shoes.  I didn't intend on doing any shopping, but couldn't resist that cute dress in the window.  On the way back, Jack started playing soccer with "Jordon's" son.  Jordon has a shop near the White Swan.  The 2 boys enjoyed kicking the ball together.  We didn't feel like going anywhere for dinner, so we ended up ordering out.  I don't think Joy could sit in a restaurant for too long at this point.  She's really miserable with her sickness and her emotions right now.  Please pray for Joy.  Right now, she's just not a happy girl.  Every now and then I see a hint of a playful girl.  It is so quick that I wonder if it is my imagination.
One thing I forgot to mention was Joy's abilities.  Well, she's almost 16 months.  She can sit up for a bit before slumping over.  She has little muscle tone.  We did stand her up against the bed and she'll stand for a bit.  She's not walking and I've not seen her crawl.  So, basically, she's like an infant.  She's super tiny.  Joy is wearing 6-9 month clothes and some 6-12 month clothes.  She's just as tiny, if not smaller, than Eva was last year.  

Pictures will come shortly.  Mike and the boys are down at the pool.  I can't load anything onto Mike's laptop.  I leave that to him.  I'm sure he'll get those in tonight.  Sorry about the delay of last night's pictures.  I thought Mike was doing them, and he thought I was going to show him which pics to use.  Misunderstanding.  Also, thanks for all of the posts.  I read them all with a smile and appreciate them very much.


"Joy"ful Day

This morning, Eva woke me up at 5:00 a.m.  I figured this would happen as she slept on the plane from Hong Kong to Guangzhou.  I felt refreshed even after going to bed after midnight.  So, we cuddled, got up, dressed and headed down for breakfast, Eva's favorite part of the trip.  We all ate well, then walked around the streets for a bit.  It is extremely hot here.  I was hoping it would have been a little cooler.  By 10:00 a.m. I headed back to the room to cool off.  Eva played for a bit, then she napped almost 3 hours.

We met our guide in the lobby at 4:00 to head to the civil affairs office to get Joy.  Fortunately, we were the only family there.  After the proper paperwork, the Director brought Joy in.  She looked completely different from those pictures.  I still see a hint of her, but she looks thinner.  Joy was dressed in a new short outfift and socks.  She looked adorable and smelled like she was just powdered or bathed.  She didn't appear dirty at all, but her hair and skin is very dry.  I immediately reached for her.  She didn't reach for me, but I took her into my arms.  She seemed to be just fine and content to be there.  In her tiny left hand, she held a blue, foam elephant.  It was firmly in her grip; so cute.  I loved on her, then passed her around to the rest of the family.  She was very serious the whole time.  We did some more paperwork, while the children entertained her.  Eva seemed happy to see Joy, but the excitement wore off soon enough and she wanted her cup.  Seth got a couple of smiles out of her by swinging her up in the air.  That's a boy for you!

We got back to the room and I tried giving Joy a bottle.  She's refused it all evening long.  I'm hoping she'll eat something in the morning.  The director stated that she takes 5 bottles a day.  I tried putting 1/4 of a Cheerio in her mouth.  She makes a face and tries to spit it out.  Eva doesn't understand why she's refusing a bottle and food!  After some time of playing and holding, we walked to the pool with Jordan, Eva, and Jack.  Joy seems to enjoy being outside and is very happy.  We got back in the room and she had a few whimpers.  She also has been consoling herself by rocking back and forth.  At one point, she completely folded herself in half and lay her head on the toys.  It is so sad to see her confused.  I ended up giving Joy a quick bath.  She liked everything but the washing part and boy did she scream very loud.  But, after I wrapped her in a towel and cuddled her, she calmed down.  She's very tiny for 15 months old.  I don't know her weight yet, but I'm guessing around 16 pounds.  I put the 12 month sleeper on her and it was a bit big.  She has a tiny bottom like Eva's.  She also has those Mongolian Spots on her bottom.  I took off her socks to see those cute piggies, and boy are they big!  Her foot is wider than Eva's, but shorter.  She had 2 extremely long nails that I attempted to cut, and Joy started screaming.  She seems to be attached to items.  She'll hold a toy in her hand and not let go of it for quite some time.  She had the lion in her hand for about 45 minutes while we were at the pool.  I did notice some playfulness in her.  When Eva was sitting next to us, Joy swung the lion to hit Eva.  Hopefully, soon, we'll see more of her personality.

We're all tired.  We have to meet at the lobby at 9:00 tomorrow to complete the adoption, then off to the store to buy a couple of things for lunch in our room.  En"joy" the pictures.

 The Handoff

Meeting the sister.
Three sisters.

The Elephant Joy held in her hand all day.


Departure Day and Travel China 2007

Wow!  This has been a very long trip.  We were up at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and arrived in Guangzhou on Monday night at 9:30 p.m.  The travel went very smoothly with no delays or problems.  I had forgotten how long the trip from Chicago to Hong Kong really is.  I think it is just like childbirth; you forget the pain of "labor" after you have your child in your arms.  But, while you are in the midst of the pain, you wonder why you are going through it all.  

The children did very well.  We had great seats.  We purchased tickets, but really got 7 seats because the lady next to Jordan, moved to another seat.  So, there were times that we had 3 seats to actually lay down in.  Jack probably slept the most, 3 hours.  Eva fell asleep at lunch time right after leaving Chicago.  She slept for about an hour.  She went from one thing to another: books, coloring, snacking, toys, meals.  Of the 15.5 hour flight, Eva had her first breakdown 2 hours before landing.  She was upset because Jack sat in her seat.  Oh well!  She's a great traveler.

Upon arriving in Guangzhou, we found out that we don't get that day of rest before receiving Joy.  So, she'll be in our lives on the 28th instead of the 29th.  We're all excited and are all set for her.  Please pray for her transition.
 Mom, Eva, and a happy traveler?

Happy and excited as we wait for our flight to Hong Kong.

Jordan, before the 15 hour flight....

...and after the 15 hours of flying.  Jack seems alert.

Waiting to fly to Guangzhou.

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