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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

9.15.2007

Home from China 2007

We've been home almost a week and things are finally getting back to normal.  We started off bright and early on Wednesday 9/12.  We had to be in the lobby at 6:00 a.m.  We didn't sleep too well the night before.  Joy was really having difficulties sleeping in her crib.  Everything went well on the flight to Hong Kong.  We had a long layover there, so we did a bit of shopping and Seth and Jack walked around taking random pictures.

I really don't even want to post about the flight from Hong Kong to Chicago, but I have to for Joy's sake.  It is part of her journey to America.  Eva was just horrible.  She was tired and grumpy and then she had this new thing called "little sister".  Eva actually had screaming fits numerous times on the plane.  I had to take her into the tiny bathroom and just sit with her and let her scream until she was finished.  Even in Chicago's bathrooms she had her screaming fit, plus one on the flight directly home.  She was finally happy once we reached the last airport and she was in her carseat.  She even giggled at that point.  The last stewardess saw Eva smiling and laughing and said, "Now, you're awake and happy and not crying?"  I just had to share with her that we've been traveling half way around the world for the last 30 hours.  That explained a lot.  She seemed sympathetic at that point.  I also wanted to share that we had a couple of wonderful flight attendants from Hong Kong to Chicago.  One lady tried to get us an extra seat by moving someone around (it didn't work).  Another lady was so kind she brought (smuggled from business class) us Chips Ahoys and Twix bars.  She could tell I needed a sugar fix.  I have to say that both times we flew United, and both times we had wonderful people taking care of us on our flights.  Once we arrived in Chicago, Mike's mom came to visit us at the airport.  It was so nice to see her.  She brought Joy and Eva cards and gifts.  We planned on having a meal, but that didn't work out.  Poor Mike felt horrible.  Seth told him it was the airplane food,  Seth learned his lesson last year.  He was sick by the time we arrived in Chicago.  Needless to say, Mike found 5 seats and spread out on them to sleep.  I had not slept at all on the plane, but felt fine since there was so much to do with the younger girls.  They kept my adrenaline flowing all the way home.  

Once we arrived home, I bathed the girls and started unpacking.  I just couldn't stand the thought of bags sitting around.  That would be enough to keep me awake.  So, we got most things unpacked and I took a shower and we were all in bed by 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning.  Joy did not like sleeping in the crib.  Mike and I felt terrible for the first 3 days home because of lack of sleep.  Joy will sleep for a couple of hours, then start fitting in her crib.  She screams like a cat, arches her back, and kicks her feet.  Finally, Saturday night, Joy only woke up twice for about 10 minutes and we were able to sleep well.  Last night, she only woke once. 

Slowly, things are getting into a routine around here.  Joy is just blossoming under our care, attention, and love.  She is enjoying new foods and loves to explore.  She's walking all over the place.  At first she'd fall quite a bit, but that never hindered her .  She'd get right back up and try it again.  Yesterday, we attended church, and I went in the nursery with the girls.  I do have to say that I'm thrilled that Joy is very attached to us.  She obviously prefers us to others and even reached for Mike and I when someone else was holding her.  What a relief, since Eva did the exact opposite.  Eva is showing some jealousy.  When someone is holding Joy, Eva asks to be "up" with us.  This is unlike Eva, as she never wants to be held unless someone has food to share with her.  I know that slowly, Eva will get used to it all and adjust to her new sister.  We're all so in love with Joy.  She's such a funny, perfect fit into our family.  I'm glad our travels to China are finished and we can relax and enjoy our new family.  (Hindsight:  Little did I know then that we were going back to China!)

Heading out of our hotel room bright and early!  Joy looks quite chipper!

Maybe Eva would have been happier on this airline?

Hong Kong Airport

Yep, that's my hubby, all tuckered out.

Freezing at the airport in Chicago

Now she sleeps?!

Almost home!

9.11.2007

Day 14 and 15 Guangzhou 2007

Well, this is our last post from China.  It is hard to believe that our time here is over.  When we arrived, it felt like we had such a long stay here.  It is amazing how our lives have changed these last 14 days.  We are now a family of 7.  Joy continues to amaze us with her progress and adjusting.  She's now taking about 5 steps at a time and smiles a lot.  She's learning to actually eat her food well.  Tonight, she had a pizza crust and ate it all.  Eva is still having her stuggles.  She shows Joy affection, yet she's a little rough with her.  I don't think she really knows how to handle it all.  I'm sure in a few weeks, she'll be doing much better.

Today, we had our Consulate ceremony and picked up Joy's passport with Visa.  Joy slept thru it all and Eva slept on the way to the Consulate.  Now, if we can just get them in sync for the plane rides home!  All of our flights are currently on schedule and we fly to Hong Kong in the morning, then on to Chicago from there.  We won't get home until late Wednesday night.  This evening we ordered Papa John's and it tasted delicious.  We're all packed and need to finish up a few things in the morning.  We're hoping for a good sleep tonight, but Joy seems to be restless at night.  She woke up at 1:30 a.m. with her regular screaming fit.  Mike put her in bed with him and we all slept in late. 

Tomorrow, Eva will spend her 2nd birthday in China.  It is hard to believe that we received Eva one year ago tomorrow.  I would have never dreamed we'd be back within a year.  God is so good and faithful to us.  We are so blessed to have our wonderful family.  Please pray for our safe travels and that we'll all rest well and that the girls especially will be content on the long flight home.


9.09.2007

Day 13 Guangzhou 2007

I hate to always post that we did nothing important today, but that pretty much is the way it has been.  It seems that in Guangdong, we do a lot of waiting.

Mike took the 3 oldest children to church this morning.  Seth met a young man there who invited him to a bookstore for fellowship with other young Christians.  They meet on Tuesday, the night before we leave, so I doubt Seth will be going.  If we had another week left, I'm sure Mike would have taken him.  It would be an interesting experience, I'm sure.  So, other than that, we did the usual.  The boys went to the pool while the girls took a nap.  Afterward, Judy again took us to the restaurant we previously visited in the city.  We ordered the same meal.  This time, Joy decided to try the food.  She enjoyed the eggplant and sweet potatoes.  I'm so glad she's trying all of these new foods.  She's experiencing so many new things.

After dinner, we took a walk around the streets.  Seth went into a restaurant and decided to take pictures of the meal varieties, so, that is the reason for the pictures of "live" dinner.
 
Tonight was bath night.  Unless the girls get especially sweaty or dirty, I'll bathe them every other night.  Joy continues to immensely dislike her baths.  That is the time that she screams the hardest.  But, I did notice that the toy cup swirling around the drain after bath time caught her eye and she stopped crying.  So, I think soon, she'll come to enjoy getting clean.

 Naptime

 Trying to get noodle soup out of a bowl with chopsticks is quite hard.

Two in a single stroller.

My children being silly.

9.08.2007

Day 12 Medical Exam Guangzhou 2007

And now it is Saturday evening.  To me, our time in China is going by so quickly.  I'm enjoying being in my daughters' birth country.  I know the rest of the family is ready for home.  The three oldest are ready to start soccer season, I need to start school with the children and try to adjust Joy and Eva back to our schedule.  I think the first week will be tough.

This morning we met our guide in the lobby at 9:30 a.m. to walk to the medical exam office.  I finally met the other 2 families in our travel group, Tracy and Kathy.  It was so nice to finally see the faces that I've been chatting with these last couple of months.  First we stopped and had Joy's visa photo taken, then we went next door to the doctor's offices.  It was busy, and we had to wait a bit.  First Joy was examined by the ENT area.  She can hear and her nose and throat looked fine.  We were in and out of that area in less than a minute.  Afterward, we went to the physical exam area.  The doctor looked Joy over and discussed her hand with another physician.  Then we were off to the weight and measuring area.  At 16 months old, Joy weighed in at 16.6 pounds.  I had figured that Joy would weigh about what Eva weighed at 12 months, 15.5 pounds.  So, I was just a pound off.  Joy just doesn't have the appetite that Eva has.

After returning to the hotel, I had to meet our guide to do some paperwork for the U.S. Consulate.  It took about an hour.  I have not been feeling well for the last couple of days.  Actually, I've felt ill, so I was happy to stay in our room all day.  I tried to rest along with the girls, but my stomach wouldn't allow me.  I had not eaten except for some breakfast, so I did venture out with the family to the Pizza Hut.  I figured the whole time we're here, it has been local food.  The Pizza Hut was for Jack.  I did manage to eat a couple of pieces and I still feel fine as I type.  Jordan awoke this morning with a sore throat.  I pray that she doesn't share it with the rest of us.  I cannot imagine being sick on the trip home.  Or worse, any of the other children.
Joy is doing a few new things.  She's enjoying copying us if we clap or click our tongue.  She doesn't really crawl anymore, she gets around on her feet and hands.  She can lift herself up to a standing position.  Yesterday, she actually took a few steps by herself.  She's still very wobbly, but adventuresome.  Her posture is horrible.  I think she lacks muscle tone.  Eva was the same way.  We had to work on sitting straight.  I've noticed little things that Eva does with Joy.  She's starting to do the "baby" things that Joy does.  It is hard for Eva to understand Joy coming into our lives, but I think she's doing great.

Dinner?

9.07.2007

Days 10 & 11 Guangzhou 2007

Nothing new to report.  We are continuing to  see so much progress in Joy.  It is hard to believe that a week ago, I was so distraught over Joy's condition and behavior.  God is so good to us.  

On Thursday, we decided to go to the Friendship Store.  Now, I had no idea what it was, but I thought it sounded nice and quaint.  Well, we were all disappointed to find a large, overpriced mall at the end of our taxi ride.  Everyone knows that I'm not a shopper.  I think we walked around briefly, then just started walking away from the mall.  It was an interesting area.  We kept walking and I noticed that we started seeing less taxis and the streets started getting narrower.  I have to admit I got a little nervous and said a short prayer for a taxi to come along.  Sure enough, God heard another cry for help, and we made it back to our hotel.  Later that night, our guide took us for Dim Sum at the park.  It was very nice, but too much fried food.
Today Joy decided 5:00 a.m. was a good time to wake up.  I had not slept too well and I was feeling light-headed.  Joy played quietly on the bed for a bit, took about 6 ounces of formula and fell asleep on my pillow until about 7:30.  I really didn't want to get up at all, but Joy really needs to eat some solid food.  She eats congee and bananas for breakfast.  Joy seems to like that pretty much.  Eva loved congee and watermelon.  Actually, Eva has really been enjoying her large breakfast here.  Joy doesn't have the love for food like Eva does.  She probably only takes 3 bottles a day, each bottle being only 4-6 ounces.  For lunch she does eat rice cereal and really loves that.

After dinner tonight, we ran into another couple from our group that just arrived at the hotel with their little boy.  We head for our medicals in the morning.  I'm curious how much our little squirt weighs.  She seems so tiny.  Smaller than Eva, but maybe I've just forgotten how tiny she was last year.  I think at her medical in Guangzhou last year, Eva weighed 15.5 pounds.  She probably put a pound or two on the 9 days prior to the medical.

 Jack is a bit restless..can you tell?

9.05.2007

Day 9 Guangzhou 2007

Another day of waiting.  We should receive Joy's passport on Friday.  Until then, we do whatever we want.  Today we decided to go to the park.  The Americans call it Five Rams Park.  It is very large and in the city of Guangzhou.  It is very beautiful.  We could have spent more time there if the children were not hungry for lunch.  As it was, we were there until 1:30 or 2:00.  When we first entered the park, a crowd of people gathered around us.  Only one man spoke English and everyone was asking questions about Joy and Eva.  Then they talked about Jordan, Seth, and Jack.  They said how "lucky" Joy and Eva were.  Everyone was so nice.  One older lady said that when the girls go back to the U.S. and drink our water, they'll start looking like us.  I wonder how they came up with that?  Joy just looked and listened.  She was very still and quiet.  Soon, she fell asleep in the stroller.  Eva looked like she was terrified with all eyes upon her.  Lately, she seems to more shy.  Maybe she's just overwhelmed with everything.  We continued walking through the park.  I have to say just how beautiful it is.  It is hard to believe such a beautiful place is right in the middle of the city.  You can actually hear the traffic in some places.  There were also children's rides in the amusement area, very similar to the one in Nanchang.  They were for younger children, but my older children needed the "amusement".  Even Eva enjoyed the carousel and umbrella ride.

Tonight, we had another dinner at the Thai restaurant, Cow and Bridge.  For Jack, it is bearable.  He managed to eat enough food to keep him alive, somehow.  He seems to have an upset stomach tonight.  We did a little more shopping at a few shops, and headed back to the room for baths.  It was another very warm day in Guangzhou.  At least we didn't get caught in a rainstorm.

We'll be leaving in a week.  Time is flying by for me.  I know I'll be sad to leave China again.  Last year, I knew I wanted to adopt again, and felt that we'd be back.  But, I'm not so sure about this time.  It has been such a wonderful experience and we love Eva and Joy so much.  They've added so much to our lives.  Joy continues to thrive with our family.  She's gotten to be quite the handful.  She has a temper and throws herself back when she's mad.  There seems to be only a couple of things that gets her that angry: having a toy taken away and having a bath.  She also fusses terribly when she's tired and seems to be happy to be put in her crib.  I'm not sure how that will work out for the plane ride home.  Please pray things go well for her.

The curious crowd.

9.04.2007

Day 8 Guangzhou 2007

Another day in Guangzhou.  There really isn't a whole lot to do as we wait to complete this adoption.  After breakfast, we took a taxi to the Toy Market.  Well, it was 6 stories tall, but it wasn't even half toys.  We did get a few things, but I was misled by the name.  Seth ended up getting a wave board for a third of the price in the states.  Jack got a nice soccer ball; the second one since we got here.  Seth brought his soccer ball, so that makes 3 soccer balls in the hotel room.  It gets kind of crazy around here with all of the balls.
For dinner we went to a Shanghai type restaurant here on the island.  We went without a guide, but it was fun.  The food was good.  Jordan said it was the best so far.  While we were there, it started raining very hard.  You guessed it, no umbrellas.  After trying to hail a taxi, Mike and Seth ran back to the hotel to get a taxi to come pick us up.  It was raining so hard that we couldn't make it back to the hotel with the girls and 2 strollers.

Joy is improving daily, and she fits into our family perfectly.  She's starting to enjoy food and trying new things.  Physically, she's still quite behind, but I can already see how much she's accomplished in the last week.  I spoke with a lady yesterday, who had been to Joy's orphange last year.  She said that she felt sorry for the children there because even though the nannies were nice, there was not love for the children; it was just their job.  She also said that there were no toys to stimulate the children and that during the 6 hours she was there, the babies were not taken out of the crib.  She stated that she doubted Joy was ever taken out of her crib.  It makes me so sad for the children that are still there.  I hope their families come get them soon.

 Learning to walk with Dad.

Eva choking hugging Joy

Eva, heading out of the bathroom.  I hope she learns to "check her dress" after using the potty.

9.03.2007

Day 7 Guangzhou 2007

Sorry, no pictures today.  Seth, Jack, Eva, Joy, and I stayed at the hotel this morning while Jordan and Mike went shopping for pearls.  They had a great time.  The children and I went to the pool.  Joy likes the pool, but not the bathtub.  We got caught in the rain, but the boys continued swimming.  I stayed in the locker area and talk with an Australian couple who just adopted a little girl.  

Last night, we went to another nice dinner with our guide, Judy.  She does a great job and we really enjoy her company.  Unfortunately, the camera was at the room during this time.  They served us a plate of chicken feet.  Words do not do it justice.  I couldn't bring myself to try them.  The boys did.  Jack generally will eat chicken down to the bone, but he didn't care for the feet.  Seth also tried them.  He said they were "leathery", but didn't taste badly.

Afterward, we went to buy tea.  It is very neat how they do it all.  You are seated in front of a lady and we tell her what kind of tea we want to try.  She serves them all to us in tiny teacups and we tell her which ones we want to buy.  The ginseng tea was excellent, and I bought some more jasmine tea.  I could easily switch from coffee to tea if I lived here.  Good tea is so much more easily accessible and inexpensive here.

Joy is still continuing to blossom with love and care.  Now she smiles easily and she'll hold our hands and walk around the room.  Joy is definitely more aggressive than Eva, and she can get really loud in her jabbering.  I just love her so much!

9.02.2007

Day 6 Guangzhou 2007

Today was another step in Joy's attachment.  Last night, she continued to bang her head on the bed; she slept restlessly and so did I.  But, she seems to be increasingly enjoying our presence.  Joy is consuming more food now that she's more comfortable with us.  She still doesn't have the need to eat by the clock.  She'll go for quite a bit, refusing a bottle even after the 4-hour period.  I've wasted quite a few bottles on her.

This morning, Mike went to church here on the island.  He went to the Chinese service out of curiousity at 9:00 a.m.  Then he also attended the English service at 11:00.  He said it was nice.  The word of God was preached in this service and the church was full with more people standing outside.  The majority of the people had Bibles and were younger.

This evening, our guide, Judy, took us off the island to a typical local restaurant.  We told her we wanted to eat real Chinese food.  We also explained to her that we did not want to eat anything "wild".  By that, she knew that we'd not eat domestic animals, snakes, weird sea life or animal parts.  We ended up with a wonderful meal, of veggies, beef, noodles, lamb.  Believe it or not, no rice.  Apparently, this restaurant is known for their certain type of rice/sweet potato noodles.  Very yummy.

This afternoon, we purchased a few more dresses for Eva and Joy.  They are so inexpensive here, I can't help but buy the cute summer dresses.  There are not many fall/winter dresses because the weather here is mostly warm year round. Tomorrow, Mike and Jordan are going to the pearl market for our huge purchase.  I'm sure I'll be spending time at the pool with the boys, Eva, and Joy.  They all keep me busy.  Jordan has been such a tremendous help to me.  She does a lot with Eva.  Both Seth and Jack also help keep an eye on Eva and Joy if I'm preoccupied.  It is good to have them all here.

Thanks for all of the emails and comments.  I enjoy reading them every morning.  There is much wisdom in them all.

 My girls.

Jack, kicking around the hacky sack?

9.01.2007

Day 5 Guangzhou 2007

Today has been a good day.  Joy is showing remarkable improvement.  She's smiling more freely with everyone.  She was even saying mamamamama.  She actually interacted and babbled with Eva today.  I stood her up against the bed and she stood for quite some time, albeit unsteady.  This afternoon she put cheerios in her mouth by herself.  She still doesn't eat very much, but at least she is eating.  She even curiously watched me eat an ice cream cone today.  I offered her some, but she turned away.  She enjoys watching me try to blow bubbles with my gum.  When she thinks I'm going to blow a bubble, she makes the "kissy lips face".  I'll try to get a picture of it.  So funny.  Joy still does the head banging in bed at night, but not too often.  Last night, just a couple of times.  I've noticed that she's rocking less, also.  I don't think she's rocked at all today.  She still likes to pull her dress to her lips, though, like Eva would cover her face with her forearm.

After breakfast, we all headed to the walking street to do some shopping.  We didn't really find anything we wanted, but it was an interesting place.  They have a large screen outside like Times Square in NYC.  After returning to our hotel, Mike and Jordan headed out to another walking street.  They like to venture out on their own.  Seth had a terrible headache, so he stayed in the room with the girls and me.

Jordan, Eva, Jack, Joy, and I headed out to buy ourselves some cabbage for dinner tonight (Jordan and I love the cooked cabbage at Cow and Bridge).  On the way, a lady was pointed to Joy in the stroller, saying, "no, no".  I looked and Joy had her whole left hand (the smaller one) all the way in her mouth.  She was gagging and threw up all over herself.  She continued to do it, laughing the whole time.  I had to go back to the room and give Joy a bath, which she hates.  She ended up screaming the whole time.

Tomorrow, Mike may venture out to the local Christian church with the older children.  We don't have anything else planned for the day.  We're enjoying our stay here in Guangzhou very much, but it is hard on Seth and Jack being in one place for so long.  They like adventure and new things.  I know they will be ready to leave soon.

One more thing I noticed about Joy; her eyelashes are about 1/2 inch long.  I've never seen eyelashes so long in my life.  They are just beautiful.

Walking Street, very muggy.

This happened minutes after Eva said, "I'm not tired!"


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