Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leaps and Bounds

We already know that she is going to do great things! Ms K, how we admire your strength and determination. Through love and prayer, we see her change daily...growing leaps and bounds. This verse in Jeremiah reminds me that God is still in the business of healing and bringing miracles, if only we ask and then believe.

"Behold, I will bring to it (her) health and healing, and I will heal them (her) and reveal to them (her) abundance of prosperity and security." Jeremiah 33:6


When we first met K, we learned that she could take a few steps assisted. But in just 2 weeks, she is walking with the help of one hand and will take 5 steps unassisted. She went from crawling a few feet to chasing our boys across the house. In 2 weeks, I would confidently say that her physical development in her legs has moved from 8 or 10 months to a solid 12 months. Yesterday, she learned how to use her legs to ride scooters on the wood floors with her brothers around the "track" in the house. God made her legs and calls them perfect to his plan.

Shortly after spending time with our daughter, we knew that she was delayed cognitively. We now know that she can speak. When K gets frustrated or really excited, she will jabber away in Chinese. In just the short amount of time since she has joined our family, she already knows a few signs and 10 English words. She turns to her new name and likes to imitate noises or words after the boys. K is a fast learner and God continues to give her the tools that she needs to thrive.

Bath time is now a joy and a time that K looks forward to, though it didn't come easily. Her first bath was literally a quick jump in with mommy to rinse off. She screened during the 2 minute process. We tried play, but she wasn't having it. Slowly, we introduced it again a couple of days later. We let her watch from a distance as the big boys enjoyed their play time in the bath. Soon, we encouraged her to play from the outside of the bath. Then we gave her cups and let her bathe with S. He loves his bath time. Still, she was frightened, but didn't scream. The third time, after a busy day at Disney, we got her to laugh in the tub with S splashing and playing. Patients won her over and she is now fully engaged, splashing water and throwing toys like any other 2 year old. God sees her fears and calms them.

During the first week, K would hoard food in her mouth. We would ask her to chew her food or spit it out for fear that she would choke. She always wanted to hold on to food for security and would eat around the clock if we would let her. At night, she would vomit. We are still not sure if it was from overeating, the change in food or the stress her "new normal". But God knows even this and brought change. Now, she eats her food appropriately and no longer needs to have food in her hands. We took away her formula that she was getting in the orphanage and are giving her breast milk, water, and juice. We switched her to a balanced American diet full of fruits and veggies. She still has food aversions to certain foods, while she loves others. But don't we all have foods that we like and dislike? We pray that she will continue to try new foods and that her body adjusts to the switch. God continues to hold our daughter close and bring security to her heart.

God thank you for the victories that we have overcome together as a family with our daughter. Our boys have been helpful, sweet and patient with K. They hug her when she is sad and wipe her tears when she cries. They are there to encourage her when she is unsure and pick her up when she falls. They play with her and bring her happiness. They kiss her and make her smile. Our boys are a great model of love to our daughter. Everyday, I look at our family and I am honored to be a part of it. Thank you Lord, for letting me be a mommy to 4 incredible children!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We made it home safely! Praise God! We arrived home at 2 am and are all very tired after 30 hours of travel and a 13 hour time difference. Looking forward to some much needed rest!

Lord, thank you for the incredible trip to China! Thank you for safe travels and for keeping us healthy during our time away. We are so blessed to be able to bring our daughter home and now be a family of 6! We look forward to the many more adventures and memories that we will all share together!

Friday, March 16, 2012

China Travel - Day 20

Guangzhou to Hong Kong

Surprise! We are at the Disneyland Hollywood Resort! Yay!

We took a bus rm our hotel to the train station, the passenger train (our first ride) to Hong Kong, and a bus to the resort! But we are finally here and everyone is thrilled! Tomorrow will be a fun filled day at Disneyland Park! Woot Woot!

Lord, thank you for a day of smooth, safe travel! We are ecstatic to be able to share this time with our family at Disneyland. What an advernture it will be!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

China Travel - Day 19

Guangzhou

Today was a fun day that M and I had been looking forward to for awhile. We hired a personal shopper, Ann, to take us to the pearl and jade markets. So together, with K, we shopped for special pretties for her. She loves to play with her mommies jewelry and we wanted special gifts to be able to give her for graduation, her wedding, etc. We designed a beautiful set for her - all at whole sale price. Of course, I was able to design my own too. Pearls are my all time favorite and we hope that K will love them too.

We also browsed through the beautiful jade market out doors. The shops are so interesting, as they wind through little alley ways and onto busy streets. Booth after booth of jewelry line the street next to mom and pop shops on the corner selling orange juice, coconut, unique Asian fruit, and whole pinapple on a stick. There are other men in their own makeshift stands hand carving stone while the women sell them. Another Chinese man was using his finger and black ink to paint those most beautiful scenic works of art from China. Children run in and out of each shop and mingle with each other on the street. Little ones as young as one years old where split pants (thick pants with a hole from the front to the back) and simply use the restroom wherever they need to. There is a sense of community in the middle of this busy little market in a large city of 13 million.

We are thankful for enjoying a great day with Walter, Jen, and sweet Jackson. As we left today, they gave K a beautiful pink bracelet with a rose clasp. I know that she will cherish it for years as we hare with her the many memories of our time in China. Thanks guys! You are awesome!!

This afternoon we picked up K's visa. We said our good bye's as tomorrow we leave for Hong Kong. It was a bitter sweet moment as we are sad to leave all of the wonderful people that we have met, but are ready for our next adventure. We will take a train from Guangzhou to our Disney land hotel. It is still a surprise to everyone, except the two of us and we are thrilled to see their faces when we arrive! So off to pack so we are ready in the morning!

Lord, thank you for such an amazing time in Guangzhou! We really had an incredible time and are so thankful for eveyone that we have met. There are so many wonderful families with big hearts for these children searching for a home. What a blessing to get to spend time with them. We are thankful for the people in Guangzhou for allowing us to experience their culture so rich in history and family values. Thank you to the Holt staff for you have been amazing! Many thanks for the organized process that made our trip enjoyable! Lord, thank you for our boys! They have traveled well, adjust well, and have been very well behaved. We are so proud to be their parents! Thank you God, for your many blessings!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

China Travel - Day 18- Red Thread



Guangzhou

"An invisible red tread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The red thread may stretch or tangle, but never break." A Chinse Proverb

It's been a week since we met our daughter and their is no doubt in our mind that she was destined to be ours. As we raised our right hands this morning to take our oath at the Consolate Appointment (CA), I thought about the course of our journey, and am so thankful. We turned in all of our documents and in return will get her visa and sealed envelope to enter into the US as a citizen.

Thank you God for connecting us with people that have brought us to this moment. We are certain, like this red thread, that there are people (whether we knew it or not at the time) that have dramatically changed the course of our lives and prepared us for adoption. Thank you for those that have listened and for those that have encouraged us. Thank you for those that have lifted us up and for others who have prayed. Lord, thank you for those that have challenged us, because it gave us the opportunity to gain wisdom through you.

During our journey a friend asked, "Do you think that you can love K the same, though she won't look like you." I wasn't sure how to respond. The thought had never even crossed my mind. Of course I will. But as time drew near, small bits of fear started to sneak in. What if it is different? But God is so good. As soon as the thought came, I heard that soft whisper that I know all too well. "I want her to look like you on the inside not on the outside." God sees my heart and call it good, even when others don't. He looks at me broken with sin and calls me beautiful.

I now have an honest answer. I look at our daughter and she is more than I could have dreamed. I see her smile that shows the face of her soul and I find her stunning. I know her big warm heart and she fills our lives with joy. I hear her laugh with our boys and it brings an instant smile. She wraps her little arms around my neck, calls me mama, and I melt. I see her determination as she tries to walk or talk and I admire her strength. K gives of herself freely and am astonished at her grace. She looks at her daddy like he can save the world and am reminded how good it is to trust. Her beautiful eyes seek out mine and I call her amazing for allowing us to love her unconditionally. The truth is, that I hope to look like her someday.

Thank you Lord, for stretching our faith and for asking us to trust You in this leap of faith called adoption. Thank you for the gift of friends and family. We are greatful that you love us where we are in this very moment. You already knew where we would be. For it is you who sees our hearts and guides our journey.

"I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful" Psalms 139:14





Saturday, March 10, 2012

China Travel - Day 14

Guangzhou

Today has been a great day! We had a very yummy breakfast at our new hotel (probably the best that we have had since we arrived in China). There was a very large buffet filled with just about anything that you would want from Chinese to European to American food. There were tons of fresh fruit, eggs, cereal ,french toast, pastries, etc. This may not sound like a big deal to some, but to us it was a dream come true. The food in Hebei was very different from what we are used to eating. The dinner menu on the buffet in Hebei included ox tail, pig knuckles, kidney of another animal, and whole fried "crunchy baby pigeon". The breakfst had a similar menu, but also had pastries and a small fruit selection to get us by for 3 days. Thank goodness we brought so much food with us from home. Though we may be adventurous at times, we were craving some familiar American food. When we walked into our very nice, clean, smoke free hotel yesterday, I'm almost positive that I heard angels sing hallelujah. We joked that we had just arrived in China Heaven.

After breakfast, M, K and I met up with the Holt group to take our children for more adoption paperwork and appointments. We first stopped to get the visa pictures taken on Shamian Island. K did great and was finished in 30 seconds. Right next door, we were able to drop off laundry at a local shop to be done and delivered by tomorrow. We have hand washed all of our clothes until this point, but it was time for a really good wash. We are excited to go back to the island as the people are so kind and the shopping is supposed to be superb.

After we were finished on the island, the families took the adoptive kids to the Dr's offices to get checked before they leave the country. There were over 80 families with their children waiting to see a physician. It was quite interesting and felt a bit chaotic, compared to the states, but I'm sure it was once again organized chaos. We were only there approximately 1.5 hours. We saw a general practioner, an ENT, and had a quick nurse visit. She also had a TB test done because she is over 2yo. K was quite frightened by her Dr appointments (all Chinese men) but was a real trooper! To reward her for being so brave, we had our first mama/daughter afternoon, while daddy filled out more paperwork. We found the cutest little dress for her and a pair of Chinese shoes for a souvenior...all for a great bargain.

In the late afternoon, we came back to the room to relax with the boys (who may have missed K more than us). As we walked into the room, instead of mommy and daddy, we heard "Where is baby K?" The boys were so happy to see her! She is such a great fit for us, that in just a couple of days, we feel like she has always been part of our family.

In the evening, M, K, S, and I went to a local Chinese restaruant with the other Holt families. The food was really good. We've learned that having our guide available to help us through ordering is invaluable to ensure that we are eating what we think. As with most Chinese restaraunts that we've been to, fish, eel, shrimp, clam, oysters, snake, and turtle are all available in the dining area (in a tank) for you to choose to eat. We passed on the above mentioned, but did venture out and try some new dishes. Mostly, it was so good to meet the kids and catch up with other parents regarding the journey in their child's province. The other kids are adjusting well and doing wonderful with their new families! What a blessing!

Lord thank you for this day and for a clean bill of health from K's phsycians. Thank you for our helpers (grandma and Miss K) who have been great with the boys. We are so thankful for their assistance so that we can balance the adoption process and still have the boys be a part of most everything. Thank you that K is making great strides. Every day since she joined our family, she seems to be getting stronger. Today, we watched her pull up to a stand and balance all by her self for about 20 seconds. She is crawling and walking assisted, but with each day, it is for longer periods and with a little less help. We feel confident, Lord, that you will repair her legs and help her walk. Thank you Lord, for encouraging us to dream big dreams for our little girl. We have faith in you that through grace you will bring restoration.

Friday, March 9, 2012

China Travel - Day 13

Hebei to Guangzhou

We left Hebei this morning and flew 2.5 hours to Guangzhou where we will be until next Friday. The kids are doing amazing and K is adjusting better than we could have imagined! Each day only gets better!!

K is quite the daddy's girl, though she loves on her mama and brothers too. M is captivated by her and she takes full advantage of all of his cuddles. We love that she has found a safe place in him and is attaching so well. When she gets frightened (she doesn't like Chinese men - possibly because the only other men that she has been around were the Dr's who did surgeries)she will burry her face in his chest and hold on to him tight. When she makes a little wimper, he rushes to her side like a super hero to comfort her. She has brought out a soft side in him and has a very special place in his heart. It's incredibe watching them together!

Lord, thank you for another successful day of travel. We are so happy to be in Guangzhou, though we appreciated our time in Hebei learning about our daughters province. Thank you for answering our prayers for open hearts and a smooth transition. We are pleased that K is attaching to us all well. She is such a happy girl, despite all that she has been through in her first 2 years of life! She brings us such joy, laughs, and love. This journey is amazing and we feel blessed beyond measures to have the opportunity to welccome K into our family!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

China Travel - Day 12

Hebei

I checked on her several times last night. It reminded me of when the boys were babies and I would wake up, even if they didn't. Sure enough, she was sound asleep. She really is sleeping in our room. She is here.

We had a low-key day getting to know our new daughter better. We spent most of the day just on the floor playing with kids. The boys are so wonderful with K and she seems to really enjoy their attention. She is working really hard at trying to crawl, but doesn't make it too far. She loves to walk assisted and we enjoy helping her get some excerise. This could very well be the best workout that she has had in a long while. She is such a happy girl! There are only 2 circumstances that make her upset. Taking her food and being left alone in her crib.

K loves to eat. She isn't picky, but does like to store her food in her cheeks for up to an hour later. When we see that she has too much, she will spit them out for M. She holds on tight to food and if you try to take it away, she cries. We are guessing that this the first time that she has been able to have food whenever she wants and she isn't sure what to do. It seems to be a source of security for her right now. So we will let her explore with her cheerios and raisens all day if she wants and when she is ready, we will slowly change out food for her toys.


M cuddled with her on the couch last night before bed. We gave her a bottle of milk and then tried laying her in the crib. Let's just say that wasn't happening. But, okay, if you know us well, you know that we don't do the crying it out deal. Especially not in these circumstances. So daddy cuddled some more until she fell asleep and we gently moved her into her crib. She slept really well!

Lord, we are so grateful for this day spent with our children! We understand that this adjustment has got to be stressful for K. We are in awe of this little girl who has endured so much. Please help her to find security in our family. God, we ask that you show us perfet love to drown out fear. We are amazed by our children. Each one is taking this transition in stride. Q, C, and S are going to be the best brothers. We are so proud of them for loving their new sister with open hearts. K, is such a blessing and we are happy that she is now part of our family. Thank you Lord, for a day of rest, play, and lotsa love!

China Travel - Introducing Our Sweet Daughter






Wednesday, March 7, 2012

China Travel - Day 11 - And So We Met

Hebei

We had butterflies all day as we prepared to meet her, the child that God has given us. We went to the market, put together our red gift bags, and packed her backpack full of her goodies. The boys each picked a toy out of the bag to give her as she entered the room. We waited...and waited...and waited. In reality, it probably wasn't that long, but time felt like it was standing still.

M had already started the paper work process so that we could finish it once she arrived. I played ball with the boys in the tiny room (approx 8 X 15). The walls were milky white and a green modern couch was situated in the corner. There was a red bike leaning on the oppostie wall. A sink and mirror next to the entrance. Also in the room was 1 other couple waiting for their son, the 7 of us, our 2 guides, and the cival affairs registar. You can imagine the excitement that filled the cozy space.

We watched through the window, when finally the silver orpahange van pulled into the alley. "They are here" I exclaimed as we all moved together to see the babies enter the room. K was first child to enter being held by the orphanage director. I slowly walked toward her and held out my arms. She leaned into my reach and looked at me like she just "knew" that I was her mommy. She gazed into my eyes searching for security and love. I kissed her and held her tight. I told her that I would never leave her and that we loved her with all of our hearts. I gave thanks to God during this time for it was one of the most beautiful moments that we have ever experienced.

M held her next and I don't think that either have let go since. It was an instant connection. A bond between a daddy and a daughter that is irreplacable. She looked up at him with her big brown eyes and his heart melted with love for his little girl. He calls her Dear.

The boys also connected with K right away. They gave her toys and fed her puff cereal. Soon after, we all celebrated with Chinese food cakes that the orphanage gave us. And what a wonderful celebration it was!

After paperwork was complete, and she gave her "consent" with her red handprint, we all went to the Notary Public of Hebei Province. During our time there, we filled out more paperwork to officially become her legal guardians. There was also a quick interview with questions like our income, why we want to adopt, and what lead us to choose a child with special need. We also had the opportunity to talk to the orphanage directors about her care and circumstances.

We learned that K was abadoned at about 6 months at a nearby Community Health Center in Yulan with no note or indication of birthdate. She had a leaky fatty lypoma with spina bifita to complicate matters. The police were notified by a local resident at 7:30 am. After investigation, she was taken to the orphanage. When her condition was identified, she was taken to the hospital for a consult. Shortly after K was admitted for surgery to repair her back. K was in the hospital for 3 months before going into foster care. Approximately after a month in care K 's foster dad got bone cancer and she was taken back to the orphanage.

Shortly after K was taken back to the orphanage, an ad was placed in the paper to help find her birthparents. Ironically enough, the other couple that we were with in Hebei, also had their son's ad placed on the same day. This couple also happens to be from Colorado. We hope to stay in close contact with them as our children are close in age and from the same orpahange. We think that they are pretty great too!

When in care at the orphanage, K built a specal relationship with a woman named Li. This woman had a daughter that was a similar age. The orphanage director told us that Li cared very much for our daughter, spending extra time with her to make sure that she was developing to the best of her ability within the restrictions of an orphange. We didn't get a chane to thank this woman personally, but we are incredibly gratefull for the love that she showed our daughter. Woman like her are the faces of angels that God connects us all with on earth. Thank you Li for loving our daughter!

Adoption is a leap of faith. This journey continues to be full of unknowns. We are unsure of her medical history and have no family history. We don't know what surgeries (or procedures) or tests were done in the first 2 years of her life. We were told that she only had 2, but today were informed that she has had 10 successful surgeries. We did know that K would be developmentally delayed. Soon after we held her, we discovered that she could walk a few steps assisted comfortably. Cognitively she is approximately 5-6 months delayed, but physically her legs are only functioning at about 8-10 months. We are hopeful that she will walk, but are prepared for any circumstance. We are very encouraged that she will blossom in our family with support from the medical community. We know that God made her perfect to his plan and through guidance from Him we will decide a treatment plan once we are home.

Thank you God for this child that we now call our daughter. Her journey is long, but you know her by name and hold her close to your heart. We are pleased to know a little more about her story. Thank you for the people that you have placed in K's life to love her and keep her safe until we could meet. We trust you Lord, that you will continue to guide us through the unkowns of K's healthcare. We continue to find peace through your grace. We are absolutely in love with her! We look forward to each moment that we get to spend together as a family!! Thank you Lord for blessing us so richly!!

China Travel - Day 11 Continued

Hebei

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." ~ David Platt ~

Our world has indeed changed thanks to this beautiful little girl that we have loved on all day! We had an amazing afternoon and the transition is going remarkably well! She is so sweet and enjoys all of our cuddles..especially daddy's. We have been giggling all day! We feel blessed beyond measures!!

Pictures and more updates to come tomorrow as we are exhausted! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for our family! They are very much appreciated!

Lord, words can't describe how thankful we are for K. Thank you for a smooth transition for everyone! Please continue to hold our family in your hands as we continue on our journey with our daughter.



Mama and K soon after the handoff. She was a bit in shock with all of the people and photos, but she never cried. Within minutes she was a smiley, happy girl. The director of her orphanage, who placed her in my arms, is in the background.


Daddy gets to hold her next. I love this photo. There is so much love radiating from his face.


The boys giving her lots of cuddles, hugs, and love before signing adoption papers. 




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

China Travel - Day 11 "Gottcha Day"

Yay! It's Gotcha Day (an adoptive term families use to describe the day that you "get" your child)!! Today is the day that we get to be parents again...the day that we get our daughter. I've been up since about 3am unable to sleep. But what mama can sleep the day that she knows that she gets to meet her child for the first time?!? My adreninaline is in high gear and we are ready! We are SO ready!

The plan for today is to go to breakfast with everyone around 7:30. We will then go with our guide to the local supermarket to get any last minute items. If possible, we plan on getting bubbles and a similar bottle that she is used to. From home we brought her lots of goodies in her own packpack. We brought puffs, Cheerios, her own bunnie blankie, a little Asian doll, duplo blocks, crayons/coloring books, stickers, blow up beach ball, etcha sketch and kids movies on the Ipads for later. Grandma M also brought fun craft projets, including felt boards that she made with Noah's Ark and all of the animals. And of course, the boys brought toys for her (or so they say) such as Star Wars and ninja guys. Ha! Maybe those will be her favorite?!?

After the supermarket, we need to put together our red gift bags. In China, most adoptive parents bring small gifts in red bags as a token of appreciation for the care that they give their child. Here, it isn't what you give, but the thought that matters. We brought each caregiver nice chocolates. We really can't thank them enough for caring for our daughter every day while we were away.

Around noonish, we will leave to pick her up. Woot! Woot! We are hours away! We are so excited!!

We give you the glory Lord as you give us this child. We know that you hold K close to your heart and we will do our best to take wonderful care of her, in the same way that we do our boys. Thank you Lord for the wonderful gift of children. Thank you for this treasure we call family!

China Travel - Day 10 Continued

Shijiazhuang, Hebei

Lord to you we give all praise! We made it safe to Shijiazhuang, Hebei. The boys did awesome on the drive! We are so thankful for their flexibility and easy-going attitudes on our trip. Tomorrow is a BIG day! It still feels so serial. Tomorrow we will be a family of 6. We feel so incredibly blessed to get to be parents to this special little girl that God has given us! Thank you Lord for our chidren!

Monday, March 5, 2012

China Travel - Day 10

It's a good morning in Beijing! The sun is shining brighter today and it is expected to be in the 50's. A beautiful day for a family drive to our dauhter's province! We will be taking the bus with one other couple (their first child). Our guide, William, will also be going with us for the duration of our time in Hebei. We will be leaving at 12:30 this afternoon and will pick her up at about the same time tomorrow!

I had a hard time sleeping last night, as I lay awake in bed, dreaming of holding her. The boys have been role playing as they pretend what they will say when they meet her. M tells everyone we meet that he will soon be a daddy again and our hearts are filled with great love for this child that we are about to meet.

Yesterday a group of 100 or so American students, in their mid 20's, arrived at our hotel. We had a chance to visit with them about their plans in Beijing. We told them about our adoption journey and our wonderful time here. Though we have loved our time China, we have to admit, that there was a very "home-like" feeling that rushed over us both when we were able to relate to other Americans about sports, food, and culture. Sometimes I wonder if it would be possible to live somewhere else in the world. Maybe. But this conversation made me realize, not yet. It reminded me that even though we are able to journey outside of our comfort zone and fly half way around the world for 3 weeks, God has a special place for us in the states. Travel though, most definitely, yes.

God, thank you for our time in Beijing. We have really appreciated our time here learning about the rich history and culture of China. Thank you for the opportunity to travel and for also giving us a wonderful place to call home in the US. We are so excited to meet our daughter and look forward to adding another member to our growing family!

Here we come sweet baby girl!

China Travel - Day 9

Beijing

Today was another fun day as we ventured off to the aquarium and the zoo with the kids. Located on the north bank of the Cheng River, the inland aquarium is the world's largest (approximately 30 acres) and is shaped like a gigantic conch shell. It was filled with thousands of species of sea life and freshwater fish, many that we had never seen. They had a wonderful section highlighting a variety of jellyfish that we all LOVED! It was incredible!

The giant pandas, one of the most popular attractions, were amazing! The giant panda is native to China and is recognized as one of China's national symbols and treasures. They are endangered due to overpopultion and rapid growth which has left the pandas with few forests to live. When we arrived, the pandas were playing and eating their favorite snack, bamboo. We learned they eat 35-65 pounds of bamboo a day! It was quite the site!

Another side effect of the overpopluation and production in Beijing is the polution. Every day looks cloudy and you could look directly into the sun without feeling the need to look away. Many people wear masks to help protect themselves, though we are not sure if it makes a difference, as you can smell it everywhere and can even see it in the shopping malls. We are thankful that our hotel isn't too bad, but it is still a good reminder to give thanks to God for the clean air that we get to breathe at home.

To get the zoo, we chose to take taxis for the first time sine we arrived (most all other tours and outings have been organized on large busses). Let's just say that the driving here, is far diffferent than in the states. There are lines on the roads, but driver's weave in and out with no signal and little space to fit. They will honk from a block away to warn people of their approach. Pedestrians do not have the right a way (we always cross the street with a group of locals). If you are riding a bike, or moped, be prepared to watch for taxis in all directions. They rule the streets. Although it seems like organized chaoes to us, from what I understand, accidents here are less likely than in the states. Maybe it's the constant defensive driving?!? We just went with it and really, despite the differences, didn't feel unsafe. We had a wonderful day together fully experiencing our environment!

Later in the evening, we visited the Wangfujing Food Street, which is directly up the street from our hotel in walking distance. This section of the street is open for 3 hours at night every day. The night market has about 100 stalls serving several different snacks (or meals) for the adventure seekers. Our guide warned us not to try any food, but the thrill seeking side won out for Mike and I (though we didn't let the kids try anything). The smells are amazing and the food was equally delicious. This street reminded us of something that we would see straight out of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. This is a food paradise for those wanting to try anything from centipedes, silk worms, scorpians, snakes, lizards, spiders, frogs (whole), duck or lamb liver to sea horse, crab, eel, sea urchin or star fish. We tried several different items, but our favorites were the Tanghulu (sugar coated fruit on a stick) and the fried dough bananas. All items are cooked in front of you once you make the selection and then served on a stick. Since it is a typical street food, there are no tables. You can either eat in front of the booth that you purchased the food from in the "protected lines" or you can walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.

God, thank you for every cultural experience that we get to enjoy together. We hope to share each one with our daughter as she grows and wants to know more about where she was born. Tomorrow we will leave Beijing and travel to Hebei. Please, Lord, keep us safe and give us your grace as we make a 4-5 road trip to the west. We are thrilled to meet our daughter in just two days! God, please prepare K's heart to be open for our family. Please bless over the other families who have already met their children and continue to grant them favor as they get to know eachother. We are ecstatic to get to meet each child and reunite with other families in the next week! Praise God, for He has been so good!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

China Travel - Day 8

Beijing

A relaxing day today after several busy days! The boys are on a decent sleep schedule - going to bed around 7:30 and getting up at 5:30ish with a nice rest during the day. They have been such good travelers and we are very proud of them. To reward them today, we bought a couple of toys from a large children's store down the street. Which brings me to a funny story.

On the first day that we arrived in Beijing, we took the boys walking in the area around the hotel. This was our first trip in the same children's toy store. We bought them each a couple of small lego toys so that they had something new to play with during our down time. Q wasn't very satisfied with a small toy, as he wanted a large police station lego set. Our first, and only so far, meltdown occurred. So as a good mom (or so I thought) I got to his level and explained that he needed to earn the large toy this week through sharing, good behavior, following directions, etc. By the time that I looked up there were several, maybe 20, Chinese people surrounnding us.

At first, I didn't know what to think. There was obviously cultural and language barriers. But then I realized that they were only interested in his best well being. I smiled and in short words explained that he wanted "more big toys". They shook their heads and smiled, "Ohhh".

We love the culture here! People are genuine, kind, honest, and have incredible family values. We have learned that the smile is universal and that we can easily communicate through body language. Even without our guide, we have never felt that it was too difficut to communciate. We have become more aware of the tone of our voice, the way that we present ourselves, and the best ways to make others feel comfortabe.

Most signs are also written in English and most people try to speak English when they see that you do. We appreciate their openess to our family and willingness treat us as we are part of their very own. With that being said, they are also more than willing to let you know if they don't agree with your parenting choices.

Yesterday, I put Sam in the carrier as we did a lot of walking. When he sat down, his pants came up about 3 inches. We had atleast 10 people stop to tell us that he was too cold. They pulled on his pant legs and asked us to cover them (all in Chinese, but we got the point). He did have on 4 layers of clothes including a hat, sweatshirt, and heavy coat. They were probably right though about his legs, it was a little colder out than we anticipated. I smiled and pulled them down the best we could. Tomorrow, we will layer with tights too.

Everywhere we go, people are inquisitive of our family. They stop and take pictures like we are celebrities. The women love Sam and he hams it up for them. They love to touch him, grab his cheeks, and touch his blonde hair. They want to hold him, but he isn't quite comfortable with that. So, instead, we teach them them how to give 5. Everybody wins and we all walk away giggling!

Thank you Lord, for our time in Beijing. We appreciate the people here and their culture. We love that family values are so important to so many, no matter your economic status, as we have visited multiple areas in the city. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of communication and for reminding us that language is only a small percentage of the puzzle. Thank you Lord, for always helping us to feel safe, even in such a large city traveling with our children. God, thank you for our experience in China, for it has been amazing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

China Travel - Day 5

Beijing

Happy Birthday K! We wish that we were with you today, but know that we are thinking of you on your very special 2nd birthday! We love you and are excited to see you in 6 days!

Today was a great day to rest and stretch our legs after the long flights. We are quite tired as you can imagine, but are just ecstatic to be here! This afternoon we walked around immersing ourselves in the area around our hotel. There is an incredible amount of shopping near by. A large selection of stores from Coach, Nike, Prada, Gap, and others that we would routinely see at home are also found here. We hope, though, to spend most of our time here soaking up the local culture and visiting shops that make China unique.

In the next couple of days, our guide Nancy, will take us to destinations in China that are filled with cultural gems. We will have a chance to visit the Great Wall, jade factory/gallery, Hutong area, Tian'an Men Square, the Forbidden City, and a local silk factory/shop. What an adventure God has in store for us!

Thank you, Father, for the time that we get to share here in Beijing. Please watch over us and keep us safe and healthy. We know that without you, none of this would be possible. Though the culture is different than what we are used to, please allow us to fully experience it. Please, Lord, put us into contact with people that will enrich our experience so that we will have incredible memories to share with our daughter. We know that with each person we meet it will give us the opportunity to grow. For in life, we don't believe in coincidence, even though we don't always interpret it's meaning at the time. Keep our hearts open and filled with your great love, so that we may be a blessing to others that we meet. We are excited to be in China and look forward to all that You have in store for us!