Hong Kong Disneyland Part 2

Another day is done and one more closer to GOING HOME!!!!

Today was a simply wonderful, magical day! God is SO GOOD! After a good 11-hr sleep, our princess awoke completely dry and happy. (She has been consistently having accidents at nighttime, but refuses to wear a diaper. The first 5 days she was dry and had no problems, but in Guangzhou we washed a lot of pajamas and underwear. Of course, she is only two years old, so we aren’t concerned. Poor kid has been through a lot!) We were so proud of her and this small success set our day right with happiness all around.

After a small breakfast in the hotel room with formula for Mia and oatmeal and coffee for us, we got ready and headed out around 10:00am. The park opens at 10:30am, so we wanted to be there on time and beat some of the crowd. The weather was a little cooler, which means very comfortable for us! It was nice to know what we were doing today, since we had been there yesterday, and everything went smoothly, including stroller rental. We stopped at the gift shop first because we anticipated the crowds growing as the day went on. Mia surprisingly chose a small Argo in an egg from “The Good Dinosaur.” The stuffed dinosaur is inside the egg and you can unzip it and get him out. I think Camden will be a little jealous about this one, but we did get the boys a couple small things, too.

We stopped at the bakery to get a mid-morning snack and I couldn’t resist the cuteness!

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We thought maybe today, with Mia well-rested, would be a better day to try some pictures in front of the castle. So thankful for the memories we made today!

 

Every time I look at this girl, I am just amazed! God has blessed us so much by her already and I cannot wait to see what her future holds!

Like yesterday, we wanted to go at Mia’s pace and do rides or shows that she might enjoy and nothing fast or scary. The first thing we did was Mickey’s Philharmagic show. She was interested in the 3D glasses, of course, and eventually wore them to see the show. I think she liked it! Then, we headed to the tea cups. This one was really fun. I think the pictures say it all:

While I don’t particularly like the “It’s A Small World” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, this one was a HUGE attraction and a short wait, so we figured we would try it out. Mia LOVED it! John and I were also impressed. MUCH better than WDW, but maybe it is because Hong Kong Disneyland is only 10 years old, so this attraction is newer as well. They integrated the Disney movie characters in with the small world people and made it really cool.


John had seen something in the pamphlet about the Storybook Theater and Mickey’s Wondrous Book. We waited in line for a little while for the show to begin, but it was well worth it! This may have been the BEST Disney show I have ever seen. And for those of you who like Disney, you know that is saying a LOT. Unfortunately, they did not allow flash photography, and without flash, the movingDSC_0531 parts become blurry, so I did not get any pictures of the show itself, so you will have to take my word for it. Because this is Hong Kong, everything was part Chinese and part English. The characters narrating the show (Mickey, Goofy, and Olaf) spoke in Chinese and the English translation was on a side screen. The characters singing the songs (spot-on voices, by the way), were all in English. They utilized characters like you would see walking around the park, princesses, dancers, and then a huge video screen storybook that turned pages and showed the “live” characters jumping in and out of animation. It is hard to explain, but it was amazing. And I have no idea how they made Olaf move on the stage, since it was a replica of the movie size, so too small for a person inside. They movies they covered included Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Brave, The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, Aladdin, and probably one or two more I can’t remember.
We got in line for Dumbo after that, but the wait was around 50 minutes and we were hungry, so we decided to geDSC_0535t out of line and grab some food. There was a Dumbo “car” you could get in for pictures, so we got at least that much! John rode Space Mountain while Mia and I grabbed lunch for us all.

Mia was getting tired (no nap today), so we got a spot to watch the parade and it was SO worth it! She loved the characters floating by, and the parade was VERY well done! Every float was intricate and beautifully done in classic Disney-style. Mia loved the dancing and songs, and of course, wouldn’t let Daddy out of her sight. This day was a little harder on John because she only wanted him to hold her in lines or anywhere we had to wait. But, he did just fine and we are both thankful that she has bonded so well with both of us.

The last thing we did was the Buzz Lightyear ride. They wouldn’t let us all three be in the same car, so I was in front of Mia and John and she seemed to have a great time shooting Zorg targets with Daddy. The smile on her face at the end was priceless!

The skies were grey all day long, so it looked like it could rain at any moment. We had already decided that the Space Ranger ride would be our last for the day, since Mia was tired. When we got off that ride, it started to sprinkle. We had made a good call. It never did downpour on us, but sprinkled all the way back to the bus.

Mia did absolutely EXCELLENT today. We really enjoyed our time together and it just makes me that much more excited to do another Disney vacation with our entire family again (hopefully 2018). I know not everyone agrees that this was a good thing to do with our brand new adopted daughter, and that is okay. We knew going into it that we would go at HER pace, and we did. We rode very few rides and did more shows. We wanted to make sure that SHE had fun and that she wasn’t scared by anything. Will she remember it? I hope so. Owen was 3 when he went for the first time and continued to talk about it until we went again. We are all about making memories with our kids. Things don’t last, but memories do.

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Tonight, we went to Chef Mickey’s here in our hotel for dinner. It was such a great choice! The buffet was full of both American and Asian food choices, so everyone had something they liked. It also had a huge dessert spread. The wait staff made sure our water was kept up and plates picked up and accommodated us very well. When we were done eating, we just showed a card to the staff and they escorted us to see Chef Mickey, himself! This was a great option. At the Chef Mickey’s in Florida, the characters come around while you are eating, and sometimes this makes the meal challenging, since you are getting interrupted, or someone might be at the buffet and miss them. Here, it was only Mickey, and we went to HIM so dinner was relaxed and at our own pace.

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We did not stand in lines for Mia to meet characters at Disneyland because we weren’t sure how she would respond. Knowing we would see at least Mickey at dinner, we kept it at that. Turns out, that was the best choice. She liked him from a distance, but certainly did not want to get close! Oh well!

After dinner, we wanted to walk off some of what we ate and allow Mia to run around before heading to bed. The grounds are beautiful at night, and this girl sure had some energy to burn! We played hide and seek around the ticket booth for quite some time, and then she kept making “I’m gonna get you” faces at me around our walk! Too funny!

Tonight we are just so so happy. We had a wonderful day with our daughter. It’s hard to believe that we have had her for 13 days! In some ways it feels like Gotcha Day was yesterday, and in many other ways it feels like she has been ours forever.

She is learning so so much and repeating things in English all the time. The language barrier is still very hard sometimes, especially when we don’t know what she wants. Today, we figured out that when she rubs her hands together, she wants hand sanitizer! We are trying to remember her Chinese words for things like “cell phone” and “potty,” (although she repeats “potty” in English so much that I feel that one will be automatic soon). We are requiring “Please” and “Thank you” (or “xie xie”), instead of her screaming or just taking things. We are also working on being gentle, no hitting, and being kind in general.

We started doing time outs in Guangzhou to get her to calm down about things. At least one of us is always with her, but we let her scream it out until she calms down and then we talk about it with her and then have her say “sorry” and hugs and kisses. I started telling her “Mama loves you” and “Baba loves you” and she would repeat it word-for-word like a parrot. “Mama loves you,” “Baba loves you”. We said that to her in the park today and again, she repeated like a parrot. Tonight, we put her to bed and said “I love you” to her. She said “love you” with her very Chinese toddler accent. It is a long road, but we are getting there.

Tomorrow, we covet your prayers again. We will be traveling for a very long time. We leave Hong Kong at 11:55 am and arrive in Seattle at 8:55 am PST. We have a three-hour layover in Seattle, but that may not be very much rest for us, depending on how long it takes for us to get through customs and immigration. When we land in Seattle, and Mia’s feet hit the floor….she will OFFICIALLY be a U.S. citizen!!!!!!!! So, just excuse me in advance for the mushy post and picture I will likely have on Facebook. So many emotions! After Seattle, we go to Atlanta and have a short layover before heading into Lexington around 11:30 pm EST Sunday night. With the time change and travel, it will be like we leave Sunday and then repeat Sunday again. It will be another hour and half drive home from Lexington.

Please pray for:
1. Safety as we travel. 2. Smooth travel day, no delays/problems. 3. Health (no sickness, as many babies throw up with all these flights). 4. Rest (and jet lag issues for a toddler and her parents). 5. Understanding and support for our daughter. 12-hour flights are hard for adults to stay entertained and half-way happy, let alone a toddler who hates to be buckled or confined.

Thank you all in advance. We are almost home now!!!! PRAISE THE LORD! He is so so good to us and we are forever grateful!

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Hong Kong Disneyland Part 1

Good evening from Hong Kong! I can’t believe we are in our final city before heading back to the good ol’ U.S. of A! We are more than ready to be HOME with our boys and settling into a routine, but we have to first fly out of here. Since we could not get a flight back on Saturday that would work, we will be heading to the States on Sunday, giving us two days in Hong Kong to chill out. Since we are Disney lovers, what better place to go?

When we realized we would have time to go to Hong Kong Disneyland, we started setting things up to leave ourselves the option to go to the park or not, based on how Mia was doing. We had to stay somewhere in Hong Kong, so we decided on the Hollywood Hotel so that we could have the shuttle to both the park and the airport, and of course, that great Disney service. So, that is why we are here! We have done the Walt Disney World family vacation with both of our boys twice, so why not a day with our princess?

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The morning started with finishing packing and getting ready to head out of Guangzhou. The van was MUCH nicer than I had anticipated, and we were glad to have a driver who spoke some English. After saying goodbye to Kathy and Paul, we headed out. We armed ourselves with some kid-level melatonin and I popped some Dramamine before we even left the hotel. About 15 minutes in, we asked the driver if we could play a movie, seeing the screens in the van. He politely agreed and about 10 minutes later he pulled off to the side of the road to fuss with getting the DVD in and set up. It literally took 10 minutes of fighting with the screen to come down and trying to get the disc to read to realize that it would not read discs made in the USA. So, we moved on to snacks to try to entertain the princess. She actually sat better today than usual. She also enjoyed being with Daddy more. Eventually, we did give her one dissolvable tablet of low-dose children’s melatonin to see how it would affect her for Sunday’s huge travel day. It took about 30 minutes for it to work and she fell asleep holding her snack in her hand!

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Immigration and customs was interesting. I hadn’t DRIVEN to a different country since my parents had taken me to Niagara Falls on the Canada side many years ago. Back then you didn’t even need a passport! The driver was awesome and made sure we had all the documents we needed. There were two toll-booth like stops before we were able to get into Hong Kong. Both times, the driver opened all the doors and they checked all three of our passports and we smiled and went on our way.

I couldn’t believe we were already in Hong Kong! Everyone had said it was a 3-4 hour drive and we made it in much less time. We actually made it to our Disneyland Hollywood Hotel in 2.5 hours! Since we were there early, we checked in, but our room wasn’t ready. John had planned on having to buy a child’s ticket for the theme park because Mia is over two years old. Turns out, she doesn’t need a ticket and for the same amount of money as we were expecting to pay, we could get 2-day passes instead of 1. So, John came back and said, “We’re going to Disneyland!”

First, we explored the hotel grounds and then we found the little line for the shuttle to the park. Everything is really easy to get around and everyone seems to speak both Chinese and English. Mia really enjoyed walking around the beautiful resort.

We hopped on the charter bus to the park and navigated our way to the entrance. Our Tula carrier was in our luggage at the hotel, so we had to just carry Mia until we could find a stroller rental place. At the hotel, we were told we did not need to exchange any currency for Hong Kong dollars, we could use our credit card for everything. Therefore, we did not have any US cash on hand and only a little bit of Chinese RMB left. The hotel person was incorrect. The stroller rental would only take HKD, so we had to try to exchange some RMB. Well, we didn’t have enough. They told John we could use our credit card at the ATM to get cash out. We tried, but we have never set a pin number on this credit card, because we have never needed to, so it got locked out. It was definitely time for lunch at this point, so we went to a nice restaurant in the park and while we waited for food, John called the credit card company. A super nice American businessman overheard our conversation and asked how much we needed for the stroller and gave us exactly the amount that we needed in HKD! What a blessing! I asked him to write down his address so we can thank him and return the money, but he said no need. He did leave us his business card, so we will definitely be sending a note to him soon!

After finally getting the stroller, I realized that Mia has probably never ridden in one, and certainly would not enjoy the seatbelt. Guess what? She loved it! She did great in it the whole time and it was very helpful for Mommy and Daddy, too! She wasn’t really interested in pictures, but we just figured she was tired and not really with it, so we just said we will try again tomorrow!

Disneyland is definitely smaller than WDW Magic Kingdom, but it is very nice and has that same Disney “feel” about it. We love all the special touches, Mickey heads everywhere, and the perfectly groomed landscaping. The plan was to see as much or as little as Mia wanted and take things slowly, knowing this can be very overstimulating to a two-year-old who has never seen a theme park before!

Our first ride was the slinky dog ride in the Toy Story land. This section of the park was super fun. We waited in line about 40 minutes and Mia only wanted to be held by Daddy. We got on the ride and it started and stopped a few times, but finally they got it going. She really seemed to like it after we got going.

There is a very cute little walk through path in Fantasyland that Mia really liked. It was like separate garden areas for each of the princesses and their stories. This allowed the kids to interact and turn a crank to get the music to play and have the characters do something. Despite the fact that Mia didn’t know a lot of the characters, she really seemed to enjoy turning that crank!

The second ride was the carousel in Fantasyland. This is just like the one in MK. We waited only 20 minutes, and we thought she would love the horses and music. At first she really was excited, but then….not so much! I have no idea what happened, but the progression is priceless!

She was definitely getting tired, so we headed back to Adventureland to see the Lion King show. Mia ate some snacks during the performance and was very tired, though she liked the ending a lot!

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After the show, we decided to walk through Tomorrowland and see what is there for tomorrow. We also stopped in a shop only long enough to feel claustrophobic. WAY too many people were in there! In fact, after 5pm we really noticed the crowds increasing tremendously. We are so used to going to WDW during the off-season times to avoid the crowds, so this made me a bit anxious. We made our way back to the return the stroller and head back to the hotel.

At the hotel, we were finally able to go up to our room and get our luggage back. By this time we were hungry and wanted some good food. There are three restaurants at this hotel, so we chose the sit-down one tonight and we are planning on the buffet tomorrow night because they will have characters out. The restaurant we ate at tonight was very good and they even play movies in there at night! Tonight’s was “Frozen,” but we were ready to get back to the room and get Mia to bed.

Tomorrow is another day at Disneyland, and hopefully after a good night’s sleep, Mia will feel more up to it. I have really enjoyed our approach so far. It is nice to be able to say, we don’t HAVE to do everything or ride all the rides, but rather base everything on her.

So, goodnight from Hong Kong. One more night after this and we will be on our way to America! YAY!

 

Safari Park

Today’s adventure included the Safari Park. Originally on the schedule was the local zoo, but all the families in our group said we would rather go to the Safari Park, based on other CCAI families’ opinions. It was a little bit of an excursion, but a good way to pass the time as we waited for our visa paperwork for Mia to travel to the U.S., which wouldn’t be available to us at the hotel until 4:30pm.

We loaded up on a bus and Kathy and Paul gave the driver instructions and told us to have a good day! We are so used to having a guide that it was a little strange going an hour away with no translator at all, but they had to stay behind and make sure all of the paperwork was good to go for travel. Somehow we managed to get our tickets and entered the park as a group.

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The first stop was the Safari on Wheels. This was a train that drove on a paved road throughout the open part of the park. Apparently, this path is open to outside cars as well, as we saw many families in their own cars on the same road. A lot of the animals were out in the open and had no real barriers, and others were separated from the road by a ravine. I am not sure what Mia thought of all this, but by the end I think she liked it.

Then, we were able to walk through the park like any other zoo in the U.S. It was nice and the weather was really good. Eventually it got hot, but we had arrived early enough to enjoy the nice day. This was the only time I thought a stroller would have been helpful, however, I know from experience with our boys that strollers tend to put the poor kids right at railing level, which makes it hard for them to see anything. Having Mia in the carrier made it easy for her to see what I saw, but it did become a workout by the end.

Kung Fu Panda was everywhere and made the park really inviting and fun. Pandas are the big deal here, of course, so it was fun to see some in action today.

Another great thing about this park was that they let you feed the giraffes and elephants if you wanted to. John and Mia fed an elephant, though I’m not sure that she was very excited about it.

We were to meet back on the bus at 2:00pm, and we rolled out of there shortly after that. By the end of the day, Mia wanted her Daddy, so we switched roles. This girl DEFINITELY loves her Daddy.

The bus ride home was challenging. I normally do get carsick, but I brought Dramamine with me to China, and we have made it a habit to sit near the front of any vehicle. Surprisingly, I really haven’t felt too sick except for the landing in Beijing and this afternoon on the bus. The traffic had gotten heavier and it was a LOT of stop and go. Mia was also out of sorts and needed a nap, which she never took. From that point on, I had a non-stop headache and my patience level had unfortunately dissipated. I am so incredibly thankful that John has been able to pick up the slack in that area.

When we finally arrived at the hotel, we were starving, so we went out with two other families to the noodle place close to our hotel. The food was great, and I was starting to feel less nauseous, though the headache remained. We got back up to our room and started packing for Hong Kong.

Tomorrow, we have a 4-hour van ride from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. HK was the best option for our family to fly from to get back home. We would have gone back to the US on Saturday, but we were not able to get the right flights, so we have to stay in HK until Sunday morning. We are planning to use this time to take Mia to the Disneyland there and enjoy some fun one-on-one time with her before returning home to be a family of five.

Right now I feel drained, anxious, and just ready to be home. My headache has not stopped and I need some prayers tonight.

Pray for:
1. My headache to go away and for rest. 2. A good, safe, enjoyable van ride to Hong Kong tomorrow (with a toddler who won’t have a seatbelt). 3. Special time with our little princess before heading home this weekend. 4. Increased bonding and communication with each other.

Traveling with Mia can be a big challenge and we covet your prayers. Tomorrow will be a drop in the bucket compared to the HUGE day of travel on Sunday. Please pray that my heart will be calmed and I won’t be so anxious about this. Thank you always!!!!

 

U.S. Consulate Appointment

Today was the U.S. Consulate appointment! It’s the day when all the kiddos dress up in their red, white, and blue and the parents take an oath saying that all the information they provided is true and correct. I was especially excited for Mia to finally wear her hand-made dress by our friend, Erica. She is definitely a beautiful princess!

We gathered up and got on the bus around 7:30AM. We first went to the same office building as the medical exams so that Kathy could pick up all the kids’ paperwork and take it to the Consulate. We walked as a group to the Consulate building and were able to pass by many waiting people and go into a line directly for adoptions. No cameras or phones were allowed in this building, so we left them in the hotel. Once through security, we went up to the second floor and went through a few paperwork things, one family at a time. Thankfully, there was a small play area for the kiddos. I wish I had a camera because their interactions were priceless! It hit me that we only have a few days left together as a group. Since we are all from different parts of the country, it is unlikely that we will be able to have any kind of reunion, other than through Facebook.

To be honest, this appointment was pretty anticlimactic. We all left saying, okay, I guess they are ready for America! This step contained a small interview that took only a few minutes, and approving some more paperwork for the kids to receive their travel visas tomorrow afternoon. The packet of papers we receive tomorrow will get us through immigration in the United States and then also be used to apply for her US Passport and Birth Certificate. The visa and passport she will have from China will be useless after we get her home. China does not allow for dual citizenship, so we will have to get her U.S. paperwork so that she will be able to have a social security number and the benefits of being an American citizen.

We got back to the hotel and had a few minutes to grab cameras before getting a group picture. The best part was trying to get a picture of just the children together. The only thing I could compare it to was trying to get a “cousin” picture at Christmas! There are always those kids who are just NOT in the mood to cooperate! It was funny and cute and definitely those moments you remember.

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After our shopping day yesterday, I had asked Kathy if there was a place to purchase Christmas ornaments. She spoke with a friend who gave her an idea, but she wasn’t sure if I would be able to find any, since it is not Christmastime or Chinese New Year anymore. So, John and I took Mia with Kathy to look in another part of town. We were not extremely successful, but I got a few things that may work to decorate a Chinese New Year tree. While we were looking around, Mia fell asleep in the Tula carrier. Then, we went back to the store where I got Mia’s tea set and let John look around and he and Mia were able to experience “tea time” like I had the day before. We are so incredibly grateful for Kathy. She has been amazing during this week. We had to get a picture together today while she was wearing her UK Wildcats shirt! She had on Louisville the other day and I had to tell her that she was just wrong. Go Big Blue!

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When we arrived back to the hotel, we prepared Mia to get a “real” nap, but she was not having it. Her attitude said she needed it, but she said not. Ahh, life with a toddler. We decided to switch gears, introduce her to swimming at the pool, and hopefully she would be tired enough to sleep well tonight. The pool was a great idea! She was timid at first, but then….

She had a blast! DEFINITELY Baba’s girl today in that pool! She didn’t want me and that was just fine. She needed that play time with Daddy.

13112720_10153448984596781_1452809466_oAfter pool time we met up with two other families to go to dinner. The restaurant was northern Chinese food and VERY good! I had been looking forward to large steamed buns with the meat inside like I had on my last trip, but didn’t find them until now! They are amazing! Our girl ate like a champ and enjoyed mostly cucumber strands and the steamed bun.

On the walk back, I called home and we got to talk to the boys on the phone. Man, I miss them terribly. I love hearing their sweet voices, but it makes me sad as well. I am very much looking forward to being HOME and hugging and loving on my boys!!!! Since it is Wednesday, they should have a busy day with karate (when Owen will get his purple belt given to him), and a derby race at church. I am glad that they have these great activities to keep them busy.

We are learning that Mia gets wound up before bedtime (again, she will fit right in with our boys who do the same). It is very difficult to get her to listen and calm down. Tonight, I couldn’t figure out what she wanted and got frustrated and didn’t even get to brush her teeth, but she did go potty. She was running on the big bed when we told her to slow down and fell before we could catch her. I know it scared her more than it hurt, but she was very upset. Part of me wants to say she is going to have to learn through experience, though I would never wish a hurtful experience on my child. The crying must have worn her out because it was minutes in her bed before she was asleep. The cell phone has come back into the picture and she insisted on sleeping with it tonight.

Every day is so full of things to do, things we are learning about Mia, and thoughts of how this will all play out once we get home and establish routine. This living in hotels and out of suitcases and eating out all the time is very difficult for all of us. We are very grateful for CCAI and the excellent quality service they have provided through this entire process thus far, but we are ready to go home. Please pray for comfort, rest, continued health, and travel. I am starting to think about that long travel day on Sunday (12-hour flight to Seattle, then Atlanta, then Lexington, then 1.5 hr drive home). I know God has us in the palm of His hand and I trust Him completely. I am so thankful for our prayer warriors who lift us up every single day. YOU MATTER! Thank you all!!!

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Pearl Market Day

I feel like there is not very much to say about today, but, if you have been following along, you know that I can turn any five-minute story into an hour, so…let’s see where this goes.

We were able to sleep in a little bit today and enjoy the morning together. We discovered that Mia likes scrambled eggs!

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At 10:00AM, we met the group in the lobby to head to the Pearl Market. We shared taxi cabs and met up when we all arrived. I had been to the one in Beijing three years ago, so that was what I was expecting: BIG mall-type atmosphere, different levels of shopping for all kinds of things. I was very excited about this day. Turns out, the Pearl Market in Guangzhou is literally that: jewelry. I had no idea. It was still a HUGE mall, but filled with jewelry from pearls to jade to other jewelry pieces.

Kathy led the group to a specific store where they create pieces for you and most all of the families purchased from there because it was one of the few places Kathy knew would not have fakes. Without her, we would have had no clue. WAY too many places from which to buy. Since I had bought pearls for myself and my family members last time I was in China, I really saw no need to buy more. I plan to pass down my pearls to Mia as she grows older. We had bought her jade from the jade factory in Beijing, so I felt like we were all set on the jewelry side.

We were told about an embroidery story on the way in, so John and I found our way back there to look before the group caught up. It was a small, but beautiful store with lots of options. It was amazing to see the artwork that looked like paintings, but they were all embroidered by hand! So incredible! Mia found a small mirror she liked, and I wanted to get a few things as well. We picked out a “painting” (embroidered) for her room that is similar to the scroll paintings in our bedroom. We are suckers for art. There was also an adorable doll I had seen elsewhere and HAD to get for her. It’s a little Chinese doll with a traditional outfit on. She hasn’t quite taken to the doll yet, but I think she will.

After the Pearl Market, we took another cab to the Shamian Island. This place is very different, and since it was under French and UK control in the 19th century, it has a European “feel” to it. It is quiet and peaceful with hotels and souvenir places, plus parks and walking paths. This is also the place where a lot of kids get their pictures taken with the statues. Since I follow a lot of adoptive families, I knew I wanted to try to get Mia to pose with the little kid statues, but it was closing in on naptime and that was not happening! There is a space between the kids where a lot of people pose their child to join in the train. Mia wasn’t all about it, as you can see.

We ate lunch at a restaurant called “Lucy’s” which is supposed to have more American-type food. It was pretty good, and we learned that Mia really enjoys cucumbers that were used as a garnish. She will fit right in with the boys at home! She also continues to love on baby Emmy whenever with are with that family. She loves to share her snacks and make sure Emmy is ok. I think she has great mommy instincts already!

John and I decided to head back to the hotel by ourselves to get Mia to nap. She fell asleep on me right as the cab pulled up to the hotel and slept until 4:30pm! This rest time also allowed us to talk about the trip so far and have that time to reconnect. When you are going through this process, so much is “survival mode.” Different country, different language, different foods, routines, new child with her own way of doing things, toddler tantrums, appointments and paperwork. There is very little time to really process things and talk about what is going on as a couple. I feel like God allowed Mia to sleep and gave us that time as a gift.

Every couple needs to slow down and communicate, but especially in a highly stressful experience like international adoption. I am very thankful for my husband, for our 17 years together, and almost 11 years of marriage. I am thankful that God opened his heart, like He did mine, to the idea of adopting a child into our family. I am thankful that I have a partner in life who lets me take on crazy adventures like marathons, owning a business, and adopting from a foreign country…and supports me in all these things.

After nap time, we met up with a few other families to go to dinner at Macau Street Restaurant. This is a Portuguese-style cooking with traditional Chinese seafood dishes. The families we were with did not want to try the seafood (I think everyone is worried they will get sick), so we had a lot of other options brought to our family-style meal. Like most meals served this way, there was a LOT of food and I liked about 80% of it. I rarely go for the spicy dishes, but always find things I like. We could say this was a celebration dinner because ALL of the babies had negative TB tests from the medical day yesterday! YAY! Mia was not interested in dinner tonight, so I was trying to find ways to entertain her and keep her happy.

Then, John and I headed to the little shops by the McDonald’s and found a couple of things for our boys. Mia also found a light-up, noisy toy that sings and talks in Chinese, so for about $5, John got it for her. She really does love the music and dances to it! We got back to the hotel and headed up to the lounge to see if Mia would eat anything before bedtime. She did enjoy some fruit and pita with hummus. When we got back to the room it was bedtime, but she was all wound up, as usual. We were able to talk on the phone a few minutes with Patty and the boys before they had to go to school. Then, we zoomed with Erin, Nate, and the boys before they headed off to school as well. Erin and Nate got a chance to see Mia in her wild stage, but she enjoyed blowing them kisses and showing them new things. I love that she gets to interact with our family so that she will know them a little better before we even get home. She got to bed late tonight because of all her energy, and the fact that she wanted to sleep with her noisy toy that would only wake her up. We finally got the toy out of her bed and once she settled in, she was asleep within a couple of minutes.

Tomorrow is our big U.S. Consulate appointment! This is the last official thing we have to do for her adoption! The entire trip was based around this appointment date tomorrow, so we are very glad to have this day finally arrive! After this, once her little feet hit American soil, Mia will be a U.S. citizen!!!

This day has made me appreciate how well our daughter takes to us both. So many children connect more with one parent than the other. We are very blessed that she is bonding well with both of us. Mia, I pray that you will always know how much Mommy and Daddy love you. I pray that you appreciate and love your Baba as much as he loves you. My relationship with my daddy was the BEST. I just hope that you and your Daddy stay connected and keep that playful side forever. You are dearly loved and treasured, sweet girl. May you always know how special you are!

Medical Check Up and River Cruise

Hello from Guangzhou! We had a great night’s sleep and woke up ready to go. Today was the medical appointment for all the adopted kiddos in our group. We had to leave at 9am to get there, so breakfast was first and then on the bus we went! The bus ride was not very long, maybe 30 minutes.

First stop was on the first floor of the building. Each child had to sit in a chair and have their photo taken, similar to when they applied for passports. This time they allowed Mia to keep her bow! Then, we all went upstairs to the 5th floor for the medical part. Kathy was amazing through all of this. She reassured all the parents that the kids would be fine and talked us through each step so that there were no surprises.

It was very nice to have a western potty to use on that floor, and even toilet paper! It’s funny what you consider a luxury here. When we first arrived on that floor, it was FULL of Chinese people and workers. Very crowded and busy. Kathy walked us to a back area that was for adoption families only. This section was empty and only our group sat here. There were four or five little exam areas back there where the kids would have to each go through three stations: general exam, ENT, and height/weight/temperature.

Mia went in the general exam room first. The doctor was soft-spoken and seemed kind. She quietly obeyed everything he told her to do and was very very well-behaved. Then, he looked over her medical file that we brought (the one we were given when we were matched in November), and I had to sign a few things and he filled out some paperwork and signed some more. Before we left that room, I asked him about why she did not have a scar from her VSD surgery. You would think a child who had heart surgery would have some proof of that. Kathy came in to see how we were doing and translated some. No one could find a scar, and I guess no one thought that was strange but me! So, no problems.

The next stop was a nurse station for height and weight and we were maybe there 30 seconds. Next was ENT (ear, nose, throat). The doctor here spoke less English, but again, spoke kindly to Mia and she politely obeyed without any problems. It made me wonder how she will do with medical appointments in the USA, where she won’t have doctors and nurses speaking to her in Chinese.

The last room was for the children over two years old. Here they had to do a blood draw for TB. The two lady nurses took in each child and then closed the door and locked it. Parents were not allowed to go with their children. This made a lot of parents very anxious, but Kathy had warned us about it and made sure that this process makes the parents look like heroes because we could just comfort and give lollipops or whatever to our children when they come back out. We were not the people making them hurt, we were their comforters. So, one by one, the children all came out bawling and the parents scooped them up and cuddling them and gave them candy. Mia did cry, but it only took a few minutes to cuddle her and then she was ok with her little blue lollipop.

Honestly, the entire morning went very well. We were back on the bus and Mia was worn out and fell asleep. I carried her inside and thankfully, she fell back asleep in her crib. John stayed with her and allowed me to go out with Kathy and Karlynn to get an authentic tea set for our girls.

The store was just beautiful. Hand-painted tea sets of all kinds. Each one unique. I found one I really liked with several colors and decided to claim it for Mia. This is a high-quality set that can be used for drinking because of the high temperature at which it was made. Lower temperatures would allow for chemicals in the porcelain, making it not suitable for drinking. This is a special gift in China. It is something that is passed down to daughters for when they have their own home and can host teas. So, perhaps a good wedding present.

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We also had a chance to get chops made for our children. This is something I did for our boys when I was in Beijing last time, so I knew I wanted one for Mia as well. The master carves the name on the stamp and the top of the stamp has the zodiac animal for the year of her birth. Mia’s birth year is 2013, which is the snake. I chose a design that has her English name and then Chinese name in the characters. This is another special gift.

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There were many beautiful things in this store, so it was really great to look around and get ideas of things we might like to buy somewhere else at a lower price.

After touring the store, we were invited to traditional Chinese tea. This was amazing. The lady who worked in the store had us sit down at a table specifically for tea. The process is very time-consuming and thoughtful. They clean the cups with hot water and then again. Then add tea leaves to a cup and pour the tea into a strainer cup and then pour again. We were able to sample three different kinds of tea in all, plus they offered butter cookies. It was a great experience and one I won’t soon forget.

Back in the cab and off to the hotel. Mia woke up right about then and we had some time to play before we went on the Pearl River Cruise. John went exploring while Mia and I stayed back at the hotel, then we went as a family to a small market place near our hotel. They have a lot of cheaper items, and we decided to get her a few traditional Chinese dresses that she can wear the next few years. Since she will only be wearing them for a short time, we didn’t want to spend the money on super expensive ones and she will look ridiculously cute no matter what! Tomorrow we will be able to go to the Pearl Market here in Guangzhou, so that will be another opportunity to get her a few things. I would love to get her things for Gotcha Day until her 18th birthday, but I don’t know that I will find that many different things for her. We shall see.

This evening we joined the other families in our group to go on the Pearl River Cruise. This was a fun experience. We were gone about 3 hours total and got to see some great views of this enormous city, including the famous Guangzhou Tower (aka Canton Tower), which was simply beautiful! There are more than 17 million people in Guangzhou, and it is only #5 biggest city in China! If you include the surrounding areas around the city, there are about 33 million people! I can’t even fathom that many people in one place! Wow! The weather was great and we enjoyed the trip and the company of our friends. We got some great pictures from the top deck and saw a funny juggling show on the second level, where Mia got to spin a ball on her finger. She seemed unimpressed, but it was still cute.

By the time we returned to the hotel, we were all ready for bed. Mia had a great day today with only a couple instances of saying “no” and we were able to turn it around with singing songs. No time outs today and we are learning more and feeling like we are making really good progress. She is super smart and is picking up on things very quickly. No more eating off the floor, and if we show her how to do things, she will gladly join in.

While they said she was completely potty-trained, and she had zero accidents for her first five days with us, she has had accidents by morning time the last few days. We have simply washed her clothes, given her a bath and put on new clothes with no worries. This means bathtime is now in the morning instead of the evening, but she seems okay with that. I talked with the other moms today and with Kathy, our guide. They all suggested maybe a diaper or pull-up at night for a while and see how she does. They don’t have pull-ups here, so Kathy let me have a few diapers to try just the next few nights. I think the only reason Mia has had accidents is because she is a very sound sleeper and we have had some very long days, so she has been sleeping 10-11 hours. It doesn’t bother us at all that we may need diapers at night because in my mind, being potty trained at all by this age is amazing! She’s only two! Having a diaper option will likely help on the 12-hour plane ride as well. I tried tonight to have her sleep in one, but she was whining that it was bothering her legs and hips. So, we might try again tomorrow. But really, I am quite impressed with this little girl. She goes on the potty every time I ask her to, and is the only one in our group that is pretty well trained already.

Today I am sitting here simply grateful. Yes, we have our moments, and yes, I miss our boys very much and hate that we have days like today where we don’t have any time to talk with them. But oh my goodness…I look at this girl and I just THANK GOD. She is not just beautiful and intelligent, but she is literally my dream come true! I am so blessed to have a husband who also loves adoption and who is completely smitten by his new daughter. It is like she has always been a part of us. When I look at her I see God. I feel His love. And I KNOW that she is a gift from above. She is not ours, but His. We are only blessed to care for her for a little while and show her The Way.

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Sunday Fun Day

After a very busy travel day on Saturday, we needed to take Sunday as a day of rest for our family. We opted out of the excursion and stayed around the hotel all da13054553_10153443579206781_1976385657_oy. Took time this morning to chill and I finally got a workout in! It felt so good to sweat and move more than just walking around with toddler weight! We do walk a lot here, and climb stairs, but it’s just not the same. So, Mia had her first experience of what Mama does for a living: workout! She looked at me like I was crazy, but then just played and did her own thing. I got a shower and we headed to breakfast together late. We have a lounge area where we can get a great breakfast and dinner if we want. It is nice to have an option that is only one floor away.

I also had the opportunity to drink my Shakeology with milk and ice for the first time since we have been to China! This was a special treat. Normally we are drinking it mixed only with water, and lucky if it is cold water. If you don’t know, Shakeology is a meal replacement full of over 70 superfoods and has the nutritional value of six salads. We normally make it in the blender and it tastes like a milkshake, but here, we don’t have that option. John and I have been drinking it daily to balance out the other things we have to eat so that we are filling in the gaps and keeping our bodies healthy. It is also the one constant food that we have been able to get. So, I make sure to never miss a day.

After breakfast, we walked around our hotel. It is a very big and fancy place with lots of shops and probably the biggest Starbucks I have seen! There are two side rooms where you can sit and enjoy coffee, too! We walked through a jade store and looked in some clothing stores as well. At the other hotel in Zhengzhou, we exchanged money at the front desk. Here, there are bank machines to do that. There is also a business center where you can make copies of papers for free, which has been helpful.

We made a play date with the other family who also did not go on the excursion. Their baby is 15 months old and super cute! Mia loves sharing snacks with baby Emmy. So, we took the girls to the little playground on the 4th floor. It was already super hot and humid outside. We stayed for quite a while and then moved inside to an air conditioned playroom. She seemed to like the little kitchen and legos! She will love all the legos we have at home and I’m sure her brothers will be more than happy to show her everything! It was super nice to have that play time and let Mia run around. It was also great conversation with our new friends.

After play time we took a walk and went to lunch together at a nearby noodle restaurant. Another family had gone there the night before and recommended it. They were right, it was VERY good and great prices for so much food. I got a dish that had garlic shoots and beef (I love garlic shoots the best and it was nice to have beef instead of pork for once) and it came with noodles, which are Mia’s favorite. I took a picture of the menu so you can see how we order. You basically point to what you want and hold up one finger if you want one, or two fingers if you want two, etc.

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Mia ate a LOT of noodles and prefered to eat them with a giant spoon! I have NO idea how she managed that, but it was easier for her to feed herself than for us to feed her noodles with chopsticks! Her dress will probably remain stained, but oh well. She was entertained and happy and full. #Winning.

After lunch was naptime. YAY! Mia didn’t want to cuddle with me in bed, she actually wanted her crib! Another victory! We are so so blessed by this girl. God made her perfectly for our family. She is on a schedule that is very similar to how we have always done things with Owen and Camden. I am just amazed at how well she fits in. She loves her Memaw blankie and her special pink blankie we bought her, too. While it takes her a few minutes to fall asleep (and she usually sings a lot), she is a sound sleeper and takes a great nap. Today was about two hours.

There was a meeting at 4:00pm for parents, but only one needed to go. John had been doing all the meetings up to this point, so we decided to switch roles. The meeting was mostly to get all the paperwork ready for the U.S. Consulate appointment on 4/27. There was a lot to fill out, but Kathy made sure to go over everything step by step. She makes things super easy for all of us. We also went over the schedule for the next few days. Lots of fun things planned to pass the time, but first, we have the medical appointment for the kids tomorrow morning. This shouldn’t be too bad, except the kids over two years old need a TB test, which requires a blood draw. We are planning to pack lots of lollipops and snacks!

When I got back up to the room, I came into a whirlwind of Daddy/Mia fun! They had a blast while I was gone: tissues all over the room, stacking cups everywhere, and my little girl had two pairs of pants and a skirt on underneath her dress! John said she was having fun playing dress up! She also loved wearing my sunglasses. I am so glad that had that time together today. She really loves her Daddy a lot! I wish I had gotten a picture of this part!

It was time to meet the other families at a restaurant in the hotel. We asked her to put on her shoes and she just yelled at us in Chinese with a mischievous smile on her face. I decided to try the time-out thing again and she sat, but kept yelling. Eventually, she tried to get down and I put her back on on the time out couch and she started crying. When the tears ended, she got quiet and listened to us again. I talked quietly with her and then had her say “sorry” and we hugged and kissed and everything was better. We went down to dinner and everything was fine again.

We met Kathy in the elevator and when we told her what happened, she finally figured out Mia was saying “get away from me” or “leave me alone” in Chinese. She stooped down and spoke to her in Chinese about listening to Mama and Baba and how she should not yell, we are trying to help. By that point, Mia may not have remembered what happened back in the room, but she did seem to listen to Kathy. Kathy picked up on the fact that she was spoiled, and again commented about how beautiful she is, but she assured us that she is very smart and basically acting like any two-year-old, which we know is certainly the case. We are so blessed by our little girl. These moments are very normal, and we are simply trying to navigate the best way to teach her while gaining her trust and working through a language barrier.

Today was a much better day and I feel like we are making great strides with her and working as a team.  Watching John interact with her makes my heart melt. We have felt the prayers of our family and friends, without a doubt. She has been bonding so well with both of us, but yet does not cry when one of us has to leave. God is SO good and we know that our family has been covered by prayer and protected in countless ways. John and I have been together 17 years now. This may be one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures we have ever undertaken. She is a JOY and we are so incredibly blessed to be her parents.

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