One Month Home!

13094141_10153459798756781_6863760584558066426_nIn the last month, we have learned a lot, but it feels like she has always been a part of our family. God is really, truly GOOD. He has just woven our stories together and bonded us from the start. If we didn’t have the language barrier and obvious orphan history, everything we are doing and going through would be the exact same as either of our boys at the toddler stage! She plays, she fights with her brothers, she loves sweets, fruits, and breads, and she loves being outside and playing in water.

Owen has done really well continuing on in his “big brother” role. He makes it his mission to take care of his siblings in the morning and get them breakfast and shows to watch as they slowly wake up. He protects Mia and tattles on Camden. Pretty normal, right? Mia, in turn, loves her brother, Owen. In fact, she calls both of them “Owen” quite often, and we have to remind her that Camden has his own name! It’s cute.

Camden and Mia have an interesting relationship. They love each other, but fight the most. I hear this is very common with the middle and youngest children. Sometimes they play really well together and Camden enjoys being a big brother, but most of the time he bosses Mia around and makes sure I know if she has done something wrong. Patience is not necessarily his strong suit at his tender five years of age. But really, they are doing pretty well. We had our first adventure with scissors this month, as Mia decided to play “beauty shop” with Camden, and he let her…

Miss Mia has settled into her role in our family quite nicely. She is learning the routine of the family and takes most of our verbal instruction really well. She can go get her shoes on, or pick out pajamas or sit down for dinner or a snack. She has no problems with sitting in her carseat, though she can get fussy and it is hard to understand what she wants on longer trips. The fussiness usually ends in a nap.

Speaking of naps, if we are out and about, Mia may not get a nap, except for whatever time she can rest in the car. This creates some problems with attitude and smacking her brothers if she doesn’t get her way. Sleep is important, but even if we are home, she doesn’t always take a long nap. In China, she would usually sleep between 1.5 and 2 hours from 12-1:30 or 2:00pm. In America, we are lucky to get her down at all, sometimes it takes as long as 20-30 minutes for her to fall asleep, and then she might sleep another hour at best.

Sleep has been our biggest struggle (aside from language). She understands what the bedtime routine is and anticipates each thing we do. She definitely thrives on routine…and don’t we all? We typically pray in Owen and Camden’s room in a circle on the floor and then give hugs and kisses. John and I say good-night to the boys and they settle down very quickly. Then, we go to Mia’s room with her and she wants us to pray with her again and will lay down if we give her a mint candy (the same ones from her pockets on Gotcha Day). We replaced the melatonin with the little candy instead (like the size of a Skittles) and the night terrors have seemed better. The thing about night time is that she wants BOTH John and I in the room with her until she falls asleep, which isn’t always possible, but we try if we are both home. I have put her to bed solo several times, but John has yet to do that task without me. We play soft baby classical music and she likes the inside of the seahorse toy that also plays music. We have a nightlight and fan on as well. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour for her to fall asleep. And even then, she can wake up at any time and be inconsolable before we get her back to sleep again.

The good news is, we have had very few accidents at night in the last week or so! Yay! Mia does wake up anywhere from 1-4 times, and there is no consistency in that. I typically spend whatever hours she does sleep working until around midnight or 1am, and then she wakes up around 6am. Sleep is hard to come by! But, this is only one month into a very new routine, so any sleep is good!

I get a lot of questions about Mia’s medical condition and her history. I try to answer these questions as nicely as I can without delving into a lot of specifics. It’s hard because I know that we have been very forthcoming with the details of our process and the day-to-day while we were in China. Now that we are home, there are some things that we need to keep close to our family only. This is HER story, and it will be up to her in the future whether she wants to even know the details of that story or not. It will be up to her if she wants to share particulars of her past and her history. So, that being said, I think I will leave it up to what we have already shared in this blog and let that be that. If you have questions about the adoption process, our experience with our agency, traveling, or anything from OUR perspective, we would be happy to share. In fact, my passion is to HELP other families who would like to pursue adoption! But, things that are particular to Mia, should probably stay protected and close to our hearts.

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Mia is our daughter. She is very loved and as much “ours” as Owen and Camden. Our family is complete for now, though we have not closed doors to what God may have for our future. I know that our job is to spread awareness of the need for families for orphans, but our daughter is an orphan no more! PRAISE GOD! We are so grateful to be parents to three beautiful children, all of whom are blessings from the Lord!

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. Adjustment is not a one month process. It takes many months and even years! We certainly appreciate the love and support from our friends and family every step of the way!

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Settling In

We are closing in on the end of week 2 of Mia being home! In some ways it seems like she has been here forever, and in other ways, we still have so much to learn!

I am very thankful for the kind words and comments on posts that we have put on Facebook throughout the day. Yes, she fits right in our family! Yes, we absolutely LOVE her!

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So what is life REALLY like?

13224039_10153481263361781_1624944476_oWell, things are busy. We have to continue our normal routine of work, school, karate, grocery shopping, and this week we went to Wednesday night church for the first time. Shopping happened on Monday, and I ventured to my favorite stores with Camden and Mia. She did great and had no problems sitting in the front seat of the cart. Camden was the helpful big brother and wanted to stay near her and tickle her. We went to Chick-fil-A and she really enjoyed her kids meal and book. Then, she really had fun at karate, since few kids showed up that day. She had the whole mat to herself for a while!

Tuesday, we kept things low-key and stayed around the house. Mia loves playing outside with her brothers, but will occasionally whine about something and I have no idea what she wants. This part is frustrating, but we are working through it.  Girlfriend also started joining me with my workouts! Super fun, though she wants to be right ON me!

I have to be honest, I was really not sure if Wednesday night church was a good idea or not, but Mia had been doing really well, so we gave it a go. Unfortunately,  John was working really late that evening, so I tackled both karate and church dinner by myself. At karate, Camden and Mia both made a new friend and enjoyed coloring with Ella. By the time class ended, Mia even gave Ella hugs! So cute!

At church, everyone was super respectful and gave us some space as I tried to get all the kiddos their dinner (buffet-style), and Mia sat nicely in a highchair, though she didn’t eat much. We were doing well and then John came in and I thought if I put her down she would run to him like she always does. I put her down and she saw other people around and started screaming and crying. Not ready. So, we calmed down and then she motioned that she wanted to go to class with Owen and Camden. I took her there and she was happy to be with her brothers.

13178753_10153476412251781_8579809405968879472_nHer class is 2 years through preschool, so Camden was in that group, too. We went to music class first, and she liked the songs, but stayed close to Mama. In the second class, storytime, she LOVED hearing about Noah’s Ark from Miss Sheila. All the other kids seemed tired, while Mia screamed and clapped with delight with every sentence! It was SO good to see our little girl enjoying church!!! This was her VERY first time EVER in a church building, and how comfortable she felt! I truly believe that God has had His hand on her every step of the way! She is so loved and treasured, and I am grateful that she has the opportunity to know her Creator and Savior. The third area was the playground. She liked it, but there are small stones in that area, which kept getting into her adorable girly flip flops. Note to Mom: wear tennis shoes to Wednesday night church next time! By the end of the night, I think she had made some friends!

Thursday we had to have another low-key day. We realize that if we do too much, she gets overwhelmed and it makes for an exhausting day for everyone. Friday, John was off, so she got to spend extra time for him and then we went to see Owen’s spring play at school. We saw a lot of people there, and I know others were excited to see Mia in person. There are so many people who followed our blog while we were in China, that I don’t even realize how many feel like they “know” her already! Everyone in Owen’s class was SO happy to meet her! At school, we talked a little bit to the principal, who is also a friend from church. He mentioned that Mia would have resources available to her through the school system for speech, as English will be her second language. It is really nice to have the support there and that she could start these services as early as three years old!

13165926_10153479577631781_5183276943767625418_nFriday evening, we took a trip to Texas Roadhouse. Girlfriend loves peanuts and rolls! It was fun to see her adjusting so well to new experiences and trying new things. It is great to do things as a family, be surrounded by other people, but yet she is not overwhelmed with that. The times where she is scared or overwhelmed come when people we know come at her and want to talk to her and be her friend. She backs up and becomes expressionless. Smiling is important, but giving her space is the key. She will open up when she is ready.

Saturday was the first time Mommy went for a run. She helped Daddy and brothers clean around the house and I came home to a princess pirate ninja!

Mia got to meet my friend, Cassie, and seemed to warm up to her quickly. Kids like Cassie, what can I say? By the time she left, I was surprised to see Mia give her a little hug. #winning.

So, lots of things have been going well:

  • Trying new foods
  • Drinks enough throughout the day
  • Doing well with family routine
  • Loves to pray (sometimes multiple times)
  • Dancing/music is the way to her heart
  • Learning new words
    • Knows all our names
    • Repeats: please, thank you, sorry, potty, kind, body parts (eyes, belly, etc),
  • Charades are still very important, and tend to help her understand/calm down
  • Loves bathtime
  • Clean up song works to “re-do” the action of throwing toys, etc.
  • Does great on the potty during the daytime
  • She loves to color, work on legos, and play with anything the boys have

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Some things we are working on:

  • More words to comfort. WHY is the hardest part to explain to someone who doesn’t speak the language.
    • Why someone leaves
    • Why you can’t touch that
    • Why you need to lay down and sleep
    • Why you can’t throw things/hit
    • Why we need to go somewhere
  • Sleep
    • Only slept through the night once this week, and woke up soaked
    • Wakes up an average of 3x/night
    • Has accidents almost every night, but refuses to wear diaper/pull-ups
    • Refuses to lay down sometimes (wants to sit up)
    • Requires baby melatonin as a bribe to go to sleep

Our Mia is really quite a joy. There are times when her toddler attitude comes on strong, but she is learning every day. I worked hard this week to get her on our insurance and get that all straightened out (about an hour or more every day I was on the phone about it), so I hope to get her into the pediatrician this coming week and get started on that part.

Pray for us as John has a conference early next week and will be out of town for 3 days. This will be hard on all of us and I hope it doesn’t set things back for Mia and all the progress she has made. Pray for me, that I get enough sleep to handle three kids on my own! I think the hardest part is being tired like you are with a newborn, but having to keep up with a toddler with her own attitude!

Always grateful to share our story.

Always grateful to be Mommy and Daddy to Owen, Camden, and Mia.

 

Looking In from the Outside: A Guest Post

This post was lovingly written by my sister, Erin Harvey:

Nate, the boys, and I typically try to visit our siblings (yes, Rachel and I married brothers for those of you wondering) a few times a year. This past week was a busy and exciting time for us, as we were planning a trip to North Carolina for a few days. We had the initial idea of possibly stopping in to see John and Rachel but also knew and respected the fact they haven’t been home a full week yet. So, we called and simply checked in to see how Miss Mia was adjusting. The first few days obviously were going to be rough for them with new surroundings for Mia, new siblings, jet lag, etc., so I initially began to change our plans and only packed enough clothes for our short little trip to Charlotte. However, after confirming that they were OK with the idea of us coming to see them, we arrived Friday evening and plan to stay until after church Mother’s Day.

I cannot explain to you how surreal it is to actually meet Mia. She is absolutely gorgeous, and I am not just bragging because she’s my niece!  She has big eyes and such a beautiful smile, and her laugh is so very contagious.   But she is shy and reserved when you first meet her.

Before we arrived at John and Rachel’s, we talked to the boys several times about meeting Mia and how important it was to be quiet and calm around her, because even though she saw us on video chat, I knew she wouldn’t remember us. That little beautiful girl has had so much excitement and change that I would never expect her to remember me! And, I am OK with that. And, I’m family.

Mia was very quiet around us when we first arrived last night…calm, but also interested. She tried showing us some of her toys from her bedroom from her dollhouse and then after about 20 minutes was OK with me coming to see her room. Absolutely NO leading me by the hand or hugging me was involved at this stage, nor did I expect this.

She started to warm up to us as a family when we all got on the floor and played with her dollhouse. We told her our names and she tried to repeat them occasionally, but after awhile it was time for her to go to bed, along with my nephews. Still, NO hugs, but at this point, we got high 5’s.

This morning Mia colored and drew flowers with Uncle Nate and then wanted me to help color on paper with her.

This was a lot of fun to play and interact with her, but I noticed Rachel had gone off to the living room. You see, throughout today, Mia has become somewhat confused with the situation that already changed her parents’ routine they were establish for her this week. She began to call me, “Mama” and I immediately corrected her with, “I’m Aunt Erin”, and pointed to myself and then, “there’s Mama.” She seemed OK for the moment, but this happened frequently. Nothing could have prepared Rachel and myself for the awkwardness that occurred when these moments happened. We talked, trying to make sure we were both communicating with one another the best and most respectful way to handle this situation.

I love my niece, Mia. She is beautiful and funny and smart and just a joy to be around, and she DOES give great hugs! Although John and Rachel are getting used to Mia and Mia to them, she is unlike a newborn baby is so many ways.   She is a young child, who prior to April, was used to a different culture, a different language, and different EVERYTHING. I know there are many who simply have read about Rachel and John’s journey and now feel they are a part of Mia’s life. And there are many family and closer friends, too. But, please don’t make physical contact with Mia before asking her parents. High fives are waves are fine for now. Adoption takes time. Bonding takes time. Please allow and respect if Rachel and John are not up for visitors or don’t want Mia to have hugs given by everyone at this time. Was it too early for us to come? Maybe. I’m not sure. All I know for sure is that this child needs time to bond and her routine and her Mama and Baba around her. If Rachel doesn’t have time to call me for another three weeks, I’ll understand, because that time will be there for us in the future.

New Everything!

This week has been absolutely wonderful and crazy all at the same time. We got in at 2am Monday morning and I feel like things just never stop! Here are some things we have seen with Mia:13112675_10153468922271781_951681766_o

  • She loves her brothers. Gives them hugs and kisses daily.
  • Mia loves music and to DANCE. This girl can break it down!
  • Mia still LOVES Baba (Daddy). She cries when he has to go to work.
  • She really enjoys her dollhouse, baby dolls, legos, cars, crayons/markers to draw, transferring items and lining things up.
  • We are working on eating different foods. The girl LOVES her carbs! Then again, that is about all we had in China. Somethings she will eat one day and not the next and vice versa. It’s all trial and error.
  • Things she LIKES to eat are: scrambled eggs, grilled chicken tenders, yogurt (usually), apples, bananas, mandarin oranges, raisins, bread, chips, dry cereal, rice, warm water.
  • She still drinks formula in a sippy cup after she wakes up and about half of the time after nap. We are planning to get rid of the naptime one soon. Regular milk makes her sick, though she is not lactose intolerant.
  • Mia still has a stubborn temper at times, but is having fewer tantrums. This is the time when language is hard. The idea of WHY something is not okay is foreign to her.
  • She sleeps HARD, but wakes up often. Once she settles in, she sleeps very hard, but moves around violently in her sleep, causing her to fall out of her toddler bed on a regular basis. There is an extra mattress on the one side and blankets on the other, so she is safe, but she frequently wakes up. She does not want to start sleeping anywhere BUT her bed.
  • This girl has a contagious laugh and smile that makes everyone fall in love.13161606_10153468921331781_1545234244_o
  • She understands the idea of “stranger danger” and is very shy with new people.
  • Mia is adjusting beautifully to her 5-point harness car seat! She has not complained about it at all.
  • While we still don’t speak the same language, with lots of love and patience, it is coming. I truly believe that she understands almost everything we are saying.
  • She parrot-talks back to us, and it is adorable. I’ll say, “Mama loves you.” She’ll say, “Mama loves you!”
  • We have seen very little difference in Owen, because he is already a good big brother, but Camden has a love/hate relationship with his little sister right now. Lots of crying and frustration from him this week, but he will also give her hugs and kisses on HIS terms.

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On Monday and Tuesday, we spent the days at home as a family of five. The boys cried hard about not wanting to go to school, so we said okay, one more day. It was very good for us all to have that time, and Mom and Dad were still very much jet-lagged. Monday night, I had to take Owen and Camden to karate. We found out that if we leave IN FRONT of Mia, and she can wave “bye-bye” she is okay. When she wakes up from a nap and we are gone, she freaks out. John said she screamed for an hour solid. We came home early from karate that night to try to settle her down. Wednesday was karate again for Owen, so John decided that we should all go as a family because I will have to take all three kids every Monday with me, and this would give her an idea of what was happening. This karate time went MUCH better.

Thursday was John’s first day back to work and Mia was not happy to see Daddy go. I ended up bringing her to KCU in the afternoon to see where Daddy goes during the day. We were met like celebrities before we even hit the door to Lusby! Everyone who walked by had to come up and say “hi” to the princess. I know everyone is excited, but you could tell she was overwhelmed.

Thursday evening, our friends, Patrick and Alyssa, came by to bring the kids some presents and see Mia before graduating and moving to Lexington full-time. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but when Mia saw the boys wrestling with Patrick, she jumped right it! She took to Alyssa very quickly as well. It is nice, but also a little worrisome, when your child goes to other people like that. You need to be very careful in these early stages about bonding and not confusing your child. I think she was comfortable because we were in our own home and she saw how the boys acted first. The visit wasn’t long, but everyone had fun.

Friday was the first day for just Mia and Mama together. She screamed and cried when all three of her favorite guys had to leave home that morning for school and work. It was wonderful to put out a prayer request on Facebook and see so many people jump in and pray for us that morning! Thank you! Eventually, she calmed down and we had a nice day together, but she was VERY happy to get everyone back together that afternoon.

Friday night, around bedtime, our siblings and nephews arrived to see the princess. Mia was a little reserved at first, but she warmed up a little more over time. By bedtime, she gave high fives and hugged her cousins. This morning, they all played like they had known each other forever.

We have talked about this for so long. I realize that WE are not the only ones excited about our new daughter. Our family has been waiting and praying for a long time, too! When you have a family as close as ours, everyone is impacted! For those who may not know, my sister and I married brothers. There are no other siblings in our family, so our kids are double cousins! John and Nate’s father passed away when they were 11 and 16. We all had been married with kids when we lost my Mom in 2010 and then my Dad in 2012. Our family has been through A LOT. Both sets of parents ended up being close friends with one another and we took summer vacations together each year. My in-laws still go to holidays with my Mom’s extended family. Yes, we are THAT close. So, of course, adding our first princess to the world of four boys has been something everyone is excited about.

As it is Mother’s Day weekend, I am so glad to have my sister here with me. She was the one who stayed up and talked with me each day while we were in China. She let me vent and cry and talk her ear off! We have now spent 6 Mother’s Days without our Mom, and tomorrow will be the 7th. It is hard. It’s not what we planned at all. So many days we wish we could call her up or have her see our kids and how they have grown. Mom would be so proud of each of them, and just be absolutely tickled with Mia! My Mom was a girly-girl if there ever was one! She would be buying up the stores in pink and tulle and lace for her granddaughter. I am so glad that we had the example of our parents. I only hope to be half the mom that she was to me. She gave me the hard truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it. Her love was undeniable. Her witness for Christ was ever-present. I am not always like my Mom, but if I am ever found to be hospitable, graceful, kind, loving, patient, or generous, it is because of her.

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This Mother’s Day will be different. It is a Mother’s Day that I have dreamed of for two decades. My little girl is HOME from China. We look nothing alike, but she is undoubtedly OURS. God made her PERFECTLY for our family and none other. There are so many times John and I look at each other in amazement. It’s like she’s always been a part of us. We are so blessed to be parents to Owen, Camden, and Mia. I thank God every time I think of you, Owen Michael, Camden Christian, and Mia Luoshu! You are perfectly created by the Master of the Universe and dearly loved. We are so grateful to have been called to be your parents!!! God is so good. Happy Mother’s Day!

Here are my presents from my boys this year:

Owen’s paper says,

“My mother should be chosen for Mother of the year because she is nice. She makes new recipes that my Nana gives her. My favorite is her apple pie. It is the best! My mom went to China and got me and my brother a sister. Her name is Mia and she is funny! This is why my mom should be chosen “Mother of the year.” –Owen

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We’re HOME!

We arrived in Grayson, KY around 2am EST on May 2, 2016. We started the journey in Hong Kong on May 1 at 8:30am, local time. My brain can’t even do the math on how many hours we ACTUALLY traveled, and what it FELT like with the time changes. We basically did Sunday twice because of crossing the International Date Line.

The journey went: Hong Kong to Seattle to Atlanta to Lexington, then driving home to Grayson. Yes, we live in a small town. No, there are NEVER direct flights anywhere. We are used to this, but our poor Mia was just worn out!

We were first concerned with the initial 11-hour flight to Seattle, especially when Mia fell asleep in the airport before we even took off. We were armed with baby melatonin, just in case. We had heard about other families enduring the airsickness fun, so we brought along extra clothes for everyone in the carry-on backpack. Thankfully, Mia was pretty well-behaved for quite a while. When we did finally give her some melatonin, she slept for about 3 hours, giving this mama some needed rest as well. Daddy watched a lot of movies.

After she awoke, we had to find ways to entertain her. Her orphanage did have a tv and would show movies on occasion, but not often enough that they hold her interest at all. Bummer. She also did not like listening through earphones, so #doublefail. We brought along books and got her a Princess Sofia coloring book/market set. She loves to color and draw and that would be awesome, however, she drops things like any two-year-old does, and then became very upset when they fell, got lost, etc. She also has the attention span of a newborn puppy. Round two of melatonin was soon on its way. We could only give her 3 tablets in 24 hours, so we really needed this one to work as well as the first. Mom and Dad were getting pretty tired and needed to rest, too. It took MUCH longer for her to go to sleep this time, and only for about 1.5-2 hours. The biggest thing is that this kid sleeps HARD, but fidgets. She will spaz out while totally asleep and we would have to move her back so she wouldn’t fall off the seat. Mia no likey. All in all, she did VERY well on that first, super long, flight. I got about 3 hours of sleep total and John made it his goal to stay up and endure the long travel day and adjust at home later.

Welcome to America. Customs and immigration were just ridiculous. At first, we were told that we could go in the US line, because John and I had US passports and Mia had Chinese. When we got up to the check-in area, it was all automated through machines and I figured this was NOT going to work. Yup, we had waited in the wrong line. John was thrilled. We had to go around to the Visitor area and cater to our little one bearing the Chinese passport. Thank God that the workers spoke English! We were never more happy to be on US soil and not have to charade our way through the process.

Next, we went up to the holding tank to get Mia’s papers stamped with approval to make her an “official” U.S. citizen! I would have remember the name of this area if my brain wasn’t already completely gone with lack of sleep jet lag craziness. Anyways, the people there were SUPER nice and very excited about our adoption. Mia was happy for snacks. The paperwork went through in minutes and they congratulated us and off we went to baggage claim and re-entry by TSA for domestic travel. Joy of joys…the lines.

We were starting to wonder if the 3-hour window was enough time to get through and make our next flight. It seriously took FOREVER. We got through security and almost lost John’s phone (thank you, kind sir for the heads up), and tried to navigate through the large airport to our gate. Once we got to the gate. we had limited time. I took Mia to the bathroom, and we had a bit of an “accident.” Those big people toilet seats do not allow for little legs to stay closed very well. Yup, she peed on her pants WHILE on the toilet. I’m pretty sure she is a genius for making that even possible. Note to mama: make sure her legs stay CLOSED on the potty. Sheesh. Good thing we had our emergency puke clothes on hand. Back to the gate to get the clothes. Back to the bathroom for a baby wipe bath and change of pants. I was more than grateful her socks and shoes were saved. I washed out her pants and went to a duty-free store to ask for a plastic bag. I think they felt sorry for me. And of course…the stares. Yes, I called her my daughter. Yes, she is Chinese. One thing remains, whether you are in HER country or OURS, there is ALWAYS the staring. Good thing she is incredibly adorable!

The second flight was the hardest one. Seattle to Atlanta. It was five hours long and Mia was NOT at all wanting to be buckled. Oh, the horrors! We bribed with lollipops and Chinese bread, like any good parents do, and got through the long take-off and landing with crazy levels of anxiety, never knowing how much she would scream at even the THOUGHT of being under the constraints of that buckle. She slept about an hour out of the five and our entertaining ideas were growing slim, as we were exhausted as much as she was. But–we made it.

Flight number 3 was the best. She slept. Praise God. Honestly, I can’t complain too much about the whole day. She never threw up, she WAS entertained some by that darn coloring book set, and mostly we just couldn’t get her to sit down because she was smiling and waving at all the passengers around us. I’m pretty sure the University of Kentucky baseball team was on this flight. GO CATS!

We are always forever grateful for our friends, Mark and Sandra Deakins, who were our airport shuttle going and coming. They stayed up till midnight to bring us our car, and did everything with a hug and a smile. God is good!

The drive home was uneventful. I was already awake with my body having NO clue what time it REALLY was. Mia was so sleepy she did not fight the five-point harness! John’s brother was awake for some odd reason, and offered to talk me on the phone through the drive home and keep me alert. Thanks, bro.

Around 2am, we finally got in and got Mia into her own bed. She was SUPER excited about everything in her room and I thought she might want to play with that dollhouse for longer than I could handle. I coaxed her into bed and left a nightlight on. I stayed in there until she fell asleep and then left her room and our room doors open with nightlights, so she could see we were right there. Around 3:30am I woke up to hear her playing with the dollhouse! She wasn’t upset, so I just listened and stayed quiet, hoping she would go back to sleep. She did and we found her sleeping on the floor right by that dollhouse this morning.

John and I got up around 6:45 so that we could catch the boys before their alarm went off at 7am. We didn’t want them charging into her room with hugs and kisses and excitement that would make her cry in the corner. Owen got up first and came to us, quiet as a mouse, SUPER excited to see us and meet his sister. It literally felt like Christmas morning. We let him go in and he kept his distance and whispered and waved to her. We all kinda whispered for a while as she woke up. Camden came in and respectfully did the same. I am so proud of both of the boys for being so kind and gentle with her and letting her lead the pace. The dollhouse was still her favorite, but she came out of her shell when the boys showed her that the van played music. Camden started dancing to the beat and she laughed that awesome belly laugh we love. It was pure joy watching our children interact.

She still had only seen two rooms of the house! We took the morning very slowly and played for a long time before even getting breakfast. John’s mom was still here and we talked with her about the trip and Mia warmed up to her at the very end before Patty left. By mid-morning, all three kids were playing like best friends. It was truly awesome to see. The boys are so kind with her and really try to help her and gently correct her as needed. We could tell right away that Camden and Mia would be the two that will fight, with their similar personalities, but that, too, is almost entertaining to watch.

I worked out and then we got ready for the day. We were invited to a Facetime call with people from Show Hope and we were told through that video chat that we are going to be awarded a $5,000.00 grant for our adoption costs! They expressed their gratitude to our family for participating in the 20/20 campaign and said that their financial goal was met! While we have already come home, of course, the final costs for the trip were taken from our personal savings and pretty much every penny we had. This grant is a God-thing that will give us that emergency fund that we had depleted. It definitely requires a step of faith to drain your accounts for this process, but we knew God would provide, we just didn’t know how. What a blessing!

After that call, I put Mia down for a nap and got a few bills paid and things caught up since we had been gone for so long. I got the boys ready and headed to karate. We never thought anything about it. Halfway through Owen’s class I got a call from John with Mia screaming in the background. She was NOT a happy camper. Apparently, she thought mama had left her forever. I was honestly surprised that she was inconsolable with John, because he had been the favorite in our Hong Kong stay. John tried everything we could think of with no luck. At that point, she had been screaming for over an hour straight. I grabbed Owen out of class and headed home. Her tears finally went away when the three of us arrived home. It broke my heart.

During and after dinner, Mia was thoroughly entertained by her brothers and later led them around by the hand and giggled and laughed and tickled each other. It’s hard to believe this is real. PURE JOY. She has already hugged both of her brothers and given them kisses.

Bedtime was interesting because we were trying to keep the boys separate from Mia for shower/bath/changing, etc. Never having separate genders, this is our first go-around. The problem is they all want to be around each other and not separated. So, we had some naked kids running around as we tried to get jammies on them ASAP. And more giggles. Bedtime routine was good and Mia is excited to fold her hands for prayer, but usually doesn’t stay quiet for long. Apparently, she had taken to Camden’s Spiderman slippers and HAD to have them. Problem was, Camden wanted them, too. Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!!!! We tried to reason with the 5-year-old that he didn’t want to hear his baby sister scream and cry, right? Yeah, he didn’t care. Wasn’t giving in. I tried to put Mia to bed without the slippers, and Camden even offered Scooby Doo ones as a peace offering with no acceptance of such an offering. Cue wailing. I was trying to calm down the Spiderman lover in room 1, while Daddy tried to work some magic in room 2. I have no idea what happened, but Camden caved. Thank you, Jesus. I hate to make one kid give up what is rightfully his to give in to another kid, but…jet lag…remember the jet lag. Just go to sleep kids. Whatever it takes. As of now, they are all peaceful and donning their respective slippers in their respective rooms. I wouldn’t be surprised if Camden stealthily sneaks out of his bunk to try to retrieve his prize possession in the middle of the night. We shall see.

So ends Day 1 in the Harvey household. Tomorrow, we will attempt to have the boys attend school and see if the princess will allow her prince brothers to be educated away from her royal castle. Yes, it is a long post. No, this will not become a daily thing. Life resumes, and I just don’t have the time. I do hope to update as we go through this crazy adjustment period because if it helps just one other family, it’s worth it.

Prayers appreciated as we continue to adjust. I cannot tell you the power of prayer on our family’s life. I have truly felt God’s hand in every single step. We have been spared many uncomfortable and difficult trials because of God’s mercy. We are so so blessed. Thank you for joining us and supporting us on this great adventure.

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!

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!