Friday, February 27, 2009

We're Home!

"Remember today, for it is the beginning of always. Today marks the start of a brave new future filled with all your dreams can hold"
Welome Home Owen!
After about 25 hours of traveling, we arrived home at about 8:45 to a very warm welcome from our friends and family, AKA the paparazzi! Cameras in hand, they all waited at the end of the driveway anxious to see the little boy they all heard so much about. Ella immediately jumped out of my mom's arms and into mine..something we were both longing for :) I then took her around to the other side of the car, followed by B and J, to finally meet "little brother". As soon as I opened the door Wen, like he knew just who Ella was, reached out his hand and took hers. Needless to say that brought a couple of us to tears! It was dark out, but the driveway was quite lite by all the camera flashes. I can't even imagine what was going through his little head! He was very happy to see B, and J as well and greeted each of them with a huge smile. Once again, we were blessed with magical moments. Four siblings who just met, yet seemed to have know each other for so long. How could that be? My heart is so grateful.
The kids were anxious to get Wen inside and show him his new house. He willingly went around the house holding one of their hands and went room to room. He amazingly seemed very comfortable with each of them, as well as with my mom and my sister. We all had a very late night that night finally settling in at about 12:30. Like clockwork, Wen was up at 6am!
Overall things are going very well. Wen absolutely LOVES Ella (and Ella loves him!), and is very happy when he sees B and J. We're still all getting used to the time change and I've been walking around a foggy and a bit overwhelmed by lack of sleep, the mess developing around my house, and the suitcases full of laundry that still need to be done. Also, my Ella who was so brave without her mom for two weeks, has come a bit undone! It's like every suppressed emotion is now coming out. She will not let me leave her side for more than a second and has been so overly emotional. That's mainly the reason this blog post has taken me so long. Ella basically won't let go of me, which makes it a little hard to type! And of course her needs have to take priority. So I now sit at my table with my laptop while the two little ones are eating lunch, trying to get it done!
Here's few pictures from Wen's big welcome home! In the next couple of days I'll hopefully get a chance to post some pictures of our "new family".
My mom had this beautiful banner made to welcome Wen home. (She also made sure the house was clean, the fridge was filled with food, and all the laundry at home was all done--how wonderful is that!!)

Michelle, Joanne, and Lisa came earlier in the day and decorate the house with balloons
Wen's new friends
Ella, Meg, and Mia are anxiously waiting!
We finally make it home to the large crowd gathered in front of our house
I'm greeted by our other children
Wen's first glance at the paparazzi awaitin his arrival!
Brianna, happy to finally meet Wen
The smiles on their faces...priceless

Ella, so happy to have "little brother" home at last!
No words for this one :)

A new family

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goodbye Guangzhou, Goodbye China

It's our last full day in China. We head out early tomorrow morning for our long day of travel.

Yesterday afternoon we had our traditional "red couch" photos. It's a tradition to have pictures taken on the red couch in the lobby of the White Swan hotel. Wen wasn't in the best mood considering we had to wake him up from his nap. He definitely wasn't his usual smiley self, but still the pictures came out pretty nice.

Last night we attempted to eat some authentic Chinese. We stopped at two local restaurants, but after reviewing their menu decided that we really didn't need to eat Chinese. If I had been in the mood for some fried frog, sliced swan meat, or maybe a little ostrich kidney it would have been fine to eat there. I was way too hungry after not eating lunch and there was just no way I'd be able to get enough steamed pigeon in me to make me full! We then decided we'd try the German restaurant, but they were having a party there and were not seating for dinner. Much to my luck.......La Dolce Vita is right next door to the German restaurant and that's were we ended up. AAHHHH.......happiness. Again we had a very delicious meal. Actually I think it was probably better than any local restaurant we have home! A little Pizza Caprese (mmmmm), and two more wonderful pasta dishes (and of course a nice bottle of red wine) were on last night's menu. Of course we went through a couple of baskets of bread as well. Marianna, you would be very happy there. If you knew how good the food was I think you would even muster up enough courage to get yourself on a plane to China! We again worked on getting Wen to convert over to the Chinese-Italian he now is. A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar....he actually asked me to put in on his plate! Then the bread dipping began. Yes, we will be able to go out to eat when we get home!

We spent part of the morning packing and then headed over to the park. Wen had a great time! Again the local women were "mothering" him. I told Brian that if any of the Chinese women on the plane ride home offer to feed/entertain/take care of him DO NOT SAY NO!!! I'm sure they'll give him back once we land! Yes, I am dreading the long flight home. This is the part of the trip I was always worried about the most. So I am once again asking for your prayers-lots of them- for a safe, easy, and otherwise uneventful journey home. Please:)

Again, I want to thank all of you who have been so interested in following our journey. Your comments, emails, and facebook messages mean more to me than you know. Wen has so many wonderful people to meet when we get home :) You have all been so supportive over this past year while we worked so hard to get Wen home.

I also want to thank my mom and my sister who took such good care of our other three kids while we were here in China. We couldn't have done this without you :) Thank you.

Meaghan Grace and Mia Hope your provided the inspiration for us to follow our hearts and bring your new friend home. We can't wait to see the "three dimples" all together! I can't wait to see if Paige will be the fourth "dimple"!

My husband, who trusted me enough to make this happen...thank you, I love you.

*B, J, and El---just one more day! I miss you guys so much it hurts. We love you and can't wait for you to meet your new brother :) You guys are going to be the best big brother and big sisters he could ever have. He is one lucky boy that you will be his family and one day he will know just how much you all wanted him to be your brother.
Mom and Dad

P.S- Mom-I think maybe you should take the Panda rocker out of Owen's room! We can't have him be afraid of walking into his new room!

Red Couch picture
Wen wants Tai's hat

Wen gets Tai's hat and is very happy!
Tai runs away! His mom and dad better be careful, I just may be sneaking him into my suitcase and taking him home!

Travel group (the two other GW families left Tuesday)
Wen was determined to ride on the little car with this big stuffed animal. He tried, and tried, and tried to sit on it with him. Then Tai's dad put him on Wen's shoulders---he was very happy to have a solution!
MMMMM.......some great bread dipped in a little olive oil and balsamic....who wouldn't like that???
Doesn't he look so cute in his new hat???
LOVE the personalized jersey - thanks Laura!

A local little boy and his grandmother
Yep, another women feeling the need to take care of Wen. She thought his hat was too big and decided to adjust it

Every adoptive mom just has to take this picture

Monday, February 23, 2009

La Dolce Vita

Well the second half of our day yesterday went much better than the first. We opted to walk back to Shamian Island (with our guides) from the pearl market instead of taking the bus. We first walked through a very busy business section with lots of stores. There were SOOOOOO many people! Wen and his little friend Tai were mesmerized just watching everything that was going on. We just love watching them and wondering what was going through their little heads. We next walked throught the pet market. I didn't take any pictures here as it's not something I really care to remember and for the sake of my animal loving friends and family I'm not even going to bother describing it. I'm sure me saying that says enough :( After getting through the animal market we walked through the herbal medicine market. As we walked our guide stopped along the way and explained what things were and what they were used for. It was quite interesting and the Chinese definitely know something we don't know. They are all very thin (we have not seen even one overweight person here--seriously!), and they have such beautiful skin.

When we got back to Shamian Island we decided to go straight to dinner. We were joined by our new friends Heidi and Jason and there son Tai (who is one cutie patootie). It was a beautiful walk to the restaurant. We opted for Italian and were VERY pleasantly surprised by how good our meal was. We went there thinking "Italian food in China????". Brian and I can be very critical when it comes to Italian food. Upon arriving we were initially comforted by the beautiful building the restaurant is in, the cleanliness of it, and the fact that they have western style toilets! Already I was thinking this would be our place for lunch and dinner the next couple of days! We sat down to baskets of bread and breadsticks complete with a balsamic and pesto dipping oils. The bread was so light and delicious. Now I'm thinking "OK, this could be good". Then came the true test--our meals. Brian and I ordered Penne with onion, bacon, and tomato sauce , and Chicken with a spinach wine sauce. They were DELICIOUS!!!!! Even Wen enjoyed his spaghetti with tomato sauce and some bread dipped in pesto!! Hooray--that I can make! Later we saw the chefs-two big Italian guys and that explained everything! Our meals combined with the wonderful bottle of wine we ordered, and the company of Heidi, Jason, and Tai was like a little taste of heaven. I was soooo happy and content. It was like my battery was recharged and I was thinking OK, OK, I can do this for a couple more days"! Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to going back there :)

We had a very pleasant walk back to the hotel from the restaurant. On the way we stopped for some Starbucks, and did a little more shopping! There were lots of people out walking and still lots of people in the park exercising.

To make the evening even better we had two important firsts last night. I got my first kiss!!!! AAAHHH, yes, my first kiss. I was holding Wen and puckered my lips and he leaned over and kissed me! Dad later got at kiss too. Also, last night was the first time he let me lay with him to go to sleep. I then put him in his little bed that is right next to Brian's (basically attached to it) and he slept there all night. Either he was really wiped out from all his shots, or he's finally starting to realize that when he wakes up in the morning we will still be there.

Tomorrow we go to the Consulate to take our group oath. Then we'll get all packed up and ready to head out on Thursday (of course in between that we'll be going back to La Dolce Vita!!)

*B, J, and El- We are DONE shopping for you!! El-have fun at school today!! Tell Ms. Diane I said hello. Two more days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brian bargaining in the pearl market. Look at all those bags of pearls!!
So many stores, I'm not sure how they can all make money. These were ALL pearl stores!
Wen and Tai just taking it all in! I just LOVE this picture.
Herbal medicine market
These dried seahorses are used for making soup
Scorpians, yes scorpians, also used for a medicinal soup
This artist was making carvings out of ox bone
This little girl was reading in the park and was just as sweet as she looks. She spoke English and was delighted to pose for a picture. She is definitely one of the beauties of Shamian Island.
One of the many couples taking their wedding photos in the park yesterday.
Family photo in front of a "lucky" tree. Notice the trunk--it's like many thin branches twisted together. The trees are so beautiful here
La Dolce Vita!!!!
Spaghetti face!
Wen and Tai. Wen is very nuturing and gentle toward Tai. It make you wonder if he helped with the younger children at the orphanage--ya know at the ripe old age of not even three!
Tai's shoe came off---Wen was helping him put it back on! It actually makes me a sad that he is so independent and was forced to grow up so fast :(
Shoe is on, now he helps him get up!
My first Oreo---this is no rice cookie! Slowly they are beginning to corrupt me!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joy, Fun, and Frustration

This blog post brings out a wide variety of emotion today. First the joy and fun part. We had a wonderful time at dinner last night with our travel group. Four of the five GW families met and went to the Cow and Bridge. My meal was just OK. Maybe I should have opted for the steamed pigeon, or the ostrich kidney! I think tonight we're going to try Italian---that should be interesting! We then went back to the hotel and spent some time in playroom. Initially we were the only family in there. Wen spent a great deal of time arranging all the toys. He's going to be a wonderful "cleaner upper". We were then joined by two of the other GW families. It was so wonderful to finally see Wen playing with other children. He had a GREAT time. For the most part everyone played very nicely. Toward the end of the night it was just us and the Cook family with their new son Levi in the playroom. Wen and Levi had a blast. They were running, rolling around, and having a great time! The pictures of the two of them speak a thousand words. Levi is quite a character. He is four years old and has some command of the Chinese language. He runs around talking, and laughing, and talking in Chinese. I can only imagine the stories he was telling us. He has quite a personality and I could have watched him all night!

Now for the part of the post that is part funny, part frustrating. We had our medical exam this morning which all adopted children must have before returning to the U.S. The best way to describe it is controlled chaos. There were very many people there and you are basically brought to different "stations" for different parts of the exam. First, we had our "hearing test". This is the funny part of the story. The doctor took a squeeky fish and put it next to Wen's ear to see if he would turn to look at it. Well, we hadn't taken his hearing aid out, so of course he heard it. Then I took his HA out and the doctor once again took the fish from in front of him, held it to the side of his head, and squeezed it. Well, he wanted the fish and had watched it in her hand, so of course he turned when she squeeked it--he had watched her put it by his ear. Well, from this "test" she decided that he can now hear and actually told us he didn't need his hearing aid anymore!!!! I was trying really hard to be respectful, but the ridiculousness of the situation got the best of me. I was laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face!! Brian was having a hard time controlling his laughter as well. The rest of the exam was pretty uneventful until our last stop. Apparently under the new Hague regulations all children who are returning to the U.S are required to have all vaccination required by the CDC----BEFORE they leave. I had no idea that this was the case and was a little unprepared for what they would tell me. The doctor looked at his vaccination record and determined that he needed FOUR shots for EIGHT different diseases!!!!!!! They said he needed MMR, DTaP, HIB, and Varicella!!! I argued, begged, and pleaded, to no avail, against this assault on his little immune system. Unfortunately, the consulate will not issue his Visa without meeting this requirement. I am so furious that I was forced to allow them to give him SO many on the same day. I really wish this could have been done at home, in a much safer manner. Please keep him in your prayers that he will suffer no side effects from the many vaccinations he recieved today. His poor little arms are SO sore :( I am just sick to my stomach thinking about it.

After Wen's nap we went on our scheduled tour to the pearl market. Once again, we made some purchases! I really liked the pearl market :) Funny because if it wasn't for the fact that I had to pick up something for Meaghan Grace I probably would have skipped going there. Wen was napping and after his ordeal this morning I really didn't want to wake him up. But, I had an order to fill and my girl's at home were liking that we'd be going to the pearl market today. I'm really glad we went, but once again the purchases are a surprise....sorry girls!

We ended up having a really nice afternoon and evening....more on that tomorrow! It's late, I'm tired and I'm not even gonna proof read this just pretend there aren't any spelling/grammatical's 9am in the U.S and I KNOW some of you have already been stalking my blog for a couple of hours!!

*B, J, and El--you all got some really cool stuff today!!! Three more days until "little brother" comes home!!!!!!!

The boys in the travel group (no girls in the group!)
Our group dinner
New friends

The local people excersising in the park
Beautiful Shamian Island
The medical exam place
Notice the tambourine...notice me TRYING to keep a straight face!
Crazy crowded!
Things are starting to not go so well....and we're not even up to the shots!
Can you stand the cuteness?????