Monday, July 27, 2009

Two Weeks Today

I can't believe it...two weeks ago today this beautiful, amazing child that I had longed for and dreamed about for so many years was put into my arms and we became a family of four (or five as Camden calls us including the cat). She was not at all happy about life that day, but just two weeks later she has blossomed and is a completely different child. She has come a long way and every day we see her open her heart more and more to her Daddy and get more and more curious and playful with her toys (although she still dislikes all stuffed animals and our cat) and comfortable with me stepping away for a few minutes at a time and just acting like a regular one year old child. She smiles and laughs easily with us (but not others) and giggles when she sees herself in a mirror. She loves to interact and play with us and would do it all day long if she could. She loves to hug and kiss, babble and blow raspberries. She is even beginning to crawl although she is still tentative. She is happy and content during the day. The nights have been a different story but are improving. After trying many different approaches to her sleep, we have had to embrace the family bed idea, which has not been easy for me but seems like the best thing for her at this point. She needs us to be near her right now. The night seems to bring anxiety for her. It really has been interesting (and taxing) trying to figure it all out. Does she have trouble sleeping because she continues to be constipated most of the time or because she has what looks to be Eczema or heat rashes (looking forward to our first Dr's appointment this week to ask). Or is it emotional? What was it like for her in the orphanage at night? We know she was abandoned (they believe) on the day of her birth either during the night or early in the morning as she was found at 7:30 am. Is this part of the difficulty of the night? Either way, this seems to be what she needs and we will do whatever it takes to continue to grow her trust in us and make her feel secure. She did have her first good stretch of restful sleep last night which we were all so thankful for as we really needed a good night sleep and we are hopefully for tonight as well. :)

Camden on the other hand has been struggling. After having one of those most difficult days with him to date yesterday, he is doing much better today. Thanks for praying! He has had quite a few meltdowns, severe defiance and has really been pushing the boundaries. Doug and I have more of a game plan with him and are being more intentional with carving out time for him so I think things will continue to slowly get better. Avery has been doing so much better with Doug which has allowed me a little more time with Camden which I think has really helped.
We have walked a long, amazing road in these two weeks (and six years)....which honestly has been one of those most difficult two weeks we've had but also one of the most amazing ones as well. I feel blessed and thankful in so many ways. Thank you all for your encouragment and has made a huge difference!

I am reminded of something that J. Hudson Taylor once said, " I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: First, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."

Yep, that's a bow on her head. Not enough hair to make a "whale spout", so we call it more of a "spit".

Here were are getting ready to head out for the first time. It's only taken us 5 days to get out of the house. Our destination of choice??? Costco and yes it was great fun! Hot dogs & Berry Sundae...what could be more fun than that?

Look what we just received.

Avery helping Dad assemble the car seat.

Avery in the car seat for the first time. She did great and in fact she loved it and fell asleep on the way home from Costco.

It was her first time in a grocery cart and she seemed to really enjoy that as well. (She's giggling here, not crying.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After 27 hours of traveling we arrived home around 9:30 pm on Wednesday night. Our friends, The Lowells were so sweet and picked us up at the airport. Camden was especially thrilled as he just adores Rob & Ted. But not only did they pick us up but they blessed us with a yummy meal of Lasagna, bread and Blueberry pie. Boy did that hit the spot (at about 11:00 that night) and we are still enjoying it a couple of days later (thanks friends)!
Unfortunately, the trip home was somewhat painful. Doug & I were already on Day 9 of very little sleep (Avery does not sleep well) before traveling so we were completely exhausted and were only able to grab about 2 hours sleep over our travel day. Doug is also sick (and I am fighting something as well). However, Avery did do very well which was such a blessing. She didn't cry even once as she was held almost the whole time which is her favorite thing. Camden on the other hand had a little bit rougher time as he got sick on the 12 hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco and threw up a few times. Our flight from San Francisco to Denver was canceled due to fog and we had to wait a few hours for the next flight which was also delayed due to an instrument problem. We arrived in Denver, missing our connecting flight to Tucson by a mere 20 minutes so we had to wait for a few hours for the next flight to Tucson. Upon arriving home, I had an an interesting mix of emotions. Our time in China went so fast and felt so busy. The traveler part of me wished we had had a little more time to take in and explore China...spend more time in Guangzhou and a few days in Hong Kong before flying home. But the other part of me knew that wasn't what this trip was all about. Hopefully we will return to China someday with Avery to explore her birth country and get a better grasp of the complexities of the people and the culture. But after an exhausting trip, emotionally and physically, and such a long travel day, I knew it was best to get our family home. Our transition as a family of four continues to be rougher than I had hoped and it is nice to be back in familiar territory. As I have mentioned, Avery continues to be quite happy and content as long as we (mostly me) is holding her. She will play a bit with toys on her own next to me, but if I move away from her (even when she can still see me) she will cry. I know we need to continue to earn her trust but this is so draining and she is not sleeping well at night so I can't seem to catch my breath so to speak. Camden on the other hand went from happy to finally have Avery (the first day) to saying sadly tonight that he likes Uhura (our cat) a little bit more than her. He also said after listening to Avery cry for a while, Dad can you just give her Mom so she will stop crying. This has been really hard on him. He has been crying a bit as well and is complaining about being left out and not enough time with me. I knew of course that this transition would be tough on him. He is a Mommy's boy and has been the center of it all for far to long. But I had hoped and prayed that it would go better than I thought. Unfortunately it has not. I don't want to be a downer... just wanted to give you all the real deal. We are in survival mode right now. We are happy to finally have Avery and we know she was meant to be in our family (she feels like ours already) but are struggling during this transition. We know it will get better but would appreciate your continued prayers for our family. When things settle down a bit for us I will post more photos and thoughts of our time in China.
Thanks again dear friends for all your encouraging comments and prayers. They been a tremendous blessing and are most appreciated!
Here are a few photos from our last few days:

Our last day in Guangzhou:

The Chongqing part of our travel group. All of these families adopted children from our same orphanage:

Doug & Avery snoozing at the San Francisco airport:

Passing time at the Denver airport:

Camden snoozing at the Denver airport. I think he slept for about two hours in that spot.

Looking good after 27 hours of travel, but oh so happy to be back in Tucson:

Our friends, the Lowells, who were so kind in picking us up from the airport:

Arriving at home:
Avery meeting our kitty, Uhura for the first time. She wasn't impressed, in fact she was quite scared of her. Hopefully she will warm to her as Uhura is quite curious.

Getting ready to show Avery her room:

Avery checking out her room:

First time in our high chair. Poor thing...she can barely see over the tray! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pete's Climbs the Great Wall and Meets Avery

Climbing up the Great Wall. The steps are big and steep, but Pete says it's no problem for a tough guy like him.

Taking a breather. Getting a little tired, but must press onward. Can't be outdone by a 7-year-old.

Making progress ... and praying that the wind doesn't kick up suddenly. Pete drams of being the ruler of all that he surveys. Too bad the air is so hazy, he can't survey much today.

Can't ... go ... any ... futher ... gasps Pete, while panting and sweating profusely. We try to comfort him and reassure him that we still think he's tough.

Yeah, going back down is easier than going up! Pete regains his composure and self confidence.

Pete has been consipcuously asbsent for a few days. Perhaps he was embarassed to admit that after the Great Wall, his legs were so sore that he could hardly walk. Or maybe that was Doug. Anyway, when Pete reemerges, he finds this strange new creature in our hotel room. It's small and cute, so he offers his services as a body guard. Here he's standing his post and keeping a watchful eye. He doesn't know it, but Avery is dreaming about chewing on his head.

Pete at the Chongqing zoo. He felt a natural kinship with this critter. Can't you see their resemblance? Pete want's to get his new buddy a blaster rifle and a cape and then he'll really be ready to rumble.

Catching a cat nap while keeping watch. Unlike humans, Pete can do both at the same time. He wishes that his little Lego arms had elbow joints so that he could try the finger sucking thing. It looks strangely comforting.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More & More Baby Steps

We continue to take more baby steps forward with Avery and things continue to get a little better each day. There has been a few rough nights with one particular one (last Wednesday) that was one of those most difficult one's I've experienced. Avery was up just about every hour. We both finished the night in tears (again) and just about two hours of sleep (yep...we are still both a little fragile). Since then things have gotten A LOT better. Her trust in us continues to grow and you can see her personality really emerging. She is babbling, spitting and making all sorts of noises. She loves to stare at my face and play with my mouth and nose. She also smiles and giggles pretty easily and is generally happy and content as long as we are holding her or right next to her when she is playing. When we are in the hotel room she still doesn't want me out of her sight and will cry if walk even a step away (which makes things difficult to do). Outside the room she is tolerating Doug more and is pretty content with him when we are out and about. However, in the room she will still refuse a bottle from him and doesn't want him to hold her if I am there. We still haven't been able to get her to eat any table food but we did get her to take a taste of ice cream we had at McDonald's today. (I still can't believe we offered it too her. I think Camden was closer to three before he was offered some). She wasn't sure she loved it but she kept sticking out her tongue and then opening her mouth for a little. Sadly, she refused to take a taste from Doug and even when I took a bit from my ice cream and handed it to Doug, she refused it but when he handed the spoon back to me and I would offer it she would take it. Too funny...she is a stubborn little one!

Our last couple of days in Chongqing were very low key. We did just a little shopping and sightseeing. But mostly spent time just continuing to get to know each other. One evening we ventured out to a pedestrian mall. There were sure some interesting sights to take in. Some of the street vendors were doing "Hot Pots" which is basically pick what you want and they cook it up for you. Some of the choices were duck and rabbit head as well as chicken feet. There were also many other things that we just couldn't tell what they were. Another interesting happening...Doug & Camden were walking back to the hotel (Avery & I had gone back to the hotel sooner) and a man came out of a building and he completely shoved Camden out of the way. He was in a hurry but the area was not congested so it was really strange that he would do that. We are finding it really interesting how some Chinese conduct themselves. It is so different than Americans. Yes, we have our own issues but you would never see anyone do this in the states.

Last night we flew from Chongqing to Guangzhou. Although the flight was under two hours, we had to leave our hotel at 3:30 PM and didn't get into our hotel room here until about 11:30 pm and didn't get a crib in our room till 12:30 am. Our group is huge and took forever to get everyone checked in and through security. Sadly, one Dad & baby had to take the next flight as there were too many babies on our flight. There was another travel group (from a different agency) on the plane which means there were close to 30 babies on the flight. Too funny! They all did great! Avery especially did very very well and chose to be more active than she's been so far which is good. She is starting to act more like a one year old.

Our day today started early as the babies had to have medical examinations to complete the adoptions and we had the last of our mountain of paperwork to take care of. The medical exams went well and again Avery did very well. She is a mere 14.8 lbs. so we have a lot to do to fatten her up. She has done so well with our crazy schedule and the few times she did get upset, she was easily consoled. We spent the balance of the day relaxing and facebooking and blogging of course. :)

Here are a few photos from our last few days.

Our family of four:

Doug & Avery snoozing:

Doug enjoying his noodle bowl and green tea:
Cuddling with Mom after our first time in the pool:
Camden enjoying his Strawberry Cheetos & Strawberry "fruit milk":

Waiting to get Avery's medical examinations done:

Avery enjoying her medical examination:

If you're are even more pics of our last few days:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baby Steps

First of all thank you all so very much for all the encouragement and prayers. It was such a blessing to read them and in fact it made me cry. You all will be happy to know that we are making some baby steps and that things are going a little bit better. Avery and my emotional states are becoming less and less fragile (although Cam is struggling a bit since he's not getting as much attention as he is used to). Unfortunately, Avery still doesn’t like Doug much, but he did get to hold her for a few minutes, feed her a bit of her evening bottle and she didn’t scream every time he looked at her so that is progress. We are continuing to be persistent and having Doug involved in taking care of her. She still gets very upset when I try to move away from her or leave the room. The good news is that I am able to console her, and most of the time she is quite content as long as I am holding her or have her very close. Tonight she showed that she is getting more and more comfortable with us and has been a little more spunky - babbling and playing a bit more. I was even able to get many smiles and some good belly laughs as I found her tickle spots which of course made me very happy.

We are loosing our Internet access shortly and Avery keeps waking up, so I will leave you with a few photos from our day…
We went to the Chongqing zoo for a bit this morning, and despite being really hot, it was a surprizingly nice zoo.

The so called Lesser Panda:

More interesting phone booths:

Interesting scenes from the local super market:

It's hard to tell but one of the items is chicken feet. This supermarket visit made me a little sad as there was a live animal area so you can have the very freshest. There were ducks, chicken, rabbits, frogs & fish all lined up for purchase.