Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Traveling Home!

We will be traveling for the next day and a half, so prayers are appreciated. Specifically, that all the flights would be as smooth as possible, since our new son tends to get carsick. (Not unusual, considering how little travel he has had so far in his life) And, that everyone would be able to sleep at least some of the way.

Our schedule:

Today, Thursday February 27th, we check in for our flights at 9:30am, we board at 11:30am, depart at 12:30pm. 

11 hour flight HK to San Fran

8 hour layover in San Fran

 (We part ways with Shell here, this is not going to be easy. We miss her so much, have had an amazing trip together, and Charlie loves her and will not understand why she isn't coming with us...completely forgot to have our guide explain it to him when we had one. Ugh)

5 hour flight San Fran to Philly

Land in Philly at midnight (27th/28th)

Drive home




(I think I'm tired ;) seems to be hope of much sleep!!)

Saturday (or thereabouts) about trip, fill in holes, for those who have been so diligent in caring for us, praying for us, writing encouragement to us. I say it again, you just have no idea how much we appreciate you. Love you all.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

They have a Disneyland in China?!

oh yes, they do. and oh yes, we did.

sooooo...why? we are over here to adopt, not Play! come on, family--this isn't a vacation--why add to the time with places not even associated with the adoption?!

Well, last time, there wasn't really a choice. It was all set up in advance, through our agency. Very well guided tours through Beijing, showing us the history of the country and the major historical landmarks...Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, the Great Wall...and we really enjoyed it all! Plus, it gave us a chance to recover from the jet lag without having to instantly care for a new little person. This time, I really wanted to show all of those same sights to the kiddos, but, being winter instead of summer, the temperature was very unpredicatable...looking like it could be down to 20s while we were there. And, while most of us have adapted fairly well to the colder, northeast weather, we certainly don't enjoy being out in it for very long! So, Beijing was out.

That left Hong Kong on the 'places we'd like to see in China that will most likely be warmer than Beijing' short list.

And that meant we'd be near HK Disneyland.

It was actually a difficult decision for us, since we knew we couldn't take Charlie. And it wasn't just because he wan't with us yet--because we could have done the Disneyland part at the end of our trip, before our flight home. It was because having been very few places other than the orphanage and his school (they are about 20 minutes apart via bus ride), plus having just acquired a family who doesn't speak his language...taking him to a theme park where he might not understand that the 'world' within was make believe is just not a great idea.

But that means all photos will show us as a family of 6. When, we are so excited to become a family of 7.

In the end, Disneyland won out. And I'm so glad it did!! It was such fun to see the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. My favorite ride was the Mine Train/Big Thunder/Runaway thingy.

*warning* I am going to describe a couple of rides in this post. I am going to spoil a couple of surprises in the rides. Stop reading now if you want to be surprised when you visit HK Disneyland and ride them.

 No, not it's official name, but the official name is not all that far from that! The train began much like Big Thunder, but did a dead end like Mt. Everest, then shot backwards on the track to a room with two bears playing with gun powder which they exploded--shooting the train forward again, faster this time and onto a different track. It took me by total surprise the first time, but I loved it the second ;)

Photos from the western area (I think it is called Frontierland as well) and in the queue for the ride:

The ride that was the most intriguing/different from any I'd experienced was the Haunted Mansion/Mr. Toad's/Indiana Jones thingy. Also not it's real name. Magnets were used in the technology to propel the vehicles ~ giving it a very smooth flow. They looked like Mr. Toad cars, but were in sets, like Roger Rabbit's, then paired with another set--so four car loads of guests at a time moved from scene to scene. The cars stopped at each scene and the objects in the room came to life. Some were very cool. Most were pretty creepy. I didn't quite understand the whole story line but it was something like this guy has a monkey for a friend and tells the monkey not to open a box (Pandoras?) that they found on an adventure. But his friend is a monkey. So, he opened the box.  And it brings the other objects they have collected to life. Dislike the dart wall in Indiana Jones? me too. This has an entire room full of objects with holes in it. I ducked, just like I always do in Indy. but they outsmarted me. I didn't make it.

Photo of Mystic Manor (real name) exterior:

The entire park contains only 25 rides, but each area was elaborately decorated and felt much more spacious than Disneyland in Anaheim. Very open, like WDW, but with better decor.

Tomorrowland contained Space Mountain (very different, slower and lighter inside, easier to see the tracks--not actually a great thing!--better graphics, more 3-D planet sculptures vs. just projected graphics), Astro Orbitor type thingy (except the rockets were UFO discs! very cool!) and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (seemed to be the same) plus a planet water play area and photo op. oh, and speaking of photos...they would like you to pay for a good shot of yourself riding Space here.

Photos from Tomorrowland:

And now, I have decided to make this a 2-part post! It is quite long already, and I am tired, and I want to publish at least something today! So, goodnight...or rather Good Morning, to most of you!

In real time (not reflect-on-disney-day time) we had a great day today. Our consulate appt was this morning, so Jeff and I had to be up early with Charlie to get ready and have breakfast before the bus picked us up...we had our guide talk to Charlie last night about the importance of getting ready when mom and dad request so that we can make sure we get everything done that needs to be done to complete the adoption. I'm not sure if it was that, or daddy buying him a very awesome helicopter yesterday, or all of the amazing prayers and words of encouragement we have been receiving these last couple days (I'm thinking a combo but mainly the last) but it was our easiest and BEST morning with him so far :)   <---that's a huge smile!!

so thank you, again. and I'll be back with part 2 of HK DL soon. or maybe I'll get distracted and never return. either way, I love you all.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gotcha Day

Thank you, so much, to my friend, Sbannon, for posting these photos when I was having such difficulty in Changsha with blogging.

These photos really show the excitement on Gotcha Day. From the moment Charlie walked in the room, he was smiling and facing us. He made very good eye contact with us and was interested in what we were doing with the paperwork...and especially, with our phones. From taking photos, to playing games, to completely rearranging my icons and settings (ack!)...this boy knows his way around an iphone. and ipods. and ipads. and android devices. wow. not sure who had these things, but he definitely had access, and regularly enough to become very proficient at pretty much any app he opens. or he's a genuis and can do them all instantly without ever having seen them. huh...maybe I'll lean towards that! ;)

In either case, it was a nice, non verbal (since the language barrier is a bit daunting) activity for early interaction with Charlie.

and it was a horrible habit to break.

As best as we can guess (with the help of our guide, Amy) he felt comfortable enough with us to test us. Well, let's just say...he's very comfortable.

There are certain moments in parenting, no matter biological or adopted, that you doubt your sanity for ever wanting to become parents. You feel, in that moment (I'm reducing it to a single, but please do not misunderstand that to mean there has only been one--rather, I've lost count, so I'm simplifying) that your childless-by-choice friends really Are the smarter breed. That it is not simply a lifestyle choice or difference of really Are stupid.

And then it passes. The moment is gone. And you survive. And you've learned...something. It may not always be clear what was learned, but the fact that you came out on the other side...with all parties alive...all limbs in blood (or minimal at most)...oh how i pray cps has a sense of humor...Something has been learned. And you breathe. You may even I hear...

And then, the miracle occurs. A hand outstretched to you. A lean of the head on your arm. A smile. and your heart swells so big your chest hurts and your eyes water and your muscles relax as you bask in the good. and you know, that this THIS is why you are a parent. ALL OF IT.

It is so hard to see the good around the corner when you are facing a giant block--with big, tall buildings, and it's dark outside. and raining. But it is always there. like a little puppy, playing in cotton candy puddles. alright, I have absolutely no idea where I'm going with this. and that just sounds really messy.

In a nutshell: We are family. We choose to love. We are blessed. God's got this.
and something about sticky puddles.

Love you, all!! bet you all want to see more photos?! how about from Hong Kong Disneyland?! and the zoo we visited today?! can you say PANDAS?? (yeah, we can too, but they were sleeping so keep your expectations low on that topic--but the tigers were awesome!!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

One Less

Today around 3pm China time (2am ET, 11pm Sunday evening PT) there will be one less orphan in the world. We will be eating as a family of 7 at dinner. He woke up today, for the last time, at the orphanage.

So many thoughts swirling through my head right now. As I attempt to assemble them, I figured I'd ask the others here what they are thinking:

Gabby: I still can't believe the day has finally arrived. We are going to meet him today. I've felt like there has been a missing piece ever since I found out he was going to join our family.

Ian: I'm very excited and happy. I can't wait to get a brother. I hope he likes Legos.

Evie: I'm excited that we are traveling today to get Charlie and he is going to have fun at Pennsylvania and he is going to get a little scared. We can teach him how to say English.

daddy: Wow.Excited to finally be here and see him and meet my son.

Shell: I am very, very excited but also very nervous for how he is going to perceive us. I sure wish I had studied Chinese and could talk more to him. I really hope he doesn't think we're ginormous. I also really want to find some more food.

and me: We are here. His family has arrived. Most of us wait seconds from delivery to placement in our mother's and father's hands. He has waited over 13 years. A few more hours, sweet boy. Mama and baba are finally here.

And for all of you, following us, praying for us...thank you. The past 4 days have been very full of fun and exhaustion and travel mercies...God has blessed us so immensely with such dear friends and family. We feel your love and support so strong. We cannot wait to share even more with you. (wi-fi apologies, photos are not cooperating)