Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two Months since Sophie!

It has been two months since we have been home with Sophie. She has had no problems adjusting. She has had a lot of "firsts" since we have been back home. She had her first Waffle House, she loves some waffles and scrambled eggs. She has had her first "birthday" with us. She opened her first birthday present on her actual birthday with just us. We took her out to eat to a Chinese Buffet and loved it. The employees there even spoke to her in Cantonese and she still understood what they were saying, so she hasn't lost her native language yet. She also had her first birthday party. Her brother's birthday is just one day before hers, so we had a joint birthday party for them. I was a little worried how she would do on a moon bounce, but she was fine. She just jumped away. She wasn't scared at all. She was so busy that I could hardly get any good pictures of her. She had a Sofia the First cake, which her big brother picked out, and David Ryan had a Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake. They both had a blast. We had friends and family at the party and she did fine with all of them; she likes all the attention anyway. We sang "Happy Birthday" to David Ryan and let him blow out his candles first, since he is the oldest. But, when it was Sophie's turn and we all started to sing "Happy Birthday" to her while bringing out her cake, her eyes got so big. She enjoyed it! She even had no problems blowing out her candles. Everyone at the party was impressed about how good her appetite was; she had two pizza slices. Then, it was time to open the presents. Of course, David Ryan had no problem with this part. Once Sophie saw David Ryan start in on his presents, she was all about it. She wasn't overwhelmed or anything, she knew those were "Sophie's things". She really got excited over a dress up princess dress and pajamas; she loves clothes.

Sophie has been to her first Mustangs football game. Her daddy is one of the coaches of a high school football team. She did fine at the game, she just wore this momma out. She was constantly moving from bleacher to bleacher or trying to jump from bleacher to bleacher. Thank goodness "Granny" was there, because one more kid does make a difference and with Sophie it is like having two more. She is a little busy thing.

Sister and brother are playing and getting along a little better. Their favorite thing to do is to chase each other around the house. David Ryan has become more accepting of her than she has of him, but she is learning. It's all about Sophie or at least Sophie thinks it should be like that. She is learning that she has a brother that needs attention and loving, too. She does like to chase him around the house trying to give him kisses. She has started calling him "Bubba" since she can't say David Ryan. She does like to make sure Bubba is coming with us when it is time to go somewhere. She gets his shoes for him and tells him it is time to go. She does love her Bubba and she even tells him  'I  oove you Bubba"

Sophie went to her first Disney on Ice show. Of course, David Ryan loved it; he is a Disney fanatic. Sophie had a good time, too. She didn't sit still in her seat, but she loved when Minnie Mouse came out. She got really excited and started cheering & dancing for Minnie Mouse. And when Minnie left the stage, she was asking "where Minnie go?" She loves Minnie Mouse, I wonder if her room being done in Minnie Mouse has any affect on that.

Sophie was invited to her first birthday party. One of my mentors (during our adoption) invited us to their little girl's birthday party. She did fine in a house that she has never been to and people she has never met before.

I had to start going back to work after Labor Day. She is staying with my mom, but I was still worried with how she would do all day there since I haven't left her at moms for long periods. Before I went back to work, I did leave her over there for short periods while I ran errands to get her use to staying over there. On the first day leaving her, she did fine. She has another little girl about her age to play with over there. They have become the best of little friends; even though they fight and argue over toys, they still love each other. Every morning on the way to mom's, Sophie is always asking about Harper. She loves her mawmaw and pawpaw, but she is crazy about her pawpaw (my dad). She is always running to him with arms wide open when he gets off of work.

Dustin's brother and family came out one weekend to visit. They all fell in love with her. Emma has been the only girl on that side for a while now; I think she is glad to have another little girl in the family. Emma loved carrying her around like a little doll and Sophie loved the attention. Also, mom went out of town one Friday, so Dustin's mom ("Granny") watched Sophie and they had a great day together with eating at McDonald's and shopping for clothes. Sophie loves clothes, so she had a blast. She did fine staying with "Granny" also. She knows who her family is.

Sophie has also started to go to her own Sunday School class. At first, we brought her in our Sunday School class, so it wouldn't be so overwhelming. But, now she is going to her own class with no problems. I think she loves going to church on Sundays, because she gets to dress up in her dressy dresses, shoes, and bows. She likes to look at herself in the mirror and say "oh, pretty!" The people at church just eat her up. She just waves at everyone and tells them hey or bye.

Sophie has learned what the time out chair is. Lately, she has been testing us. We are trying to correct her behavior early now so it won't become a big problem in the future. She knows what the time out chair is now, she starts crying even before we sit her in it, hahaha. But, she is spending less time there as the weeks continue; she's learning.

Sophie is understanding more and more. She pretty much understands whatever you say, but still can't fully speak the English language. She continues to picks up a few words every now and then. Her favorite word is "NO" and sometimes her favorite word gets her into trouble, especially when I ask her to do something and she tells me no. She pretty much has all the food words down. She is starting to go to her room on her own and play with her toys. She is still not engaging too much in her toys. Whenever she sees someone else playing, she will play. Her activity is following me around the house. She now lets Dustin put her to bed. She hates footed pajamas. And she doesn't like her feet being covered up with a blanket. She always pulls her blanket up off of her feet. Most of the time I can get her to wear socks. She will have to get use to wearing socks in the winter in Mississippi. She is no longer living in a tropical climate. She is getting more affectionate. She will hug, kiss, and rub your face. She has stopped the head butting. She mocks whatever you do. She has a bubbly personality, so I don't know where the information on her profile about her being shy came from. She is still tiny; three years old and wearing 18 months and 24 months clothes. She can't say her Zs. There are other words and letters that she has trouble saying so she may be in speech like her Bubba. On her adoption profile, it did say she had a speech and language delay. Sometimes she just jabbers on and on, we don't know if she is just jabbering or speaking Cantonese.

In a couple of weeks, we will have our Fall Break. We are planning to visit my sister and her family in Clarksville. We will see how Sophie does on her first road trip. Since she can't sit still for very long, the four hour car ride may be interesting.










Friday, August 23, 2013

One month since we have had Sophie!

It has been a month since our Gotcha Day (July 22) with Sophie! We have been home since August 3. We have been going nonstop ever since. I will give you an overview what has happened since we have been home. In my last post, I told you about the trouble of Sophie waking up early ( 2 am) the first night home. Well, it took a couple nights, but she finally started sleeping through the night. Since day one, she has been sleeping in her own room and bed. I think it took Dustin and me a few more days to get on the sleep schedule. Jet lag stinks. I felt sorry for Dustin, because he had to go back to work that Monday after we got back. So, he was really feeling the jet lag.

The day after we got home was a Sunday. Dustin went to church; however, I stayed home with the kids. Sophie did fine her first full day in her new home. It was like she has been here the whole time, but she has to be in the same room that you are. Our family (the grandparents and my sisters) came over for a little visit and brought us lunch. She was fine, skyping really works wonders. They didn’t stay over too long; they didn’t want to overwhelm her. My mom bought her a purse and brought it over that day; and to this day, Sophie has to carry that purse everywhere she goes. She is already calling our family by their names. She is really smart. Later that Sunday evening, Dustin’s football team was having pictures taken; they also take the coaches’ families pictures as well. Dustin wanted Sophie in the picture this time, so we all went to have our pictures taken. She was shy with all the coaches and players (so, I guess skyping with the family was a good thing, because she is fine around them). Sophie wouldn’t let me put her down.

The Monday after we got home, Dustin had to go back to work. So, it was a full day with me and the kids. We had our first grocery trip with Sophie and an extra kid makes a difference, especially one who loves food. The rest of the week I spent a lot of time at my work place since my classroom was moved and I had to get it ready before my students started school, which was Thursday. Yes, it took me two half days to get it ready, because two kids can slow you down. I am not use to a child that is constantly on the go, so I spent a lot of time getting Sophie out of mischief. David Ryan just sat in one of the students’ desks and played on the Kendal. David Ryan has always been good in public places, but Sophie keeps you on your toes. I don’t know if it is a toddler thing or if she is just curious since everything is so new to her. In the future, I will be grading papers and lesson planning when she is sleeping, because it is impossible to get anything like that done when she is awake. Also, that Tuesday night was parent orientation for kindergarteners. Man, kindergarten has changed a lot. David Ryan will be one of the youngest in his class since his birthday is in August. That does worry me a little bit, but his school is one of the best in the county. The following night was Meet the Teacher Night. David Ryan was so excited that he actually skipped to his classroom (this puts some of the worries away for now). He liked his classroom and teachers. We had Sophie “strapped” in a stroller; we wanted this to be David Ryan’s night. We only have been home four days so leaving her with someone is really not a good idea. She was good in the stroller, she even enjoyed being pushed.

School started for the kids on Thursday, August 8th. This was also David Ryan’s first day of kindergarten. I feel very luck to be able to take David Ryan on his first day of kindergarten. Being a teacher myself, you don’t get the luxury of taking your own child to their first day of school. Since David Ryan is in kindergarten, the parents can walk their child to their classroom for the next five days. Then, after that, they will have to be dropped off in the front of the school and walk in by themselves. Again, David Ryan was very excited. Sophie was excited, too, but for different reasons. She just likes being on the “go”. Sophie and I got some one on one time today. She is pretty much on a schedule now. She wakes up at 7:15/7:30, eats lunch at noon, naps from 1:00 to 2:30, snack at 3:45, bath at 8:00, and bedtime at 8:30. I am also picking David Ryan up from school (I am going to enjoy my time off and do the things that I wouldn’t normally be able to do). Seeing his smile every time I pick him up from school makes me want to quit my job and be a stay at home mom (which I would love to do if we could afford to do it). Sophie didn’t like being buckled in her car seat and us sitting idle in the car until it was time for school to get out. The next day I brought her snacks to occupy her. But, after a few weeks, she has gotten this routine down.

We have only had a few days where we have dropped David Ryan off of school and have had zero errands to run. We have spent numerous of days running errands and getting business taken care of. We have sat in government offices that take up pretty much most of the day. We sat in the social security office for a while only for them to tell us that we didn’t have all the paper work for us to get her social security card. We later found out that we are waiting on a document that will take 90 days to get here. I hope she doesn’t need it anytime soon. Also, we sat at the health department for a while to get her vaccines.  She had to get four shots. She did cry a little when they stuck her, but it only lasted about two minutes. She gets over things pretty quick. Earlier that morning when I was dropping DR off at school, I told him about going to take Sophie to get her shots and he said “let’s just put band aids on her and she will be okay.” He didn’t want his little sister getting any shots, hahaha. I have also been to my school taking care of work business. I have been planning a birthday party for both Sophie and DR since their birthdays are a day a part. I have been of the phone with our insurance company trying to get Sophie some health insurance. We want Sophie on the same insurance that DR has, because his plan only costs $98 a month. Our school insurance wants $200 a month to add her. So, when I called DR’s insurance, they told me I would have to wait for open enrollment to add Sophie and couldn’t tell me when that would be. They told me to call back once a week to see if it is open enrollment. So, do we bite the bullet and get the expensive insurance or do we cross our fingers and hope open enrollment opens up before Sophie gets sick or needs to go to the doctor?

Brother and sister are still getting use to each other. We knew David Ryan will have some jealous moments, but Sophie gets them, also. She likes to push David Ryan out of my lap. They both are still learning to share. Sophie doesn’t play much with her toys, but she always wants what brother is playing with even if it is a car or pirate stuff. Sophie won’t play in her room unless someone else is in there with her. She does like to play with DR’s kitchen play set and her teacup set. She likes to play with her phone and keys. She loves playing outside, especially sliding down the slide. Sophie mocks everything you do. David Ryan gets frustrated when she mocks him (sister is already annoying her big brother-hahaha). She wants to wear make up. She watches me in the mornings and points to her face wanting some make up also. It only took about a week since we got home that she started responding to her name Sophie. Now, she even calls herself Sophie instead of Weina. But, her “Sophie” sounds like “Fefe”. Sometimes her “Fefe” sounds like peepee, so we don’t know if she is wanting to go to the bathroom or not. Every so often, she will point to her Pull-Up and say “peepee.” She is still not fully potty trained, but she needs constant reminders. But, we will get there. She is not a picky eater. She loves all her fruits and vegetables. The only thing we have found that she doesn’t like is Frosted Mini Wheat’s. Like I said earlier, she keeps you busy. One day I was wondering why the dish washer was being so quiet and I saw that someone was pushing buttons and had stopped the cycle. She has to have a bow in her hair. She loves dresses that twirl and shoes. We went Target the other day to get some party supplies and she was okay in the toy aisle, but loved the clothes. She really got excited when we were looking at shoes. You would of have thought it was Christmas morning. She had to try on five pairs of shoes! She is a quick learner. She knows what “no” means. When she gets in trouble, she wants a kiss, hahaha, she already knows how to work it. When she gets upset, she doesn’t throw a fit, she cuffs her hand to her mouth and pouts. She has tested us in several areas, but we have taught her that we are not going to allow that behavior. For example, the first couple of days, she would get up from the table and walk around with her food. We had to repeatedly sit her back down in her seat until she got the hint.  She is rough (really rough), she likes to head butt. I am in the process of teaching her to be gentle. Her and DR’s favorite playtime together is chasing each other around the house. They can be affectionate toward sometimes. But, usually it’s the case when one is willing and the other isn’t willing at that moment. David Ryan will try to hug her and she will pull away or Sophie will chase him around the house trying to give him a kiss. There is a lot of arguing. They both need to learn to share. David Ryan has taught Sophie a new word; “mine.” He gets so frustrated because she says to him all the time about her girly stuff and he could care less about her bows and purse- LOL. Sophie also knows how to put the dishes in the sink when she is done eating. She loves when big brother doesn’t finish his supper because she gets to eat his leftovers. She wipes her mouth and table. She also likes to up her daddy’s shoes and put them where they suppose to go (not in the middle of the living room). She does love her daddy; she gets excited when he comes home from work. However, she still prefers me over him. If Dustin puts a bow in her hair after it falls out, she will take it out again for me to put it back in her hair. She cries whenever Dustin puts her to bed, but I have no problems putting her to bed.

Other English words she can say now since she has been home; momma, daddy (she calls him daddy now after hearing DR calling him that, so no papa), mawmaw, pawpaw, granny, Manda, Liz, Sissy (we are still working on Zach, she has trouble with Zs), eat, more, pur (purse), baby, bow, hair, night night, Minnie, money, hey, bye-bye, shoes, pretty, cool, mine, no, one, two, three, cupcake, cookie, cheese, uh oh, boo boo, pee pee, poop, done, gar (garbage), Fe fe (Sophie), Harper, hair, sit, flower, thank you, and Bubba.

Speaking of cupcakes, the other day was Dustin’s birthday and the kids helped make him some S’mores cupcakes. David Ryan was excited that it was his daddy’s birthday;  DR even had us to hide and jump out and say surprise when Dustin got home. He loved helping to make the cupcakes. Sophie wanted to get her hands on the cake mix so bad. She was excited about eating. After she had her first cupcake that night, she has been asking for a cupcake nonstop. I think she is going to be more excited about eating cake on her birthday then opening up presents. This girl loves food!

Yesterday, we had our first post placement visit with our social worker. She was so impressed on how well Sophie is doing. She said she has never seen a case where a child was so “at home” and adjusting so well. Sophie was acting like she has been in our home forever. Our SW was also impressed how well her sleep schedule is doing. She said she has a case where a child has been home 3 months and is still struggling at night. She said we were lucky on how well Sophie is adjusting and how our paperwork moved along so fast. She said Beth from our adoption agency called her back in February (the day we were matched) and told her about our little girl. She said Beth was so ecstatic about “Sophie” that she talked so fast that our social worker couldn’t understand her. Beth said “Sophie” just popped up over night and was an unbelievable case. She is perfectly healthy and really doesn’t need any follow up visits except for the yearly check ups. We are thankful that Sophie’s foster parents did a great job preparing her for this adoption. Our SW said she didn’t see any developmental delays in Sophie like they do sometimes with children in the care of social services. Our social worker said she couldn’t wait until she comes to back in 6 months to see how Sophie is doing since she is doing so well now. The kids did behave during the visit, except Sophie did show her jealous side when David Ryan came near her and us. Since we had a good visit, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant and introduced Sophie to some Mexican food and cheese dip. And of course, she loved it. Also, we received some good news about the insurance that I wanted for Sophie. I just happen to call to see if it was open enrollment to add her and it was! Sophie now has health insurance and it isn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg.

I go back to work in a couple of weeks, she will be staying at my mom’s. I did leave her at mom’s once for a couple of hours to see how she would do while I ran errands. She was fine, so I think “she” will be okay when I go back to work, but the question is will I be okay. I do love being at home with my children and taking David Ryan to school. I wish I could be a stay at home mom, but in today’s time, it is hard to do that. But, I guess being a teacher is the next best thing to being a stay at home mom. If I had the opportunity to stay at home, would I? Yes, in a heart beat. My mom stayed at home with me and my sisters, and I loved having my mom there. Kids grow up too fast and I don’t want to miss anything!

I am going to try to do monthly blog updates on Sophie. Going back to work is going to be a challenge with a toddler that can’t sit still, so hopefully I will be able to fit some blogging in there. I apologize for any grammar mistakes, but typing with a two year sitting beside you grabbing at the mouse is a challenge, also.

David Ryan's way of introducing Sophie to people "This is Sophie, she's from China, she talks Chinese."

Enjoy the pictures!

                                     Sophie on Gotcha Day- July 22, 2013           

                                     Sophie Now, Gotcha Day One Month Anniversary

                                                               Sophie's pout face

                                                      Happy Face!

                                                 Doing her Favorite Thing

     After a long wait, we are finally a family of four!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Saturday, Aug.3--- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Well, it took a train ride to Hong Kong, a plane to Chicago then to Memphis, and our Dodge Journey to finally get HOME! But, we made it!!!!

Let's go back some hours....

Again, Dustin and I woke up before Sophie, so we got in our showers. Dustin left me getting ready in the hotel room to go see where we need to go in the airport. We woke Sophie up and got her dressed. We ate granola and breakfast bars in the room. I put Sophie on some what was suppose to be skinny jeans but she is so little that even a size 24 months made her skinny jeans look baggy. While we were packing up, Dustin was watching TV. He was watching the world news and they were talking how Americans need to watch out for terror attacks, especially world travelers. They also said the USA was closing down some of their embassies. Great! Just what I need to hear right before we step on a 15 hour plane ride. Our flight leaves at 11:40, so we checked out of our room at 9 am. It was no problem finding our terminal since Dustin found it earlier. The Hong Kong airport is huge and really nice. The security check wasn't that bad, it went rather quickly. We all went to the bathroom before getting on the plane. Then, I guess I looked "interesting" because a local surveyor selected me out of everyone to participate in a survey about staying Hong Kong. She didn't get a lot of interesting things out of me since we just stayed one night, not even 12 hours. But, this did help pass the time.

They started boarding about 11 am. Dustin had to purchase to cokes (never been opened) to take on the flight. But, before you board on the plane, there was another security check going through your carry on luggage. They wouldn't allow Dustin to bring the cokes, money wasted. They even had Sophie to dump her water that was in her sippy cup. No exit aisle seats this time. We had less foot and leg room this time, but at least we were all three sitting together. Before the flight even took off, Sophie was asleep. This could be a good sign. However, she woke up about 30 minutes later when they started serving snacks. She liked her pretzels, I thought she would go back to sleep, but she didn't (until much later). She liked the in-flight meals. Food always helps keep her busy. She also watched some cartoons and colored in her coloring book. Dustin did take her to walk around the airplane some when she got antsy. She didn't really like wearing the seat belt, which she cried a little over. She probably cried about 3 times the whole time we were on the plane, but she didn't cry for long. She had no problem using the potty on the plane. She did better than I expected. About hour 6, I was ready to get off the plane! Sophie slept the last 5 hours of the flight. We had to make her be still to get her to settle down and fall asleep, this was one of the times she cried. But, she did fall asleep. So, she was asleep at take off and when we landed. I slept about 4 hours. I slept when she slept. Dustin didn't sleep at all, I told him he was probably going to regret it later. He watched a lot of movies though. I only watched two movies this time. Oblivion was my favorite!

We landed in Chicago at 1:40 pm and we had about two hours to go through immigration, customs, and security check before our flight left for Memphis. It was going to be cutting it close. Oh yeah, we had to recheck our luggage also. We hustled off the plane and basically ran to customs. That went pretty quick. Then, we had to go through immigration. They looked at our passports and told us after we pick up our check in luggage that we will have to give the officer at the end of lane two our brown envelope. It took a while to claim our luggage; tick,tick,tick. (Are we going to make it?) As soon as we picked up our luggage, we got in the line to see the "officer." Then, he directed us to another waiting area while we were to give our brown envelope. They took our envelope and told us to have a seat. I hope this doesn't take that long. It took about 10 minutes before they told us we could go. Then, we were off to the security check and our terminal. Well, the Chicago airport is very confusing. We had the most trouble here in Chicago getting to our terminal than the foreign airports.We had to take a tram to get to the domestic side of the airport. Then, we had to recheck in at the front to get our boarding passes. We had problems printing Sophie's ticket. (Cutting it very close, I really don't want to miss our flight!) Then, we had to go through security check. The line was literally a mile long and it wasn't moving. A couple asked us and some people in front of us if they go ahead and jump ahead of us since their plane was boarding. This gave Dustin an idea. He said follow me! We went from the end of the line to the front, Dustin explaining to the people up front why. They were nice about it. The security guard asked Dustin what we were doing and he told her. She asked if we asked everyone that we skipped if it was okay (No, just the few people up front, but lady we have a plane to catch and your security check process is so slow). It was really slow, it moving like every 5 minutes and was backed up! We went through security check then one of our suitcases was flagged. They took one of carry ons and took every single thing out and ran it back through the machine. Then, they had "us!" to repack everything. This took 15 minutes itself! We were not very happy. We basically ran to our terminal! We made it in enough of time! Yay! I am going to be home less than two hours. We weren't waiting very long before they started boarding the plane for Memphis. They actually boarded 10 minutes late. This flight was going to be only one hour and 17 minutes long. This is nothing after a 15 hour flight. Dustin's seat was two seats behind mine and Sophie's. Sophie was asleep again before take off and slept the whole time. Dustin was asleep, too. I was to anxious to get home to fall asleep. It was great sensation flying over Memphis! I have to admit I shed a few tears when we reached Memphis. After we got off the plane, I through Sophie an "American" dress on for some photo ops.

The Memphis airport was a ghost town compared to all of the other airports we had been to on this trip. However, it was a great feeling!!! Walking out of the terminal, we saw some familiar faces peeking around the corner. I lost it when I saw my "baby boy" standing there! Holding Sophie in my arms, I walked directly toward David Ryan and bent down and introduced him to his sister. Then, I got me a hug! There was a lot of tears, kisses, and hugs! Sophie did really well seeing everyone there. She let our families take pictures of her. She didn't cry when David Ryan hugged her. I was too emotional to remember all what was said at the airport.

She did well in her car seat. I thought she would scream being buckled in a car seat, because in China they don't have car seats for children. But, she did fine. We stopped by Wendy's on the way home and got us some good ole American hamburgers to take home and eat. We got chicken nuggets and french fries for the kiddos. We had our first family dinner in our home at our table as a family of four. We let the kids try to get to know each other a little before we put them to bed. However, we did go to bed pretty early since Dustin hasn't slept in over 15 hours. We let David Ryan watch a movie in bed since it was kind of early. But, he is good, he will stay in bed and watch the move and fall asleep afterwards. He won't get out of bed until we come and get him in the morning. He has always been good about that. Sophie whimpered a little bit when we laid her in her crib, but she eventually fell asleep. We have a baby monitor in our home so we can hear Sophie in her room.

Sophie woke up about 2 am and Dustin was sound asleep, so momma to the rescue. I calmed her down and made me a little mat on the floor beside the crib until she fell asleep, which was 5:30 am. I didn't want her waking David Ryan up. I went back to my bed after she fell asleep and I couldn't go back to bed until 7:00 am. Dustin was up, too. He couldn't go back to bed either, but we both went back to sleep at 7am and woke up again at 8:00 am. The kids were ready to get up for the day. Hopefully, after a few days, Sophie will get on Mississippi time. I will try to update soon on her days after we been home a few days. I know you all want to know how Sophie is adjusting to her new life here in the good ole USA! ( I am currently working on the post for this update, a lot has been going on since we have been so it is taking me a while).

Oh yeah, I have to share this with you. While on this trip, we have dodged a bombing in the Beijing airport, earthquakes in Central China, a chicken pox outbreak, and a terrorist attack scare! "God Bless America" has a new meaning to us! We are so happy to be home!

                                        Sophie in her "Daddy's Princess" shirt and skinny jeans

                              Already getting sleepy before take off (before our 15 hour flight)

                                    In the airport; our first photo as a family of four

                                       In the Memphis airport meeting family

                                         Our first family dinner together as a family of four

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Friday, August 2 -- Home bound

It was a rough night for two of the Belks. Sophie coughed most of the night and Dustin was still making bathroom trips. I still didn't slept that while with the coughing and the moving around in the night. Anyhow, we did our normal morning routine. We had our last breakfast today here at the hotel's breakfast buffet. I hope Sophie knows that her momma won't be cooking her all this food every morning for breakfast. She better get use to either fruit, dough nuts,  or cereal in the mornings especially on weekdays.

Then, we came back to do some skyping. We were able to skype the whole family this morning since we didn't have any planned activities this morning. This will be probably be the last time we get to do that since we are leaving this afternoon- yay! The family is so excited to see Sophie soon. David Ryan was talkative again during our skype time. I am so ready to give him a big hug and kiss. He told us to bring "his Sophie" to him. He played the piano for us and told us about his day.

After skyping everyone, it was time for me to pack. But, there was going to be a little problem named Sophie. She likes to help but she makes more trouble than actually helping. So, we decided since she likes taking baths and playing in the water, we will let her have a little playtime in the tub. Don't worry, there is a big glass window where you can see the bathtub from our room. We could see everything she was doing. We got everything packed, it some creativity though. We didn't have to buy a new suitcase. I just hope we pass the weight requirements or the airport will charge us extra. Sophie had a nice play time in the tub and we were successful in the packing. Sophie knows something is up, but she doesn't really understand what is going on. We will see how she does when we check into a different hotel room tonight.

After packing, it was lunch time. We decided to eat something safe. Dustin was feeling better, but we still didn't want to chance it. We ate at the Coffee Club which is across the street from our hotel and they have awesome hamburgers and french fries. We came back to the hotel room to take a nap. Dustin and Sophie are sleeping as I am writing this now. We will meet our guides in the lobby at 4:30 pm to pick up Sophie's Visa and then they will take us to the train station. Our train leaves around 6:40 and it should take us about 2 hours to get to Hong Kong. Then, a travel guide will meet us at the train station and take us to the Hong Kong airport where our hotel is located. After we get checked into our hotel tonight, we are left on our own. However, our hotel is adjacent to the airport, so we should be fine in the morning. Our flight leaves at 11:40 am. We should get to Chicago around 1:40 pm central time and our flight to Memphis should leave around 4:16 pm and we will arrive in Memphis around 6pm. We only have two and a half hours to get through customs and immigration, so I hoping and praying that we make our connection to Memphis. We are ready to be home and we ready to see our family.

(I don't know if I will be able to update more today, because I don't know about the internet at our Hong Kong hotel. If I don't update later tonight, I will update as soon as I can.)

Updated after we got home. Didn't have internet in Hong Kong:

After the naps, it was time to head out (Yay). We met our guide along with other families picking up their child's Visas. However, we were the only family leaving out tonight. The rest of the families were leaving Saturday. William ( he was the one who picked us up from the airport) was there to take us to the train station. We said our goodbyes and told everyone we would keep in touch. We all hugged our guide Catherine, she was really awesome. Then, we loaded up in the van with William. It was bad weather. William said we were lucky we were traveling by train because the airlines would be delayed. We got to the train station in like 30 minutes. William showed us where to go. Then, we just had to wait for our train departure. We waited 30 minutes. The security check was not as bad as in the airports. We just had to follow the locals when it was time to board because no one spoke in English, we could't understand the announcements. The train station was bigger than the Memphis airport. The train ride to Hong Kong was about 2 hours long. Sophie did well on the train, she just got antsy around the end and cried once. It was a nice scenic view of the countryside until it got dark. We arrived in Hong Kong at 8:30 pm. We had to go through customs and immigration when we arrived. It was no big deal again. However, while we were waiting in the immigration line I noticed the bag containing my tennis shoes was no longer attached to my suitcase. So, my tennis shoes are on some train in China now. I needed a new pair anyway. We just carried our own luggage on the train because it cost $100 RMB per bag to check them in. They had a baggage area by the door and an overhead compartment (where my shoes are probably still at).

Our guide from Lotus Travels (holding up a sign with our name) was waiting for us in the lobby. She had a van and driver for us. It was raining here also. It took another 30 minutes to get to our hotel at the airport. We got to see the city of Hong Kong. It was huge and looked really nice in the dark. Sophie fell asleep on the way there. Our guide helped us check in. The hotel in the airport was really nice. Our room was huge, I wish our hotel room in Guangzhou was this big, maybe we could have dealt with being quarantined better. However, their king size bed is the size of our full size bed here in the states- lol.

By the time, we got in our hotel room, it was bed time. Tomorrow we have to be in the airport 2 and a half hours before our flight takes off. I wish we had internet here in the hotel, I would love to see David Ryan in the morning, but I will be seeing him very soon.

                                                    Sophie's last breakfast at the China Hotel

                            The McDonalds across from our hotel.

                              Last time eating at the Coffee Club, we loved their hamburgers!

                                    Goodbye, China Hotel (our home for the past 2 weeks)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday, August 1 -- U.S Consulate Appointment

Dustin went down and got us breakfast while I got ready and got Sophie ready. I didn't eat much, because I was so nervous about our medical check before our consulate appointment. There is a bug bite that I am afraid that may give us problems. We know it is a bug bite, because we saw the bug bite her while we were in the park the other day. However, our word is not good enough. We tried skyping David Ryan before we left, but we didn't get an answer. Hopefully, we won't get back too late from our appointment for we can skype afterwards. We have to get our David Ryan fix. The hardest part of this trip has been being away from our son.

We meet our guide Catherine and three other families in the lobby at 7:40 am. The first stop was the medical clinic, which is just down the street from the U.S Consulate. There was another family besides us that had to have their child (this family was even outside our quarantined group) checked out before we were able to go to the consulate. They called the other family into their examining room while we waited in the hallway. Then, two doctors walked over to us and started to look Sophie over. They didn't even call us to an examining room, they just checked her out in the hallway. So, they didn't have us undress her. But, they did look at that one bug bite that I figured would give us trouble for like 10 minutes. They even called over another doctor to look at. Really? All this for a bug bite. They lift up her dress and looked at her stomach. (See no spots on the stomach where the pox usually first shows up, and the spots that they studied on the first trip to the clinic were gone. Doesn't that count for something?) Even our guide came over and showed them her mosquito bites on her arm and they told her that they didn't care about her bug bites. Another guide from a different adoption agency even came over to show them her bug bites. (Come on people if it was chicken pox, she would be covered in pox and have a fever, it has been a week and no pox symptoms.) After all this fiasco, they finally said "she is okay." They handed us our clearance. So, anyone coming to China to adopt make sure your child doesn't get any bug bites because they are freaking out now since that one orphanage (not even Sophie's) had a breakout. Our guide said the U.S CDC is now being more strict on the Chinese with their adoption medical checks. We all rushed (actually running) out of  the medical clinic before they changed their minds. Oh, the other family's child was cleared too, they were freaking out on his bug bites also.

Then, we met back up with the other families who didn't have to go through another medical examination outside the building. Catherine, our guide, walked us over the U.S Consulate. She explained to us what we needed to do and where we needed to go once we got inside, because she is not allowed to go inside since she is not an U.S citizen. They are really strict about what you can bring inside their building. We were only allowed to bring one diaper and wipes in a clear plastic bag. So, no pictures of our process here, sorry. We had to show our passports before we even entered the building. Once we were all in the building for our appointment time, they all gathered us up and went over a few things about what to expect when you land in your port of entry and how your child becomes an U.S citizen. Then, they had us all to stand, hold up our right hand, and take an oath. After that, each family had to wait to be called up to the window and hand over some more paperwork. Now, the adoption is official in America's eyes. We had to wait until everyone in our group was done being called up, because Catherine wanted us to stay together. This whole process took about an hour and a half. Home Free! Now, we can relax, the most stressful and most important part of the trip is over!

We did make it back in time to skype David Ryan before he went to bed. He was very talkative. Every time we would tell him bye, he would tell us to wait a minutes and start telling us something else. He even blew kisses to Sophie and wanted her to blow him some kisses back. I can't wait to get these two together!

After skyping, we decided to try this Mexican restaurant, Tequila, that some of the other adoptive families suggested. We had to take a taxi to get there. It's funny, Mexican food in the US is cheap, but here it was the most expensive more we have had so far. For an appetizer, we got french fries nachos which were actually very good. Dustin had enchiladas and I had a beef quesadila. Sophie had french fries and a cheese quesadila. French fries came with all the kids' plates. This place was really good and they gave you a lot of food. Sophie is going to love the Mexican restaurant that we go to back home.

After eating, we took a taxi to Shamian Island to do some more shopping. We are trying to get some more Gotcha Day gifts for Sophie in the future. There is a tradition that parents give their adopted child a gift from their birth country on their Gotcha Day anniversary. Almost every store we went inside, the store owner gave Sophie a free gift. She racked up; she received a fan, another bracelet, retired old money, a butterfly hair clip, and a pin with one of their famous cartoons on it. I bought her another pair of squeaky shoes. (Satchers, the place to go for squeaky shoes is either Jenny's or Sherry's). Dustin started not feeling too well while we were out shopping. I guess the heat and Mexican food don't mix too well. Getting a taxi back to the hotel wasn't that difficult. It is easier getting a taxi when we you hang out by Lucy's.

When we got back to the hotel, we took a late nap. Sophie was falling asleep in the desk chair, so she didn't take no time to pass out. Dustin took a nap also since he wasn't feeling so well. I watched some TV while they napped. While they were napping, one of the non-quarantined families called our room to see if we wanted to go eat with them and some other families at this Mediterranean restaurant next to our hotel. I said yes.

We met the families in the lobby at six. It was about 7 families going. This restaurant had a big enough table to fit all of us at one table. Dustin and I ordered safe since he wasn't feeling too hot and I was still full from the big meal from lunch. We ordered the fruit plate and the vegetable dish. The fruit plate included watermelon, cantaloupe, apples, and oranges. Sophie was happy with the watermelon, she loves her some watermelon. The vegetable dish was really good, they cooked the vegetables in butter. The vegetables included carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, peas, and onions. This is just what needed, something different and light. Sophie liked all the vegetables, however, we did find out that she doesn't like apples. Dustin said he was feeling better after this meal. Sophie was a big hit tonight at dinner. She was making everyone laugh at the face she makes when she drinks Sprite. There was a Chinese belly dancer that came out at the end of our dinner. Sophie seemed to like this. Then, it was time to go back to our hotel room. Time for Sophie's bath and bed.

Tomorrow I will be packing. We will leave this hotel around 4:30 pm to go to the train station. We will take a train to Hong Kong and spend the night in Hong Kong. We will be staying at the hotel at the Hong Kong airport. Then, our plane will leave that next day about 11:40 am and we will be on our way HOME! Our flight from Hong Kong to Chicago is almost 15 hours. So, we need prayers again for safe travels and my insanity with travelling that long with a rumbustious two year old. We are so ready to come home.

I don't know if I will be able to blog tomorrow or not. I don't know if we will have internet access in the Hong Kong hotel. If not, I will update as soon as I can after we arrive home and get settled in. See you soon!

I tried loading some pictures of tonight's group dinner, but my computer is not cooperating with me. I will try to go back tomorrow and add the pictures.

Pictures finally uploaded.

                                               Our Travel Group Dinner

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday, July 31-- A Day at the Pool

Sophie slept through the night again in her pack n' play. She even let Dustin give her a bath last night, but she gave Dustin a little surprise in the tub. I thought it was funny, because David Ryan has done that to me a few times when he was little.
Anyway we did our morning routine, getting our showers before Sophie woke up, eating our breakfast, and coming back to our hotel room to skype the family. We were able to talk to everyone this morning since we didnt have to be anywhere this morning. Dustin got to talk to his brother's family. I was able to talk to my sister; she said Zach can't wait to see her Saturday. We talked to David Ryan and his Grandaddy. David Ryan was good, he is ready for us to come home. I showed him the Chinese musical balls I got him and he told me to bring them to his Granny's house in 10 minutes (only four more days, buddy). We talked to my mom for a while and she was happy that Sophie was wearing one of  the dresses she got for her.

Today is pretty much a free day for us. There are some families that have their U.S Consulate appointments today and some families that are even leaving tonight.

We went to the pool today. Sophie loved putting on her swimsuit and sunscreen. She gets excited every time we leave the room. She loves being on the go. When we got to the pool, Dustin just jumped in with Sophie. Surprisingly, she didn't like the pool. We thought she would love it since she loves the bath. She cried while being in the pool. I sat at the edge of the pool and Dustin and Sophie came over to me. Sophie wanted  to sit by me on the edge. Then, she started diving into the arms of Dustin in the pool. She did this several times, she enjoyed that. Since it looked like she was doing fine now, I went to the lounge chairs to take pictures. I guess Sophie didn't like me being that far from her, so she joined me. Then, she started playing a new game where she would sit with me on the lounge chairs, run to her daddy in the pool, splash Dustin and herself, and run back over to me and dry her face with the towels. She had a ball doing this. Dustin tried getting her back in the pool, he got her in for a few seconds. Then, she wanted out to continue her "little game." We started to get hungry so we headed back to the hotel room. It was about one o'clock when we ate lunch. We decided to have those wonderful chicken sandwiches from Starbucks's again. Sophie picked herself out a fruit cup for her lunch. Dustin treated me to a blueberry cheesecake (yum).

Then, it was nap time. We had us a nice long nap. Sophie fell asleep watching a movie in between Dustin and me in bed. We were going to go back to Shamian Island for more shopping after our naps, but it was kinda too late to go the island and were afraid of more bug bites. We wanted to be safe rather than sorry since our big, important day is tomorrow with the U.S Consulate.We can tomorrow after our appointment. We just stayed in our hotel room for the rest of the day, I know exciting, huh !?!

For supper, we ate light, because we were still full from Starbucks's. Dustin just went next door to McDonald's. Sophie gets really excited when she sees her daddy enter the hotel room with food in his hands. We have now "Americanized" her, because she loves some chicken nuggets and french fries from McDonald's.

It is bath time for Sophie now. We are going to go to bed early tonight since we have an early morning. We have to meet in the lobby at 7:40 in the morning. The Medical Clinic is in the same building as the U.S Consulate, so they will check Sophie's body for any spots (chicken pox) first. If everything is okay, then we will proceed onto our consulate appointment. This is the final step in our adoption process. This is where the U.S will officially recognize Sophie as our daughter and she will be become an U.S citizen when we land in Chicago.The U.S Consulate is really strict. All we can bring inside is a diaper and our passports in a clear plastic bag. No cameras. Our agency guides cannot even go in with us. We have only two more days left here in Guangzhou. Wish us luck tomorrow, tomorrow is a very important day! Goodnight.

                                                        Pool pictures

                                        Sophie doing her surprise face

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday, July 30 -- Shamian Island Day

Last night Sophie slept the whole night in her pack n' play. Dustin put her straight in it, she whimpered a little bit. She was standing in her pack n' play and falling asleep, you could see her little her hand nodding off. Dustin finally laid her in the pack n' play with no fuss from her. She slept through the whole night without waking up (Success!). I got up and got my shower in before she woke up. Dustin also was able to get ready before she work up.

We went down for our breakfast feast, we missed it yesterday. After breakfast, we did our routinely skyping with the family. David Ryan was in a good mood again and was ready to tell us what he did that day. He had Taco Bell, went swimming, and saw the movie Despicable Me 2. His granny is keeping him busy.

After skyping, we went to Shamian Island to do a little shopping and drop off some laundry. I am glad they deliver the next day. We bought gifts for our family and friends. We bought the traditional silk dresses, squeaky shoes, and some future Gotcha Day gifts for Sophie. Sophie is a good shopper. She loves to shop and she behaves while you are shopping. We were at one store and the shop owner spoke Cantonese to Sophie. She said Sophie is very smart. She translated to us some of the things that Sophie was saying like "don't touch, just look" and pointing to my camera she said "photo." Sophie was a hit at the shops today. Two different shop owners just gave her a bottle of bubbles and bracelet.

After doing a little shopping, we ate at Lucy's again. This time I got the cheeseburger and so did Dustin. It was very good. Their onion rings were very good. Sophie just shared with us. I think she will fit in just fine when we get back to the states. She has no complaints on American food. After eating, we walked around in their parks and garden area, which is very beautiful. This is where the brides come to take their pictures. One couple was having their picture taken and I guess Sophie was really interested cause she just walked right up in their photo shoot. We took many pictures around the island. And she loves taking pictures. She will stay still and sometimes smile. Taking the picture is easy, but getting the smile is harder. I can also get her to pose (sometimes). Then, it was time to get a taxi back to the hotel for nap time. It really didn't take Dustin long to get us a taxi.

Back at the hotel, we laid Sophie down for a nap and she was out in two minutes. She did do a lot of walking around the Island today. While Sophie was napping, one of our agency guides called and asked us if we would like to go on a River Boat Cruise tonight. Of course, we said yes! Finally, we are getting to venture off on some tours. Then, she reminded us of our meeting at 3 pm. Then, about 10 minutes later another one of our guides called. She said the CDC called her and had a list of questions for her to ask us. Questions like were Dustin and I born in the states, were we vaccinated for the chicken pox, what is our port of entry, etc. I asked her what time we had to go to the Medical Clinic tomorrow. She said we didn't need to go back tomorrow ( yay!), but they will still check Sophie over for spots the day of our Consulate appointment on Thursday ( boo!). Hopefully, no more heat rash or bug bites on Thursday. But, at least we don't have to make another trip and taxi fare tomorrow.

I went to the 3pm meeting so Dustin and Sophie can do more one on one bonding. This meeting was about what to do on our last day with getting to the Hong Kong train station, going through immigration and customs, and what to do with Sophie's Visa and paperwork. This was our exit meeting since some of the families are leaving tomorrow. I also found out at this meeting that there was going to be a group picture after the meeting is over. So, I had to rush upstairs and get Sophie ready. I wanted her to wear the traditional Chinese silk dress that we bought today. We made it in time for the group picture and it was a big group. I didn't really know how big the group was since we have been "quarantined." I am just happy and surprised that we were able to be in the group picture! Our friends from Idaho were on their way to leave for the States when we were headed to the lobby for the group picture, so we got to say our goodbyes. We took the group picture, it took a while for the guides to use all of our cameras giving all of us copies. The group picture didn't even include everyone, some families I think were sick. After the group picture, we went back upstairs to get ready for the River Boat Cruise on Pearl River on Shamian Island.

We met in the lobby at 6:00 pm. Two of the families from our group of  our "quarantined" six werent going. However, we had a new family from outside our "quarantined" six going with us. There were 10 of them and they are from Arkansas. It is so nice to get out and be with other adults. Our agency ordered Papa John's Pizza for all of us to eat on the cruise boat. After we ate, we went on the deck to sight-see and take pictures.
The River Boat Cruise was real nice and the kids enjoyed it. Our guide Catherine's thirteen year old son came with us also. He was our tour guide for the cruise, he did a good job. He may have a career with Holt in the future. He spoke English really well. On the boat, Sophie showed everyone her little personality. Our guide said Sophie is really smart. Our guide was also impressed how well Sophie has adjusted. She thinks Sophie will be talking in English very soon. We had a great time!

We got back about 8:30 pm, so it was time for bath and bed. When we got back, our guide received a phone call about one of the adopted children having a seizure. I don't think this was a pre-exiting condition or special need, so keep this family in your prayers.

Okay, it is bedtime for this woman. Tomorrow we pretty much have a free day. Then, Thursday is our U.S Consulate appointment plus a check up on her "spots" and Friday we leave for Hong Kong. Finally, Saturday we will fly home- yay! Not too much longer.

Enjoy the pictures!      
                                                          Success Again!

                                    Getting Sophie's name in Chinese Letters

                                          Pictures on Shamian Island

                                             Sophie in her traditional Chinese silk dress

                                                  Our travel group

                                           Eating pizza on the river boat cruise

                                             Pictures from the Cruise

                                                Waving "hey" to the passing boats

                                               three of the "quarantined" girls

                                                   Our boat

                        Sophie making new friends with the family from Arkansas