Friday, January 20, 2012

...and now the rest of the story...

In my post on January 4th, I shared the story of the call that ended our Taiwan adoption journey. Today, I'm going to finish the story. So in memory of legendary radio host Paul Harvey, "and now the rest of the (too long for radio) story..."

I've had many painful, "why this, " and "why me" moments in my life but I really think this one took the prize for being the most hurtful and devastating. 

The days and nights following that call on January 4th were terrible. Not only was I was in the process of telling loved ones we were moving in a few weeks, getting a house ready to put on the market, and fretting about all the unknowns of the new year, I now carried the grief of losing a child of my heart. Few know this but our Taiwanese baby was not the first child of our heart we had lost. Seven months earlier, we had lost another child we thought was intended to be our daughter. I cannot write about her but losing her was not easy emotionally. Two times we stepped out in faith and waited and endured (Taiwan MUCH longer than the other situation) and two times we were told, "no."  Two "miscarriages"of the heart were more than I thought I could bear.

Don and I were certain our adoption journey was over. Done. Finished. In some ways it made perfect sense.  God knew we had reservations about being older parents, the ever-growing age gap between Lindy and her unknown sister, and now concerns about how we could possibly pay for an adoption along with the move to a much more expensive area. We weren't sure why we had been taken on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions since April 2007 (when we started the process) if the answer was inevitably, "no." We weren't sure why he'd allow us to spend so much (unrecoverable) money on a process that didn't result in helping one of His own. We weren't sure why the brain surgery in 2004 that had finally gotten us off the fence and led us to pursue adoption was now the event keeping us from being parents again. The whys definitely outweighed what we felt sure of during those days but we were sure we were getting off the ride.

Since we were no longer on the journey and in the throes of packing and decluttering we gave away almost 16 bins of clothing, shoes, and baby stuff to those who could benefit. I remember touching each outfit, remembering my sweet Lindy in it, and trying to push out the pain of the hope I had felt of seeing another raven-haired daughter running around in it.  I also remember feeling the sting of how time had gone so quickly with Lindy and how I'd hoped for another chance. The grief was tremendous. In fact, as I write I'm weeping because it still feels terribly real and my heart aches for those who've also suffered this loss and for those who will.

I wasn't getting out or socializing much at that point mainly because I was so busy at home preparing for our move but I also wasn't feeling too festive, either. Besides family, my biggest source of support was my friend, Elissa. Whether it was a dozen roses on my doorstep, a call, or an email, she KNEW from experience what I was going through and was equipped to minister to me in a special way.

I consented to breakfast at our favorite meeting place on Thursday, January 20th, one year ago today. During our extended visit we shared tears, anger, and laughter. Elissa didn't really like my message of being finished with our journey. She reminded me God detests the idea of orphans more than I do and told me if God wanted us to be parents again, He'd bring our child to us. I really tried to not be cynical and faithless and shoot her well-meaning words down but here were my thoughts:

1. Yeah, right.
2. How's that going to happen? If I get pregnant for the first time ever at this age that would be cruel and wrong.
3. I'm pretty sure the stork doesn't deliver.
4. I'm not lookin'. Period. End of subject.

The irony is that not only had Elissa suffered from a miscarriage of the heart when the Nepal program suddenly closed in 2009 (on MY birthday, no less), Elissa had thought they didn't have any viable options available to them but God had other plans for them when (through me, a totally frowned on sidebar conversation in MOPS, and a forwarded email), He brought Hope to them.

I don't know what time it was when we finally left our booth but I went home and decided there wasn't enough time to do something industrious like get rid of all the recipes I tear out of magazines or dust, so I did what anyone would do, get on the computer. Did I mention I hadn't been feeling very social? I really don't think I'd been on Facebook much (or at all) since the "call." I decided to take a quick peek and see what was happening in the world of social networking and that is when IT happened.

I am sure the Facebook "newsfeed" has changed 100 times since that day but at that time I think you saw EVERY friend's status, as well as every website or group you were a fan of or liked. I used to scroll back to see what I had missed but I was WAY too behind to do that. So, all I did was start with the feed that popped on my screen. That's when I saw her. That's when I felt electricity and a sensation close to that of January 25, 2006. That's when I laughed out loud and said, "Who is she?" That's when I saw a postage stamp-sized picture of the happiest little girl only to find it was OUR agency announcing the launch of their new special needs/waiting children photo site. I clicked on the link, requested a password, and before I knew it I was searching their site, and subsequently requesting the file of the adorable little face I'd felt that spark over.

I am sure I set off bells and whistles at our agency when I requested the information because they pretty much knew they were about to lose us as clients. I also remember I had to run and get Lindy from school. However, RIGHT before I had to leave I got into her file and discovered her nickname was "Mei Mei" and her first name was ACTUALLY Mei. I remember saying, "Really, God, really?" As you can tell by the name of this blog, "Mei Mei" is what we had called our little lady. I know that's pretty normal and not original because it means, "little sister" or "little girl" but we really had not (officially and collectively) chosen a name for her. I did know I wanted to use Mei and had always thought it'd be cool if Mei was part of her name but I had never encountered a child from China with that name. (I'm sure there are some I just wasn't aware of any.)  I also remember thinking I was not in the business of looking for signs anymore and in NO WAY was I going to get bogged down with these details. I just wanted to look at her and find out about her because she was so stinkin' cute.

As I read her file, I did not feel fear. I believe I had the peace that passes understanding. I think it is important to document that during our long wait I had requested files of other waiting/special needs children. In honesty, I had tried to "make" myself feel love for other children and when I read files, watched videos, and saw photographs, I felt fear. I did not feel the assurance that I was meant to be their mom. I wanted to but I didn't. I never quite understood that and suffered from silent guilt as a result.

I know this is the longest story but I think it is an important one to document for our family and today felt like a fitting day.

When Don came home from work that night I was an emotional mess. I think I was an emotional mess most of last year but I remember as he washed the dishes (love that man!) I told him about my breakfast with Elissa and then about the adorable little girl called Mei Mei. I remember asking in tears, "Why am I looking at children and requesting files? We are through. We are not in a position to consider a special needs child with all we have on our plates." His answer, in typical Don fashion was, "I don't know why you're looking at files." I was thinking he might say, "You're grieving darling. You don't want to close this chapter of our lives..." Oh, wait, that's my own self-dialogue writing scripts of what others should say.

I continued to think about Mei Mei all evening and into the next day. That Friday, I received a call from the supervisor of the Asian program at our agency sort of fishing about our interest (because we had told her we weren't interested in anything 10 days earlier) and informing us about the program. She explained that they had her file and had been tasked with matching her with a family. She also explained their committee would meet at the end of the month and they would consider all the interested families and make a choice. She made it very clear people were already lining up for Mei Mei and we needed to make it known ASAP (like no later than the beginning of the week) if we wished to be considered. She mentioned one of the hugest considerations for the committee would be who could get Mei Mei home the fastest. It was then she told us some very shocking and pivotal news: 

OUR DOSSIER HAD NOT BEEN PULLED FROM CHINA (as requested two years earlier when we moved to the Taiwan program)!!! WE WERE STILL LOGGED IN! For those not familiar with the lingo, it meant we were still in line, waiting for a child in the eyes of China.  Furthermore, we were current on everything else because we recently and begrudgingly had just shelled out lots of money to update our fingerprints and a home study.

I tried to remember all the details so I could relay them to Don. I recall giving him all the information and trying to spark conversation but it just didn't really go anywhere. He wasn't saying, "no." He just wasn't saying anything. Meanwhile, I could not get her sweet smile out of my head...

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. As I drove the 14-17 minute commute to Ladies Bible Class, I decided to call and check in with my mom. During that brief call I told her about Mei Mei and how I could not get her out of my heart or mind and that the feeling I felt for her was pretty much "love at first sight." She basically told me she didn't understand and was under the impression we were through and moving (literally) on. I remember feeling short and frustrated and telling her I didn't expect her to understand. It is imperative to note my mom was being very protective of my heart. She has had to pick up the pieces over and over and glue them back together and I know she was thoroughly confused and surprised by my revelation. At that point I had to go or I was going to be late.

Normally after class I would go have lunch with my friend, Ashleigh. However, for some reason I didn't that day. I went straight home and not long after I got home I got a call from my mom. I don't remember her words but the essence of the message was that she loved me and would support whatever decision I (we) make. I asked her if she wanted to see why I was so smitten and she said, "yes." I immediately sent the little pictures and thanks to some high speed internet, she opened them right away. You would have to know my mom to fully appreciate what ensued. I recall there was a REALLY goofy, giddy, girlish giggle (how's that for amazing alliteration) and then she said something like, "Would you look at her? That's her. That's our Millie Mei. She belongs in our family. I know it." There were some tears of joy and excitement. I went on to share all I knew about her, the process, and the urgency of taking action if we wanted to pursue her. 

I strongly believe her reaction and blessing helped me have the courage to tell Don what I was feeling and thinking. It is not easy for me to say what I want. I often don't really have a preference but the more I thought about Mei Mei and prayed about it, the more I knew I would always regret if we didn't at least put our names in the hat. If we didn't get chosen, then we would know God had spoken again, accept His answer, and keep on going.

I nervously told Don my desires and he said, "Okay. I'm good with that." What? That simple? Yep. That simple. 

Well, we asked our agency to consider us, prayed for several days, and at the end of January discovered we had been chosen to be Mei Mei's parents. As you know, that Mei Mei became our Millie Mei on October 10, 2011.

After three months, she still seems foreign to us at times but when I look at her I can't miss that she is a living, breathing testament to God's faithfulness to us and our family. Every time we wanted to blow off having fingerprints done or getting a medical exam, or having another social worker come visit, something held us there and told us to keep going. We signed and had a letter notarized asking China to withdraw our dossier but it didn't happen. I hadn't been on Facebook but got on at that moment and saw her on the page. I could have missed that but I didn't. God's fingerprints are all over this story. I even see His fingerprints when I think about all the stuff we gave away. The only stuff we had to pass down to her was what still fit Lindy last year and/or what was still in her drawers and closets. Everything else was gone (except for the stuff a couple of stubborn friends gave back). Well, Millie is a BIG girl. She'll be three in a month but she's 33 pounds and wearing size 4T and a size 8 or 9 shoe. I literally take it out of Lindy's closet because it is too short and basically put it right on Millie or in her closet. Thank you, God, for your provision in these tighter economic times.  More than that, thank you for your faithfulness!

Millie is asking me for lunch. It is time. It is also time for me to end this story. So I'll sign off in a non-original way. "And now you know the rest of the story."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Three months with Millie Mei

Three months ago today we became the parents of this sweet little girl. It is weird how time is so deceptive. In many ways, I can't believe it has already been three months and in other ways I can't believe it has only been three months. What is that strange paradox?

I remember wishing so many people could experience Lindy like I experience(d) her and I feel exactly the same way about Millie. I can't begin to explain her. She is probably the most loving child I've ever come in contact with and she is oh so grateful. She craves love and gives it freely. Again, I find myself being humbled and learning--often painful--lessons of obedience, grace, patience, gratitude and a million other things.

I could go on and on telling you about her but I hear her whimpering upstairs as she doesn't really seem to be napping today. :( I also have to use my energies writing about her on her three month post placement report--due tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4, 2011

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice.
In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Psalm 5:3

Hi! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Perhaps I'll get to sharing some pictures later. I am chronically behind.

This morning as I was "getting ready" (and I DO use the phrase loosely), I was transported to January 4, 2011. I almost remember it like it happened yesterday. I was blow drying my hair and praying, earnestly praying, for God to give me something that day about our stalled Taiwan adoption. It was a new year, the first day back in the routine, I knew we were embarking on a huge change with an impending move, and I really wanted to know what was going to happen with our wait for our next daughter, so I asked. 

I proceeded to take Lindy to school, go to the store to restock our bare refrigerator shelves and pantry, and get things accomplished with a new energy that seemed to accompany the new year (that I'd love to have today).

I got back from the store and checked my email and found one from our case worker with our adoption agency.  It said our file had been reviewed by the organization in Taiwan and they had concerns about my medical history and she needed to speak with us immediately. I think I was so happy to hear our file was finally being reviewed for a potential match that I didn't pick up on the tone of the message. I quickly responded and attached medicals (they already had) and an optimistic let's just talk this thing through.

At 11:11 a.m., I got a call from our agency that permanently changed our life.  Can I just tell you for dozens of years I've always been convinced in a very non-superstitious way that something really bad or really good would happen for me at that time? My case worker informed us the organization in Taiwan didn't want or need any clarification on my medicals. They were turning us down. The pre-approval we'd obtained exactly two years earlier was now worthless. We now had a failed adoption to add to our list of life experiences and we were absolutely devastated and heartbroken. I had asked for God to give me something that day and He delivered in a way I didn't expect or think I wanted.

I will share more of the story and ensuing days later. However, today I just want to remind you that when you ask God for something, you really need to be prepared for Him to answer. I realized that day I was extremely surprised He delivered an answer so quickly.  That's kind of a sad and fairly faithless testimony to think I was pretty shocked that God--the creator of this universe--would give an answer of such magnitude in a span of less than five hours. I believe He wants us to ask but I also believe He wants us to trust that He will answer us. Second, and probably more obvious, the answer might not always be what you want but it is what He KNOWS is best for us. Being lavished with smooshy kisses and hugs as I attempt to type this post, totally substantiates that!

Blessings in this new year!!!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet sisters

I've had a lot of people ask how things are going with the sisters.  I've been wanting to do this post for a while but I wasn't sure whose blog to put it on (Millie's, Lindy's, or the family blog).  Just another reason I need to merge the three.  It is on the list of things to do.

Things are going EXCEPTIONALLY well with the Osborn sisters.  

I had worried there would be some jealousy, bossiness, and attention hogging on Lindy's part when we got home.  Afterall, Lindy had 5 1/2 years as an only child and has never lacked for attention.  I had picked up on some jealous statements before we brought home Millie and was worried the green-eyed monster was making its way into her heart and mind.  However, if I can just take a moment and brag I just can't put into words how proud I've been of Lindy.  She welcomed Millie with an open heart and arms and has not only been loving, sweet, and mature about her new sister, but she has also been proactively helpful--so much so that I have to watch that she does not think she's the mommy.  She is quite patient with her and also very nurturing.  

EVERY once in a while I see some jockeying for attention but overall she's been fantastic.  I also have to keep reminding her that Millie is only two and does not understand everything she is saying to her and that two year olds don't know how to engage in a lot of interactive play.  We've been reading Beezus and Ramona together and she can relate to the story fairly well.  God really did a great job answering our prayers in preparing her for her new role and we are so thankful to him for how he equipped her.

Millie came to us knowing Lindy was her big sister--jie jie in Chinese--and upon meeting her at the airport Millie couldn't wait to pull out her picture album and show off all the pictures of Lindy.  It was stinkin' cute.  Although she's never told me, judging by what I've been witnessing, I think Millie is a pretty big fan of her big sister.  Millie might've been the queen bee where she came from and it doesn't appear she was wanting for attention.  We just don't know what the dynamic was and how she fit in.  Initially, Millie seemed to be a bit more volatile with Lindy.  Some days she squealed with delight when she'd see Lindy in the morning or we'd pick her up from school and then other times she didn't want to play with her, give or receive affection from her, she was mean-spirited and aggressive toward her, and she definitely did not want her help in any capacity.  We've made significant strides over the past several days and Millie seems much more accepting of Lindy's help and seems to be much nicer to her on a consistent basis.  

Millie knows we're not going to tolerate swatting, biting, screaming, or being mean.  I hear her repeating, "Lindy help" and "love Lindy," so I think it is coming together in her mind.  She mimics everything Lindy does and cannot wait to pick her up in the afternoon.  We meet Lindy in the library at the school and she about tackles her when she sees her and definitely does not greet her in hushed tones.

Lest you think it is all roses, there are moments of impatience, copying, tattling, being territorial, and other typical things.  However, they really are pretty few and far between considering they've been together just a month today and both have pretty big personalities.

I know there will probably be seasons where they don't like each other but I really hope there will be a time when they are the best of friends and that they will always love one another.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting to you know her; getting to know all about her...

It's a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher,
By your pupils you'll be taught.

 As a teacher I've been learning --
You'll forgive me if I boast --
And I've now become an expert, (Not really; not yet!)
On the subject I like most.

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you,
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you,
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

Getting to know you,
Getting to feel free and easy
When I am with you,
Getting to know what to say

Haven't you noticed
Suddenly I'm bright and breezy? (Um, not exactly!!!)
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I'm learning about you

--From the "King and I"--Richard Rodgers 

This little tune sums up the way--for the most part--things are going around here this week.  I'm by no means an "expert" and am definitely not "bright and breezy" yet.  

Last week I was in the throes of being schooled by Miss Millie Mei and it was pretty tough.  I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted.  Things I thought worked, backfired.  She threw curve balls right and left.  Nothing seemed to work.  There was absolutely NO WAY I could have busted out in this song at any point and, if you know me, you know I love a good show tune!

This week has been going significantly better.  I think there are many things I can chalk it up to but I will admit I've been thinking a lot about what it says in Lamentations 3:22-23: "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."   

I love that every day God gives us a fresh start with new opportunities.  I love that we also are given a choice to look at things in a positive or negative manner.  After a couple of uplifting talks with friends who've walked this path, our first post placement visit with our social worker, encouraging notes and words from friends and family, prayer, and some internal pep talks, I've been trying to have more peace in the process of getting to know Millie.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to bust out in this song like Deborah Kerr (or is it Carr?) and really be "bright and breezy" because I am an "expert" on all things Millie Mei.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our first month with Millie Mei

I truly can't believe we have had Millie for a month.  In many ways, it really just seems like we met her.  I guess in other ways we are still "meeting" her.  Since about 3/4 of the time we have been together has not been our true "new normal," we are really only about one week into trying to get settled into our new routine.  I've contemplated and struggled about what to write for this post.  I will write the truth.  The first month has been one of emotional highs and joyful, happy moments but it has also been one of sobering, exhausting lows.  Isn't that really parenthood in a nutshell, though? 

Millie is a very sweet and sensitive child.  She is well-behaved and extremely loving and affectionate.  Her kisses are big, long, and sloppy and her hugs are so tight and she never wants to let go.  She is quick to say, "I love you" and I know she knows what it means and means it.  Having all that by now from a child her age is such a blessing!  Millie has shown she can be very happy like all the handful of pictures we'd seen of her before we met her.  She is a teaser and a ham with a multitude of crazy facial expressions.  

She is also smart as a whip.  That's a weird expression.  Who deemed whips smart, or tacks for that matter?  Weird expressions aside, she is smart.  She is soaking up English like crazy and I know it won't be long until she is getting in her 10,000 words by noon in English. 

She is also 32 months old and she lives up to every bit of her age at times.  Thankfully, tantrums are few and far between and her stubborn side is usually short-lived with a bit of redirection or correction.  She is also, at times, very emotional or on the opposite end she goes into these moments of what I would call despondency.  Either the crying or vacant, faraway look can come on without warning and I don't think I've ever felt more helpless.  I believe it is grief on some level and it is heart wrenching to watch as I just.don'!  I pray these moments will go away in time.   

I thought I had done a lot of thinking, praying, and preparation before Millie came home but I will admit the area that has been the biggest struggle for me is that I don't know Millie and she really seems foreign to me.  (I'm not at all talking about the Chinese part; although, there are times I wish I knew what she was saying because I think it'd be funny or I'd find out she has a mouth like a sailor.)  Somehow, whether it was ignorance or arrogance, I skipped over this part the process.  I am embarrassed that I missed the fact that it would take time for ME to get to know her and subsequently learn to parent her accordingly.  I always thought of things from HER perspective of her having the challenge of getting to know us, her new surroundings, her new language, her new life, etc.  However, I guess I hadn't really thought of all the time and challenges I would have in getting to know her intimately and understand her quirks, likes, and dislikes.  We are in a discovery phase which is a humbling place to be.  Daily, I cry out for wisdom and guidance as I try to learn to be the Mommy Millie needs, which is proving to be much different than the one Lindy needed/needs.

We are so thrilled that God has blessed us with Millie.  We are also thankful for all the happy moments of love and joy we've already had with her and we look forward to so many more in the future.  I am also trying to be thankful for these moments of learning and difficulty because I know this is a time of refinement and period of growth.  Please pray for us to learn what God is trying to teach us.     

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So much to little time...

I am on completely borrowed time as I no longer have Sara or Don blogging for me.  Sadly, I haven't had a moment to blog before now.  However, it is naptime--not a fun time for Miss Millie.  During our last week in China, Millie decided to boycott naps and she's been doing it ever since.  I have faith she will embrace it again soon.  Failure is not an option.

I am going to make this quick and then I will look for opportunities to post other things as I get more into a routine.

We have been home almost two weeks and we are doing well.  Millie is an amazing, brave, bright, and beautiful little girl.  She is doing great and we are so proud of her.  I think every day gets a little better.  When I step back and think of all she has been through since October 10th it brings me to tears.  When I step back even more and think of all that I don't know that she's been through, it makes me cry harder.

Thank you to everyone who sent comments, emails, read the blog, and prayed for us while we were away.  It was such an encouragement and we believe things are going so well because of those prayers!  Thank you so much!

I'll keep the post short and the pictures plentiful!


Millie's signature dance move.  
She figured since Lindy has a dance named after her (the Lindy Hop), she deserves one, too.

My super sweet super stars!

Getting her spaghetti on!  

No noodle is safe if Millie is around.

My pinkalicious cupcake showing off her new word, "smile." 

My pumpkin!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Consulate Appointment is Done!

Today was Wednesday in Guanzhou.  We were up really early as we had our Consulate Appointment at 8:30.  We should have Millie's visa back on Thursday in time for our return on Friday morning.  When we got back from the Consulate we felt adventurous so we tried to ride the Guangzhou metro.  It was a piece of cake and we went back to Shamian Island for a little more shopping and a grilled cheese sandwich at Lucy's.  

While Lisa was in one store, Don broke out some bubbles and Millie chased them around popping them.  all of a sudden she attracted about 6 or 7 people with cameras who started shooting her like she was a rock star.  I beleive they were photography students who were on Shamian to photograph various scenes.  You wouldn't beleive all the models and brides getting their pictures taken around the place.  We never get tired of that place. 

For dinner we went out with a family from Georgia who came to pick up two kids from two separate provinces.  They have seven kids total and now 5 from China.  They seem to be beyond building their family and are all about rescuing orphans that have a bleak future.  Very inspiring to see faith in action. 

We enjoyed the Brazilian steakhouse again as they didn't feel like Chinese food and were happy to get some real meat and desserts.  Tomorrow is our last day in Guangzhou.  We were told about a very beautiful park that is a couple of miles from our hotel.  We may try to walk over their and play around near the lake.  Thanks again for the prayers and encouraging notes.  Millie continues to grow closer to us each day and we can't wait for Lindy to meet her when we get back home.

Lindy - we hope you enjoy your field trip to the farm this week and can't wait to hear all about it.

 (on the metro)
(White Swan waterfall) 
 (Millie attracting the photography students)

(at dinner with a family from Georgia)
Don and Lisa

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Today we didn't have any tours until the afternoon as our guide had an annual tour guide exam in the morning.  This allowed us time to sleep in for the first time and just tool around near the hotel.  Millie woke up in a good mood so little spent some time singing songs with her.  She likes "If you're happy and you know it" and apparently knew the tune to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  When Lisa sang the English version to her she picked up the words pretty quickly although I caught a few blah blahs in there.  I caught the funny moments on video. 

We went on a big walking trip around all the shopping malls near us.  It was a little bright outside so Millie wanted to wear her sunglasses.  After lunch and a nap, we went to a old school/temple.  Once we were there, we realized it was a place we toured on our first visit to Guangzhou five and a half years ago.  It was fun to just leisurely walk around and take in the sights.  I got some additional video when Millie attracted a crowd to her as she was looking at some statues.  It's pretty funny when she starts conversing with the locals in Chinese and we just sit back and watch.  lots of people comment about her beautiful eyes and then I can tell they are asking where she is from.  The answer Urumqi in Xinjiang province usually draws a comment about how far away that place is.  

 (Millie in her sunglasses!)

For dinner we went to a Mexican food place (Tekilas) that we found earlier in the day.  It's always a good sign to see Mexican cook in the back and we were able to talk to the owner who is from Guadalajara.  The food was really authentic and was better than the Mexican food we've had so far in Virginia.  Tomorrow we're up early for our Consulate appointment and then plan to go to dinner with a family from Georgia we met in our hotel.  Each day gets better and better - though bath time is marginally better.  Oh well, baby steps.

Don and Lisa

Monday, October 17, 2011

Killing time in Guangzhou

Well, we're still killing time in Guangzhou.  We've been to the zoo to see Pandas and we went back to the doctor to have Millie's TB test read.  Thankfully she passed.  We've been enjoying the civilization of Guangzhou.  It seems like such a modern city with western style breakfasts, bathrooms with commodes, and a soft hotel bed. 

Millie continues to grow closer to us each day.  She is picking up on a little English and seems to understand more each day.  It is a little difficult with so many Chinese speakers around that pay so much attention to her.  She seems to go into ignore parents mode and avoid eye contact when we call her name.  We've been enjoying various types of food around the downtown area.  We've had Italian (not Pizza Hut) and Millie seems to like pizza.  We headed to what was supposed to be Latin Mexican food however we discovered it was really a Brazilian steakhouse so we were able to sink out teeth into meat from a cow. They also had a great dessert table which we haven't had at all in a week and a half. 

I think Millie has gained even more weight each day as she continues to really eat well.  On Sunday she weighed in at 32 pounds which is only a few shy of her older sister.  People we meet are surprised to learn that she is only 2 and a half.  The playground at the hotel seems like a big hit.  On Tuesday we finally get to sleep in and then head to a museum in the afternoon.

Just a couple of funny Millie stories.  We've been calling her whatever she will answer to - Mei Ting, Mei Mei, and Millie.  When Lisa practices saying Millie, little miss suddenly lacks her parroting ability and repeats "Mollie."  She can't seem to get the "I" sound in her name.  She also struck up a conversation with our van driver.  He asked her where her home is and she replied "Far away."  (Apparently the hotel living and flights have thoroughly confused her.)  Anyway he asked her if her home was in America and she replied, "No, it's in Mongolia."  Not sure if her dialect is a little off or if she's really heard of Mongolia.  She makes everyone laugh and seems top live in a world that revolves around her.
 (chowing at the Brazilian Restaurant) 
 (A waiter at the Brazilian Restaurant) 
 (on the playground at the hotel) 
 (on the hotel playground with Mom) 
 (Spotting an airplane; they are still a wonder to her!) 
 (Shopping on Shamian Island) 
 (on the red couch at the White Swan) 
 (Millie hamming it up on the White Swan red couch) 
(in front of the waterfall at the White Swan) 

Well, that's all for now.  We have our Consulate appointment on Wednesday and leave town early on Friday morning.  Take care and keep those notes and comments coming.  They are really nice to read after being gone for a week and a half.

Don And Lisa

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Leaving Urumqi


(Millie in the hotel in Urumqi Thursday morning)

Wednesday evening, Lisa commented that we had just seen a different child.  Millie was in one of the most pleasant moods and we sat around in the hotel just laughing and playing.  She seems to be getting much more comfortable with us.  

On Thursday, our last full day in Urumqi, we went to the International Bazaar.  It is a big Uygher market where they sell all kinds of jewelry, rugs, clothes, knives, nuts, and raisins.  We were expecting it to be busy but is was just right and we found it to be really interesting.  Our guide rushed us a little because she needed to pick up Millie's passport at the end of the day. 

(at the International Bazaar)

On Friday we left Urumqi among tight security as a flight the day before from Beijing to Urumqi was diverted because of a bomb scare.  Our guide got us there several hours early just to be safe.  We were about ready to leave Urumqi behind so we didn't mind.  Millie loved sitting at the airport watching planes go by.  She got really excited when she could see them rotate and take off.  She was pretty cool on the plane until the pilot banked just shortly after takeoff and she saw the ground whizzing by below us.  That kind of spooked her for a little bit.  Fortunately, lunch is always a favorite and she scarfed down some noodles. 

At the Urumqi Airport

 (Millie, striking up a conversation with a cleaning lady! Showing her pictures of her family back home :))

She was pretty good on the 5-hour flight to Guangzhou until we started descending at which time she freaked a little again.  Hopefully, she will be old hat by the next time we fly, which will be home.  

We got to Guangzhou and were pleasantly surprised by how nice the Garden Hotel is in person.  It looked nice but it is really something else plus they put us in a suite which is, well, Sweet.  The Trade Fair is going on in Guangzhou so the city is crazy with people from all over the world.  

On Friday, we knocked out the medical appointment and the US visa picture.  We were able to walk around Shamian Island and stroll through the streets and do a little shopping.  It's a little slower with the White Swan closed for renovations but still a cool place.  We'll be back there on Monday to have Millie's TB test read and do some more shopping.  

On Sunday, we're headed to the zoo for a few hours and will basically just look around the hotel area, which is full of shops. 
(there were apples on the living room table at The Garden) 
 (this is what happens when Millie gets her head wet!)
 (at the medical clinic on Shamian Island)
 Millie continues to be a great kid.  She is occasionally moody but is really good the majority of the time.  She says hi to everyone and strikes up all kinds of conversations to anyone speaking Chinese.  We're learning a few more words to try to communicate.  We see the typical two year old on occasion but we can usually get through that pretty quickly. 

 Apparently she likes Taylor Swift as she started singing and dancing when one of her videos came on TV today.  She is a really good impersonator and mimics all kinds of words and actions.  We had Pizza in an Italian restaurant and she watched both of us eat our pizza so she would know how to do it.  She continues to eat everything in sight.  We love to sit and play with her and she loves to make us laugh.  So far tickle spots and funny faces are working for us.
 (lunch at the Thai restaurant)
 (walking around the area by the hotel)
(Playground at the hotel)

That's all for now.  Thanks for your continued comments, emails, and prayers.  We feel blessed so far.

Don and Lisa and Millie