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