Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Month Together

It was one month ago today that we first met our little girl.  What a difference a month can make.  China was hard, the first week home was hard.  Adoption is hard.  But it is so worth it the stress, anxiety, fatigue, worry, paperwork, travel, expense and time spent.  This little one has captured our hearts in a way that I could not have imagined. 
We are all adjusting so well.  I am sleeping! Yeah!  Michael is completely wrapped around her little finger.  To say he is in trouble is putting in mildly:-)  Gavin is so sweet to her.  He so wants to hold her and love on her.  She is getting used to it and allowing him to completely intrude her personal space (sometimes).   Garrett has been a little jealous.  He has always played well with her, but at first would not acknowledge that he had a new sister when asked!  Last week, he asked when she was going back to China.  I told him "never".  I guess he realized that she was here to stay and has been telling everyone about his sister Gracie!  He has requested to wear diapers on numerous occasions and I have had to baby him a little more than usual.  All in all, I think he is doing well considering he was the baby for so long.
And of course, there is Gracie.  I have learned so much about her over the past month.  She is very independent and likes to do things for herself.  She is incredibly smart and picking up English quickly.  She seems to understand most things that we tell her and repeats everything she hears.  She says, "thank you", "more", " water", "mama", "baba"', "Gavin" and "Garrett".  She repeats everything the boys say and things that she hears on TV.  She is feisty!  I have no doubts that she will be more than able to handle these two boys.  She loves to ride her tricycle and push strollers in the driveway.  She is not to crazy about sharing toys, but is doing better.  She loves to get a bathe and really loves to get a lotion massage afterward.  I see future spa days ahead!  Bedtime is so much easier.  Some nights she will want to read a book, but usually she likes to turn the light off and points to her bed.  Michael or I lay beside her and rub her back.  She usually goes to sleep pretty quickly and sleeps through the night (most nights).  She loves to play on the water slide and swim in the pool.  I am guessing she is going to be a great little swimmer.  She is so sweet and has gotten very generous with her kisses.  She likes to play with her baby dolls and tea set.  However, without question, her most favorite thing in the whole wide world is shoes! Her shoes, my shoes, Gavin's shoes, Garrett's shoes, Michael's shoes.  She wears them all.  Nothing makes her more excited than when I bring out a new pair of her very own.  
Needless to say, we are having so much fun getting to know her and watching her blossom in front of our eyes.  Everyday she seems to understand more and finds excitement in so many new things.  She is a precious gift that we are so grateful for.  We love you Gracie!
I do apologize for not updating sooner.  Honestly, I have been fairly anti-technology the last few weeks.  I felt so tied to my email, facebook, and blogs for so long that it has been a nice break for me.  I never intended to continue blogging and really don't know if I will.  Any future blogs will be about our family as a whole.   Most likely, it will be random facebook pics.  For now, I will leave you with a few pictures.  That's another thing I haven't done much of.  I need to spend some time trying to get good pictures.  It is hard when your subject is never still:-)  Sorry, most of these are from my phone and blurry!
Light up Minne Mouse heels!  She stomps around in these all the time.

Loved! Loved! Loved!

First Popsicle that we know of.

Learning from her brothers.

First swim lesson! Garrett is so sweet to his little sister.  Hard to believe he is only 10 months older.  He is huge and she is a peanut!

Pooped after a play date with a friend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


We are home and settling in.  I have seriously struggled with sleep.  Between the jet lag and the stress that I have been feeling the last few weeks, I can't seem to be able to relax to get more than a few hours here and there.  Last night was much better and I am hopeful I will get adjusted soon.
Gracie is doing better each day and we are slowly figuring out her sleep needs.  We went to the pediatric cardiologist yesterday and she got a great check-up.  She is not in immediate need of a pacemaker and we will continue to monitor her activity level at home and follow up in one year if there are no changes.
Here is a beautiful video made for us by a sweet friend.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

River Cruise (skipped), Consulate Appointment and trip to Shamian Island

Yall, I am tired and this may be the most boring post ever.  But, I wanted to share some pictures and let you know what we have been doing the last couple of days.
Tuesday was a free day.  We went shopping and took Gracie to the pool, which she LOVED!  I am so happy that we have yet another water rat:-)  That afternoon we were scheduled for our group photo in Chinese dress and the a dinner cruise on the Pearl River.  Gracie was exhausted so we decided to skip the cruise.  Good call on Mike Bailey's part because it ended up pouring rain and she went to bed early for the first time.  

This was the group that we traveled around Guangzhou with.  Great people and new friends!

This girl can rock a smock;-) She won't wear a bow, but loves her clothes.  She ended up sleeping in this dress because she wouldn't let me take it off.

Today we went to the US Consulate to apply for Gracie's visa and swear an oath of citizenship on her behalf.  Afterward, we went to Shamian Island to do more shopping.

We had lunch at a Thai restaurant called Cow and Bridge.  Yummy food!  Gracie loved the soup.

There are beautiful statues everywhere.

In a world where I am not exhausted and sleep deprived, I would have cropped this in.  But in my current world, I am just throwing it up here.

As always, he is charming the ladies!

Tomorrow we begin our long journey home.  We leave Guangzhou at 4:30pm by van to Hong Kong.  We will spend the night there and then fly out at 11am Friday.  We land in Chicago around noon on Friday and then on to Birmingham, Sweet Home Alabama, at 4:47pm.  This will likely be my last post until we are home.  Please pray for safe travels.  I have no idea what is in store for the long flight home.  However, I am hoping that my excitement to see my boys, my parents and my friends will make it bearable. 

This transformation we have seen in this sweet girl over the last 2 weeks has been remarkable.  I wish that I had the ability to express in words what we have witnessed and experienced.  Thank you all for following us, praying for us, helping us and loving us.  I can't wait for you to meet our daughter. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

TB skin test results and Guangzhou Zoo

We started our day going back to the medical clinic to have Gracie's TB skin test reviewed.  It was negative.  However, based on her slow heart rate, the doctor wanted to evaluate her again.  The first doctor that came in was an older man and didn't speak English.  He was refusing to sign off on her medical review and was insisting that she could not leave unless she had a pacemaker implanted.  Our guide tried to interpret for Michael, but things were getting lost in translation.  Fortunately, there was an English speaking physician who listened to what Michael had to say.  He was reluctant to sign but agreed on the condition that we monitor her closely and kept her from being too active.  We assured him that we would do so and informed him that we had an appointment to see a pediatric electrophysiologist next week.  I am so thankful that everything worked out.  At the least we would have been delayed coming home.  Worst case scenario, they could have insisted that she have surgery before we brought her home.  I can't imagine what would have happened if Michael didn't specialize in electrophysiology and had been unable to explain her condition and why she doesn't currently need a pacemaker.  Needless to say, we were quite happy to get out of there and move on to the Guangzhou Zoo. 

Michael and I were looking forward to seeing the pandas.

Gracie was not so excited.  She covered her eyes the whole time not wanting the panda to see her.  Needless to say, we spent most of the time strolling and avoiding looking at most animals.

I did get some good lovin' today.  She has been hugging me and has even given us both some kisses! 

There were all sorts of unusual creatures at the zoo;-)  They probably had 20 raccoons in two separate exhibits. 

Bunches of different monkeys.

One very large Chimpanzee!

Our own silly monkey!  She makes this face all the time.

After a very difficult night (and several nights of trouble getting Gracie to sleep) we asked our guide to contact the orphanage and ask about how she went to sleep at night.  We found out that she did NOT sleep in a crib but rather a toddler bed.  She was in a room of about 20 kids.  They put them to bed and close the door.  My guess is then they determine for themselves when they lay down and go to sleep. 
We decided tonight to take the crib mattress out and put it on the floor.  We then laid down beside her until she fell asleep.  So much easier than the fight we have been having and why she likely wakes up and wants out of the crib.  I am guessing the success we had with a crib the first couple of days (and our desperate search to borrow one for when we get home) was a result of the change in her environment and not really knowing what to do.  As she has come out of her shell, she has began expressing her opinions on many things; particularly how and when she goes to sleep.  Tonight was successful.  Tomorrow may be a different story.  Please continue to pray that she will feel safe and secure with us and the attachment that she is beginning to feel with strengthen and take deep route in her heart.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Medical Appointment

Today we took Gracie to her medical appointment. I was pretty anxious about how this day would go, but thankfully it wasn't too bad.  She was weighed and measured, had her hearing and vision checked , evaluated by a physician and had a TB skin test.  We were there for a couple hours and then went and had lunch with our travel group.  She did so well and didn't cry at all. 

I have no explanation for my expression or for the dude giving Michael the stink eye;-)


The ups and downs of adoption!  We did this at least 400 hundred times.  I was working up a sweat and she was belly laughing!  

She was so still for the doctor to listen to her heart.

Love that little hiney!

Medical Report.  She has a very slow heart rate due to her congenital AV block.  You should have seen Michael trying to explain to the doctor that he was a cardiologist and that with her condition it was normal for her heart to be that slow.

Dinner at Tekilas.  Actually pretty good Mexican food in the middle of China.  She liked the rice, but didn't care one bit for the cheese quesadilla.
I was not able to blog yesterday.  It was a busy day of traveling.  We flew 2 hours from Shanghai to Guangzhou.  Lets just say that I am not particuarly excited about our 14 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago.  There was screaming, throwing, laughing and lots of eating.  I am trying to find a Chinese herb that is the equivalent of a tranquilizer dart before Friday!  However, it will be our flight home and I will be excited to be on it.  We are enjoying our time here getting to know her, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't homesick.  I miss my boys so much!  It has been so much harder than I ever imagined being away from them this long.  They are in great hands and are having a great time, but I feel like I am missing too much of their precious lives.
Adoption is a beautiful picture of love, sacrifice and acceptance, as well as the perfect example of God's love for us.  But don't be mistaken. It is HARD.  This has been the MOST stressful experience of my life.  I have moments where I feel completely inadequate and completely incompetent.  Michael has been a constant source of strength and encouragement.  I can't say enough about how he has stepped up in my times of weakness.  I am exhausted to say the least, but each day we learn more about Gracie and better how to meet her needs. 
The biggest challenge is getting her to sleep at night.  When she gets tired she gets either excited or combative.  Tonight we gave her a good healthy dose of melatonin (a natural sleep inducer) and strolled the hallway of our hotel singing lullabies (sorry to all those that had to listen).  She finally fell asleep and is now snoozing in her crib. 
Gracie. We have referred to her as Ella Grace, EG and Gracie. Her Chinese name is Nanyang (sounds like nay-yong). We are slowly trying to introduce her to her American name. It is just a mouthful to always say Ella Grace Nanyang, so we have been calling her Gracie Nanyang. She is such a little silly that Gracie just seems to suit her;-) So Gracie it will be, until she becomes she decides otherwise. It keeps me with my G theme, too. Gavin, Garrett and sweet, silly Gracie.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today we toured Yu Gardens and an area called the French Concession (I think- I got confused on this). Anyway, they are both absolutely beautiful!

Yu Garden

French Concession

This was too funny not to post!

EG is doing so well. She is happy, smart, and sweet!  She is a little mimic and is picking up English much quicker than we are learning Chinese.  Of course, she not only speaks Shanghainese, but an older form that not even our local guide understands everything that she says. Our driver is an older man and has been able to help us learn a few phrases. 

Thank you all for the kind words, encouraging comments and persistant prayers.  God has truly blessed us.  Tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou so it will likely be a couple of days before I have a chance to post updates.  We are anxious to see how Gracie does on a 2 hour flight, since we have a 14 hour flight coming up in a week!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Special places

Today we visited some special places in the morning and spent the afternoon playing in our hotel room.

Gracie is doing really well! She is learning English way faster than we are learning Chinese;-)

I also have to say that Michael has been so wonderful and patient with me and Gracie. I am stressed beyond anything I have ever experienced and I can't imagine being here without him. He has let me cry, spaz out and crash at night with Ambien! At times Gracie has been very timid towards him. He has not gotten frustrated or upset and has let her maintain control of their interactions. She played with him for nearly an hour this afternoon and let him bathe her tonight. I will say he is quite smitten!

Here are a couple more pictures that were too cute not to share!

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