Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Our first week all together was incredible.  Our little Vera is SUCH a treasure!  We have all enjoyed getting to know her more, and it seems she has enjoyed life with us quite a bit already too....

First I must share that I am completely and fully vested among the ranks of...the CHOSEN.  "And the baby [finally!] goes to...the Underdog!!!!"  (crowd roars)  That precious time with Daddy/Baba will NEVER be forgotten (even if she has temporary amnesia right now) and will grow and develop into a very special relationship... But I think we all are very thankful (me most of all) that I can really dive into being Vera's Mama!

Backing up to last weekend, we were all a little unsure how Todd's out of town adventure would impact our little Vera's "get-to-know-america-without-your-most-special-best-friend-for-3-days" adventure​... SO - we decided I should put her to bed Sunday night.  I think I mentioned in my post last week that she and I spent a lot of good time together on the plane. This kept increasing gradually as we got home, even though Daddy/Baba was still the favorite.  By Sunday, even though it had only been 2 full days at home, she allowed me to put her to bed!  We read a couple of books, had a bottle, rocked, and sang, and she. was. out!  I couldn't believe it. What a great first run.  Then Monday I put her down for a nap AND at bedtime, and I was carrying her everywhere by then!  Woohooo!!!  Fast forward to the end of the week and she is practically a velcro baby. I love me a velcro baby. (Mostly.) And I say practically because she seemed, already, to feel at ease, at times, playing with the kids while I was visibly nearby, not necessarily RIGHT next to her or holding her. So that was great!  Fantastic!  So we all survived his trip with flying colors. It's not perfectly smooth sailing... we are all finding our new place in the family dynamics and that's never easy.  Her littlest big brother wants SO badly to hug and kiss her all the time and she is the least patient with him, probably because he's the closest to her size...  They have bonded though, over belly buttons, and bathtime, and batman!  Middle bro and Vera have had lots of special swing time, and other times that she looks to him for reassurance and delight.  The big sis and baby V have had a lot of time playing and laughing together and I do think she sees her sort of as a mama-type, just not quite as soft/squishy ;).

We had SUCH fun with Aunt Jan all week, eating cheesecake, Dr. Pepper (imported from TX :) cake, chocolate covered chips, licorice, ice cream, cherry pie dessert, and coffee cake...I'm sure I'm forgetting something!!  We celebrated Aunt Jan's birthday too--which was such a special day as well, though not without some real life ups and downs with 4 kids ranging from 13 to 1 as we also were getting ready for Neva's first day at her weekly Challenge class.  One small example being we wanted to get to the pool sometime during the ridiculously short window they are open now from 4-7 (I understand school is in session but I still plead/wish for the post-labor day start date that I grew up with in MN!!  It is SO much more reasonable!  Summer should go through at least August 20th.)  Anyway, 4 pm is still a time entirely possible by which to make it to said pool with suits, snacks, pool passes, in hand, right?  No sir.  With the ins and outs of our day, partly starting with my loss of 2-4 hours of sleep the night before and a morning nap (the first) for little V, and then our lunch outing beginning at 1 instead of 11, like I had planned....  Add a few more little snafus of varying degrees and flavors, and we got to the pool at 6:35 (!), just in time for a few times down the slide, and showing Vera how fun a zero entry pool can be, and the fountains too.  She really did start to love it so we are looking forward to going back again before it closes for the season.
A little more about Little V... Her Chinese nickname is NaNa (rhymes with Mama or Anna from Frozen), and we call her that mostly now but will transition gradually to Vera.  You are welcome to call her NaNa or Vera.  Since we have family nicknames already of NeeNee (NeNe) and Nanny, it's just perfect to add our little NaNa!

Some people may, naturally, be wondering about her skin tag, since it is rather prominently placed on her sweet right cheek.  We have decided (from our non-expert point of view) it might just be a little wandering ear lobe!  Her ear lobe did not get completely formed on that side, and it really seems like it just took a little walk!  It does not bother her, or us, and really doesn't do anything but just...hang out. ;)  Later this coming week we have our first appointment and we will find out all sorts of doctor &/or therapy recommendations regarding her hearing, etc, and probably a few thoughts on the wandering ear lobe as well.

Vera NaNa has a VERY good sense of humor...and giggles easily, but in a smart way ;).  She loves duplos and her elephant toy that balls bounce out of.  She is a wonderfully non-picky eater, our best one yet--thanks China!  I'm not proud of this fact but just tonight (as I could tell she was hungry before dinner was ready) I offered her the cold kraft mac and cheese from the fridge. And she took it!  We still give her rice congee each morning and rice/noodles as often as we can (LOVE my rice cooker, which I have had for a few years now).  She just is not very into snack foods (!)... Which is wonderful and I want to try to preserve such healthy goodness and hope it rubs off onto us instead of the more likely other way around!!
She does not care a whiff much anymore about the doublemint, and really she is pretty flexible. Her toothbrush is a favorite, and a brief time of joy was had with my Target card, which she actually started talking on as if it were a cell phone....!!!!  But I prefer to do my own spending at this juncture. ;)  There are many items that she loves to hold.  Glue sticks, keys, etc. The more important the item, the better, haha.  And this is just cuteness- a few times she has sat on our (indoor) window ledge/bench (only about 5 inches off the ground), and patted the spot next to her...inviting me to come sit by her!  It was adorable!
I think since I have been trying to get this post published since Sunday, I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. For those who are still checking in on this little lonely blog, thank you for wanting to keep up with us!  We are still here and thankful to be doing SO very well.  I do hope to post SOMETHING each week going forward.  Getting in the groove is a wonderful but exhausting challenge. ;)

Be sure to watch the jack-in-the-box video at the end of this post. It's one of my favorite giggles ever!


Monday, August 18, 2014

We're Home! & Aging together already ;)

Hello Hello!

It has been a while - a lifetime, of sorts - since I last wrote!  I sort of put 2 or 3 posts into one, so keep scrolling after the pics-- there are more snippets and more pics after that. 

Here's a little catch up...We had an early morning van ride, starting at 6 am Friday leaving Guangzhou to get to the Hong Kong airport (about 3 hours).  Things went smoothly and the scenery was intriguing - from highrise apartment buildings as far as the eye could see in China, with laundry hanging outside from porch ceilings on every floor, quickly evolving after we crossed the border into HK into a bit more lush scenery.  The airport was very large and modern, and we found our way to the gate with no problem. It's interesting, after being the foreigner for a while, when your mental space starts to get invaded once again, with overhearing conversations you actually understand.  We began to hear a lot more English being spoken here.

Top Ten list of Toddlers on Transatlantic Flights...

 ​10. The "No Open Containers" Rule​
​: within the first hour, sweet little one threw a small horizontal fit and knocked over one of our cups of water (from my tray table) right into Todd's lap (where she was sitting)​
​. So he looked and felt like he had wet his pants for oh about the next several hours. For all the people looking at his bum. Not really a problem since we were confined to basically sit still for 15 hours, with a toddler--have I mentioned that yet???

​9. The Food: wasn't too bad! Vera is a great meal eater (not too big a snacker/desserter...yet...I'm sorry to imagine all the ways we are about to ruin this for her. But I will try not to...)​
​.  She gobbled up the food in the little trays-with-foil and so did we.  Plus a little ice cream at midnight. Or 3 am somewhere. Whatever.

8. Screens! You gotta use what you got, and everyone's got 'em.  From Vera getting slap happy with the actual screen until Todd reminded me that might be annoying to the person sitting in front of me​
 ​...Hey, I was getting to hold her on my lap and she was content to bonk the screen lightly while I displayed an uproarious reaction, who am I to kick a gift horse in the mouth, I always say (haha, I do know the correct phrasing; I just like to mix things up).

7. Pom-Poms: In a last minute craft-store run, I bought some pompoms of various colors and sizes to bring along. These proved to be hilarious for little V, and we played several games of throw-it-wherever-and-laugh in the hotel. The airplane environment was not quite as conducive but I still hold fast that these were a sound investment.  The guy next to me who had to endure me "excuse me sir, so sorry...doo-eee-boo-chee" lean down practically in his lap to retrieve said pompom from floor a time or two might not agree... But they are colorful and soft so what could be better!?

6. The Food: yearns to become one with your outfit.  Vera is a great eater but flying and feeding is a multi-tasking sport. We did pretty well but she wore several red spots to remember the sauce by. And one was even in a perfect heart shape. Aww. It's the little things. When you are stuck on an airplane for 15 hours, right?

5. Stickers!  I bought a pack of Hello Kitty stickers at the China Walmart and it was the best 6 yuan ever spent.  These stickers were the slightly-larger-than-pea sized stickers.  I would take a sticker and Dear Vera would take it off of my finger and work it onto her finger and onto the page of her little notebook, sometimes passing it back and forth between those precious little fingers numerous times. She/we did this again and again, and again. And AGAIN.  Like probably almost 100 times all said, folks. This darling girl has a pretty nice attention span and some great fine motor skills in the works!

5. Butter Packets:  Fun to look at, Fun to hold, but when you step on them... your feet get slimy.  VeraNaNa loves to hold onto things and had let go of the doublemint by this time, and really really wanted to hold these cute little butter packets, or especially the adorable salad dressing ones. Since our motto is "new baby can do no wrong (unless harming people or property)" we thought Oh, why not.  (Or at least I did, Daddy/Baba was a little reluctant).  Butter, yes, Salad Dressing: line-is-drawn-NO.  So, naturally, soon she slid down off our laps and onto the floor, one of her favorite play places during the 15 hours. And subsequently, of course, stepped on the packet(s).  Leading me to...

4. Wipes!  Things to wipe and things to wipe with!  Not to be confused with #2, this segment simply wishes to lift up the joy of cleaning skin and other smooth surfaces, a task our sweet Vera does with lots of vim and vigor.  These truly occupied a nice length of time for us. At one point she stuck her foot out at me and I wiped it, then she stuck the other one out for me, then back to the first one, and so on for oh, who is keeping track of how long because it already seems like 10 hours SURELY have passed but DANG it's only been 3.72!  So I proceeded to wrap her feet each in a wipe, like a sock/mummy situation, and she thought it was the greatest to unwrap them so we did that for another little while.  I think this girl can/will appreciate a good foot massage!

3. Frozen!  The temps up there above Japan and Alaska were definitely cold, but I'm talkin' bout the movie!  We played this a couple of times, not really watching it, but I would put in an ear but when it got to a song, then silently lipsync and dance (arms/hands/face muscles) to the tune while she watched me instead of the TV, standing in that small space that we call the 747 personal playroom.  It never failed to captivate, haha.   I didn't worry about what the neighbors thought.

2. Diapers and their contents and the like, at 30,000 feet over the Pacific: Todd. All Todd. The blessing of being the Chosen one. He did not have to do this only once. Bless his heart! No more need be said. Except....

1. The NUMBER ONE thing about this crazy flight was, drum roll please... That I got to HOLD MY BABY for a few hours on end!  AND she fell asleep on me!  When given the choice between me or the average United-flying bear, she will pick me!  Woo-Hoo!  We are making serious progress! Celebrate with us--squeeze open another packet of butter and dance on it ;)

Vera really did great on the flight. She slept fitfully for a while sometime during the first half, and then slept really well for the last couple of hours. There was a lot of awake time in the middle there as you can see from the above, but it was not nearly as traumatic as it could have been.  The frozen/numb bums we had by the end were annoying, and you feel like you're gonna go nuts if you can't stretch your arms for crying out loud, but...we made it. And our layover was just barely long enough to get to the gate before boarding our last little jaunt home.

We were greeted by a fantastic crew of loved ones at the airport and it was very very special!!!  We are so grateful to be home safe and sound and all together again...

With our GZ guide Jason!
I like spoons.
Now I can boast having worn my Velcro rollers not just in vehicles in the continental US but also in vehicles in China. So cool, I know.... Sorry, Neva ;)

This was our second page of sticker fun!
I have to be confined for HOW long???

Sweet sleeping baby...

The First Day Home...

My very first day with all four of my babies under one roof also happened to be the very first day of my 4th decade!  It was definitely a birthday I will always remember... The three older kids were crazy excited to win her over to them NOW and so some turn taking was in order, but who can fault them for a little impatience in getting to know/hold/hug their sweet sister who they have been praying for and loving for about 2 years now!  We had a leisurely time together, ate good things, went to the park, and had some fun calls/facetimes/messages.  A loose tooth that has been dangling for many a day finally came out today as well!

We went out for dinner at PeiWei -something for everyone- and then had one of my favorites, white chocolate cheesecake(!) for dessert!! Thanks Aunt Jan!!  It was such a lovely way to punctuate the trip and the beginning of this next not-gonna-be-perfect-but-still-gonna-be-wonderful chapter.  I so appreciate all the wonderful wishes and love and gifts and every way I got to be celebrated. ;)

(Pics below)

The Second Day...

Today was really a good day too. We are trying to lay low and just keep getting to know each other & play together for the next big while.  Several people have asked about how the kids are doing: Neva's highlights from today were: getting Vera dressed, and getting to hold her (once she fell asleep in MY ARMS --can I get a Hallelujah!?!--).  Lincoln had fun helping Todd put up the "kangaroo climber" because everyone knows kangaroos are famous for...climbing? Yes, anyway, it is a really fun little toddler jungle gym we have had since Neva was tiny and they were all excited to see it again.  After a traumatic breakfast (sometimes you don't know why you cry, you just do) for Vera, the rest of the day went pretty well. I got to hold her several more times. And I even got to clip her nails!  7 out of 10 isn't bad at all!  Other big news of today along those lines, is that I was the designated bath-giver.  And there was no wailing and knashing of teeth!  Rowan helped me (that was one of his highlights!) -he just adores her and is mostly very excited to give up his youngest-child rank.

The best progress though, was that I got to put little V to bed. And she went to sleep for me just fine.  Ahhh... That sweet little face and bottle time and book time, and ....zonk.  We wanted to be a little bit intentional about this in preparation for Todd going back to work tomorrow (upstairs) and out of town (on TUESDAY, yikes!).

There is still jet lag, sibling rivalry, laundry to do, and unresolved issues that will surely surface for each of us in our fiercely human nature, in the coming weeks/months/years, but...We are so thankful to be here and to be in a slightly chaotic but yet quiet place. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement and gifts and love in helping us get to this special place of grace.  I cannot say that enough!!!

Flowers from my boys! "Hope you like our customly arranged bouquet!!!"  I LOVE IT!!!
The loose tooth has finally been lost!!!

We'll try again tomoro for one with everyone smiling....
My big girl and her gift to me...energy!!! Sweet! She knows I'm gonna need it! :)

Vera's first jello! (on the official record, at least)
Good times!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Last Day in China!

We are now in a van on our way to Hong Kong to fly home! But let me tell you a little about our last day in this amazing country. 

We took a trip to the zoo. All these kinds of trips have been optional but wonderful opportunities to see & learn more about the country and culture and people of our sweet girl. 

The zoo was great fun. We took pictures of the animals and other people took pictures of us. At least once or twice. Especially the blonder folks, as usual. ;)

It was a great last day of the trip and we are sad to say goodbye to all our wonderful new friends.  But we are all SOOO very excited to move on to the next phase of our adoption adventures and especially to hug those babies we left at home!!!!  Here we come!

Cool footprints in concrete ...
There were lots more of them I didn't photograph too ;)
Imagine the conversation! ;)

Snail and tiger ...
A group picture that actually worked...thank you pandas!
Sweet girl!

The funny banter was ongoing - these guys go way back...to Beijing!
Thought we might go for one last swim. But someone did not agree.
The cool ceiling at an Egyptian restaurant where we ate dinner.
Almost all packed--will it fit!?!??
Our darling little dragon.... ;)