Archive | December, 2015

Real Life

Thanks everyone for the prayers – I got in to the OB on Monday (He saw me on his day off!!) and started a different antibiotic.  Other than a few odd symptoms I have really felt good so I think we are back on track.  Bo is a major kicker/puncher/mover…makes me wonder about what we’re in for.

Now the jet lag is a whole other story.  It got me last March and it’s getting me again.  It may even be making an early riser out of me.  The first 3 nights I haven’t made it past 2am but today I made it until 4am!!!  This also means I can’t keep my eyes open past 7pm.  I remember it took about a week-10 days to really get back to normal sleep for me so it’s not so bad when you know it will get better.  Sleep has always been my weakness.  Always a light and picky sleeper, never loved sleepovers and would usually come home to sleep.  Growing up, my dad and mom compared me to the story of the Princess and the Pea…yep.  Not a great quality to have if you plan to travel to the other side of the world twice in one year!

I think our jet lag has also affected Philip.  He requires the most sleep of us all and has been up waaaay to early for his needs.  This morning he crashed on the bench in the kitchen…


We had a later night last night since Rand and Philip had their pre-school Christmas pageant.  They both did a great job and it was really fun to see them with their friends and teachers.  We probably completely overwhelmed Wen, but he handled it well.  Especially having TONS of people coming up to introduce themselves to him and want to meet him.  I could tell it was a lot for only being home 4 days.  He did get excited though when Rand’s teacher handed him a candy cane!

Our little shepherd boy and our wise man.


Currently Wes, Rand and Wen are on their way to the Social Security office to try and get Wen’s card processed.  Last time we waited for Philip’s and it never came so we realized an “in-person” trip helps speed things up.  We need to go ahead and get it so we can add Wen to our insurance.  We have a big appointment next week at Duke and know there will be lots to come so it is a big priority.  Rand asked to go with them – he and Wen have really bonded.  Thanks to the Lord and Legos!

Other than that, we’re trying to find our new normal.  Things are definitely different and have required much more adjustment than when we came home last March.  The boys are doing well “navigating” playing together and sharing toys…we step in when we need to, but they play really well together.  There are certain things we are working through.  One of the hard things as a parent has been trying to figure out how much to keep the little ones out of Wen’s space/special toys, while also helping Wen to learn about how we share as a family.  Currently, he has full reign because Rand and Philip aren’t picky about him being in their room, etc., but when he brings a special thing into the living room, Rand and Philip are all over it and we are learning how he’s extremely sensitive.  And it probably doesn’t help to have two little brothers without “personal space” boundaries.  I think a lot of this will normalize when the little ones aren’t so all over him/excitement of a new brother wears off…maybe when Bo arrives then they will be all over him!  Oh dear!  Wen’s English is actually best when he’s explaining to his brothers what they can/can’t do and we’ve really been impressed with his leadership ability and his mentality/logic about everything.

The biggest challenge our first few days home has been food.  I didn’t have noodles the first day, or the right soup the following meal and there have been some tears.  We’ve since read some helpful resources and have bulk ordered some noodles/ramen/soup etc. to have.  I let him help me order it and Wes took him to the noodle aisle at Harris Teeter so I think he feels a little better too.  He has announced that he does not like any American food but Wes and I have been amused since he thinks a fried egg is only Chinese and that we are all eating “Chinese breakfast.”  We are also proud of him for trying things, even though most things he tries he says he doesn’t like.  He so far will eat: fried noodles, ramen, noodles in chicken broth, apples and strawberries, fried eggs, blueberry muffin (!!), cheerios, green beans, peas (if they are in noodles), sometimes rice, carrots, potatoes, Aunt Samantha’s cookies…so we’re getting there.  I’ve been concerned about his nutrition so this is going to be a big project for me!

We can’t imagine what Wen must be feeling and how strange it must be for him to all of a sudden be somewhere permanent with nothing familiar. We went to see house that is one of Wes’ business projects and is undergoing some renovations and it was so hard to try and convey to Wen (Google translate to the rescue) that we aren’t moving there it’s just a business project!  He seemed so worried at first and I just need to remember to over-explain everything and how overwhelming this all must be for him.

Our family goal to help with this stage of things is FUN.  We are just focusing on finding ways to have fun together – mostly at home with a few easy errands mixed in.  Getting a Christmas tree, dance parties in the kitchen (this is actually a normal thing…I think it runs in Wes’ family), EARLY morning sofa snuggles, and being silly a lot…more to come in the fun department!





Yesterday, Wes and I were getting showered and dressed and found all three of them in our bed laughing.


I don’t know what new challenges today or tomorrow will bring (I don’t even know what we are going to do yet…!) but I am thankful that when Wes and I say prayers and kiss Wen goodnight and tell him that we love him, he has a huge grin on his face.

I know we are still behind on a few posts from leaving China/coming home/Beijing – they are coming soon – promise!  We’ve got some great photos to share!

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Home, sweet home


We are home!!!  It feels so good.  Wen is quickly getting settled and keeps telling us he is happy to be home.  The three boys are already having so much fun together.  Wen and Rand have really bonded right away over the toys and are playing really well together.  Also, his English is really starting to come out of hiding – he’s been shy some with us to say things, but we can hear him talking to Rand and will say things like “No Rand, wait to go when I say 1, 2, 3, GO!” (Playing cars)

And…The volume level here has skyrocketed.  Both Philip and Wen came home from China with 1 volume level – LOUD:)  Guess we’d better get used to that with a house full of boys!

Goals for today:

1. Finish unpacking/wash our smelly China clothes

2. Get some sleep – boys went to bed wayyyy late last night and I’ve had 3-4 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours so I need to rest up

3.  Get in to see the doc and make sure Bo is doing well (he’s been kicking me, so that’s good!)

4. Update the blog – we still have Beijing and our fun welcome home to write up

5.  Maybe….get a Christmas tree



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Leaving Guangzhou

Finally uploaded the group photo shoot photos…


We took them on the steps of the China Marriott hotel – same as when we were here in March.  By the time we got to the group shot and the kids shot, most of the little ones had had enough and were past their nap time.  It had been a long morning.  I would like to say that CCAI does an excellent job making the trip as kid-friendly as possible.  Most of the schedules are based around activities good for the children and revolve around nap and meal times.  All the guides are really great with the kids too and can handle just about anything!



On the last day (for us) in Guangzhou, there was a zoo trip that morning so Wes and Wen joined in and I stayed behind to rest and start organizing the packing up for Beijing.

It poured rain on the boys at the zoo – but they had a great time still and all the group had good attitudes and enjoyed seeing the animals.



After drying out (thank goodness for hair dryers!) and packing up we headed out. Our flight was late that evening – but not too late – we barely got Wen’s visa before leaving for the airport!!!

Beijing at night…


Wen was just about the most tired he’s ever been and a little cranky – but we don’t blame him.  Everything was delayed and there was a traffic jam on the way to the hotel from the airport (at MIDNIGHT!) – I think we all dozed a little in the van on the way!

One of the things I’ll miss about Guangzhou, other than the beautiful flowers and trees and just the general look and feel…is the fried buns!  They are so good.  If you eat at Food Street in the China Hotel, they are #908 (fried not steamed) on the menu…if you’re ever in Guangzhou…


(the Chinese Tea “hong cha”, Sweet and Sour Pork, and the dumplings with pork and vegetables were really good too if you need help navigating the long menu!)

Next post may have to be from home…we had a great time in Beijing and if we have time from the airport I will upload it.

We continue to be thankful for all the new things we are learning about WenXuan and for his fun-loving spirit and excitement to go home to America.

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On Wednesday we had our Visa appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  I’ve written about the building before – but found myself admiring the architecture twice this year!


Thankfully the adoptive families get to skip the long lines and go right in.  Once in, we go to a waiting area that has toys and clean restrooms for the families and children.  You can’t take in anything – no cell phones, etc.  so I don’t have photos of the inside BUT I did find the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP that posted renderings of the project…check out out here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 4.03.59 PM

(Photo from SOM)

It was pretty wild in there with all the families and kids!  I kept noticing everyone was watching Wen, but not with the same stares we get out and about in China, it was with stares of amazement at how he can maneuver his wheelchair around!  He even can sit on the footrest of it and scoot himself around and use his hand on the front small wheel to steer.  He’s hard not to watch when he gets it going!!!

When you get there you take a group oath.  Then, when they call your name, you talk to the officer about your child and answer any questions they have.  Because Wen is over age 11, he had to answer questions too – did he want to be adopted, did he understand we would be his parents, and had he had any contact with his birth parents, etc.


It was a long morning and when we got back, we had a group photo (even though most of the babies were really off nap and meal schedule by then and had enough!)  I don’t have the photos downloaded yet so will post them later.

After the group photo Wes and Wen went to get some lunch for us at a nearby noodle shop while I met with the agency and one parent from each of the other families to do departure paperwork/talk about the plan for leaving Guangzhou.

By the time I got back to the room, I was having some really bad lower back pain and cramping and what felt like a few contractions so I climbed in bed for the remainder of the afternoon and Wes took Wen to the park that we’d been wanting to visit across from the hotel.


They were able to rent a little electric boat and Wen drove it around the lake!


They also went with the group to one last dinner all together.  I stayed back and rested and put a call into my doctor.  I’m writing this from Beijing and feeling better now – thankful for everyone’s prayers and would love continued prayers for the trip home!  We know everything is in the Lord’s hands and that we are both where we need to be right now with Wen in China.  We are all FOUR looking forward to coming home in 2 days!  Phew 19 days is a long time to be away from home!!!

We are also thankful that we got our Visas and ARE able to leave.  There are a few families we know of, one in our group and one with another agency who can’t get their visas to come home yet and have had to change their international flights.  There was a glitch in the system at the consulate for the groups that were after ours and the following day and they were getting delayed.

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Free time in Guangzhou

Today we had some down time while we wait for our visa appointments at the US Consulate tomorrow.  Wen has been asking for some sunglasses, so Wes and I took him to “One Link Plaza” which is known as the “gift and toy market” here in Guangzhou.  Guangzhou is famous for being a trade center for wholesale goods.  There is a fabric market, silk market, toy/gift, shoe, electronics etc. giant markets that all have their own areas in town.

This photo was taken at the airport on Saturday, but thought you’d like to see how we do escalators.  Wen thinks it’s pretty fun!  Except on one of our trips out the other day we lost one of his shoes somewhere and have no clue what happened to it.  Darn.  When we get home we are going to have to figure something out because so many times a day I hear him yell “MY SHOE!” which means we’ve lost it somewhere and we have to find it and get it back on!


One Link Plaza was pretty wild.  It had just about every cheap toy and item you could imagine from cell phone cases to baby bibs.  Each little “shop” had it’s own theme of item.  We bought one pair of sunglasses (about $4 USD) and a bag to hang on Wen’s wheelchair for some of his things ($10 USD).  Other than that, it was a little overwhelming!



Floor after floor – it just all started to look the same!


After we got back to the hotel we had lunch and then Wen and Wes went up to the room to wait for the “TB test phone call” (you have to wait to hear the results if you need to go back for a chest xray) – it was negative so they just hung out and played lego and watched some Chinese cartoons and rested.

I went to the pearl market with a guide to get some pearls and gifts to take home.  We tried to do this last trip, but it was too overwhelming so this year we got someone to help me!  I am really excited about the pearls I got for Wen and Philip to have someday to give to their wives.




I got to pick the individual strands of pearls and then they strung them right in front of me into bracelets and necklaces and earrings.

Also, I got a little tea set to have tea with the boys.  It’s all wrapped up now, but I’ll have to post a pic soon, when you drink the tea there is a little fish at the bottom of the teacup.  Rand and Philip are going to love it.  Wen already gave his approval.


Wen is pretty much crazy over Lego and so he points it out wherever we go.  His friend in our group who went to Jiaozuo with us, XueWei, was so sweet and got him a lego for his birthday from one of the stores here:


He loved putting it together and has been playing with it ever since.  It is so funny how they changed the name from Star Wars to Space Fights.  We’ve also seen Space Wars ones too!  We’ve also seen the Disney logo changed to say “Diversity World” instead of Disney World in the same font.

It was fun today to get some things to remember our our sons’ birth country – especially since last March we did ZERO shopping with two toddlers in tow.  And to see ALL THE STUFF – “Made in China” first hand.

Also interesting to see things like duck tongue for sale (bottom middle).  Or duck neck (top middle) or gizzards or feet.  Yum.  I didn’t try any – it was too expensive;)


After dinner Wen took a bath.  The only thing that could get him out of the tub was telling him it was time to call Rand and Philip.


Wen asks us every day when we are going to get to see his didi (little brothers) over the phone.  After we got off the phone call tonight, Wen wanted to watch every single video on my phone of the boys.  We can tell he can’t wait to be home with them too.

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Medical Visit Day

On Monday morning we had breakfast with Rob before sending him off to catch his train back to work in Hunan.  We were sad to see him go, but thankful he got to spend some time with us on this special occasion.

I wish that my eyes were as open as his are at age 22!  He has devoted his life to his calling – Chinese children with special needs!  Not only does he advocate for orphans but he is currently applying to grad schools to go back and get a masters in Occupational Therapy so he can come back to China and help Chinese families who have children with special needs.

His tshirt was a gift from Wen’s friend Jay and his family – it says “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders” – a perfect shirt describing Rob’s obedience to the Holy Spirit leading him all the way from Ireland to China!

After a goodbye to Rob, we headed on the bus with our group to the medical clinic.  All the families had to go to 4 stations – we had 5 since Wen is over age 11.  They were:

1. Physical examination  2. ENT  3. Height/Weight/Temp  4. Blood drawn for TB Test
and then we had #5 which was 2 shots and an oral polio vaccine.  Wen was very brave and just did what needed to be done.  It helped that they were really quick with the shots too.  He didn’t cry or anything and mama was waiting with a little treat for him when he was all done – some (organic) gummy bears.

Here he is taking his vision test…


Check out the Chinese eye chart!  I guess characters are too complicated to read.


Wen was really interested to look over his medical paperwork even though this visit isn’t really helpful to us other than the vaccinations.  All the other families had really young kiddos so they only needed a blood draw in addition to the stations.  By the time we left the majority of the babies were crying from the blood draw.  Not fun for the parents!  I remember when we did it with Philip and he was so mad he threw his shoes.


At least there is a vending machine with wine in it downstairs in the lobby of the clinic if any of the parents have too rough of a time…so odd!


Wen’s reward for the medical visit was going swimming!  He’s been asking to go to the pool and it wasn’t too cold for a short dip so we spent some time up by the pool together.


He can’t wait to learn how to swim and has been asking me when he will get to take lessons to swim at home!


Later, the entire group went on the Pearl River Cruise.  Wen was excited about going on the boat and seeing Guangzhou from the river.


We all got tickled taking a family photo.  Wen sneezed in the middle of it and we all couldn’t stop laughing.


I’ve gotta hold him while I can – if he grows any more (and I KNOW he will) I’m not gonna be able to hold him much longer!!!


This is Guangzhou tower in the background – it is the tallest building in China and the 3rd tallest building in the world.  Property in China is crazy expensive.  Our guide said it is around 50,000 Chinese Yuen (close to $8K) for 9 square feet and if it’s on the water, it would be over 200,000 Yuen (close to $32K) for 9 square feet.  Then, after 70 years, the property reverts back to the government.  We’ve asked what happens then to the owners and no one knows because the rule is less than 70 years old!


It’s hard to believe it was just 8 months ago when we did this same cruise with Philip and Rand and Ema.  Rand got sick that evening (stomach flu) and when we were up with him in the middle of the night, I checked my email and that’s when we found out WenXuan’s paperwork made it to the agency and we would be able to adopt him!

We are so glad it is 8 months later.  We are having a great time (while counting down the days until we can come home…FIVE)!


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