Thursday, May 30, 2013

One baby step at a time

Wanted to give you a progress report.  If you have read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp then you will get this.  If not, then you really should read the book! 

I have spent the past few days noting the "simple" things to be thankful for, the small steps of change or just the simple things in life.  It is amazing how much life comes from the verse "a thankful heart is a happy heart, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." 

So here are a few milestones from the past three days...

Monday afternoon Mercy walked about six steps before falling.
Monday afternoon Mercy sat in the stroller for a short walk without fussing AND she kept her sunglasses on.
Monday evening friends brought us a yummy dinner on a day when cereal boxes would have been placed on the table.
Monday night Mercy was only up twice.
Tuesday Scott went back to work and the kids got off to school without any glitches.
Tuesday Mercy had her first of many doctor appointments.  This was with our regular pediatrician to follow up on her ear infection.  Her ear is fully healed!!!  And our doctor was beyond elated at seeing Mercy in person and five times the words "she is amazing" came out of her mouth (I already know this, but glad to see the doctor agrees).  She also said she is "smart as a whip."  (I know this too)
Tuesday Mercy had her first of many blood draws.  I can't say enough about the ladies who work at Quest Lab in Harleysville.  They handled her great, she screamed and I got to come in with my Mrs. Incredible cape on and be the rescuing hero when it was all done.  She smiled at me and put her head on my shoulder and her screams and tears settled quickly.
Tuesday we both took a nap!  Two hours to be exact!!!
Tuesday night she struggled to fall asleep, but only woke up ONE time in the middle of the night.
Wednesday I made it to my boys field day for a short visit to snap a few pictures.
Wednesday night another delicious meal delivered that I didn't have to prepare or cook.
Wednesday night I got out of the house for 1 1/2 hours to help Michaela find a dress for her Youth Formal.  Mercy did cry often for Scott, but nothing he couldn't tolerate or handle.
Wednesday night she struggled to fall asleep, but again only woke up one time.  When I hugged her and said "I'm right here" she laid back down and went right back to sleep!!!

So there you go, much to be thankful for!  She is also beginning to take more to her siblings.  She hugs Matthew just about any time he asks her too.  She is letting Michaela hold her a bit and she laughs at Mason, who by the way is taking on his role of big brother extremely well.  He has even made it his job to buckle and unbuckle her in her car seat and he does it with the most proud of smiles on his big brother face.

All in all I want you to know that even though sleep is disrupted, things are going very well all things considered.  I also want you to know that Mercy is such a sweet little girl.  She may struggle at night, but day time she is just one amazing kid.  She is full of personality when she isn't overwhelmed, and she is the most happy smiley little girl.  She is still 100% clingy.  I cannot leave the room without her screaming.  I have gotten her to sit across from me while playing, but more times than not she crawls up on my lap and wants to be held.  So nothing much gets done at home, but I know it's only a season.

Thanks for continuing to pray!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sleep deprivation makes one crazy.

I'm writing at 2:30am, sleep deprived, jet-lagged, and emotionally unstable, so excuse the typos, poor grammar, or the sin-fest that may pour out of my heart because out of the heart the mouth speaks, or in the case the fingers type.

She won't sleep.  It's been a very hard and long weekend with her.  She is sweet by day and terror by night.  We have tried just about everything, co-sleeping, leaving her alone, pack n' play at the bottom of the bed, laying on her bedroom floor, giving her a bottle in bed to sleep with (Yes, I know her teeth will rot, gasp!)  When you are sleep deprived and desperate you will try anything.  She has spent hours, yes hours (4 hours at one shot to be exact) just screaming and crying and screaming and crying.  We began clocking it because we know that these things can feel longer than they are.  Well I'm hear to tell you that 4 hours of screaming felt like 24!!!  And she does not receive comfort easily, not at night anyway.

Her body has some adjusting to make too.  The few times she has slept have also been disrupted by a dirty diaper or two in the middle of the night.  Mostly around 1am and 4am.  Put in the context of a twelve hour time change and those dirty diapers would be during the afternoon in China.  So her bowels need to get the memo that she is living in a new time zone and adjust accordingly.

I'm caught in a sea of emotion.  My selfish heart craves sleep and I'm angry because she is the reason I am not sleeping.  I want to scream back at her "stop it, please just stop!"  I'm tired and during the day that comes out in it's own ugly ways.  I'm short on patience, I don't tolerate certain behaviors from my other children that otherwise wouldn't normally bother me at all.  And then there is the mommy-guilt syndrome.  My mind can't escape it.  For instance Sunday night when she fell asleep in my arms around 9pm I freaked and rushed my other kids to get ready for bed knowing if Scott and I didn't get to sleep right away while she was we may not sleep at all.  My other kids argued, "wait a minute, we don't have school tomorrow, we want to stay up."  I explained to them why they needed to go to bed and they surrendered and went.  She only slept until 11:30.  We got two hours of sleep.

Monday afternoon she fell asleep in my arms while sitting on the couch.  That same mommy-guilt syndrome kicked in hard.  Do I reposition myself and nap with her?  Do I attempt to put her down and spend some much needed time with my other kids who I have been away from for two weeks.  Sleep won, my other kids neglected again, asked to sacrifice mom one more time, as if they haven't sacrificed enough already.  I slept deep, but I woke up feeling guilty.  Such a weak mom I am.  Where is Mrs. Incredible when you need her now?

Then there is an emotion for Mercy that runs so deep I don't know where else to turn with it except to Jesus himself.  I actually get where Mercy is coming from.  In some small and strange way I can sympathize.  She is terrified and nighttime enhances that 100 fold.  A girl who fears light because of a medical condition fears darkness even more.  It wasn't but two weeks ago that I entered her country, the role reversed.  I was the one terrified and battling culture shock.  The noises, the smells, the unfamiliar language, the not knowing where I am or what to expect, the fear of the unknown.  I'm pretty sure she is feeling the same way, but I'm an adult.  I used my words to talk it out with Scott or spent a night typing it out on a blog post and I prayed to my savoir who comforted my fears and filled me with peace.  She is two, she has zero vocabulary and no way of expressing her fear, except to scream and cry (which she does extremely well by the way).  She doesn't know Jesus yet or how to pray, so we try to be her Jesus, her place of comfort but we fail.  It's heartbreaking.  I want to take every fear from her and reassure her she's safe, I will never leave her, I will still be here when she wakes up, food will be here when she wakes up, I love her and that will not ever change, that she can trust me.  And then the tears flow hard.  How many times have I in my own way screamed and cried over my lack of trust in the Lord?  Too many!  And what is His reponse?  I'm here, I want to take every fear from you, I will never leave you or forsake you, I will provide everything you need in my son Jesus Christ, I am here when you sleep and when you rise, I do not change and my love for you will never change, YOU CAN TRUST ME!  I'm slow, so slow to grasp this.  I love her and I want her to know it, Jesus loves me and He wants me to know it, Jesus loves you too and He wants you to know it.

Pray for us.  Pray for discernment as we get to know her, constantly questioning and second guessing how to handle her.  Pray for sleep, for her, for us.  Pray for her heart to begin to trust us, and for us in 
our weak, human, selfish state to be consistent in expressing our love to her. Pray for our other kids 
who continue to adjust to a new sister, continue to sacrifice on her behalf but have their own needs, 
desires and wants to be met.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I am tired, jet lag has is worse than I expected.  It was hard to get Mercy to go to sleep last night, she was up at 2am and again 5:30.  Scott, Mercy and I took a nap from 10 - 1:30 (actually we woke Mercy up at 3:00).  The kids have been having a blast with her during the in between times.  No one is dressed, only one of us is showered and we didn't eat lunch until 3pm.  It's a low key, relaxing day, but I wanted to get pictures posted of our homecoming.  Thank you to the many who were in our driveway when we pulled in.  It was just the perfect homecoming and we felt loved and missed and we were so excited for you to meet her in person.

Letting the pictures speak, again...

Officially Parting Waters

This was the big day.  The day that the big body of water would separate her birth country from her home country.  The day the Lord would "part the waters" to bring her home to the land of the free.

For those who have been praying I want you to know that our flight home was nothing short of a miracle.  As we stood in line at the Hong Kong airport Mercy was melting down.  She cried, flailed in Scott's arms, laid on the airport floor kicking and screaming.  We were gawked at by others standing in line.  I wanted to say "Why yes, yes we are boarding the same plan as you.  Would you like a sleeping pill, my noise cancelling headphones, an upgrade to first class because we'll be in the back?"  Well I have to tell you all that once we boarded that plan and buckled her in her seat Mercy was as content as could be.  She was quiet, happy most of the time and when we touched down in Newark and were getting off the plane we had several people comment about her.  One asked what our "tricks" were because they couldn't believe how quiet she was.  A couple of the airline stewards made comments about her not making a single peep or never having a baby make that long flight without a meltdown.  She really did amazing and I know many of you were praying a spirit of content over her, well God answered!

Here are the pictures of our flight home:

Books and snacks are always a good thing.

Nap time
This will be one of my favorite pictures.  She is listening to Les Miserable.   Yes, she is only two, but she LOVES music and it kept her entertained.  Go ahead, judge me!
She slept from 9pm until we had to wake her up just before landing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Sweet Life...

I didn't want to bore you with all the pictures of China without doing a last day post of our little China Doll.  She has been SO MUCH better today.  I don't even think she has cried but one time when we first put her in the stroller.  She is back to what we hope is her usual self.

She slept through most of our sightseeing today, and has spent the afternoon contently playing in our hotel room while we pack.  She has also found and tried a few exciting and new things today.

On our last night here I thought I would spend some time reflecting on how much Mercy has changed in a little less than two weeks time.

She came to us barley able to crawl and now she is cruising all over the place.
She could not stand up or stand by herself.  Not only can she stand herself up from a squatting position and stay standing alone, but she has also attempted the challenge of taking a few steps.
She says mama, dada, and uh-oh very clearly.
She had never drinken from a cup or straw, but has mastered both.
She had learned how to blow bubbles, or at least she has the blowing part down.
She has learned how to turn pages of a book.  The first time we gave her book it was very obvious she had never touched or seen one before.
Some of her newly learned tricks would include:  stacking blocks, giving kisses, giving a high-five, taking her socks, shoes and shirt off, and shaking her head no.
She has conquered her fear of short-sleeves!  (just for you Bevy :)
She is signing more, please and all done.

This girl has come a long way in a very short period of time.  We are watching a baby turn into a toddler at lightning speed and it's such an awesome thing to witness.

Here are a few pictures to wet your appetite for her homecoming on Friday.  Speaking of Friday we are hoping that many of you are free to greet us in our front yard when we pull up around 5:00 - 5:30pm Friday!

Everyday we attempt the sunglasses...

Everyday we get them on her face...
Everyday she takes them off faster then we put them on.
Notice the smirk of success.

Snuggle time in the van.

Oh Mercy, if you would only keep those sunglasses on this wouldn't happen.

I don't know who is more tired?

Sleeping Beauty

Playtime back at the hotel.  She has really taken off in the crawling department.

We found a way to get her standing.  Put food out on the table and the girl is up on two feet in no time!
Stretching for something yummy, notice the tongue sticking out?

Ahhh,  I found an apple slice within reach!
Never mind, I don't like the apple.

Hmmm, now what's that I see on the table?

Starbucks?  Sure I'll give it a try...

OK, now we're talking! 

More please!

Then she found a pack of Oreos that her daddy had been eating, but set down.

Oh yeah, that's good!

Playing bubbles with mommy.

All that leg strengthening I did today to get food is really paying off.
Look I'm standing all by myself!!!

Chen Clan Academy/Guangdong Folk Art Museum Tour

Today our guide took us to the Chen Clan Academy and Guangdong Folk Art Museum.  It was another rainy, hot and humid day so while we were originally suppose to go to the Safari Park, he thought this would be a better way to spend the last day.  As much as I wanted to experience the safari I know we wouldn't have enjoyed it in heat and especially if it rained.  We also enjoyed tea Chinese style with Jack.  We got to sample all kinds of traditional Chinese Teas and enjoyed learning about them.  I don't know that I can ever go back to drinking bagged tea again, or as Jack would say "dirty water."  He can't fathom drinking tea from a bag.  He says "if you can't see leaves then they not good."  In the end we really enjoyed the museum and our time with Jack on this last day.

The entrance to Chen Clan Academy

She fell asleep like this, but hey she's NOT crying!!!

I pushed her head back.

The front of the Chen House.

How would you like to be greeted by this at someone's front door?

Chinese Tea Room

Fresh Green Tea

This is sculpted out of ivory and it was intricate and beautiful to see in person.

This is not a painting, but embroidery.  It was so detailed.

Chen House Courtyard

What I Will and Won't Miss About China

Woke up this morning to what will be our last full day in China.  I want to shout hooray, but there is this small part of me that thinks I might actually miss some of this once we are settle back home.  Who would have thought?

List of things I won't miss about China:

The smell
The filth
The traffic
The crowds
The heat and humidity (although I hear we may not be getting away from it when we get home)
Not being able to drink the water
Not having ice
Warm drinks
Soda because it was the only thing safe to drink when out
The smog
The rain, oh my word the rain
The stares from every other person who crosses our path
The noise
The chaos everywhere
The uncomfortable beds
The elevator not having a capacity limit and feeling like a pack of sardines
The street vendors wanting to sell you everything possible
Seeing the handicap people lying on the sidewalks begging for money that they will never see because some person who forced them there is standing near by to take it.  (yes, this is probably the most awful thing we have witnessed here and it's so incredibly sickening I haven't been able to write about it yet)
The constant wonder of what is actually in my food (we were served DONKEY in Xingtai)
Black Tongues

List of things I will miss about China:

The people.  The ones who stare, but then smile and talk to us and even though we don't understand them you know what they are saying is good.  Or better yet, our translator who when with us tells us they said "she is lovely, or lucky girl."
Our guide Jack, we will miss him terribly.  I could write an entire post just about Jack and I just might.
The other adopting families.
The hotel staff, some of which have been so good to us.
The cleaning lady at our hotel in Beijing.  She was the sweetest woman and tried to so hard to practice English and talk with us and she doted on Mercy every day we were there.
The breakfast buffet, oh my word was it yummy!
The shower in the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou was amazing.
The tropical landscaping and flowers
The fresh tea, I will never drink Lipton, Stash or Trader Joe's again
The train ride we took from Beijing to Xingtai and Shijiazhuang
Some of the food
The hotel pool (we never used it because it always rained, but it was beautiful)
Having the bed made for me everyday.
Writing on the blog everyday and everyone's Facebook comments, because there will be no time for any of it once we are back home.

Guangzhou Photos

Random photos from Guangzhou

The Garden Hotel Guangzhou
Hotel Lobby

Hotel Tea Room with ornate staircase

Hotel Courtyard 

Hotel Waterfall

This man has to scrub the rocks and take care of the fish in the ponds of the courtyard.
Entrance to the pool.

Garden Hotel Pool

It rained every single day we were in Guangzhou.  This was our hotel room view.

Shop on Shamian Island.
The own was from Hebei Province and knew by Mercy's features that she was on of his people.

School playground in Guangzhou

Middle School gym class

Military marching by

A Park in Guangzhou that we walked around.

Trolley Bus

Everyday transportation for many in Guangzhou.