Sunday, March 27, 2011

We're home!!!!

We arrived in Billings yesterday afternoon. My parents, John's mom, Ashley, my Aunt Gina, Uncle Tom and my friend Nikki met us at the airport. I had told my FCC family that we would arrive in at 1:30 instead of 1:03, so all of Maddie's China sisters and their moms came little late. They brought her wonderful welcome home signs.

The girls did a great job on the flights, Maddie slept most of the Hong Kong to San Francisco flight. She was so good and it made our trip go so much easier than we were expecting.

We were expecting trouble the first couple of times buckling her in her carseat for the first time. I am not sure why we expected it to be such a big deal, she has been so easy going about everything else. She just snuggled in and looked around and we were off. We had all decided that we wanted Mexican for our first meal home. We enjoyed a great meal at Don Louis and then headed home.

We forced ourselves to stay awake until 8, except we had not changed our clocks before we left so it was really nine. Maddie woke up at 2:30 for a bottle and then played with Ashley for an hour. She then slept until 8. Bless Ash's heart, she played with her and fed her so we could sleep. Finally at noon I drug myself out of bed. John and the girls slept a while longer. We've had a few visitors and just started unpacking and hanging out. It feels so good to have Maddie home and to sleep in our own beds. I only have a few photos from the airport for now, I will have to get copies from everyone who was there. Pretty please. Thanks so much for all of your support and prayers, we can't wait to share Maddie with all of you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Consulate appt. and red couch photos...

Early Thursday morning we had our consulate appointment, this is the final step for Maddie's citizenship. We had to present all of our documentation from immigration through our complete referral, match and placement time period. Before we left I had checked and double checked to make sure I had all of the paperwork we needed. It was still stressful to go through each part of the process hoping you had the right papers at the right time. Fortunately I had them all right!

After this appointment it is a tradition to have photos of the babies in their Chinese silk dresses on the red couches at the White Swan Hotel. There is always at least one baby in the group that is crying and the rest are bewildered at why they are sitting there in the first place. We were all shocked when it was Dani who was the one in tears! She is the happiest little girl, unfortunately she was coming down with the same respiratory bug that the rest of the girls had. I also got a few photos of our family and then one of her and Karis.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guanghzou Zoo

Another catch up post...

We went to the Guanghzou Zoo on Wednesday morning. We have been on a mission to see the pandas since arriving in China. Next to getting Maddie that is what McKenna wanted to see the most.

The zoo is an old zoo, they still keep their animals in iron cages. They do seem to be upgrading some of the exhibits, so hopefully they will get more animals out of cages.
We also got to see a Liger, which is cross between a tiger and a lion. It was a unique looking animal for sure.

They had hippos, elephants, giraffes, monkeys, panthers and swans. Their animals were all very active so that made it fun to see.

When we got to the panda exhibit we found that it was closed for cleaning. McKenna thought we were joking at first, but burst into tears when she found out it was true. Our wonderful guide Jason went to bat for us trying to negotiate us visiting them in the back room. After several attempts he was able to talk them into letting us go and see them. We were not allowed to take photos, but they were only about a foot and half away from us. McKenna was beaming by the time she left the panda house. We were so glad she was finally able to see them!

We picked up an extra kid on our way to the zoo. Bree Lynn from Billings joined us for the day. It was nice for Lexi to have someone her age to hang out with and it will be nice for her to have someone she knows for Chinese New Year parties.

We are packed and ready to go!!!

Maddie is doing much better today. We have gotten some smiles, she is active again and she is keeping her fever down. Thank you so much for all of your prayers!!! It is amazing what 24 hours will do for a little one. She still has a bit of a cough and a runny nose, but she is so much better. I am not at all concerned about passing through the sensors now. Again, we so appreciate the prayers, they were definitely answered. We are so excited to be heading home, we will miss our travel mates so much. We have all bonded so closely, we will also miss China. We have enjoyed our time here, enjoyed the people and surroundings. We have not enjoyed the smog however, we are looking forward to our clean Montana air!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maddie update...

Just wanted to give an update on Maddie. Her fever seems to be considerably better this morning, thank you for all of your prayers. She is still coughing and raspy in her breathing but she is cooler. We were also able to get some formula in her both last night and early this morning. Please contiue to pray that she will keep her fever down enough to get out of the country. I really want to get her to the US so if we need medical attention for her we can get it. Thanks so much.

I threw in a quick photo from Monday when she was feeling better. I still have Guangzhou Zoo and Red Couch photos to share. So check back later.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pearl River Cruise

Time for some catch up posts... We have a very sick baby, we are fairly certain she has RSV. We would appreciate your prayers as were are leaving in about 28 hours. We have to have her fever down to 100 or they won't let her leave the country.

We spent most of Tuesday in the room. John took the girls out to Lucy's for a date where they enjoyed french fries and orange floats, while Maddie and I stayed in the room. Then that night the girls and I had a date on the Pearl River Cruise. The Pearl River is the 3rd longest river in China. We enjoyed our dinner and then watched the beautiful lights on the buildings as we sailed down the river. We traveled under four different bridges, each more beautful than the next. They lit one up in rainbow colors that changed as time went on. It was a very unique experience, I am glad we took advantage of it and was disappointed John and Maddie were not able to join us.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Medical exam day!!!

Today was Maddie's medical exam for her visa. It was a pretty quick run through of ear, nose, & throat; height and weight and quick exam, She seemed to pass, so all is good. We ejoyed walking through the island back to the hotel. The architecture is just beautiful, you almost forget you are in China. The British inspired buildings and landscaping are a sight to behold.

We then spent the day hanging out. The girls and John tried out the swimming pool, it was too cold for Maddie. She was mad when we wouldn't let her in, we finally let her splash her toes and hands for a bit. I think she will really love the pool and lake this summer. She loves to be outside, we were walking around the grounds today and she just went crazy. She loves to jabber when we are out.

She is still not feeling great, I think she just has a little virus that seems to be going around all the babies. We are praying it will be gone before we head home.

We also filled out our visa paperwork this afternoon. It is amazing how much paperwork there is to bring a little girl into the country. Like we haven't done enough the past 5 years. This paperwork ensures that when we set down in San Francisco on Friday night she will be an American citizen, definitely worth it!

Tonight we went walking around the island looking for a fun place to eat. We ended up at the Orient Express, a great French restaurant. It was very good, we are enjoying trying the different restaurants available to us. We almost went back to the Thai restaurant, we really enjoyed that meal. The waitress's at the Orient let McKenna play their baby grand, she was so excited. She has been missing playing the piano while we have been gone,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Lexi!!

We celebrated Alexis's 13th birthday today in China. Our guide Jason arranged a cake and we surprised her this afternoon. We had purchased a Black Hill's gold necklace for her before we left the US. It was fun to surprise her with something that she wanted. We also told her she could select something in China for her birthday. She looked all day and chose beautiful Kalabash wood flute. She is practicing and hoping to be as good as the shopkeeper one day!

We went on a tour to the 6 Banyan trees temple, the Old Chen house, and the Provincial crafts center. We enjoyed the Old Chen house the most, they have the most beautiful embroidery I have ever seen. You would swear that they were photographs or paintings. They were absolutely stunning. The landscaping and wood work was also phenomenal.

Maddie is not feeling wonderful today, she had a runny nose and was a little warm. We are not sure if it is teeth or a cold. I am guessing cold as several of the other babies have something right now. It is hard with this many people to keep them healthy. She took 4 naps today and is now fast asleep. I am praying it is nothing and she will be better in the morning.

We went to the Cow & Bridge today for dinner. It was our first time trying Thai. Our food was wonderful, not that we know what good Thai should taste like. Maddie liked the noodles of course!

Tomorrow is her medical exam and we prepare the visa paperwork. Hopefully all goes well.

Make up post for Saturday!!

Sorry, we could not get connected yesterday to post that we made it safely to Guangzhou. The weather here was still rainy but warmer.

Maddie did great on the flight, she slept through most of it. Yesterday morning she decided that she likes the binky. This really helped her ears on the flight. It was a short flight but a good test of what our flights might look like on the way home.

We enjoyed exploring the island, shops, and then joined our group for dinner at Lucy's. We all enjoyed eating some comfort food from home. I didn't realize I had missed ketchup! Shaiman Island has the most beautiful architecture and statues. The girls had a great time posing with some of them. There are also some beautiful gardens that we are going to go out and take photos of the girls in their silk dresses.

The White Swan hotel has been such a wonderful place. It is huge!!!! It is a great improvement over the Majestic for sure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Last day in Nanning

Today was our last day in Nanning. It rained all day again today so we
were pretty much just stuck inside. We were able to skype some family
members so that was the upside of being available all day.

We received Maddie's passport today. She did not want to sit and hold it
for a photo so we had to settle for her eating it. I think she was
thinking that a Chinese passport should taste like noodles! Our guide
David, surprised us all with Loving Balls, which are a Guangxi province
tradition. They are beautiful silk balls with embroidery on them. We have
had so much rain the past several days the markets have been closed, so we
did not have the opportunity to shop for Nannning items. He has been so
kind and has gone above and beyond the call of duty on so many occasions.
The single best choice we made in this adoption was to choose CCAI, we
have not had to think or worry about a thing. Their fabulous guides take
care of it all. We met a couple who are with a different agency that were
absolutely astounded by the level of care we have received.

We had a final group dinner tonight as well. We have had some really great
food and will miss our spicy beef and snow peas. Yum!!! Maddie turned the
corner on eating today. We have not been able to get solid foods down her
until now. She ate rice congee, broccoli and noodles for dinner tonight
and drank an entire 5 oz. bottle in one sitting! That is the most we have
gotten her to take.

We also received a copy of her finding ad and photos from the camera we
sent to her foster parents. They did a great job of taking photos and we
have a wonderful photo of her foster mom and her. Her foster mom is
holding her tight and giving her a great big hug. We will cherish those
photos forever!

My final brag for the night is she wanted me to help put her to sleep. Up
until now she wanted only John. Tonight she wanted both of us, I just
melted! I really believe she has been kind of punishing me for losing her
foster mom. I am just really working on gaining her trust and it will just
take time for her to understand this is forever and I am her momma.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our visit to Laibin and the Xingbin SWI

Yesterday we traveled 2 1/2 hours to Laibin and Xingbin (shin bin) SWI. This is where Maddie's orphanage and finding place were. David our guide arranged a van for John, & I our girls, Paul, Chuck and Karis. Karis is Maddie's little China sister. They are 2 weeks apart and both from Xingbin. We left at around 8 and arrived around 10:30, it was a long drive in the rain. It was scary driving down the highway without seatbelts and carseats. We had no choice but to just hold on tight to the babies! On our way back when we were stopped at a light we were rear-ended. It did not do any damage, but did startle us. Please keep praying for our safety. Laibin is a very mountainous area with beautiful trees and rocky hill sides.

It was a very humbling experience, the area where the orphanage is was very poor and dirty. There were children returning from school and walking through mud holes and down dirt streets. The directors and nannies are doing an incredible job, they are making the very best out of a difficult situation. There are no children in the orphanage right now, they are all in foster care. They currently have about 25 children in foster care. The SWI also cares for the elderly and infirm. We saw many elderly people sitting around eating and playing games. They had a small medical center and a physical therapy area where their special needs children come back on Sunday's for therapy.

The nannies and directors were so gracious with the girls. They truly loved them. It is so reassuring to know that she has been loved while she was waiting to be matched. We are starting to see the love we are giving returned. It is a truly remarkable experience, she is just blossoming before our very eyes. She could not roll over when we she was placed with us. Now, 4 days later she is rolling over front to back and back to front with no problem. I have had to work with the girls a little. They expect her to be able to do the things a 9-10 month old should be able to do. But, in reality she is at about where a 6-7 month old is developmentally. Mentally she is right on target, she is very bright. When you show her something one time she has it. I have every confidence that she will be caught up by her first birthday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our visit to Walmart!!!!

We made a trip to Walmart today. That was an experience! The Nanning Walmart is in a 3 story building; the 1st floor is a high end series of boutique shops, the 2nd floor was groceries and the 3rd floor was clothing and household items. We purchased some snacks and a few toys for Maddie. The girls had a great time picking out candy and Maddie had a great time playing with it! The girls had KFC for lunch and ice cream from McDonalds!

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel. We have enjoyed visiting and letting the babies play.

We found out we get to go to Laibin tomorrow to see where Maddie lived her first 9 months. We will get to see her finding spot and her orphanage as well as see the local markets and village. Our guide David is going with us as are Paul, Charles, and Karis. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity, but am also a little nervous about going. Please pray for Maddie, I hope she will be okay with going back.

Alert!!! Cuteness ahead...

We had a little photo shoot in the hallway today. The girls were getting some great smiles out of her. She has done so well with joining our family, but you can just see she is slowly coming out of her shell. It's like the sun is coming out from the clouds and it looks like it's going to be a bright sunshiny day!