Friday, September 30, 2011

Because we needed a hail storm at the park today...

We finally got the girls up at 2:30pm today...thanks Jackie and several others of you who offered advice on this. That would be the normal end of a naptime (if Kate actually napped in the past...). They both woke up relatively happy but very hungry. Karen came by with groceries (and some lunch from Taste of Lebanon) so we had milk to make mac and cheese...Kate's favorite and Lucy was pretty excited about it too.

Although I have been feeding her the entire time we've had her, as soon as she saw Kate with her kiddy spoon, she insisted on doing it herself as well. She did the typical "turn the spoon over as you approach the mouth" move that most kids do as they are learning but she remained good-natured about it. Since the sun was shining we decided to get some fresh air so we bundled up the girls (it was 55 degrees out!) and got them in our two strollers. Nana stayed behind and loaded the dishwasher, unpacked all of our luggage, sorted laundry and generally cleaned up the place which was an enormous help as I become pretty bitchy discombobulated when there is stuff everywhere. Gee, I wonder why Kate is such a neat freak?!

The park was fun--Lucy enjoyed the swings and the teeter-totter with Kate.
She spent most of her time following Kate's lead from one play area to the next. It was hard though as Kate's leg muscles have gotten a lot more use...Lucy had a hard time keeping up and fell down quite a bit.  We had been at the park about 1/2 an hour when it started to sprinkle...and then rain...and then HAIL! All of a sudden! Thunder, hail, pouring rain! Because, you know, the jet lag and adjusting to a new family member were not enough to deal with.

I got out a picnic blanket to cover Kate's legs as her stroller hood was pretty substantial to cover the rest of her. Luckily, I also had a protect-a-bub in the stroller basket as well to cover Lucy.  Len and I were soaked by the time we got home but the girls seemed to take it in stride. Oh, and just as we got to our front gate, the front wheel fell off one of the strollers. At least we made it home before that happened!

We spent what was left of the afternoon playing with the toys in our living room before we fed them supper of broccoli and lentil soup (thanks again to Karen for the soup today!). I managed to spoon some warm milk into her since she just will not drink out of any type of cup. She only takes her bottle at night now, refusing it at all other times. Maybe she associates it with sleep and being separated from us?

I did write to the pediatrician for more advice on this and spooning liquids was one option as was watermelon (tried that...too cold, so I will have to leave it out at room temp. to get her to eat it) as well as soups. I do keep trying with the cups everyday too though just to get her used to it.

After supper was a little more playtime but they were both rubbing their eyes and yawning (frankly, we all are!) so I started singing the bathtime song and Lucy immediately lit up and came running straight to me with her arms outstretched to be picked up!  She does love her bath!

They are both asleep now with absolutely no hysterics or drama. Kate is in her crib as usual and Len had to put Lucy to sleep in our bed. He just went and moved her to the pack and play in our room without her waking up. I hope she sleeps through but I'm not holding my breath.
I do think, as more than one reader has suggested, that perhaps the nannies woke her up in the middle of the night to use the potty. She simply does not like to soil her diaper and will cry as soon as it's wet at night. Even though her paperwork said she was in diapers and slept through the night, she came to us in split pants and most orphanages do not use diapers.  For that matter, not many Chinese use diapers. In one of the shops on Shamian Island, the shopkeeper's son was crawling around the store with just a tshirt on and there was a tell-tale puddle on the floor where he has just been. In another instance, I saw a woman holding her son's bare bottom over a public trashcan as he was pooping (right in front of the Chinese equivalent of  Target).

And finally I'd just like to say a very heartfelt thank you to everyone who takes the time to write to me. This has been a much harder trip than I thought with so many emotions swirling around my exhausted brain. I look forward every day to reading my mail and take much comfort in the fact that so many of you care enough to write words of encouragement, commiseration, advice, and support. I am keeping all of your emails and comments to read again when the going gets tough and I'm in need of kind words.

The First Night

Was rough. Kate went down at 7ish as I said before. Lucy did not. She screamed off and on until midnight. And by screaming, I don't mean tears and hysterics. No, this is just screaming with occasional body flailing about but as soon as you distract her by doing something else, the histrionics will cease and she will watch you as if nothing had been happening.  No hiccups, no tears, no nothing on her face other than confusion about why this mode of operating is not working. Unfortunately, we can't just leave her totally alone while she's doing this so she starts back up again as soon as we turn our attention back to her.

Len tried to get her to come to bed with us (neither the crib nor the pack and play in our room were an option--her decibel level shot to dog-hearing range when those were approached) but she would not have anything to do with the bed when I was in it. We tried that for 2 hours...she would calm down just enough for us to fall asleep and then the banshee wailing would begin anew.  I finally gave up and slept on the couch at 10pm.  Then Lucy finally went to sleep just before midnight.

Just in time for Kate to wake up screaming for me.  And she was crying, with tears and hiccups. I got her up (as Len tended to a newly awakened Lucy...grrrr) and tried to cuddle her back down. Her diaper was soaked so a change was in order and then she said she was hungry so I figured if Kate was, then so was Lucy.

I prepared Lucy another formula bottle and Kate some oatmeal.  Both girls ate greedily and Lucy went right down in the bed with Len.  Kate was a bit harder...took me reading some books and soothing her in her crib for a bit but she finally went back down sometime between 1:30-2am.

Back to the sofa for me.  Nana got up sometime just before the sun came up and said I could share her bed (she managed to get some sleep through all the drama which is good) so I crawled into the guest bed with her.  She got up and dressed around 9:30am but I stayed in since everyone else was still asleep.

I finally got up at 11:30am to find Nana asleep on the sofa (!!) and everyone else asleep.  Lucy is totally asleep on my side of the bed...there really isn't going to be room in a queen size bed for the three of us and I'm not real keen on giving up my comfy bed...not sure where to go with this problem.

 Our friend Karen has offered to go get groceries for us so I stayed up to send her a list. It's now noon and everyone is still asleep.  What to do??

Should I get everyone up so we will sleep tonight or just let everyone catch up on their sleep?  I still feel groggy and want to climb back into bed myself.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


That was the first word Kate breathed as she was set down inside the house.  Then she ran around laughing and touching all of her toys, then brought me a book to read to her. 

We made it out, barely, from Hong Kong. A cyclone was fast approaching and there was some question as to whether or not we would be leaving. The takeoff was like a rollercoaster until we cleared the winds and rain.

14 1/2 hours later we landed in very cool Chicago, much the worse for wear. Lucy slept off and on and Kate slept once for about 1 1/2 hours. None of the adults got any sleep. The plane was booked solid and we were in the back, in coach. Total suckage.

So, hoping to go to bed soon. Kate went down with no problem at 7:15pm and Lucy has been screaming for an hour, refusing to go to sleep anywhere. She will fall asleep on Len on our bed only to wake screaming as soon as he tries to move. She will still not come to me so Monday is going to be super fun when Len heads back to work.

I must say it is hard to bond with someone who completely rejects you.  I'm not feeling that motherly love yet...I hope it comes b/c right now, with jet lag compounding the problem, I'm not there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We made it to Hong Kong

And I must say that I am totally bummed that we didn't get the chance to be in this city for longer. It's beautiful right by the water surrounded by mountains!  Much easier to communicate here as most people are fluent in English. Seems to be more cosmopolitan than anyplace in China that we've been.

Today started way too early with Lucy waking up at midnight and not really settling back down for about an hour and then only in Len's bed.  Kate then woke up at 4:30am and would not go back down. Lucy was up for good at 5:30am.  Len and Nana took the girls down for breakfast just before 7am and I stayed in the room and packed us up.  We tried to pack yesterday but with 2 kids it was impossible and then after they went to sleep it was just too noisy. I finally got down to breakfast at 8am.  We let the girls play on the playground until 8:45 and then we had to have our bags outside our door at 9am. Got down to the lobby and loaded into the van by 9:30, headed for the train station.

The train station required Immigration paperwork as we were leaving mainland China so that took a fair bit of time but we got loaded onto the top level of the train and had some extra seats so both girls got to sit in a chair. Took about 2 hours to get to Hong Kong. Back through Immigration again but the nice surprise was that a porter was waiting on the other side with all of our bags already!  We retrieved them, headed for the taxi stand and then realized there was no way we could get 5 people and all of our bags into one cab so we had to rent a van.

Got the van, got loaded up and 30 minutes later we were deposited at the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott right near the airport.  And it's quite nice!  We have adjoining rooms and they are quite spacious. Fabulous view of the port...which reminds me that I should try to get a picture tomorrow.

Not really time for any pics today sadly. We finally got to our room at around 2:30pm and had not had lunch. The girls had eaten snacks on the train but were starving. The bistro was closed so we ordered room service which was really delicious (burger and fries for Nana and Len, lamb curry, biryani rice and naan for me, lentil soup, pumpkin soup and mashed potatoes for the girls).  That killed about an hour but it was still only just before 4pm so we dug out our bathing suits and headed for the pool. The girls really had a blast this time, laughing and splashing lots of water.

Out of the pool, back in the room, more playtime and then a light supper of the leftovers from room service.  The girls were starting to get very wound up and things were going to go downhill fast so we wrapped it up and skipped bathtime in favor of early bedtimes.

Kate and Lucy both went down relatively easy just before 7pm.  We're headed that way soon. This trip has been utterly exhausting.  I'm dreading the 13 hour plane flight in coach tomorrow...but there is no way to avoid it.

We need to be at the airport 3 hours before our 11:50am flight so it'll be another early and busy morning. I doubt I'll be on the computer much for a couple of days as we try to unpack, do laundry, get some groceries stocked and try to get Lucy introduced to a more stable environment than she's had in the past few weeks.  Oh, and sleep.  Hoping. Hoping. Hoping for sleep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last day in Guangzhou!

Lucy slept again through the night in her crib, waking up at 5:30am.  Kate woke at 6am. We met the boys and went down for breakfast at 7am and then out to the playground to burn off some steam. It was getting really hot though and Kate was red-faced and asking to go inside. It was only 9am by that point so we all put on our swimsuits and headed to the pool.

I had to be at our final meeting of paperwork and travel logistics at 11:15am.  Yeah!!!  All through with paperwork on this end!
After the meeting was total chaos as we tried to get a good picture of the entire CCAI group...
We dressed the girls in their traditional dresses but had trouble getting a good shot with all the crying and people everywhere.
Next up was trying to get a picture of just the babies on a couch, à la the red couch at the famous White Swan hotel. More pandemonium ensued...and not all the babies were there. We had hoped just to get our core group of kids (those of us who had been together since Beijing) but the other families started putting their kids on the couch too...bummer. We never got just a shot of our group together.
After this we got the girls back in street clothes, had some lunch at the hotel and then took a cab to Shamian Island. This is a really pretty part of Guangzhou where most adoptive families used to stay when the White Swan Hotel was open (they closed for renovations this month). It is also a great place for wedding photographs.
Our main goal was to finish Lucy's birthday gift shopping so we trolled around looking for the best shops and took some photos along the way.
 Finally, with all shopping done, we ended up at the White Swan Hotel on the red sofa for a picture.
Got a cab back to our hotel, fed the girls in the room and got them to bed. Lucy is starting to totally understand what we are saying sometimes. And recognizing songs. Tonight I sang my usual bathtime song that cues them that it's time to transition from playing to getting undressed and into the tub..."Bathtime for babies, babies, babies. Bathtime for babies, babies, babies". Yes, I made that up but Kate loves it and now, apparently, so does Lucy. When I started singing it she laughed out loud and ran straight into my legs, ready for the bath routine!  We got them both down by 7pm so we could get ourselves some dinner, pack up (checkout is 9am for our train ride to Hong Kong), and, of course, blog!

I'm wishing we didn't have an extra night in Hong Kong but trying to do a 2 hour train ride + a 13 hour flight with all the transfers and luggage, etc. was not an ideal plan. So, our express train leaves at 10:35am and we'll spend the afternoon seeing what our little corner of Hong Kong has to offer before sleeping one last night in China.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tiny steps forward

Lucy woke up from her 1 1/2 hour nap hungry and ready to eat....but still not from me. Her tantrum was about to rev back up into high gear but fortunately Uncle Ry Ry and Uncle Paul showed up to distract her. They provided just enough distraction that she lost her momentum and her hunger won out. I simply sat on the floor with the food as I had before and made no move to feed her until she walked up to me, made the sign for "more" and willingly took a bite from me. I let her win a little too by not making her sit in front of me for the meal so she would walk over to Len after having a bite, then walk to me to get another one, repeat, repeat, repeat until the food was gone.

Kate took a much longer nap, almost 3 hours, and woke up hungry as well. We had planned to go to Shamien Island for the afternoon and then have dinner there but by the time we got the girls fed, diapered, packed the bag for the trip, shoes on, etc. it was going on 4pm. So we bagged the trip and took the girls to the playground on the 4th floor instead. They had a blast and it really was a much-needed break from the intensity of the morning's events. Lucy followed Kate's lead through most of the playground. I'm not sure she has ever been on a swing before. She liked it at first but then decided she didn't until she got out and then Kate got in (only one baby swing...) and was having such a great time that Lucy wanted to try it again. When Kate was finished we put her back in and she again thought she would like it but that didn't last.

I'll let the pictures do the talking for the rest of the afternoon:
We stayed for about an hour but the playground was starting to get crowded and the girls were getting hungry around 4:45 so we packed it up and headed off for dinner at another local place that Spiff and Paul had scouted out for us. Ryan ordered for the table and made some excellent choices. Both Kate and Lucy enjoyed the fish and noodles but soon enough, they got full which made our meal end abruptly once again.

Back in the room we got the girls ready for bath. I took Lucy this time and she willingly and, dare I say it, happily, let me bath, lotion, and jammies her. We all kissed each other good night and then Len took Kate to Nana's room while I gave Lucy her bottle and read stories in our room. She did fine until the bottle was almost empty. Suddenly she just stopped drinking and handed the bottle to me. I could see the panic start to rise in her body/face. She kept looking towards the adjoining room door where Len had gone and she started in with the whining. But this time was not in anger but in sheer panic. I quickly got her in a cuddle and stood up to go get Len, bedtime routine be damned for each of the girls.

The big step forward here though is that when I told her we were going to go see Daddy in the next room, although she did not stop the crying, she didn't keep increasing the volume or rate of crying. Not until she saw him...then she lunged out of my arms and started screeching. Poor Kate did not know what was going on as she was all cuddled in Len's lap reading Kika. We traded kids and needless to say it took longer than normal to get them back down to a point where they could fall asleep. Both girls did finally go down around 8pm though...Kate in her crib and Lucy on Len's bed.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is our last morning with Spiff and Paul. They catch an afternoon flight back to Singapore. We have a meeting at 11:15am to discuss departure details and then we have a group picture after that. We're really aiming to go to the Island in the afternoon for some final shopping and sightseeing.  We also get Lucy's visa.

We take the express train to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, will spend the day in HK and then fly direct to Chicago on Thursday. I'm pretty much ready to go home!

In the meantime, enjoy a couple of photos from bathtime tonight. They were having a blast.

Lunchtime post

I guess fear of the dark was not the golden answer I had hoped it would be.  Lucy woke up crying, standing up in the crib, at 3:15am.  8 oz of formula later she was asleep in Len's bed...45 minutes later. Then I heard Kate so I went over to Nana's room and Kate just needed to hold my hand for a bit before dropping back off to sleep. It was short-lived though as she woke up crying at 4:45am but Nana got to her first so I stayed in bed. We all had to get up at 6am though so we could eat before our 7:40am bus ride to the Consulate.

We got to the Consulate before any of the other families which was fortunate because there were literally at least 50 families behind us waiting to finish the paperwork and take the oath. We all took the oath and then our family was called to the window to doublecheck passports and paperwork. We were done and back on the bus by 9:30am. We got back and got the girls into swimsuits for a swim in the pool...nice and cool outside on the fourth floor of the hotel. Both of them really loved the water and after about 45 minutes they were rubbing their eyes and looking tired.

Back upstairs to change and feed them lunch. Then all hell broke loose. We ate in the room which means no highchair which then means you cannot keep a kid contained in front of you while you feed her. Lucy decided she was absolutely not going to take a bite from me. Kate sat right down and started chowing down which sent Lucy into paroxysms of raging behavior. Len was in the bathroom with the door closed and I was in the room with 2 bowls of food that she could easily see. I kept offering food to her and making the sign for "eat" and "more", hell, even Kate was making signs at her. Lucy, meanwhile, was throwing herself down onto the floor in front of the closed bathroom door and screaming. No tears, just screaming. When I would turn to face away from her she would stop for a second and then start up again as soon as I motioned for her to come get food. More throwing herself down, more kicking and screaming. Yes, lunch was fun let me tell you.

Len finally came out of the bathroom (he was preparing her formula bottle and washing things up from swimming) and sat down with her next to me but would not feed her. He told her that I had the food. She raged on.  And on. And on.  This went on for THIRTY MINUTES. No kidding. Kate announced she was done, got up and headed into Nana's room...she was over it. She kept looking at Lucy and saying, "Lucy crying. Lucy fall down. Lucy crying." So Nana took Kate to her room and put her down for a nap and she went down quite easily.

Meanwhile, back in hell our room, Lucy was still raging and shoving me away so we announced that lunch was over. This was met with absolute outrage. We both offered for her to have some food from me once again but she would not do it so I put the food away. Then I went to the bathroom and got her bottle and then....silence. No hiccuping from all the crying. No gulping for air from all the raging. Just absolute silence and completely willing for me to pick her up and take her to bed with me to have a bottle.

In my experience, when Kate has had meltdowns, true uncontrollable fear or panic, when the raging stops she is hiccuping and gasping to get air and control of her nervous system. None of that occurred at the end of Lucy's tantrum. She just got up as if the past 30 minutes had been nothing more than a stroll down the hall. 

So I held her with her bottle and Len sat nearby on the bed. She gulped down most of the 8oz and fell asleep with the bottle still in her mouth. I laid with her for a short time and now she's been out almost an hour. She 's going to wake up hungry I'm certain and I'm not relishing the idea of doing this over again.

Yes, I know I could give in and just let Len feed her already but none of us really wanted to reward her tantrum by giving in and letting Len or Nana feed her (she tried to get Nana to feed her as well...she did the same last night when Spiff and Paul were here too). So I seem to be the only one she will not allow to get near her. 

On the other hand, she gets upset if she can't see me when we are out somewhere. For example, when we were on the bus, I moved up one row from where I had been to be able to see out the front window. Len and Kate were a row over and behind so Lucy could no longer see me. She started to cry out and was leaning as far as she could to see where I had gone. She did the same thing in the Consulate when I was walking ahead to get instruction from our guide as to where to go next. And she will wave and smile at me when I say hi to her from afar (which she does not do with strangers).

Haven't figured out what's going on in her brain at the moment but I'm not really sure I'd want to know at this point...the pain and loss that she has experienced in 21 months has left a lot of scars on her and it's going to take a long time for them to heal.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A day of shopping!

We woke up today to Kate's eyes just matted with crusty, goopy gunk. She's not running a fever but her eyes look terrible and she's getting a cough.  So, a warm washcloth applied to eyes to help them clear the crust away and a spoonful of honey to help the cough and she seemed to perk up. Nana and Len spent the day with the girls, laying low and taking them to a play area here in the hotel. By the end of the day, Kate had not napped and was hitting the wall and was slightly warm to the touch so I have her some baby tylenol and put her to bed just before 6pm.

Lucy woke up after sleeping the entire night in her crib. My last thought before turning in last night was, "I wonder if she is afraid of the dark?" so I left the bathroom light on.  I don't know if that was it or not. She did wake around 1:30 as she has for the past few nights but she went right back to sleep. She was up for good by 5:30am but it's a vast improvement from the nights before.  She also napped during the day so she stayed up until about 7:45pm. 

Lucy seems to prefer men in general. She's not very fond of me and will only come to me as a last resort, even to get food.  She will try everyone else and grudgingly come to me to get a bite of food (this is when we are eating in the room and not in a restaurant with a high chair) when no one else will give her food. She's a little warmer with Nana but she's very keen on Len who she calls "Ma Ma" and on Uncle Ry Ry. 
The boys and I headed off with Ann from Red Thread China, a personal shopper who lives here.  She was invaluable! I showed her my list of what I wanted and then asked if there were things she thought we should see and we set off.  She is very direct and will tell you what you should be paying, whether something is too much, when to walk away when something is too much, etc.  We would never have gotten all the loot we did and for the prices we paid without her.

Most of today's shopping was for Lucy and Kate. We got about 4 gifts for Kate but the majority are for Lucy. We're trying to get one gift for each of her birthdays until she turns 18 as well as a graduation gift for each of them. I would like Lucy to have something from her birth country for each of her birthdays.

First stop was the Pearl Market.
 Hand knotting in between each pearl. We got the girls an 18" freshwater pearl necklace and matching earrings.
One of the finished necklaces.
Next was jade where Paul got some cufflinks and I got the girls some multicolored jade bracelets.
 Mahjong and chess sets
Buddha bracelets
We didn't buy everything that you will see but I took a bunch of pictures of things that caught my eye, if not my wallet.

 Replicas of ancient Chinese money

Next up was lunch--yummy dim sum. We were THE ONLY WHITE PEOPLE in the place but we felt welcomed and the food was really good.
 Back on the move. Ann is quite efficient and fast!
 We took a small detour into a Buddhist Temple that looked interesting.
 Gathering incense to make an offering
One of many giant gold Buddhas...this is the happy Buddha (my personal favorite)

This is one of the female Buddhas
 The hallways were lined with hundreds of gold Buddhas from the Qing Dynasty
 A crystal Buddha had a lot of offerings
 One of the many ornately carved columns
 Hard to tell the scale from a picture but this Buddha was the largest and was quite impressive to see.
Next up was buying tea. Ann took us to a place that will allow you to be served whatever type of tea you are interested in before buying it. There were some absurdly expensive tea there...like a thousand US dollars for a small box. That was not the tea I bought however!

 I loved this bamboo baby carrier
 Second to last stop was for traditional Chinese dresses.
 Five and a half hours later, we finished up by getting tea sets and bowls.
I was supposed to be back before 4pm so I could fill out some Hague paperwork in preparation for our Consulate appointment tomorrow. Len, Nana, Kate and Lucy were all in the conference room so I went in and they went up to the room with all of the goodies that Paul and Ryan were so kind enough to Sherpa around for me all day. 

Finally got back to the room an hour later and found we really needed to get the girls to bed earlier tonight than we have been.  Paul and Ryan went to get some takeway Chinese and bring it back to the room. We fed Kate some leftover congee and some milk and got her down in Nana's room with the sound machine app running on the iPad while the rest of us scarfed down food in our room.  Lucy grudgingly ate from me just enough to alleviate her initial hunger but then tried to get anyone else to feed her. We finally gave up with me trying as she was escalating in screeching and we didn't want to wake Kate. Len ended up feeding her the rest of her meal. 

She's sleeping soundly on Len's bed right now.  We have to start her out on the bed for every nap/sleep time and then transfer her to the crib. Fingers crossed that she sleeps though again tonight. We have an early day tomorrow. Have to be in the lobby at 7:40am for our oath at the Consulate with Lucy in tow.  Then that is it for paperwork!  We just have to wait until we get Lucy's passport with her visa inside which should come back on the 27th (Tuesday).

Good night all and thanks again for reading and for the comments on FB, in the blog and via email. I read them every night and share them with Len as well. We are saving quite a few of them to re-read once we're home and can focus a bit better on the well-worn advice everyone has shared.


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