Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gatlinburg, Day 1

Today we have an amazing guest poster. Welcome the one, the only, MACKENZIE MILLER!
Hello. Mackenzie here. Thank you for that warm introduction, Stephanie. Now, on to today's events. Today was basically the worst day we are going to have in Gatlinburg. Yesterday, we went on a 4 hour car ride. That I could handle, because the car trip was spent mostly in the dark. We got to the hotel, and because my ever fashionable parents suggested, we slept in our clothes. Yay.
The next day, we woke up and went downstairs to breakfast. We expected a lot of people, like we always see when we go to hotels. But-No one was eating breakfast but us. So, still in our clothes from yesterday, we ate then went out to the car. There began our horrible 5 hour trip to Gatlinburg-in the daytime. I was in the backseat, so must of our trip was spent with me laying in the backseat and trying not to puke.  Around 12, we stopped for lunch at the glamorous Wendy's. Being a vegetarian, I always have a very limited selection at Wendy's. So I ordered a cheeseburger-without the meat. After eating, we headed out. We didn't get there till a bit later then we thought we would because of traffic. But, the house paid off for it. We have a playground, Ainsley and Ellie are sleeping in our loft, and I have my own huge room with a private balcony. Now, you might say "Poor Ellie and Ainsley!" But considering they both get their own beds, and a spying balcony, they're pretty happy. Right now, we are starting our fire to eat hot dogs (Me: PB&J), so as they say in Argentina: Chao!

Friday, October 12, 2012

4 1/2 Months Out-Phynley

Where are we 4 1/2 months post adoption with Phynley?

Here are just a couple of observations:

We are well on our way through the attachment process.  Phynley has done a great job attaching to our family.  She really enjoys playing with her sisters and hanging out with them, when they let her. She mimics lots of what they do and wants to be a big kid too.  She seems to be doing well with her attachment to both mom and dad too which is fantastic!  Sometimes we joke with friends that she is overly attached to mom, but in all honesty it's a good thing and I am so glad that we are seeing such secure bonds.  The attachment process was different with Ellie so I am thankful for the progress that Phynley has made.

This is probably one of my fave Phynley pics :)

We have started down the long road of surgeries.  Phynley had her first cleft related surgery on August 15th.  She had her palate repaired.  She did great with the surgery and was released from the hospital with just one overnight stay!  Yay for mom since I got very little sleep while in the hospital!  She has adjusted nicely and her surgeon says her repair looks great!  They were not able to close all the holes unfortunately because her palate was so expansive.  She still has two holes at the very front of her mouth and occasionally liquid still goes through her nose.  Those two holes will have to wait to be closed until she has her bone grafts done and that won't be till she's 8-9.  So for now we just clean her up after she's messy.  I am sure that soon it will be a process of helping her be more aware of this and be able to make a few adjustments as she eats to not have this happen, especially when she starts school.  Her next surgery is scheduled for early December.  Her plastic surgeon will be doing a repair of her nose and lip.  This is an elective surgery and one that I was torn over.  However, her plastic surgeon thinks he can get her lip repair, which was done very well in China, to look even smaller and more natural.  He also can give more definition to her nose.  We have decided to go ahead with the surgery.  We think she's absolutely beautiful the way she is, however I also recognize that this is the time to do the repair if we are going to do it.  We want to do as much as we can to make her scars as unnoticeable as possible to help her as she navigates elementary, middle and high school.  So we feel this surgery is one that we should have done.  But it means yet another 1-2 nights in the hospital.  

We have started down the long road of therapy.  Phynley currently receives developmental therapy and speech therapy through our Early Intervention program.  Developmental therapy is kind of an all encompassing therapy that includes a little bit of everything.  Ellie got both from early intervention when we brought her home as well, but in addition Ellie had OT and PT.  Phynley does not receive OT and PT.  Thankfully, she has no need currently for either of those services.  Phynley's acquisition of understanding the English language is going very well.  Her ability to communicate the English language to us...well let's just say that it's a slow process.  We can discern Mama, more and all done (not because all done actually sounds like all done-it really comes out more like ama until you slow her down and make her say all).   Most other sounds are just babble to me.  No D, P, T or B.  IF she attempts any of those sounds it all comes out sounding like an M.  She's got M covered.  That may be the only sound she has covered.  She goes for a speech eval with the cleft therapist in Nov.  That's the earliest we could get her in for some help on how to move forward with her speech.  Her early intervention therapist is very good but we wanted to get some more help.  We may continue with both or just use what we learn to help our current therapist move her forward.

Phynley is strong-willed.  Stubborn.  I am drawing a blank on another synonym.  She wants mommy ALL the time it seems.  And while I love it and love her to pieces, there are times when I am just simply trying to make it through the next few minutes.  She's a great sleeper both through the night and at nap time and for that I am really thankful!  I am able to have time to try to get some stuff done around the house while she naps a few days a week.  And we have lots of fun playing together when we have the time, but it is usually on her terms.  She often is completely uncooperative for speech therapy.  She doesn't like being "made" to do something and often will just refuse to cooperate.  We are learning to navigate her personality and use it to best help her reach her potential, but wow it can be tiring at times.

We are TIRED.  While we love each of the girls so so much, I can't imagine doing life with any more than four.  I am exhausted most of the time.  I feel like the house is constantly in a state of chaos when all the kids are home and how does adding just one kiddo seem to add so much more craziness?!!  Both Jeff and I drop into bed each night exhausted and the nights that we are both home catching up on one of our favorite shows, I am usually asleep on the floor.  I don't think we ever anticipated being quite so exhausted and life being quite so crazy.  We would do it all over in a heartbeat but we are still adjusting to life with four to say the least!  Thankfully God loves us, is patient with us and gives us what we need to make it through each day.  

That's life with Phynley in a quick summary.  While I don't take a lot of pictures I have captured a few more...

 I love the tub!  It is so much fun to splash and get everyone wet!

 I also love my crib...and sleep...after I stop crying about going to sleep, that is...

 I want to go to school and be a Goshen Gator just like my sister Ellie..

 Really...I do...

 mom..did you have to make me look so ridiculous??!!

love me some goggles...they are pretty cool...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leaving Guangzhou!!

I had to laugh a little at Mackenzie's post yesterday.  She can be so descriptive but not so much yesterday.  It was actually pretty cool at the zoo and she had a lot of fun.  We paid a little extra money for her to go in and feed the giraffes.  We have never been that close to giraffes before so it was pretty awesome.  The picture she chose to post wasn't the cutest so I will post a few more today, but she really had a lot of fun feeding them and seeing them up close.  And it was pretty cool to see the two pandas up and moving around.  They are usually sleeping apparently because the weather they are used to is colder but in Guangzhou is is very warm so it makes them more sleepy.  But they were both up and moving so we watched them for a while since we don't get to see pandas very often!
We are leaving Guangzhou this morning at 10 am via van to Hong Kong.  Apparently it is a 3 hour van ride.  Not sure I am looking forward to that but I am looking forward to getting home and seeing my other two kiddos!!  Only 2 more days!!  Hopefully I will have time to take some pictures of our hotel room.  I haven't taken any because we have the room trashed with all our stuff but when our suitcases are all picked up I want to be able to capture it on camera.
Enjoy a few more pictures from the zoo yesterday..

Guangzhou-Day 4

This is a Mack Post. Today was awesome! We went to the zoo and saw pandas that actually walked around! We saw lions and leopards and bears, oh my! We also got to see the giraffes-my favorite! and feed them. I also found out from a zoo lady that the caterpillars I have let crawl on me leave itchy rashes-I only have a mini one. Thankfully that's all they do. After the zoo we headed to the subway and took it to the island. We went in to A Gift from China and bought some pretty cool stuff. Then we ate at Lucy's-yum!  We went back to the hotel and mom met with Connie and got our visa while the rest of us stayed in the hotel room. Then we headed to the pool. Mom chatted with another adopting mom and dad and I hung out in the pool. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Guangzhou-Day 3

Today was a busy day!  We started our morning bright and early since we had to meet our guide in the lobby by 7:50.  We left the hotel at 8 am to get to the American Consulate for our visa appointment at 8:30.  Our guides aren't actually allowed to go with us up to our visa appointment.  We took an oath with 23 other families saying that our to the best of our knowledge our paperwork is true and accurate.  Then they bring every family up individually, look over our packet of paperwork to make sure everything is in order and then send us on our way.  Everything went great and our guide will be picking up Phynley's visa tomorrow and dropping it off to us in the afternoon.Technically you can leave as soon as you get their visa, but since we used frequent flier miles we had to fly back out of Hong Kong and the way the flights worked, we needed to wait till Thursday to fly out.
Then it was back to the hotel briefly and off to Shamien Island for shopping!  Things are different on the island with the White Swan undergoing renovations.  There are fewer shops and fewer people.  We did eat lunch at Lucy's with the other family from CAWLI and we did get most all our souvenir shopping done.  I am secretly hoping to go back to a store called A Gift From China if I can convince Jeff to let me :)  Their prices are more expensive but all the profits help benefit orphans so my spending is all for a good cause :)  We didn't realize all that the store would have.  It was the last store we visited and we had already kept our driver waiting so I didn't get all the time I wanted to look around.  But we had a lot of fun shopping.
Phynley took a little bit of a nap and then we all spent some time at the pool.  A quick bite to eat for dinner and then we took the Metro to see Canton Tower.  We were going to go last night but decided tonight was better.  Mackenzie was extremely thankful that we decided not to go up onto the highest observation platform.  After reviewing the cost we decided that it was way to expensive and so we just took pictures.  It is a beautiful sight at night!  We got at least a few photos from the day. 
Only 3 more days till we are home!!

Mackenzie at the base of Canton Tower

Phynley being flexible

Outdoor eating area at Lucy's

The base of Canton Tower

Canton Tower

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guangzhou-Day 2

We had a fun day today but boy was it hot and humid!  We spent the morning visiting White Cloud Mountain and Gardens.  It was absolutely beautiful!  We of course managed to leave the camera behind so we had to use Jeff's iphone to get pictures.  Thankfully his iphone takes decent pictures!  We were dripping sweat about an hour after being out in the heat, but we still managed to enjoy our time.  We took a tram up and down the mountain, got to see some amazing sights, hear some good Chinese singing and see some beautiful flowers.  Then we headed back to the hotel and Mackenzie and I spent some time at the pool while Jeff hung out in the room so Phynley could nap.  We went out to dinner with some friends that we have met here.  Our first Thai excursion since being here.  Apparently the number of us got lost in translation because they took 8 plus three young kids to a table that seated 5 and so we had to wait some more to finally get seated.  This is the first restaurant we have gone to where we have had to actually wait to be seated.  And then the ordering process was a bit odd.  She didn't think we ordered enough food, but by the time we were finished, we still had food left over.  It was nice to get to know another family a little bit and we had a good time.  Stopped at the 7 eleven for ice cream on the way home.  Phynley did great the whole evening!  Very little fussing and she's pretty calm.  Wonder how much that will change once we get her home! 
We got to skype Grammie I and the girls this evening and now we are getting ready to head to bed.  We have an early morning consulate appointment tomorrow.  We have to meet in the lobby by 7:50, which is way earlier than we have been getting up, or at least way earlier than everyone else except me has been getting up!  I think it takes 20 minutes to get there, should take us an hour or so and then we are coming back to change and head to Shamien Island, where we will do our souvenir shopping :)  So excited that we get to eat lunch at Lucy's!  It was one of our favorite restaurants when we were here the last time.  American food!!  I think I am going to get a burger or at least something not chicken!!  We have had a lot of chicken in an effort to get foods that everyone can like and share that's not too spicy for the kids.  It should be a fun day!  We were going to go to the Canton Tower tonight but decided to postpone it till tomorrow night since we had to be up early tomorrow, so there should be lots to post about tomorrow :)  Hopefully we all make it out alive.  Mackenzie is questioning whether we will all die, but we did manage to survive the first deathtrap, the Ferris wheel, so I am feeling pretty optimistic about our chances. 

Guangzhou-Day 1.5 (Mackenzie)

This is another guest post by Mackenzie. Today we went to the lobby at 9:30. Connie was a bit late so we chatted with Chris and Shelly and their 3 year old daughter, Gracie. When Connie came at 9:41, we hopped into the van, and all eight of us headed to Yun Tai Garden. It was beautiful. There was a huge fountain at the entrance and so many pretty flowers. There was a rose garden, a green house, and a clock made of flowers! But it was HOT.  By the time we headed over to the tram, I was rosy in the face. We took a tram up and down the mountain and had a beautiful view of the treetops and the city shrouded in mist far off. Afterword, Mom and I went to the pool where we saw Chris and Shelly.  We swam for a while in the pool because it was hot!  91 degrees and humid.  After we got back to the room, dad took me with him to pick up water and a McFlurry. We are heading to a Thai restaurant for dinner tonight.  Mom wants us to go to the Canton Tower tonight.  It is the tallest structure in China and the 4th tallest structure in the world.  It was built in 2009 and became operational for the 2010 Asian Games.  People can ride to the observation deck, which is 488 meters above the ground.  It is currently the highest and largest outdoor observation deck in the World.  Mom thinks this will be fun. I think: SCARY! 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guangzhou Day 1

This is a guest post by Mackenzie. The physical was a very quick process with Phynley. We went right in and they took her photo in minutes, though it took a bit to get her attention to the camera. They took her temperature-normal- and took her weight-22 pounds!-. I don't know how that can be since she is devouring those rice cookies! When we got to our room, Dad and I headed out to the swimming pool. It was huge with colder water than Dad expected. At about 2 o'clock we met Connie, our guide, in the lobby. She took us around to view some shops nearby and see the hotel area. Then she took Mom and the mother of a three year-old Chinese girl, also from CAWLI, upstairs to do the paperwork. The rest of us headed upstairs. Phynley enjoyed her rice cookie while smiling at the camera and nosing her Daddy. Later, after eating a healthy meal of chicken nuggets and fries, we finally had a breakthrough. While copying me and attempting to put her foot behind her head, she started copying everything I did. Then, for the first time she copied me doing the sign for more! But as hard as we tried, she would not do it again. I'll post more tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guangzhou Arrival!

Just wanted to let everyone know we did arrive in Guangzhou last night.  Our flight was delayed an hour and a half due to weather in Guangzhou so by the time we arrived at the hotel and checked in it was close to 10 and Phynley was sound asleep.  I was able to move her from the ERGO to her crib without her waking up though and she slept through the night.
We had a pretty low key day yesterday.  Sissi brought us all her documents-birth certificate, adoption decree and Chinese passport yesterday at 11:30.  We were pretty surprised we were able to get the passport since they moved to the electronic chip, but we did!  So we were able to leave Nanchang with everything in hand!
We got to see Sissi's apartment which was pretty cool.  I had never been in a Chinese home, except for our friend Kim's apartment and while she lives in China she isn't Chinese so I thought styles might be different.  Her apartment was on the 24th floor but was very nice.  I was able to remember to take out my camera and get at least a few pictures!
The rest of our day was spent traveling to/from airports and waiting in airports.
This morning we are off to get Phynley's visa physical done. Praying it goes smoothly! Not sure what else is on the agenda!

Will post more tonight but here a few photos from Sissi's apartment..

Etching on the floor to ceiling mirror..beautiful!

living room...looks like it is straight out of IKEA :)

Other half of living room

View from the balcony of their living room...amazing!

Hall..probably not so interesting :)

Part of her daughter's room..I loved the curtains and wanted to replicate when I got back home..

Phynley's first pool adventure

Mackenzie at the indoor pool...

Dining Area

Already mastering the remote..

Not joking...think she actually might have seen one of these before..:)

Apparently she didn't like National Geographic...