Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 9 with Audrey

Today was another good day with Audrey. We have a good bed time routine down (warm bottle of milk and I lay down with her on the bed) that may take a bit of time but there is little to no crying. She also had I think maybe one tantrum/fit and that was it.


We are observing her carefully to try and figure out what triggers the moods and swings that bring on the tantrums. We've been noticing large crowds cause her to withdraw and become very quiet. Then, if something doesn't go her way, a fit or tantrum might ensue.


So sometimes we have to turn around and go back to the room if we see warning signs coming on. Because we really don't like the fits ;-). Today we decided to tryout the pool.


It's definitely warm enough. VERY humid and thankfully overcast. If that sun peeks out, you can almost feel the sun sizzling your skin. And it's only been in the 80's and 90's - usually they are over 100 this time of year.


Audrey did very well for what is most likely her first experience in a swimming pool. In fact, she was pretty fearless.


It didn't take long before she was jumping off the edge into her Baba's arms. Laughing and smiling and completely enraptured when Jason would swim underwater.


We had the pool pretty much to ourselves it was so nice and relaxing.



Oh yes, I think she will have no problem keeping up with her sisters in the pool at home. I know she'll be keeping us on our toes!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 8 with Audrey

We woke up feeling a bit better thanks to the cold air conditioning and soft beds of the Marriott. Ahhh...almost like home ;-). And i have to say, if yesterday was the worst day with Audrey thus far, God gave us the best day with Audrey thus far today!

We hit the hotel's fabulous breakfast buffet & were reminiscing about our last trip here and the wonderful group we were in. It's a bit different when you're by yourself!

First stop for the day was Audrey's medical appointment. This is supposed to be an independent exam by a doctor to confirm what the medical file states or bring up other issues not mentioned in the paperwork.


There were no surprises with Audrey and she tolerated the exams by several doctors very well. She also received her TB shot and barely whimpered. We were so proud of her! From there we went to a grocery store and stocked up on some supplies and snacks then returned to the hotel for a free afternoon and evening.

After naps and some eating, we decided to venture out to a nearby park. As many of you know or have heard, the driving in China is just crazy. Traffic signals and painted lanes are just suggestions and it can be a near death experience trying to cross the road in many of the big cities. So China has in many of these areas these underground passes that allow pedestrians to cross safely underneath the streets.


They are HUGE and very wide. But you need to pay attention when using them because while there is signage down there, it's in Mandarin (Guangzhou also has them in English but Urumqi did not), and it is very easy to get lost down in these catacombs as there are usually more than 4 corridors to take...


These women were groundskeepers at the park.


This park wasn't quite as busy as the Urumqi park but just as beautiful with its shady walkways...



Wedding photos in the park.



There were these cute elephant statues there - I was surprised Audrey sat up there by herself for the picture.


She's learning to turn and smile whenever the lens is pointed in her face.


This is my 'keeping it real photo' of the day. Yes, our Chinese princess is quite good at the nose clearing habit so many Chinese people practice. It's hard to tell here, but she had squatted, leaned over into the bushes, closed off one side of her nose & started blowing! Oh my. I was horrified. It would have been better (in my opinion) if she had pulled her pants down & gone to the bathroom (which has almost happened before ;-). Had to take the photo so one day we can laugh & remember "the good old days".


There were several cats running around the park. We didn't get too close though because ummm...well, he doesn't look too well...


Another beautiful walkway in the park.


The wonderful China Marriott hotel we are staying at.



After the park, we headed back to the room, had a quick dinner, skyped with the girls and went to bed. First full day in Guangzhou down. We're more than halfway through our stay and we're counting down the days until we are HOME!!


Days 6 & 7 with Audrey

So going back a few days was our last day in Audrey's hometown of Urumqi.


Morning breaks over Urumqi.



We decided to again, head over to the park to stretch our legs and take in the sites once more.



At this point, Audrey is smiling more when with us. She is waking up without crying and the last few days I've been able to put her down on the bed at night with a bottle and she's gone to sleep without crying.


She was feeling particularly playful and mischievous today...


The shoes I brought with me from the states are a bit too big for her so we stopped and bought her a new pair of tennis shoes. She loves them and holds that black box with her wherever we go that day.

Even though it is later in the afternoon, there are still lots of people in the park, congregating under the shaded areas of the park. The people pictured here are listening to music.



We end our day in the park by eating at the Muslim restaurant we've gone to almost everyday.


After this, we went back to our room and got the great news via email from our guide that Audrey's passport was ready! We were so happy we did a little happy dance that Audrey thought was sooo funny! ;-). We left early the next morning on a China Southern flight for Guangzhou.

This turned out to be probably the worst day with Audrey yet. As I mentioned in my previous post, Audrey screamed almost the entire flight. We used some Dramamine to help her sleep and to fight any motion sickness she might have. It backfired on us and I think made her more cranky. I felt bad for the people around us but short of letting her run wild around the plane, pulling other people's hair, throwing all magazines on the ground, etc., there was nothing we could do. This did not end once we landed and culminated in Audrey biting my shoulder while we were waiting for luggage. When our guide, Amy picked us up, she asked how we were doing & I burst into tears.

We checked into our hotel, the China Marriott, had dinner across the street at McDonalds, and hit the hay early. No pictures taken's frankly a day I'd rather forget...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Attachment and Bonding

Beware. Brutal honesty is about to follow...

Things are s l o w l y getting better with our little firecracker. Each day brings a few more smiles, a few less frowns, a little more understanding. I have been surprised at myself, though. How even though I've been through this before, I find myself feeling at times as though this is not going to work. Or at least not work well.

Even though that was how I felt with Amelia in the beginning too.

I am not one of those people who bonds instantly with their children. Even with Ava it was not an instant bond at birth. Of course I love her deeply now but I hear some people talk about how when their baby is first placed in their arms they fell instantly in love. This was not my experience and I really don't understand that, I guess.

I cared for her, of course. I worried about her, and wanted everything to be good for her. I felt responsible for her. But to truly love her took time.

And that's how it was with Amelia.

And that's how it is with Audrey.

It's very strange to travel half way around the world, have a toddler thrust into your arms and be instantly made a family. When really, this person is a stranger.

They look different. Smell different. Sound different. Act different.

I can only imagine how strange we seem to her!

Now add to that several years of institutional care, no matter how good that care is, a revolving door of primary caregivers in a short period of time, a physical disability, and you have a difficult road to go down no matter how good the circumstances may be.


We've discovered that Audrey has quite the temper and fiery personality! There have honestly been times, during a particularly loud, public fit throwing episode, that I find it a challenge to like her. I feel responsible for her. I care about her welfare. But those lovey-dovey feelings are slow to come when the transition is difficult.

Yes, progress is coming. But it feels like 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Or like yesterday, when she screamed and threw fit after fit for 3 1/2 hours of the 4 1/2 hour flight to Guangzhou, it feels like 5 steps back. And then, while we are waiting for luggage and she is throwing another full blown, laying on the ground, thrashing fit with crowds of Chinese people standing around staring & seeming to ask me WHY I don't do something to help her so I finally pick her up & she bites me hard on the shoulder....those times? Well those times feel like 10 steps back.




My head tells me that this will work itself out eventually. That she will learn to trust us and feel safe and recognize boundaries and respect authority. But right now my heart is having a hard time believing my head...


Adoption is h a r d. It is wonderful and rewarding and a blessing but it is also hard. And I have wondered, as Audrey is thrashing around on the floor, biting me and rejecting the ones who have come to love her & make her part of our family, if that is how we look to Christ in our sin. So unlovable. Rejecting the One who gave His life out of love for us to make us a part of His family.


And I realize how weak I am. How easily swayed by my emotions, I am. And I pray daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute for God to give me the strength to see and love Audrey as He He sees and loves me...


2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.






Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunday Snapshot: Chinese Lunch

We are in China now, adopting our daughter and have gone to the local People's Park almost every day now. I snapped this picture of a man stopping to have a little lunch break. Love how his cheeks are a little puckered with the water he just sipped...


Very little editing done to the picture, just a few bumps using Photoshop Express on my iPad.

This was another fave so far...



Head over to Ni Hao Y'all for more Sunday Snapshots...

Ni Hao Yall


Day 5 with Audrey

Yesterday was one of our "free" days. We would not have our guide with us and were left by ourselves to do whatever we wanted. We woke up, had breakfast, and headed out for the park again.


It was another beautiful day to wander around, enjoy the sights and sounds, and let Audrey stretch her legs...


I noticed many more fishermen here today but Jason said there were just as many the other days. There is so much to look at here I guess it's good we are going back several times.


I've never been to Central Park in New York City, but I wonder if it doesn't have this same sort of oasis in the middle of the bustling city.


It is amazing to me that with the loud noises of the traffic, CONSTANTLY honking horns, construction noises, etc., that once you are inside the gates of the park, all you hear are people talking, laughing, birds chirping, wind wafting through the tree branches.


Because this is the park where Audrey was found when she was just a baby, I've thought it's most likely an elderly person found her since they are the majority of those that congregate at the park in the mornings.

And I've wondered if that person happens to be here today as well.


There was a plethora of people dancing again.



And this time, some people were out in paddle boats, slowly circling the little lake.


Audrey was having a grand old time with her freedom to run about, yell and laugh.


Although there was, of course, the obligatory melt down at one point...I'm telling ya, this girl has a quick little temper!



But she's learning to control herself and calm down quickly after her outbursts. It's frustrating for both of us because of the language barrier. While Amelia is very verbal and talkative now, she wasn't at all when we first got her. Audrey babbles a lot in her cute little Chinese that we can't understand :-)

So we decided to head back to the hotel and take a nap. We encountered this truck navigating the walkways of the park. I guess they do this periodically to clean off the trees and wash everything down?


I think we will probably go back tomorrow (which is today now) since it is another free day. It's about a 20 minute walk from our hotel and helps to pass the time for us.


We did take some naps then head out to a nearby department store. We wandered around, bought a few items and then headed to the grocery store to stock up on some supplies. We are really looking forward to Guangzhou (and hoping we get in before tropical storm Kai-Tak hits mainland China and the Guangdong province - where Guangzhou is!)


Day 4 with Audrey

Before I tell you about our day, I have to comment on the beautiful weather we've been having. Because Urumqi is so far north, the temps are very mild in the summer (but gets VERY cold, as cold as -4 degrees F, in the winter). They can get into the 90's, but we've had 70's and 80's while we've been here. It was so cool the other day, we left our window open all day and night! This cool weather will NOT be the case once we get to Guangzhou, which is in southern China. There it is very hot and humid, almost we are soaking up the cool weather while we can.

We arranged to have our guide take us to Heavenly Lake today. It is a natural lake up high in the Tian Shan mountain range that border Urumqi. I'd heard wonderful things about this lake and the thought of getting out into nature and having a relaxing day strolling along a lake seemed like a great way to spend the day.

So our guide picked us up after breakfast where LiLi finally had a full meal. She was happy and smiling (we are always trying to keep that line between happy and manic/crazy :-) While Audrey is more attached to me at this point, she does love her Baba (Mandarin for Daddy) and when he leaves to go to the buffet line, she starts looking for him and saying his name. She yell out very loudly, "Baba!" and he'll reply (softly) "LiLi!". It's their cute little game :-)

We climbed into a nice roomy Audi with a driver who took us about an hour outside the city to the Heavenly Lake entrance building. There we bought tickets and smashed in with the hoards of people waiting to get on a bus that would take us to the Heavenly Lake. This was our first sign that this trip may not be as relaxing a day as we thought...

We drove about 30 minutes on the bus where we had to get off and change to another bus. The reason for this change is the opportunity to buy a souvenir at the government run gift shop :-) We got back in the next bus and drove another 15-20 minutes up very curvy, winding mountainous roads. About 5 minutes before we stopped, Audrey threw up. All. Over. Everything.

Luckily, I had brought another outfit along. When we stopped at the top, we got out, wiped her off and promptly threw her clothes in the nearest trash can. Then, we continued the steep road up to Heavenly Lake.

This gives you a bit of an idea of how many people were going to visit the lake today. It was a steady stream of people going up, up, up.

It was a beautiful lake. This gives you another idea of how crowded it was here that day. The mountains in the background eventually connect to the mountain range where Mt Everest is. Our guide also runs a sort of travel agency and was telling us how she's escorting a group who is going to climb K2 when they are here as they are going to enter the mountain range through Urumqi.

Here is another shot without so many people in view.

The air was so crisp and cool, the sun warm, and the clear blue skies made for a spectacular day to see the lake. And that's about all that you do at the lake. You view it. And admire its beauty. There is no skiing on the lake, no swimming, no fishing, and because of the mountainous region, no beaches to even lounge near the lake.

We took the obligatory family picture in front of the lake.

We then boarded a boat that I thought would take us to another side of the lake but we just drove around the lake then got off. :-). But I did get some great pictures.

This was another area you could go too and walk all those many stairs to probably a gift shop or something. However, with a darter that has difficulty walking we decided to forego that area.

Those white structures are yurts up on the mountainside. There is actually a bed & breakfast up there too you can stay at. Would be a fun experience sometime...

So we walked around the lake for awhile again, then walked back down the mountain, boarded a bus and drove another 40 minutes back down the mountain, got in our car and drove back to the city where we had a late lunch/early dinner.

Overall, we are glad we went although it was a long day. But it helped fill the day and made for a good memory.
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