Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving and Other Stuff (updated with photos)

I love my Granddaddy

I have been meaning to post for a while, but was waiting until Derek downloaded the pictures on to the computer. Well, he still hasn't done it so I thought I would post before I forgot everything. I know that I should learn how to download the pictures myself...I will eventually!

Thanksgiving was great. We had Thanksgiving at Debbie's (Derek's sister) house. It was a full house!! Ava did great with all of the family present. She also ate very well....much better than Peter. I made him try turkey and he gagged when it touched his tongue!!! I made Ben try the dressing and the sweet potato casserole...he didn't like either. How can you NOT like sweet potato casserole???? Ava loved Grandaddy Chapman!!! Anywhere he went, she was there. She spent most of the day on his lap.

Ava is doing really well. She is still happy all of the time. She and Peter are still good buddies. He tells me all of the time that he loves her. Friday night we all hung out in the family room in the basement. We had a fire, and watched a movie. We were going to make s'mores, but we didn't have any regular marshmellows. We only had these awful fruit swirl marshmellows that the boys convinced me to buy one day. After the movie, Derek and the boys decided that they were all going to sleep downstairs. It was really late and I knew Ava had to be tired so I took her up to bed with me. We got into bed, I turned off all of the lights except my table lamp. She would not lay down so I pretended to be asleep...that usually works. I continued to lay there hoping she would go to sleep. After a little bit, she turned and looked at me and I noticed that her eyes looked teary. I sat up and saw tears coming down her face. She was not making a sound. It broke my heart. I have never seen a child this young cry quietly! I put my arms around her and she just started bawling. I let her cry for a bit and then she pointed to the door. She wanted to go back downstairs. I took her downstairs and we ALL slept downstairs! We had a family slumber party! It might be a while before I have her sleep in her room by herself. I don't want her to be alone crying quietly! I wonder how many nights she has already had sitting alone crying quietly...not anymore.

We took her to church again this Sunday...we usually leave when the children go to children's church...she is not very good at being quiet. If fact, whenever it quiets down, she usually lets out a yell. She waved to Susan up in the choir loft when we sat down. She is very social. She has fallen in love with Andy (our choir director). He held her last Sunday for a bit and today when he was holding her she didn't want to go back to us. We had to pry her from him to go home.

We go to the doctor tomorrow. I'm glad to finally get her seen.

Helping Grandmama open b/d presents

Peter with b/d ribbon in his hair

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wonderful Welcome Home!

After our long flight , we get to the airport and had a wonderful welcome home!. Most of Derek's family, Ben and Peter were there to meet Ava. Jim made a beautiful banner and the boys made us some welcome home signs. It was SO nice to be home!!!

Welcome Home Banner

The boys with their signs

Ava finally in her own room

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Coming Home!!!

We went to the consulate today and finished up our paper work. As soon as we land in Atlanta and go through customs, Ava will be a US citizen! We have just finished packing. The bell boy is coming this evening to get our luggage and we leave at 5:30 tomorrow morning. We are SO ready. The only thing we are going to miss is the tropical weather in Guangzhou. See you all soon!!!!

Buddha Likes Orange Soda!

Went yesterday to the Buddhist Temple. Didn't know he liked orange soda but apparently he drinks a lot of it. People left him many cans of it on his altar. Don't think they are of the diet variety given his belt line. Sorry we don't have a picture but trust me it was funny.

Pictures on the famous Red Couch today then off to the American Consulate for the swearing in.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Go/Geaux Tigers

We brought an Auburn outfit to take a picture of Ava while in China. We hadn't gotten around to it and then yesterday we met an LSU couple at breakfast. They also brought their daughter, Emily, an outfit to wear. So, we decided to take a couple of pictures together yesterday afternoon at the red couch of the two of them together. They were really cute.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Moving Along

Things are going great. Ava is always a happy girl. Everyone in our group talks about how happy she is. She is always smiling at everyone and making funny faces. She really likes to have fun and laugh.

We had her medical exam yesterday. The doctor listened to her heart and heard a murmur. She got the cardiologist to come listen to her as well. He confirmed this. Her medical report said that she had no murmur anymore. The doctor didn't seem to think it was anything to be concerned about. We were going to take her to a cardiologist anyway. Other than that, everything looks good.

We are off for some more shopping this morning and we have some sight seeing tours this afternoon. I don't even remember what they are.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just Pictures

We Are At The White Swan

Sorry we haven't been posting. We haven't really done too much the last few days. Our time in Shanxi wasn't too good. I got sick Wednesday during our tour and I wasn't completely back to normal on Thursday so we stayed in again. We were going to go on another tour on Friday, but Ava was really congested and the weather there is pretty cold so we stayed in again. Everyone is better now. Today is the first day I've really eaten since Tuesday. When we checked into the hotel here in Guangzhou we were starving and ordered a pizza. It was the best Papa John's pizza I've ever had...not really, but I was really ready for anything other than rice or noodles. Ava loved the pizza. She almost ate 2 whole slices...and it was loaded with meat and veggies.

Ava did wonderful on the plane. I was a little worried because of her congestion, but her ears didn't seem to bother her at all. When we got to the airport, we met up with the other group of travelers. It was so nice to see all of them with their babies. One of the couples have twins. All of the babies are about a year old. I think the oldest may be 14 months old. We meet up with them later this afternoon. It is nice to be traveling with the group again. One couple that we have met has 4 children at home and their two oldest were adopted at 4 and 3 domestically. It has been so great having them here. She (Rebecca) has given me a lot of insight into adopting an older child.

The weather in Guangzhou is much more my speed than in Taiyuan. When I saw palm trees through the window on the plane, I new I was in my kind of place.

Oh yeah, we had some computer problems over the past couple of days and have lost some pictures. We also weren't able to get on the internet much. We are right now uploading some pictures to an offsite storage. I will post some pictures later. Sorry...I know that is why you came. That is all I ever look at blogs for :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's Official-She's Ours!

Sorry for the delay in posting but we were without internet yesterday.

T o catch up.

Tuesday: We returned to the Civil Affairs Building to finalize the paperwork. Many signatures and red thumbprints and Ava's red hand print. But she is officially ours. We returned to the hotel for a good nap then we took Ava to the indoor pool. She loved it but was a little timid. Unfortunately due to a computer problem we lost the photos and video this.

Wednesday: We had big outing planned to some sites about 2 hours away. Unfortunately due to the long car ride on bad roads and maybe a virus Marcia was in no shape to stay. We had a quick tour but returned early. Unfortunately Marcia was out the rest of the day but Ava and I spent time exploring the hotel and walking the halls. We ate dinner together at the hotel.

It's Thursday morning here. Ava is in my lap as I type this and is curious about the computer. No big plans today. We may venture out into the smog if Marcia is up to it to the zoo or local park.


Meanwhile, Back the Ranch....

A note from Donna...

Ben and Pete have talked about Ava a lot in the past week and have enjoyed reading about her and especially seeing her via the webcam. Pete has had the most to say, which is very typical while Ben does the "thinking" thing. Last night,while driving home from Cub Scouts, we passed a Chinese restaurant in Hapeville and I asked the boys if they ever eat there. They said no, but Ben went into a monologue about how much he likes the Chinese take-out that we occasionally eat when he and Peter stay at our house on AU football weekends. He was trying to convince Pete how good it is but Pete is perfectly happy with his PB&J thank-you-very-much. About a minute passed and Pete said, "I hope the Chinese restaurant has a drive-in window." When I asked why, he said "So we can drive through and get Ava something on our way to McDonald's." What a sweetie! Pete is also a little concerned that Ava does not like sweets, since that is his favorite food group.

I know the boys miss their mommy and daddy, but they are doing really well. Marcia has everything so organized and the boys know and follow the routine. Last night was the first time they've asked to sleep with me, so I let them. (Even though I'm acting the role of parent right now, I'm still just an old softy aunt who has a hard time saying no.)

We're counting the days until Derek and Marcia return with Ava. She's in for a real treat, because she'll have two precious boys to smother with kisses and hugs.

- Donna

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

We Have a Daughter

It is official...she is ours! We got up this morning and drove over to the civil affairs office and signed all of the paper work.

We had a good night last night. We have two twin beds in our room so I started out with Ava and Derek slept in the other bed. She is a little squirmy and actually fell off of the bed at one point in the night. The beds are really low to the ground though and she made a little noise, I picked her up and she went right back to sleep. After that, I was worried she was going to fall out again so I kept my arm around her. Sometime in the night Derek and I switched so I could sleep. She likes to rub the sheet between her thumb and index finger while going to sleep. She woke up happy as can be!

After the civil affairs office, we celebrated with a trip to Walmart. Their walmart is huge! A lot more food then we have. Charlene, I saw a package of chicken feet right by the register. I guess that is one of their impulse shopping items! I can probably go back if you want me to pick some up for you!

When we got back, we ordered room service and again, she ate like I have never seen a child eat. She can put away a lot of food for a little person!!! The only thing she doesn't seem to like (other then toothpaste) are sweets. After lunch we all took a much needed nap! We then went to the swimming pool. I don't think she has ever had a bathing suit on. She couldn't seem to figure out the top. She kept trying to pull it down. She really had a good time in the water. We'll post some pictures in a little bit.

She is so funny. She gives everyone a smile and makes funny faces all of the time. She loves to give kisses and she loves to try and feed us or give us her sippy cup. There must have been some younger babies with her in foster care. She and Derek are in bed now...he could hardly get her to sleep b/c she kept wanting to give kisses. I think we have another good one!

We are having a great time getting to know our new daughter!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Our Prays Answered!

We arrived at the office of Civil Affairs for Shanxi Province in Taiyuan City a little before our 2:30pm appointment. Up the elevator to the 5th floor down a cold, dark hallway to the room where we were to get Ava. The doorway was locked because the officials had not arrived yet. There was another mother there with her sister ready for her second adoption. Unfortunately, their flight had been delayed so they literally just arrived from the USA and had not even been to the hotel.

The room was sparsely furnished except for 2 desks and a large black leather couch. We were given some paperwork to look over and sign then without ceremony Ava was led into the room by two ladies. Marcia and I had both prayed (though not nearly enough) for Ava to have a peace at this time. She had more than peace and in fact shared in our joy of the moment.

As I was sitting on the couch closest to the door she immediately walked up to me smiling and raised her arms for me to pick her up. She was all smiles and we spend the next 15 minutes passing the happy child back and forth between us while trying to simultaneously capture the event on video and in photographs.

We would find out that she had received a care package we had sent months earlier. In that package was a photo album of our families labeled in Chinese with our names (mama, daddy, grandpa, brother, etc.) so she must have recognized us. She also had a well loved, very dirty pink stuffed bear which we had sent.

Back at the hotel we removed 5 layers of clothes to reveal she was wearing a pair of pink pajamas we had sent. They had been cut and sewn into "split pants". Soon after the undressing she signaled to us that she needed to go to the bathroom which she did both "numbers" without incident.

She happily took a bath (and believe me she needed one). The only thing she didn't like were some small plastic pig toys which she insisted we remove from the tub. We clipped her nails, brushed her hair, brushed her teeth (with some resistance) and ordered room service.

She immediately began to eat noodles, steamed bun, and even vegetables (a first for one of our children). After supper we dimmed the lights and she lay between us as she fell asleep.

We cannot describe the ease of the whole event and the peace and joy we all have at this moment. I had not cried until I wrote this but now God has blessed my family even while I'm on the other side of the world as he has at every step of this journey.


Happy Girl is With Us!

Here are some pictures. Will give details later.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Last Day in Beijing!

Great day today. The rest of the group left for their province so we were on our own today. Marcia and I got up early today and after breakfast walked to the local market for a look around. Many interesting foods, dried herbs, etc.

We visited the Llama temple and then got a tour of a historic "traditional neighborhood" (can't remember the name right now). Climbed to the top of the drum tower.

We just arrived in Shanxi province and we get Ava tomorrow about 3PM our time.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stairs, Stairs, Stairs

Today's Events!
Great Wall, Friendship Store, Summer Palace, Olympic Stadium Drive-By.

We are tired tonight because we have walked a lot today, including climbing way up the Great Wall. I'll keep it brief and insert a few pictures.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Jet Lag

Well, we discovered the best time to get on the internet....3:00am! And unfortunately, we have been up at that time both nights. We are having a good time thought. We are actually here with about 10 other couples so the site seeing tours have been fun. We met in the lobby yesterday morning with our group and headed to T Square and The Forbidden City. We were swarmed by vendors the the whole time we were there. If any of you wanted a General Mao watch, you should've told me...they had some great deals!

We got back to the hotel around 1:00 and went to a large department store next to the hotel. It was really nice, but really expensive. We didn't buy anything. One couple bought some Crocs...they were about the same price as in the US. We went with another couple to a Thai restaurant for lunch. We had communication problems there, but the menu was huge and had pictures of everything they served....which wasn't to their advantage. They serve roasted duck and chicken with the head on!!! They also had a dish called chicken gristle!!! Derek had some kind of chicken that I didn't try and I had shrimp fried rice. Mine was very bland, but I felt safe eating it. The only thing we knew to say in chinese to our waiter was that we wanted our drinks with no ice. BTW, chinese coke tastes different.

We were suppose to meet back with the group at 4:30 to go to an acrobatic show, but something happened with the tickets and we couldn't go. They arrange for us to go to a Kung Fu show instead at around 7:30. I SO did not want to go...I was tired and just ready to go to bed. Derek guilted me into going. He thought it would be lame to stay in the hotel room while in China. I personally didn't care about Kung Fu and thought there would be a much better show on the back of my eyelids!!! When we finally met again to go to the show, they told us that we were going to get to go the acrobat show. It was just going to be at a different location (it was actually at the public library theater). The show was not very good. We have seen the chinese acrobat show at Epcot and that is amazing. We decided those must be the best of the best. I also think we probably missed the good show. When we finally got back to the room, we were exhausted. We decided to take some Ambien to make sure we slept. We both took only half a pill and slept pretty well for awhile, but we both woke up at around 3:00. So, now Derek is reading his John Adams book (and if that can't put you to sleep....) and I'm here on the computer.

Today we go to the Great Wall...will talk later! I only have 5 hours until I have to meet everyone downstairs!

Oh yeah, our pictures from yesterday are all weird. So, unless we get them figured out, no pix!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

We're Here

We've made it but have had some trouble posting the the blog. It is 7:15am 11/2/07. We are getting ready to go downstairs for a free buffet breakfast at our hotel. Marcia has slept some but I have not but feel ok. We're to meet up with about 10 other couples for a trip to the Forbidden City this morning and then for an Acrobatic Show in the afternoon. The hotel (what we've seen of it) is nice with a great view of the Beijing Skyline. We will post as possible.

We received some more "personal information" on Ava yesterday. She is staying with a foster grandma and grandpa but is especially found of her foster grandpa. So Don and Pedro get ready. They said she can speak in short sentences (in Chinese, we cannot by the way) and eats well. She even eats vegetables unlike Ben and Pete. For Jim (who likes to nickname each of his nieces and nephews) we have learned she is often called Ting Ting.

Magi! having trouble with emailing but wanted to know the deal with fruit. Safe to eat?