Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Miracle of Love

I wish I had been able to blog each day in China, or at least right after coming back, because I am already forgetting so much!! Fortunately I can pull back what I wrote on our Facebook page each day, so I am copying and pasting this text below from there - with new photos:)

From our time in Guangzhou:


"Today (August 3rd) we visited Chen Academy, and saw amazing carvings, art and embroidery. Really hope to blog about all these cool places when we get back home. Also took an emergency run to Carrefour supermarket for water, diapers, formula, coffee and chocolate (all the important necessities). We also fit in pool time, and a yummy dinner at a noodle place. (I briefly edited three photos of another adoptive family, yesterday we traded sessions at the hotel:)

Tomorrow we have our US consulate appointment in the morning, and hope to visit a museum nearby. (Little Miss will want to squeeze some swimming in, too.)
New things we've learned about Mei Mei. I'm sorry if I repeat myself, my head has not been great the last 2 days (I get migraines, and while I have been functioning through these, by 7 pm I am starting to circle the drain).

She continues to call me mama, can say mei mei (it means little sister in Chinese) and all done. She recognizes Little Miss' name and Mr A's name, and might be trying to say them, too. Kind of hard to understand some of her sounds. She says and signs all done, and signs milk. She understands the sign for water. She shakes her head for no, and nods for yes.

We've learned she is a lot like Mr D as a toddler. If there is a drawer or cupboard open, she won't rest until it is closed. She wants to wipe down messes (hence the photo, her toothbrush had drool on it, lol), and loves to throw things in the trash.

She does not like the high chair, or footed pajamas. She gives high fives, kisses (she puckers up her lower lip and gives a wet kiss) and hugs. If she hears a baby crying she is very concerned.

Mei Mei was born with a cleft lip and palate, and while her lip has been repaired here in China, her palate has not been. She has no trouble eating or drinking though. And today she showed us how she can blow air from her mouth! I thought that would be hard with the palate. She doesn't know how or can't suck through a straw.

We really are amazed how well she is doing. I am so thankful many of you have been praying for her transition and attachment.

She's a little fire cracker, full of spunk and personality. She fits in our crazy family perfectly!"


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Reflecting now:

These three photos above are precious to my heart. Mei Mei saw pictures of her ayis (aunties or nannies at the orphanage) on my computer, and got very excited! She was kept babbling and pointing and was so happy and animated. We looked at their photos a quite a long time. She was so loved. So loved.

I still get choked up thinking about her loss. Yes, adoption and family is much better than life at an orphanage, but a loss is a loss, and a loss of love, especially to a two-year old, who doesn't quite understand it all, is huge.

And then, after looking at her beloved ayis, she snuggles closer and gives me a kiss.

All glory to God. Amen.

Such a miracle adoption is. Beauty from ashes. We are privileged to walk this road. So happy with our Mei Mei, with all our children. And yet my heart is broken. How do you visit an orphanage and not be broken? How do you see pictures after pictures of precious little ones, with no one to claim them as their own? What do you do after having the miracle of love unfold before your own eyes? After your eyes are opened to the orphan crisis, how do you move on?

I don't know.

But I do know this. I want you to go read this post from No hands But Ours: Yes. And pray. Pray for the orphaned children, pray for families to say yes.

Pray about saying yes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chen Clan Academy in Guangzhou

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Chen Clan Academy, also called Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, in Guangzhou, is definitely worth visiting. I remembered it from our 2006 visit, and was excited to be able to go again. This former shrine has been turned into an amazing folk art museum.

The architecture alone is stunning and so intricate. There are nineteen buildings you can tour, and could easily take all day to learn about old Chinese folk art, and admire each craft. We walked through the museum in maybe two hours, and saw a lot, and missed a lot:)

I am in love with Chinese silk embroidery, which is something special to Guangdong Province. When light reflects off the silk it looks like image is alive - so beautiful!

And sorry, no cute images of Miss Mei Mei on this post, the photographer was carrying her at this museum. But in the next post I will have some cute ones coming up:)

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Quick Update (and Changes on the Horizon)

China travel posts will continue... soon eventually. But here's a quick update, to explain the radio silence on the blog.

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Once we traveled back to USA, we had a week in New Hampshire at a rustic cottage before we headed up to our Maine camp. Once we got there, we pretty much realized we needed to turn around and head to Florida asap.

We spent a week in Maine, which in part was at Grandma and Grandpa's house, packing up a trailer. Mei Mei loved Grandma and Grandpa! She still talks (signs) about them, and offers kisses at their pictures.

We left the Mothership in Maine, all eight of us squeezed into our car, towed a trailer full of furniture, and took two and a half days to drive to Florida. Once we got to our destination city we started having trouble with one of the trailer tires, and about an hour after pulling into our new driveway, the tire was completely flat (thank You, God, for the timing!).

Mei Mei was such a champ, every morning she signed "drive" and happily climbed into her car seat. There were times she had had it, and complained loudly, but we all felt that she was just vocalizing what each of us was feeling inside.

Oh, the happiness of being free of the car and the car seat!

Our new rental was completely empty, and it still echoes inside. We have quite a bit of work ahead of us to make it homier, and are still sleeping on the floor, but we'll make this a home, yet.

After arriving in Florida, the very next day our teens headed to school! A new chapter is starting here at Our Mothership Adventures. We are still homeschooling, but our quadruplets have started dual enrollment classes at a local college. They can earn high school and college credits from the classes they take. We are still continuing Mr. D Math as well (which everyone LOVES), they took Algebra II over the summer, and are now taking Pre-Calculus. I hope to blog more about our school year, but as you may have noticed, I have had less computer time now that we have a toddler in the house! (Plus all the traveling, too.)

Little Miss is waiting for her Sonlight curriculum to arrive, so we'll be starting her school sometime next month.

What all these changes mean is less traveling for these next two or three years. Mei Mei is going to need a surgery (or surgeries), and most likely speech therapy, too, so staying put for now makes a lot of sense. I am hoping to continue blogging about our adventures, even though they will be different from all our on the road adventures. A new phase in our lives!


Pikainen päivitys, Kiina-postausten keskellä.. Isoja muutoksia Mothership-porukalle, neloset palasivat kouluun tällä viikolla! Ja sen takia jouduimme lähtemään Mainestä tarkoitusta aikaisemmin..

Eli nyt olemme Floridassa taas, jätimme asuntoauton anoppilaan, ja saavuimme muuttokuorman kanssa uuteen vuokrataloon tiistaina. Keskiviikkona alkoi paikallisessa collegessa koulu nelosilla, he voivat lukiolaisina käydä collegea, ja saada samasta kurssista pisteitä niin lukion todistukseen, kuin myös college pisteitä (credits). Ja ilmaiseksi niin kauan, kuin ovat lukiossa. Eli upea mahdollisuus maassa, jossa koulutus on ihan järkyn kallista. He ovat kuitenkin edelleen kotikoululaisia, ja kotikoulun matematiikan nettikurssi on alkanut jo.

Pikkuneiti ei ole vielä aloittanut koulua, ensi kuussa olisi tarkoitus. Hänestä on ollut iso apu Mei Mein kanssa, ja uutta kotia laittaessa.

Nämä koulumuutokset tuovat myös sen muutoksen, että meidän matkaseikkailupostauksia tulee olemaan vähemmän. Mutta eiköhän sitä materiaalia blogiin löydy muualtakin:) Hyvä rauhoittua pariksi vuodeksi, Mei Meikin tarvitsee leikkauksen ja todennäköisesti myös puheterapiaa.

Uusi jakso meidän perheelle!

Monday, August 17, 2015

To Guangzhou, and Our Weekend There

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Friday, July 31st, was our travel day. Before we were picked up, we had a gloriously slow morning of packing, venturing out to try a noodle place nearby, then going up to the top of our hotel to admire the view.

We still had to pick up Mei Mei's passport from the Civil Affairs office, so on our way there we stopped at a museum gift store, so I could quickly bring something home for Mei Mei from her home province (I bought a little jewelry box and miniature Wuhan bells).

All was in order, and we were dropped off at the airport.

It was a fairly short flight, only about three hours, but I was getting pretty nervous about flight home - all Mei Mei wanted to do was kick the seat in front of us!!!!! (Maybe she understood the rude things that were said to us in Chinese and wanted to pay back??? A lady mimed to us something that wasn't very nice at all...)

We got to our China Marriott hotel pretty late Friday night. So our night was short as we needed to have Mei Mei's medical examination early on Saturday morning. This is something the U.S. Immigration requires, I had to do it too, back in 1993 when applying for my green card. Her exam was pretty smooth, except for the last part: Mei Mei did not want to go into the examination room to have her blood drawn for the TB test without mama. But it was over soon, and she was distracted by a rice cracker:)

Nothing else was scheduled for Saturday, so we had an easy lunch of Starbucks, then took a nap in the room, before venturing out. Grace, our guide, recommended Macau Street Restaurant nearby, so we walked there. The menu was pretty scary exotic, but we found some noodles and a pork dish we really enjoyed.

After dinner we went swimming. A lot of adoptive families at this hotel, and every time we went swimming there were always at least another family there. We saw the three families we met at our hotel in Beijing, too. So neat to see everyone with their new children! The other families were such a great resource, too, we could all compare notes and share recommendations on eating places, etc.

Sunday our guide and driver picked us up to go to Shamian Island. Shopping and sightseeing was on the agenda, but our guide was flexible when I asked if we could go to church. We had enough time to stop by one store, and I am so glad we did, as we never had a chance to return to Shamian Island.

Shamian Island is where we stayed the entire time (except two days in Beijing) when we adopted Little Miss. We stayed at the famous White Swan hotel, and loved the entire island, all the parks, restaurants and shopping there.

White Swan was just reopened after being remodeled for three years, and while it was closed, a lot of the shops had to close, too. Our favorite restaurant Cow and Bridge was turned into a vegetarian restaurant! We were so sad.

Christ Church was still there, and packed. We attended a Mandarin/English service, and every seat was taken, and people were standing and listening outside, too. The sermon may have lost something in translation, but gospel was still preached, which was so neat. And our guide stayed with us and listened for most of it!!!!

Our guide Grace took us to a western restaurant on the island for lunch, Lucy's. When we adopted Little Miss we ate there once, I think. The food was very good, but like the Captain and I 8.5 years ago, Mr A and I were not tired of the Chinese food, yet. But it was a good place for Little Miss and Mei Mei, and we did enjoy our food very much.

Only a few minutes in the park, and it was time to go....! So sad. We would have loved to explore the island much longer, but time was not our own. We decided we'd come later in the week by taxi (which we couldn't, because of getting sick).

Late afternoon on Sunday we met with another photographer and her family, who were there to adopt a little girl, and swapped short sessions at the hotel. While scouting out the location we saw this cool Chinese lady doing tai chi with her sword! She was so graceful. We didn't get too close, or too obvious with the camera....

Here are our photos with beth V photography! Thank you so much for these lovely images!!!

PS. When we left Mei Mei's province on Friday, I had anticipated it to be more emotional that it actually was... She was now calling me Mama, and we were thrilled at how well she was doing. But the thought did occur to me about the significance of the day. Another loss, leaving her home province. But her new life was starting... While there were such changes and pain already in her short life, God had a beautiful plan for Mei Mei's life, and He was at work...

Friday, August 14, 2015

More Wuhan

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Pictures do not do justice to the streets of China. You really have to have been there to understand what it really is like. I loved roaming the streets, but Little Miss not so much. She had a hard time with the heat, dirt (that's putting it nicely), smells and stares. Mr A was very adventurous and willing to explore with me. So we compromised, and only did some.

People congregated the streets, especially in the evenings after work. Grills and chairs were brought out, music would play, men wore their shirts rolled up into their armpits (so hot) and played board games, and kids played on the street. Occasionally you'd hear a honk as a car tried to weave through people, but mostly people drove on their scooters and motorcycles.

Everyone would stop to stare at us walking by. Some ladies would try to speak Chinese to Little Miss. We'd reply 'ni hao', and move on. Elderly men or children would sometimes say 'hello' to us, tickled at their foreign language skills. On the streets of Wuhan people didn't ask to have our picture taken with them, but I did spy some cell phone (cameras) pointed at us.

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A few times we walked to the riverside park near our hotel. There Mei Mei started walking a bit for us. So far she wanted me to hold her everywhere, all the time, but she enjoyed her freedom from the carrier in the park.

The park was another place people gathered. A lot of families, and a lot of older men. We heard karaoke, and when I clapped, the man signing was so happy:) We were able to buy drinks, ice cream and tissues with the help of money and universal pointing and acting. Such fun!

Wuhan will always hold a special place in my heart. It is not where Mei Mei was from, but it is where we met her, and it is in her home province. I hope we can go back one day!