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!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday in Wuhan

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The night after our orphanage visit was difficult. Mei Mei woke up many times whimpering, and pointing to the door. I felt like somehow she was understanding this monumental change in her life, and was grieving her losses. Maybe I am wrong, but in any case I am thankful she let me comfort her in her sadness and/or sleepless night. Grieving is normal, and healthy, and needed.

We were scheduled to visit a museum in Wuhan (hopefully another blog post!). While there, it was like Mei Mei woke up! She showed us an incredibly playful and silly side of her, making us laugh and laugh. It seemed that she had accepted us and was feeling safe and happy, at least for the moment.

In the afternoon we learned she was comfortable enough with us to throw a temper tantrum! Any time she didn't get her way, she would pucker up her cute little face, and get mad. Anything nearby would fly, and she would be furious!

The picture above is actually her offended face, not really her mad face. She can be a little faker, lol!!

After the museum Mr A and Little Miss went swimming. Mei Mei and I were just going to hang out, until from her pointing I started realizing she wants to get in, too!

She LOVES the water!! We'll make a good little Florida girlie out of this one:)

She also loves to eat, and she loves her big sis Little Miss and big bro Mr A! She calls me mama, and is learning signs. It is amazing to watch as she is starting to understand us. We are so blessed!