Monday, June 28, 2010

catching up......

I can't believe we have been home almost a month! The jet lag was a killer for about 2 weeks. We just could not get the girls on Virginia time. Abbey sometimes seems like she would like to slip back to China time. I have to wake her from a nap. She will marathon sleep and we all know what that means.... not going to sleep at night or not sleeping long enough at night.

Abbey has some night terrors a few times a week. But overall is sleeping and adjusting well. She clearly lets us know what she wants and needs without saying a thing. She is so smart. She says and copies many English words. We have to listen carefully to what she is saying but she is saying stuff correctly it's just kind of muffled sounding.

We took Abbey to the pediatrician the week after we got home. She told us that Abbey seems to be developmentally on target. A few days after that we met with the pediatric plastic surgeon. The surgeon said that she would like to redo Abbey's lip. She said that the scar lines are not natural looking and she thinks she can bring them together to look more like the natural lip ridge most people have. She also said that the two muscles on each side of her upper lip were not attached together when they sewed up her lip. She would also attach those muscles to make it so Abbey can use her upper lip muscles. Right now when she kisses us she just presses her lips on us. Due to not having these muscles working. The surgeon also told us that Abbey's palate is extremely short. The shortest she has ever seen. She said only time will tell what effect that will have on her speech development. Abbey seems a bit nasal sounding when she speaks. The surgeon said that we should continue to bond with Abbey for about 3 months and then get an appt with the cleft team and go from there on what to do for her. We will keep this site updated with her medical processes as they unfold.

Things have changed since we first met Abbey. As anyone remembers our report of her not liking me (Kathi) She is all over me all the time now. Abbey and Meigan now get sassy with each other over which half of my lap they are going to get. Meigan has done a bit of regressing here and there, but bounces back and is the great big sister. Abbey likes to sit on me at meal time instead of sitting in her own booster seat. Even though we have the same food (most of the time)mine apparently tastes better than hers. She loves to eat the food on my plate.

We had a couple of firsts today ( June 27). Meigan asked for a straw at lunch to suck up her soup. Abbey has to have whatever Meigan has. So I gave Abbey a straw too. She has not been able to suck through a straw at all up until today. I showed her how it works (again) by sucking the end of her finger. She immediately got it an started sucking up soup like a champ. I was so..... proud of her. Later she got frustrated with her sippy cup. She has to chew the liquid out of it. She handed it to me and indicated that it just wasn't working. I checked it out by sucking on it and showed her again the sucking technique. She tried it and was getting much more liquid out than before. She gave me a pleased smile. The second first happened after her bath. She volunteered (her idea) to sit on the baby potty sitting next to the tub and kept checking to see if she had done anything. She peed just a little bit over several minutes and wiped herself each time she checked to see if she did anything. I think we are on the way to diaper free. I wasn't going to push the issue until at least fall. It being her idea is a great thing. That's the way it was with Josh and Meigan. I waited until they showed interest to start anything and went from there.

Abbey is a sweet child! She is a joy! She has a mellowness about her. She loves to give hugs and receive them. She isn't too timid around new people, unless she is tired or hungry. She is so smart and perceptive about any and everything that is going on around her. She doesn't miss too much. She loves to help me unload the dishwasher and wants to help with laundry. She will throw stuff away for me. She is a great little helper. I don't have to ask she just does it.

When we got Abbey I mentioned in previous posts that she was in the care of Amazing Hands in Beijing from the time she was 10 months old until we adopted her. On Gotcha day David chased down Abbey's foster mother and gave her his business card. We have since then been in contact with the founder of Amazing Hands via emails. I asked her how on earth did Abbey, out of all the orphans in China, get lucky enough to go to Amazing Hands from Luoyang orphanage. Especially since they only have 12 children at a time until they are adopted. Her answer was that Luoyang called them and asked if they had any room for Abbey and they happened to have a bed open at that time. I also asked who funded Abbey surgeries. Amazing Hands said that for Abbey's first surgery they funded part of it and Christian Broadcasting Network paid in part for it (yes, that's Pat Robertson's group). For Abbey's second surgery (to repair her palate) the Smile Train paid for it. It's not written in any of the paperwork we received on referral day for Abbey but in the journal (Amazing Hands gave us on Gotcha day) of Abbey's time with Amazing Hands they state that Abbey had to have her palate repaired a second time, about 7 months after the first surgery. Her palate split open a bit after the first surgery. Christian Broadcasting Network did the second repair on her palate. CBN and Smile Train are just awesome! Amazing Hands is more than awesome. I asked if we could make a donation to Amazing Hands and they said they don't take donations. She never did answer the question as to how they are financed. But apparently they have what they need, including a doctor on staff. How wonderful is that!?

I thanked the people at Amazing Hands for loving and taking such good care of Abbey. We could never thank them enough for all they did for her. You can just tell in her personality that she was loved and given what she needed because she is adjusting so well to being with us. She still freaks out if I have my shoes on and she doesn't (thinks she is going to not get to go). But overall she is a complete joy to us every day. We are so... blessed to have her as our daughter! That 21 months we waited until we got our referral to Abbey was so.... worth it!!!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Time in Hong Kong

Once through the Hong Kong Train Station, we took a taxi to the Island Pacific hotel in Hong Kong. Taxi driver was nice and spoke good English. The hotel is beautiful! We are on the 28th floor overlooking the Victoria Harbor. The view is fabulous! We ate at McDonalds last night. It was good. Abbey had her first American meal. She ate some of it okay. Then we cooked her some instant noodles in a cup back at the room. She is a noodle or rice eating Asian girl. Gotta get her used to something else. In McDonalds we had a conversation with a family from England. When they first walked in the father asked if the food was any good. We told him that it tasted like McDonalds back in the USA. I added that the chicken sandwich that I had had was dark meat instead of white. He didn’t understand my southern American accent and looked at me in concern. Then he said “dog” meat? I had to speak slower and clarify “dark meat”. It was their first time visiting Hong Kong and they didn’t know what to expect any more than we did. McDonalds did have a few things on their menu that isn’t available in the USA, like instead of Apple Pies they offered purple yam pies. We did not eat any of those.

Here in Hong Kong there are many more American brands we recognize. It feels better to recognize and buy stuff that we know. China has much more variety of junk food this trip and we tried some stuff, it was good. They also had some American brands that we tried like Green Tea Oreos and roast Chicken flavored Lay’s potato chips. Pretty good stuff.

May 30 is cloudy again here in Hong Kong. Looks like a dreary day. We ate cereal in our hotel room in the morning and ate at the hotel restaurant for lunch. Excellent lunch buffet with a good mix of western and Asian foods (some strange choices but all very good). We played with our shrimp. Meigan was fascinated with the fact they cooked an served the shrimp with the head and antennas still attached. We played with it. Meigan wanted to see where the brains were when I tore the head off of one. I pretended that the shrimp was walking around before I took his head off. I know, sick, huh? May as well make fun out of eating something looking back at me.

Shane Lo (Deputy Fire Chief of the Hong Kong Fire Dept.) picked us up, at the hotel entrance after we finished lunch. He took us to a Hong Kong fire station and his office for a tour and discussion of fire issues in Hong Kong. He took us to his see a huge Fire Boat for a tour - very cool, although all of the boats in Victoria Bay can stir up good size waves. That boat was rocking the whole time we were on it. I was amazed that some of the items on the boat were shipped over from the USA, like the life boat and one of the toe cranks. Don’t they make everything in China? Apparently not. Shane then took us to Stanley Market and served as our personal shopper. He was great at talking with the shopkeepers and getting a good deal. He then took us to a nice Chinese restaurant and bought our dinner for us. He did the ordering for us. The food was served on a huge lazy susan in the middle of the table. The wait staff kept bringing in plate after plate of food. First off was shrimp with heads still attached. Fortunately we were already used to that from lunch. Meigan was asleep in my lap and Shane peeled some shrimp for me. That was very nice of him. We also ate fish soup. Very good! For an appetizer we were served crunchy salty fish. They were tiny little fish dehydrated in salt. Yes, with little eyes looking back at us. I was very hesitant to try them at first but I did. They were really good! Sort of like overcooked potato chip sticks. At that point I had started eating stuff I would have never dreamed of eating so why not keep going. They served fried oysters. I swore I would never eat what I have always referred to as “snot on the half shell”. I ate one, then two. They were really good! I had to try and forget what I was eating. Then they served fish with the head still on. Was steamed, a little mushy, but great tasting. I also ate goose. At least that’s what they said it was. It looked and tasted more like roast beef. Made we wonder if it was really something else, but it was really good. I trusted them that it really was goose. Who was I to argue, never saw the inside of a goose. Would have guessed it to be more like poultry, but it wasn’t. The whole meal was wonderful. Definitely different. It was a meal I won’t forget. It was so nice of Shane to take his time to show us a Hong Kong fire station, be our personal bargain shopper guide and then take us for a wonderful memorable dinner. He also gave the kids a bunch of Hong Kong fire station promotional kid toys. Meigan was fascinated with all the stuff he gave her. It was a fabulous day in Hong Kong.

We left Hong Kong at 12:00 noon on May 31st and plans were to arrive the same day at Dulles Airport at 9:00 pm if all our flights are on time. We flew from Hong Kong to Chicago (14 hours) and arrived in Chicago O’Hare airport around 2:00 pm (in time it was only two hours difference from when we left Hong Kong 14 hours earlier on the same day, still blows my mind). It took forever for us to get through all the checking lines and get to our next flight to Dulles. The flight from Chicago to Dulles was delayed by over 2 hours. There were so many people in the airport we sat on the floor waiting for our flight. Finally we got on the airplane and took off about 8:30 and arrived in Dulles about two hours later. The flight was good and smooth. David and Abbey sat behind Meigan and me. Meigan and I sat next to a nice guy from India. We had a good talk about life in India and his life in D.C. We talked about adoption and China and the differences in laws and rules for families in India versus China. He spoke pretty good English but occasionally would not understand some of my southern slang, ie. Getting Josh to do his homework I would practically have to “hog tie” him to get him to do it. He was entertained and somewhat confused about my use of words. Also when we talked about where we live and I described our 2 acres that we live on. He asked if we had 2 acres for farming. He thought that was interesting that we had 2 acres and didn’t farm it. His father farms the 120 acres they have in India and he sells sweet lemons (an item that is a luxury to buy in India). It was a very nice conversation. I offered him some gum to help keep his ears clear. He told me that if you lift your chin up and stretch your neck until it is tight and then swallow it will clear your ears. I tried it when the plane was landing and it worked. I told him that I would always remember him.
Our plane landed and the airport was pretty empty. It was fairly late on Memorial Day. By the time we got our luggage and got the shuttle to the Hyatt Hotel (where we had left our car at the beginning of our trip) it was almost 11:30 pm. When David and Abbey went to the garage to get our car the battery was dead. The good thing about being at the Hyatt with good customer service is they got us a guy to charge the battery within minutes. The car started and we put Abbey in her car seat. At first we were wondering how she might react to a car seat, assuming she had never been in one (they are not typically used in China). She was fussy as David got the car seat ready. Once she was in the seat she was okay. We think she was worried about what was going on. Whenever we would have a transition during our trip, Abbey would get a worried look on her face and she would start to pout and want David to hold her (remember I was chopped liver to her for most of our trip). I enjoyed telling David how much I was going to enjoy the movies and reading on the way home from China since he was going to have to take care of Abbey. By the time we left she was a bit more comfortable with me. When we took off from Hong Kong I sat between Abbey and Meigan and David sat across the isle. After a bit Abbey went and sat in the empty seat next to David. She stayed there the entire rest of the trip. With Abbey next to David and Meigan next to me, we had plenty of room. Next to Abbey was another empty seat. Both of the girls could stretch out when they slept. It was wonderful (for them) . Our seats were in the economy plus section. It gave us extra leg room. It was worth it! Made the trip much better. On this particular airplane the armrest between the seats raised up too to make for extra room. The first airplane (on the way to Beijing) the armrests didn’t raise up so it wasn’t as comfortable for Meigan to sleep. I think it depends on the size and style of the airplane maybe how old the plane is too. Don’t know.
Anyway we left Dulles for Powhatan at 11:30 pm and got home about 2:00 am. We were both tired but the girls slept the whole way home. We stopped and got cokes and then snacks and then coffee to stay awake to get home. We contemplated finding a place to park and sleep for awhile but never did. We played music and I kept tabs on David’s driving to make sure we made it home. We laughed and had a good time It was the most risk taking either of us had done in years. We were looking forward to getting home and going to sleep. Finally home at 2 am on Tuesday June 1, 2010.

Almost a soon as we pulled into the driveway the girls woke up. They were raring to go. How nice. They had slept on the plane and in the car and according to China time it was 2:00 in the afternoon and they had just woken up from an afternoon nap. How nice (did I say that already?) We tried to get them to go back to sleep and it didn’t work (needless to say). At 3:30 am I was fixing breakfast for Meigan and at about 4:30 am Abbey ate breakfast. We haven’t gotten over jet lag yet. I guess we haven’t tried hard enough. We have worked up to about 5 to 6 hours at night for the girls to sleep and then they are ready to go. We have tried to cut their naps short to fix them but we sleep when they do or take turns napping and we apparently need to work harder at trying to resolve this jet lag thing. It is getting better but it’s not much fun going through it.

First trip in USA (they missed most of it)

Shopping at Stanley Market

Shopping Kathi is a Happy Kathi

Fire boat command center

Fire boat decompression chamber

Fire Boat bridge level

Super station both medics out on calls

Shane & family (except Josh)

Shrimp Attack at lunch

Panoramic view from Hong Kong hotel room

Last Days in Guangzhou

May 27, 2010 Today we went to the Guangzhou Zoo. We saw many animals. Most were the typical zoo animals. Meigan got to feed the giraffes. They give you big bunches of small branches with many leaves to give the giraffes. She loved it! We (the whole group) were somewhat of an attraction. Many of the Chinese people visiting the zoo looked at us wondering why we had Chinese babies with us. After a few hours at the zoo with a bunch of our group, we had our Consulate appt. We went and took the oath. All we said was that we promise that all the stuff in our paperwork was true. Seems a bit silly, but that’s the rule. We saw our guide from last time, Grace, and got a great picture of her. We ran into her and Maggie (guide from last time) a few times. I don’t believe we ever got a pic of Maggie. We ate at the Cow and Bridge restaurant again that night with some of the people in our group that had not left yet. We were one of 5 families that our consulate appt was a day later. So we had to stay longer in Guangzhou than the other people in our group..

May 28, 2010 Last day in Guangzhou. Feels surreal. Want to leave, but want to stay. Want to soak up more of China. There will never be enough time to get enough China without moving here. Definitely not gonna do that. The food is not as good as home. Even though there are many things that are good. We miss good American cuisine. I could bore you with the things I plan on eating when we get home. I miss the taste.

Anyway, we ate too much breakfast again at the White Swan this morning. Chocolate cake and croissants in the morning is not getting old. Although I might need to lose a few pounds when I get home. We spent the rest of the day shopping and packing. We met up with the rest of our group at Lucy’s for one last dinner together. Before David could start to eat his dinner Abbey started to fuss. We think she is teething. She chewed off a bit of her bottle nipple today. We had bought the bottle because nothing I had brought with me was working. We had bought some cups with straws while in Zhengzhou (that had valves in them) and gave them to our guide, Yisha,. Abbey cannot suck. We have to take the valve out of the sippy cups we brought then she turns them over because she is two and you get the idea on the mess, Can’t wait to find a cup that works. Lara in our group had a great Nuby cup. David took Abbey back to the room to give her some Motrin (generic) and Lucy’s packed up his dinner, including the large beer (which I knew he would be wanting) and we took it to him. Abbey was feeling better and ate her dinner and David got his.

May 29, 2010 We left the White Swan about ten this morning. Jocelyn got us a shuttle to the train station. We had a porter carry our luggage and a White Swan guide at the train station to show us the way. The train ride was very nice, hardly anyone on the train. Abbey was full of herself until she fell asleep. She was giggly and happy most of the trip until she and Meigan fell asleep. Meigan had had a fever two nights before but seemed OK for the last day and a half with no fever. We think she has another sinus infection. But she is OK under the effects of Motrin (generic). We got off the train and as we worked through security, Health Dept. personnel stopped us. Meigan had a high fever. They masked her and we filled out paperwork to promise we would see a doctor when we got home. They were nice but we didn’t know what was going to happen to us. Lesson learned, Motrin before heading through temperature checks.