Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Settling in..

It was two weeks ago and one day that we met our sweet ShaSha, and I can hardly believe all the changes, challenges and joys that we've gone through in just two weeks. It's hard to believe that she's the same child we met in that Civil Affairs Office, rocking back and forth against the wall, screaming periodically in terror and anger.

We have spent the last few days settling in at home, and with the exception of night times all has gone really well. Lia seems to enjoy being at home, loves playing- her two top favorites right now are the water table (it used to be a sand table but we emptied out the sand as she wasn't really into the sand)- she can play with that for hours and a baby doll that has a highchair and a little doll stroller that she likes to push around. She also likes to ride in her own stroller to go to the park. She wont go outside onto the grass or walk outside the house on her own- she wants to be carried or in the stroller- but once we're at the park she runs around at the playground there. She doesn't seem to need a lot of structure (which is good because we are pretty unstructured here!) and as long as everyone is around she's very content.

Best of all she is seeking out Mama lots, asking for me when I'm not in the room, coming to find me and running into my arms whenever we are reunited and giving me lots of hugs and cuddles and wanting lots and lots of tickles and kisses.  She is even occasionally choosing me over Baba. So massive progress has been made on that front! I am so relieved as I was worried how things would go when Erik goes back to work and I have to put her to bed by myself. In retrospect I am so glad she bonded with Erik first- it made it better for Nora in China, easier for me to do all the paperwork, etc. and now they have that connection when he goes back to work. So thankful to God for that.

It has been so nice to be home where we have let her go crazy with the food and water play and we've been able to set clear and consistent limits on behavior. She's learned so quickly and only challenged us on a couple things before conceding fast. She shows eagerness to figure out the family rules and participate appropriately. She likes to get a twinkle in her eye and stand up on her chair or deliberately do something she knows she's not supposed to, but then she'll stop doing it really quickly and sit down with a big smile, as if to say "I was just trying to keep things interesting!"

Nights have been very difficult. The second night we were home no one slept well at all. The next night Lia was up until 3 AM crying on and off- thankfully I was able to get a good night's sleep that night as Erik stayed up with her and then I let him sleep in. Nora had gone to my Mom's to spend the night which worked out well as then I had lots of bonding one on one playtime with Lia in the morning. Last night she was only up until 12:30 with on and off crying so we're hoping that is progress and that the jetlag can be overcome and that some of the crying will stop. We haven't even attempted any naps at all in the hope that she'll be really tired each night. We were co-sleeping in China but when we tried that here she still just stayed up and cried and cried in our bed so we've found it's better for Erik to lie on a mat next to her bed and at least one of us gets sleep this way. She comes into our bed in the morning and cuddles so that is nice.

It's crazy that the orphanage told us she slept from 5PM-7AM with a noon nap! She definitely needs more sleep than she has been getting but she doesn't need anywhere close to that much.  I also suspect that she doesn't really need a nap anymore :( Even with all the changes she's remarkably even tempered during these past few days on relatively limited sleep. She obviously dreads sleep too; as soon as we say "it's night night time" her eyes fill will tears. It makes me sad to think of how alone she must have felt at nights for so long...but no more little one- you aren't alone any more. Now if only you could know that in your heart so you wouldn't have so much sadness about sleep...

So that is our new normal- here are some pictures finally. I have been a terrible picture taker lately and I am so grateful for my iphone that at least I'll have a few snaps to remember these days...it's just too much work to edit photos right now...

Playing in the play kitchen

Meeting her new doll in her room- she wont go into her room during the day :(- she gets so scared she's going to have to go to sleep

First trip to the park

Nap on Baba's lap on the porch swing

Love the pigtails but she wont keep them in!

Feeding baby Cheerios. Lia eats about three bowls of Cheerios every morning

Loving the stools at the kitchen counter and we finally found the right yogurt

In her boat!

Friday, May 25, 2012

We are home...

Ah- I have been a terrible blogger for the last part of this trip- I'm looking forward to going back and adding some pictures and videos to better show our trip and catching up a bit over the next few days.

Right now we're just so glad to be home- to wake up to the sound of birds singing and no traffic noise was glorious.

The journey home was incredibly hard. We flew Guangzhou to Seoul, which went fine and the girls had a great time playing in the play area in the Seoul airport. We figured it would tire them out, especially since Lia skipped her nap and that would help her sleep on our big 10 hour Seoul to LA flight. Well no such luck. She did not sleep. She wanted to play and play and play and did NOT want to be buckled into her seat which was unfortunate as it had to have been the most turbulent flight I have ever been on. We were in the very back and we sloshed around there for hours. Thankfully none of us get airsick- but many the neighboring passengers were repeatedly sick. Lia screamed and screamed and screamed when she had to be buckled in. I tried to catnap on and off since Erik had slightly better luck with her and I figured one of us had better get a little rest but then I'd wake up and I felt as if I were in a surreal French movie with mimes, as all the Korean Air stewardesses wear this thick white face makeup and they kept coming to our seats over and over to see if they could help us- they would coo in Korean and wave and shake toys in Lia's face and she would just scream even harder at them and we would beg them to please just step away. Poor Erik just about died of embarrassment with all the screaming.

Immigration through LA went fine. They got us right through the first step then told us to go sit and wait for the guys to process our adoption paperwork in another area. We went and sat down there and Lia immediately started the screaming again and that speeded things up considerably (anyone want to borrow her to speed through the DMV ? :) But then we had a 5 hour layover in LA to endure. But we did it, and when our lovely friends Brent and Adina picked us up at midnight at Denver I have never been so happy to be picked up at an airport- they had fresh veggies, water and snacks in the car for us and it was SO good to get home to clean sheets. It's noon and everyone is still asleep- I'm not sure when I will wake them...trying to balance sleep needs with jetlag recovery. Sleep is winning right now- and I am enjoying a quiet house.

I will post lots more pics of the trip soon- thanks again to everyone for all their support while we were there. I am so glad to have both of my girls under our roof finally! I am excited too to see what Lia thinks of the house- she was carried in from the carseat last night, woke up, screamed for more than would seem physically possible after being awake for so long and then went to sleep- so she hasn't seen any of her room or the toys yet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Consulate Appointment today

Finally tonight I am feeling better and I am so relieved. Today was better than yesterday- I was able to hold food down but I am just now starting to feel somewhat normal again tonight and not so incredibly nauseous. I told Erik that we can just consider this not my real birthday and have a do-over later on :)

In other news, we went to our Consulate appointment today which is pretty much the last step in the adoption process here in China. We took an oath on behalf of Lia becoming a US citizen and so when the plane touches down in the US she will automatically become a citizen. I felt a little sad about it today; although happy to be providing her with a lifelong family, we don't ultimately know if she would have chosen to become a US citizen on her own- it just made me aware of how many choices have already been made for her that are so far beyond her control. And from getting to know Lia the past few days, she has her own mind about things already and I suspect she will in the future too! Erik is reading River Town by Peter Hessler right now and that has made him think a lot about Chinese life and culture and so it made him sad too to be removing that from her without her consent.

As a tangent from that thought we did notice tonight that our little Chinese girl doesn't eat rice. Or at least when given a plate of fried rice, she ate first the shrimp, then the ham and then some corn and peas. There was a big plate of white fluffy rice left. She swept all excess rice pieces on the table into her hand and then onto the plate and refused to touch any of it. So that was interesting!

And tonight she suddenly started saying Hi and ByeBye appropriately and repeatedly and accompanied this with waving and blowing kisses. Her other main English word remains "gent-wa" which she seems to know the meaning of, but is still testing out- repeatedly ;) Nora has come a long way in a few days- it doesn't phase her now a bit when Lia screams about having something taken away.

Sorry I don't have any pictures again- we weren't allowed to bring phones to the Consulate Appointment and I actually didn't take any today since I was feeling so bad- hopefully tomorrow we can go and get some last full day in China pictures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday in Guangzhou

I woke up this morning with a bad stomach flu and so it has been a bust of a day for me. Erik took Lia to get her TB test read which thankfully was negative.  Poor Nora has been so patient with us as it hasn't been a very fun day for her. I'm feeling somewhat better tonight so I am hoping I will feel much better in the morning, as we have to leave the hotel pretty early for Lia's consulate appointment. Prayers for healing for me and protection that the others wont get this bug at all.
I SO treasure all the kind emails I've received- they mean the world to us- I feel bad I don't have time here to write back to everyone- but know that they are much appreciated.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day of Rest

Keeping up with this blog even when I dont feel like staying up and doing it or else I will forget everything...thankfully we've been having pretty smooth sailing here in Guangzhou and it has been a sweet time of getting closer as a family of four.

Yesterday after the girl's napped we went for a walk down the big pedestrian shopping street here and had some Pizza Hut for dinner. We wanted to try to find some good Chinese food but it's just too hard with some of the restaurants when they don't have any English on the menu or anyone who speaks English working there. The pizza was OK- they didn't put any tomato sauce on it though- just cheese and bread so that was interesting. We ordered some breaded shrimp for ShaSha but she didn't like the breading part- just the shrimp- so she did some fancy hand work to get the breading off.

I knew that food would be a big deal for a kid coming from an orphanage, but I just didn't really get what this really meant until I've seen how so much time and energy of her little life is spent on food. It's hard to describe exactly as I think she's always had enough- and she's almost sort of picky- she doesn't stuff herself with food- but she is always totally aware of where food is, who had it, who needs more and what is being offered. As Erik says- if there is something that is good, she'll do whatever to get that particular food immediately- and wont touch anything else until that most desirable food is all consumed,  It's all very interesting to watch. She also doesn't appear to like any bread or potatoes at all. She did eat congee for the first time for breakfast this morning- I suspect that was a staple in the orphanage but she has been refusing it from us until today.

 Anyway, yesterday I had to take her out again at the end of the meal at Pizza Hut so that Erik could finish his meal in some semblance of peace and she wasn't thrilled about going with me but it was much less of a meltdown than before. It helped that we were out on the very busy shopping street with lots and lots and lots of people to look at. So progress is being made.  We stopped in a shoe/kid's clothes shop on the way home and looked for some new shoes for her as she is still wearing the ones she came with from the orphanage but she did not really like trying them on and wanted nothing to do with the salesgirls who were trying to help us. So we'll try again- maybe at a time a little farther out .from bedtime. She does fine out and about- she likes to sing songs to herself as we walk around- as long she is in the Ergo on Erik.

Then we came back to the room to play a while before bed. She likes playing a peek a boo/chase game with me that starts with her running in and out of the bathroom and then ends with her lying down on the floor and getting tickled by me- and then she gets up and does it again. She will do it over and over again and I'm glad that she's looking for connection with me in this way. As always though, if we get a little too much connection and fun happening even in the midst of this playtime she gets uncomfortable and makes sort of an angry barking sound at me, or narrows her eyes at me in a strange way and has to step away. It happens without fail over and over again. One book I read before we traveled talked about parental touch and interaction as stimulating 'parent juice' and for kids with complicated backgrounds this surge of 'parent juice' in their system all of a sudden can be scary to them and they can react in different ways to this and Lia's default seems to be control and anger. So I thinking/hoping this is what is going on with her. Either way, thinking of it in this way helps me depersonalize it and it means I really keep pushing through, as I know that underneath she is deeply wanting connection but doesn't know how to get it appropriately or process it when it happens.

Today we had a free day which was wonderful to not have to be anywhere. We went swimming in the hotel pool- Lia wasn't sure what to make of it at first and then she really really liked it. We were the only ones there which was great. Note to the Holiday Inn executives- your risk management department may want to rethink the decision to have slick marble like flooring all around a large outdoor swimming pool. Poor Lia slipped several times as she struggles with her balance so much.  She is starting to cry when she falls now which is a progress in our minds- the first few days she'd fall down, bump her head hard and not make a peep. We of course are used to Nora the drama queen with bumps and falls ;) but I need Lia to know that parents kiss booboos and help you feel better so I'm glad she is starting this.

We came back to the room and she had a lot of good water play in the bath tub and I did some hotel room laundry which I suspect will take about 4 days to dry in the humid air here.

I then went for a shopping trip with a Chinese woman here- Ann- whom adoptive parents know through her care package service that helps people get treats to their waiting children. She also offers guided shopping trips to families when they are here in Guangzhou. It was great fun and I got a ton of stuff for very little money, including Chinese silks for Lia and Nora and a bunch of other fun little gifts and things for Lia in the future. Ann is very quick and efficient so it was good for me- as Erik will tell you I can be a slow indecisive shopper- and the shopping mall where she took me could take one days to get through if you were slow and indecisive in there. I think every item that has ever been Made in China must be for sale there.

We went to a more western style restaurant tonight- Lucy's which was really, really good. We walked through a huge downpour to get there but it was worth getting wet.  Lia had a banana milkshake, some chicken satay and then fed Nora all of Erik's french fries. She must have watched carefully when we had our McDonalds the other day since she knew exactly how to dip each fry in just enough ketchup and then fed them one at a time to Nora- she barked at Nora in Chinese if she wasn't ready to get the next one. Nora, who hasn't really liked it when Lia feeds her other stuff said tonight "she can feed me all the french fries she wants Mama". Ha.

Poor Nora got a special treat today from my shopping trip but I was going to set it up with her after Lia was asleep and Nora fell asleep before Lia. She will be disappointed in the morning- we'll have to save it for nap time. Tomorrow we go to get Lia's TB test read- it looks fine and then we have a trip somewhere with others from our adoption agency. We are getting so close- Tuesday is our consulate appointment and then we are just waiting to get Lia's American passport. We are very much looking forward to getting home but I will be sad too- I am really getting into the swing of things in China and enjoying our time here as a family without any other responsibilities. We will have to come back.

Pictures tomorrow- Erik wants to use the computer and the internet here is too slow...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

And she's already bossing her older sister around...


We made it to Guangzhou

We made it! Somehow we got the room packed up, and then we had to wake up a deeply sleeping Lia to go check out. Thankfully she went right into the Ergo on Erik and was content riding on him. Our guide took us to the airport in Hefei and helped us get checked in. We had her explain to Lia what was happening- obviously Lia had no context for understanding what an airplane is, but I wanted to be sure that she knew that we were going with her on the plane and to another hotel. Our guide was very sweet and bought Chinese silk dresses as gifts for both Nora and Lia- (she wisely picked out the bright pink one for Nora) and seemed very adamant that we tell Lia all about her Chinese heritage as she grows- which of course we will. I felt bad because we felt really frustrated with her much of time in Hefei- her English comprehension was just not really up to par and that made it really hard in several situations for us. But she was a sweet girl.

Our plane took off pretty much on time thankfully and Lia did really well. Nora and I were on one side of the aisle with three seats for the two of us and Erik and Lia were on the other side with three seats for them so that was good for when they served the meal- we could keep it from Miss Lia's enthusiastic food explorations. She did really well until she had to be buckled in to land, and then she pitched a bit of a fit.

Our guide Aron met us at the airport and we were happy to find her English is top notch and she seems very organized about everything. Lia and Nora both fell asleep on the van ride to the Holiday Inn and then woke up when we got here with renewed energy to run around the room. Nora likes it when Lia gets goofy and playful but she's otherwise very wary of her- it's almost amusing how she is almost scared to get near Lia since she's about twice her size. We finally got both girls to go sleep.

We went this morning to get Lia's physical exam that will be submitted to the US Consulate. Every child adopted from China has to go through the clinic here so it's a lot of new parents and crying kids in one place. I met some people I had met online in various adoption groups which was fun. Lia did great- charming the doctors and not crying at all- even when they poked her for the TB test. But all the chaos and the crying kids made Nora very upset and she melted down. She wanted to go back to the hotel right then in a cab, and she didn't want to be a big sister any more. Poor thing. I keep telling her that things will change and that we have to be strong and work so hard to teach Lia all the things that Nora learned as a baby.

So then we went to the Garden Hotel with the rest of our agency group to finish up our paperwork. Erik took Nora and Lia to the playroom there where they had a lot of fun playing. It's nice with our new guide as she tells us exactly what Lia is saying when she hears her talking. It's so hard to not know what your child is chattering about when she plays. And today before nap Erik was showing her a book of animal pictures and she repeated every one in English when he said their names so that was fun to see.

We're back in the hotel now listening to a very loud thunderstorm which Lia is sleeping through. I'll try to post some pictures here but the wireless internet connection is much slower than it was in Hefei where we had the computer directly wired up.

Nora is usually the one sleeping on us like this!

Her Chinese passport- we only needed it to get her out of her province

We love our Ergo- thankfully Lia does too. I think it's the best thing for attachment. Hope she is OK riding on Mama once we're home.

She LOVES water bottles- she'll play with two of them forever. Nawei- the pants work so well for her little waist- thank you!

Some of the airport employees were totally taken with Nora and Ainsley

Boarding the plane

Snack cup and water bottle at the ready

A good little traveler

Nora in her new pink Chinese dress

Getting her picture taken for the visa- she didn't want to hold still

Friday, May 18, 2012

Last day in Hefei

The name of my blog is proving to be true in more ways than I thought, as I feel as if each day here is a thousand years long- both in just getting through everything that comes up, and also in the big strides we make in connecting with Lia. I never really got how people would say things were incredibly hard but also incredibly wonderful. I can be lazy and so I always think of hard things as not that great, but I have to say that this whole process is overwhelmingly difficult but also one of  the most rewarding and incredible experiences of my life.

Sorry no pictures today-- we have spent the day cleaning up the room and packing up our stuff- and wow was it a disaster. The maids must love us here. Anybody know how to write a note that says "this marker is washable and will come out of the sheets?" in Chinese :) Lia kept picking things up and lining them up- she's great about picking up trash and giving it to us to throw away- she must think 'boy these people are messy'!

Yesterday went pretty well- there was little to no crying after nap. We all played in the room for a while after she woke up. She started to do a little imaginative play which was cute- she got out her stuffed mouse and lectured him in Chinese, then put him to bed, covered him with a piece of paper for a blanket and changed his diaper. Very cute. We then went up to eat at the hotel restaurant around 5PM. Obviously we have not been able to sample the Hefei dining or night life scene but we will come back. It sounds- and looks- a bit like the Vegas strip outside our hotel room at night- lots of fancy neon lights on buildings, music playing, car horns blaring and there is a small night market set up on a bridge right beside the hotel that fills up with people every night. We have a nice view from the 19th floor. In a different time in our lives we would have been down checking everything out here in the evenings but I'm content right where we are right now :)

So anyway, yesterday evening we went to dinner with Bonnie and her family up at the hotel restaurant and we discovered that Lia LOVES shrimp. She went crazy when they brought us some with their heads on as a chef's platter sort of thing and she must have eaten 8-10 of them and nothing else for dinner. It's so funny to discover things about your child; obviously when you  have a newborn this all comes out over time, but with her we have the newborn feeling in our family but we have someone with a full blown personality. I wondered where she had shrimp before- it must have been a treat at the orphanage. She dug around in a King Crab leg for a long time too- a girl after my own heart!

 She is SO into being like a 18 month old with food- she wants to control it all- and dump it out, and dribble it down her face and touch it, etc. And she wont sit in the high chair- just in Erik's lap. So last night his patience had worn thin and he was barely getting anything to eat with her poking and spilling everything everywhere. (We say he's on the Lia diet :) So I once I had enough to eat I just picked her up and took her downstairs. And she was mad. I mean MAD about that! I apologize to all the Chinese business people who held the elevator door for us and had to witness the clawing and hitting and screaming. I took her back to our room and she raged and raged. She was trying to claw the door open from the bottom with her little fingers and trying to unlock it at the handle, screaming "Baba! Baba" and I even heard her calling for Nora by saying "Jie Jie" (big sister)- which is the first time she's called Nora that. I just sat there calmly on the ground next to her telling her that Baba and JieJie were coming back and that they just needed to eat a little. I kept telling her I loved her- in Chinese and English- and finally I sensed a small softening. I grabbed some Pez candy that we had up on a shelf and I held it out- and gently forced her to take it into her mouth straight from my hand, and she just sort of melted- she let me stroke her face and the screaming softened a lot. She'd take the Pez out of her mouth when I put it in there and then put it back in herself (she's nothing if not stubborn)- but there was this feeling of release and as if a small barrier was broken. Erik and Nora came back right at that moment- and she was happy to see Baba of course so I don't know what else would have unfolded but things have been much better since then. She still prefers Baba but she let me pick her up last night actually right after that whole thing happened, she is giving me more and more toys without being asked, she slept pressed up near me (although I think she would have scooted over if she had known that she was :) and she's calling me Mama more and more, letting me touch her as she goes by me, letting me wipe her face, etc.  It was one of those situations where I wasn't sure that I was doing the right thing by forcing her to go with me, but Erik needed it and I was glad in the end that I had pushed it with her. I wont really push it that much more here unless it's another situation where Erik is just about to lose it but it gave me a lot of hope that things will be just fine when we're home and he's back to work.

And then after that she had great fun in the bath as you can see in the video below. She is going to go nuts over the sand table we have at home. She loves water play- even just pouring one water bottle into the other is great fun. She played with playdough today, just mainly sorting it rather than really shaping it, but she doesn't seem to have any real severe sensory issues- at least that we can see now- which we are relieved about since that's a common issue with kids from orphanages. Thank God for Half the Sky- http://www.halfthesky.org/en- they have a program in her orphanage (and many others in China) that provides all sorts of activities for the kids there and I think that all really helped her. She knows what to do with markers, crayons, bubbles, playdough, etc.

She is really quite something- she now says "mouse" and "gentle"- it comes out "gentwa"- in English, tries to sing "Frere Jacques" after I sing to her (not sure if they sang it in Chinese to her at the orphanage and she is singing that or if she's trying to mimic my French), and she seems to be understanding about 20% of what we say to her.  We are recording her singing as much as we can so that she can see in the future how she sang so sweetly in Chinese.

She's napping now and we will be leaving for the airport to catch our plane to Guangzhou at 3:00PM- it departs at  5:00PM. We are relieved to be getting one step closer to home, a little nervous about how the flight will go, and a bit sad that Lia is leaving her birth city. We tested her in the Ergo on Erik yesterday and she was happy in it so that was a huge relief to us that we will be able to get through the airport. Please pray that she'll bond with us even more through the trip and that she wont be overstimulated or too freaked by all the changes.

I'd better go and spend some Nora time- poor Nora does OK for a while and then gets sad. I think she is grieving about the whole upset of the family and loss of her role as an only child. Please pray for peace in her heart. Occasionally Lia starts doing something funny and gets Nora laughing and I see glimpses of a connection, but we are still a long ways away from that. They are only 16 months apart in actual months but in reality it's about 3 years of differences right now. I expect that Lia will catch up but it will take some hard work. We're just so grateful for the changes we've seen in such a short time, her sharp little mind and how she's making it clear- that despite her stubborn, strong will- underneath she seems to very much to want to be a part of this family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ShaSha- first bath sitting in the water


We're doing better here- I will try to update more later today. Prayers appreciated for our flight to Guangzhou later in the day. We do great in the hotel room and less so out where there is more stimulation.

Day 4 in Hefei

Thank you for all the prayers and nice messages! We are so thankful for all of our friends- and can't wait to get back to see everybody. Today has had some challenges, but it has been much better than yesterday and we see Lia making some amazing progress- especially as we keep focused on how far we've come in just a few short days.

We got a pretty good night sleep- Lia cried out off and on and gets restless and we had to wake her up this morning since we had to go to breakfast before we went out. I don't know how long she would have slept if we had let her but she woke up with a minimum of crying which was good. She still needed Baba close but a little more openness to me. And Erik was waiting in the hall with her for Nora and me to come out to go up to breakfast and she said to him "Mama (something in Chinese)" when the door closed. So at least she noticed I wasn't there :) We went up to breakfast where she loves the yogurt, the hard boiled eggs and some milk. She likes bananas too but we didn't offer any since we have not seen any sort of poop since we picked her up and she shows no inclination to go. We asked at the orphanage and they said she is totally potty trained and will tell us when she needs to go but she just seems to be able to pee on command when she's over a toilet and other than that she uses the pull ups we brought.  Which is of course to be expected given the whole situation. So anyway we'll see. Poor Erik gets his pediatrician mind going and gets too far down the road with this issue. I'm hoping that the massive quantities of water she has suddenly been drinking in the past two days will help things along. As Bonnie said, she's saving it for the plane tomorrow :) So spare a poop prayer for us if you can ;)

So anyways, she seems to like those foods best for breakfast- (I have another yogurt lover!)-and she is a messy eater. She likes to let the yogurt drip down her chin and chest and then have us wipe it up. She can feed herself eggs well but she prefers when Erik feeds them to her. I am looking forward to getting home and letting her go to town at home with food and making as much mess as she wants as I don't know if she had the chance to do that as a younger kid but it's hard in hotel restaurants and with our limited laundry piles. The staff here must really love us :)  It's funny as now I have a milk loving Chinese daughter when my daughter with all her Norwegian blood wont drink it...

After breakfast we met our guide and went to a local shopping center where we went into Walmart. This didn't go too well. If Erik put Lia down to take a break from carrying her she would just get totally dis-regulated and crazed. She interacts inappropriately with our guide (who is young and seems unable to barely understand one word Lia is saying) who then picks her up- which I'm not thrilled about. I think there is also a strange association with our guide from meetcha day, so I will be glad when we move on to Guangzhou tomorrow.   So we went through Walmart quickly. I got a couple books that have pictures with Chinese words and the English words alongside them, got another dress for Lia, as even some of the 24 month dresses I bought are too wide for her little frame and slip off her shoulders, and some more wipes.

Then we went to a playplace inside a store that I think is the Chinese equivalent of Babies rUs. Lia had a big meltdown when we first got there,  which is always so awkward here as many people just stop and come right up to us and stare at her, and then some start telling her things in Chinese, but when we finally got into the play area, she laid there next to Baba on the mat for a while to calm down a bit and then finally got curious and started to play. It was a really fun little set up with lots of gently turning and tipping rides that were perfect for little ones. Nora and Ainsley enjoyed playing too. And Lia let me play with her quite a bit- I'd sort of follow her around and she didn't seem to mind. She'd periodically run to check in with Baba which was good too. We're so glad we went here and not the Lord Bao temple visit that was scheduled. Our guide told us that Lia would need to know about the temple before she leaves because it is famous here- but if she's super curious we'll take her there on a heritage trip. I am pretty sure that right now she is less than interested in it.

On the way back we stopped at McDonalds and brought some back to the room for lunch. I always laughed when I read Chinese adoptive parent's blogs about going to McDonalds in China- and I hadn't really felt the need up until now as I like the food here for the most part- but the 'fast food' and 'to-go' part of things was SO nice today. We brought it back to the room and the only thing Lia would touch was the milkshake. And she got really into feeding Nora- she would take a french fry, dip it in ketchup and then sort of bark at Nora to take it. And she'd feed Nora the milkshake too- so much that we'd have to encourage her to take enough for herself too. Nora was really a good sport about it. I kept offering food to Lia but she didn't want to try any of it, but then I did see out of of corner of my eye when Erik and I were looking at something on the other side of the room, that Lia took a french fry, dipped it in ketchup and tried it. Little stinker!  So no first french fry photo for her. I guess she wasn't too impressed by it as she didn't eat any more of them. Fine by me- I'd rather not have her love fast food from the start. So now thankfully both girls are napping- so we might even be able to get out of the hotel for dinner tonight.

Our communication with Lia is getting better- she is steadily figuring out how to communicate with us, a lot more pointing and gestures and I think she is starting to get that we are honestly trying to figure out what she wants. It was funny because Erik was getting tired of carrying her and he had the guide tell her "Baba lee la" (sorry- I am butchering the Chinese- it means Daddy is tired) and Lia immediately "Baba bu li!" (Daddy is not tired!) So we kept telling her "Mama lee la, Baba lee la" before nap and she'd say "Mama bu li! Baba bu li!" Whenever we get into an elevator with Chinese people she says some things and they laugh- I wish I could know what she was talking about. She had learned to be quite the ham and I feel bad that we are taking that incredible strength away from her for a long while until she gets some English under her belt. Oh- and I was singing to her last night which I think she likes but she wont show me- and I sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and she sings it right back in Chinese- so cute.

Nora has really risen to the occasion with Lia around. She has been obviously getting a lot less attention but she has done really well and has been kind and understanding towards Lia. I try to explain everything to Nora in terms of why Lia acts why she does in relation to how it was for her at the orphanage and she seems to get that- especially after visiting there.

 Today I promised Nora a little treat at Walmart- which she very much deserves as I have been promising her that she could pick out a small something for days now and we haven't been able to go out- and so she picked out a little doll that came as a free gift if you bought a certain type of toothpaste. Well when we got home, the toothpaste was in the bag, and the doll was not. But she took it in stride, told me that was OK and that she understood. She has been very kind to Lia, laughed at her antics more than Mama and Baba do at times- which Lia loves- and she even doesn't mind as much when Lia cries now (although she still covers her ears).  Lia seems more and more aware of and interactive with Nora every day but I think it's just too much for her to take in right now to really develop a connection yet. It is good for me to be able to model what a Mama does with what I do with Nora and I can see Lia watching us out of the corner of her eyes pretty often with this.

Sorry not as many pictures today- I've been trying to be Mama and not a photographer...

it's funny because we were told that Nora would probably get a lot more attention from people here than in Beijing but we haven't really found that to be the case. Lots of stares and smiles and kind "she's so pretty" comments but no photo taking- probably helps that we aren't in any tourist areas where people have their cameras out. It's funny how a lot of the adorable Chinese babies we see out and about just stare so hard at us- and smile and toddle over- they obviously know we look different but they aren't scared of us.

On this little climbing structure that gently tipped back and forth- SO good for proprioception- wish we had a place like this at home

Such a smile!

Nora is obsessed with her long dress but she doesn't wear it like a lady...

These turned around and then you could bounce up and down on the seat part too

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 3 in Hefei

Oh today was hard. Hard, hard hard. But I will get back to that in a second.

Just to recap from our last post, so I don't forget any of this trip, yesterday, after we got back from the Civil Affairs Office, the girls both took a nap. I was a little worried about how the wake-up would go but Lia didn't cry as much when she woke up. She did sob a bit and she did start completely preferring Erik and not wanting anything to do with me at all. Baba must be in the room at all times, must hold her at all times and do most things for her.

So anyway, yesterday, after everyone woke up, we attempted to go for a walk with Bonnie and her family.  We can see a nice looking park from our hotel room which can't be more than half a mile away, but when we get outside we get a bit disoriented and it the park might as well as be on Mars as it is so difficult to cross the streets here. There are few traffic lights and there are no pedestrian signals, so you just have to move with a group and play chicken with approaching cars. It's nerve wracking and it was hot and Erik was carrying Lia as she refused to go in the Ergo even on him, so he didn't want to go very far. So we turned back to the hotel after about one block and went in search of the play place that was listed on the hotel directory as being on the 5th floor. We couldn't find anything other than an open air basketball court so we went out there and played around for a while.  Nora and Ainsley played hide and seek and blew bubbles. Both Erik and I were feeling somewhat discouraged about things yesterday, I think the excitement of meetcha day had worn off and we are becoming more aware of some of the challenges that we are facing. Also since Lia doesn't want me to come near her- it makes a lot of things more difficult for logistical stuff. And we both get a bit ahead in our thinking- especially about how the upcoming flight to Guangzhou will go. So please pray that we'll stay in the moment and that we will be protected from discouragement.

When we were up on the court I gave Lia a lollipop and she was pleased with that and the burst of sugar seemed to give her the push to get up and run around on the court a bit and do some jumping and running. She can jump really well but a lot of her movements are a bit like a drunken sailor and she doesn't seem to judge distances or edges very well. This is common for institutionalized kids/kids from hard places. She will bump her head fairly hard and not really flinch.  This is normal too for these kids. Then she lay down and rolled around on the ground for a while. She can be quite the performer. We went back to the room after a while and Nora and I were planning on going up to dinner with Bonnie and her family just ourselves to see if Erik could get Lia to sleep but then she seemed to be in a better mood and so we all went up to the hotel restaurant.

We had a pretty good meal, despite the fact that the restaurant's interpretation of tortellini was unique and Erik's pizza didn't arrive with the rest of the food. Lia was in a good mood. It's more like eating with an 18 month old the way she is so curious about moving the place mat around and thinks it's funny to throw things on the floor for us to pick up. Erik took her downstairs early and when Nora and I got back to the room I was happy to hear he had given her a bath which she really liked. Also he said that the room key hadn't worked for him so he took her down to the lobby and she was talking in the elevator and the Chinese men told him she said "This is my Baba." Another progress point was that she drank water from a cup from him- she had not had a drop of water up until this point- just some milk.

 She let me rub lotion on her legs and she seemed to like that as well (we think any sort of  face, hand, etc wiping was a way to get love and attention in the orphanage)- but I couldn't get too close to her other than that. She got pretty wound up and we were worried that she wouldn't fall asleep but we finally just put both girls in bed and got in with them and they both fell asleep. We moved Lia to her crib once she was asleep but she cried a bit in the middle of the night so we moved her back in. Looks like we're total suckers and will have two girls in our bed now in the middle of the night :)

So then this morning I woke up nervous but glad we were getting to visit the orphanage. . Not all Chinese adoptive parents have this opportunity. We weren't sure what to expect. We told our guide to tell Lia before we got in the van that she was going back to the orphanage to see her friends and nannies and that she needed to say goodbye to them. She nodded in response to this. I don't know what she was thinking but she seemed to understand that.

We didn't know how she would react to being there but she seemed pretty calm when we got out of the van.  We went up to the main entrance where the director met us and took us into another building which is where Lia lived. We went up to the third floor. It was a building with hallways that were all open air into an inner  open courtyard. The place was basically very clean, if a bit shabby (by American standards) and there were colorful decorations around everywhere. We weren't allowed to go into the room where Lia had spent most of her time- but we could look in the windows though into the room and there were probably 15 other children in the room who all started yelling "ShaSha, ShaSha" as soon as they saw her. She went right to one of her nannies and then they ran and got one of the other nannies to come down and see her. It seemed that there were three women who had been her main nannies- she went back and forth between the three of them equally. They gave us a memory book of her time there since she was about a year old and it had pictures of her with these nannies and only these nannies. So there was consistency, if a larger than average quantity, of caregivers.

We got a bunch of pictures and video and had some time to ask the Nanny's some questions, but it was hard to do all of this at once!- and I didn't get to ask as much as I would have liked.  Lia had her little spillproof snack cup which she just figured out yesterday and has instantly attached to- filled with gerber puffs-  and she was busy dolling out gerber puffs from her cup to "her friends" through the window. You realize what a big deal food is in an orphanage- she seemed very pleased to show off to her friends that she had this food. Her nannies were very loving and affectionate with her. They told us she  is completely potty trained (we have had in her pull ups and she wets these sometimes and goes on the potty sometimes but she never tells us- we just put her on the potty periodically and she goes) and she likes the Chinese Laughing Goat cartoon, she likes playing with other kids and she likes playing hide and go seek.  They wouldn't let us in the little playroom where the other kids were but they took us into the room right next door where she had slept. It was filled with rows of little beds. This was interesting- she ran in and showed off her bed- and there was a lot of teasing and talking from the Nannies and our guide said they asked her if she wanted to come back and sleep in that bed or did she want to stay with us and she said stay with us. Then one jokingly tried to pick her up and put her in the bed and she didn't like that at all. They asked her to point out her mama and baba and she did and she said that she liked us. So we were pleasantly surprised about all that- we had been worried that she wouldn't want to come back with us once we went to the orphanage.

She said good-bye to all the Nannies- waving and hugs and we took some more pictures and that was that. We then went over to another building and into another classroom where I took some pictures for other mamas who are waiting for their girls and we went for a visit to "Sunshine Village" where some children live in foster apartments, about 6-8 children with two house parents. A little boy with down syndrome showed us around his apartment and we met his foster parents who seemed very sweet. We asked how children get chosen for that foster program and they said that they went there when they are about 6-7 or when they are post some sort of surgery.

The director was very nice and all in all it was a positive experience and a "good" orphanage as those things go.  But it is an orphanage, and we see all the gamut of orphanage behaviors in our girl already so there is no escaping the impact of not being raised in a loving family, no matter how loving your caretakers are.

As a reminder of how many kids remain- and need good parents- they told us that someone had already been moved into her bed. Also around the grounds I noticed that many of the people working there raking leaves, sweeping the floors, etc, had some sort of disability, and I suspect these were former orphans.

After we said our goodbyes we drove to Lia's finding spot. I wont put the pictures up here as they are there for her in the future but I just felt sort of numb when we saw it. We think we know why it was where it was, but it is still hard to see and imagine.

So then we came back to the hotel and this afternoon was very, very hard, interspersed with some good moments . We had sort of expected this would happen after visiting the orphanage but it hit full force. She raged for a while on and off, and we were hoping that the tears would lead to a nap, but they never did. She is rejecting me so fiercely- I can't even approach without her screaming or kicking at me- and then she gets very dictatorial of Baba and screams if he doesn't do what she wants- like hold her and walk around the room for hours.  Up until this afternoon we just did whatever to settle her down, but we felt we had better start laying some ground rules and not let her take control, so Erik did not indulge her every request. She has the sippy cup, the snack cup and Baba's arms available to her at all times (and my arms too but she doesn't want those) and other than we don't let her control everything exactly the way she wants.  And she doesn't like this but I know we have to be clear from the start that she can't run the show with everything.

So this went on and off for the whole afternoon, until bedtime. Nora thankfully got to go to the park with Ainsley and her Dad for a while, and then when she got back we just ordered room service for dinner.  There were some bits interspersed when we got going with games and fun where she came out of her rage, and played and we did some games like having her pick up the markers on the floor and then hand  them to me, and then we'd cheer and clap loudly and she liked that. If she just threw them on the floor or didn't hand them directly to me, we'd say- oh no- do it again ShaSha and she would usually do it again the right way- she sure loves the big exaggerated praise :) And she's a sharp cookie- and she clearly has taken stock of her surroundings even though this afternoon was the first time she's shown any interest in most of the items in the room- she knew what went with what, and what Nora liked to play with, etc.

So please keep the prayers coming- and thank you all- I woke up to some wonderful supportive messages this morning- which I clearly needed. I am sorry I don't have time to write everyone back right now or read other blogs at the moment- as I want to keep this blog up to update everyone at once and to keep a record of everything for the future. It seems that things change so fast with everything that I forget just how far we've come just today in that she's drank gallons of water, when she wouldn't touch water until last night. It's the small things...

I am happy too that tomorrow is the first day when we don't have to do anything adoption related- we are going to Walmart and a play place and that is all that is on the morning agenda and I think that will help.

Little Lia- from her orphanage memory book

Family picture with one of the nannies. 

Driving to the orphanage- you can see all the traffic. Amazingly it moves faster than you would think,

The only cross I've seen in China- this was directly across from the orphanage. A church?

The courtyard of the building where Lia lived

One of her nannies

Saying hello to all her friends

Feeding her other Nanny some puffs

Showing us the bed where she slept

This might have been right after they tried to put her in the bed

Saying goodbye

I will try to post video tomorrow- it takes so long...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 2 in Hefei

Well just as I had finished the previous blog post yesterday- and before I even got it posted, Lia woke up from her nap, and the one tear that had trickled out before the nap, became a torrent. I picked her up- Erik and Nora were at the pool- and she screamed and cried for the next two hours. Erik and Nora came back midway through and Nora immediately became teary and upset herself upon seeing Lia- she wouldn't come into the main hotel room- she just stayed in the bathroom so Erik took her down to see Ainsley.   Lia just cried and cried and cried. I tried gentle distractions but nothing really helped and both Erik and I had the intuitive feeling that this wasn't something that should be distracted away. She didn't say much except at one point she started saying what sounded like "buh guh lah" in Chinese over and over again. We aren't sure what she was saying but our guide thought it might mean "I don't want to stay here."  The merciful part of this was that she allowed me to hold her the entire time she cried. She wasn't really comforted by me but she tolerated me and she didn't hit or bite or push me away. So we'll take what we can get.

After a while her sobbing slowed and we put on these Mandarin Children's cds that Nawei had bought for us when were in Beijing and she seemed to like to listen to those. She still had not drank anything all day so Erik went out to the store and bought some milk as we had been told she liked milk. He also got some Bugle chips as all she had touched at lunch was a chip. She was happy about the milk and drank some of that and then she let me feed her the chips and she liked those as well. Her mood improved rapidly and we got out the sticker book and she started decorating her arm with stickers. She is very good with her fine motor and very focused on tasks. She also likes to line up her things in a very specific order and she wanted to use every sticker on the sheet. In some ways she is very much like a 2 year old, which is what we would expect with her orphanage age (for every three months in an orphanage,  they say to expect one month of delays) but in other ways she is way ahead- I think her speech and fine motor are probably fairly on par with her chronological age. We saw no limping last night so I don't know what that was that we saw when we first picked her up. She isn't moving around too much though- I think out of fear than out of not being able to as we got the report that she likes to climb and slide a lot at the orphanage.

Here she is decorating Erik with stickers- you would never guess that this child was raging just about an hour before- I am realizing that is how the grief process works:  (Yin or Nawei- can you tell us what she is saying?)

She slept really well last night in her crib- from about 9:00PM until 6:45 this morning. There was some whimpering and tears when she first woke up but we put on the Mandarin cds and that seemed to help calm her down. I got her dressed in some clothes I brought and she fits right into 2T clothes. She could probably wear a few 3T for length but she's tiny around the waist. She finally ate some things at breakfast- yogurt, eggs and drank some milk and was very playful- playing peek a boo under the table with me and very playful with Erik. She sure likes hard boiled eggs!

We had to go back to the Civil affairs office to sign our final documents, as the past 24 hours had been our trial period with Lia. We said we'll keep her :) She rode on me in the Ergo and seemed OK on the way there, if a little anxious. We had to go back to the same room where we picked her up yesterday. There were some Chinese officials there- I don't know if any were the same that were there yesterday- but Lia seemed to know that they spoke Chinese as she told loudly them that the car toy and the rabbit Pez were her toys.  We had to answer some questions and get her hand print. She did really well with all that, she really liked throwing the toys around and having us pick them up. We went into one office and she saw a Chinese man and said "Baba". We're not sure what's going on in her head, but I suspect that she is Baba shopping but not Mama shopping. She is doing better with Erik and when the time came to leave that office she started crying hard when I went to put her back in the Ergo. I don't know if she thought that she might be going back to the orphanage or going with one of the Chinese people- which I think she might be wanting at this point. So I let Erik carry her and we came back to the hotel and she wanted nothing to do with me. She sat on the bed with Erik quietly for a long time and then fell asleep next to him around 12:30. We tried at one point to put her in the crib but she really started crying then so we just let her lie on the bed next to him. Our guide translated her schedule for us today and that said she sleeps at night from 5PM- 7AM and takes a nap at noon. So I guess she's now somewhat on her same nap time, but not sure we're going to be able to put her to bed at 5PM!

So that has been our day so far today. Nora is having somewhat of a hard time and again we're so thankful that Ainsley is here as they played together so well for many hours yesterday. Nora does get a little jealous when Lia gets carried around and says she needs to be carried too because her legs hurt. And she wanted to be in the Ergo when she saw Lia in it so I put her in the Ergo when we got back to the hotel room and sat on the bed for a while as 40+lbs in the Ergo is hard! Both girls are taking naps right now- Nora doesn't usually but I think she's very tired.

We don't know what Lia will be like when she wakes up from her nap today but I am hoping that it wont be the meltdown of yesterday so that we can go out for dinner tonight. We've been living on pb sandwiches and room service which is OK but it would be nice to get out. Today the nap was a lot earlier so hopefully she'll be a little more calm. Or at least we have more time for the meltdown this afternoon before dinner time :)

Tomorrow we visit the orphanage which I am very nervous about but I feel as if we really need to do this. I am hoping we can get many more answers about what her life and routine have been like up until now and meet her caregivers. I am scared that it will trigger more grieving and sadness and that she'll want to stay with her nannies but I know from others' stories that many times the orphanage visit has brought some peace and closure to their kids. And even if does trigger more grieving then we'll just work through that. I need to see where she has been to tell her in the future and to see for myself. And I am going to try to get some pictures of some other Hefei girls for their mamas who are still waiting to get to pick them up.

So prayers and good thoughts appreciated for us tomorrow. We so appreciate all the kind words and support from afar- we can feel them coming! My mom said that in the bulletin at church they listed our travels as a prayer request and someone added next to it Phillipians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus", which is the exact scripture that has been running through my mind for the past few days, as God has truly been meeting all our needs just as they come up.  I am a planner so I wish I could have it all scheduled out exactly how things will work out, but He clearly wants me to trust and not plan so much :)

Before the crying began

At breakfast with Baba. We were told she can feed herself but she seems happy for us (especially him) to feed her so we'll do that for better attachment. They say that adopted kids should sit on your left side when you feed them.

Bonnie, Sofie and Ainsley

Getting her hand print

This about their relationship right now. You can see the size difference

The security items- Bunny pez, the car and a little card from the Bugle bag. 

This was her picture on her adoption documents and I took a picture because it was so cute. Everywhere we go Chinese people comment on how beautiful she is.

Meeting Lia

Thank you all for the prayers for good sleep last night- I slept SO well, amazingly. Ear plugs helped for both the traffic noise and for Erik's snoring :) Nora and I did wake up early though- to a rainy, misty day, and I showered, paced a little, organized our things to take today and then we all went up to breakfast with Bonnie and her family.

This is all choppy and long-winded but I wanted to get it down before I forget it all!

After breakfast we down and met our guide Shelley in the main lobby at 9:00. Bonnie and her family left with their guide and driver a little before we did; we had to locate our driver who had gone to use the bathroom. By now it was about 9:10 and Shelley told us that it would take us half an hour to get the Civil Affairs Building. I knew she had told the orphanage to have Lia there by 9:30 so I was disappointed that we wouldn't be there before 9:30. As it turns out it didn't take half an hour, so we were there around 9:25. We took the elevator right up to the 4th floor, went down the hall and immediately once inside I could see Lia there, directly to the right of the door. She was clutching two small packages of candy, one in each hand and she looked scared and she was rocking back and forth, from one foot to the other, rubbing her whole body along the wall. Bonnie and family were meeting their Sofie in the other corner of the room and there were several other people in there, including the orphanage director, but all my focus was on Miss Lia who was clearly terrified but determined not to show it. She wasn't with any Nanny or anyone besides the orphanage director.

We had packed a backpack full of little toys and things to see but the only thing she would accept from us were the lollipops. We pulled out stickers and she allowed our guide to put one on her hand. She kept turning her head away from us and sometimes she'd hit at the guide if the guide tried to get her take something else. She would turn her head from us and wouldn't look at us. She would tell the guide she didn't want or like things the various things that we offered. All this time she was rubbing along the wall, back and forth from one foot to the other. The director of the orphanage told our guide that she is quite outgoing at the orphanage and she likes to sing- and that she was singing on the van ride over to the Civil Affairs office.  This state of affairs continued for some time- Nora showed her some things and I showed her some things. She didn't want to take anything but I could see that she was eyeing everything, especially when we turned our heads away from her- clearly she was taking everything in- and she was very aware of everything that was coming out of that backpack!   She talked in Chinese a bit- in a loud yelling tone- the guide said she said "I have candy!" referring to the candy she had clutched in her hand, and then she kept saying something about "Baba" so we pointed to Erik and said "Baba" and the guide said she was saying "I have a Baba" I think they must have told her at the orphanage that she was going to get a Baba and Mama today. I don't even know how long this went on, but I was envisioning the rest of the day as being quite difficult. I had no idea how we were going to get her to come with us in the car. If I got too near her she edged her way towards the door, still rocking back and forth. She did seem to be a bit more open to Erik's advances and finally took a couple toys from him.  Then she started opening this little car toy we have that opens up and shuts and that makes the car inside move back and forth. Well somehow that seemed to allow her to relax a bit and we started seeing some smiles from her. Just as in her pictures- her smile is just precious. She also let me show her the pictures of herself on my phone. She had been eating a blue lollipop and so her mouth was blue and she asked the guide why her mouth was blue in the pictures I had taken. (I have another super observant daughter!)  She came right down the hall with us to get our family picture taken and well after that point, it was like a switch went off and she accepted us enough that there was no fuss to leave. We signed a couple more papers and then went and got in the car and drove back to the hotel. She took everything in, and we got a lot of smiles from her on the way back to the hotel. We got in the room and she got a little goofy with us. Lots of smiles, and she laughed a lot when Erik tickled her. Her laugh is precious. She seems to really like hugs and kisses and snuggles- just as our update had told us. We got out a lift the flap book- one with photographs, not drawings, and that was a big hit (hint, hint Mom- if you can find some other ones for us that would be great) She talked away about the pictures in Chinese and she even mimicked us on a couple English words.  She is clearly a smart cookie as she was pointing to one picture and then pointed to another one of the same thing and talked in Chinese- I think to connect the two. She didn't let go of the little car flip thing or a Rabbit pez dispenser all afternoon. We had put candy in a Pez dispenser in the Civil affairs building and she had refused it, but then when we were first back at the hotel the guide was in her room and she said that Lia was saying that there needed to be candy in the other Pez we have. We filled it back up and that candy went down quickly and then she carried that around with her.

They called her "ShaSha" at the orphanage, as I had heard in the video, and at one point the guide referred to her as Hongsha and Lia told her that she was "ShaSha". So we are calling her ShaSha right now. Maybe we'll try to blend it to Lia-sha-sha soon.

 She is refusing drink from us- although we've been offering water and I am wondering if we need to get her some milk. She refused noodles and several other pieces for lunch, but she ate some watermelon and a fruit roll up and she allowed Erik to feed her those. She fought sleep this afternoon, but I finally laid her in the little crib thing they had put in our room and rocked her and she fell asleep. We hadn't seen a tear all day, but as she was lying in the crib, her eyes filled up with tears and one little tear came out the corner. It breaks your heart as a Mama- as you know you aren't doing things right- the way she's used to- and she can't tell us a thing. She was clearly a loved little girl and she looks well taken care of. She is small but not terribly so. we haven't tried to take her clothes off or try any of her new ones on so I don't know what size she is. She did let me take her shoes and socks off  in our room with no fuss at all. She is walking with a bit of a limp and we don't know what is going on there. She jumped around by the bed so she doesn't seem to have pain, but when she walks, something is a bit off. So we will be getting that checked out when we get home. Her color is good and she doesn't show any indications of any further heart issues.

I felt such a peace today and I knew it was from God. I was so nervous for the past few days, but when we walked into the room, despite her rocking, despite her initial immense fear and anger at us, I knew everything was going to be OK and I felt that I was just in His perfect peace in the whole situation. I also thought I would cry when we saw her- but I didn't- which I think was good for the situation. I did cry when I saw her tears in her eyes when I put her down for nap but only after she was asleep :)

So our meeting was all different than what I was envisioning- I was thinking we'd be sitting in a room, waiting for her to be brought to us- it was a surprise to have her there when we arrived! And she didn't have any Nanny with her, or anyone who seemed to know her well. I tried to ask a couple questions of the orphanage director but I was told I could get more information when we visit the orphanage on Wednesday. I should have asked more about her daily schedule but it was all so overwhelming that I couldn't think straight. Our guide is a little young and her English skills seem somewhat limited so it's hard in situations like these to get good translation.

Nora was a champ. Having Ainsley here, going through the same experience in getting a sister is a HUGE blessing from God- they played together at the Civil Affairs office for a long time and then played together today here at the hotel for a while.  Nora needs that fun playmate so much right now.  Otherwise she's doing pretty well- her biggest fear that Lia would cry hard and loud was not realized so I think she was super relieved about that. She did want me to carry her when she saw Daddy carrying Lia, and I indulged her a bit but Nora is just too darn big for us to be able to carry her very far. Lia seems to watch Nora a bit but I think she's just too overwhelmed to connect in any way with her right now.  Nora is off swimming with Daddy while Lia is napping.

Now for what everyone wants to see- pictures!

The first picture!

Turning her head away from us, rubbing back and forth against the wall. Our guide is trying to get her to talk to us.

She flashed a smile when she got another lollipop from us and I just caught it on the camera.

The car toy

The pez- she refused this- but  noticed that it did have candy in it- and later our other Pez became a favorite item

Trying stickers. 

Our first picture as a family of four!
The car ride back to the hotel

Going back to the hotel room

The now beloved pez dispensor

I will try to post video soon!