Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PT & Speech Evaluations

Tues. April 28th: Today Maria had even more evaluations. At 3:30 the Physical Therapist came to the house. She ranked Maria at approximately the 12-13 month level with her skills. She will be recommending PT 2-3 times per week.

Maria had her Speech Evaluation at 6pm. It was fun to watch someone give Maria a test that I've given to so many other children before. Maria really liked the speech pathologist--I think it's because speech pathologist's are absolutely great:) I think speech with be recommending 2-3 times per week as well.

We'll be having some major decisions as far as Maria's concerned. She can stay home and receive Speech, OT, PT, and a special ed teacher, all at different times for 2-3 days/week each. She can go to Cerebral Palsy Handicapped Children's Association's program every day for 3 hours in the morning or 3 hours in the afternoon, or she can everyday for 5 hours. The therapists seem to be recommending the 5 hour one, but we're still making up our minds.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maria's Toddler Shower

A shower for Maria was on Saturday April 25th at my friend Miriam's house, put on by my friend Bev. It was so nice; friends from our old Whitney Point church and family came out. They were even good enough to remember Macella & Kirstie as well.

Each person made little picture cards of Maria with an acrostic made for each letter of her name. Then we had a nice snack of assorted fruits and brownies---yum yum! Then I (Marsha) gave a talk on getting Maria and played our adoption day video. Finally we had present opening. Maria looked in a few bags, but didn't really care to open anything. She enjoyed being the center of attention though.

After the shower we all went to visit Gary's dad. Then we walked over to Gary's brother and sister-in-law's. Finally we ended up at Aaron & Bev's house for a bonfire. It was Maria's 1st bonfire!

Sunday the 26th-Back to WP church for a visit. Maria enjoys her friends in the nursery there! Then we headed to Grandma & Grandpa Gordon's for lunch.

Maria is feeling better too, so we are so glad about that!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Churches, & Back to school & work!

Sunday the 19th, Calvary Baptist had us go to the front of the church to introduce Maria. They gave us a nice gift, so that was very nice. Sunday afternoon we got a surprise visit from Gary's co-worker Stu and his fiance Karen. They brought Maria and Kirstie & Macella some great gifts.

Monday the 20th: Macella & Kirstie headed back to school and Marsha started her externship at Cayuga Medical. Marsha's mom is now staying with us to be with Maria during the day. Maria was running a fever and was very congested, so once Gary and Marsha got home we headed to the pediatrician. They were very nice, but were concerned since we have little history on Maria. They were pretty sure it was a virus, but to be sure they sent us to the hospital for more blood tests and a chest x-ray. Poor Maria had to have blood taken once again. She did really well considering they had to put the needle in twice again. She yelled through the chest x-ray, but it was painless. At any rate, at the end of it all, the pediatrician came to the hospital and told us that the blood tests were all negative and the chest x-ray didn't show pneumonia. We are certainly ready for Maria to feel better.

Macella & Kirstie did a great job getting back into the school groove. They had a lot of extra work to catch up on. Macella pretty much woke up in the morning and went to school then came home and stayed up until 10:00 doing homework each night. It was nice to have Marsha's mother here to help with the transition of Marsha being gone all day.

Wednesday the 22nd, Marsha introduced Maria to the kids in the Olympian Club at Pine Valley Church. It was fun listening to the kids try to guess where she was from and how old she was. Kids are so cute:) Maria's certainly becoming famous in all these different churches!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Car, Mom, & Aunt Joy

Saturday 4/18
Today was a busy day! We left Macella & Kirstie with the Proper's and took Maria and headed to Whitney Point. We just found out yesterday at 4pm that we could get a bank loan for a used car, so we were headed to pick it up. Gary signed all the paperwork and then dropped Marsha & Maria off at Marsha's mom's house. Gary then went to the Broome County DMV for paperwork.

Marsha, Maria, and Mary (Marsha's mom) went out to a diner for lunch. Then they headed to Grandma & Grandpa Glezen's for a visit. Maria enjoyed meeting another set of Great Grandparents! Then Gary showed up from the DMV, so we all went to pick up the new used car. That meant we had 3 cars between the 3 of us. We drove to Marsha's Uncle Tim's to say hello and goodbye before heading home. We left one car with Marsha's Aunt Joy, so she could join us later (she's leaving for Florida tomorrow morning from the Elmira airport).

We headed home, picked up the Macella & Kirstie, unpacked the cars, and cleaned up the house some. Marsha's mom brought lots of things, as she'll be staying with us for 8 weeks. She came, so we would not have to put Maria in daycare or take her to a babysitters while Marsha finishes her internship for Speech.

The house was lacking in groceries, so Marsha & Gary left to pick some up. In the mean time Joy was driving over. Joy, Marsha & Gary all got back around the same time. We put away the groceries and ate sloppy joes and then icecream! We all had a nice evening together.

Thanks for your prayers for a vehicle for us. We needed on by Monday and we had to get it fast, but we got a very good deal. It also gets good gas mileage:)

Friday, April 17, 2009

OT Eval

Friday 4/17
Yesterday was the only day of the week that we did not have to take Maria anywhere for the doctors or have an evaluation at the house. The kids were happy for the break.

Today Maria had an Occupational Therapy (Fine Motor) (OT) Evaluation at the house. Maria was pretty cooperative and sat on Marsha's lap while the OT gave her different tasks to do. At the end she stated that Maria was probably at the 9-10 month level with her OT skills. She was guessing her Gross Motor Skills might be closer to 12 months. The Physical Therapist (PT) is coming in a couple of weeks, so we'll know more then.

The OT was thinking that she would recommend OT services 3-4 times per week. When we add in speech, PT, and SEIT (special education itinerant teacher) we're going to have people at our house almost everyday. The other option is to send her to a day program at the Cerebral Palsy Handicapped Children's Association. We'll have to way our options and determine the best approach for Maria and the rest of the family. Please keep us in prayer for that decision.

Maria seems to be feeling a little better, so that's good. She spent the evening alone with Marsha & Gary because Macella & Kirstie spent the night at our friends' house (Proper's). They are so helpful!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday 4/16, finally just a day at home

Today we did not take Gary to work. It was nice not to have to be out and it made the day a little less hectic. Kirstie was picked up by a friend and spent the day at her house.

Maria actually laughed and smiled today. She still threw up during her nap time, but she did keep her breakfast down.

We all had friends over for dinner. The whole Ayers family finally got to meet Maria.

Tomorrow Maria has an Occupational Therapy evaluation at 9:30am. Again, please pray that she feels better and begins to gain some weight.

Wed. 4/15, Blood work & church

Marsha & Maria drove Gary to work and the older girls finally got a chance to get most of the rest of their homework done. Maria threw up after every meal today, so she ended up with 3 baths. We're certainly doing a lot of laundry.

At 2pm we left for the pediatrician and the hospital. Maria's TB test came back negative, so then it was on to the hospital for blood tests. Her arm is so tiny and she was whimpering before the nurses even started. They had a little difficulty getting the needle in and once it was in, the blood was flowing too slow and then it stopped. They wiggled the needle and got it to flow, but Maria is so strong she threw her whole body and the needle slipped out. The two nurses did not want to chance the other arm, so they called up another nurse who is really good with children. He was funny, but got the job done. After that we headed to Corning to pick Gary up from work.

We didn't have time to head home after picking Gary up, so we headed out for a quick bite to eat which took too long and then headed to Pine Valley to church. The kids enjoy their youth programs. We were surprised by the number of people who greeted us and called Maria by name. Maria was introduced to more friends of the family and fell asleep with Linda. Linda is more than willing to babysit anytime:)

After church, we headed home for 2 more episodes of American Idol. We're almost caught up. The girls like to see if they can judge correctly. We held Maria down to give her vitamin syrup and then she went to bed. Hopefully she'll be doing better tomorrow.

Tues 4/14, Psychologist visit

Today we all felt tired and sick. We relaxed all morning. Maria woke up, but she was so out of it and would not eat and then she fell back asleep. Then at 11am I got a call from the Psychologist asking if he could come at 1pm. I cannot even describe the amount of disaster that surrounded every room in the house. I wanted the Psychologist to come, so I put the girls into high gear.

We still were unpacking and had dishes and laundry everywhere. Macella & Kirstie worked so hard. They did a great job cleaning as fast as they could. Maria slept until noon and we fed her and bathed her in record time. Marsha jumped in the shower at 12:30 and the girls got dressed. We were all cleaned up and ready in just under 2 hours!

When the psychologist came he showed Marsha the testing he normally gives. He also showed the testing he gives that does not require hearing. There was no way that Maria could do any of the things he requested. One of the tests involved matching shapes and stacking blocks. The paperwork from China stated that she could stack blocks, as well as do a number of other things. We did get out the stacking blocks and we demonstrated how to stack. Maria just picked up the blocks one by one and threw them on the floor. The psychologist said that he would write a report based on observation rather than concrete test scores. He agreed with Marsha that she is cognitively at least 2 years delayed or at the 12 month level. He left Marsha with a parent questionnaire to get a more definite idea of her skills. He stated that he would write a report and talk to those in charge to be sure that Maria receives services even in the summer.

Macella & Kirstie had been so helpful, so they were given a treat. They asked if they could have the Proper girls over. We called and Macella went to their house with the older girls and Kirstie stayed at home with the 2 younger Proper's coming over. They had a great time!

Late in the afternoon Maria continued to be lackadaisical and refused to eat or drink. Marsha forced her to drink some and gave her a bath. Once realizing that she had a fever of almost 103, Marsha called the doctor, but they said not to worry, as it was probably a side effect of the vaccines from yesterday.

Maria fell asleep while Marsha ate dinner and everyone ate. Then around 7:45pm Gary took the Proper girls home and Marsha checked on Maria. She had thrown-up all over herself and the crib, but she was still sleeping. She didn't fully wake up until Marsha put her in the tub. She whined and cried and shivered and continued to refuse anything to eat or drink. Marsha felt so helpless. To think she already is so tiny and then not eating and throwing up what she drinks makes you feel terrible.

Once Maria was asleep, the rest of us watched 2 episodes of American Idol that we missed while we were gone. Gary does a great job guessing who isn't going to last.

Please pray that Maria will begin to feel better and will gain some weight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday 4/12; Easter

Easter was a wonderful day. First we attended Marsha's grandparent's church for the sunrise service at 8am, which was followed by a breakfast. Macella & Kirstie sang a song written by Marsha's mom which was very nice. Maria enjoyed looking around at everyone.

We then went to Whitney Point Baptist to introduce Maria to lots of old friends. We received a very warm welcome. Even those who did not know us introduced themselves and said that had been praying for our family. We had a wonderful time there. It was nice to have Maria's 1st church service where we grew up. She stayed in the service for the singing, but then went to the nursery to play.

After church we went to Marsha's Uncle Tim's where Maria met a lot more family. She spent time with her Great Grandma, Great Grandpa, Great Uncle Allan, Great Aunt Missy, and Cousin Elizabeth, Great Uncle Calvin, Great Aunt Elaine, & Cousin Ben, Great Aunt Joy, Great Uncle Tim, Cousins Sarah & Steve & new baby cousin, Uncle Marshall & Aunt Charenda, Grandma & Grandpa Dale. Lots of food and fun!

Then we took Maria to meet Grandpa Morehouse & Grandma Shirley and her Uncles Bud, Justin, Gene, & Tim, and her Aunt Carol. Maria does not lack love!

We went back to Uncle Tim's and collected all of our things to head back home to Horseheads. We finally made it home around 9pm. Our 1st night at home as a family!

Monday, April 13, 2009

1st Audiologist visit & 1st Pediatrician visit

Wow what a busy day! Marsha forgot that we only have one vehicle. The car died just before leaving for China and we did not have the resources or time to get another car before leaving. With only one car it meant that Marsha had to drive Gary to work and then the morning was taken up with feeding Maria and giving her a bath and trying to make sense out of a disastrous house.

At 10am Maria had an appointment with the Audiologist. With preliminary testing Maria may have heard sound at 70dB, which is a severe hearing loss, but the type of loss and severity is unknown until further tests can be given. She has to see an ENT to clean out wax and see if anything structural is wrong with her middle ear. After the ENT she will have another appointment with the Audiologist for more in-depth testing.

On the way home from the Audiologist we stopped at a friend's house to introduce Maria to more people! It was a nice time of catching up and having fun.

We made it home around 1pm and started lunch. We ate lunch, cleaned up a very little, and then headed to the pediatrician. We were at the pediatrician's for more than 2 hours---they were very helpful. Maria received 4-5 vaccines and a TB test. It took Marsha, Macella, & Kirstie to hold her down for the nurse. For a tiny girl she is very strong! The pediatrician wanted to be sure Maria doesn't have any diseases and is getting adequate nutrition, so she ordered a numerous amount of blood tests. She also prescribed eye drops, as well as told us to get a certain multi-vitamin, as well as 2 Pediasures/day. Maria only weighed 18 pounds today, so she has either lost weight or she did not really weight 20 pounds in China.

After the doctor's we were running late to pick Gary up from work, but we finally got to him. We then stopped at the drugstore to get the eye drops and vitamins. The 1st drugstore had the eye drops and Pediasure, but not the vitamins, so we had to get to another drugstore. They figured out the correct vitamins, so that was good. Then we stopped at the grocery store because our house lacked any amount of food. We finally made it home around 7:30pm.

One of the goals of today was to clean the house, but that was absolutely not possible during the day. The girls also had no way of getting their homework finished. Macella & Kirstie had done a great job helping out with Maria, so we decided to have a nice family night of ice cream and a movie instead of doing work.

We're still getting used to having to take care of a baby. She cannot be trusted alone, as she somehow finds everything that's tiny and puts it in her mouth. She does sleep well at night, so we are thankful for that.

We'll keep you posted on upcoming doctor appointments.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday 4/11

Today we got up to pick up Marsha's Aunt Joy at the Elmira airport. She flew in from Florida for Easter. We were late, but thankfully her luggage took a little time to come through.

She came back to our house and played with Maria for a little while before heading out to Whitney Point. We packed up for Easter and headed out to Whitney Point as well. We picked Macella & Kirstie up from Marsha's mom's and headed to introduce Maria to more relatives. Maria met her Dean grandparents. She enjoyed her time with them. Then she was off to meet Uncle Terry, Aunt Lana, Maggie, Taron, Chuck, & baby cousin Kaliah. Lots of people; lots of fun!

Afterward Macella & Kirstie went back to Marsha's parents for the night and Marsha, Gary & Maria went to Marsha's Uncle Tim's. Maria enjoyed her Great Uncle Tim. We spent the night there.

Have a wonderful Easter! We are so thankful for a Savior who came even though we did not deserve it. We're glad to be adopted into His family. What a powerful picture.

Friday 4/10; Actually make it HOME

WE ARE ACTUALLY HOME!!! Thanks to all who have questioned whether we made it home or not. Thanks for checking in with us. Again, sorry for the delay in keeping up with the posts. Between not paying for internet in Hong Kong, traveling for 24 hours, and then trying to clean up the house, but actually sleeping this is the 1st opportunity we've had to update. Thanks so much for your support while we were away.

Friday--Last night Maria did not want to sleep, so we are exhausted! Thankfully Marsha's mom did ALL of our laundry, so that was a nice surprise to wake up to!

We were all up by 7am (except Gary--he slept until 10:30am). Marsha packed up all the clean clothes for travel back home. Once Gary was ready, Marsha, Gary, and Maria traveled home. Macella & Kirstie spent the day and night with grandma. Maria is enjoying her new home. She loves the living room carpet and being able to walk wherever she wants.

It was the plan to keep Maria up and to get work done, but we were all so tired that we fell asleep at 2:30pm and didn't wake up until 8:30pm. We tried to wake Maria up, but she didn't like it. She finally became alert at 9:30 and had supper. Gary went out to Walmart for groceries at 11pm. We are all messed up with time!! At this point, we were all wide awake, so Maria went to bed at 3am and we followed at 4am. Not exactly bright, but coming back to this time difference has been a challenge.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday 4/9--Traveling Home

Thursday-- Today we were up at 6:30 and we packed up and left for the airport. We didn't chance the breakfast at the hotel and hoped to get something at the airport. We took a shuttle at 7:45am and made it to the airport at 8:00am. Our seats were all over the place on the plane, so we were at the ticket counter for more than 45 minutes checking in our luggage and trying to get better seats. Marsha & Maria ended up together, Macella & Kirstie were together a row behind them, and Gary was a row in front of Marsha.

After check-in we went through security. That was pretty painless, so that was good. We made it through all the checkpoints by 9am and then got breakfast at Burger King. We boarded the plane around 9:45. Three of the other families were on the same flight. The plane took off at 10:20am and flew for 16 HOURS!!!!

It was a long flight with 3 interesting meals, but they were better than the meals on the way to China. The older girls did a great job getting along and watching movies. Maria was content to sit in her seat and play with her hands and feet. She loved eating Cheerios. She was only discontent once, so Marsha held her while she slept for about 4 hours. We were happy to land in Newark at 2:20pm, until all the lines at the airport!!

Newark was the place where we believe Maria officially became a resident of the United States. Once again, we were not allowed to take pictures. That was kind of disappointing, but we were glad to be almost home! We had to go through a long immigration line. Then, even though we were traveling with the same airline we had to get all our luggage and go through a luggage check and then re-check the bags. We thought that was it, so we were glad and took a tram to our terminal and there was another security check!! We felt awful for one of our families. We're sure they missed their flight. Their flight was to leave at 4:00 and they were in line in front of us going through security at 3:50. We finally made it to our gate at 4:10 where we find out our flight was delayed until 5:06. We decided to call Marsha's mom to spend the night at her house instead of driving home from Syracuse. We arrived in Syracuse at 6:10pm!

We were met by some family and a nice person in the airport took our picture together. We then went out to Applebees. It was nice, but absolutely tiring. We made it to Marsha's parents at 9:30pm. By then it was actually 9:30am Friday in China, so Maria was wide awake. The rest of us had not slept on the plane, so we were exhausted after being up for longer than 24 hours. We went to bed, but Maria woke us up every two hours to play!

It is so nice to be home! We are thankful for a safe trip and that Maria did so well on the plane and throughout all the traveling.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday 4/8, Getting Ready to Leave

April 8th: Today we were up at 7:15am. We used Skype to call our friends from Whitney Point. Their daughter Cari was determined that we should be able to talk even though we were in China.

We had breakfast in the revolving restaurant. Maria is doing much better with eating. She loves it--although she is still a messy one! The rest of the morning was filled with packing up and planning our overnight in Hong Kong. We had our luggage out at 2:30 and then met our group at 3:00.

From there we took a bus to the U.S. Consulate. The one U.S. thing we did and we were not allowed to take cameras inside. We went through a long line and then ending up in a type of holding room with at least 50 other families. They then had us all stand up and do a "swearing in ceremony" where we swore that our paperwork was accurate. Then they congratulated us on our adoptions and it was done. Gary got back to the bus in time to take a picture of Maria and Marsha outside the consulate at least.

We got back to the hotel at 5:00 where 7 of the families (including us) transferred to another bus for Hong Kong. That was not a fun trip!! We traveled until the China border checkpoint where all our luggage had to come off the bus and we had to go through security and customs and get our bags scanned. Someone was there to at least carry the big suitcases. Then we got back on the bus and traveled about one mile to Hong Kong where we had to get off the bus again. This time all the families were responsible to carry their own luggage plus carry-ons. We were a sight to see! Macella carried a backpack & suitcase, Kirstie carried a backpack & suitcase, Marsha carried a backpack, pushed Maria in her stroller, and pulled a suitcase, and Gary carried a backpack and pulled 2 suitcases. We carried all our stuff through more security and checkpoints. Then we put it all back onto the bus again. We finally made it to the hotel in Hong Kong at 9:30 at night!!

Between the two buses we had not stopped for dinner or the bathroom since 3pm in the afternoon until we made it to the hotel. It's a good thing we had packed snacks:) Gary ended up ordering pizza through room service at 10pm, so that's when we finally got dinner. They gave us a bed and a cot. Apparently only 3 people are allowed per room, so I'm not sure what our guide did, but she gave Macella's passport to another family to check-in. I think that saved us some money, but Macella felt like a fugitive!

We were exhausted and finally made it to bed around 11:30. It seemed like a long day before the day of actually traveling home!! Tomorrow is the 16 hour plane ride!

Sorry we could not update the site on this actual day. The internet cost money and we were exhausted and the brains were not thinking straight!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday in Guangzhou

Last night was Maria's worst sleeping night. We had difficulty getting her to sleep and she woke up at 4:30am. The girls were not thrilled with all her noise:) We had breakfast in the revolving restaurant at the hotel and then were required to stay in our rooms from 9:30-11:30. This is when our guides, Rosa & Maggie, took all Maria's paperwork to the U.S. Consulate. We had to be in our rooms in case they had a question or ran into trouble with our paperwork.

Maria had a fussy morning, we think her stomach hurts, so Gary took the girls to the pool while Marsha made the room as dark as possible. All the shades were pulled and every light was turned off, so Maria would fall asleep. Marsha then went and hid in the lighted bathroom! That seemed to do the trick. Maria slept for about 1 1/2 hours.

After swimming we met our group at 2:30 to go to the Guangdon Folk Arts Museum. The whole Museum was in connected open building outdoors. It was very beautiful. Then we went back to Shamian Island where the kids had their "Red Sofa" pictures taken at the White Swan Hotel. That hotel was very beautiful as well!

Once we finally made it back to the hotel it was time for dinner, so we met the rest of the group at Pizza Hut. Everywhere we go, they usually have a special room or area where they set it up for us. It is so nice.

We went back to the room for an early night. Everyone was exhausted---even Maria:)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday in Guangzhou 4/6

Today we woke up early to eat breakfast in the high revolving restaurant before meeting our group at 9am. At 9 we met together and headed to the photo shop for the children's Visa pictures and then on to the medical appointments.

We lined up for pictures. Apparently they had to be some kind of perfect because they were not thrilled with Maria's pictures. We had to keep positioning her and trying to get her to look up. Finally some man came and held her up in the air, but that did not work either. After quite a few minutes they resorted to accepting one of the earlier pictures.

After pictures we all went to an adoption medical center on the island. We all had to visit three different rooms. The weight, the surgery, and the ENT. Maria weighed 20 pounds and is 31 inches tall. The ENT exam was very official, as the doctor moved toys within her eyesight and shook them on either side of her ears to see if she could hear. She took our word that she couldn't hear. In the surgery/medical room I was asked what level her intellectual development was at and whether it was impacted by her hearing---they asked us! We explained that we were teaching her the signs for "more" and "please", but they were not happy with these answers. The doctor then took us to another room with more doctors, where they questioned us again on her development. We explained that she moves our hands to request things, so we know she can get some of her needs met that way. They then showed her a pen to see if she would grab it and then took it from her and put it up high to see if she would follow it. She wanted the pen, so they said, "good." They all talked for a very long time and then asked us how we knew she had no hearing and if she was slower due to the hearing or something else. How were we to know?? I'm not sure what they ended up deciding, but after Maria wanted the pen, they said, "OK done."

After the medical appointments we walked around the island shops for about 40 minutes and then we all headed back to the hotel. At the hotel, we ate Poptarts:) and Ramen Noodles--Yum Yum!! Then we all went to the pool where Macella & Kirstie swam for more than 3 hours. Some of the other kids from our group came down and they all had a great time.

At 5:30 we met one of the families for dinner at the Italian Restaurant and while there, 2 of the other families joined us. The kids sat at one table and the adults and Maria sat at another. We had a nice time. Maria was very active and into everything!

We aren't sure if Maria was not feeling well or just has trouble going to sleep. After crying so hard she finally fell asleep in Marsha's arms.

Tomorrow we have to stay in our rooms while our guides take our paperwork to the U.S. Consulate. Then in the afternoon we go to a very small museum and the White Swan hotel to sit on their "red couch."

We miss you all and can't wait to be back!
Enjoy some pictures of our day!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday in Guangzhou

This morning we ate breakfast on the 45th floor in the revolving restaurant. It was the best breakfast in China so far. We'll be heading there for the rest of the week if we get up on time:) The kids thought it was so neat to sit at the table and watch the city go slowly by.

At 9:30 we met our group to go to Shamian Island to see local shops and statues. We bought the girls matching Chinese dresses. They look so cute!

We made it back to the hotel by 1:00 to get ready for our paperwork meeting and eat some kind of Chinese Ramen Noodles. At 3:00 Marsha went with half the parents for 1 1/2 hours worth of paperwork to get ready for the Chinese Consulate. The other half of the parents stayed with their children. Gary took Macella & Kirstie to swim and Maria to watch. They had a good time.

At 6:00 we went out with a couple of families to try a different Chinese Restaurant that was supposed to be more like we are used to in America. You will see the appetizing chicken head in the pictures below:) I'm not sure I recall the last time I was served a chicken head for dinner! Although the food was not wonderful, the company was. Afterward we all went to KFC for sundaes and french fries.

Tomorrow we head back to the Shamian Island so all 9 families can take their kids to the doctor appointments. We really are not sure what that entails, but I'm sure it will be an adventure!

Thanks again for following along. We are looking forward to getting Maria back to the U.S., but we have a few more paperwork hurdles to jump through 1st. We'll keep you posted!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday in Guangzhou

We are so happy to be in Guangzhou with our wonderful guides and new found friends!

This morning we had difficulty waking up, so again we had our usual breakfast, with the exception of Macella. We are on the 34th floor. Maria enjoys looking out the windows. Macella continued to be sick, so she stayed in the room with the "do not disturb light", as well as the "do not disturb sign." We are enjoying the door bells that our hotel rooms have had:)

We left with our group at 9:30 for a flower garden park. It was very beautiful. Although, we definitely missed Macella. It seemed strange without her. After the garden we visited a supermarket. All the markets have had escalators made for carts because the food is usually on one floor, supplies on a different floor, etc. They also sell fish on ice and live fish, turtles, and crabs, etc. The most exciting thing at this store is that it's the first place that has had Mountain Dew:) All places have Coke, Sprite, & sometimes Pepsi, but really nothing else. Apparently they are trying to get people to try Mountain Dew, as it's advertised as a free sample on Pepsi cases.

After the store we made it back to check on Macella (12:30). She slept the whole time, so she was feeling much better. Maria was happy to see her. We went out to Pizza Hut, which as we mentioned before is a much fancier restaurant here than in the U.S. They have yummy fruit smoothies! After lunch, Gary took Kirstie & Macella to the hotel pool for swimming, while Marsha & Maria napped:)

At 6:00pm our group went out eat at an Italian Restaurant. One of the families in our group speaks Mandarin, so he was very helpful in finding us a place to eat and getting us taken care of as a group. We had a nice buffet with drinks and dessert. It was nice to have the drinks:) Most places give you only one drink with a cup that's maybe 6oz. We've had to ration ourselves, so we would still have drink at the end of the meal. Anyway, it was great to be among people we know for good food and fellowship:)

Today it was a blessing to see 8 other families with their new children. They range in age from under 12 months to 9 years old. It is so neat to watch them grow and mature in such a fast amount of time. It is amazing how fast the children bond and are happy to be with their new families.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday--leaving Taiyuan

We're in the process of taking our suitcases out to be loaded. We leave the hotel at 1:30 and our plane boards at 3:30 for Guangzhou. We arrive around 6 and then travel to the hotel. Again, not sure how far it is from the airport or how internet connections will be.

We've had a slow morning of packing, as we're not feeling all that well. Kirstie got sick in the night and then Macella got sick. Thankfully Marsha is only nauseous and Gary & Maria are fine. At least here there is humor in getting sick. Gary had to take his Mandarin Phrase book down to the front desk to somehow convey that Kirstie's blanket was yucky and we needed a new one. He finally resorted to showing them the words in the book and showing the "universal sign" for vomit:) They brought us a new blanket less than 5 minutes later, so I guess he did a great job communicating!

Thanks so much for following our Maria journey! We really are enjoying our family time together. Please pray that we feel better and that Maria does well on her 1st plane ride:)

New post: Well, we made it to Guangzhou without a problem. Maria did not enjoy the plane at 1st because she had to stay in her own seat. The seat belt sign didn't go off for the whole 2 1/2 hour flight. She was happy with Ritz type crackers and a bottle. Then she fell asleep for the rest of the flight---the only problem with that was that once back at the hotel she didn't go to sleep until around midnight.

We arrived in our hotel around 7:30. None of the girls dared to brave any food, but Gary went and got himself a chicken sandwich. This hotel is beautiful and we have much more room. Kirstie has a cot, Macella a little bigger than a twin, Marsha & Gary sharing a bed a little bigger than a twin, and Maria in a portable crib. The beds here are a little softer too, so that's good. Here the harder the bed the better b/c they believe soft beds are bad for your back. The beds in our last hotel were like sleeping on plywood. We piled up our blanket & slept on top of it.

Below are pictures of us leaving Taiyuan, flying, and arriving in Guangzhou.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Maria's first day sight seeing--Thursday in Shanxi

Another early morning of getting up at 6, so we could figure out our laundry situation. We tried to figure out the cheapest way to get only what we needed washed at the hotel. We ate Granola Bars and PopTarts for breakfast, while Maria had her 1st full bowl of Cheerios. She swallows the Cheerios probably because they are softened by her formula. We met Hellen our guide at 9:30 for sight seeing at the Jinci Temple.

It was fun including Maria in our pictures from sight seeing today. Almost every building included a set of stairs, so Gary got a lot of exercise carrying her up the stairs in her stroller. We got back to the hotel aournd 12:45. Gary, Macella, & Kirstie walked a few blocks to Pizza Hut. Here Pizza Hut is fancier than the ones back home, it looks and feels more like the Olive Garden at home. They brought pizza back, but first we had to ok all of Maria's documents from yesterday in the hotel lobby. They seemed ok, so we're all set for appointments next week.

Back to the room for time allowing Maria to walk and explore. She seems so fascinated with everything and pretty happy. She has started coming into her own and certainly makes her wants known, such as moving Marsha's hand to open crackers for her. She would rather be held than do anything, so we've tried to make her play by seeing that Kirstie & Macella play. Last night she fell asleep in our arms because we cannot bear to have her cry in a crib.

Tonight we're going to relax with a movie. So far we haven't even watched a full movie before falling asleep.

Please enjoy pictures from our day:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1st--Adoption Day!

We had a good morning getting ready with Maria and having breakfast at the hotel. Maria just likes to put food in her mouth, spit it out, and then mash it between her fingers or just chuck it on the floor. She finds it very funny:) She also likes to make very big messes. We now feel for the people in the olden days, as we boil water in order to wash bottles and we hand wash numerous pairs of pants in the sink:) We brought clothes from home, but we had to go out and buy more today because the dirty ones are not drying in time for her to wear them.

After breakfast this morning (9am), we met our guide and went to the Civil Affairs Office to finish paperwork and officially adopt Maria. It seemed a little chaotic with more people than we thought. We signed and fingerprinted many documents not written in English and we were told "don't worry--we will translate later." We figured it didn't matter what they said as long as we could have Maria:) The one paper that we could read was wrong. They had our town wrong under Gary's name, but correct under Marsha's name. They kept saying, "are you sure it's wrong?", but we made them fix it because we need it perfect for the U.S. Consulate next week. They didn't do it today, but we're supposed to have it tomorrow. Also, Marsha was missing the extra passport pictures needed, so she had to have them taken again (of course we found them once back in the hotel). The girls were so excited to finally be able to say that Maria was most certainly their little sister. Of course mom and dad were excited too:)

We made it back to the hotel around noon. We've been stuck in our hotel for 4 days, other than Walmart and government offices, so we decided to walk the streets. We found a KFC and decided to eat there. Crossing the street was a real challenge, as there are no lights and vehicles coming in all directions. You basically walk into the street and then stop in the middle or wherever you are while motorbikes and cars drive around you and then you continue walking until another vehicle almost runs you down. After lunch we continued walking down additional blocks. There are some not so nice streets and some busy streets. We found a mall type building and walked inside. It was really pretty, but very pricey. After more walking we found a children's store where the clothes were more affordable, so we got Maria a few pairs of much needed pants.

Back to the hotel at 3pm, so the girls could continue to work on homework and Gary could work on a video. Maria took a nap from 4:15-6:00. We ordered in rice and noodles for supper, which was not a big hit for Gary & Kirstie, so Gary got those chicken nuggets from McDonald's again:)

We're going to sleep with Kung Fu Panda on the computer. Maria must have taken her nap much too late today b/c she is very WIDE awake at 10:45 at night!

We are still in awe of the honor the Lord has given us by allowing us to adopt this precious little girl. We will have tough times ahead, but we already can't imagine our lives without her. The girls said today, "she's so perfect for our family, she fits right in." Gary said, "of course, God already had it planned." God's plans are so much better than ours. We are so blessed.

Tomorrow we finally get to get out of our hotel for some sight seeing with Maria. We are headed to some kind of temple and maybe something else. We are so looking forward to Friday when we fly to meet the rest of the group in Guangzhou:)

Enjoy the pictures of Maria's adoption day and pray for the day when she'll choose to be adopted into God's family as well. What a joy!

Maria's Gotcha Video

Here is a compilation of video clips from Maria's "Gotcha Day" (3/31/09) and "Adoption Day" (4/1/09)