Friday, August 28, 2009

White Dress Photo Shoot

First Time at Church

Last Sunday we took Meili to church for the first time. She did pretty well, although I spent most of the time wandering the halls with her. Noah and Xander wore the outfits we bought for them in China. Poor Noah was having a bad day...

We are having a hard time photographing Meili. If I put her on the ground to snap a picture she is sitting on my lap or at my feet by the time I can get the camera in position. If she's in someone else's arms and I'm behind the camera, this is usually what we get...:)

Bathtime Success!

It took almost a month, but we're happy to report that bathtime is now a happy time at Casa Bouton! Once she was able to handle the bath without screaming, I noticed that Meili would pick up the washcloth and start to clean herself from head to toe which makes me think she probably had spongebaths in the orphanage and just needed time to get used to the new M.O. Now, Meili loves to splash around and play with her toys and when it's time to get out she will crawl to the far end of the tub and try to avoid being snatched up in a towel. She's come a long way!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Playdate 4 Years in the Making!

So fun to have Shannon and Avery over for some baby playtime and adult conversation today! Just couldn't stop staring at the babies in disbelief that the wait it over and that they are FINALLY home!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pics From First Week Home

With Papa Jim Jim and Grandma Judy
With Great Grandma Johnson

Holy Crap! There's 5 of them!
Fun With Daddy
Walking Her Baby
Happy Girl

The Crib's Not Empty Anymore!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One Week Home

It going to be hard to wrap the last week up in one blogpost so I'll just hit the highlights with some good old fashioned bullets and promise to come back later with some pictures:

  • The Flight Home-It was LOOONG but not so bad knowing that we had our own beds to lay in and two boys to hug once we got to the other side no matter what our temperatures may or may not be. Meili was actually pretty easy on the main flight and slept off and on. Coke with ice never tasted so good!

  • The Layover-We flew from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to SFO and had a 10 hour layover before our flight to AZ. We felt like death warmed over but managed to make it on the BART, then onto a trolley car to Pier 39 for a salad at Hard Rock Cafe and a peek at Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Are we nuts or what??? Thanks to Debbie for flying to SFO to keep us company and to Janine and Brice for helping us to burn through the last couple of hours in the airport. I think staying busy and awake for those 10 hours helped us to get back on US time somewhat once we were home.

  • The Homecoming-Grandma Judy and Papa Jim Jim picked us up from the airport at about 9:30 pm after almost 33 hours of travelling. We walked in the door and found our boys sleeping on the living room floor in front of the TV. After holding little Meili Grace for almost 2 weeks, they both looked HUGE to me! My mom had casserole in the fridge which tasted wonderful during the 11 pm hour as did the chicken enchiladas that we enjoyed over the next couple of days-thanks, Mom! I think Meili slept for most of the night-can't remember because it seems like a year ago. The boys were so excited to see her and to tell us all about their adventures with their grandparents while we were away.

  • The Baby Girl-With another transition under her belt, Meili definitely crawled back into her shell a bit those first few days at home. She wanted mama and her thumb and not much else. She would scream during bath time but open her mouth, say 'ah' and lean forward when she saw a toothbrush or a floss stick which I found interesting. She also wanted nothing to do with her highchair. Now just 7 days later, she's doing great in the bath and the highchair and we have high hopes for short walks in the stroller very soon but we aren't pushing our luck. She has warmed up to Xander and Noah but isn't quite sure what to think of the dog yet. Stuffed animals creep her out right now, too. I don't think she's ever seen eyes on an inanimate object before and isn't sure what to make of it.

  • The Pediatrician-Meili had an appt. on Tuesday. It was great fun to try to add Meili to our insurance without a Social Security # but I think we're good finally. Meili weighed 16 pounds even and was 27.5 inches long. She is such a tiny thing! Her head circumference is at the 25th percentile, her length is below the third and her weight is about an inch and a half below the curve. We're working on fattening her up. Luckily for her, we have many tried and true tactics that have done wonders for us! She screamed bloody murder during most of the visit but the doctor was able to count her fingers and toes at least and proclaim her basically healthy. Our ped isn't interested in running titers to check her immunity levels for the immunizations that she received in China and just wants to trust the records we were given and give her the MMR series. (?!) We're going to wait until her next appt for those to give me a chance to check the updated immuniztion record that we were given in China and see if there have been any additions to it from the one we were given at referral. I didn't think to bring the latest one with me to the meeting. I'll blame sleep deprivation...:)

  • The Latest-Meili has such a funny little personality. She'll sit on our laps and just make faces back of forth with us for 15-20 minutes at a time. She says mama, dada, bye bye, hi and dog. If we say yay, she will clap. If we say no she will shake her head and she loves to play peek a boo. Sometimes she will smile at us by just scrunching up her eyes and leave her mouth out of the equation. After about day 3 at home, she started to pull up to standing. I'm sure she could do this before we met her but it was the first time she did it for us. Now she is walking around the house behind a little doll stroller and crawling at lightning speed, sometimes away from Mom which is a huge milestone. Meili has been a bus stop celebrity this week and went out this afternoon for our first restaurant outing with 5 kiddos which went surprisingly well.

  • Food-Meili ate anything we gave her in China and became a picky little thing once we got home. We could feed her several things successfully one day and she would spit them out the next so we are constantly looking for new items to appease her palate. In general, she is not a big fan of baby food and prefers table food. I made congee for her yesterday and she is loving that. I need to add meat, veggies and some good fat to it to round out her diet.

  • Sleep-Meili will sleep great one night and not so great the next so we haven't found our stride yet. The hard thing is to try to limit her napping the day after a bad night so we don't recreate it the next. Matt and I have both been sick with stomach bugs and I have a fresh cold again after fighting one in China which isn't helping things either.
  • We are thoroughly enjoying being parents to five children. I think that part of it has to do with how different (and fun!) it can be to care for a baby when there isn't a two year old in the picture! Plus, the older kids are great helpers. They completely understand that feeding, bathing, changing and comforting Meili are Mommy and Daddy jobs and that they are the 'Play Patrol.' Taylor's school bus comes one hour after the other kids' does and he is eager to help take kids to the bus stop or play with Meili while I get a shower in the morning. In the afternoon, Audrey comes home one hour before Taylor does and the first thing she wants to do when she gets home is play with her sister. This gives me a chance to get some things done around the house with two free hands or start dinner. Xander and Noah are enjoying getting to know their baby sister and watching her warm up to them day by day. The little boys already had a couple of school days under their belts when we got home from China but at the end of the first school day that we were home I asked Xander if he missed me and he said, 'Yes, but I missed Meili more.' He is an awesome big brother. I worried about how he would handle being dethroned as the baby after almost 6 years of reign but I guess going from having 25% of your parent's attention to 20% isn't that big of a change...:)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Last Post From China

Yesterday, we went to the American Consulate, took an oath and received Meili's Visa.  Now all we have to do is get on a plane and bring her home!  We are so ready!  In some ways it seems like we have been here forever and in others it seems like we just got here.  Either way it has been the trip of a lifetime and we have been blessed with an indescribable gift.  I look forward to helping Meili learn about her China as she grows and I hope that she will be as proud to be Chinese as I am to have her as my daughter.  I'm still processing what we have experienced here but I don't think I'll ever listen to 'It's a Small World' at Disneyland again without getting a tear in my eye.  The world is definitely a smaller place now and that can only be a good thing. 


We have to have our bags outside of our door at 4:30 am and will board a bus at 5:30 am for the airport.  After a one hour flight to Hong Kong, then a 12.5 hour flight to SFO we have a 10 hour layover.  Thankfully, Matt's mom is flying to the airport from LA to hang out with us and we might get to see my sister and her husband later in the day.  We will finally land in Tucson at 9:14 pm after almost 33 hours of travelling.  Getting here was one thing.  Getting home with a baby in tow is going to be quite another!  I'll be so happy to get home and sleep in my own bed!


Thanks to everyone who has followed along and left comments and especially to our friends and family who have supported us during our almost 4 year adoption process.  Huge thanks to the Moodys and Posts and Bill and Debbie for helping out with our boys and the Mills family who have hosted our 80 pound lab for 2+ weeks while we have been away in what we consider the ultimate act of friendship.  And last but certainly not least, the 'Grandparents of the Year Award' goes out to my parents (AKA Papa Jim Jim and Grandma Judy) who didn't just watch Noah and Xander while we were away but retrieved them from AZ and took them back to CA and kept them so entertained that they didn't have any time to miss us and then took them back to AZ again in time to start school.  We love you guys and definitely couldn't have done it without you!


Next time, from US soil!!!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Dear Noah and Xander,

Hi Boys!


It sounds like you are having such a fun time with Grandma Judy and Papa Jim Jim.  We are having a great time in China but we miss you.  I miss hearing Xander's voice and I could sure use a good Noah-cuddle right about now.  Just a few more days until we see you.  We can't wait!  We can tell that Meili really likes having a Mommy and a Daddy and she is really enjoying having a big sister and a big brother.  It's going to be fun to see what she thinks about having two more brothers to play with!


Noah-I heard from Mrs. Moody that you are going to be in Mrs. DeKnicker's class with William and Zack.  Mrs. D is the same teacher that Taylor had for third grade so you can ask her if she remembers him.  I am so excited to come home and hear all about how your first days of school went.


Xanderbonie-Mrs. Moody told me that you have Mrs. Lensing for your Kindergarten teacher.  That's the same teacher that Noah had for Kindergarten and she is a lot of fun and is really nice.  Evan has Mrs. Papajohn but you will still get to ride the bus with him.  Remember what you do for the first and second days of school so you can tell me all about it when I get home. 

Be good boys for your grandparents and be good helpers.  We love you and will see you in a few days!




Mom and Dad

Rainy Day

Taylor was really excited to hear that a typhoon was headed our way and really disappointed to learn that it had been downgraded to a tropical storm.  It rained most of the day so we hung out in the hotel.  The hotel we are staying at is owned by Mattel, I believe, and has a wonderful playroom set up for the babies to play in on the 1st floor.  Meili still is pretty clingy and wants to stay close to mom so mainly she watched while the other babies played and the parents chatted.  You can see from one of the pictures that Matt made better use of the toys than she did...:)

Take One Guess

who the only baby was that cried on the red couch...

Red Couch Photos

With Our Guide

Our guide, Grace, has been wonderful.  She has taken care of everything for us while we have been in China from ordering our food to checking us in at the airport to handling our consulate paperwork.  She is on duty 24/7 and takes groups of families for two weeks at a time often back to back sometimes not having a day off for months at a time.  We definitely couldn't have done this without her!

Our Travel Group

It's hard to believe that we are down to only one more full day here in China.  It's been difficult to take care of a new baby while living out of a suitcase in a foreign country and we've all taken turns being different kinds of sick but we have had the experience of a lifetime and have had a wonderful group of people to share it with.  This morning we were nominated to organize a reunion next year at Disney World.  I definitely would like to keep in touch with these folks and keep track of Meili's Chinese sisters as they grow.


On Tuesday we ventured out in to the rain and had a delicious meal at Lucy's.  We've actually eaten there three times now.  Taylor has had chicken caesar salad and fettucini alfredo.  Audrey has had a burger twice and fettucini alfredo once.  Matt has had a burger and a grilled cheese sandwich and I've had a baked potato and then a grilled cheese sandwich with fries.  After almost two weeks of Chinese food and even though all of it has been delicious, it's amazing how good some simple American food can taste.  The kids are craving root beer and I'd kill for a Coke with ice and a big salad.  Matt's a simple man-he justs wants some ice water from the tap.

Hanging Out in the Hotel

We're doing lots of things and seeing lots of China but just hanging out and getting to know our girl has to be my favorite activity here so far.  So many things that I wondered about her I don't have to wonder about any more.  She's had a rough start in life and needs some time to catch up but Taylor summed it up best when he said, 'She isn't broken.'  She is so full of joy.  Those of you that are still waiting can puke if you want to but honestly I'd wait 10 years for this baby.  I can't imagine being matched with any other child.  She's perfect for us.  We are so blessed.

Tuesday-Guangzhou Zoo

On Tuesday, we took a trip to the Guangzhou Zoo.  We were there for only an hour and a half and spent most of that time melting in the sticky heat.  At this point in the trip, I'm convinced we're all sweating pure soy sauce, at least that's my observation when I rinse our clothes out in the sink...:)


The zoo was really big and had very nice tropical vegetation in all areas except the animal pens.  The animals were hot and lazy but we couldn't blame them for that. We saw elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and about 28 different kinds of deer.  The main attraction was definitely the panda.  He was huge!

Monday in Guangzhou-Yun Tai Gardens

There's not too many pics at Yun Tai Gardens since it was so humid that the lenses on our cameras were fogged up but trust us it was very beautiful.  There were tropical plants and flowers and assorted cartoon characters sprinkled throughout the park.  After Yun Tai, our guide took us to a seven story mall that was full of jewelry stores.  Most of it is headed for US gumball machines, I'm sure.  We went to Hua Mei pearl shop and were given a pearl demonstration.  I didn't plan to buy any but walked away with a strand of pearls for Meili with a matching set of earrings.  Audrey got a small pair of pink pearl earrings and since traditional pearl necklaces scream 'Marge Simpson' to me, I got an interesting necklace with grey pearls and agate with a pair of matching grey pearl earrings. 
After the gardens and shopping, we realized that Meili was out of formula.  We thought that Shamian Island would have many places to buy formula since there are so many adoptive families here but strangely we had no such luck.  Matt was the brave one and took a taxi into Guangzhou to see if Carrefour (French Walmart) would have Meili's formula.  He was gone for so long that I started to formulate a plan in my mind to put together a search party.  He showed up just before I was about to call our guide!  He had 6 bags of formula and some Oreos in hand so all was forgiven.   

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bathing Beauty

The weather here in Guangzhou has been hot (95?) and humid so the pool has been a popular hangout.  The first time I tried to get in the water, I had a lifeguard approach me and say, 'Ma'am, please do not wear your trousers in the swimming pool.'  They were board shorts!  Seriously, they would rather see my fat, pasty white thighs???  I just don't get it....


What I observed from the side of the pool while wearing my 'trousers' is that the foreigners were frolicking in the water and jumping in from the side, etc. while the Chinese adults and children were in their full get-up (goggles, swim cap) and swimming laps with perfect precision or doing water aerobics type activities.  I noticed the same thing in Nanchang.


Meili isn't too big of a fan of the water. She doesn't cry but will just cling to us for dear life so we don't keep her in there for too long.  She gets really happy and perks up when we wrap her in a towel to dry her off.  I love how her hair curls up when it is wet-she really has pretty hair!