Life at Home

Coming home was so much fun!  Although we were in a fog for the first week, we had so much fun showing off our girl to our friends and family!  We have been spoiled with cakes, meals, desserts and lots of love.  Seriously, the meals were such a huge help.  It was so nice to have the time I would have spent meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking on the kids and all the adjustments around here. 

So many people have asked me how she is adjusting to our family.  First of all, I hesitate to call her Vivienne because we're still trying to work that name in.  We have been calling her by her Chinese nickname, which was Yu Yu, short for Shan Yu.  Now we're blending Yu Yu-Vivi so we can get used to Vivi. 

She has come into our family pretty seamlessly.  The first few days in China, she was scared.  We only got about one smile a day and when we look back at pictures, we can see confused eyes.  Although her transition into our family was a loving transition, she seemed to be watching the first few days to see if we would meet her needs. 

On Gotcha Day, when we got back to the hotel, John took the kids out and I held Yu Yu for her whole nap. I didn't have the heart to lay her down, nor did I want to. After months, I finally had this treasure in my arms.  She came to us with a pretty bad cold, which turned into a three day high fever.  I got to spend lots of time taking care of her and making those trips to the orphanage for shots of penicillin and those traumatic IV's.  Looking back, I think her sickness and the fact that she needed me sped up our bonding so quickly.  At the end of the week in Kunming, I remember thinking we had a serious baby, but once she got better and trusted us, she started letting her true personality come through.  In Guanghzou, she laughed and giggled a ton and we saw her sense of humor. 
She loves her brothers and sisters more than I can explain.  All of my fears of not having enough time for the other kids are gone.  John's Mom has a saying that love multiplies, it doesn't divide. We have seen evidence of this.  The kids have been so loving to their new sister and someone is always paying attention to her.  Not because we ask them to, but because they want to.  We started back to school full time last week and she has been an amazing independent player when I've needed her to be.  She absolutely loves crawling around the huge carpeted basement and playing at Sydney's kitchen with the food toys.  The fact that she can play on her own for periods of time is another huge blessing for me as a homeschool Mom.

I feel like our kids learned and saw so much in China that they matured quite a bit.  Even though it cost us a boatload of money to take our kids, the experience for them was priceless.  I am so grateful that they got to see so much history as well as where their sister came from.  They already had a heart for the orphan, but now they experienced both what orphanage life is like and the lack of freedom in a country like China.

My friend Tara, whose family played a huge part in our adoption, had a great idea for her kids, which I stole earlier this year.  There is a website called "Reece's Rainbow" http://www.reecesrainbow.com/, which has children who desperately need to be adopted from the Ukraine and other regions. Each of my kids picked a child from the website to pray for daily.  We printed their picture and they pray for them each day at prayer time.  It has helped our kids to personalize and narrow down the term "orphan".  It also gives them the opportunity to pray for one of God's least of these. 

On the way home from Chicago we stayed overnight in an Embassy Suites.  We were exhausted and it gave us a good night's sleep before attempting to drive three hours while jet lagged. The kids were thrilled to have Chicago style pizza in this picture!  We woke up in the morning and to our surprise Vivi started crawling!  The first thing that went through my mind was that my house wasn't baby proofed!  I didn't expect a crawling baby right away.  We are so thankful for her development and for her health.  She seems to be right on track with where she should be for her age. What a huge blessing for a child from an orphanage!

She also had her first pediatrician appointment last Monday and her doctor didn't hear her heart murmur.   We will get it checked with a cardiologist just to be sure, but that was great news!  Now we are doing other routine tests that international adoptees go through.  Let me tell you, the stool samples are an adventure! 

I always end my posts thanking all of you for all of your prayers, kind words and encouragement as we made our way through this journey.  We love you all!

I almost forgot to mention that tomorrow we will have known her for one month!

Some fun facts about Yu Yu:

She loves when we sing, "Hot, hot, hot" and she knows some crazy hand motions to it that I made up in China
She loves when the kids come toward her down a hallway and sneak towards her
She laughs more than I remembered babies could laugh
She has black eyes
She loves to touch people's faces
She was completely frightened of our goldendoodle, Emma for the first 24 hours in our house, but is now best friends with her..phew!
She LOVES splashing in the bath
She learned the actions for hooray and bye bye in China
She calls us Mama and Dada
She points to what she wants and repeats most little words we say
She only likes real food, no baby food and rice and congee (see photo) are her fav
She has gotten three teeth on top since we've been home
She sucks her thumb with her thumb turned down to go to sleep..so sweet

We met her exactly four weeks ago and we love her so much.  The blessing is all ours and we give God all the credit for hand picking this child for our family. 



Ride Home

Finally on our way home!  After flying from Hong Kong, connecting in Newark and ending up in Chicago, we planned to stay the night at the hotel we stayed in on the way out. After 17 total hours of flying, we were ready for some rest.  Here she is in a car seat for the very first time.  In China they don't use car seats.  I asked my guide if he had ever seen anyone with a car seat and he had never heard of them. 

We were welcomed home on Saturday to a clean house, thanks to my wonderful Mom, Dad and sister in law, and food!  We felt very loved and it made coming home so much better.

Jersey Girl!

For all my New Jersey friends and family out there: you're gonna love this one!  When you are adopted or immigrate to a new country, even though you get sworn in as an American in your country of origin, you are not an American until you hit U.S. soil.  When we landed at Newark Airport on Friday the 1st,  she and I were escorted to the Immigration Department where we handed in a brown envelope we had received in Guangzhou with all of her citizenship information  that was only to be opened by the immigration officers.  It went very quickly and within a few minutes, they waved us out and said we were done. As a side note, I think the least the government could have done was hand us a welcome packet or a little flag, but is just my opinion.  I was a little emotional walking out of immigration knowing our girl was officially an American now.  After seeing where she came from, the lifestyle there, and the lack of freedom, it made me realize how much it means to be an American.  My citizenship is something that has always been there and I take it for granted. 

Now for the fun part!  With all my business in packing and preparing for the trip, I didn't realize until about a day before we left that this citizenship was going to take place in New Jersey, where I was born and raised!  Since my father in law loves to tease me about "NJ people" and constantly cracking on New Jersey, I was highly motivated to buy this t-shirt in Newark on the way out to China.  She is now officially a "Jersey Girl" just like her Mom! 

Hong Kong Disney!

This is the South China Sea and it was the amazing view from our hotel room.

We spent one day at the park and it was a smaller version of our Disney World.  The nice thing was that we were there off-peak and we could get on rides with no wait! 


Yu Yu, that's her Chinese nickname and what we call her most of the time, wasn't crazy about Minnie Mouse.  I'm sure it was her first encounter with a "character".

We got Vivienne her very own Minnie hat with her name sewn on the back, just like our other kids. 

The parade floats were very modern and cool.

We rode the favorite Buzz Lightyear ride at least 6 times with no waiting!  The kids were in heaven.


They have Sleeping Beauty's castle at HK Disney.  It was much smaller than Cinderella's.


Autotopia, similiar to our Indy car ride, was one of the kid's favorites.


  This cracked us up because all of the HS Musical characters were Chinese!


Train Ride to Hong Kong Disney!

Instead of flying from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, we decided to take a train so that we could experience more of the countryside between the two cities.  It was a very smooth ride and we did see a lot of farming along the way. 

Being the crazy Disney family that we are, since we had to be in Hong Kong for two nights to wait to fly out, we decided to stay at The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.  This hotel is beautiful and it is the same as The Grand Floridian Hotel in Florida except that it was about a quarter of the price and the room included two park passes.  To stay in Hong Kong either downtown or near the airport was about the same amount as the travel website price, so we decided to surprise the kids.  We didn't tell them our plan until the night before we left and they were pretty ecstatic!

The night we got into Hong Kong, we took the Star Ferry ride across the Victoria Harbour.  It was very similar to the ferry boats in Seattle.  Once we got our luggage in the Disney hotel that afternoon,  I didn't want to leave, but John was adamant about seeing Hong Kong and this harbour.  I am so glad he talked me into it because Hong Kong was the prettiest city I have ever seen.  I think the mountains behind the buildings are what make it so interesting.  It's a city with a very Fuji-like natural look.  Sorry San Francisco, you were always top on my list as the prettiest city before I saw Hong Kong.

We had our first Italian food in weeks here in Hong Kong.  We had pizza in China, but it wasn't very good.  We ate at the Spaghetti house in their main shopping district and it was amazing!  I got the best spaghetti carbonara.  It was heavenly.

Red Couch Day

The day after the Consulate Appointment, we received the rest of the paperwork we needed to take her home!  After that, we got the girls ready for the Red Couch Picture.  This is a White Swan Hotel tradition.  All of the families dress up traditional Chinese clothing, put them on the couch and take pictures.  Sydney got in on the action and they both looked so pretty in their silks. 

When we got to the Red Couch, I panicked a little because my hair accessory for Vivienne did not match her outfit.  My friend Melissa, I kid you not, pulled out a beautiful little flower that she had made herself that was the color of her silk! 

When we sing the song, "Hot, hot, hot" she smiles like this!  We started singing it one night in the hotel and she was laughing so hard she couldn't breathe.  She also tries to copy the hand motions we did. 


The lobby of the White Swan Hotel