Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Home at last!

Brrrr!  It was really cold getting out of the airport in Indy!  Everyone had to bundle up in their jackets and hats and Lyric thought it was really cold on her face when we got out in the wind.

A good friend of ours, Joe (Thanks!), picked us up at the airport in his van so he was the first one to meet Lyric and to see our weary, sleep-deprived bodies.  Our friends were meeting for house church at the time we arrived so we had Joe take us over to the Mast's house to fellowship for a bit and to introduce Lyric.  We got to share some candy we had brought back with us and some other Chinese food.  I think we even shared some airplane food - packaged tofu!  Ahh, we also split up a moon cake for everyone to try. 

Before too long, our eyes were growing heavy (jet-lag was settling in) and we had Joe take us home.  It was so, so nice to pull into our driveway.  Lyric had fallen asleep in the van, so she didn't even get a first glance of her new home as we pulled into the driveway.  We carried her in the house as she was fast asleep and left her coat on her while she slept on the couch.  We had kept the heat turned down low while we were gone so it took awhile for everything to heat up. She slept cozily snuggled up in her jacket and a blanket. 

While Lyric slept, we brought in our luggage and did some unpacking.  We tried to stay awake for as long as we could, but I think we ended up falling asleep pretty early.  I guess we were all so used to sleeping in hotel rooms together that we all fell asleep in the living room!  We kept the fire going so it was nice and toasty.  In the middle of the night we were all wide awake and ended up watching a movie together.  The children thought that was great fun!  (So did I!)

Our original plan was to have Lyric sleep in the girls' room with them, but then we thought better of it.  We wanted her to really learn who her mommy and daddy were and we figured the best way to do this was by putting her toddler bed in our room.  Still, for about the first week we slept in the living room and gave Lyric her naps on one of the couches in there. 

One thing Lyric did NOT want to do was take naps.  She would fight taking them so hard - not physically - just with keeping her eyes open and by sitting up instead of laying down.  Her eyes would get so heavy and her head would start to nod and then she would jerk herself awake again.  When I thought she was finally asleep enough I would try to lay her down so she could sleep better.  But when I did... she would wake up and start to cry - she would be mad.  I should have learned the first time, but time and time again she would fall asleep the same way and I would try to lay her down again.  There were only a few times where I was able to lay her down without her waking up and crying.  Now we have her taking naps in her own bed upstairs in our bedroom.  She has transitioned really well.  When she wakes up from her nap she will call out to whomever took her to her bed to tuck her in and read her a story.  It's really sweet to hear her call out for Tyler, Laurel or Carissa.


P.S.  I finally did it!  I got caught up on all the posts I wanted to write about on our journey to Lyric! (And it's only been 6 months since we've been home with her!)  Now I can start posting some updated photos and let everyone in on some really exciting news that our family has!  Any guesses?   I need to switch the format of the blog around a bit also.


Going home!

What an amazing time we had in China!  We added our daughter, Lyric, to our family.  We visited with Brad, his wife Jieying, and her parents.  We got to introduce our children to a new culture and to new experiences.  We made some new friends and, well, the whole thing was just amazing.  I tried to put some of it into words the past few weeks, but they don't even come close to the experiences we had and the blessings we received from God.

Lyric standing on American "soil"!
We were picked up early in the morning at our hotel by Brad and Jieying and taken to the airport.  It was tough to say good-bye to one another, knowing it would be awhile before we saw them again, but our lives had taken different paths, and we were all very grateful for the time we were able to spend together.

The plane ride from Beijing to Chicago went really well... except for one small incidence.  We were served a really good sandwich in the middle of the night.  I had already given Lyric hers when Kevin, from a few seats over, quietly gestured that he would like 1/2 of Lyric's sandwich.  Now, she really didn't need the whole sandwich to herself, and I should have known better than to have given it to her all at once.  But when Kevin told me he wanted some of it, I knew there was going to be trouble - and trouble there was... in the form of really, really loud hurtful, angry crying...   that went on and on and on.  I even caught the Chinese woman in front of us glaring, I mean glancing, back at us to see what was going on.  I wonder what her thoughts were.  Sadly, my first thought was that she was thinking that I had no right to be with a Chinese "baby".  But, she could also of been thinking, "Oh, that poor little girl.  I hope she's okay.  What a wonderful mother (me!) she has to be comforting her like she is."  I don't know... the look was more like a look of annoyance...
Laurel was so happy to bring that hat home!

Ahhh.... but when all else fails I can always, always result to bribery by candy bar!  There just happened to be stuck in the box with each sandwich a twix bar with two "sticks" on it, and in the midst of the yelling I thought, "Maybe, just maybe, she will stop crying over the sandwich if I give her the twix bar!"  Well,  I didn't want to give her the whole thing.  I thought one sugar-laden bar would be enough to calm her down so I attempted to open the twix bar without her seeing it and attempted to break it in half - all while she was sitting in my lap screaming.  I got the tiniest of pieces broken off  before she saw it.  Her tears stopped, the screaming stopped - and I quickly handed over the bribe.  Silence is a GOOD thing in the middle of the night on a plane that is flying from Beijing, China to Chicago, Illinois!

I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the flight home, but I don't think Tyler did either.  Almost every time I looked over at him he was awake.  Laurel was in the middle of her daddy and Tyler.  She could cuddle down into the seat really nice and probably got the most sleep out of any of us.  Carissa sat next to me by the window, helping with Lyric when she could. 

Our layover at the Chicago airport wasn't too long... only 8 hours :)  Fortunately, we have great children who can entertain themselves pretty easily.  We ate a little food.  Took a few walks. Got lots of drinks at the water fountain.  Almost before we knew it we had to get in line to board our last plane home!
See their backpacks?  I had them stuffed!

Tyler is in DS world.

See Carissa's sleeve?  Lyric is asking her to take her to the drinking fountain - for the 4th time.

She really liked drinking at the fountain.

Last day in China

What a busy, busy day trying to pack in all of the last minute things we wanted to do while in Beijing (shopping!)  We stayed at the same hotel that we stayed at before, just a different room. 

Brad had wanted some American food so he took us to a restaurant called Grandma's Kitchen.  They had lemonade, milk shakes, onion rings, and huge burgers - called American Burger. (I think he was trying to prepare us for arriving back in the U.S!)
Yum - biscuits with sausage gravy at Grandma's Kitchen

On the right, above is Brad and Kevin digging into biscuits with sausage gravy.  I snuck a bite also - it was really good and disappeared way too quickly.   The milkshake glass in the left corner was Tyler's.  That disappeared really quick also!  I have a picture of the burger that Carissa got, but it turned out blurry.  It was a HUGE burger, and she ate every single bite.  I was shocked that she could eat that much! 

I had a really good sandwich and onion rings.
After a filling meal we went on to do all of our shopping.  We had Renminbi (Chinese currency) burning holes in our pockets and we still had a lot of gifts left to buy.  We ended up back at the same market we had gone to before, which is good because we knew our way around.  We negotiated for and bought a lot of tea, a tea set, chop sticks, Chinese decorations and many other items.  One of the items I really like is a box designed to hold chopsticks.  Back home, I have all our chopsticks wrapped in a rubber band and stuck in a drawer and this holder was one of the items I had set out to purchase, that and a tea set I got to pick out myself.  There was one section of the market we hadn't went into the last time we were there, and it was filled with tea cups and tea pots.  It was wonderful!  I had a hard time deciding on just the right one, but I managed!

Laurel in the street lights.
Some of the other great items we bought were tea tumblers - you know how there are coffee mugs?  Well, these are for your loose leaf tea and they are great!  I was so excited to discover them because we really like loose leaf tea.  We ended up getting three plastic ones and two glass ones.  It's a good thing we bought the plastic ones!  Not very long after we were back to the states Laurel knocked one of the glass ones over and broke it and then about a week later Kevin knocked the other one on the kitchen sink and broke that one.  They were really good quality glasses, we just happened to knock them in the right places...

Oh... Lyric was a big hit at the market.  When you first walk into this market there is a tea "shop" set up on the immediate left.  One of the ladies here gave Lyric a gift, it is called "pee-pee boy".  I know.  Strange.  It's a little ceramic boy about 3 inches high.  When soaked in water he will go potty.  Really.  After being given this "wonderful" gift Lyric played with it for just a bit and then broke it by dropping it.  The lady who gave it to her was wonderful about it, but it was still a bit embarrassing... 

Later, when we were picking out the tea pot Lyric was given a few more gifts.  Paper folded into the shape of a gun (it was just for fun!), a squeaky toy mouse, and another pee-pee boy, except this one wasn't a boy, it was a mouse.  Pee-pee mouse successfully made it home with us without breaking and is now hiding in a drawer somewhere...

After spending almost all the money that was burning holes in our pockets we headed out for our last dinner with Brad and Jieying. We voted to go to one of our favorite restaurants and had a great meal and a great time.

At the hotel, Kevin ended up going back out with Brad for one last "night on the town" together.  After getting the children tucked in for bed (with Chinese cartoons on to help them settle down), I began the daunting task of packing and repacking all of our clothes, gifts, and souvenirs.  By the time I was done, our backpacks were very stuffed and pretty heavy!  To be honest, I really like the challenge of packing a bunch of suitcases or even packing luggage into a car.  I look at it as a puzzle that has to be figured out.  I can happily announce that not one item broke on our way home from China!

Looking back, I don't even remember sleeping that night, but I'm sure I did...  I do kind-of remember that the morning came really, really fast...

Taking the Train from Guangzhou to Beijing!

We woke up early in the morning to finish packing for the train ride.  Brad met us at the hotel and we took two separate cars to the station where we met Jieying and her parents, who wanted to see all of us off.   We had a lot of luggage with us so it was good to have the extra help!

Lyric liked sitting on the top bunk.
Everything went by so fast that before we knew it we were on the train getting all of our luggage settled in.  Kevin and I had traveled on a train in Ukraine a few years ago so we were happy to see the soft beds we paid extra for were really nice.  There was even a built-in television at the foot of each bed, clean sheets, and soft pillows.  Carissa, Laurel, Lyric, Jieying and I shared one cabin and Brad, Kevin, and Tyler shared another cabin with a Chinese gentleman.

Lyric and Laurel couldn't decide which bunk they wanted to sit on so they were like little monkeys going from bunk to bunk (which kept us busy lifting Lyric up and down!).

We had brought a few snacks with us and Jieying and her parents had packed food as well.  It was going to be a long train ride - it took about 23 hours, so we had to eat a few meals on the train.  Around meal times,  someone would come down the isle selling food, like noodles and rice.  Most of the time we ate our snack food and got hot water for Ramon Noodles.

Laurel was being a monkey.
Every now and then the train would make a stop at a small station.  Kevin, Brad and Jieying got off the train to stretch their legs and ended up buying some corn on the cob.  We had learned by now that Lyric did not know how or when to stop eating.  When they brought in the corn, she had already had a good meal, but she wanted more.  She really, really liked eating the corn on the cob, but we eventually had to take it away.  I honestly think she would have made herself sick had we let her keep eating.  Everything is so new to her.  She likes to try everything.  When we get home we will start working on regular meals!

It was really nice taking the train because we got out of the city and were able to see a lot of the countryside.  At one point when we were in Guizhou, Laurel had asked when we were going to get into the country.  We didn't get to walk around, but at least we got to ride through it!

Protecting their crops.
The children also got a big kick out of going through tunnels.  They didn't particularly like using the bathroom on the train, but at least they had a western toilet to sit on!  When we were on the train in Ukraine, the bathrooms would be locked 15 minutes before we got to a town and unlocked 15 minutes after we left the town.  Know why?  Anything that goes into the toilet drops right on down to the tracks below - biodegradable, right?  I think it was about the same way on the China train.

Beautiful girl
I slept better than I thought I would on the train, although I still woke up quite a bit.  I put Lyric at my feet to sleep, and I woke up a few times to make sure she was alright.  Then, the train would stop at stations in the night and I woke up at each one thinking it was time to pack up our bags.  Still, it was very comfortable, and I would do it again it a heart-beat.  It was much cheaper than taking the plane for all of us from Guangzhou back to Beijing where we would get our plane home.

After a decent night's sleep it was time to pack up the bags, catch a ride to our hotel, and then head back out for our last day of shopping in Beijing before we headed home!

Older building.  Wonder what the signs say?

Nice house all by itself.

Baskets of vegetables are at her side.

Pretty view.

Lyric was happy a second ago!

Brad is liking that corn on the cob!
Lyric thoroughly enjoying her corn.

Just hanging out - great smile.

This beautiful girl looks suspicious - I think she got into the candy!