Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hallie's First Weekend Home

 We're home!  And so happy to be home.  Our cute sign making friends welcomed Hallie home in style.

Now I know why we had such a hard time getting a smiling picture of this girl.  This is the face she pulls whenever she's around someone new.  Don't worry, Hallie has warmed right up to Maddie and Mason and Jordan too.

 The kids showing off their "cheater" chopsticks.  I love these things and I'm already wishing I would have thought to buy a few backup pairs.

We unpacked in record time!  Really I think it took over a week last year.
The kids had fun trying on their gifts.

Jordan is looking so grown up.

Our first breakfast with all of us at the table... I keep looking at this full table in disbelief that I really have this many kids.   That's a lot of little humans and they're all so stinking cute.

 There was lots of giggling.

Like I said before, this girl has practically no muscle tone.  She fell down the stairs on her first day home.  I felt terrible!!!  Jordan, our 2 year old, is totally fine on the stairs, so it didn't even occur to me that she might not be.  We've now taught her how to turn around and crawl backwards down the stairs until she is stronger.

We had a lot of firsts over the weekend, including her first bath in a tub.  

Dumping water over her head.

She was initially afraid of the bath toys with faces, but didn't take long to get over it.

I didn't realize they both wiped the baby shampoo all over their faces before I took this picture.  Oops!

Hallie found Kaitlyn's play glasses.  She's looking good.

Again, look at all of those little people around our table.  They are officially more than a handful.  Six!

These two have quickly fallen right into their brother/sister roles:
They're silly together...

They bug each other...

They love each other...

 All within a matter of seconds.

 Walking barefoot in the grass was completely new and scary at first, she was truly terrified, but after watching Mama walk around, she decided it was safe enough to try.

We're pretty sure Hallie has never been on a swing before.  We had to take it very slow because stabilizing herself is very tiring, but she liked it.

Our baby bunnies got 100x cuter while we were away.

 Hallie can appreciate their cuteness... but only from a distance.

Speaking of bunnies... anyone want one?  No, Really.

Hallie is taking in so many new things at once and handling it like a champ.

We let her try the out trampoline with a "No Jumping" rule in force for all siblings.  She'll get the hang of it soon...

But this is the face she pulls when she is even slightly bounced.

It's great exercise, even just trying to stand up on the unstable surface was a chore.

Everything is more fun with Baba.

Hallie wants to please us so much, it's almost painful.  She puts a great deal of effort into making sure we see everything that she does right and also pointing out everything she thinks her siblings, especially Jordan, might be doing wrong.  I think that's how she got by in the orphanage.  Hopefully in time, she'll understand that we can love her and her siblings and that she doesn't need to compete.

Another first: backyard garden tomatoes.  She put it in her mouth and spat it right back out.  But after she saw me eat a few, she gave it another try. 

A new favorite food has been discovered.  She devours these things.

I missed this fun face!

 This is what the backdoor window looks like when you have six kids.  Okay, it probably looked like that when I had two.  Either way, I clearly need to wash that window!

Just before we left for China, Jordan started expanding his list of foods he found acceptable.  Chicken used to be most detested, and now he can't get enough.  Uh, yikes!

 This girl is digging chicken too.  She is all carnivore.  She'll appease us by trying other foods, but loves all things meaty.

Even though we've been having a lot of fun, we're all still fairly tired.  Enoch has struggled the most with jet lag, he woke me up the other night and said, "Mom, I'm so tired it hurts, but I can't sleep!"  I've done slightly better but I've still been tired enough to fall asleep in line at the car wash and to accidentally give Mason a dose of Jordan's meds.  Luckily it wasn't one that would hurt Mason, but I still couldn't believe I did that.  With all of us being so tired, we're working on being patient with each other and adjusting to our new normal.  Emotions have running wild and everyone is need of a little extra love.  It's tricky to balance bonding and Hallie's neediness with everyone else's needs.  Monday morning was brutal thanks to jet lag and jumping back into our school routine, plus it was picture day.  Luckily we have two weeks to get back into the swing of things before we start tackling Hallie's medical needs with a lot of doctors visits.  For now, we're taking things one step at a time and enjoying getting to know our Hallie.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day 13: Getting Home

 We woke up early to be ready to leave the hotel at 7:15am.  This year we couldn't find any inexpensive tickets out of Guangzhou, so the plan was to take a train to Hong Kong and fly out from there.  Our agency okayed our plan, but our guide told us there wasn't a train going out early enough to get us to the airport comfortably early.  We were really torn about what to do because the only alternative was to hire a van driver to take us to Hong Kong and the van costs significantly more than we were planning on, plus I had heard horror stories about these van rides.  But in the end, we didn't want to mess around with missing our flight home, so we took the advice of our guide and took a van to Hong Kong.

Our guide, Jason.  Who we really liked... until our van ride ;)

 Walking out the doors of the China Hotel for the last time.

Saying goodbye to our new friends.

The van ride took 3 hours and just like Gilligan's infamous 3 hour tour, it did not go well.  For the first little bit, it was typical crazy driving through China traffic, but I thought things would get better once we were out of the city.  Not so.  We have no idea what was up with the driver, but his driving was nuts.   Traffic wasn't bad but he kept speeding up, then braking for no apparent reason... over and over and over.  This lurching motion made us all sick in no time.  It was so frustrating.  We couldn't tell if he was on drugs, falling asleep, trying to look at his phone, or what, but he drove that way the entire way to Hong Kong and the fact that he heard vomiting noises coming from behind him did not clue him in at all.

Poor Hallie was not having it.

 Enoch threw up 5 or 6 times.  Luckily he still had his small collection of airplane barf bags for the first few upchucks.

Yep, still not doing well.

 After we ran out of airplane bags, I started emptying Ziplock bags from our luggage for extra puke storage.

 Hallie, felling a little better after she threw up on me.  What really put her over the edge was when the van driver let out a nasty smelling belch that filled the air in the van.  Ugh!  At the border, we had to stop at customs, and Kaitlyn really had to use the restroom, so I took her to use some of the nastiest squatty-potties ever.  Or maybe they just seemed that way because I was already completely nauseated.  Either way, it nearly did me in.

I really cannot express how terrible this van ride was. 

 On the bright side, the little bit of Hong Kong we saw was pretty cool.

Ryan loves bridges and there were several to check out.

When we made it to the airport we were all feeling better about life.

Kaitlyn wanted me to get a picture of this woman sleeping next to Hallie wearing a sweet eye mask.

Pringle Crumb Face

Lots of waiting...

Then a really long flight on which Hallie did amazing well.  The only thing that was hard was the fact that she has such poor muscle tone she couldn't sit upright for that long.  She kept slowly sliding down in her seat until her seat belt was up to her armpits and repeatedly needed me to sit her back up.   At 4 years old, her muscle tone is really only a little better than a newborns.  Something we'll definitely need to work on.  Even when we hold her, we have to be sure to support her because sometimes she'll fall backwards. 

We made it to Dallas... making this girl an official U.S. citizen!

When we were booking our flights, we had the option of a 2 hour 15 minute layover or a 6 hour 50 minute layover.  We knew that customs and immigration can sometimes be a nightmare in Dallas, so we decided to be safe and book the long layover.  The last thing we wanted to do was to miss a flight.  Well, we got though customs and immigration pretty quickly and tried to see if we could get on the earlier flight, but it was already full.  So we had a nice loooong wait in Dallas.

Fun fact: Ryan accidentally forgot to put all of his regular shorts in his suit case so for the whole two weeks, all he had was 2 pair of sweat shorts.  At first he was frustrated, then he embraced it.  He wore them well.

Our flight and layover were long, but after our terrible van ride.  They really didn't seem too bad, just long.

Suckers and stickers.

After a comparatively short flight, we made it to Salt Lake City! 
Exhausted, but happy.