Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Life at Home

WOW! What a great first couple of days! Here is a list of just a few "firsts" for Miss Lilly:

1. sharing a room with her new sister

2. going out in the cold mornings, bundled in coats over pj's to help her sisters feed their lambs, goats, dog, and cats.

3. playing volleyball with th whole family

4. Meeting BOTH grandma's. She is really fond of Grammie and Nana!

5. Going to church...she sat perfectly quiet the entire service!

6. Mexican food...she wasn't so sure about it at first, but we have have it at least 3 times since being home and she has decided that it isn't so bad. You have to understand that 2 of our biggest concerns were whether she would like Mexican food and horses! lol

7. Doctor, dentist and haircut. She did great at all three!

8. Went to visit her sisters at school and ended up being their "Show and Tell" item.

9. Slumber party-style sleeping. The girls love to sleep in sleeping bags in the playroom while watching a movie when there is no school the next day. She is no exception, at bedtime tonight she motioned to sleep in the playroom and started giggling, and you guessed it, that is where she is right now!

10. A first for all of us and right now one of my favorites...eating dinner together around our table. We finally have the "hole" filled in and it seems that our family is now complete!

I am ashamed to admit that Thanksgiving has not really ever been a favorite holiday of mine. It usually just meant having a LOT of food that I was not particularly fond of (dressing, casseroles, pumpkin pie, veggies, etc) but it was the kick-off to the Christmas season, which I LOVE!!! I have a big feeling that because of the recent addition to our family, that I may be a bit more appreciative of the holiday that SHOULD have the most focus...Thanksgiving! I have been blessed beyond measure and this is the perfect time to reflect and thank God for all that he has provided!

BTW- I am still giddy about the beginning of Christmas Season!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Made It

Our arrival at the airport, and reunion with family and friends
Lilly's sisters and a few of her new friends at the airport
The four Thurman sisters
Lilly's first morning of chores
Lilly and her baby coming home

Diane asked me what she needed to change the name of her blog to, and I think my response is - Why change it? I don't think we ever get THERE, the finish line just moves. So although we are home now, there are a 1000 new almost's and we need to get there next.
However, we did make home and all in all it was a very uneventful trip. But that in and of itself made it great, all the flights were on time, Lilly did great, we had a great reception at the airport, everything was good.
Now life starts anew, more children, new dynamics, new personalities - this is great. As I write this post Lilly is playing with her sisters, we have already been to a volleyball game, and so it begins...
I am sure Diane will follow up, and my authoring will come to an end, but I do want tell everyone again how much we appreciate the prayers, support, help and everything else. So far this entire process has far exceeded all expectations I had. God is truly awesome.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Almost There!

Can't wait to change the blog header when we actually get home!
We have had some ask if they could meet us (primarily Lilly) at the airport when we return and since we may not sleep until tomorrow, that would be great! Just check wit the airline (American) to make sure the time is good...8:15!

See ya'll later!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On our way

We are enjoying our layover in Tokyo. It is currrently 3:35pm here, I think that is 12:35am Friday morning for the folks at home. Everything still looks good for our arrival tonight at 8:15.
We are trying to keep Lilly going until we get on the flight to Dallas then we try to get her to sleep for a few hours.
Ready or not here we come.

Last Post till HOME

The sun has set on our time in China and it is time to see our OWN sunset!!!
Dad and Lilly on the paddle boat waiting for Mom to get done shopping. (I did catch up with them and was able to hop in from the bank...Lilly got a good laugh from that!)
Dad and Lilly sharing a little pizza. (We have eaten at Pizza Hut 3 times, and I must say it has been good. I need to talk to our Pizza Hut at home about adding 6 fried, big shrimp to the menu for $3)

Diane thought she found the end of the rainbow in Guangzhou

Yes, those are pearls!

We have traveled from Guangzhou to Beijing in our first leg home. We will leave the hotel at 5:45am in the morning, arrive in Tokyo at 12:45pm, leave Tokyo at 7:00pm, (won't that 6 hours and 15 minutes be fun!) arrive in Dallas 3:25pm Friday afternoon, clear customs and immigration, leave Dallas 7:00pm and arrive Amarillo 8:15pm Friday evening.
It has truly been a journey, we started out thinking we were going to need the 2 weeks with Lilly to prepare her for coming home, I am second guessing now because we may have been needing home to get prepared for Lilly! We are anxious to see everyone when we get back, and I am not sure who is more excited about seeing Haley, Macey and Emily - Mom and I , or Lilly.
We have a completely different view of China (and the USA for that matter), after being able to spend time here. We have also met many great people from the US adopting children. Diane is chomping at the bit, looking over my shoulder so I will let her add a few closing comments.

My turn-
We have had a super time in China and thus far all has gone well...
But it is time to move on. I knew I would miss the girls, but I did not realize just how much!
I also knew that this time with Lilly would be needed for bonding and I hope that is what has happened, but since she is so cheerful, bouncy and mischievious it is hard to tell just how far we have come and how far we have to go. She can get mad at either of us, but she always goes to the other for comfort. She reaches for our hand and has been giving lots of unsolicited (or bribed) kisses. On the other hand, she keeps asking about her jies jies (sisters) by name and I am sure is wondering why she has not gotten to meet them yet. I also tend to wonder if she feels she was adopted by a nomadic family that only travels from one hotel to the other. We caught ourselves saying we needed to go home after dinner last night! Jay and I keep reminding each other of all the things she needs to learn from seeing us in our home; how we react to the girls, how the girls can show her how to PLAY, how we each need to respect each each other, and so on. These are the things that can only be taught by example. Hmmmm...isn't that what we are taught all through God's word?
I have been following a blog of another family that adopted an older child and she has put into words so much of what I catch myself thinking lately. One of the posts was about the "firsts" that we often don't think of until now. We remember the first steps, first words, and all of the other milestones, but we don't always recognize the firsts that we are experiencing now with Lilly...the first time she said her sisters names, her experience with static electricity, the first time she felt comfortable wearing the new shoes wew bought her rather than the pair she came to us in. These are the little things that may not seem significant to some, but to others these are the "milestones."
Maybe in a way that is what we see in the Bible. Jesus performed many miracles that stood out, but at the same time He pointed out acts that may not have seemed significant to others, such as the woman giving her only coin (all that she had). Many of us (Jay and I) try to remember to teach by example by going to church, giving each Sunday, not swearing, and other "biggies." But, it is usually the kids that teach us much more often by their words and actions on a daily basis. It is because of their words that the a fire was lit to get us going with the adoption. All it took was them asking, "Why don't we adopt?" Needless, to say Jay and I did not have a single reason not to, that plus the fact that the 3 daughters we already had had made parenting seem easy (their doing, not ours), so why not?
I am most thankful that we did, I now can't imagine missing out on our newest blessing!
Love to all and thanks for the continuous thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Un Happy times for Jay

The 13 AWAA families that we have become friends with as we have shared the past 2 weeks together.

Lilly and her mother share a love for the early morning

Trying to decide which one we wanted for dinner

Diane found out yesterday that a big group was starting home on Wednesday. We are not starting home until Thursday - Kinda, we have to fly back to Beijing Thursday, spend the night then start home from Beijing early Friday morning. Because we used American awards for our airfare there was limited availability on when we could travel, and Thursday there were no tickets. Anyway, Diane was not happy with her travel agent (me) yesterday when she found out half of our new friends were going to be home before we even started. Oh well it is the price you pay for being cheap I guess.
More importantly, We had our appointment at the US Consulate yesterday and received Lilly's visa and paperwork, so now when she passes through immigration in DFW she will be an American citizen!
This is our last day in Guangzhou, I am still trying to bargain on a set of golf clubs, Diane has most of her list completed I think, not that that will stop her from finding more bargains today.
Lilly is doing great, starting to figure us out a little bit, and get more comfortable with our personalities. She is ready to see her sisters (jie jies) so Haley, Macey and Emily be ready.
We are very excited about being on our way home, thanks again to everyone for the help.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Day Closer to Home!

Jay has been doing most of the posts and I have to say he has done a pretty good job. He asked if I wanted to post today and I said no at first. Our trip has gone great and our first week with Lilly has surpassed all that we could have hoped for. She is really happy, full of energy, and it is already feeling like she has been with us forever.
But, today I just really really want to be home! I miss my girls lots!!!! I also want to see friends (especially one in particular)… I want to see my family that will be at our house when we come home…I to introduce Lilly to everyone…I want my bed…And Haley, I want guacamole!
I also think I am craving to clean house and even cook a meal (what’s up with that?!)
Anyway- that is my whiny post and I hope not to do it again. As I said, this trip has really gone good and I thank everyone at home for everything that you all have done that allows us to feel comfort and peace for things at home.

A special thanks to Rachel and the whole family! Thank you for all that you have done, not just this past week. There is so much that wasn’t said before we left and I only pr*y that you know how special you are to me!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guangzhou Finally

We made it to Guangzhou. Although we are here for a while, it is like the last leg of the trip so we are that much closer to home. Yesterday was spent going to the Bird and Flower market, Diane found paradise. Basically, think of it as a 10,000 store flea market where bargaining is the way of business. Lilly however is wondering why we can’t touch and hold everything in all 10,000 booth’s.
The night before we had dinner with Alison, a special friend in Kunming that helped us get Lilly her package and photo album several weeks ago. She took us to the Wicker Basket to eat great western food, and pointed out several shopping places to get special gifts.
We had a palate pleasing lunch at Pizza Hut, small crab and shrimp pizza with 6 herbal shrimps and a grilled chicken salad. It was actually pretty tasty.
After getting Lilly’s passport we headed to the airport and hopped on the plane for Guangzhou. It was hard for Lilly to see but I think she got the jist of it. There was a very nice Chinese American couple that sat behind us and talked to Lilly and asked us a lot of questions, we did not mind at all.
The people here absolutely hate to wait, for anything, driving, crossing the street – if there is traffic coming apparently the proper procedure is to step out in the street and make the cars dodge you. Of course if you don’t use this method, you might live your life standing on the corner. Elevators here stay open for 2.5 seconds, and if you don’t push the doors close button upon your arrival in the elevator you will get growled at (that .005 seconds wasted costs you at the end of the day!)
Today is Lilly’s medical exam along with all the other kids in our group, then a trip to the grocery store in the afternoon. We are ready to start winding this trip down and get home to see Haley, Macey, Emily and the rest of our extended family.
We continue to thank every body for their prayers and support, we too enjoy checking the blog and reading the comments. We are absolutely blessed in our journey, Lilly is precious, mischievious, loving, defiant, oh wait she is a typical 6 year old. As we pray together, that perhaps is the blessing that stands out the most right now, her ability to now know G*d and live a life with that assurance, the beginning of faith.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A visit to Lilly's Heritage

Today we were able to visit the Minority Village. This is a tourist attraction that has replica houses for each of the ethnic groups of Yunnan. We learned that the majority of the people of Yunnan are Han (sp?), and the remaining are comprised of about 56 ethnic minority groups. We were told that Lilly is of the Yi minority group, so when visiting the village we bought her a Yi children's costume- as modeled above. When she put her costume on she started to sing and dance. It is on video but we are having a hard time downloading the video to the blog.

She is such a ham in fron of the camera!

The next couple of pictures are mostly around Minority Village.

Jay was really impressed with this. Can you guess what it is?
Yep, that is a chicken on a stick- the WHOLE chicken with the stick through the mouth and out the ...

We found a kitty walking around and Lilly was very determined to catch it, so that she could hold it. I was a little concerned about what the fate of the cat would be (i.e. dinner?) but it was wearing a collar with a bell, so I choose to believe it is someone's pet. BTW- Girls, you might want to prepare Walter and Tigger, because Lilly really likes cats.

I decided to go for a walk while Jay stayed to work on posting the pictures. Meanwhile, Lilly found out what static electricity does!
Also, for those that are wondering, Jay has been doing most of the posts. So, don't get too spoiled because when its my turn I probably won't be patient enough to post as many pictures.

Haley, Macey and Emily,
We want you to know how much we miss you!!!! We need lots of hugs when we get home. We are almost to the halfway mark and we will be home before you know it.
Lots and lots of love,
Mom and Dad (and Lilly)

A few pictures before bed

The girl LOVES anything with buttons to push, remote, computer, phone, but so far one of the best toys is the already used disposable camera. It has provided almost hours of fun!

Some were wondering if she would be an Aggie? Well.....

Little Miss Independent- she has to carry it by herself.

Lilly's first trip to McDonald's and it even had a slide. Mom and Dad took the picture while enjoying a milkshake....yummmm

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Visiting the orphanage

We had heard from some that bathtime can be very difficult...not so much for Lilly! She loves being in the bath, but at the same time really scrubs clean all on her own.

We were told that she was the "star" at the ophanage and it really seemed to be the case as we were given a tour and all of the nannies new her and took time to visit with her.

We then spent the afternoon at the park across the street from the hotel. It is a very big and clean park, and we were able to feed the seagulls. Knowing how the seagulls act at the beach, I was not all that crazy about the idea, but these birds actually stay over the water and wait for the bread to be thrown.

This morning was our visit to the orphanage where Lilly spent her first two years before being moved to the foster family. After the heartbreaking good byes Monday, we questioned how hard this visit might be and if it was worth it. Now, we are so glad we did! It was evident that even over the past 4 years that Lilly was known and knew many of the people there. The director and all the people we were introduced to obviously had a very special relationship with Lilly. It ended up being as much a chance for them to say goodbye than for Lilly. It also gives us such peace knowing more about her background and the type of care and love she received.
As we spend more time together, we learn more about each other. Lilly continues to impress us with how quick she learns, and she also has shown us she is used to getting her way most of the time. We are practicing numbers and colors now, she teaches us Ch*nese and sign language for the numbers and we teach her English. I know who is learning the most about life right now, but we can't let her know yet. As we spend time here and watch the daily activities of everyday people, we are so grateful - not for the stuff - but truly for the freedom we have to know and worship our Father and tell others about Him. How lonely to live in a place and not have that freedom, surrounded completely all the time but lonely on the inside.