Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guiyang Day 7 - short and sweet

Hey, David here.  sorry we didn't post anything last night.  We are flying to Guangzhou today (Friday), and spent last night, after the kids went to bed, packing - our stuff had expanded to fill the entire room and took quite a while to coral back into the suitcases.  I'll write more from Guangzhou tonight, but a quick update.  We were able to get some pictures in front of the orphanage and a quick picture at the bus station (Andrew's finding spot).  Our guide was a little nervous as I took the picture, he told me to make it quick ...  Andrew had another somewhat brief meltdown on the way to the bus station (after the pictures at the orphanage), which, I guess, was to be expected ...  We got back to the hotel around 2:00, but didn't stop for lunch or a nap, so the afternoon was quite "interesting", but we made it through.  Again, we are so thankful for the playroom at this Hotel - it would have been a much more difficult trip without it ...  We spent about an hour at a nearby park, then ate noodles for dinner, then back to the park to relieve some energy (can you say, run, run run?)  It has occurred to me that the only real match for a pre-schooler's energy is another pre-schooler, and we have one of those :>)  OK, we need to go run a few errands before heading to the airport around 2:30 for our 5:30 flight (now what are we supposed to do with our pre-schoolers in the airport for 2 hours?  hmmmm ...).  If you have a chance to pray for us as we roam the airport and then fly to Guangzhou, we would really appreciate it.  The good news, is that Andrew doesn't appear to have motion sickness - though he does get quite restless ...

More later, we love and appreciate all of you!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guiyang Day 6 - Step by step

Me again :>)  I guess I should start by explaining why I have blog duty :>)  Mainly, it gives Lois some time to wind down from the day and rest and do things she can't get down while the kids are awake :>)  She does read and approve all the posts before they are published, though :>)

Today was a really good day for everyone.  It started bright and early at 6:30, but that's 15 minutes later than yesterday :>)  I don't think Lois or I woke up at all during the night, and neither did the kids, in fact Andrew woke both of us up at 6:30 when he started moving around ...  We decide to let Hannah sleep a little so we spent a few moments with Andrew this morning after he woke up.  He really loves Mama and prefers her to me - which is fine.  He needs to bond with her, and that appears to be happening, slowly ...  We had breakfast, then played in the play room for a few minutes - have I mentioned how much we have enjoyed this play room?  It's not much, but it has been great for the kids to run around and play - here are a few pictures from this morning :>)
Andrew riding a rocking lamb

Andrew and Hannah playing with the wooden blocks

Can you say "focused"?  Not like anyone I know :>)

By far, the favorite thing in the play room :>)  They chase each other around from slide to stairs, over and over again ...

Ahhhh :>)  Brother and Sister

We are truly blessed!
After breakfast, we skyped with the grandparents (and my sister) - their first opportunity to see Andrew live and up close (I mean really close - he enjoyed sticking his face right in the camera and yelling "Ahhhhhh" :>)  It was a lot of fun seeing him beginning to make connections with our family half-way around the world; sometimes technology can be a really cool thing :>)  And of course the grandparents needed their "Hannah" fix as well :>)

Our guide wanted to take us to a park today, so we chose to go back to Monkey Park (the previous time, we didn't have Andrew yet).  It was cloudy and misty today, but not raining; and because it was cloudy, it was cool.  We started up the trail when Andrew spotted the small collection of Amusement park rides - so we indulged ourselves and the kids and had some Family fun time ...

The Merry-go-'round, starts kind-of slow ...
but always brings smiles :>)

The squirt-the-water-pistol at the Aliens ride :>)
"Look at me!"

The flying pink, ummm, goose?

The red flying figher

Final group picture - can you tell Andrew and Hannah are "done"?
The only unfortunate thing about the park, is that we stayed about 45 minutes too late ...  Hannah and Andrew were both "d", "o", "n", "e" done by the time we got back to the van and started heading back to the Hotel.  Because of the time and the "doneness" of the kids, we decided to grab a quick lunch at KFC, which went OK, but neither Hannah nor Andrew really ate well (except the french fries - I guess all kids love french fries).  We'll probably skip the KFC in Guangzhou ...  And for those that are wondering, no, Guiyang does not have a McDonalds :>(  Molly and Wu Yi had to go back home today - we were really sad to see them leave, and will really miss them; they have been such a blessing and a tremendous help, as we have transitioned to a family of four ...  One final picture of the kids sporting their matching spiderman shirts that Molly brought as presents :>)

A few final thoughts on the day.  As we climbed the seemingly endless stairs to the ancient Buddhist Temple at the top of the mountain, I was reminded that our journey to Andrew started with one small step way back in February of 2011; there have been many steps since that one (and many of those seemed pretty endless).  And now, as a family of four, our journey continues, one step at a time.  Today was a really fun day, and Andrew is slowly, step-by-step, beginning to learn what it means to have a forever family ...

Tomorrow at 9AM we will travel to Anshun, where Andrew spent the first 3.5+ years of his life.  I am pretty sure we will not be able to visit the orphanage, but we can take pictures of the outside :>)  We will also visit his finding place (the south hall of the Anshun City Bus Station), and take pictures, as well as anything else we can find that might have significance to Andrew one day ...  It is a long journey, but one we feel is worth the time and expense, just to help complete the picture for Andrew one day ...

Thanks again for all of your comments and prayers - we read all of the comments every day; they are really encouraging!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guiyang Day 5 - When it rains, it pours ...

David here.  We woke up to a wet and soggy Guiyang today, at a bright and chipper 6:15 AM :>)  Andrew slept through the night without so much as a peep (and was the one that woke up at 6:15), Hannah on the other hand tossed and turned and cried out in her sleep about every 2 hours ...  We think it was a triple whammy: stress from Gotcha Day (and having an instant brother), she was probably hungry (we didn't do such a good job of picking a place where she would eat well last night), and the cold-then-warm nature of the room.  Whatever it was, it didn't seem to dampen her spirit today, though we did wake her up at 6:30, just trying to keep both children on the same schedule ...  We had breakfast, played in the play room, then headed back to the Civil Affairs building to finish the paperwork and make everything official.  I am happy to say that everything is now official, Andrew Nathanael Cooke is now officially our son as far as the Chinese Government is concerned!  We traded gifts with the Orphanage staff, took some official pictures, got the all-important red book (the adoption decree, I think) and then headed back to the Hotel room.  We received a beautiful Batik of the Huangguoshu Waterfall, and the children each received a different doll representative of the people of Guizhou (it was a very generous gesture to give Hannah a doll along with Andrew :>).  When we got back to the Hotel, Lois started lunch for Andrew and Hannah (instant noodles--Yum!), and our guide took me on a quick tour to show me where we could buy some shoes for them :>)  He also showed me a place where we could eat dinner relatively inexpensively.

After naps (well, Andrew didn't take much of a nap), we played in the room for a little while, then went back to the play room (it was still raining).  Though small, we are very thankful for that play room :>)  We met Molly at 5:00 and headed to dinner (at the restaurant our guide had shown us).  Dinner went much better this evening - we had beef noodles (this area of Guizhou is known for their beef noodles), kung po chicken and rice, and praise the Lord Hannah ate her fill :>)

After dinner, we had, what we feel like, was a pretty major breakthrough with Andrew.  We have had to start correcting him today - he is definitely pushing the boundaries to see how much he can get away with.  Anyway, in the elevator, he pushed the alarm button (not the first time), so I picked him up and told him he couldn't use the electronic key to open our door (he and Hannah fight over who gets to used the key to open the door).  As we stepped off the elevator on our floor, he started to cry, and then went into full-blown uncontrollable, inconsolable sobbing for about an hour.  Lois just held him and sang to him and cried with him.  It was hard to watch, but in a way, we believe this was a good thing - we think he is beginning to work through the grieving process, and the whole elevator thing just kind of kick-started it.  I know many of you are praying, and we believe this was an answer to those prayers.  After about an hour, he started playing with a few toys, then I gave him a bath, at his request (I gave Hannah a bath while he was crying, it helped Hannah deal with the whole situation).  Afterwards he seemed like himself again, playing and running around the room.  Thank you for all of you prayers, blog comments, facebook comments and emails.  We appreciate them all and will answer them as soon as we can! 

The official ceremony picture - that's the batik we were given

Hannah and Andrew with their Guizhou Dolls

Brother and Sister :>)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Guiyang day 4 - Gotcha day!

David here - we are a little tired, so I will apologize up front if this doesn't come across very coherent :>)  What an amazing day we have had!  What an amazing God we serve!  Andrew was a little late getting to the Civil Affairs office, they arrivd around 3:00.  He walked in with his Foster parents and went over to where Hannah and Wu Yi were coloring.  Lois got some stickers out and he proceeded to put all the stickers on his shirt.  He seemed to recognize both of us, and with a little coazing from his foster parents started callng Lois "Mama" pretty quickly; he has also called me "Baba" as well.  He laughed and played with Lois, Molly and the girls while I filled out paperwork.  When it was time for his foster parents to leave he told them goodbye - he never once cried, or seemed upset that they were leaving.  Now, we know from everything we have read that this may not be a good thing, so we will keep this in the back of our minds and watch.  He has had so many caretakers over his short life, this may just seem like another transition to him.  You can pray with us that he will come to quickly realize that this is permanent; he now has a permanent, forever family ...

Molly has been a tremendous help in finding restaurants, ordering food and helping to watch Hannah - this would have been a much harder day without them.  We are so thankful that everything worked out for them to be here during this time.  Andrew was doing so well when we got back to the Hotel, that we went out for dinner, and he did great.

On an amazing note, ever since we got the email that Andrew wanted to know when we were coming to get him, Lois has wondered in the back of her mind, if the foster parents might be believers and were preparing Andrew for his new home.  Lois was able to talk with the foster parents today, getting information on Andrew, and it does appear that they are believers!  How amazing is that!  Apparently, Andrew played an angel in the church christmas play this past christmas :>)

One thing we have immediately noticed is that he loves to touch everything :>)  He has pushed every button in the Hotel room, multiple times, and has played with the phone, the camera, the computer ...  We have had to do an immediate "child" proofing of our room; something we haven't ever had to worry about with Hannah.  He and Hannah are now finally asleep, actually Andrew went to sleep pretty quickly, Hannah on the other hand ...  Well, that's a story for another time.  I know what you all really want to see are the pictures, so here they are :>)

On the way to the Guiyang Civil Affairs office
Andrew and Hannah playing with stickers

Brother and Sister :>)

Lois talking with the Foster parents

Playing with crayons
Us and the Foster parents

All the children (Hannah is already trying to direct Andrew)

Waitig for us in the room when we got back :>)

So there you have it.  We are now a family of 4 :>)  And life will never be the same again (nor would we want it to be :>)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 3 in Guiyang

Hello Everyone!  You will be happy to know that the VPN is up and running, which means, it's time for pictures and videos!  Not to overwhelm everyone, but I'll try and go back and chronicle our journey up to today with pictures :>)

I'll start with our lovely day at the Chicago Airport :>)

Hannah clowning around at O'Hare
Hannah and Papa in the Airport Children's Area

Hannah and Papa Flying the Plane

Hannah in the Stewardess' Seat
 From Chicago we headed to Hong Kong and had a lovely stay at the Regal Hotel at the HK airport.  Actually, the room was very comfortable, the breakfast was nice and the location was certainly convenient ...

Hannah in the airport terminal with the Regal Hotel in the Background

Hannah, 2 years ago at the same window in the HK airport - what a difference 2 years makes!
From Hong Kong, it was off to Guangzhou and finally on to Guiyang.  Below are some pictures from the bird and flower market (our first full day in Guiyang).

Hannah playing with the puppies
One of many alleys at the market (that's all kinds of dried bird seed on the right, fishing tackle on the left)

One of many fish stores with live plants (I was really wishing we had something like this at home :>)
Live Plants

Dried herbal medicines on the right, furniture on the left
Hannah and Mama in front of the water-feature shop.
Walking back to our Hotel after dinner at the "Pizza Fun" restaurant.
Hannah's preferred mode of transportation these days :>)

Yesterday we went to Qianling Park (aka "Monkey" Park) - and now you know why :>)

Jenny, one of the exchange students from last summer was the one who took us to the park.

Lois' former Chinese teacher, Molly, and her 6 year old daughter Wu Yi also went with us.
Hannah, Lois, Molly and Wu Yi

The whole group at the lake in the park.
 A couple of pictures of the girls.

And the big girls :>) 

Enjoying a local Guiyang delicacy, grilled tofu, mmmm, tasty :>)  (actually, it was pretty good - the cups contain dried, powdered hot peppers for dipping the tofu in).

Qianling Lake
 I leave you with a video of one of the camels from the top of th mountain - apparently this one was done given rides for the day :>)

This time tomorrow, we will be a family of 4!  We are leaving the Hotel at 2PM and should meet Andrew at 2:30 (that will be 2:30 AM EDT on Monday morning US time).  Then there is about 2 hours of paperwork that has to be completed tomorrow (ughhhh, more paperwork).  Please pray for Andrew (and us), we are not sure if he was moved back to the orphanage or if he is still with his foster family.  By God's grace, tomorrow will be the last disruption he should have to face ...  But what a disruption that will be.  He is about to leave everything he knows and understands.  He'll have a new family, new language, new culture, new country.  We know that these are good changes, but it's got to be really scary for such a little guy.  Please pray that he will quickly learn to feel safe and secure with us, and pray that we will have wisdom to know how to help him feel safe and secure.