Monday, December 17, 2012

As we approach our 1 year Ella anniversary I remembered our travel blog.  
Our everyday life is documented over HERE now.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ella Day {5 months}

First, I cannot even wrap my brain around the fact that we met Ella 5 months ago.  We were watching our video from the trip and I still cannot believe we were actually there, seems so surreal.  On to what Ella is up to these days……

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Ella’s speech is improving every single day!  She is putting together sentences left and right.  Asking and answering questions.  Her latest question is “what color?”  She kinda knows her colors but not enough to volunteer them for you yet.  Her favorite question is “Where Daddy go?” (also Wyatt’s favorite question).  And when I answer “work” she usually starts pretending to paint.  I have to remind her that he has another job besides painting bedrooms.  The other day Wyatt asked his 2nd favorite question “Where Mimi go?” and before I could answer Ella answered “Wyatt, Mimi go work. She paint.”.  I was very impressed that she strung together 2 sentences.  (We should probably remind the kids more often that Mimi & Daddy have other jobs besides painting bedrooms.) 

Ella also knows enough other words to be dangerous.  But she doesn’t pronounce them well enough for us to understand.  So she just looks at you with pleading eyes wondering why you don’t understand her.  

We have hit a new phase in the food game.  Ella LOVES fruit cups (accidentally gave her 4 in one day), lemonade, salad (ranch or italian dressing please), steak, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, ham, hot dogs, chips and salsa (hot please), carrots, cauliflower.  We have also found a new way to work around the quirks.  Basically we just have to anticipate what she’s going to pitch a fit about and avoid it.  Brilliant, I know.  The good news is that is getting better.

She finally is starting to be a bit independent as far as her likes/dislikes go. This I HUGE. Until now she has only picked whatever Will or Wyatt has picked. But now she has been so bold as to pick a different drink than they are having (lemonade, anyone?).  Or even a different dessert (aka surprise).  So proud of her for finding out what Ella Wei wants. Praying this will start applying to other areas too!

Sleep is getting much better, but we still have a ways to go.  At this point neither Chris or I dread it anymore which is a plus.  You still have to lay down with her at night but it rarely takes longer than an hour these days.  Especially if we’ve played a ton outside.  Naptime is mostly easy unless she’s having a bad day.  Though she still only sleeps an hour even though she needs longer.  She still wakes up screaming and crying.  Even if bedroom door is open she is terrified.  I wish we could “fix” that since I’m sure it’s frightening for her.

I’m sure I am leaving out plenty of other things.  But this is getting long enough.  Happy 5 months Ella Wei!

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

mail call

After sitting on our dining room table for a month Ella’s birth announcements finally went in the mail last week.  Hopefully I haven’t ruined the surprise for too many people.  And for those that I don’t have their addresses… is her official introduction. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Squares for Ella

In 2007 we sent out a letter asking our family/friends to share quilt squares with us so that we could make Ella a quilt.  We received a TON of response but now that Ella is finally home, and we have made new friends in the last 5 years, we wanted to send out one last call for help.  (That and we’re short a few squares….)

No pressure to participate, and we won’t tell Ella bad stories about you if you choose not to send a square in!  Here is the info below.  And if you want to mail us a square, email me and I will give you our address.  (

And, in case you are wondering, there is a blog for her quilt. 
E's 100 Good Wishes Quilt.

Here is some info from the letter we mailed out in February 2007:

In parts of China, when a baby is born, family and friends donate fabric pieces for a quilt with a wish for the baby to the child's mother. The quilt is called a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  It is said that the luck, energy and good wishes from all of the families and friends who contributed, surround the child when she is wrapped in the quilt. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation. With your help we would like to honor this tradition from our daughter’s homeland.

There are so many good reasons to make this quilt for our daughter, tradition being one of them. We are hoping to find many ways to keep her connected to Chinese culture. Another great reason is that our daughter will to see how much she was thought about and wanted long before she came into our family.

Here’s what we need:
1. Cut one 9” x 9” square of fabric that you like.
2. On a separate piece of paper/card, put a scrap of fabric and include your “good wish card”. Please also include your name.

Your “good wish card” can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. It can be something you wrote, or a favorite bible verse, poem, lyric, quote, or anything that strikes your fancy. If the fabric you choose has special significance, please share its history. Please remember to sign your wish!

Thank you to everyone who wants to help; this means a lot to Chris & I. I know this may take some extra time and effort and we completely understand if you are not able to participate. Please don’t feel obligated.

Here is a site with lots of 100 wishes quilt pictures if you want to see what we hope to make,

So that is it in a nutshell. If you have any questions please leave us a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them.

We hope to turn this pile of fabric into a quilt soon!IMG_0848

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ella Wei {age 2.5}

Ella turned 2.5 on the 5th and it’s about time for an Ella update!

We went to the doctor last week and she weighed in at 25.5lbs and 34 inches.  It looks like she has gained 1lb since she’s been home.  She’s wearing mostly 12-18 month pants and 18-24 month tops.  She is wearing 6.5 shoes (and has started quite the shoe collection).

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Ella understands about 60% of what we say to her but she’s not using a ton of English words yet.  She can say: more, Ella, Mama, Daddy (though she normally says BaBa), Mimi, Poppy, Wyatt (Whitey) Bye Bye (in a very interesting southern accent).  She has also learned to say Amen.  She loves to be a part of the dinner prayer, she just grins that she’s included in something.

Her favorite shows are Mickey Mouse, she calls him Mo.  And she attempts to pronounce the others.  And thanks to Will she loves Dora, she calls her Oda or Do-da.  And she sings along to “backpack, backpack”.  And she and Wyatt love Yo Gabba Gabba, which she calls Abbaba.

We are still learning what she likes to eat.  She LOVES mandarin oranges.  And loves bananas and apples too.  She is learning to love yogurt too.  And slowly coming around to milk though I have to add chocolate every once in awhile.  She is not a fan of chicken nuggets or mac and cheese yet.  She does love red meat and occasionally chicken if she’s in the mood.  Still working on breakfast choices so far eggs are the only winners.


She can run, jump, go up and down stairs.  And now she can climb on and off the bed (and chairs).  Her favorite toys are anything the boys are holding.  Especially their monster trucks.  She loves to boss the boys around.  It’s like having a second mother, which isn’t always a good thing.  She is a picker-upper.  Not always a good thing when it involves a dirty diaper.  But otherwise she loves picking things up and putting them where they belong.  And she loves pointing out when the boys don’t do that.  She can scream and yell with the best of them.  And between her and the boys they can all get Gus going.  It can get really loud around here.

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She has a love/hate relationship with dolls.  Some days she really loves them and other days she’s pretty mean to them.  Her file said she loved dolls so maybe she’s bitter that she had to leave her dolls behind.  I think she will slowly come around to them. 

She still loves bath time, and more importantly lotion time.  She could use up an entire bottle of lotion after each bath.  I have to cut her off at some point because it could go on for hours.

When she’s falling asleep she runs her fingers along the edge of the sheets and pillowcases.  She loves feeling the hem.  Trying to figure out how to make her a blanket with nothing but hems. 

She still does not love hair accessories.  She will wear a bobby pin for about 5-10 minutes before wanting it out.  Two different days she let me put a pig tail in.  I’m not sure what we are going to do as her bangs grow out.  If you see me out and about with Cousin It, know that I tried my best to pin it back!  (I really don’t want to keep up with another kids bangs so that is why we are growing it out. The boys hair about does me in.)

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I kept this post all about Ella, at age 2.5.  I will be doing a separate post about how we’re attaching/bonding, as soon as I sort out all those thoughts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

officially a citizen!

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Ella’s Certificate of Citizenship arrived this weekend.  All this does is prove that Ella was made a US citizen when we landed in Chicago.  More importantly, we can now apply for her US birth certificate and SSN.  And my most favorite reason an added bonus is that we can now get started on our tax returns, claiming her and the adoption tax credit. 

Though before we do that we have to head down to the SSN office and apply for her SSN.  And go thru the re-adoption process for her new birth certificate.  Adoption paperwork never ends. 


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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

you are taking a 3 year old? to china?

For those of you who wondered why in the world we drug a 3.5 year old around the globe to meet his new sister, this is why……


Our main reason for taking Will to China was so that he would feel more connected to Ella.  Will is very friendly, occasionally affectionate and definitely moody.  We knew that if we left him at home for 2.5 weeks he would resent Ella for taking us away from him for so long.  (He’s still mad that we left him for 4 days to have Wyatt at the hospital….) But we knew if he went with us he would welcome her with open arms.  And he has.  He is SO concerned about her.  If she cries he (usually) wants to know why.  If we are not around to comfort her, he will do it.  Sunday Chris stepped outside and Ella sat in the window crying, waiting for him to come back.  Will hugged her and told her it would be okay, Daddy would come right back.  And he stayed with her till Chris came in.

That moment, to me, made those first few days in Beijing totally worth it.  To know he accepts her, loves her and is able to comfort her totally wipes out any pain or struggle we had to deal with on our trip.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

one month home

I cannot believe Ella has been in her forever home for an entire month!  Just 12 weeks ago we learned about this sweet girl and now I have 3 littles sleeping under our roof.  2012-01-14 (2)

When we landed and came home I had no idea how the first month would go.  I had read good and bad reports and was prepared for anything (actually, I had prepared for it to be really bad).  But we are doing great!  I’m not saying having 3 under 3 is easy.  It is not, it is exhausting!

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But Ella is doing GREAT.  I feel like she’s bonding and attaching well to both of us.  We have a ways to go, and I’m sure there will be some setbacks on the way.  But for being home such a short amount of time she is settling in well. I honestly think part of it is because Will was with us in China.  I think he made her feel comfortable and she probably decided if he liked us then she could too. She LOVES her brothers.  Wyatt drives her nuts most days but they are always playing together.  And some days they are very much like twins. 

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Will and Ella get along great too.  Will loves having a sidekick to boss around.  And she is happy to have someone to follow around.  I can’t even imagine her being an only child, somehow it just suits her personality to have brothers.

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She is quickly warming up to me.  Once Chris went back to work she had no choice but to be friends with me.  She often asks me to feed her or hold her.  She does great for me during nap time. She gives me lots of smiles and laughs too.  And just this week she has decided Mom & Dad are pretty equal, so we are getting there.

She has also decided to come out of her shell a bit more this week showing her defiant side.  I was hoping her well-behaved self would stick around a bit longer but the good news is that she feels safe enough with us to mis-behave so we’ll take that as a positive (I guess).2012-01-18 (71)

We have a lot of learning to do together.  But we have come along way in a short amount of time.  I honestly cannot imagine her not being in our family now.  I cannot believe we waited so long but I cannot imagine Ella being any one other than Miss ChunWei. 

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When I look around the table now, I no longer see that one empty seat.  That is a GREAT feeling!

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Happy One Month Home Ella Wei!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ella’s FAQ

Does she speak English?  This is the #1 question…..nope, she does not speak English yet.  She’s still speaking Mandarin.  (You can imagine how our conversations are going...)  But she does understand 50-60% of what we say.  And she can follow a lot of our instructions. She will repeat/mimic anything we say, but she’s not recalling words voluntarily yet.  She calls me Mama (Mama is also Chinese for Mama, so that was easy) and calls Chris “BaBa” which is Chinese for Dad.  She calls Will “Guh Guh”, Chinese for big brother and Wyatt “Di Di” which means little brother.  She calls Gus “Go” which means dog.  And Willie-cat is “mao” which means cat but sounds like meow. 

Where is Ella sleeping?  This is a common question, especially from those that have adopted/are adopting.  She is sleeping with us, in our bed.  In China she slept in the crib but once we got home she cried in the middle of the night and ended up in our bed.  But even in China, she started out in our bed and then we moved her to her crib so I guess it’s natural that she’s sleeping with us.  We had zero expectations going into this.  For 2 years and 4 months she has had no one to rock her to sleep so we are letting her sleep wherever makes her most comfortable.  We know this is a hard adjustment for her.  I think if she was younger it’d be easier to have her sleep in her own bed, but she’s 2.5 and we’re just making it work.  Hopefully once she is in a good place we can work on moving her to her own bed.

What does she eat?  Still fruits, veggies, eggs and noodles.  We are trying hard to introduce new things but it’s slow going.  She needs some protein in her diet and we are trying hard to find it.  She is not a fan of PB or chicken/white meat.  So far she has refused pancakes, oatmeal, most cereal and sandwiches.  Along with dozens of other things.  She still has her sweet tooth though.  Too bad we can’t communicate yet with her about how a bribe works.

What size is she?  She currently weighs 25lbs and is 32.5 inches tall (I didn’t trust the drs measurements and re-did them.  Mine are right.)  This puts her into 18 month clothes.  She’s very tiny.  She could probably wear 12m pants but I’m keeping her in 18m because the tops fit better.  But I found out today that some of the skirts/dresses I have in 18m are super long so I guess I have some hemming in my future. 

I have tons more FAQ about Ella, but I will save those for another day.  Here is Miss E in an outfit from her cousin, Gretchen.  She added her own accessories.  She is into hats big time! 


Monday, January 23, 2012

the year of the dragon

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year!

While we were in China we saw the beginnings of the CNY dragon decorations.  It would have been wonderful to see them all finished.

We are not celebrating at home this year but plan to celebrate with our FCC friends this weekend!

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

sifting through the footage…

I (chris) finally had a chance to start pulling together all the videos we shot in China, and there’s a LOT. A little over 90 minutes, to be exact. When I began the task of editing it all down to a manageable, shorter length to post here on the blog, I found it nearly impossible. I didn’t want to cut anything out, as I want to remember everything about the trip – good, bad, happy, or sad.

So the plan is to pretty much leave it all as-is, and post it as three separate parts, around 30 minutes each. (For those with short attention spans, don’t worry. As you watch the videos, you should be able to fast-fwd or skip ahead by pointing to the video and dragging the little play indicator to the right!)

The first part should be ready soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

a quiet week

I have lots to say, but too tired to write it all out.  We’ve had a very good, but quiet week.  Still hibernating.  We tested the waters earlier this week (unintentionally) and looks like Miss E is not ready for loud, crazy or crowded yet.  To see her totally shut down the rest of the day was hard to watch.  Thankfully she woke up the next day back to normal.  Two steps forward, one step backwards.


Monday, January 16, 2012

4 weeks of sweet E

4 weeks ago Monday we met Miss Ella for the very first time.  While we had known about her for 8 short weeks, she knew nothing of us.  This wide-eyed little girl, wearing Garfield shoes, was not very sure of us. But we were so excited to meet her!

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I CANNOT believe it has been 4 weeks!  I have added the days up over and over and it is 4 weeks Monday, and a month on the 19th.  She has come a long way in 4 very short weeks!  I am so proud of how far she’s come.  She is still timid, still fearful but she lets her little light shine a lot.  I know 6 months from now I will look at these pictures and again say that she has come so far from that first month.

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She is showing us as much love as she can.  And I know the first hugs, kisses and I Love You’s will be well earned and such a joy to receive.  I cannot wait!SONY DSC

And by the way, it’s only been 11 weeks since we saw our very first picture of Miss ChunWei.  I still cannot believe what all has happened in 3 short months!  Never did I imagine this holiday season would include adding a daughter.

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God has certainly blessed us with this sweet girl.  And I cannot wait to see where this journey takes us.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Cardiology appointment

We spent 4 hours at the doctor. Almost 2 of them were spent with Ella waiting, naked. Sister does not like to be naked or cold.  I could write a book about why I hate going to Children's but I won't.  We did an Xray and EKG.  Between those 2 tests and what the doctor could hear she definitely has a murmur.  And the tests mostly confirmed that the murmur was pulmonary stenosis like her records from China stated.  But he also felt like she had a second abnormality and needed the ECHO to confirm that, along with exactly how bad the murmur/stenosis is.  But since she would not calm down for the ECHO we will have to wait till April for an official diagnosis.  Apparently an ECHO can only be done with them lying quietly and not crying. So we are praying that in 3 months she cooperates and we can know more what is going on.  He said that he doesn't like to terrorize them with the ECHO so he didn't push for her to re-try again today.  (all she has to do is lie there with the stickers put on her and get an ultrasound.)  Next time if she's unable to calm down they will sedate her to do it.  But he said regardless of the unknowns that it sounds like it is mild/minor and that she's doing great otherwise so he was not concerned and didn't think retesting was urgent.  So we wait, again.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

first cardiologist appointment

We got lucky, the cardiologists office had an appointment for us on Thursday.  We go for a chest x-ray first and then for our consult.  I’m not really sure what to expect, and a bit nervous that there could be surprises.  No one has given me reason for concern, just one of those things that’s crossing my mind as wait for 12:00 to arrive.

We also got some of her labs back and her thyroid levels were abnormal so we will be seeing an endocrinologist soon.  I guess we’re going to be getting pretty familiar with Children’s Hospital again.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

we survived!

Ella’s doctor appointment went as good as can be expected.  She weighed in at 24lbs and 33 inches tall.  Dr. Rodgers said she looked great and seemed right on track based on her age.  She was very impressed with all the things Ella was doing.  It’s obvious she received good are in China.  Dr. Rodgers could hear her heart murmur and said on a scale of 1-6 she was at a 2-3.  She is scheduling our appointment with the cardiologist, hopefully we can see them in the next few weeks.

The bad news is that Ella needed 3 shots and had to have FOUR vials of blood drawn!  She was NOT happy.  So glad Chris went with us.  I didn’t want her to think I was the bad guy (since we’re still not on the best terms yet).

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After the doctor I took her to Chick Fil A (turns out she doesn’t like it…neither do the boys <sigh>).  But then I made her really happy and took her shoe shopping.  She grinned and grinned while we tried on shoes.  She is slowing building her shoe collection.

After picking up the boys from MDO we hit Sonic (aka The Purple Drink Store) and introduced Ell AND Wyatt to Sonic Happy Hour.  Slushes all around! 

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday, another first

Tuesday we get to experience another first with Miss Ella.  Sadly, it’s not going to be a fun one.  We get to take her to her first pediatrician appointment.  I know there will be lots of needles tomorrow.  Most kids come home and have to be re-vaccinated since the immunizations they received in China are not quite the same.  Our doctor may do labs to see which ones she needs re-done, or she will just re-do them all.  I totally trust our doctor so I will go with whatever method she prefers.  Either way, it will not be fun for any of us!  I am also interested to see what our doctor says about her heart, more specifically, what she can hear of her murmur.  We will also find out tomorrow how soon we can get into the pediatric cardiologist.

Say a few prayers for us in the morning if you think of it…..

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3 weeks ago

It’s hard to believe we have only known this face for 3 weeks now.  It has gone very fast and very slow. 

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Saturday, January 7, 2012


We have entered a period of hibernation around here.  Our goal right now is to keep Ella’s world as small as possible.  While in China we were busy, busy, busy.  She was seeing all kinds of new places and people.  We were a constant in her daily life but I’m sure she was in a constant state of shock.  She probably had never left the orphanage until she met us.  And suddenly she’s on on planes, trains and taxi’s and seeing different people every few hours.  I’m sure she was constantly wondering what was coming next.  So the goal once we came home was to hibernate for awhile.  Ideally, it would be 2-3 months, but that’s not very practical.  We are going to try and stay home as much as we can in January.  There are 1-2 social things we hope to do this month but that’s going to be it.  We have had visitors, but we are now trying to limit those to 1 a day. And of course we have doctors appointments and social worker visits.  But we are still in the midst of reassuring her that WE are her parents.  We are the people that are here to stay forever.  Right now I don’t think she sees as anything more than fun people to be around (I hope she thinks we’re fun).  While we give hugs and kisses freely, lots of food and comfort I’m sure the word forever isn’t really on her radar yet.  (And truly it is too early for her to figure all that out….though she is pretty smart.) All that to say that it might be awhile till we are back to our normal routines.  We are going to test the waters some and see how she does and then go from there.  I know this doesn’t make sense to most of you.  Most people expect you to hibernate with a newborn, not with a toddler.  But she is still new to us.  And more importantly, we are still very new to her.

And in case you want more info about adoption parenting:


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ella's first taste of ketchup in America

When we got to the airport in Chicago, we were all starving. We got happy meals for the kids and brought them to Chili's, where Julie and I got something for ourselves. While Ella might have dabbled in some ketchup while were in China, this must have tasted a tad different, based on her reaction...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

how it’s really going….

First, Wyatt is thrilled to have us home!

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The trio is getting along pretty well.

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And the “twins” are becoming fast friends.  Though we have some work to do on sharing.  But their communication skills are pretty equal so that’s helpful.  I’m not sure who’s going to teach who to talk first.  It might be a tie.

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But we are still not sleeping.  Well, Chris and I could already be back on US time if Will would cooperate.  Will wakes up between 2-4am.  He claims he cannot go back to sleep.  And since he was spoiled by sleeping with us every night for 2.5 weeks he doesn’t think he can sleep alone now.  So we have a few things to work through.  Last night he woke up at 2 and then tossed and turned next to me for 2 hours before falling back to sleep.  Of course, Wyatt woke up at 5:00 and needed to be rocked for 2 hours.  So we could use some prayers for sleep in our household!

Will is still randomly falling asleep in strange places. 

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And we still have a few things to work through with Miss E.  We thought she was attaching well but we’re wondering if all the visitors are getting to her.  So we’re watching and waiting.  2012-01-02 (36)

Next week we go to our first pediatrician appointment.  And we’ll find out how soon we can get into the cardiologist.  And we have our first social worker visit next week.  Should be an exciting week.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

I hope you spent the day doing something that made you happy….we did!

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we might be in for it!

Looks like we made it!

Yes, we have made it safely home….and it’s 3:00 am on New Years Eve/Day.  Will has decided he can no longer sleep so we are up, for now.  Ella was also awake but Chris was convincing her to go back to sleep. I pray she and Wyatt sleep thru the night so that at least 60% of us are rested.  Since I am up, I will go back and catch you back up on our 30+ hours of travel Friday!

We got to the airport at 9:00 for our 11:00am flight.  We thought we would have plenty of time to get to our gate, get some snacks and burn off some energy (the kids, that is).  But that didn’t happen because it took us an hour to get thru the check-in line. And another hour thru security and to find our gate.  But we were blessed big time with 4 seats in a row!  We were curious if we would get 2 and 2 seats or 3 and 1.  Thankfully it was all 4 together.  And coincidently they sat all the adoptive parents mostly together so at least we had support or backup if we needed it.  I should go ahead and point out that the loudest baby on the plane was not an adopted one.  I think we were all pretty proud of our babies when we finally landed.

And no, we did not get an upgrade going this time. Nor could we afford it with our vouchers.  $2000 per ticket more!  So we suffered in the back with everyone else.  When we first boarded the plane Will tried to sit down in Business Class.  I had to break the news those were not our seats this time.  And then we when we got to our seats he asked where our beds were.  It didn’t take much for him to be spoiled the first time.

The funny part of the flight was when the captain made his first announcement giving the stats of the flight.  He said “today is Friday, Dec 30 at 11:00am and we will arrive in Chicago on Friday, Dec 30 at 11:05 am”.  If only the flight had been 5 minutes long…

I must say you have not really flown coach until you are herded in the back with a baby (or two) for 14 hours.  And in Hong Kong they do not let you carry water or liquids on board, even after you get thru security.  So we had to wait for the water cart to roll by to get a drink, so we were all pretty dehydrated when we landed.  They did show a few movies (we did not have personal movie screens like last time) and Chris and I watched a few and read some books so we were entertained.  We each slept about 3 hours while the kids probably slept on and off for about 9 hours.  We are so thankful they slept as much as they did, crowded or not.  (And can I point out for those that are taking their own 14 hour flight very soon….plane food is not very child-friendly.  Even the kids meals are questionable…..just a warning.)

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We did have a few minutes of “she’s touching me!” but otherwise they just hung out.  We did have to take a few laps with Ella but it’s like they both knew we were stuck there for awhile.  About 7 hours in Will started crying that he was done with flying and he wanted OFF!  But Chris & I were pretty excited when we finally reached the halfway mark.  Chris even commented that the first 7 hours weren’t that bad.  I wasn’t quite ready to admit that.

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My excitement didn’t start growing until we started seeing cities on the map we actually recognized.  (And in case you noticed, we went a different route this time.  Chris called this the logical route compared to the way over.)

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But my giddiness didn’t really start until our plane actually was over the USA.  Specifically, within inches of Chicago! 


The last few minutes of the flight I got pretty emotional thinking about how far we’ve come.  And what a blessing it was to be the parents of Eleanor ChunWei. I was just marveling in the amazement that God had chose Ella to be our daughter.  I do not know why her first mother could not take care of her, and I don’t believe God chose her to have that kind of start to life, but it happened and she ended up in an orphanage.  And I don’t know why she waited 2 years to be matched with her forever parents. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that all the circumstances she has lived thru brought her to us. So on those last few minutes of our trip to the USA I just basked in the glow of one of most our amazing blessings and just thanked God for the opportunity to be her parents.

Psalm 139: 6
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

I also want to remember that when we left Hong Kong and went thru Immigration that the Hong Kong officer thanked us for adopting Ella and said he knew she was getting a new start on a great life.  It took me by surprised as most of the comments we have received were that she was a “lucky child”.  I think I commented back that we were thankful for the opportunity. 

Back to our traveling…. We de-boarded the plane quickly and Miss E finally became a citizen of the USA!  Of course her feet didn’t actually touch the ground for a few hours.  She had just woken up and was insistent on being carried.

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And a very nice passenger shared a pair of wings with Mister Wilson.  We should have asked to go visit the pilot but I was too tired to wave down a flight attendant for that.

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We made it thru Immigration very quickly.  Then we were sent to another room to have Ella’s adoption paperwork processed.  Less than 10 minutes later she was declared officially adopted and a USA citizen.  It was all very un-official and un-ceremonial.  We then headed to collect our luggage and go thru Customs, it also went very quickly.  In all it took us 70 minutes to de-board, go thru Immigrations and Customs!  We then headed to the room to re-check our bags.  Here was where the big mistake happened…… all the families were commenting how quickly the process went and how we didn’t need the 4-6 hours of a layover now.  One family asked the Delta woman about changing flights and she said it was $75 a ticket.  Now, I was thinking to get home earlier I’d happily pay $300.  But I looked at the board and saw there was a Charlotte flight leaving right then so I knew we couldn’t do that and figured I’d just check again once we got out in the terminal.  BIG MISTAKE.  It took us about an hour to get to the domestic terminal where I quickly searched for a Delta ticket counter.  It was there that they informed me that the FAA did not allow you to change flights!  I haven’t needed to change flights in awhile and apparently these days you have to travel with your luggage.  I could have changed flights back in Customs b/c we had not re-checked our luggage yet (I didn’t catch the fact we were re-checking in) but once I left our bags there it was over.  So we watched FOUR Charlotte flights leave while we waited for our 6:30 flight!  It took me about 3 hours to get over my bitterness.

While I was busy being bitter we did manage find a Chili’s and McDonalds on our terminal.  Will insisted on McD’s again so we got the kids meals and then headed to Chili’s for chips and salsa and burgers.  The salsa has never tasted so good!  But did you know I could not find a single Diet Dr. Pepper in the airport!  (And wouldn’t you know that Ella would not eat McD’s in the USA.  The nuggets are not as good here so I’m not sure if she noticed or what. Poor girl didn’t eat much more than fruit while we traveled.)

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And Will is OVER being photographed.  I’m afraid that there isn’t much photographic evidence that he was even on this trip!   (Poppy was also over photographed as a child so the two of them has started a “raise your hand” club!)2011-12-30 flying home from HK (33)

Thankfully Kristi has tipped us off to the playground in the Chicago airport.  Greatest idea ever!  And it was right near our terminal!  We had some interesting interactions with other kids while we were there.  We later realized this was our first outing away from our adoption group as “multi-racial family”.  No one said anything but I did hear a kid ask Will if Ella was his sister.  And then another kid kept talking to Ella and was confused that she didn’t talk back or answer her questions.  I didn’t feel like explaining that she didn’t speak English yet. The kids played there for almost 2 hours until Will took a nasty spill and we decided to head out for bathroom breaks and snacks.  We both rested and maybe napped a bit while we waited the last few hours.

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The kids both slept on the flight to Charlotte.  We dozed for a few minutes ourselves.  By then we were too excited to sleep.  And we finally got to Charlotte and easily made it to our next gate with a few minutes to spare to grab Star.bucks and Burger King for Will.  Sister still wasn’t up for eating. 

We changed the kids into clean clothes.  Nothing says yuck like clothes that have been rolling around on the nasty airplane or airport floor for 30 hours.  (And don’t even get me started on how I want to burn the kids shoes after walking around all of China, specifically squatty potties….yuck.)

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We excitedly boarded the next flight, the one that would finally take us HOME.  And surprisingly Will was just as excited to board this plane as he was on the 14th when we left on that first flight.  You honestly would have thought it was his first plane ride ever.  He knew we were going home, but after 3 flights that day I doubt he believed that this was the one.

Miss E in front of the plane that was going to take her to her forever home!
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It was a very short flight home.  And as we came off the plane (you know, out on the actual runway), we could see our family and friends waving from the windows and holding up signs.  I thought I would be crying but we were so excited to finally be there and to see everyone that we were nothing but excited.  And Will got seriously excited when he saw his name on the sign.  He was running!

A very blurry picture of our Welcome Home crew, in the center window.
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We were so grateful for all that came out at midnight to welcome us home.  Everyone should get a welcome like that at least once in their lifetime!  I think we talked to everyone but I’m not sure how much sense we made since we had only slept 3 out of the last 30 hours.  Hopefully you forgive us :)  

We headed to the car where Ella did surprisingly well with the car seat, thanks to a balloon.  Both stayed awake for awhile so we did baths and we all headed to bed around 4:00.  Will woke up around 11 and Chris stayed up with him for a few hours before heading back to bed where we all slept till 2:00pm.  Soon enough it was time for Wyatt to finally come home!  More on our first day home later!  I have to try to talk Will into going back to bed now…..

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