Saturday, January 25, 2014

Home sweet home

We got home last Saturday and I haven't posted because we have all been quite exhausted. We are doing great but oh so tired!!! I had no idea that jet lag could take such a toll on your body! Apparently I am not over it yet because it is 4:00 am as I type this post :(

Our flights home went as to be expected, no better or worse than I had anticipated. 17 hours of travel after 18 days away is hard but it is over and we made it!

The girls did great but only slept about 30 minutes. Levi and I decided that was ok because maybe it would help get to bed at a normal time Saturday evening. Not sure if that worked because they woke up that night at 4:00 ready to play and eat!

Elliott was happy the majority of the trip. He your typical two year old that doesn't want to sit down or be confined for very long. This made for a long flight! I did many many laps up and down the aisle to keep him content. He did get quite fussy for the last couple of hours especially on the flight from San Francisco to San Antonio. But who can blame him, he got about 1 hour of sleep in 24 hours. All in all, it was a tiresome flight but we are home and oh so happy!!!

Our homecoming crowd at the airport was just wonderful! We have the most wonderful group of family and friends who took the time to make signs, bring balloons and come greet us and we are so thankful!!! I also was just filled with joy to get Asher in my arms. I had missed him so much!

Our homecoming crowd. I love each and everyone of you!

This is what a momma's face looks like when she sees her baby after being gone for 18 days!

Levi was equally excited to see his boy!
I am thankful that Elliott has other friends who are no longer orphans. I pray they will be a blessing to each other as they grow up.
Meet the Pool family of 6!

When we arrived home we found our house decorated with streamers and posters. Our fridge was filled with food and meals!! Thank you Lord for friends and family!!

Elliott is doing very well. Each day I can see him relax bit by bit. He is feeling comfortable enough around the house to explore. He loves opening all the cabinets and doors. He has the sweetest personality. He is full of smiles and loves to be tickled. The girls and Asher just love him! Asher hasn't been jealous at all. He tries to play with him and loves to kiss on him. But he doesn't know his own strength and often kisses poor Elliott to the ground. Elliott seems to be very amused by Asher. I catch him quietly observing and smiling at Asher when Asher is being super silly. Last night it was so sweet. They were playfully kicking each other and laughing. It was the first time I have seen them really play together.

The nights have been hard but that is to be expected. Elliott is having to get over jet lag, learning to sleep in a new home with his new family and poor little guy has an ear infection. All of that is making sleep hard but it will get better. At least that is what all my adoptive buddies tell me so I am hopeful!

Thank you everyone for your prayers, kinds words, actions and love!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Elliott!!

Happy Birthday Elliott!!

January 15th was Elliott's birthday and we had a lot of fun celebrating with him!!  We spent the morning visiting some local markets.  In the van on the way to the shopping area our awesome guide Elvin told me about a tradition from the small village  he grew up in.  Being a very poor village, meat and most protein were not common and only eaten on special occasions.  For his birthday's as a child he received two hard boiled eggs and his sibling got one.  This was considered a big deal and a fond memory of his growing up.  So he presented us with a present for Elliott of four hard boiled eggs, two for him and one for each sister!  What a wonderful and thoughtful man, he also gave us some yummy local cookies and birthday Oreo's!  
We then arrived at the markets and set out on foot through a packed street with shops stacked on top of one another.

Highlights of the goods include:

  • every type of grain and nut
  • dried shrimp, starfish, and seahorse
  • live scorpions and dead ones in wine
  • all sorts of animals, some for food and some for pets

We then walked to an area called Pedestrian street, which is a very popular market street where we shopped for some clothes for Elliott and gifts for family and friends.  It was a great time and we loved seeing all the people and the thousands of shops packed full of every type of goods imaginable.

We worked up quite an appetite doing all that shopping and I had asked our guide if I could buy him lunch to thank him for all he had done for us and so he could show us his favorite local dishes.  The meal was amazing and the restaurant gave us a special bowl of noodles called "Longevity noodles" for long life for the birthday boy.  I was then once again humbled and surprised that Elvin bought our lunch, I really like this guy!!  Now back to the room for a nap for dad and Elliott while the girls went on a secret mission to get a birthday cake!

When we got up, the rest of the evening was spent prepping for Elliott's birthday.  We each made a birthday sign for him.

We dressed up in some authentic outfits for the occasion.

As we finished a dinner of random meals we had horded away in our room, the doorbell rang (yes our hotel room has a doorbell.)  The hotel delivered a birthday cake just for mister Elliott, it seems that Elvin had struck once again!    

We saved the cake that the girls had stealthily arranged for the next day, I think Elliott loved his two cakes for his 2nd birthday!  We love this sweet boy and are so blessed that he will forever have our family to celebrate his birthdays with!!  Happy birthday son!

Blogged by the long winded Dad

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Safari park

Today we had a wonderful time at the safari park in Guangzhou. It really was an awesome park! We spent about 5 hours there and didn't even see it all. It was huge. We road a train through a large area and saw giraffes, elephants, emus, lions and much more. the animals are very close by so the kids loved getting such a good view of them all. There was a Jurassic park area with huge dinosaurs that moved and made noise. The kids really liked one that surprised us by squirting water at us. The highlight for the girls was feeding giraffes and riding a huge elephant with Levi. It was so fun! Elliott did great. We were there a long time and he did wonderful. He loved walking around and seeing it as much as the girls did. I will try to post some pictures tomorrow but am too tired to get them from Levi's phone right now. 

It's 10:00 pm in China right now and we just woke up the girls so they could Skype with their classmates. Both girls teachers let their classes get together this morning so the kids so say hi. Our sweet friends Erika and Amy went in and set it all up. The girls were talking about it all day and went to bed so happy after seeing their friends. They really do miss them and will be glad to get back home and to school. We are blessed to be in a wonderful school with great teachers and families. I am thankful that they took time out of the their day to allow us to talk and that they are praying for us as we travel. 

Tomorrow is a big day! Our sweet Elliott turns 2!!! We have been praying for months that we would have him by his birthday and our sweet Lord answered that prayer. I am thrilled that our little guy will have this and every other birthday surrounded by his family that loves him very much! We are picking up a cake at the supermarket we went to yesterday and will have a little party at the hotel. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Lord is good!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23 ESV)

I have to admit that I woke up exhausted...we all did! Last night Elliott did not sleep well. He was very restless and cried quite a bit. It breaks my heart to have him upset and not be able to console him. Thankfully most nights I am able to rub his back and he goes back to sleep quickly. I am not sure why last night was different. I guess he is just learning to sleep In his new environment with his new family  So we all were quite tired and cranky this morning. But thankfully the kids moodiness didn't last too long and a little prayer and attitude change by us parents helped make the day quite fun.

Eliiott's physical today was quick and easy. It was very basic, a small amount of paperwork and fees and a quick look at his ears, skin and listening to heart and lungs and we were out of there. His exam was normal. He really seems to be quite healthy and is doing very well. 

Afterward we went to a nearby park. It was huge and beautiful! We all enjoyed the time outdoors and all three kids loved running around. The girls just loved the flowers and Elliott enjoyed exploring. They are all so sweet!

Here is a pic of my little sweetie sleeping..a brief moment of sleep from last night:)

Here are some pics of the park today. They may be a little blurry because it's so much faster to upload them in a smaller size.

Don't you just love that smile!

After naps we went shopping at a nearby grocery store. It was quite an experience! Lots of interesting items. 

We ended the day with a picnic in our room; after the girls had given all five of us makeovers. They did all of hair and applied makeup to us three girls. What a fun day! Tomorrow we go to a safari park!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tea and tears

Ok you other mothers, I'm going to assume that you all have experienced postpartum, hormonal breakdowns like I have. I remember after Elizabel was born I totally freaked out because I thought Levi gave Elizabel shaken baby syndrome from putting her car seat carrier in the base too roughly. Where in reality he just clicked it normally. After Olivia was born I had a come apart while picking up new lab coats. They didn't embroider my name the way they had previously. I thought it was difficult to read. I was so mad because they would not take them back and redo them. Now most people who know me will agree that it usually would take a lot for me to confront someone and be angry with them. Afterwards I was so embarrassed by my attitude that I wouldn't go back to the store for a year or more:(

Well I didn't realize that the fatigue of this trip would have me have similar emotional break downs. Today for dinner we wanted to try a Cantonese restaurant in our hotel. When we got there we should have realized it was nicer than we expected and should have looked at a menu. But we did not and we sat down and ordered some yummy tea. We had so enjoyed our tea earlier the day why not try some more. The chrysanthemum  tea turned out to be way more expensive than we thought (I need to do a better job calculating the exchange rate.) The girls didn't even like it. They preferred the free samples we tried earlier in the day. Levi and I felt obligated to drink our tea and in the meanwhile we quickly realized that there was nothing on the menu our children would eat. On a night without kids I may have been adventurous enough to try black fungus soup or marinated duck lung but tonight I was not in the mood. So as we tried to quickly drink our tea and leave the waitress kept on refilling it. Levi tried to politely explain that we appreciated the tea but didn't want anymore and would just pay for the tea and leave, no we were not upset, the menu looked good but our children were tired and wouldn't eat. My poor husband tried to explain this all to the waitress with a huge language barrier while his tired wife was alternating between crying and laughing. Thankfully they charged us only $20 instead of $50 for the tea since the girls didn't drink it. Who knew that their are fancy, pricy teas like their are wines?!

After all of that I took the children upstairs to get them ready for bed while Levi ran across the street to get us McDonalds (which we had for lunch). But after getting the kids nuggets he decided to get him and me something new to try.

Mr Pancho! A surprisingly delicious taco! A little taste of home (chased down with a Chinese beer.)

A nice end to a busy (and emotion filled) day!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Yesterday we flew into Guangzhou. We will stay here until Friday doing the American side of the paperwork. All families adopting from China finish there paperwork in Guangzhou because this is where the US Consulate is. It's about a two hour flight from Chengdu. However our plane had sensor issues so we were stuck waiting on the plane an extra hour before taking off. Yep, same thing that happened to us in Chicago! Girls did great in the flight and Elliott did ok. He is your typical two year old that doesn't want to sit still for very long. We were able to play and keep him happy the majority of the time.

Guangzhou is fabulous! This South Texas girl is tired of the cold and fog so I was thrilled when we stepped off the plane into sun and 75 degrees! I am pretty sure if I lived anywhere in the north I would experience seasonal affective disorder; my mood requires sunshine.

We are staying at The Garden Hotel which is just amazing. It is a beautiful hotel with wonderful staff. Many, many adopting families stay here and we are enjoying seeing other families carrying their sweet little China babies. It is very nice to talk to others who are going through the same things we are and hearing their stories. 

Our guide, Elvin, is very good. He is super nice and has quite a good sense of humor. Levi is appreciating that of course. He has been a guide for 9 years and really knows his stuff so we are in good hands. Today we went shopping. We bought the girls tea sets, all the kids traditional chinese outfits and Elliott a stamp with his name in English and Chinese characters. While we were there wesampled  several types of tea. The girls love oolong and jasmine tea. A

There are several shops and restaurants within walking distance to our hotel and the area is very safe so we can venture out on our own without a guide. Yesterday we went to Pizza Hut. Here, it is a nicer restaurant than in the US. We just ordered pizza, which was delicious...a little taste of home:) but you can also order steaks, seafood, and several Chinese entrees. I loved watching the locals eat pizza with a fork. They seem to be much neater eaters than my clan.

Elliott continues to do very well. He is full of smiles and giggles. He has the sweetest personality. He very curious, silly and vocal! He fits in our family just perfectly:) He is still attached to me at the hip quite a bit but is starting to venture off a little. He will explore the hotel room on his own which is great, allowing me to at least go the bathroom alone. Every day we see progress of him getting more comfortable with Levi. Levi is able to get him smiling easily. Elliott will let him dress him, change his diapers(yay!), and hold him a little bit. I am sure by the time we get home Elliott will be quite a daddy's boy! He is napping in the crib and sleeping with Levi and me at night. He is sleeping very well and will eat just about anything. We keep all the food out of sight unless it is ok for him to eat it. He is not used to seeing food around unless it is time to eat.  If he sees it and can't have it he gets quite stressed. And we are trying to be careful not to feed him too much because his nanny told us he gets sick easily if eats too much. 

Tomorrow we will take Elliott for his physical exam. It should take about an hour. Our guide told us there is a nice park nearby which we can visit afterwards. 

I will attempt to post pics of the past two days soon.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A few days with Elliott!

Sorry for our absence, we have been bustling around getting all the official paper work for Elliott and touring Chengdu, the city of his birth.

January 7th:

We went to a government building and had a picture taken with Mom, Dad and Elliott for his red book.  This also involved getting him foot printed, which made and adorable print!

 This took half of the morning so we had time to go to the hospital where he spent the first few months of his life during and after the corrective surgeries for his intestinal atresia.  It is an enormous place hospital called Chengdu Women's and Children's Central Hospital.  

We are so thankful for the care he received here but decided it was best to skip going inside, not worth risking sickness!!  

The rest of the day was spent at the hotel napping, swimming and generally getting to know Elliott and vice-versa.

January 8th:

Day of the Panda's!!

We went to the world famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.  It truly was amazing and the kids were fascinated by all things Panda!!  

The rest of the day we spent back at he hotel and cooked grill cheese, spaghetti and leftover pizza!  It was nice to not eat out and to have a taste of back home.

January 9th:

Maan Coffee Waffles and Toast is our favorite "regular" food so far!  We ate here on the 9th and the 10th, everything is so yummy!!

We then went to "The People's Park" which is Chengdu's version of Central Park.  We had tea (Jasmine) and it was fantastic!  

Elizabel was a huge fan and she quickly figured out how to drink it without ingesting the leaves and stems.

One of the strangest things we have done so far is feed Koi with a bottle!  They were huge and the girls had to hold on with both hands to keep ahold of the bottles.  

And of course, the girls where quite popular.

We purchased some sugar candy from a street vendor, she made beautiful art with the candy and it was delicious. 

 We then went to The Wide and Narrow Lane for lunch.  This is a very old neighborhood that is famous for it's architecture and food!!

I'm quite impressed with the kids, they are trying and enjoying much of the food and new environment.

January 10th:

Today we are on our own in Chengdu.  We walked about 20 minutes from our hotel to the town square and explored.  The rest of the day we will pack and rest at the hotel.  We leave the hotel at 8:30am and head to the airport to fly to Guangzhou for the last leg of our trip.

Hopefully we have a little better Internet in Guangzhou and updates will be more frequent.  

This blog was by Dad or as Elliott has started saying "Da!"