Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Prayer Request for Our Little One

Maggie has been remarkably healthy since we met her over 2 months ago. Despite her crazy mouth issues, she's never had even a runny nose.

Until now.  Surgery is 8 days away and she has bronchiolitis. It's a viral infection with lots and lots of congestion in her head and chest.  It's probably the same virus that gave the rest of us colds (and Sam a double ear infection), but since she's little, it's went into her chest and has made itself comfortable there.

She sounds terrible. It typically takes 2 weeks for it to run its course, and we don't have that much time before surgery.  The doctor was doubtful that she would be better in time for surgery, as she has to have a clear airway and no cough/congestion.

Please pray for our girl!  Although this surgery is not life-saving, it will be life-changing and we are so anxious to get her on that path.  We scheduled this surgery way back in October, before we even left for China.  February 6th has been a date ingrained in our minds before we even held her in our arms.

Perhaps there is a reason she shouldn't have the surgery next week.  If that's the case, then we will be okay with that, although we are still holding out hope!

Please pray for quick healing. Please pray for her lungs and head to clear of any and all congestion by next week.  Pray for her overall health and well-being.

Also, if it's not meant to be for next week, then please pray for the surgery to be re-scheduled at a time that is best for her, whenever that may be.  Pray for us to have peace over the situation regardless of when the surgery ends up being.  

Thank you so much!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


In China, and many countries around the world, having a cleft lip and palate means being ostracized by society.  Being an orphan with a cleft lip and palate is even harder. If Maggie would have stayed in China, she most likely would never get proper schooling or a good job. Orphans are thought to have bad luck and so no one wants to hire them or treat them as equals.  She probably would not have received all the surgeries and therapies needed to fully treat her condition.

We know that she is loved and wanted.  She is special and important.  She is worth it.

If all goes as planned,  2 weeks from today she'll receive her first of several surgeries. This one will be the most life changing, though.  The one that will forever change the way she looks, views herself, how she eats and speaks.

They are going to pull the exposed tooth, repair the tear in her lip that resulted from her first lip surgery in China, fix her cleft palate and put in ear tubes.

She will be in the hands of one of the very best.  She has gone from being just a number in an orphanage to being treated by a top surgeon at one of the highest ranking hospitals in the world.

She has no idea what is to come.  She will have to stay in the hospital anywhere from 1-5 nights depending on how well she takes in fluids after.  She will be in arm braces for 3 weeks that won't allow her to bend her arms and touch her mouth. She will have to be diligently supervised to make sure she doesn't get the braces off (as we've heard they do).  She won't be able to suck, so no bottle, which is her comfort.  No spoon, no straw.  She'll be on a basically liquid/mushy foods diet that will have to get into her mouth via regular cup or syringe.  She will be in terrible pain in and outside her mouth.

I feel like a warrior preparing for battle. We've been warned that this is one of the most difficult surgeries for kids to recover from.  I'm so scared for her and all she'll go through, nervous for how I'll handle it.

But ready. So ready for her redemption to come.  This is what we signed up for.  So many people tell us how lucky she is. But it's not lucky that she was born into a culture in which she could not remain with her birth family. It's not lucky that she was born into a country where she wouldn't be treated equally because of her condition. We feel honored to be the ones to give her the opportunity to be physically able to speak and eat normally and to live a full life.  She deserves it.  We are the lucky ones.

But all children deserve it. ALL.  As her surgery approaches, I can't help but feel broken for all the children who will remain stuck in orphanages, never to receive the love and treatment they deserve.

Please join us in prayer for Maggie Fei.

And join us in prayer for all the orphans who are waiting to find their way home.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


We've been home 8 weeks now!

Maggie had her 15 month checkup/pre-op appointment this week. Turns out she is on the grow!!  She was just over 16 pounds when we got her, which was just over 2 months ago. She was 18.8 at her checkup this week! So she has gained 2 pounds in about 2 months! So happy. She's 20% in weight now, whoo-hoo!  Height is progressing too.  She was WAY below the growth chart initially, but now she's getting closer to approaching that bottom 2nd % curve.  I love it and hope it continues. She definitely looks more filled out and robust, and feels heavier.  Still tiny and still in 9 month clothes, but heading in the right direction.

and very drooly!

Her doctor wants her to stay on formula for the time being; we go back in 6 weeks for a height/weight recheck and decide where to go from there.  She is very up and down with her bottles; some days she takes 4 big bottles a day, some days only 2.  I never know ahead of time how much she wants, if only I could read her mind!

She also eats 1-2 containers of Step 2 baby food at each meal (no chunks!!). She snacks on Puffs, yogurt melts and cheerios and continues her aversion to any other table/solid food.

However, she happens to love any and everything she finds on the floor. Which has lead us to our newest adventure.  She is getting very brave and adventurous around the house, which I no longer have time to clean as I should.  She crawls around (she is a super speedy cra;wler by the way) and puts any small piece of dirt, toy, gunk, etc she can find in her mouth. So we're constantly watching her to see if she's got something in there. Luckily so far she'll cooperate when I tell her to open her mouth so I can dig it out.

Some things I don't realize she has eaten, though, and some of these things are making their appearance known another way. She's been having these big sneezing fits where she'll sneeze 9-10 times in a row (we had hardly heard her sneeze before now).  Then something will either fly or ooze out her nose. So far we've seen 3 large chunks of paper that she has eaten and comes back out all soggy and gunky, a large piece of lint, a sticker, and a piece leaf off our indoor plant.  All in the past 2 days. Seriously, what else does she have up there??

She's also become so used to us inspecting her mouth that whenever she sees someone with a flashlight, she automatically sticks her tongue out, opens wide and says ahhh.  Smart cookie and pretty cute. Sam follows her around with a flashlight to get her to do it.  We never knew a cleft could be so entertaining!

As for the white-gunk-in-her-palate saga, it's still there and it still stinks. We've given up fighting it; surgery is less than 3 weeks away!

Her other new trick is standing. On her own, without having to pull up or hold onto anything. She is so proud of herself.  No steps yet, but she can stand and clap or do knee bends without falling for quite a while. We are not far from having a walker.  Heaven help us. :)

Our biggest challenge is daytime sleeping. She sleeps about 12 hours at night very well. Naps are another story. She prefers to take a long nap in the morning, and then refuses to take an afternoon nap. So right now we're trying to skip her morning nap and just do an afternoon one... but she often wakes up after only an hour.  Often with poop in her diaper, and then won't go back to sleep.  She needs a longer nap, so I'm very hopeful that will come with time.

Developmentally she is also making great progress.  She uses some sign languages when she feels like it, although not consistently yet. She can sign more, all done, up,  and drink.  Her doctor was very pleased with her progress with gross and fine motors skills; she's still behind but learning fast.  Speech, of course, is one area that will be far behind for quite some time.  Kids at 15 months typically have at least 2-3 words; she only has 2-3 SOUNDS she can make. She makes those sounds ALL THE TIME but they are just repetitions of the same sounds. No words at all and I don't think she is physically capable of making all the sounds due to the structure of her mouth.  I love how verbal she is, though. she isn't left out of one conversation here; I just know this will serve her well once surgery is over and she can really start to talk.

Another change we've noticed is that she will now help us put her arms and legs through her clothes when getting dressed. She used to be just completely floppy and counterproductive. I really think she sat in her crib in the same clothes day after day.  It's so reassuring to see her participating in her own care now.

One of my favorite changes in her is her hair. When we got her, it was very coarse and wiry due to lack of nutrition.  Now it has softened up so much and filling out.  I feel like this is physical proof of how much healthier she is becoming now that she's getting the nutrition she needs.  Also, she had her head shaved quite a few times in China (commonly done there); I'm excited to let it grow and see what it does.

Most importantly, she is delicious. I'm seriously in baby heaven with this girl.  Maybe it's because she's my 4th and I've finally stopped worrying over the little stuff (although she does have me worrying about bigger stuff like surgery!).  I'm so enjoying her babyhood.  I feel like I missed that with Allie. Although Allie was younger when she came home (11 months compared to Maggie's 13 months), Allie was a full toddler at that age. She was running, talking, feeding herself and very independent. Allie seemed MUCH older than she was (to the point that we questioned her birthday!). Conversely, Maggie is still very much a baby and I am eating it up. She can't feed herself or bottle or with a spoon yet, and is just physically very dependent on us.  Her skin is the softest skin I have ever felt, and I find myself just nuzzling her sweet face and cuddling. We hit the baby jackpot, I tell ya. Yumm-o.

In other news, my other "little" girl has hit a major growth spurt. At 3 and a half, Allie has outgrown her 3T clothes seemingly overnight.  She's opposite from Maggie in so many ways; she has always been tall for her age and looks much older than she is.  She is crazy smart.  People don't believe us that she's only 3 in the way she looks and how smart she is. (But she can still throw a tantrum like a 3 year old, that's for sure!)  She just seems more grown up lately.  She's strikingly beautiful.  She takes my breath away sometimes and she loves to "baby" her baby sister.

The boys have hit a new milestone, too.  Finally, after putting it off for YEARS, we bunked their beds.  They have begged and pleaded for this for so long. They were 2 and 4 when they started to share a room; they're almost 6 and 8 now. We said that as soon as Ben was completely healed from his surgery, we would do it. This was the first weekend that he's been fully recovered, so they made sure we didn't forget!  They were involved in the whole process, of course, and are loving it.
                    Before                                                   After

                                      and all the help in between....

Speaking of Ben's surgery, it took him a good 12 full days to be off pain meds and back to a regular diet. The norm is 7-10 days; the nurse I spoke with told me he was  a "straggler" who took longer than most.  Poor guy; he was miserable day after day.  He had more ice cream, Motrin and Tylenol than I care to admit during that time, but we've made it to the other side.  And now he has a canyon in his throat!  His tonsils nearly touched even when not infected before; he was not sad to tell them goodbye!

Funny story: yesterday I made the boys go out and shovel the driveway before they could play Wii. I gave them all kinds of instructions such as don't go near the road, keep your hat and gloves on, no fighting, etc.  However, I neglected to tell them to shovel the NORMAL way. They opted to go the "let's shovel all the snow in a big pile right behind mom's van" route.  And then needed help moving the frozen solid pile out of the way.  Obviously my instructions will be more clear next time.  Never ever a dull moment.

So we are down to less than 3 weeks until Maggie's surgery. It's scheduled for February 6th as long as we can keep her healthy.  Not an easy task during flu season with 3 siblings bringing home germs every day.  Recently we have ventured out of our cocoon a bit for some play dates and things, but soon we'll retreat back into our cocoon and pray we can keep her from getting sick; we are really ready to face this Surgery Mountain and get over it.  We've been told it's one of the most difficult surgeries for a child to recover from.  It's going to be tough going for our little one for about 3 weeks post surgery. We're starting to make plans for the other kids, etc to make things as easy as possible so we can give Maggie the care she needs during that time.  We would appreciate prayers for good health and quick healing for her.

Supervising bathtime.  :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Baby Steps

I feel like we're stuck in the movie Groundhog's Day.  Every day is the same!  We have been home over 7 weeks, about 50 days.  We figured out that of those 50-ish days, we've only had ELEVEN days where all 3 kids went to school as they should. Gah!!  Thanks to sickness, snow days, weekends, holidays and Ben's surgery, we have had a whole lotta togetherness.  Sometimes the days are sooooo long and it seems like we're peddling uphill.

But I'm trying to look out for the tiny baby steps of progress that are being made.

Ben is 10 days out from having his tonsils removed and still on pain meds, up in the night and eating mostly ice cream.  Poor kid, his throat just hurts.  He's such a trooper.  If he has the meds in his system, he does much better, but he has to be completely off them to go back to school.  I hate that he's missing so much school (although I do so enjoy his company!).  Fingers crossed he turns a big corner ASAP so he can get back into his normal routine.  Tonight when he was praying he thanked God for his surgery so he won't have as many throat infections.  Love that kid, he gets it.

Thankfully, the Rainbow Loom craze hit our house right before his surgery. He has literally made dozens of bracelets for himself and the rest of us as he recovers.

There's also been lots of movie watching...

And Wii....

And board games...

And paper airplane-making.

Maggie also is making tiny baby steps of progress.  She has been a little more willing to drink from a cup. She also does little things like help us get her arms through her clothes, whereas before she was just floppy.  In general she is more present and aware and participates in our life.  She doesn't miss a thing and wants to be included in everything we do.

She's also discovered that she loves books:

Despite having no words, that girl communicates her wants and needs, that's for sure. She uses a few signs, and also uses her head and facial expressions to express what she wants to say, along with pointing her finger at things (mostly people-she really can put a person on the spot with her point!). It's pretty remarkable, she shakes and nods her head appropriately all day long.  She has even started to "back talk". I'll tell her something like, "No, we don't pull Allie's hair" and she'll point her little finger in my face, say "gah!" really loud with a serious look on her face, and then burst into giggles. Rotten!

I know I'm biased, but I really do think she's a smart little cookie who is going to be just fine.

She's also really working on standing on her own, and is doing it for longer periods.  I can tell she wants to take a step so bad. Which of course is so exciting and I can't help but encourage her. But we're also really hoping she holds off on walking until after she has recovered from her surgery.  I keep envisioning her toddling around post-surgery and falling on her delicate little face... yikes.  Let's wait on walking a big longer, Maggie Fei!

She continues to sleep great at night, not a peep.  However, she has decided to shorten her naps to only an hour a day.  Whether or not this is enough for her is beside the point; it's not enough for me!!  But she's generally content to stay in her bed a while longer if I give her some toys and books.  Plus she sleeps like this, which earns her bonus points:

As for her mouth mystery, well, that too remains mostly the same. We did have a glimmer of hope last week when we discovered there's a mouthwash and special applicators we could use to clean out her palate that we were told should help dissolve whatever is in there.  At first we were all excited, but then realized just how difficult the task is to get her to let us not only see up in there, but also clean it out.  We've gotten a little creative. Note the headlamp.  It's definitely more of a 2 (or 3!) man job.

We were told to do this 3 times a day until her surgery. However, I'm not sure it's working. Sometimes it does seem like she smells better and I think maybe it's working, but then it will start smelling terrible again. We got a good look in there today and it's still full of gunk even after using the wash for several days.  So who knows. Plus it's really frustrating that it took this long for someone to suggest us trying the mouthwash, but that's another story.

Random funny story:  One day Maggie was fussing in her high chair and Jeremy grabbed a giant plastic chip clip off the counter for her to play with while we finished cleaning up the kitchen.  Within seconds, she had gotten the spring out of the clip, put the spring in her mouth and the spring curved up and was sticking out her nose. It was quite a sight, in thru the mouth and out thru the nose. Thankfully I was able to quickly thread the spring back through out of her nose and back out her mouth.  Quite an adventure!  I feel like we're old pros already at dealing with her cleft and it's such a part of our every day norm. In fact, Sam told me he wishes he could have a hole inside his mouth so food could come out his nose!

Our big 3 kids absolutely DOTE on their baby sister. They hug and kiss her all day, help feed her and love to play with her.  Everyone says how lucky she is; but man how lucky are we!  She is squeezable, kissable yummy-ness!!

We took advantage of the sunshine today and went to the park for a bit. 

It was her first time at an American park!

 Came home to rock out to some music on her "I-pod".  Girly loves music, she loves to dance away when the kids are playing Just Dance on Wii.  She put this little toy music box to her ear today and bopped away!  (Disclaimer: I take no credit for the state of her attire today)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Homecoming #3-Final Videos and Tidbits of Maggie's Homecoming

My nephew took some great videos for us of our first moments home.  I love that we have these as keepsakes!  Thank you Ethan!!

Also, there's a special reason why we dressed Maggie in yellow for her homecoming outfit. 13 years ago, when my nephew Ethan was born, he came home from the hospital in a yellow outfit, since my sister didn't know ahead of time if he was a boy or a girl.  He was the first grandchild and has set the precedent for many things!  Since then, all the grands have come home in yellow, whether they've come home from the hospital or another country.

Maggie in her yellow outfit & Allie in her yellow PJs (we got home really late with her).

Ben on the left & Sam on the right in their yellow homecoming outfit (which is the same one my nephew and niece both wore home from the hospital).

Finally, I was just looking back over what we spent total for this adoption. The grand total was about $31,000.  That's a big chunk of change, but I just realized that about HALF of that was provided through our fundraisers!  Through the jewelry sale, garage sale, matching grant and donations, we raised over $15,000 to bring Maggie home. That's really remarkable and evidence that God provides.  Money was simply a hurdle for us to overcome to get to our child.  I'm so glad we didn't let fear stop us. I can't imagine our lives without her.

To anyone who would love to adopt but is afraid of the financial part, don't let that hold you back!!  You will be surprised at who steps up to help.  All you have to do is step out in faith.  We had a lot of close family and friends contribute, but we also had people we barely knew help out.  Friends from WAY back saw our need on Facebook and stepped up in a big way.  People we didn't realize even knew our story found ways to help out.  To everyone who helped bring our girl home, we can't thank you enough.  Every penny, every garage sale donation, every piece of jewelry sold made a difference. Not to mention the time helping with the sales, the meals, the prayers and support. You'll always be a part of Maggie Fei's story!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reflections on China

Thanks to everyone who has given us time and privacy to "cocoon" with Maggie!  If anyone has been holding off on coming to meet her and would like to, let me know.  We're in between surgeries and would be open to quick visits over the next couple weeks.

As time goes by and we share details of our trip from China with friends and family, we get surprising reactions to some of our experiences.  My main focus of our blog, of course, was on Maggie. But along the way we learned a lot about China itself, its people and its culture, so I thought we'd share some reflections here.

We are SO GLAD we were able to experience China.  It was the trip of a lifetime. Yes it was hard to leave our kids and to be gone so long (17 days!) and be out of our comfort zone. But to have experienced another culture, the culture of our daughter, is priceless.  Plus we really enjoyed ourselves for the most part!  We definitely wish we had been able to experience that with Allie.  We look forward to some day planning a big family trip to both China and Korea.

And of course, I could not have done it without this guy.   He kept me sane and calm, and we had such a great time!

The following are just my thoughts and observations, no judgments. We're very grateful to the country of China for allowing us the privilege of becoming Maggie's forever family.

*China is FULL of people.  I know this goes without saying, but it's hard to grasp it until you are there.  There are literally people everywhere. Walking down the street is like being squished in a sardine can where sardines are wiggling in every direction.  All the other "sardines" seem to know how to go with the flow and fit in easily, where as us "foreigners" clearly never quite figured it out.

This outdoor market was insanely crowded.  You just had to go with the flow!

Lots of people means lots of apartments.  Buildings like this everywhere.

*There is no such thing as personal space.  They will come right up to you, stare at you, touch you, ask to hold you baby (which we learned through another family who had a terrible experience getting their baby back that you should say NO when asked this!).  Most of this is done out of curiosity and kindness, but is more than us Americans are accustomed to.  One Chinese person told us, "Chinese people have a bad habit of being rude."  We took it all in stride, though, and didn't take offense.

*We are like celebrities there.  People would literally stare a hole through us as they walked by, then turn their head and continue staring at us behind them as they continued forward.  Jeremy saw a woman run her moped into a pole while watching us!  We were grabbed and put into pictures with other Chinese people, just for being American.  Anyone with blond hair is especially fascinating to them!

*WATCH OUT ON THE SIDEWALKS!  Walking down the street is insanity.  In some cities, they allow scooters on the sidewalks with pedestrians. There appears to be no right-of-way for us walkers.  I started wishing I had the neck of an owl while we were out walking, I felt like I had to constantly be looking in every direction to make sure we weren't going to be run over.  They would literally come from behind us and then cut right in front of us without looking or slowing down.  The scooters are electric, so they make no sound, so you never knew when it was safe!  Some intersections were so big that you had to cross in phases.  We'd have to make a mad dash to a median, wait, dash to the next median, wait, cross again to get to the other side!  All with a baby strapped to me. Crazy.

*The streets are pure chaos.  There are cars Every. Where.  There are many lanes of traffic, and no one seems to abide by them. They create their own lanes, zoom over to cross lanes without looking and never, ever slow down. At least that's how it seemed! Some drivers were better than others. We took a lot of buses arranged by our agency, and some taxis as well.  There were a few times when I would actually be sweating by the time we arrived, it was so intense! I wish I would have taken more pictures, as there are no words to describe it!

One crowded intersection, but we saw some more crazy than this.

*Scooters-they get their use out of these things! They're made for one person, but we saw up to 3 on one at a time.  They put their kids on there without strapping them on or wearing a helmet. They tie big loads onto them and off they go.

This is actually a bike of some sort with a huge load attached.

*You don't tip cab drivers or waiters at restaurants.  If you do, they will give it back.

*They spit. A lot. Wherever they are.  We were at the indoor pool at our hotel, and one swimmer would spit into the gutter of the pool after each lap. Not quiet little demure spits, but big, loud, echoing hawking things.

*The kids wear "split pants".  Their pants are literally open in the crotch and they wear no underwear. Parents let kids pee (and poop!) wherever they are. We saw several parents lift their child over a garbage can on the street and let them go in the can, then went on there way. I saw one kid who missed the can and peed all over his mom!  No need to undress.  It's not uncommon to see little bare bottoms sticking out of pants!

*It's also believed that babies and children should be thickly bundled in order to stay warm.  Many babies, especially those in orphanages, live in these big, thick snow suit type clothes.  When Maggie was handed to us, she looked much bigger than she is. She couldn't move her arms and legs due to her big 'ol outfit!  Chinese people will come up and cover up other people's babies if they think they're not warm enough! We tried to make sure she was covered while we were out and about!

Maggie in her "snowsuit" with split pants (she had a diaper on).

*Smog is a real problem in the big cities. The air is just thick and gray.  We got so used to it that when there was a clear day with blue skies near the end of our trip it was surprising!

*Smoking is still common there. In restaurants, hotels, anywhere.  Add the smokey air to the smoggy air and it's hard to catch a good breath sometimes.

*Squatty potties.  Yep, you squat over the pot (potty).  I had mentally prepared myself for these ahead of time.  Thankfully, a lot of places had regular toilets, but I did use a couple squatty potties while there.  They were cleaner than I envisioned, thankfully, and I managed. But why?  Why?

*Toilet paper.  Bring you own cuz they don't always provide it for ya. Not as in the roll is empty in the stall, but as in, they just don't put out toilet paper.  One time I used the bathroom, realized there was no toilet paper and I left mine in my bag out with Jeremy, so I just did the best I could. On the way OUT of the bathroom I realized there was one community roll of toilet paper hanging on the wall.  Guess I was supposed to grab some on my way in!  But a lot of times there is none at all.

*Food. Some of it is wonderful. Some is not.  We had some absolutely fantastic meals.  Then there were some where we basically just ate rice or noodles to avoid some questionable other things.  Luckily our agency guides did a great job at giving us tips on where to eat and where to avoid.  It's pretty common for visitors to get sick from the food there, but we thankfully avoided that.  We also brought some of our own food, like granola bars, oatmeal packs, and chicken soup packs. We were able to have some meals in our room and avoid eating out all the time.  Another funny thing we noticed-often the drinking glasses are tiny; we felt silly but had to keep asking for refills!  I guess they don't do the Big Gulps like we do here.  :)

Hands-down our favorite meal was home cooked by a family who served us in their home 
(see the little drinking glasses?)

*Breakfast. Breakfast was included with our rooms and boy did it put American Continental breakfasts to shame!  The buffets just went on forever, filled to the brim with both American and Chinese breakfast foods. Yum!

Not a great video, but the food is lined on both sides in the first part of the restaurant, then after we turn the corner it is just a huge, fancy, ongoing spread of food. This was in our last hotel.

*Water.  Tap water is not safe in China. It's amazing how we take safe water for granted.  This meant we also had to avoid ice while there, which was really hard to do!!  So we drank only bottled water and coke/sprite without ice.  One time at "Pizza Hut", they brought our cokes with ice in it and we had a heck of a time trying to communicate to the waitress that we wanted the Coke but not the ice. We finally had to dig a piece of ice out of the cup, put the ice down on the table while miming "no"!  We also had a kettle in our hotel room to boil water, which was really important for Maggie's bottles.  We used that thing a lot!  We also had to remember not to use the tap water to brush our teeth.  We'd heard of people getting really sick from forgetting and using tap water while brushing.  And we had to remember to keep our mouths closed in the shower to make sure no water ran in.  Thankfully, when we got to our last city of Guangzhou, we were told that the ice was safe there and in the McDonalds by the hotel. That coke with ice never tasted so good!!

*China blocks certain websites, so we had to have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) in place to be able to use Blogger and Facebook while we were there.

*When we got to our first hotel, it took us forever to figure out how to turn the lights on!  We finally discovered that you had to put your room key card into a slot by the door, and then you can turn the lights on. It was that way in all of our hotels there, and it's actually a pretty nifty idea. Saves energy and also keeps your key card in one spot where you can find it!  Some hotels you also have to insert your key card to work the elevator.

*Walmart.  Yes, there's Walmart in urban China.  It's quite an experience. They have most things you would need, including a lot of name brands we know and love. They had Snickers, Pringles, Oreos, you name it.  They also had things our Walmarts don't have, like whole chickens (with heads and everything, hanging from the ceiling!) and all kinds of other fresh animals and fish.  There were parts of it that did not smell good at all. I kept thinking I was so glad I wasn't there pregnant, I would not have been able to go in there!

*Despite having a very strong culture that is distinctly Chinese, they are also very westernized.  The malls have many American stores like the Gap, etc. They dress very similar to us.  There are also American restaurants everywhere, such as McDonalds, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut.  Although the Pizza Hut was more of a fancy restaurant with a large, diverse menu that included lots of Chinese food too.  And maybe because we had grown tired of Chinese food, but the McDonalds burgers, fries and cokes tasted SO GOOD!!!!

We had such a fantastic trip.  Everything went well, thankfully!  We were filled with such a sense of peace and adventure.  And we have such great memories of our daughter's homeland.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

One down, one to go

Ben had his tonsils and adenoids removed on Thursday.

It's a routine surgery, but he's still my baby.

My first baby.

Watching him be put to sleep was hard. He was so scared but so brave.

He had one little tear leak out as he fell asleep. Cue the watershed on my part.

So. Hard.

But he did great and Doc said it was a good thing we did it.

We were warned recovery could be tough, 1-2 weeks.

So far he's rocking it.

Nice little warm up for Maggie's surgery, one month from tomorrow.

Maggie is maintaining status quo.

Some days she eats and drinks great, sometimes not.

Her palate is still full of the mystery gunk.

We've been home over 6 weeks!

Going a little stir-crazy, but all is well.

Here's to having one surgery done, one to go.

Waiting pre-surgery.

After.  He was SO out of it.

Heading home.

New-to-us Lincoln Logs brought a smile.

Girls playing dollhouse together.