Friday, June 27, 2014

Almost Two Weeks Home

We have been home almost two weeks with Cora. Each passing day, hour and minute she blossoms into God's beautiful design for her. We find out new things about her everyday. She LOVES to help mommy, and I find it so sweet. She wants to do school with the boys so badly and is doing well. She ADORES her daddy and it is precious. She runs and jumps in his arms when he gets home. Her and Mia are starting to play more and more. I think as the language barrier gets better they will play better too.
We started back to school in our house, and it was soooooo nice to have our routine back. Routine and structure have been so good for Cora too. It helps her feel safe and secure and you can see it.
This new school year we are doing Science on Wednesday afternoons with our dear friends The Jordan Family. This week was so fun to let the kids discuss and defend their faith with each other. We are using the Christian Kids Explore Series Biology. We love this science and look forward to a fun year with the kiddos.
Cora isn't doing Science quite yet. I am making sure I read books to her, play learning games, handwriting, letter recognition, and math. She also sits with us for Bible time and the reading of our missionary stories.
And another first for precious girl is her first Family Night. We celebrate Fridays with Family night. Fun Dinner, and Special Treat, Popcorn and a Movie or a Game. Tonight we built ice cream Sundays. The kids laughed as I let them pile on the Chocolate syrup, Caramel Syrup, Sprinkles, M&M's, Whip Cream and Cherries. I let them build it as high and as much as could fill the ice cream bowl. :) Tonight we are very, very thankful to be celebrating this Family Night as a family of 7. We are so Thankful for our daughter and all of you who helped bring her home. Thank You!!!!!!!!
A lot of Pics below but couldn't help it. :)
Cora doing Math puzzle game

Our Two China blessings

Forming our Earth's for Biology

The Littles Playing Playdough




Tonight awaiting the Ice Cream Sunday building

My Boy LOVES Ice Cream

Miss Mia and her Strawberry delight

Corbin and his pile of yummy goodness

Cora about to have her first Ice Cream Sunday. She wanted everything the other kiddos put on theirs.

Austin my non ice cream eating child who was happy with his cone and orange slices with sprinkles.

All snuggled up and ready to watch Cars 2

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Our Welcome Home

We are Home!!!!! And so happy to be here. This week has been rough with major jet lag from us and the kids. Also just adjusting to another person in the house. The kids are trying to figure out the pecking order again, and miss Mia and Cora are having to learn to share. Neither one are good at sharing.
Cora honestly is doing well. She pretty much goes with the flow. With older child adoption we have found that they come with personalities, and bad habits that they have picked up at the orphanage. This is hard but we are being diligent, loving but firm. She needs boundaries. Cora is pretty rough even when she hugs you it is almost like being tackled. She will punch you and laugh or pinch. We are trying to teach her what gentle is and how to love. She has almost knocked down many of the family members that have come to visit her. Also they do not teach please and thank you in the orphanage and you know in the South this is a must.  I know in time she will learn but this is just some of the things we are working on.
Language Barrier is also hard. She gets frustrated and we do too. We are having her watch Leap Letter Factory and Word Factory everyday to help with sounds. We have done alphabet puzzles going over sounds. Its only been a week and she can say everyone's name including the dog. :) I wasn't going to start school with her right away but she wants to.  I ordered her a math book (Starting her with Math U See Primer) and The Queen Handwriting and Language Lessons. I think structure and daily routine will do her good.
Cora is fearless (except for Dog's) yesterday we swam and tubed behind the boat. She wanted to do it all and laughed and smiled the whole time. Times where my heart just says Thank you Jesus for the gift of Cora is at night when we tuck her in. She gets such a safe, loving, content smile when we say prayers and tuck her in at night. That's when it hits me how blessed we are to be her parents and to think just a few weeks ago she never had a daddy or mommy to tuck her in. Breaks my heart and is very sobering how far we have come in a few short weeks.
Some may ask if we would adopt older child again. And yes we would, younger and older both have challenges and those first weeks and months are so hard, but If God calls you to a child how can you tell the creator no. We feel honored and blessed by both our girls born in our hearts. So very thankful for all our children.
We had a sweet group of special people at the airport to welcome us home. I just can't say enough what it meant to this mama's heart to see them and feel their support. They also stocked our fridge and freezer with fresh veggies and Chinese food for our girl.The grandparents were awaiting at our home with coffee and breakfast made for us when we got home. It was a great day!!!!! Cora you are very loved by all. Praying God captivates your heart sweet girl.
Our welcome home at airport

So happy to see friends

Introducing Cora to the girls


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Daddy Post: The Good, The Bad, The Crazy Signs!

Currently, we are stuck in our hotel room because of a big storm that blew in this morning.  I thought it would be a good time to write my "Daddy Post."
To think of the life Cora had during the last eight years really makes me wonder how she made it this far.  She never had a father to teach her right from wrong, to pick her up when she fell and got hurt, or to make her feel safe.  It really hit me when I went to tuck her in last night, she got so giddy it looked like someone was tickling her.  I realized she must have never had anyone wrap her tight in a blanket, give her a hug and a kiss, and tell her good night.  It only took a couple of minutes for her to fall asleep.  I'm sure this is partially due to the exhaustive days.  More so, I think it is because she knows that she has a Daddy who loves her and is watching over her as she sleeps. 
Cora showing us her bed amongst the other 20
It was so neat to see Cora come alive at the zoo.  I know we missed so much of her life up to this point.  However, the blessing in this is that we get to be there for a lot of her "firsts."  It was obvious she had never been to the zoo.  Prior to this,  animals were only pictures in a book or images on the television.  She was manually turning my head and pointing to every animal we passed saying their name in Mandarin with so much excitement.
Yesterday, we went to Shamian Island to do some shopping.  Two years ago, we met a Christian shop owner named Judy.  As soon as we walked up to her, she lit up with excitement and was amazed that Mia was the same girl from two years ago.  Of course, she got to meet the rest of the clan and gave us some good deals on all of the stuff we get to tote back home.  The boys were going nuts.  We are coming home with swords, daggers, nun chucks, and legos. 
Ethan, samauri warrior.  I hope the sword doesn't put us on the terrorist watch list at the airport.
Ok, time for the things that make this trip and transition difficult.  Amber already explained the rejection she experienced.  With Mia, we had holding sessions where we would hold her against us, kicking screaming and scratching, for about 30-45 minutes at a time.  We figured this would work a second time.  It did wonders for her attitude, obedience, and her rejection of Amber.  But it was like trying to hold on to a wild cat.  From that point on, I think she realized we weren't going anywhere and that we were in this no matter what.
The first couple of hotels had much to be desired.  Smells of cigarette smoke, hot air conditioners, and lovely odors of sewage were the norm.  The beds are like laying on a carpeted floor.  The scary thing is I'm getting used to it.  We survived though.  And Guangzhou is more like being at home.  Great breakfast buffet, pool, cold ac, and no smoke or sewage!
Toting 5 kids around China is a daunting task.  Thankfully, we have my father to help out.  We do a lot of walking, or rather we do a lot of carrying.  We have a toddler who has to go potty at the most inconvenient time and place.  Lots of waiting in airports and for buses.  So far we have flown 4 times.  Just two to go.  If we make it through a meal without a spilled drink or complaint, it will be a miracle.  Now that I think about it, it's not much different than at home!  Ha.
We have had other challenges, but nothing we couldn't handle.  We look at this as an adventure.  We weren't put on this earth to be comfortable and complacent.
Here is Mia doing her thang mid trip on the side of the road.
The safe in the room went dead with our stuff in it two hours before our appointment.  They had to hand saw it open.  Real nail biter!
Bottle of water on the floor right before we meet our new child.
Don't have the actual pic, but Corbin managed to wedge himself in some exercise equipment at the orphanage.
I have been making a little hobby out of capturing the signs that are a little off on their translation.
I wore my glasses anyway

I'm still looking for the floor slide.  Sounds like fun!

It's a buffet!
Not sure if we should be washing our hands here? 
In many ways, this trip has caused us to open our eyes and hearts a little more.  It has been so neat to see Cora find her place in our family.  Like a missing piece in the middle of a puzzle, God has fit Cora in perfectly.  She looks up to her brothers, and helps her little sister.  This morning she helped Mia put her shoes on, and she is always letting us know when Mia is getting into something she shouldn't.  She is warming up to Mommy, and gives this Daddy the biggest hugs imaginable.
There is a romantic side to traveling abroad.  I might have to frame this one.
Yes Amber, I will love you no matter what.
All my kiddos... plus some other guy.
It's official.  She put on Daddy's sun glasses.  She is a Leggio. 
James 1:27- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Even though Cora may not have been in severe distress up to this point, I know she was headed for that life since kids age out of the orphan system in China.  In just 5 short years, Cora would have been out on the street to be abused and taken advantage of.  This is one reason we elected to adopt an older child.  Is it worth the discomfort and stress to travel across the world just to save one orphan?  Without a doubt. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our Cora Girl

Everything seems to being going better in Guangzhou. Our feisty girl is showing more and more of her sweet and playful side (even with mommy). Thank you all for praying for Cora and for us.
In her province it was hard. She was grieving for what she was loosing, friends, and a nanny who she loved a lot. Unlike toddler adoption older children verbalize their grief with words and actions that are hard sometimes. Especially for these mamas who have loved and prayed over their paperwork for months upon months. I think it is good to remember God's Grace and Love in this time. Grace for your child who is grieving and God's love because he is bigger than grief.
We are in love with our daughter, she belongs to the one who is our redeemer. Just like he redeemed us and called us Sons and Daughters.
Cora is letting me hold her hand when we are out, do her hair (she wants bows), starting to be more playful with mommy, fix her food.
About Cora, She is quiet most of the time accept in hotel room, laid back and goes with the flow, doesn't complain ever, doesn't ask for anything ever (even when we offer she says no), very, very playful, loves on the whole family, and is filling big sister role well with Mia. Mia was complaining tonight that she was tired and Cora sounding just like Mia and making fun said I tired!!!! It was hilarious.
Streets of Guangzhou

Buying a piece of Amber at the market

At the Chen Family Temple

Beautiful piece of embroidery

Chen Family Temple

Garden Hotel Lobby

Cora feeding giraffes at the zoo

Yes Jos is Mr. Funny Guy

The fire department trying to talk this guy off the ledge.

Shoe shopping for the girls

Happy mama with her Starbucks

Cora fell asleep in Taxi

Friday, June 6, 2014

Changsha Day and Guangzhou Medical Appointment

I know I haven't posted as much as the first time when we traveled for Mia. Changsha was pretty emotionally and physically draining for me. The orphanage visit was hard for this mamas heart and our little Cora is being s bit spicy with her mama.
I have been hit, screamed at, ran away from, and she flat out has thrown her self on the ground going limp and screaming fit. Trying to man handle a nine year old is s bit harder than a toddler. She naturally goes to Joe, but we are trying to acclimate her to me too and she is not a happy camper with it.
Yesterday I was holding her on my lap through one of her rages and she was screaming something over and over. Joe translated it onto his iPhone and she was calling me an SOB over and over.
I say this not to scare any of you from older child adoption, we know God has chosen us to be her parents and I am holding to that very ,very tightly right now. I share because it is hard and I have struggled these past couple of days with how much she verbalizes her dislike for me. But I know God redeems in huge ways and I will keep eyes on him every second, minute, hour and day. Adoption is such a spiritual battle and the enemy will try to discourage and put doubts, but my God is bigger.
Please continue to pray for her and our family. Today I see small glimpses of hope in her. Adoption is not for weenies for sure!!!!!
Park in Changsha

Daddy and his girls

Cora and our guide in Changsha Amy

Cora with mommy at medical exam

Cora with daddy at medical exam (see the difference)

Brave Girl

Christmas Merry all year round in China lol