Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Month of Forever

Just one month ago, we were in a government building in the middle of Guangzhou, China, meeting our Maryn Gentry.  Sweet girl walked right out of what she had known all of her life and into a new life and family for forever.  
Thankfully, her heavy spirit on that day has been replaced with a lighter step!  Miss Maryn, you are not the little one we met one month ago - one month ago, we met a little one who was terrified of us and screamed in a desperate attempt to be returned to what she had always known.  Today, you are full of joy!  Today, you light up a room with your contagious, easy smile.  
Today, you have parents who adore you and who take note of all the little things that make you, you!  Like the way you put yourself to sleep by making the cutest little sucking noise and twisting your non-existent hair; the way you play with our hair when we hold you close; we marvel at how quick you are in your step and we fret when you fall; we take note of how observant you are and we laugh when your face makes a new expression - you are so expressive!  
We all love to hear you laugh and we will all do just about anything to make the laughter neverending! Your big brothers cannot wait to hold you each morning when you awake and they are constantly vying for your attention.  Your big sisters are all about teaching you to dance and squeal loudly in delight!  We love to hear you chatter, this you do all day and we never tire of your sweet, soft voice!  
We remain in awe of you little one.  We thank God each day for your life and we feel honored to have been chosen to be your forever family!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This girl turned  7 1/2!  Unbelievable how time is flying!
 These three finished up another successful swim season!
 Lake time - jet skiing is a new favorite activity with all of our guys!
 MK and Jay participated in the city of Columbia's "City Meet" - both are great at this swimming thing!
 Little Maryn got a new ride....
 Bonding continued with the boys - Maryn LOVES them!  
 We got to spend a fun-filled afternoon with a group of our dearest friends, our adoption crew!
 And these three shared their special story - the little guy driving is being hosted by the little guy on the back's family....he has been here for almost a month and because of his stay here, he now has a forever family pursuing his adoption...the little guy with the mask will be his brother when he comes home sometime next year!  Amazing!  Another cool fact...all three will be cousins!
 Ava and Maddox enjoyed their reunion!  
   This pic describes the story of adoption - it is not perfect but its beauty sustains all imperfections!  
So thankful for adoption!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lake Days

This summer has brought on a new love in our lives - the lake.
A huge thank you to my brother and his family for allowing us borrow some time at their house,
kayaking back and forth to the island and the little mom and pop shop for special treats.
The boys are smitten with this little body of water and what it has to offer.  So much so that they spent all day last Saturday in a boating safety class.  They left 8 hours later with their own boating license in hand and they had one thing on their minds - jet skiing!  
Our newest little miss spent her time in the shade playing with grass - mind you she will not even think of standing on the grass and insists on having a blanket down for her to sit on but she had no problem pulling the grass from the ground to examine!  
Maddox has enjoyed her jaunts to the lake as well....she is fearless!
Silly girls!
Our lake days have brought us all many memories and we look forward to creating more in the years to come!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

One Week Home

Oh, the look on this little one's face says it all - she is taking it all in, observing everything, not missing a beat!  She is simply delightful!  
Our first week home and we all dove right in....meetings, doctor appointments, swimming fun, dining with friends, swim meets, shopping, park fun.....
thankfully this little one seems to like our on-the-go style!  She and her carseat do well together!  
The big sisters were never too far away....they have done so well with her! 
In fact, all four bigs are eating her up!  The honeymoon is in full swing with our girl!  
Little Miss was deemed to be one healthy baby girl by our pediatrician this week!  For this, we give THANKS!  
We have spent some time outside and Maryn is not a fan of the grass - thinking she will be a city girl!  Even with her shoes on, she refuses to put her feet down!  
She has southern taste - grits are her thing!  
She is saying "uh-oh" appropriately and she is quick to yell "Bao!" which we are claiming to be "no" in Chinese!  She is giving kisses when asked and she continues to wave goodbye when she wants to.  
I have spent most of our first week home in awe of this child and the little girl she has already become.  Three weeks.  Three weeks ago, she was screaming and she was so scared.  
We have experienced the "mad that my life is changing and I have no control over it" child and we have experienced the "sad, so very sad" child....this baby is our "scared beyond words" child.  To think that three weeks ago she clung to me in fear of any and everything that was around her - the sounds, the people, the sights.  I cannot put into words just how frightened she was.  And she was so quiet.  And to think that she has smiled for new faces this week.  And she giggles almost on demand.  And she smiles when we say her name.  And she babbles nonstop, pointing her little finger as if to tell us the most important facts.  And she dances like nobody's business - her little head bobs back and forth and she just laughs all the while.  And her little feet take her everywhere - she no longer insists on having a hand to hold.  Instead, she walks and walks and walks only to stop when her name is called or when she has reached her destination.  
This child is not who she was three weeks ago.  
She is glowing.
She is free.  
She is LOVED.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two weeks ago we met this little one....
 those sweet, heart shaped lips....
 her expressions are endless....
 and her smile is contagious!  
The transformation in this little one is amazing!  Two weeks ago, we all sat around her with every toy and trick we could think of...we tried desperately to get her to smile and really we would have been happy just to see a slight little smirk about her.  Nothing.  
She would sit in one place in our room and play.  If Ryan came near, she would whimper.  She hardly made a peep.  And I told Ryan that if I didn't have video of her actually walking around a room, I would think that she was not walking yet....she would not move for anything.  We would try to entice her to come for a toy.  Nothing.  She would walk while holding our finger but if you let go, she would just stand there.  
And then there is now....
she babbles and babbles, some words we have figured out she is speaking Chinese, others we know it is just baby babble....
she walks everywhere, she loves to walk!  
When Ryan comes near, she doesn't cry.  Instead, most of the time, she goes right to him with a smile on her face.  
And the laughter!  She laughs and laughs and laughs - and it is the most mischievous laugh ever!  
She is eating well....she doesn't like everything but she will try most anything.  She is sleeping well...we realized early on that the crib was a total insult to her character so we placed the mattress beside our bed and she sleeps peacefully each night.  She adores her siblings and the feeling is mutual!  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fourth of July 2014
Our first official day as a family of SEVEN!
Oh, it was such a treat to have all of my babies under one roof - all were happy, all were talking ninety miles an hour with the stories of days apart!  And, of course, Maryn was the center of attention!
 The day flew by too fast.  My father awoke early and prior to his departure to the mountains, he cooked us a welcome home breakfast of pancakes and bacon!  So thankful!  With laundry piled about the house, we decided it was best to begin the dreaded deed.  And then it was naptime.  And then it was grocery time....and, of course, firework time!  It wouldn't be the 4th without a firework or two!
 The boys strategically let several of the larger packs....
 while the girls stuck to sparklers for their entertainment.
 Sparklers really are the best....the girls wrote their names in the air...
 and pretended to be magical fairies!
 This little one was making us all laugh as she made the funniest expressions during our firework fun.  She loved seeing the lights and hearing the crackles and booms!
So thankful for each of my children!  What a fabulous day to remember and cherish!

Our Journey Home

The short of the story is that we made it!
The long of the story is that it our journey home was less than ideal.
After snapping pictures around the hotel on Wednesday morning, taking an early nap, packing up, and eating a late lunch, we made our way to the hotel lobby to meet our travel buddies and guide for our first leg of the trip - a train ride to Hong Kong.  Let me preface all of this with the fact that we suspected Maryn wasn't feeling 100% from day one.  Though she really was mellow and happy most of the time, we had checked her temp several times during our early days with her and it hovered at 99+ but never crossed the 100 degree mark so we didn't treat her or the fever for anything, we just attributed it to change, etc.  Her tummy was not settled - lots of great diapers to clean up and baths that followed.  We noticed too that her eyes were always goopy when she awoke and we noticed her pulling/scratching at her ears frequently.  All that, but we didn't want to give her meds because for the most part she was fine and we really wanted to get her home and to the doctor!  Our concern did heighten on Tuesday morning following our Consulate appointment when we had an unforgettable dining experience at breakfast - it involved a messy baby, two clueless-as-how-to-deal-with-the-scenario-we-were-faced-with parents, and a cloth napkin!  It was a scene and, unfortunately, it was a scene that played out again later that evening while having dinner with friends.  Our Tuesday night fell upon us and we all settled in for our last sleep in China.  Maryn did not sleep well at all.  She tossed and turned and turned and tossed all night.  Definitely not herself.  So Wednesday came, we fed Maryn the most bland of diets and  we were careful not to give her milk or anything of the sort in hopes of a better feeling tummy - after all, we were not going to be in the most convenient places for cleaning a soiled baby.  We made our way to the train, and though she was a bit more on the fussy side, we chalked it up to circumstances - travel, strange people, strange everything.  We made it to Hong Kong, got through the fever check - phew! - and piled in our taxi.  Taxi rides in HK or China are not the smoothest rides one will ever go on and that became evident when we made our first big whiplashing turn and Maryn cried out a cry of warning before throwing up EVERYWHERE in the cab.  Maddox immediately pinched her nose closed for the remainder of the ride and MK became sad for her baby sister knowing how bad she must have felt.
We were on alert the remainder of the ride but thankfully little Maryn fell asleep and we made it to the hotel without another mishap.  After a good bath and covering her side of the bed in "just in case" towels, we all settled in for a good night's rest before our big day of travel on Thursday.  Four hours later, I awoke and felt Maryn.  She was burning up.  Ryan took her temp and it had soared well over the 101 mark.  Panic set in.  We started antibiotics and gave her Tylenol - she slept peacefully the rest of the night!
Morning came and we were all thrilled to be boarding our plane home!  We made our way to the airport, checked in, got breakfast, and boarded the plane.  The plane ride was a bit bumpy but Maryn did well for the most part though we did notice her digging in her ears during our landing approach.
Chicago greeted us well - beautiful blue sky and much cooler than Guangzhou!  After going through customs and getting our bags and rechecking our bags, we made our way to the gate of what was supposed to be our final leg of the journey.  I noticed right off that the plane was late.  And then in a matter of seconds, our flight to Columbia was cancelled  It was at this point that I was ready to cry out of frustration....however, Maryn kicked in and decided that she would scream like nobody's business for all of us!  In all of my five children, I have never, ever experienced the sort of screaming that this child has in her - when she is mad, she is mad and there is nothing that will divert her.  I gave up even trying to comfort her and just smiled at others as I kindly said, "We have had poor luck with our flight and we are trying desperately to get home - she is really just expressing to everyone how we all feel about this turn of events."
United was less than helpful - the lady who was to help us reschedule our flight simply said as she stared into her computer, "Well, looks like I can get you home on Sunday."  What???!!!  I may or may not have been less than sweet and her response was, "It's a holiday weekend.  I am sorry."  With Maryn still screaming, we searched for other airline options - ok, US Air to Charlotte then on to Columbia.  Great....United lady books it.  We go to check in at US Air and USAir says we have to go to American because it is actually an American flight??  Ok.  Go to American desk.  With Maryn STILL screaming, the kind American lady says that we aren't on the flight - the transfer did not go through and the flights are full.
I walked away sulking.  Maryn continued to scream.  Maddox fell asleep.  MK just kept asking, "Does this mean we have to go through security AGAIN???"  As I sang "Lord, I Need You" in my head over and over, Ryan walked over and whispered, "Ok, we're set.  The lady was able to get us on the flights to Charlotte and Columbia."  Through security we went, we quickly grabbed dinner, gave Maryn some Tylenol, and we were homeward bound.  We were so very thankful to see our boys and hug their necks!  We missed them terribly and could not wait to introduce Maryn to them.  And then our family and friends who stuck it out and waited in Columbia until we FINALLY arrived at 10:30 - we felt so loved!  And Maryn handled herself well with the greetings.  She is so scared and very aware of the changes that have taken place in her life during the last 12 days!
So, that was our journey home.  So glad that one is behind us and the future is before us!
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