Sunday, November 14, 2010

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

After nearly 24 hours of travel time we made it home. It was difficult to say the least. Korean Air is great. If you have a chance to fly this airline take advantage. The service is a throwback to a bygone era.

We are so glad to have Chloe Grace home. When she went in her room she was scared of all the baby dolls. It as obvious she had never seen one. She looked at them like they should be alive and would not touch them. She figured it out and will now hold them like I would hold a stinky a distance.

It took less than a day at home for Chloe to allow Deann to begin mothering her. Hooray!!! She let's Deann hold her now and do things for her without a fuss. This is a big relief. The same goes for MaCayla. They are both thrilled about this quick turn and so am I.

Chloe Grace is making huge progress. She can be so happy, playful and loving. She sometimes comes up to me and lays her head on my knee and gives it a hug.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Final Post

We are headed home tomorrow. We should arrive in Atlanta by 7:35 pm Saturday. Then we go through immigration and customs. I have no idea how long that will take. I would assume at least an hour.

China has changed in the five years since we were last here. There is more affluence in the cities. Many more cars. Some nicer apartment buildings, but man are they small. I cannot imagine living in one of the millions of apartments I have seen in Beijing (14 million people), Harbin (9 million people) and Guangzhou (18 million people). I think those numbers are right. Anyway, that is a lot of people jammed together.

This has been a tough journey, but well worth everything. Nothing worth having comes easy. I am looking forward to starting our new life together as the Cook family version 3.0 in Madison, GA. 

See ya soon!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Better Day

The day started off very rocky at breakfast. We stayed in the room much of the day like we had in Harbin. We did a lot of hand touching and assorted methods of getting Chloe closer to the girls. It seems to have paid off some. At dinner tonight Chloe sat in her high chair and didn't have any violent tantrums. The was quite a respite for us. I know this sounds trivial to some, but we feel very stressed out at times so eating quietly was a big deal. She ate the best she has to date. She has not had any big eating issues, but it is nice to see her eat heartily.

It seems part of the issue is she wants some control of her environment so we started letting her walk on her own more in the hotel. She can walk very wobbly so it gives us a coronary watching her walk on the marble floors, but she enjoys the freedom.

Deann was able to put her in the carrier this afternoon and walk around shopping with her while I went to the bank. CG protested, but gave in after some time.  Going to the bank is a big ordeal. I think I was the third person in line and waited 1 1/2 hours having American Express checks changed to RMB. That only took 15 minutes. Who knows what the two people in front of me were doing. Perhaps they were closing on a mortgage.

It is Thursday night for us. One more whole day. We leave the hotel at 9:30 am Saturday.

Update: Tonight she is not going to sleep easily like before. That was the one thing we could count on until now.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Prayers Needed!!!

CG has begun to exert her will and refuses to go in the high chair, ride in the stroller or be held by anyone but me. At times she just starts screaming if we put her shoes on, change her diaper, change her clothes or anytime she is not in control of the situation. She wants to control every little thing she can in her small kingdom. She thrashes around and is very strong and has no regard for injury (yours or hers). This is making the simplest things very challenging. The plane ride home has the potential to be a disaster. I wish we could blink and be home where things will be stable and we can begin the healing process on our own turf. We know the healing has begun, but we do not have as much control as we would at home. It is hard to let her cry in public when the people are standing around staring and wondering what we did to her to make her cry so violently. This enables her to get her way every time. We had the opportunity to let her cry without interruption this morning at breakfast when we put her in the high chair because the restaurant was empty. I am not sure if this will help at this point. She has an amazingly strong will. Her heart is obviously in good condition because no one can cry that loudly that long and have any heart issues.

It is so frustrating because one can see that see is grieving so badly and we can do very little to help her get through this. We know this is temporary and she is such a joy and so precious, otherwise. It is easy to see the progress she is making physically and mentally each day. The emotions are another story. The emotions are coming out very strongly. She gets very angry when she is not in control. I hope the emotions pour out of her before she gets home so everyone can see how charming and wonderful she is.

WE LOVE HER!!!!! We will do whatever it takes.


Chloe seems to be over her fever. She had a better day, but she still prefers Daddy carrying her everywhere. We were able to get her in the stroller for the end of our zoo trip. Deann is having a hard time with this. Although she did let Deann touch her a few times and she is letting MaCayla play with her now. She did let Deann carry her around in the ERGO last night for a stroll without me tagging along. Hopefully, tomorrow will be even better. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Papa John's to the Rescue

"I would die without pizza in China"

CG Update

CG had her first round of shots last Saturday and another round Monday. She has had a fever everyday since. She has become very attached to Daddy since Saturday. We think it is because she feels so terrible and only wants one person to hold her, etc. This is very difficult for Deann. She wants so badly to comfort her, but CG will not let her most of the time. The past several days have been up and down. We are so mad that the US government required so many shots. Two were for flu and pneumonia. Is that really necessary?

I am sure she is anxious every time we leave the hotel because she thinks we are taking her for more shots. Deann held her the first time and I held her the second time to show her it was not one of us who was the bad guy when it came to the shots.

She does not drink regularly. Wants nothing to do with a bottle after the first night. Loves to hold the sippy cup, but will not drink from it much. Drinks some from a straw. Likes to drink from a cup, but often chokes this way. She loves bananas and watermelon.

She seems very bright, but acts very much like a younger child in many ways. Even her cries sound like a younger baby to me. She has definitely improved in every way since we got her and we can only think she would be much further...if not for the stupid shots. She was coming along very rapidly before that. She has started mimicking us and waving at people. She likes to play with her stacking cups. She goes to sleep at night very easily. We simply place her in the crib with a few toys and she plays herself to sleep.

Today we go to the U.S. Consultate and boy do we want to give them a piece of our minds over the shot requirements. We will try to contain ourselves, but it will not be easy.

I have stayed in the other room for a few hours out of CG's sight hoping she will realize Deann is a comforter. We hope this helps.

We can't wait to see everyone.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Playtime Oct. 28th

Deann & CG Playing Oct 28th

Misc. Photos

Things are Hot in Guangzhou

CG woke up with a blistering temp this morning. She has not cried much, but we can tell she is not feeling good.  Motrin has helped her cope. She is very content most of the time. Deann and I have decided this is because we have had two very high maintenance babies and it is our turn for a little break. The odds are in our favor now. MaCayla always wanted to be held and Hannah was into everything times ten.

Today we go to "High Tea". Not sure what that means exactly. All I know is we get to eat at the White Swan so I'm in.

Tomorrow we go on a boat cruise on the Pearl River and CG gets her second round of four shots. We get to have Pappa Johns pizza on the cruise (not sure why) I think one of our guides said the food on the cruise is very exotic so they bring along pizza for us. Tuesday is our consulate appointment. Wednesday we go to see some pandas. Friday we get CG Visa and Saturday we come home.

We miss everyone. Thanks to you all for your supportive, funny, and thoughtful comments.

Remember to got to MaCayla's blog for more detail.

Here is the link to the video of CG getting her first four shots.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

8 Shots

CG is required to have 8 shots (vaccinations) before we can get her Visa. She had four today and will have four Monday. The most of anyone in our group. I video taped the first four shots. It is painful to watch.

At the medical examination the doctor listen to her heart and he said it sounded normal to him. She will be checked out completely when we return home.

I made a movie of the event. I uploaded it to my You Tube site patrickcook01.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Like to Bend Over Backwards

Almost Halfway

Half way home.

We are currently on the flight from Harbin to Guangzhou. I was not able to sit next to my four girls so I have time to write a little.

Presently, CG is asleep and she has not cried at all during the flight. I probably jinxed that. The flight is 4 1/2 hours so it is a good test run for the two long flights home next week.

We feel like we missed the flavor of Harbin because our guide was impossible to engage. Good communication is so important during this process. Thank goodness Chloe has been relatively easy up to this point. She has had her moments as we all have being isolated to our room for over 4 days.

I did jinx it... CG woke up in a rage. Throwing her head back kind of rage. MaCayla pulled out a banana which seems to have done the trick. Deann has shown more patience than I have ever seen anyone have during this process. Pray she can keep this up.

The Russians have broken out the sausage on the plane and it is strong. Wow!!! Please not on the plane!!!

Saturday we will go to the Medical Clinic and have CG examined. This is part of the US Visa process. Also, she will have her immunizations repeated. She has already had them done here. Thanks to the U.S. Government for that. Why she can't have this done in the U.S. is beyond me. Most of next week is the Visa process. We should have some down time to play in the park and shop a bit.

We have eaten a lot of dumplings and noodles for those of you wondering what we are eating. The breakfast bar at our hotel in Harbin had a very good selection, so that was very satisfying. I have eaten sushi, steak, eggs, dumplings, fruit, sausage, chicken, rice, and toast. Deann hates the coffee and I love it. I think it must be strong, but I put so much sweetener in it I do not notice. Deann says it is engine oil.

Thanks to everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. It makes a difference.

Chloe did great on the flight.

Patrick Cook

Waiting at the Airport

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Matching PJ's

Last Day in Harbin

Tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou. We will be there for eight days before we come home. Chloe is doing well
 and so is everyone else.

We will be able to move out and about in Guangzhou. It has been too cold in Harbin to walk around the city. Guangzhou is warmer. 
I think it is about a five hour flight tomorrow. We are anxious about how Chloe will handle flying. She seems to have some 
congestion at times so I hope her ears will be OK.

In the photos below you may notice Hannah is missing in some of the group pictures. She was the photographer. 
I am so proud of how she has handled things so far. 

We think Chloe is understanding we are safe to be around and she is relaxing more and more. 

Time to start packing...again.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Video of Chloe Grace Enjoying Some Supper

Chloe Enjoys Room Service

Miles of Smiles

Disappearing Eyes

MaCayla and I went to Wal Mart Today and Hannah and I walked along the River and took some pictures. Deann stayed in the room all day with Yao Yao CG. CG is not ready to venture out at this point and besides it is too cold.

CG does not like elevators.

The best part of the day is when CG smiles. They are coming more frequently (Hannah and MaCayla have the magic touch).

The turning of her head from side to side only happens when she is fighting off sleep. She fights hard when she gets sleepy during the day. She goes to sleep at night with little problem (so far).

Her eyes disappear when she smiles.

I have some great photos, but I am having a hard time posting them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adoption Day, Chinese Take-Out and Duct Tape

Today we made it official. Yao Yao is ours. The adoption process is over and the passport process begins. Passport will be ready on Friday and then we leave for Guangzhou to get her Visa finalized.

We want to thank everyone for the comments. They help more than you realize.

This is a stressful time for Shi Yao. We are calling her Yao Yao for now. It just seems to fit her better right now.  She is starting to show attachment issues. The rocking issue she had when she woke up this morning seems to be part of a self comforting routine she has. She has done it several more times when she is in her crib. Also, she has started moving her head back and forth. There is a chaffed spot on the back of her neck where a collar may have rubbed if she did this motion often. She hasn't done it much with us, but it is a little unnerving...not knowing why she is doing it. We asked the Orphanage Director today and he called her caregivers. They said she is playing when she does this.  We don't think that is correct. We are going to look for a pattern and see if something sets it off. She freaks out when changing her diaper. She seems to get very angry when she is sleepy and we try to put her down. But to put things in perspective we have only had her for 28 hours. So things could get better or worse. She can walk pretty well, but the orphanage said she could not walk at all. I don't understand why they would say that about a child who can walk very briskly (almost running, albeit unsteady). She is not eating at the pace we expected. Although, she is eating it is not the gorging we anticipated. We suspect she simply has not had much opportunity to experience many of the foods we have presented her. We may need to back off from that a bit. She is very quiet except when she is angry. She seems very alert. We are unsure if she is developmentally delayed, but I think it is safe to say she is in some ways. Hopefully, if she is, a little of Deann's TLC can help. This morning she had a fit when Deann put a bow in her hair...a real screaming fit, but this afternoon she tried to put one in her hair herself. She would not go in the ERGO carrier this morning, but we put her in it this afternoon with no problem.

I went out last night to find some take out food with our guide. You would think it would be easy to find Chinese take-out in China. It was not. After going to four restaurants we finally found a restaurant that  would allow us to take-out. We could only take out dumplings. I didn't know how big they were so I asked for 48 (earlier in the day we had eaten 36 small dumplings easily). The waiter asked how many people we were feeding. I said four and he started to laugh. The dumplings were nearly the size of baseballs. One order came with 12 dumplings. We ate 2. We wanted noodles, but they had no way for us to take out noodles. They placed the dumplings in a big plastic bag... like a large Wal Mart bag.

An American in China has to set aside all pretense. For example, I went shopping for food today at a grocery store. I bought a six pack of Coke, six bottles of water, 10 packages of Ramen noodles, 2 cans of pringles, and Oreos. Our guide started to place all the items in one bag the check out girl gave her and I said to place them in two bags because I had to carry them about a mile in sub freezing temps back to the hotel.  She looked at me funny, because in China you have to buy your plastic bags. I am just learning to go with the flow.

It gets dark here at 4:30 pm.

By the way we are now in our second hotel and third hotel room here in Harbin. Deann has unpacked three times in three days. Good thing I didn't let her bring our kitchen sink. Seriously, she would have brought it...she did bring duct'll have to ask her why...I have no idea.

We are not likely to venture out much because of the weather and trying to bond with Yao Yao. Keep us in your prayers we may get a little stir crazy. We are here in Harbin for three more days...then on to Guangzhou for seven or eight more.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New View and Chloe Playing this Morning

Chloe Update

It is 5 am here. Woke up at 4:15 am.

They said Chloe could not walk yesterday when we got her. While I was out picking up supper Deann watched Chloe take five steps across the room.

We placed Chloe in her crib last night with a few toys and after everyone got in their own bed and went to sleep so did she.

She just woke up and has not cried. I am looking at her as she is on all fours and rocking back and forth while babbling. She woke up this morning with a more contented look about her.

The only time she has fussed is when her diaper is changed.

She is tiny. Don't let the pictures fool you.
We had quite a bit of stress when we arrived in Harbin. The Hotel our agency insist we stay in was the worst hotel I have ever been in. It was a scary place. Like a horror movie. We tried to deal with it and stayed one night.  There was a construction crane operating outside our window all night with a man on a loudspeaker shouting out instructions (this was not the worst thing). We moved to the hotel we originally researched and feel much safer and comfortable. The new hotel is a great place. Very friendly helpful staff.

Hard to process all we have been through and seen in Harbin in such a short time. Lots of stories to tell.

For instance, our English speaking Adoption Guide doesn't speak english. This has made things harder than normal. She is sweet and wants to please us so badly, but we cannot understand her most of the time. It is exhausting trying to communicate with her. I have had to ask other English speakers to help me when I cannot get my point across or understand her (essentially, a translator for the translator). She is so frustrated she hits herself in the head with her hand when she cannot find the correct word. I have resorted to speaking very slowly with a Chinese English accent to try to get my point across to her. Deann pointed the accent out to me. I didn't even know I was doing it. Still, it is nice having one guide devoted only to us.

Must get breakfast. Can't wait to see Chloe eat at the breakfast bar for the first time.

Click on Link Below for Video of Chloe Grace

Chloe Grace Video

From Shi Yao to the Shangri-la

We have her! The hand off was delayed by 2 hours. After the hand off we changed hotels. It is now 4:15 pm. She has done great only a small whimper at first. After that she began eating puff treats and playing with cups as Hannah and MaCayla played with her. Of course, Deann held her for a long time before that and she let me hold her.

She is active. She is adorable. She is sweet. She is quiet (so far). She is enjoying lots of attention. She has taken her first bottle and is now napping. She stands easily, but does not walk on her own. She bites...ask Hannah. She has 16 teeth. Her hair is longer than we thought and very fine. She has babbled. She says mamma, papa and Go Dawgs! Maybe I exaggerate a little, but it won't be long. Here are some pictures. They do not do her justice. She is gorgeous. Oh, and by the way, it was snowing when we got her.

I am going to try to post video soon.