Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I have a confession to make...

Every time we go on a trip, and I mean every time, I pack my own suitcase and Christi packs everything else.  The one exception is for camping trips.  I do man up and take care of the tent, sleeping bags, etc.  But every article of clothing, every carry-on toy for the kids, EVERYTHING else is packed by my sweetie.  So here I am, eyes glazed over, staring at a room full of stuff that somehow has to get to America.  I can do it right?!?  (In case you can't tell, I'm stalling.  If I focus on the computer long enough, perhaps I'll turn around and it will all have magically packed itself...)

My Three Sons

I have been tired beyond words-- to the point of being on the verge of tears at all times.  It's made me feel almost sick-- I hate jet lag!!   I just took some medicine awhile ago that helped me get through the last few hours-- and though I'm still exhausted, I can function.  I'm finally ready for bed, but just had to take a few minutes to record how grateful I am for my three boys.

Xander, upon arriving home from school, went straight to the kitchen.  Fifteen minutes later, he came in my room, where I had fallen on the bed and was fighting falling asleep.  "Look, Mommy-- I made you a special snack!"  On the tray were two bagels cut in half and spread with strawberry cream cheese.  On top of the cream cheese was a generous helping of red and green sprinkles ("cuz it's Christmas"), a spinach leaf, and a cherry tomato.  I wish I had had the camera with me!   Of course, he had to stand there to make sure I ate one.  (;  I love that creative, thoughtful little guy!  He wants to be a chef someday (along with many other things, including a father of two girls, two babies, and 49 boys with special needs adopted from China).  (:

Parker, also noticing my fatigue and subsequent lack of patience with the little ones' whining, intervened several times to help out and play with them.  He's very aware of other people's needs.  Love him.

After arriving home late from Parker's basketball game, where I had dragged all the little ones because I couldn't bear to get a babysitter after already being gone from them for so long, it was all I could do to get them in bed.  I asked Taylor, who had just arrived home from his basketball practice and was surely exhausted, if he could please just spend 10 minutes and unload/load the dishwasher.  The kitchen was a mess, it was almost 10:00, and I was just dying to fall into my bed-- but knew that I would be frustrated waking up to a kitchen where there weren't clean dishes or places to eat.  He sweetly went into the kitchen and spent three times as long as I had asked cleaning up.  As he finished, he hugged me and brightly said, "Well, I don't have to ask the question 'Have I done any good in the world today?!'"  That made me smile.  It's a line from one of my favorite hymns:

1. Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
2. There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.

So glad I have boys who live by these words!

Last Minute Musings

I am alone in our hotel room.  The quiet is quite therapeutic.:)  At Christi's suggestion, I made a spa appointment for the three girls, so they are all down getting manicures and pedicures.  Ah, the good life.  I started packing in earnest this morning.  Really thought I could get everything down to three 50-pound suitcases.  But no matter how much you squish 170 pounds, you just can't make it weigh less.  So, as I have done on at least two other trips to China, I went down and bought another suitcase. If it lives through the journey home, it will have been worth the money I paid for it. ;) 

I've missed at least seven of the boys' basketball games while we've been here and it's killing me.  Just got a report on Parker's game (Wendesday night local time).  Their team scored 15 points the entire first three quarters and were down by 11 with three minutes left.  At that point they went on a huge run which ended with a three by Parker to send the game into overtime.  They lost by one in OT.  Bummer, but those types of games can be great learning experiences and confidence builders.  I love watching my boys play ball!

On the way home we have a three-hour layover in Seattle.  My parents live in Portland, so they are driving up there to see us at the airport.  I'm so glad they'll get a chance to meet Cali right away.  I called them a few minutes ago to confirm they were coming and while they were on the phone, my mom spoke with Cali.  It was fun to see how excited Cali was and how much she seemed to enjoy talking to nai nai.  As they spoke together, Cali's head and mine were very close together so I could hear and do a little interpreting.  Once they were done, I took the phone again, but Cali didn't move away.  Instead, she wrapped her arms around me, gave me a big hug, and rested her head on my chest.  It was the sweetest thing.  I think she is feeling very secure with her place in our family.

I know I've said this before, and I'll likely say it again, because it is something that continues to be impressed upon my heart.  I am so grateful to Graci and Xander for their patience with me as I was learning to be an adoptive parent.  I am so grateful to have a better understanding of how important it is to just be patient and let things slide as this new, wonderful individual discovers what it means to be part of a family, and specifically, part of our family.  Harsh words or an impatient voice may result in more immediate action today, but it will only create that much more difficulty in the future for the child to bond and feel loved and safe in their new home.  I believe that biological children are sent to families in a specific order, an order that our Father in Heaven knows is best.  I've never really thought about adoption order much, but now that we have Cali, I feel that Heavenly Father's hand was very instrumental in the order that we have adopted our kids.  I needed to learn many things before I was prepared to have such a sensitive child come into my life!  And Heavenly Father knew that some of our other children were resilient enough to endure my shortcomings and make it through intact:).

I am scared.  It hasn't been easy here in China, but all we had to focus on was adoption and loving our new child.  Going home we will have to worry about work and bills, shoveling snow and mowing lawns, making meals and doing laundry (well, not too much laundry-thank you, thank you, thank you Russ and Candace!), homework, English skills, braille, doctor's appointments, paperwork for another adoption, the list goes on and on and on.  I am so grateful for my partner through all of this.  Sometimes people will express some degree of amazement at our family and what we do.  They often make comments about what good people we must be.  I appreciate the things they say and recognize that our family is unique and special.  But truly, truly, the catalyst for who we are and what our family is is my sweet wife, Christianne.  I am just a regular guy caught up in a special work.  Christi is not a regular girl.  She is an angel.  Her heart is big.  Her motives are pure.  She strives to do the right thing more than anyone else I know.  She is patient.  She is strong.  she is creative.  She is diligent.  She is valiant in her testimony of Christ.  She loves her children passionately.  She is not perfect, but she is close.  And somehow, she is mine.  Thank you, sweetheart, for going on this journey with me.



Last Night In GZ!

We took the oath at the consulate today.  Really just one more step left.  We should receive Cali's passport with a US Visa in it by 4:00pm tomorrow afternoon.  We leave Guangzhou around 8pm.  Looking forward to getting home, but I really will miss being here.  The girls have been so sweet and cute.  Graci, particularly, has looked out for me and encouraged the other girls to be sweet and obedient and grateful.  We've done a lot of shopping over the past couple of days.  Visited the pearl market today and then walked down to Shamian Island.  There are several of the shop owners there that know us by sight at this point.  Not on the second and third visit of our trip, but on the first :).  No joke.

Tonight the girls wanted to go swimming.  The temperature was probably in the upper 50s and it is an outdoor, slightly heated swimming pool.  It was a bit chilly!  But they really wanted to go, so we went.  Cali really seems to enjoy the pool.  She obviously hasn't had much experience swimming, but she's starting to get more comfortable.  At first, she didn't know how to plug her nose and go under water, but now she does it comfortably.  She goes all around the edge and like to swim across on my back.  She's even gotten better at that.

This afternoon we did group pictures with the seven CCAI families that are here.  I tried to buy Cali a Chinese dress to wear for them, but she would NOT have it.  I finally convinced her to get a shirt and a pair of shoes.  She looked so cute.  During the group picture of just the adopted kids, there were a bunch of 2-3 year olds and Cali.  But she was a great sport, in fact she looked extremely comfortable with the younger kids, which goes right along with what we've heard about her at the orphanage.  She even held one of the little boys for the pictures.  Lots of fun.

Cali continues to get more and more comfortable with us.  She has more spunk, she is talking way more and she is much more willing to assert herself now.  She has been calling us mommy and daddy, which we both absolutely love.  Tonight we were about ready to go swimming and I was on the computer.  She asked several times when we could go, and I just kept saying, "In a couple of minutes."  She finally said, in a loud voice, "Daddy!  1...2...3..."  Way to go Cali!  Needless to say, we got up and went.

Looking forward to snow capped mountaints and blue sky.  Not looking forward to icy temps.  Looking forward to hugs from Taylor, Parker, Elli, Xander, Lexi and Sophi.  Not looking forward to going back to work.  Looking forward to Christmas!  Not looking forward to being on a plane during BYU's bowl game.  Looking forward to seeing all of the kids interacting with Cali.  Not looking forward to seeing her dental x-rays.  (Hopefully they're more like Lexi's than Graci's when they got to America!)  Looking forward to her meeting the wonderful group of neighborhood girls who have been anticipating her arrival.  Not looking forward to her meeting the myriad doctors she is sure to need to see in the first few months home.  Looking forward to Cali getting integrated into school.  Not looking forward to the inevitable tears that will be shed as she adjusts to American culture, language and food.  Looking forward to sleeping in my bed.  Not looking forward to sleeping in my new bedroom:(  Looking forward to seeing Cali meet grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and cousins. 
Heading to bed on our last night in Guangzhou!