Tuesday, December 30, 2008
After killing time in Hoi An, we loaded up in the van to head to Que Son. This was the bumpiest road I have ever been on in my entire life. I took a little video of the rice paddies and scenery but it makes you a little car sick to watch it. Not only was the road bumpy, but we were traveling at a relatively high rate of speed for the road condition. We had what felt like some close calls with other vehicles, but the Vietnamese are fearless when it comes to transportation. At one point there was a truck that had run off of the bridge and was half on the bridge and half in the ditch. You just had to close your eyes and pray.
Finally we pull up outside the orphanage. We get out of the van and Terri and Kelly both begin yelling "there's Grace!" Where? It was one of those times where seconds felt like hours. It seemed like it took forever for me to find her. She was on the porch with her nanny. I instantly gave Terri my camera and ran toward Grace. The woman I had seen holding Grace in all the pictures was the one holding her there on the porch. We would soon give her the nickname "Nanny V(for Vietnam)" because we kept getting confused when referring to her in conversation as my mother is called Nanny by all the grandchildren.
She walked inside with Grace before I made it to the porch. I don't remember if she handed her to me as soon as I walked in or if they waited until we all got into the room. I do remember holding her for the first time, it was really weird. Was I truly holding this little thing I had waited for for so long? She didn't cry when I took her, she just gave me her serious look. She is still this way with strangers. I had brought a small toy with me and it turned out that she was more interested in playing with my hair than with the toy. By this time I am sobbing. Yes because of my love for her, but mostly because these nannies are crying so hard and visibly in pain. I soon found out that this orphanage was brand new and Grace was the first baby in the orphanage. Two weeks later Lucy arrived and soon after that Khai. There were only seven babies in the orphanage total (two of those were newborns). We were taking away the babies they had been caring for for months. They loved them so much and we just hugged the ladies and cried with them. That is a really special memory for me, we all loved Grace so much. That was the common bond we shared.
Grace slept in a metal cradle with metal slats that were covered by a thin bamboo mat. There were dishpans underneath each bed because the babies usually wore no diapers. It was a very small room and it was sparsely furnished. There was a line of five cradles from the window to the door, two twin beds for the nannies and a glass front cabinet with formula and miscellaneous items. One of those items was the famous pink blanket that Grace and the other babies were laying on in all their pictures. I took a picture of it folded in the cabinet. Grace's cradle was beside the window, she did have seniority after all. I remember looking out that window at the dirt road and occasional motor bike, thinking what her life there would have been like. The window was on her left and Lucy was on her right. The back of Grace's head is flat on the right side. I can only guess that she was spent her time looking toward the other babies and that is why it is flat on one side and not the back.
I got to feed Grace a bottle while I was there and I was so surprised when they handed it to me because it was scalding hot. She took the bottle without hesitation. Then the Nanny V immediately took her from me and placed her in her cradle covering her with a wool blanket that was folded over so it was double thickness. She then began to swing her high, I mean very high. I thought she was going to go flying through the room. She immediately went to sleep. It was funny because she and the other babies were sleeping with their arms above their heads, like "I surrender." Grace slept this way forever and still does occasionally. They napped for a very short time and woke up. It seemed that their routine consisted of 2 oz. hot bottle, swing high, short nap, repeat.
It was so hot in that orphanage I could not believe that they were covering them with those heavy blankets. They also had heaters running, aimed directly at the two newborns. The babies all had on undershirts and sweaters. Poor Grace was sweating so much her undershirt was wet. I told Terri and Kelly to feel of her shirt and as we were talking about it they came over and removed her sweater. I guess they could tell what we were talking about.
By the time we left I was so hot and thirsty. We loaded up in the vans and headed back to Sandy Beach. All the way back I thought I was going to die I was so thirsty. I kept watching what we were passing and shockingly there were no convenience stores! When finally made it back to the hotel. It was now late afternoon and we headed directly for the restaurant. I most likely had my usual lasagna (I ate it almost every meal at Sandy Beach) and we each ordered a bottle of water. This very sweet gentleman who always seemed to be at work was waiting on us and told us that one water would be enough for both of us. We got one and almost immediately drank it all. After that Terri and I walked down to the beach and I took a couple of photos. Little did we know that would be the only time we visited the beach. Bad weather was coming.
That was the day I met my daughter. The next day we would travel to Tam Ky for the G&R.
When I awoke on December 27, 2006, I knew that it was the most important day of my life. I was meeting Grace that day. I was so grateful that we were leaving at 8am because there was no way I handle waiting until later in the day. The other two couples and I were adopting from the Que Son orphanage and Deborah was adopting a baby girl from the Hoi An orphanage. We went to Hoi An first and got to be with Deborah when she met her sweet little Lily. Lily was the only baby in the orphanage, all the others were older children. We went to the conference room and they brought in Lily. That was so amazing seeing Deborah meet her daughter. GT then came in and told us there was a scheduling problem and we could not go to the orphanage in Que Son until 1pm. It was so disappointing. So we wandered around Hoi An for a while.
Two things stick out in my mind about this time. First - there was a very, very young woman who I am certain was trying get Justin to buy her baby. She walked up to him to show him her baby. The baby had on a ball cap and she kept adjusting it and saying "cute baby." You heart just had to break for this young girl.
The second thing is when my sister got chased through the market by hourds of Vietnamese women! This was so hilarious I am laughing as I type. Terri was being a good southern lady and acknowledging each lady that tried to sell her something. The problem was that only encouraged them to seek her out as a potential customer. Justin, Kelly and I had to stop because she was so far behind us. I kept telling her to look forward and do not engage in conversation. She said she didn't want to be rude. She heard things like you so pretty, you my best friend, and I love you. And there was a pregnant lady that asked Terri to help her baby. We bought some lovely silk postcards from her and I have them in Grace's trunk of stuff from Vietnam. Before we knew it the time had come to go meet the babies...
Monday, December 29, 2008
On December 24, 2006, my sister Terri and I left for Vietnam to bring Grace home. Five airports later we arrived in Saigon on December 26. We didn't know what to expect when we got off the plane. Would someone meet us at the gate? The answer was no. Unsure what to do we followed the herd of travelers and got in the long lines. We had our passports and visas ready for inspection.
Our visas were not stamped in our passports, they were pieces of paper that you just stuck in your passport. When I got the visas in the mail mine was fine but there was a letter stapled to Terri's. It said that when issuing it they made a mistake in her name. The letter showed the correction and was stamped all official like. Why they didn't just issue a new one I do not know. Paper shortage maybe. When we came to the front of our respective lines I zipped right through. Terri did not. They took her from one official to another. I began to get concerned, afraid that she was going to be thrown into a Vietnamese prison in a case of mistaken identity.
This room was packed with people and I strained to keep Terri in my sight. Another problem is that I am 5'2" but at least Terri is 5'10." Well they finally let her through and we got our luggage and headed outside. When you walk out the door there is this crowd of people who look like they are waiting for a celebrity. I might have felt special, but I was in such need of a bath special was out of the question. There were lots of signs bearing peoples names and we scanned them for mine. Wouldn't you know they had Terri's name on the sign. Probably thought it was the man's name.
We arrived at a hotel and were met by Quoc, my agency's in country facilitator. He informed us he had a room for us and that we had about 2 hours to shower/rest before we headed to the airport to catch a flight to Danang. After a much needed shower we went back down to the lobby to prepare to leave. That is where I met my good friend Kelly. She and I had been emailing forever and I absolutely couldn't wait to meet her and Justin. We also met the rest of our travel group.
Our accomodations in Danang were fantastic. We were right on China Beach and the resort was just beautiful. The rooms was lovely and there was a crib already in the room. A metal crib that had metal slats on the bottom. It was incredibly cold and uncomfortable looking. And the bottom was about an inch off of the ground. As short as I am I would fall in trying to lay her down in that crib.
I didn't really care about that because the next morning I would meet my daughter...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
It feels like that was a lifetime ago. I guess it is because it's hard for me to remember a time before Grace. What did I do with my time before we became a family? During holidays and special times I always wonder about her birth mother. I pray that her birth mother has somehow seen the pictures I have been sending back to Vietnam. I pray that she has seen that she is healthy, growing and happy. Whoever she is, her sacrifice gave me the most precious gift. Today is definitely as much about her as it is about Grace and me.
Friday, December 26, 2008
We had a wonderful Christmas and are so blessed. Grace had so much fun and it was amazing to watch her excitement. If your kids like Wonder Pets you must check out Ming Ming. His cape flaps and he "flys." Very fun.
Here are a few pictures. It is hilarious because the little girl who would not smile for a camera has become a camera hog. Now she poses and says cheese.
She needed a way to get out her jumping energy, so I got her a new horse. Her other one had gotten way too small. She immediately began calling it Trigger, which is what she called the old one. I love the way she pointed at the camera. She looks so tough.
How sweet is this, kissing the baby? This amazed me because she has never played with dolls very much, especially in a loving way! I told Terri that the doll had a flat head just like Gracie.
Grace got a kitchen from Santa. It is wooden and has these neet accesories like a blender with fruit that comes apart and a toaster that pops up the toast. Here she is eating a wooden chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven.
This is one of those posed smiles I was talking about. How beautiful is that? You can also see some of her kitchen stuff on the table. We are having so much fun.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We had so much fun singing and shopping today. She just cracks me up when we go shopping. I guess it is from watching us, but she loves to rearrange the hangers on the racks. She isn't destructive at all, just moving the hangers like she is looking for the perfect outfit. She loves it at Old Navy because they have those really low racks in the toddler department.
We listened to Christmas music on the way home. She went straight from the carseat into the bed. Here is Grace and her true love...Santa Clause.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The other night we had our children's program at church. At the end Santa came in with two elves bearing cookies. My mother has been saying that Grace would probably be afraid of Santa this year. Well that girl was not afraid. She literally was pushing her way past other kids yelling Santa, Santa. Only one little girl managed to get in front of her and she was just talking to him when it was her turn! Santa had to tell her a few times to look at me because she was so intent on him and didn't hear me calling. We need to make a trip to the mall soon to see professional Santa and buy some of those terribly expensive pictures he sells. Here are Grace and baby Brody with Santa.
I took my last final on Friday and am off until Jan 12! I made a 3.42 (4 As, 2 Bs and 1 sad little C)and I am very pleased.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
This photo is from my first set of update pics. I remember loving those little fingers spread out on her belly(many of you remember my finger anxiety after some comments made). And look at those thighs! I remember she even had fat rolls on her butt. Now she can't keep her pants up. Thank you Susan, those are such great memories and I am so glad that I had you to go through all of it with me. I would have died if I hadn't had her to talk to.
School is almost over for the semester! Four down and two more finals to go. So far I ended up with 2 As and 2 Bs. I can finally relax. What was I thinking taking 20 hours with a 2 year old? In the beginning I thought piece of cake. I worked 50+ hours a week. I can handle this. I didn't not work with Grace in my office. Now I attempt to study and keep track of her at the same time. I am ready for the break.
Grace is so excited about Christmas. She is constantly singing Jingle Bells. Constantly. And she can't stop commenting on the decorations. On to new pictures from Christmas card photo attempts...
This one cracks me up. She had been pushing off the coffee table to rock and had her feet on, then she was messing with her lip and it looked like she was deep in thought. Actually she had just bloodied her nose and lip and it was really starting to swell.
Finally! And you can't even really see the nose/lip injury.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Kayla and Brody, isn't she beautiful and on the day she gave birth!
My nephew Brody
Nanny showing Grace her new cousin!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
One of Grace's first words was duck. I have no idea why, but it always amazed how she pronounced it perfectly. She likes those hard, definite sounds like k and t. Whenever she sings Old McDonald she does duck over and over. She has many ducks that accompany her in the bath. She has many, many stuffed ducks as well. Well I thought it was appropriate...
Have you ever seen such a cute duck?
Monday, October 13, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
People always say this about their kids, but I am so amazed how grown up Grace is getting. She is sooooo tall. She has gone from wearing 12-18 mos clothes this summer to a 2T for fall. She still has a 12-18 butt, however she is just so long. There is no way she is wearing any pants, other than leggings, this fall.
She acts grown up too. She just cracked me up the other day. We were shopping and she had been in the stroller all day and I knew she needed to stretch her legs. We went in Old Navy and I got her out of the stroller while I looked at things for her. I looked over and she was standing at the low racks, not destroying things but moving the hangers like she was shopping. She did that the entire time we were in there. My child likes cell phones, computers, shopping. She is also noticeably partial to men. I could be in trouble.
Here are a few photos of Grace doing her favorite thing. Doesn't she look big?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This weekend I got together with old friends. We had the best time. These four are true friends. My friend Sandra has a daughter, Kennady, who is a couple of months older than Grace. I wish we could get together more often. Even though we live 5 minutes apart, it is tough with work, school, etc. I am going to make sure I do better about getting these two together more.
Grace almost seemed like she didn't know what to do with someone her size. She was much more interested in playing with my friend Melissa's daughter Claire, who is quite grown up and in school now. Here are a few pictures.
Kennady and Grace were playing nicely. Until they both discovered a keyboard. They were trying to push each other off the ottoman.
Isn't Claire beautiful?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The award was created by Laura. Here is the low down on the award:
Characteristics for the Smile Award:
1. Must display a cheerful attitude.
2. Must love one another.
3. Must make mistakes.
4. Must learn from others.
5. Must be a positive contributor to blog world.
6. Must love life.
7. Must love kids.
These are the rules for The Smile Award.
1. The recipient must link back the the award’s creator.
2. You must post these rules if you receive the award.
3. You must chose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself.
4. You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award.
5. You must post the characteristics of a recipient.
6. You must create a post sharing your win with others.
7. You must thank your giver.
People I’d like to give the award to:
I could never have gotten through Grace's adoption without Susan. She and I talked on the phone every night. She listened to my obsessing and my ranting. I am so thankful that we are able to visit each other and that our girls will grow up knowing each other.
Melanie is one of the strongest, Christ-centered people I have ever met. She has handled great adversity with grace and optimism. This woman is already a mom and her Kaylee will be blessed with a great mom.
I have always been very touched by Kelly O and her family. I was most touched by Kelly's boys. I, along with lots of other people, prayed that the boys would both join her family. I love seeing them on her blog. God is good.
Traci called me shortly after I brought Grace home. She was researching my agency. This lady has been through alot for her two kids. She loves her family. Her son was adopted from the same orphanage as Grace.
I first got to know Jonathan when we were both waiting for referrals. Then I had the privilege of meeting Jonathan's son Parker when he was just a few days old. He was left at the orphanage just before I arrived to meet Grace. He continually amazes me at the lengths he goes to to insure that Parker keeps in touch with his culture. He is a great dad.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Gracie is doing fantastic. She had a hard day this week. She was whiney and nothing satisfied her. She was back to her old self the next day. Even little people have an off day sometimes. We are still working on potty training. I am happy to say she has not regressed. I was afraid that might happen when I started back to school and was not right there with her.
She is staying with Nanny while I am at school. She is getting so, so, so spoiled staying there four days a week(shocker huh). A recent conversation I had with my mother - "Mother don't pick her up every time she asks you to, she is a big girl and can walk on her own two feet." She replied "I am going to pick her up as long as I am able, I am not telling that baby no." Now who do you think is in charge while I am at school?
I am really, really wanting to get her into childcare part time. However I am having a hard time gathering my courage. Last time was terrible for both of us. She went for three days and I was called to come and get her by 10am each morning. Now you might think I am exaggerating when I say my daughter can scream lounder and for longer than any other child I have ever seen. Hey all kids are loud right? Not like Grace. And she has amazing staying power. But I need to ease her into this very, very, very slowly. At a snail's pace kind of slow.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saying hello and getting reacquainted.
Looking at books with Petunia's Aunt Lulu. The girls are both standing flat on the floor.
Here Petunia is standing on the stool she uses while playing in her kitchen. Grace is standing on the floor. Grace loved that kitchen.
Grace really loved Petunia's Nana. I am not sure how Petunia felt about that.
The big news is that I start school tomorrow!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!? I have wanted to do this for years and on Thursday I decided to go back to school. Friday I registered. It has all happened very, very fast. A degree in Early Childhood Education will take about 50 hours for me to complete. I am so excited and nervous. I graduated from college in 1991. Things are very, very different now. Fortunately my niece Kristan (Grace's beloved former nanny) and I are going to the same university. She can help me get up to speed with how things work these days.
Up to this point my career has been in Resource Development, almost exclusively for nonprofits dealing with the education of young children and at risk children. I hope to finish up my degree in summer 2009. Please keep me in your prayers. As a grantwriter I am very aware of the educational needs of children and the obstacles they face. That is why I want to teach.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
While on one of her infamous indoor climbs Grace bloodied her nose. You can't really see it (even though she was trying hard to show it off) but she has a cut on her right nostril and a puffy lip. Do you think it stopped her from climbing? NO. But bless her heart after a bloody nose she still smiled.
We have also been working hard potty training. Grace has had several successes but she made me so proud yesterday. I was running her bathwater and she walked over and picked up her little seat that fits on the toilet. She laid it on the toilet so I asked her if she needed to potty. She lifted her arms up and when I sat her on the potty she immediately started peeing! Isn't it funny how the little things mean so much.