Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 11 with Andrew - Park




Wow-waking up at the White Swan is pretty amazing. Breakfast is wonderful-French toast, bacon and chocolate cake that is great! We love it! Anna Grace is even eating! So much better than our other breakfast buffets. We ate lunch at Lucy's. Hamburgers and french fries that were great! Our guide, Elvin, is the best! At dinner he even brings big bottles of coke and water so that we have plenty to drink. It is customary to be served only one small glass of beverage during dinner. Elvin orders great food and drinks for everyone. We are so lucky to have him. We walked around the island and enjoyed looking in the shops. Elvin took us to a beautiful park. The flowers and trees were gorgeous. It is so wild how warm it is here. We are sweating and we have no clothes that are cool enough. What a change. From freezing to melting.
Elvin is so great with Andrew. He communicates so well with him. It is so reassuring to have him tell us what Andrew is saying. He keeps telling us how smart and quick to respond he is. Andrew really warmed up to me again this afternoon. He keeps asking for me and I love it. Anna Grace is doing so good. She is wonderful at sharing and being kind to him. All of the kids have done great and we are so proud of them. It has been such a hard trip and they have done wonderful.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 10 with Andrew - Flight to Guangzhou





This morning started early as we had to be up and leaving for the airport by 8--We had to get up at 5:30 to pack bags, eat breakfast and check out of our room. We had a hard time getting all of our winter stuff back into the suitcases and staying under the 44 pound per bag limit. Yikes-I am not sure what we will do once I get to shop in Guangzhou.

It was so nice to be heading to Guangzhou, but very sad to be taking Andrew away from his home in Beijing. It is hard to explain-but the feeling that we were removing him from his entire past was very emotional for me. I want him to always remember where he is from and to know about all of the people who loved and cared for him before we got there. I would love to know what surgeon performed his surgery. I would love for them to see a picture of our thriving, beautiful son. So many people here do not notice that he has a repaired cleft lip and palate. Each of the government officials have commented that there was no way to tell. The surgeon did a beautiful job and we are so grateful.

Karen found a wonderful little playground at the airport during our 1 1/2 hour wait for departure. You should have seen my boy climb the rock wall and smile. Priceless!

Andrew did wonderful on his 1st flight ever! We sat on the run way for an extra 40 minutes before take off. He and Anna Grace both fell asleep as soon as we took off. He never fussed or cried. I am praying that it will be the same for the next 3 flights we have.
Oh what a welcome sight it was to see Elvin(our guide) holding the CWA sign and smiling the biggest smile ever. We all LOVE Elvin-He is the greatest. Within minutes of meeting Andrew, he had him talking and communicating with him. Andrew did everything that Elvin ask and responded correctly. Elvin told us that Andrew was a very smart boy with quick responses. It is such a relief to have someone who is willing to communicate with him and help us out.
We are so thrilled beyond belief to be at The White Swan hotel-It is gorgeous. Our rooms are connecting again and it is perfect. I was so excited to be here and have the chance to see and enjoy all that I missed on Anna Grace's trip. We are going to a local park tomorrow and sightseeing. I can't express how wonderful Elvin is and how happy we are to be here with him. It is almost like coming home.
I am enjoying talking to my mom and dad and hearing all about what they are eating at home. White rice is getting old. I am not sure what I want first-homemade soup, chili beans, ravioli or a big salad :) I do know that I can't wait for that 1st HUGE glass of sweet tea with ICE! I miss my ice!

I will close with this-we have some wonderful travel mates-each of us at a different stage in life-our new children range from 3-12. The one thing we have in common is our love for the Lord, Our belief that God led us on this path, and love for our new children. Please take a moment and lift each of the 5 families up in your prayers. No matter how wonderful things are going, we all have an area that could use a prayer. I think we are all so blessed and things are going so smoothly, but honestly after traveling for 11 days, taking 3 or more flights already, jet lag, new children and the schedule we have been keeping, we are all just exhausted and in need of our beds and sleep. We each covet your prayers for our families. Signing off from Guangzhou-White Swan Hotel! Can you tell how thrilled I am?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 8 with Andrew: Panda Zoo & Shopping - if you can call it that!


Okay-I have lost track of days & posts---we are so very tired of this fast pace we are leading. It seems as if the whole trip is hurry up and wait! Get downstairs at 9, head off for a day of sightseeing-what that really means is travel for an hour to get there, & then only have an hour to enjoy it. By the time we wrap up the kids, break out the strollers & start our touring, there is not enough time to enjoy anything. We are very disappointed. We have done a fly by of all of the beautiful sights. I have looked forward to shopping since we decided we were coming back to China. Yesterday we got to spend one whole hour in a 3 story Pearl Market. There were Coach purses, Northface Jackets & much more. Our guide does not want us to buy anything because they are not real. We can't make her understand that we know that & we want them anyway :) I did get the girls a pair of Ugh boots & Anna Grace thinks she is hot stuff---Precious-She would sleep in them if we let her.
Anna Grace is obsessed with Squatty Potties-It is quite funny-every where we go, she wants to check out the potty. Mema & her have developed a system that works well. I am quite freaked out by them and so is Andrew. He screams each time Hal takes him into one. I am not sure why Anna Grace likes them so much, but she does.
Mema & Ashton are trying to do all of Ashton's math work. Mema is going to be a pro before it is over. Walter is not feeling so well so please say a prayer for him. We fly out in the morning. Andrew's 1st flight & it is 3 hours. I am not sure how we are going to get through the airport with 5 kids, no stroller and all of our luggage--Please pray all goes well.
Andrew, flashing a smile for the camera! He is so handsome!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 7 with Andrew: Summer Palace & Olympic Village





Today we visited the Summer Palace and Olympic Stadium. It was such a neat day. The Summer Palace was beautiful. The water surrounding the palace was frozen and we had quite the adventure "ice-walking" on it. The Olympic Stadium was enormous. It was awe- inspiring to actually stand in THE Olympic Stadium where all of the Olympic athletes competed. The Water Cube was gorgeous! Ashton, Taylor, Andrew and I had quite the time bartering with the locals for Olympic items. They followed us to the bus and I made lots of deals for the rest of our travel group :)

Our adventure of the day-We decided to skip dinner and head out on our own and found an Outback Steak House. The food was beyond delicious. Probably my best meal ever! It was very expensive though - but worth every penny. For all of us and Walter and Mary it was around $180. Steve, Kathleen and their group, Karen and her girls, and Madison and Taylor went with us. The blooming onion and cheese fries were just yummy. We found out that Andrew LOVES spaghetti. It was sweet!

The highlight of our day-Finding the shopping street :) Woo Hoo! Can you tell how excited I was? We ventured through the skewers of squid, snake and much more, until we finally found tons of street vendors! Can a girl get any happier? We had a ball bartering for items. I ended up getting stuff for others in the group also. It was wild! Sellers were grabbing you everywhere promising "best price for good friend." Hal took Andrew and Hayne back to the room, and I ended up helping Adam, Ashton, Madison, Taylor and Mary bargain. We found lots of neat items. Anna Grace got a very special panda that she named "Pandy"
Thankfully, Andrew once again went to bed without a problem. It is just precious to see he and Anna Grace in their jammies watching Barney.
We are running full blast each day. It is very tiring I must admit, but fun. Unfortunately there is very little down time. Andrew is not going to know what to do when we get home and can spend the entire day playing at HOME . . . you know just being together doing normal family stuff!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 6 with Andrew - Paperwork and Free Day!





Wow! We had another successful nighttime routine. Andrew fell asleep watching Barney with daddy rubbing his back. So sweet to see him and Anna Grace side by side in their matching monkey jammies. They are starting to communicate a little more. She just doesn't understand why he doesn't talk like she does. This morning we started the day with breakfast in our hotel. Truly our favorite meal of the day. I took lots of pictures of the kids on the steps in their brown shirts. We almost match :) Anna Grace will just kiss Andrew-it is so sweet. We spent the morning doing more paperwork. It is never ending. There was a woman from the orphanage there today. She had to help take Andrew's passport picture. He was not very happy. It broke my heart to see him withdraw. He kept looking down-He would not look up for his picture. I think it was a very defining moment in our relationship. He now wants me ALL of the time. Hal is getting his feelings hurt. You should see me try to carry Anna Grace and Andrew at the same time. My back is not liking it, but I would not trade it for anything. Precious times. It makes my heart very happy that he knows Mama will keep him safe. When we go to get on the bus, he goes to my seat and waits for me-so sweet. We are finished with paperwork until Friday morning when we pick up passports-Praise the Lord. It has been so hard this time. Tonight we are having pizza in the room again (we did request no corn:) Hoping to head out and hunt down some shopping soon. I am having withdrawals-I thought by now, I would have bought tons of things. Not happening. Tomorrow is the Summer Palace and Olympic Village-We are very excited to see this. Funny moment of the day---At lunch Andrew had to potty---#2---Not fun with a squatty potty---When we walked into the bathroom, I spotted a normal toilet. I then said "Praise the Lord" without thinking about what he would think. It was so funny to hear him in his little voice start giggling and shouting "Praise Lord, Praise Lord" Priceless

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 5 With Andrew - Hutong Tour & Fresh Market




Monday-China Time
Today started off much better-Last night Andrew went to sleep with Baba rubbing his back-no crying at all-All kids were asleep by 10 China Time :) Wow! I took an Ambian with hopes that I could get a good night's sleep. I guess when you mix exhaustion and ambian, you get a wild combination---I Skyped Nana and about 5 minutes into the call, she kept telling me to go to bed. The last thing I remember is tilting to the right in my chair-I woke up at 6 this morning completely rested :) I did have an email from Nana telling me that I did not disconnect skype and she enjoyed watching Hal drag me to the bed-I must not take the next ambian till I am in the bed :) Fun times here in Beijing!
We all woke refreshed this morning. We were scheduled for paperwork this morning but last minute plans had us taking a Rickshaw ride for the Hutong tour. It was wonderful. We toured China and actually got to visit with a wonderful woman in her home. She was 73 years old. When we arrived, she served everyone hot tea and shared her life with us. She is a Christian and had several pictures of Jesus in her home. It was a very special morning.

From her home we walked to the “fresh market” and I do mean FRESH! They had goat heads, cow tails, and any type of fresh meat you wanted. We didn't want any! Gasp! This was the market that all of the locals shopped. Ashton and Adam had lots of fun taking pictures and videoing – they were quite mesmerized by the sights, and smells! So glad we don't have to shop for our meats this way at home! Thank you very much Publ*x!

After lunch, we dropped grandparents and children off at the hotel. All of the adoptive parents and children had to go do paperwork. It was crazy. We spent the whole afternoon in the smokiest offices you have ever walked in - again gasp!. We still did not finish paperwork. We have to go back tomorrow to do more. Much more paperwork than our last trip.
We are back in the hotel, watching Anna Grace and Andrew watch Barney and sing together. It is amazing that he already is singing Barney songs! The big Purple dinosaur speaks to everyone :)

Now, what you all want to know about - Andrew! He is changing everyday . . truly! I don't think he could get much sweeter. He gives Baba (Daddy) and Mama (Mommy) kisses all of the time. He now looks for us and comes to us. He wants to be with one of us at all times. He laughs at everything! He loves snacks! No one can have a snack and not share with him. It is so sweet. He shares everything with us. He feeds us a bite for every bite he takes. Not selfish at all! It amazes me! His new favorite thing is to take a bite and then give it to me. I guess he figures Mamas will do anything. He loves our Monkey shirts and pajamas. Yes, we all match! He points to them all of the time. He can now name everyone in his photo album that we sent him. He loves to color. I drew a circle and he copies me. His stacking cups are one of his favorites. He stacks them over and over. Barney is his all time favorite next to his prized Iron Man Car. He repeats all things and loves to say "hello" over and over. He still prefers Baba (Daddy) the most and he gets upset if Hal or I say bye bye. He does not want us to leave.
He and Anna Grace just shared a bowl of oatmeal-sweet times watching them try to bond. Anna Grace does not understand why he doesn't talk to her. He calls her Mei Mei. Ashton loves taking pictures and I am so glad. She is doing a fabulous job and I think she would take over with Andrew if we would let her. She takes such good care of him and he loves her. Adam is having the time of his life. He is trying all of the food and soaking up the culture. He and David (a precious 12 year old who is being adopted
in our group) are just loving getting to know each other. The language barrier is nothing to them. They have created their own sign language and are enjoying teaching each other their language. Hayne loves the huge toy store here. It is really more expensive than home but they have things that he can’t find at home so he loves looking.

We are so very blessed-so much more than we deserve. Can't wait for you to meet Andrew!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 4 with Andrew - Forbidden City & Acrobat Show



Today was another great day! We started a day with a tour of the Forbidden City. We walked through a beautiful park to the Forbidden City. It was not very easy with 2 strollers and toddlers. There were hundreds of stairs. Our travel group was awesome helping us pick up the strollers :) It was lots of fun. The weather has just been beautiful. The sun was shining and we actually had to take our jackets off because it was so warm doing all of the walking.
After lunch, me, Ashton, Mary and Kathleen ventured out to buy shoes for Andrew. We walked about 15 minutes down to China Children's store. We were the only Americans around. It was so funny. After buying shoes, we stopped in at Hag N Daz. It was delicious. What a treat!
The highlight of our day was the Acrobatic show. It was amazing. Andrew was mesmerized by it. It was so sweet to watch him clap and enjoy it all. Nana would have been very uncomfortable as there were birds flying all around. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
We are enjoying all of the great things about China. Tonight we ate dinner at KFC-We thought the Corn on the cob was awesome. I am not so sure that the "popcorn chicken" was actually chicken. It really scared me :)

Funny note of the day-Anna Grace loves the Squatty Potty==She sings a little song about how much she loves doing the squatty--too funny!
Andrew is doing wonderful-There is no doubt whatsoever that he is our son-we are right where God wants us to be and we are so very blessed!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 3 with Andrew - The Great Wall


1-23-10
Today started off much better, Andrew slept for almost 7 straight hours. This was our big day. We finally got to go to the Great Wall again! Getting all of our supplies took quite awhile saying it was 3 degrees Celsius. It takes awhile to bundle everyone up in hats, scarfs, and snow suits. First stop was the Jade Factory where we were very disappointed. All of the prices were way above our price range so we did not buy anything. We are looking forward to the silk market where the prices should be much better. We arrived at the Great Wall and were told we had an hour and twenty minutes, we thought this would not be enough. We soon realized with 2 toddlers dressed like Abominable snow men that it would be enough! We took our group picture and then we all started to climb--The hard side! Walter, Mary, and Hal took Adam and Hayne to start climbing up the wall. Adam and Madison climbed the highest of everyone in the group! Ashton and I kept the little ones and had lots of fun taking pictures. We climbed two sections of the wall and had to call it quits. It was way too hard carrying toddlers. Tons of people stopped us to have their pictures made with Andrew and Anna Grace. I think it is safe to say 30 different strangers now have pictures of Anna Grace and Andrew on the wall! According to Hal, Hayne was quite the rockstar during his climb. 20 or so girls asked for his picture! We were all told to meet on the bus at 12:30 but of course Hal and Walter were late. We had lunch at the Friendship Store and it was great! I enjoyed a special moment on the bus when Andrew and Anna Grace fell asleep on my lap. We are now back in the hotel room and about to go to dinner. It is 4:30 AM here and I can't skype anyone. It has been SO much fun to talk to everyone and share Andrew LIVE. Tomorrow we are going to the Forbidden City and then to an Acrobat Show! I am so excited to go see a real one!!
A little bit to know about Andrew--he loves, loves, loves stickers. He puts them all over his arms. His car is still his favorite toy and we go nowhere without it. The back up is in my backpack at all times. He now talks on his cellphone----My favorite part of the day-as we started to leave for the Great Wall, he grabs his cellphone and sticks it in his pocket while saying bye bye---He is my child:) He laughs the sweetest little laugh with his whole face-Mouth wide open and eyes twinkling. He gives kisses freely to mama and baba--so precious. He holds his hands out to us when he wants us and it just melts our hearts. He has the sweetest little pouty lip when things do not go his way but his attitude is so sweet that it is hard to say no. We did start him on an antibiotic as he is congested. We want to make sure he does not have an ear infection before we fly to Guangzhou. He loves his brothers and sisters very much. Ashton is beside herself with joy-she can't get enough of him :) She is a great Jie Jie and has done a great job loading pictures to share.
Thanks again for all your prayers. We feel them each moment of the day. Can't wait for you all to meet our precious new addition. Although I must admit, after the Great Wall today, I now know it will be quite awhile before I can venture out on my own with 2 by myself :)


Love from China,
The Rice Family
Hal, Angel, Ashton, Adam, Hayne, Anna Grace, and Andrew!
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Day TWO with Andrew




Today started very early-1 am China time--Sleep was not to be found with Andrew and Anna Grace in bed with me-Andrew woke up every 30 minutes from 9pm until 1am. At 1:30, I gave up and got up. Andrew and Anna Grace started their day with cheerios, juice and Barney. They sat in bed together watching the DVD player-So sweet. Andrew is in love with the Barney that Jodi gave Anna Grace. We have already had to replace batteries :)


At 8 this morning, we went to the Civil Affairs office where we finalized our adoption of Andrew Hudson Jian Hui. We are officially a Forever Family. We have been in our hearts since June of 2009, but today it became official in the eyes of China. We promised to love and care for him and to never abandon him. He slept in Hal's arms while we were there and it was some precious time of reflecting on how blessed we are. He is just precious. Perfect in every way. All boy but so loving too. He freely kisses us and once he woke, he enjoyed running from my arms to Hal's arms. He is still very attached to the car we gave him in his backpack. He will not put it down. I am glad I brought two. One was for Hayne, but Hayne has gladly given it to his brother.


We met with the orphanage staff and learned a few things about Andrew. His best friend is one year older than him, and he is still waiting for a family. This will be our newest prayer. That Andrew's best friend will be found by his forever family. We were given a picture of Andrew dated 12-9-06. All the Glory goes to God. The surgeons who treated Andrew did a beautiful job on his lip. It is unbelievable. I am so grateful for this picture of him. Each piece of his history is priceless. We did receive 2 disposable cameras from the orphanage and Hal is gone to pick up the prints now. We sent one in July and one in December so I am hoping the pictures are of 2 different times.


Andrew and Molly Claire share a special connection. We could not help but laugh out loud as they communicated. There were lots of hits, pouty lips and tossing of toys. It is obvious that they are used to each other. The funny part is they never stop. They take a lick and just keep on playing. It is just precious. I am so amazed at how God orchestrated these two friends to have a bond that will last forever and be so close to each other. We are only one hour apart at home so they will have lots of time together.


Tonight was Pizza Hut in the room. The boys have left to try out McDonalds since our pizza was covered in corn, mushrooms, onions and some unidentifiable objects. I am exhausted and heading to bed.


We are amazed at our blessings. In just one day, Andrew has opened up and began to show lots of affections. He prefers Baba for sure. He gets mad that Mama tries to make him sleep. Keep praying that sleep will come and we can all rest. Anna Grace has been asleep since 12 today and she will not get out of bed-It is going to be a long night or early morning-Depends on your mood :)


Tomorrow is the Great Wall-Should be interesting with 2 toddlers-Can't wait! The kids are thrilled about shopping at The Jade Factory and so is mommy!
Good night from China


Thursday, January 21, 2010

ANDREW DAY!!!




Today has far exceeded ALL of my expectations-God is Good! He is faithful at ALL times! We have Andrew and he is precious! We met the children at 9:50 am on the 21st! What a special day this will always be! I know in my heart that my papa was looking down and smiling as we finally had a reason to rejoice on this day!


We all congregated in the 9th floor lobby to wait for the children to arrive. Jane(our agency coordinator) met us with our guide. It was great to visit with her. At 9:40, our guide, Helen, got a call that the babies were arriving. She asked Ashton if she wanted to go downstairs with her. Imagine Ashton's joy as she, Madison and Taylor accompanied Jane and Helen to meet the children. We all stood in the hallways and surprised several hotel guests with cameras and videos as we thought it was the kids arriving. It was so special. The elevator opened and around the corner came all 4 of the kids. Andrew and MollyClaire had on matching pants and red jackets. It was a moment where time stood still. He walked straight into my arms. Unbelievable---I had prepared myself to sit back and allow him time to accept us. Instead, my son stepped straight into my arms. Within 3 minutes, he let me kiss him. He puckered up and made the sweetest kissing sound. I can't describe the moment. 3 families being joined together in that instant that could only be orchestrated by God. It was miraculous. Ashton was quite thrilled to get her hands on him and get a kiss. Mema captured a beautiful picture of Jie Jie and Andrew. It was a special moment of Ashton seeing all of her prayers answered.
We came back to the room and got to know Andrew. HE IS HUGE! So much bigger than we thought. He loves snacks. We all laughed out loud when he ate cookies-Classic Oreo style-Just like our family. It was so special to skype Nana, Papa, Johnny, BJ and Jesse-It was neat for them to meet him so soon after we did.

Hayne has declared that Andrew is the best little brother ever-He gets lots of laughs out of our little man. Andrew laughs out loud.

A HUGE hit was the microphone that Bobbi sent to Andrew. He loved it. Within minutes of meeting us, he was mimacking me in the microphone. It was priceless. He won't put it down. He just said Haynie into it---WoW!

We went to lunch with our group and he had a ball. We had to request strollers cause honestly he is so heavy and he isn't used to being held. He just lays back and it makes him heavier :) I am not complaining cause I will carry him wherever. The stroller just makes it easier at times. We had a 20 minute walk to lunch-Not fun in the cold carrying 2 toddlers. He ate very well and we were excited.

My big excitement today was when he was playing on the bed. He started talking and whimpering. He climbed in my arms and kept talking. It was his way of telling me he had to potty. I was so glad that he came to me for help.

Anna Grace is doing well. She has handled this so much better than I expected but it has only been a few hours. We have all been awake since 2 am so we are very tired.

Thank you for your prayers-Know that without a doubt, they have been heard and answered. I know that the road ahead is long but I am confidant that the maker of all creation is holding my hand and directing our way.


Signing off from China,
One blessed mommy of 5