New Delhi, Weather from Weather Underground

Saturday, February 27, 2010

exploring new areas

Every move has its own pattern. Most are similar, at least at the beginning.

At first it is very busy coordinating movers, unpacking, setting up utilities, finding a grocery and all the little aspects of day to day life.

Then there is the settling in and exploring part. In the US, I like to start at the local library. It seems I can really get a feel for the area from the library. They always have information boards of events and happenings. Children's story times are often a good place to meet other moms. These moms can be wonderful resources. I have learned about playgroups, playgrounds, preschools, family friendly restaurants, churches, the best place for a pedicure and made some good friends this way. (Plus, I really enjoy the library. Even before having children, Dan and I would go out for lunch on Saturday and then make a stop at the library. He would get a pile of magazines and a corner seat. I would head into the stacks and peruse. Boring for some. An adventure and whole new world for me.)

The girls first priority is usually finding a playground. Also, an easy place to meet other moms and play mates for the girls. I often like to get out in the car and just drive around. It's amazing what sorts of treasures can be found when getting lost.

When we lived in China, the first few weeks were spent living in a hotel while our apartment was being prepared. Rachel and I spent part of every day walking the local streets and alleways, nosing into shops, and watching people. Or better said....being watched by people. I never thought I was that interesting to look at but to the Chinese I was quite something. One man was walking down the sidewalk backwards while staring at Rachel and I. He almost fell over a woman sitting on the curb selling something (could have been shoes, jewelry, pirate DVDs, who knows). We never went more than seven or eight blocks either way, because I was still a little wary about getting lost and not being able to communicate.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

that temporary feeling

Since we relocated to Minnesota, I have felt that this is a temporary stop for the family. I know, I know what you are thinking.....yes, we have been in six locations in sixteen years. What isn't temporary, right? In all the other locations it started feeling like our home soon after we moved in. I started the "nesting" thing, got involved in the community, etc. This time I haven't felt like doing that. Part of it, I am sure, is that we are renting. We can't hang things on the walls, plant flowers, or make any changes. I know that one way or another we will be moving in a year. This temporary or being in transit feeling is odd. Many days I feel as if I am on the outside looking into my life. Not when I am at home with Dan and the girls but in the other aspects of day to day life where I could get involved.

When we lived in China, I quickly made some wonderful friends. Because we lived in a foreign country where everything is new and sometimes challenging, we learned to really rely on one another. It was like being dropped into an instant family. The move back to the US was a little of a letdown. I missed my "China family" and the excitement of living in a foreign country. I didn't really experience much culture shock when moving to China.
[From Wikipedia...Culture Schock refers to the anxiety and feeling (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. This is often combined with a dislike for or even disgust with certain aspects of the new culture.]

The feeling of loss when we moved back was a complete surprise. It even took me some time to realize why I was feeling down. Of course, the jet lag and searching for a church, schools, and a place to live didn't help either. I was actually very happy wen I read about "reverse culture shock." It is good to know that what I went through is actually very normal.
[Also, from Wikipedia.....Reverse Culture Shock may take place--returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as culture shock. This results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with that the original culture shock.]

I hope this doesn't come across as being anti-America. That is not at all how I feel. I am glad to be in the US and love where we are living right now. It is just a step in the process of moving around. I am not sitting around boo-hooing or sleeping all day. I decided to share because I was glad to know I wasn't the only one who went through this and maybe someone else will be too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two Years

I can't believe it has been two years since Rebekah joined our family. Some days it feels like just yesterday but it also feels as if Rebekah has been part of our lives forever. God is so good and has really blessed our lives with two beautiful little girls. Many of you already know the story of how Rebekah came into our lives. Some of you may not. We adopted Rachel in May 2004. She was and is such a joy. She exudes happiness and glows from head to toe. In December 2005 we sent paperwork to China for child #2. The wait was much longer this time. Early December 2007 the call came that we had been matched with a child in Hunan province. It was 600 am in China when the call arrived. I couldn't wait to wake Rachel and Dan and tell them all about Rebekah. Since we were already living in China at the time, Rachel wanted to get on an airplane that day to pick up her Mei Mei (little sister in Chinese). We had to wait for travel approval and our group from the US to arrive. We were finally able to meet Rebekah in February 2008. Below is something I wrote in 2008 after the adoption.

"Thursday, February 14 we (Dan, Rachel, my mom and I) flew to Beijing to meet the rest of our travel group from the US. We spent two days in Beijing touring and giving the rest of the group time to adjust to the time change. A fourteen hour time difference can really feel like a bulldozer for some people. It was a nice time while we all got to know each other and see Beijing. The first day we went to the Great Wall. Rachel was thrilled about that since Big Bird walks on the Great Wall in the movie "Big Bird in China." The Great Wall is an incredible thing to see since you don't realize how big it actually is until walking on it. Rachel was a trooper and walked up and down some very steep parts all by herself without complaining. Later that day we visited a jade factory and saw the artisans at work followed by lunch, a Cloisonne dealer, and the Beijing Acrobats. The second full day in Beijing we went to Tiannamen Square, the Forbidden Palace and a pearl market. The Forbidden Palace is another spot that is much larger than I would ever imagine before being there. We made a list of things we didn't see so we can go back and do them all at a later date.

In Beijing we had a tour guide named Jerry who was with us the whole time. Rachel attached herself to him and started calling herself "Jerry's Assistant." He was a very kind young man who really tried to make her feel special and like she was helping. Still when she mentions Beijing she calls it "Jerry Land" and asks if we think Jerry misses her.

Sunday, February 17 we flew to Changsha in the
Hunan province. This is the province of Rebekah's birth. The schedule was to pick up the babies at the civil affairs office in Changsha at 9:00 the next morning (Monday). When we arrived we were notified that the appointment had been moved to 3:00 on Monday afternoon. This, of course, made for a very long morning of waiting to meet our children. Finally we boarded the bus for the civil affairs office with bags loaded with diapers, bottles, toys, blankets, change of clothes, and any and all of the many things a baby may need. There is no way to describe the emotions of being on the way to meet your child. It is such a mix of joy, excitement, anxiety, worry, and more. The oldest child in our group is almost two and the youngest is Rebekah who will be ten months on February 28. Who knows what they have been through up to now. Who knows how they will react to having everything they had known changed in under an hour. The emotions were all in there mixing together. Anyway, when the bus pulled up in the parking lot a woman in a red coat was walking into the building holding a precious little girl with hair that stuck up all over her head. One of the men in our group said, "I wonder which one of us will take home that cutey?" It turns out that she was one of the twins that he and his wife are now loving and feeding and changing. We all pile out in our best clothes with our fancy new diaper bags and all the fixings and take the elevator to the third floor. And then BANG as we step off the elevator there is a room full of babies and nannies waiting for us. This was much faster and overwhelming than with Rachel. With her we went to the Social Welfare Institute, met the director, had a tour, and got our children. It was very calm and organized. This time we barely had our coats off before they started calling parent's names. The twins were first, followed by Hannah, and then our little one. She had big wide open eyes and just stared at Dan and I. She didn't really cry but just looked. It was more like no emotions at all at first. Rebekah is just a doll......very petite weighing only 13 1/2 lbs at almost ten months. Rebekah was also the youngest and the smallest in her group. I held and kissed her then passed her on to Dan to do the same. After that she wanted nothing to do with me for the first twenty minutes or so. I can tell you it felt like a lifetime. Every time I would go close to them she would start to cry. As soon as I would step about six steps away she would stop. I have friends who have been through this and were barely able to hold their daughter's for the first few weeks. It is one of the things that I most feared would happen. I stood across the room and watched Dan talking to her and rocking her in his arms. Slowly I moved a little closer once he sat down to give her a bottle. Then I sat next to them and she didn't cry. Very slowly Dan gave me the bottle and we transitioned her to my arms. I could have jumped for joy when D handed her to me and she only whimpered once and then stopped. We now know that she doesn't like the transition from one person to another. She cries a little each time we switch who is holding her. It is getting less and less each time. She appears to be equally attached to both of us now and wants to be held all the time. The vacant stare has disappeared and been replaced with smiles, coos, babbles, and giggles. All normal for a ten month old which is just how we hope for her to be. She still has poor muscle tone but is starting to try and sit up and can roll from back to front and back again. All this has developed in the past week. These girls amaze me at how much they grow and change in such a short time with a little extra attention, holding, and love.

The next day....Well it is official.....we are now a family of four as of Monday afternoon, February 18. Rebekah Yuhong is a doll and very tiny. I think she may actually be smaller than Rachel was at this age. She seemed to be in shock for the first couple days and was very quiet. She also has an upper respiratory infection and has been on medication. This may be the reason for her quietness. Her muscle tone is very weak. It seems as if they were still being only bottle fed at almost ten months and very rarely out of the crib. That said, she is now eating any and everything we give her. Her favorite seems to be jiaozi or dumplings. She will kick, reach, and squeal while waiting for the jiaozi to cool enough to eat. Last night was our third day together and we saw our first smile. It was such a happy moment to see her finally starting to connect and react to us. She also rolled over once while trying to get a toy. Today she has been trying to sit up and starting to babble often. She woke up cooing and happy in her crib this morning. Rebekah loves to watch everything Rachel does and looks for her if she is out of the room. Considering the situation, Rachel has been great. We have had a couple difficult times but all in all it is going well. It has been a great help having my mom with us to spend time with Rachel when she is feeling neglected. Dan and I are each trying to spend one on one time with her each day. Rachel and Dan swim together every day which she really looks forward to. All our documents in Hunan (the province of Rebekah's birth) have been completed. We are off to Guangzhou and the US Consulate in the morning and should be back in our home by the end of the week."
February 18, 2008* February 1, 2009* December 25, 2009
three photos of our Rebekah as she grows

Today Rebekah is a happy thriving almost three year old. Recently someone referred to her as a "pistol." Such a great description of her. I also often call her a firecracker. She loves to laugh and hug. She sings while she plays. She loves her big sister more than anything else in the world. I am so thankful for our family.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I should have known at an early age that I would be leading this type of life. My mother loves to travel, learn, and experience new places. She took my sister and myself on many interesting and educational trips during early years. Being a teacher she always found the historic and educational places to stop on the excursions. It didn't matter if they were day trips or multi-week trips. We would find and see all there was to see. As a child, my sister and I would roll our eyes and razz Mom about "another educational" stop. (Can you hear the groans and see the eye rolling while we said this?)

Thanks to my mom, I have been up and down the eastern part of the US. We were in Seattle when Mount St Helens erupted. I went to various parts of Mexico in fourth grade. (With the high school Spanish class too!! My mom was a chaperone, and I thought I was so cool to be traveling with the older kids. I learned some things that had nothing to do with Mexico or Spanish on that trip.) In high school I made my own trip to Germany with the school and after college returned to Europe for over two months. Needless to say, traveling seems to be in my blood.

One time, at about nine years old, we were in the airport, and I saw the flight attendants walk past. They were pulling their suitcases, laughing, and tossing their hair. I saw them, looked at my mom, and said, "That is what I want to do someday. Where do you think they are going?" It seemed so glamorous and exciting to be able to travel for a living. Many years later I did just that. Believe me the life of a flight attendant is not nearly as glamorous and exciting as it looked to my nine year old self. I rarely felt glamorous and usually felt tired and in need of a shower. But, it was fun and interesting and sometimes exciting for the few years I flew. The parts I enjoyed most were meeting the people and the great friends I made.

Jump ahead to 2004.....Dan and I are on a plane to China to meet our first daughter. When I look back, it seems so obvious that I would be going half way around the world to start a family. Another educational trip to add to the list. More of the traveling gene coming out. I asked Rachel at age four what she wants to be when she grows up. Her answer, "A world traveler, of course." I just nodded my head and said, "Why of course."

Another jump to 2007.....Dan, Rachel, and I are on a plane again to Qingdao, China. Not just a vacation this time but we are moving there for his job. The plan was to be in China four years. We ended up being there only 18 months and were sad to leave. We accomplished quite a bit in our short time though. Here's a quick timeline of our first three months.
-Thanksgiving Day 2007 we are on a flight from Chicago to Beijing.
-December 6, 2007 we are living in a hotel waiting for our apartment to be ready. We get a call from our adoption agency that we have been matched with our second daughter, Rebekah.
-January 4, 2008 We move into our apartment with one set of sheets, a frying pan, a pot and six suitcases. We borrow a blanket, a couple towels, some flatware, and a few plates (thank you Lisa).
-January 6 Rachel starts Pre-k at a new school which gives me a few hours each morning to start learning Chinese and getting us settled.
-A week or so later our first shipment of goods arrive from the US.
-February 18 we meet our second beautiful little girl.
-End of February our big shipment arrives from the US.
Can you say Crazy??
I know, that has nothing to do with traveling but I just wanted to give you a feel for the first few months of living in China.

While in China we did make multiple trips to Beijing and Shanghai, saw and walked the Great Wall at three different locations, went to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers, went to Changsha in Hunan province where Rebekah is from, went to Chongqing and Fuling where Rachel is from, and spent a week in Guangzhou while waiting on adoption paperwork to be finalized. We only made one trip out of the country to the beautiful tropical island of Saipan during Spring Festival 2009. (I am ready to go back there today while looking at the snow outside our Minnesota window.) Dan was able to see more parts of China as well as a couple trips to Korea for work. We had an extensive list of places we wanted to visit during our four years in Asia. Unfortunately, the stay was cut short. We will have to save Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and New Zealand for a later date.

Why am I rambling about traveling and living in China? (I wanted to say "Why am I waxing poetic?" but realize this is not nearly the case) Partly, I am just documenting so I don't forget. Also, I have just recently realized that every day is an adventure no matter where you live or what you are doing. It makes me wonder what the next step is for us as a family. Dan and I will soon have been married 16 years. This is our sixth location to call home. Again, my early love for traveling and new experiences should have been a foreshadow to the life I am leading today. Thanks Mom for all the prep work........