Monday, November 29, 2010


Dex knows that it's "work first, then play." That's why he started the day doing laundry. He just got the sink and the toilet mixed up -- something must have been lost in translation.
Nick worked on the Christmas lights. Great Job again this year, Dad!Abi forgot she was supposed to be picking the blocks up -- talk about sitting down on the job!
On to a little play . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Cinquain

We were reading a Junie B. Jones book in which that darling little first-grader with the most horrible grammar (does the author understand at all that there should be an -ly at the end of adverbs?!) wrote a cinquian. The three little Costons were napping, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to help Abi explore her poetic side. Here is her Christmas cinquain:
Twinkly, Decorated
Baking, Giving, Singing
Sweet time with family

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deep Breath

This weekend we were able to just hang out together as a family and take a deep breath. It seems like it's been forever since we've been able to do that. Since we got back from China, it's been non-stop catch up. There are so many details to be working on with the clinic, Thanksgiving and Christmas plans, normal life, and home repairs for whatever Dexter manages to disassemble that day.
So, we were long overdue for a deep breath, family-style.
We spent a while outside hopscotch jumping, bike riding, slide climbing, and rock throwing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Folded In

Just like God's recipe said, "Fold small Chinese boy into American family of 5," we have folded Dex right into our family over the past week. And just like a recipe, when properly folded in, all of the ingredients have blended into one perfectly yummy concoction!It's like he's been part of our family for a long time. He adores his brother and sister, enjoys playing whatever they convince him to play, and is becoming very attached to Momma and Dada! A friend asked me a few days ago if it's weird to look at him and think that he's my son now. I was glad she asked me because it made me really realize just how natural it really does seem.
A couple of days after we met him, I felt pretty fearful and anxious as the reality set in that we now had another child. I remember feeling a bit like that a few days after being home with each of the others -- but I was especially anxious with him, I think, because it's such a different start to parenting, I realized that so much of his personality had already been established, and that there is so much about him that we didn't know. As I was falling asleep that night, I just prayed that God would take away my fear, anxiety and doubts because I knew that He had called us to adopt and that He had picked the perfect child for us. So, knowing that and trusting Him, I just wanted the anxiety to pass so I could enjoy being a mom to this precious little boy. When I woke up the next morning, I felt so refreshed and light-hearted. It felt perfectly natural to call myself "Momma" to him, where before it had felt a bit forced. When I woke up that morning, I was truly his Momma! So, no, it's not weird or unnatural feeling to have Dex as my son.
It's as sweet as that sucker he's eating!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

There's No Place Like Home!

We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family! We had such a wonderful homecoming! It was so good to see familiar faces and hug my kids again!
Brandon saw us coming through the airport, and he came running toward us with his sign, yelling, "Momma! Dexter! Momma! Dexter!" Brandon is such a precious boy, and I enjoy watching our boyS play together. Brandon couldn't stop touching Dex.

The trip home actually went better than I'd expected. There were definitely times that I thought someone on the plane might push us out the door at 33,000 feet. But, overall, Dex did very well. It was tough to find things to entertain him, and we were counting down minute-by-minute at times. It was a very early start at 4:30 a.m. to make it to the airport for our flight. We had a very quick breakfast in the airport. I felt a little melancholy about leaving China with Dex. I want him to learn about his Chinese heritage and culture. I know he'll have so many more opportunities in America with our family, but I learned to appreciate the Chinese culture so much more during our time there, and I want Dex to know about that, too.

It's really hard to wrap your mind around the concept of flying halfway around the world. We saw some amazing things on the flight home. When we first took off in Beijing, I saw huge, sharp-peaked mountains and was in awe of those ... and then we saw the Great Wall running along the ridge of one of the mountains! We saw the mountains of Siberia, the sunrise over the Arctic Ocean, and huge chunks of ice floating in the ocean.
We saw the sun rise again over Canada, north of the Hudson Bay.

Yes, I'm crying as we're about to touchdown in Chicago, knowing our little man was about to become a citizen of the United States, which would be the final step in his adoption into our family.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guangzhou 2010

The entire city has been gearing up for the 16th Annual Asian Games, to be held in Guangzhou. The Asian Games are huge -- held every four years, much like the Olympics. Tonight was the parade of boats, I suppose, along the River. We happened to be eating on the patio of a restaurant on the river and saw the light show, boat parade, dancers on the mainland shore ... beautiful. I'm also including a few more shots of the beautiful island here, which is especially decked out because of the upcoming Asian games.
I was finally able to get a shot of the ever-popular split pants without being totally rude in taking the picture. It's hard to find pants for boys aged 12 months-4 years that have a backside in them. Split pants are popular for toilet training and easy diaper changing. The funniest part to me is that they make split pant snowsuits. The rest of the kid is bundled up and sweating in the 80-degree weather, but their butts are hanging out!
We also took "red couch" photos this morning. It's a tradition among adoptive families to take pictures of their adopted children on this red couch in the hotel. Our friends Wendy and her daughter Mikaylah are in the photo with us. Wendy and Joel are the friends we met prior to traveling who live in southwest Missouri, very near to where we lived when Abi was little. We hope Dex and Mikaylah can be friends growing up, and we're grateful to have another family to have shared this journey with who live so nearby.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

People Watching Mecca

We've spent the last several days in Guangzhou, a southern China port city, along the Pearl River. The area of the city where we are staying is a beautiful, peaceful part called Shamain Island. It's connected to the mainland by a bridges and pedestrian walkways. It's development has been heavily influenced by European culture, since it's historically a trade city. The architecture is beautiful, with huge banyan trees everywhere. When you leave the Shamian Island area of Guangzhou, though, it's full-on China again! People, noise, foreign smells, more people, more noise, honking, staring ... we ventured out to a modern local shopping area today, not so much for the shopping but for some serious people watching. You will see it all here! We saw old men in their underwear at the edge of the river, washing their clothes, people doing Tai Chi in the middle of the sidewalk, street after street of vendors selling traditional Chinese medicines, streets of pets of every kind for sale ... We went to Carrefour, a supermarket kind of like Wal-Mart today to get diapers, formula, and chocolate chip cookies (Dex likes them!) Real estate is limited, so new things build up. There were four levels to this supermarket, and you just took your buggy on a flat escalator. Interesting. When we went to the the pedestrian shopping market this evening, we went to a place that sells only jewelry -- a huge building that's six stories tall of jewelry. They ship it out all over the world, so everyone was packaging things up to be shipped all over the world, as well as selling it retail at the counters. Crazy! There were some shops that sell high-quality jade, pearls, and other precious and semi-precious stones, but most of it was just costume jewelry.
Dex is enjoying exploring the city with us in his borrowed stroller. All of the shops here on Shamian Island will lend you strollers to use while you're here, in hopes of getting you to buy more stuff when you bring the stroller back. All adoptive parents have to come to Guangzhou because that's where the U.S. Consulate's office is, and most stay on Shamian Island because it is more Western, many people speak English, and it is very safe and quiet. So, all of the shops nearby capitalize on that by doing laundry (it's near the end of everyone's China journey and clean clothes are limited), lending strollers, and selling baby items. Dex is great at riding in the stroller, which is surprising, considering how much he likes to move! The hotel we're staying in has a playroom for the kids, so we take him down there a couple times of day to let him run. H'e met several new "friends" there, and especially liked playing with a couple of 3-year-old boys tonight. I think he's gonna fit right in at home!

It's nearly home-coming time! We've very much enjoyed our time in China. I'm very glad we got to experience the Chinese culture, learn a little about the language, history, and traditions; however, I will be so glad to be home and back to "normal." We will leave for our flight to Beijing at 5:30 Thursday morning, stay overnight in Beijing, and fly out of Beijing at 8 a.m. Friday. After the longest, most torturous day of our lives, we will be in Ft.Smith at 3 p.m. Friday! Please pray for safe travels for us and for Dex to be manageable on the flights. I can't even imagine what that will be like after the 1 1/2 hour flight from Fuzhou to Guangzhou! I'm thinking Divine Intervention and an overdose of Benedryl are our only two options.