Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Groundhog Day

Before I get to this eternally long day, I did forget a few stories that I want to remember. I can't believe I forgot this next story. It was one of the best things to happen on the trip. When we were shopping on Shaiman Island, I was in a different store than Mark. He came looking for me and asked the shopkeeper if she had seen me. Her response, "You mean the skinny lady?" I got called "the skinny lady". Let me know if you ever want me to tell you this story again and again. Skinny lady would be happy to repeat it.

Another thing that I want to remember is how Emma would pretend to eat the food in a book and would even pretend to eat her birthday cake that is in the picture on my phone screen.

Guangzhou is a very international city. There are people of all backgrounds and races. It really made things easier and more pleasant. We were still stared at some, but not to the extent we were stared at in Guiyang. There were a lot of Middle Easterners there, and Cade was fascinated by the women in burkas. He simply could not understand why they had to dress that way and why they did not have any freedoms. He thought that they should go somewhere to get help. I asked him where they should go, and he said they should go to a church. He could not understand that there were no churches to go to for help. We talked about power and about how these women were not given any power or voice. I love watching his mind work and seeing his compassionate heart. He is an amazing kid.

Back to the eternal day. We left our hotel in China at 6:30 in the morning on Friday and arrived home at 12:30 am on Saturday. Because of the time difference, that was 31 hours of traveling. I was pretty terrified of the flights home with Emma, especially since her first flight experience was less than ideal ;-). Everyone's prayers really worked! She did absolutely amazing! There was very little crying.

We discovered that putting a brother by her really helped! Look at her interested in a book. She is getting much better about books which makes this book-lover very happy.

The girl loves her some noodles.

Our first flight was from Guangzhou to Beijing, and it was close to 4 hours. Longer if you include the delay in Guangzhou. Every single flight in China was delayed. I had heard this happened, and we found it to be true. Emma did great on this flight and we arrived in Beijing safely. When we were in Beijing at the beginning of our trip, we thought the smog was really bad. It seems we were mistaken about that, because I have never seen anything like the smog we found upon our return to Beijing. It was like a very dense fog. You could taste the pollution in your mouth. It was truly unbelievable. We were very glad to get out of there. We intended to bring water bottles on board with us since we were not given enough to drink on the flight into Beijing but were told that it wasn't allowed. (FYI to future families, no one checked our backpacks for water). We all loaded (read were crammed into) a bus and crazily driven for what seemed an eternity to the airplane (also a common China airport experience). I was holding Emma who was holding two hand holds which were dangling from the ceiling. That did not work out so well in a crazily driven bus. I was falling all over the place and crashing into people. I love roller coasters, but I did not enjoy that ride. We finally made it to the plane where we then sat......for two hours! I kept thinking that there was no way Emma would do well on this flight when it just kept getting longer and longer. Thankfully, she did incredibly well. I had planned on giving her Benadryl, but I could not find where I put it. Once we were home, I found it in the backpack. She did great even without it.

Here is how she rocked her headphones. I am guessing they don't work as well when they are not actually on the ears ;-)

We arrived in Seattle and went through the booth and then went to the immigration area so that our newest little immigrant could be processed and could become a US citizen. We had to wait a bit before they got to her envelope. I didn't even care. I was so happy to be back in the United States and to be so close to having Emma become a citizen. I was tired, really needed to go to the bathroom (why don't they have a bathroom in this area), but mostly I was joyful. I was so proud of how my boys had handled this trip and their sister. I was feeling so blessed to have Mark as my husband and to have my precious children there. I was so excited to experience the moment when Emma Grace became a citizen. There was another family who were on the same flight but behind us in line. They complained and threw a bit of a fit and were processed much quicker than we were. I didn't even care. I have never before been so happy to wait on government officials. Once our file was up, it was a very quick process. Our flight got in about 2 pm, and Emma officially became Emma Grace and a US citizen at 3:22 pm PST.

What a beautiful, wonderful blessing she is. I am so incredibly blessed and am so thankful to God for taking us on this journey and gifting us with such a beautiful soul. We finally made it through immigration and customs and arrived at the gate for our next flight. That is when tragedy struck. Nate realized he left his iTouch (Christmas gift) on the airplane. Poor baby was so upset. He had been sleeping until we landed and in the craziness of getting of the plane, he forgot to make sure he had it. We tried calling, but the airline was less than helpful (Hainan Airlines). I sent a message to display if it connects to the Internet, but I am sure it is long gone. Poor Nate :-(. Since we have been home, he has asked me if we can start up allowances again since Emma is home now (we cut lots of things preparing for Emma and not a single boy complained). We then went from Seattle to DFW on an American Airlines flight. This flight was around 3 1/2 hours and was by far one of the best flights I have ever been on. The flight attendants were so very friendly and kind, and they celebrated Emma with us.

One of the flight attendants took this picture.

We finally arrived at DFW. So close to home! Our friends picked us up in the church van (because of all our luggage). We have some of the best friends in the world. They picked us up at midnight. Emma experienced her first carseat experience, and it went as well as we expected for a girl who hates being restrained. Food helped:-). We arrived home to a surprise. Our friends had decorated our door with a banner and with balloons (including cool glow-in-the dark balloons). There was a trail of single-serve Cheerios leading from the porch all the way upstairs to Emma's bedroom. On her bed was a plasma car! She got busy on that right away. There were also framed pictures of the picture we took on Shaiman Island. Another friend had left some groceries for us in a cooler on our porch, including some tofu and watermelon. That was so very appreciated.

Again, we have amazing friends. We were all so happy to be home, but weren't tired. We all enjoyed a bowl of ice cream around 2 am before finally going to bed. So happy to be home as a family of seven.

- Jenna


  1. It makes my heart happy to read your posts! You are truly blessed!

  2. Loved this entire post! God bless you all!