Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 2009

I have had several people ask me for an update so I thought I better sit down and post some pictures. Leah is doing very well. She is learning and experiencing new things every day. Jeff's family was here yesterday for memorial day and we were outside swinging in the rain. I imagine that is the first time she has done that. She didn't seem to mind and she loves swinging.

Uncle Jamie was here yesterday also. He is her absolute favorite person. When he is around she mostly likes to hang out with him.

We went camping at Hidden Acres with some good friends. They have a camper and we tent. We cook together and help each other out. The boys just love fishing, shooting and canoeing and all the outdoor stuff. The girls had fun also, and I am sure they will learn to love it even more as they get older. As you can tell from the picture our car was packed to the rim for our camping trip!

More later...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some pictures...

Hallo everyone

We are doing well. I am posting some pictures from Easter. We spent Easter at Jeff's mom and dad's house. We had a great time. Leah really warmed up to her family and was full of smiles and giggles!

Our friend LeAnn and boys brought us a trunk full of jewelery and princess clothes. The girls had a great time dressing up. Even Karsten got involved in the fun!

I took these pictures yesterday outside our house. It was such a beautiful day! I always try to get some pictures in the Spring when the tulips are blooming. Notice how Leah has her arm around Sofia. We have seen some good sister moments lately...I am hoping for a lot more of that.

Friday, April 10, 2009

We are adjusting to life at home!

We are working on adjusting. It has been a busy week as a mom of 4. I don't know how you all with more kids do it... I feel like I don't have enough lap space and enough hands...

Leah is doing well. She is playing and enjoying her life with us. She calls Jeff and I pappa and mamma now. She is so cute when she talks. She says some Chinese words (I think) and she tries to speak some English words also. Her little voice is adorable. Her biggest issue is that she gets these crying spells sometimes that can last up to one hour. It mostly happens during the night, but we have had one spell like that during the day also. She cries, screams and kicks, and nothing I do seems to be able to calm her down. I think of them as her adoption, grieving cry. I hope they become less and less frequent as times goes on. We actually had a really good night last night. It was the first night she didn't wake up at all since we got home from China. I don't think we are over the hump yet, but I am so glad to see that it can happen. I still woke up tired because I woke up several times waiting for her to wake up and cry.

Sofia is not quite as whiny any longer. I think she is feeling better from her cold and she is getting more used to having me home again. The girls struggle with jealousy and sharing. I am guessing that is going to be our issue for awhile. This is definitely a big change for both of them. Kai and Karsten continues to be great big brothers. I have to go now, my little one are calling for my attention... Have a great day!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

We are home!!!

We are waiting at the airport in Shanghai

These teenage girls came over when we were sitting there waiting for our flight, and wanted to know if they could get their picture taken with Kai "the lady's man"

The trip home went very well. Other than the flight being way tooo long. As expected we were very tired when we got home. It was great to fly home with several of the other couples in our travel group. We arrived in Des Moines late Wednesday nigh together with two other families from the area.

It has been a busy couple days at home. We have had Dr. appointment for Leah, soccer game for Kai, piano lesson and a piano fundraising event for Kai. Karsten and Sofia have been sick since we got home with fevers and upper respiratory infections.

We have not slept well since we got home because of sick kids and jet lag. Even Kai has been awake every night complaining that he could not sleep. Jeff and I have traveled to Norway many times and have never had this problem before. 13 hours time difference really makes it hard to get back on track. We are so tired! I really hope we will start feeling better soon.

Leah is doing very well. She continues to smile and laugh around us. But she gets very shy and quiet around other people. We have had several friends and family stop by to visit. Leah likes to quietly disappear when others are around. Karsten and Leah have become very good friends. They play so good together. It makes us smile to see them roll around on the floor and giggle. We are very proud of Karsten and how he has embraced his new little sister with love. Sofia is struggling a little bit more. She has not been feeling well and she has been very clingy to me. She and Leah have had some battles over mamma's lap and attention. I have been trying to make sure Sofia gets as much love and care as possible because I don't want her to feel like Leah is taking her mamma away from her. We have also had several fights over toys and other items. They are both very strong willed. Leah has had a couple time outs on our steps. It is difficult because we want to show her love and give her security, but we also cannot let her get away with unacceptable behaviour. I can tell we have a long road ahead of us. I am sure it will work out at the end, but it is going to take a lot of work to get everyone adjusted.

On a positive note, I am posting some pictures of the girls taking a bath together tonight. They had a lot of fun in the tub. They gave each other a wonderful loving goodnight hug before they went to bed. There is certainly hope at the end of the tunnel...

Thanks for all the visits we have had the last few days! Thank you to grandma and grandpa for bringing pizza over tonight. In the past I have read blogs where they talk about how they are so thankful for meals they were able to prepare and freeze before they left for China. Well, we had 1 week notice before we left, so there is no food in the freezer:) After three days home I am finally almost done with laundry. But the suitcases and souvenirs are still spread out all over the dining room. Mail and bills are still unopened. I am sure I will get to it eventually.

I am very thankful that Leah seems to be doing so well. She is a extremly funny and happy little girl. We are so blessed to have her in our family. I cannot wait to continue to see her learn and explore and bond with her family!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lost at the zoo and much, much more

Today we went to the zoo. We had a great time! We saw the panda, the monkeys, and a lot more. Speaking of monkeys, we were going to take a picture by the monkeys. Just as Kurt Onken was about to take a picture, a monkey on a roof layed down on the roof and looked like he had split pants! Well, we were walking through the zoo when Kurt thought we better start heading back to the hotel so we wouldn't be late for the red couch picture and the consulate appointment. We THOUGHT we had to go to the NORTH gate but that's the way we came in. So we went around trying to find the north gate, but then we decided that we came in the north gate so we had to go to the SOUTH gate. So we wandered around for a while but then we FINALY made it out. So we got back to the hotel and just hung around for a little bit, and then went down for the red couch pictures which went great. Then it was time for the consulate appointment. Which also went great exept one little thing. Hour long drive there, be there for about 7 minutes and then an hour long drive back. Other then that it went great. Today was the final day we are going to be here so that means only one thing: by by Lucy. ( my girl friend ) ( "sniff" ) Man I am going to miss her. I wish we could keep in contact with here, but nope! Tonight we went to Lucy's to eat. ( Not my girl friends ) It was good. Aidan got a little mad during supper. Thank you everyone for following are blog. Kai Anders Newell

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kai Newell, Ladys Man

We just got back from dinner and I thought I would post a picture of Kai and his new girl friend or should I say friends. These girls work at one of the many stores that line the streets around our hotel. We have stopped and looked around many of stores and have actually got to know the people who work in several of them. However, my son has developed quite a following with the girls at the "Home of Love". That's right it's called the "Home of Love". Now you might think as Kai's dad I might be a bit concerned with him receiving attention from girls working at an establishment with that name. Well, the name actually refers to their focus on adoptive families. Anyway, every time we walk out of the hotel and start down the street the girls start calling out Kai Kai! It is too fun and Kai is totally eating it up and thinks he is a chick magnet. The one on the left is his favorite and her name is Lucy. She has played hacky sack with him(she has given him two free ones) and tried to teach him to speak Chinese. I guess it's just another experience in China!

Trip to the orphanage!

Today was our big trip to the orphanage where Leah spent the first 3 1/2 years of her life. We had been on the road for about 30 minutes when I started thinking that this was a bad idea. The driving here is insane and our car was the fastest one on the road. I was pretty sure we were risking our lives for a trip to the orphanage. I cannot tell you how happy I am to say that our very nice, friendly, speed racing driver got us to Huizhou and back without any problems (if you don't count Leah throwing up in the backseat and Kai's eyes turning yellow because he had to pee so bad). The trip there took a little over 2 hours.

Our guide Jack went with us and we really appreciate his help. He has become a friend to us. He did great guiding us, translating and making sure we didn't get into trouble. He even stopped at the supermarket at my request so I could buy some candy and snacks for the workers and kids at the orphanage. Jeff told him later that if Mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. He said it was the same way in China. Thank you so much for today Jack!

It was an awesome experience to get to visit the orphanage. It looked very clean and well kept. There is about 60-70 kids that live there. Most of them with special needs, some severe and other minor special needs. There is also around 70 older people that live there. We saw many of them, because they were outside, but we only saw a few of the kids while we were there.

We had tea with the Director and the Nanny in charge. We also met the lady that is in charge of adoptions. She is the one that brought Leah to us when we arrived in Guangzhou, one week ago today!!! On our way out, we walked by the building Leah had lived in. The nanny that had the most responsibiliy for Leah in her last months at the orphanage came out to say hi. Eventually there were several more nannies that came out to say hi to Ying Ying. Leah's best friend at the orphanage, a blond little girl that is going to get a home in Belgium, came out and gave her hugs. Everyone was very smiley and happy to see YingYing. They all talked to her and wanted to touch her. Leah didn't smile at all but she would look around and went to people that wanted to hold her. The wonderful thing was that she came back to me as quickly as possible. There is no doubt in our hearts that she wants to be with us. We are now back in the hotel room and she is laughing and playing and showing us over and over again that she is happy to be part of our family. We are so very happy to have her!!!

Leah with her friends!

We are standing outside the building where she used to live.

Leah saying bye, bye to the orphanage and everyone there!

We stopped for lunch at KFC

What we saw of Huizhou city was beautiful. This picture is taken at one of their squares. The landscaping along the road we were driving was also beautiful.