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"Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes From Above" ~James 1:17

"Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes From Above" ~James 1:17
Thank you so much for coming to check out my brand spankin' new blog! I've never "blogged" before, so here goes nothin'! This page is inspired by our adoption process, and I am hoping to get words of encouragement or advice every step along the way :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Home. PTL!!

Well, we made it home! I've written this post 3 times now and it doesn't save so hopefully I remember what I'm typing ;) Time is not measured in day or night hours right now, just by who is hungry and who needs more sleep. But we'll get to that...
On 12/19 we started our arduous journey home from Hong Kong at 6:30 AM China time. Through our trip we survived 5 flights (3 with a feisty toddler), 4 hotel stays, multiple trains, buses, and vans, something like a flu for momma and a boisterous 8 year old boy who doesn't sit still. The point is, we ARE HOME!!!
The main flight was over 14 hours and Emily really only shrieked when she realized she was belted in. They don't do seatbelts and car seats in China so aren't we all in for a treat when her little personality comes out in the car and she wants OUT! ;) We were so happy to be home in the states though that we got an amazing amount of energy when we landed, which we needed to go through customs in Newark and then go through the whole bag checking and security checkpoint process all over again to get to Orlando.
My parents, sister, and her boyfriend were all at the airport ready to meet us, with a bunch of balloons. What a site for sore eyes! Emily allowed Brittany to hold her but was pretty reserved until we got home. My dad had his famous white chili ready for us at our house, I couldn't have asked for a better reception home! My mom had champagne and beer, which we were especially excited about :) 
Emily loved her new room and showed us all her toys, then we gave her a bath and put her to bed. We finally climbed into bed around 10:30 that night US time, which would have been 11:30 AM in China, the next day. Almost 30 hours of travel but we did it and are sooooo happy to be home! We used all the hot water, washing off the smog, airplane, and everything else a toddler can wipe on you when you are smooshed together on a plane for so long. I've never felt so clean! :)
Emily slept until 4 yesterday morning, Austin was up at 2:30 and couldn't sleep any longer so he heard her get up and brought her to us. We played until 8 in the morning, painting her nails, doing laundry, unpacking, drinking our 2nd and 3rd cup of coffee. I'm still sick so Nyquil is my friend but when I don't get the sleep I'm a teensy groggy ;)
This morning she got up around 3, ugh, but we gave her the benefit of the doubt since she went to bed soundlessly last night at 7 pm and slept a solid 6 hours. I finally got to rock my baby girl to sleep, I've been waiting to do that for over a year! She called to us this morning using Chinese baby babble from her baby gate, slippers on backwards and ready to face the day! So it's just now 7:30 in the morning and we're about to go down for nap #1. We might venture out today just to see some of her new world, but it's so hard with our weird sleep schedules and random couch naps. Austin slept on the couch yesterday for about 4 hours, couldn't get that kiddo up until I waved a popsicle in his face! 
So if you see us around and we haven't returned calls, voicemails, texts, emails... I'm sorry :( Time is of no relevance when you are sleep deprived, it's like having a newborn again! But this one throws things in the toilet and screams when the cats come near her. 
Thank you for following along, we will keep posting updates as they happen! I know I've said it before, but I am SO HAPPY to be HOME!!!!!
PS Thank you everyone for all of your birthday wishes this week, they meant so much when I was on the other side of the world!!
Love, Erin XOXO

Watch out world, this girl has her Foster Grants on!

Learning how to climb onto her new big girl bed!

*Smirk

Did you call me? I'm busy with play-doh!
Slightly tired the day after a loooooong day of travel!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last days in China

We're in Hong Kong gearing up for the longest flight ever with a toddler!  The last 2 days I've been super sick, but I made it through the border to Hong Kong Thank the Lord. They check your temperature before you come in so I loaded up on Tylenol ;) praying the flight goes smooth and as quick as possible. We are all packed up and enjoying our last few minutes in our luxurious guest room at the Marriott in Hong Kong, everywhere we've stayed has been super nice. But it doesn't compare to home! Can't wait to show Emily our Christmas tree, even though I'm sure she will be rearranging all the ornaments within reach.
We can see a golf course right next to our hotel and it's killing David ;) almost to America, talk to you when we are on the other side of the world!
-Erin xoxo

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Days 12 &13: Erin's birthday, the Guangzhou folk art museum, and the US consulate

Yesterday was my birthday and it was a fun day! After breakfast we went to the Guangzhou folk art museum despite the cold and rain. It was partially indoors so we were done after about a hour of drizzly cold. Austin got a necklace that has a pendant holding a grain of rice with his name carved on it. We also got a set of chopsticks. On the way to the museum everyone sang happy birthday to me, we are traveling with such a sweet group of families :)
When we got back nap time wasn't happening so we took the kids to the play area. I was able to sneak out and left them with David so I could get a foot massage. They also massaged my legs and back, took 70 minutes total all for about $30 (US). Woohoo!
I got back just in time for our last group dinner. We ate at a family style Chinese restaurant and I think all 17 families were there! It was really fun. Another family had a birthday this week too so they bought 2 cakes and we all shared. They were good!
Today we left at 9 for our appointment at the US embassy to get Emily's visa. The trip was uneventful except for the 5 minute run through the rain since umbrellas aren't allowed in the embassy.
Now we're playing in the hotel room and David is getting us pizza for dinner. I'm tired of Chinese food, noodles, and McDonald's because that's all that is around. I can't wait to get home and get some good Mexican from habeneros. I'm sure they are wondering where the Moreland family has been!
Tomorrow we have to wait around to get her visa and then we leave for Hong Kong in a van. One night there and we fly out to the US in the morning! Prayers are requested for a safe, uneventful flight on Thursday! We will leave for the airport around 9 in the morning and get to Florida at 7 that night, which will be 8 am China time. About 24 hours of travel once we actually walk in our door. Then we introduce Emily to her new home, room, bed, dogs, cats... No biggie!  ;)
-Erin xoxo

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Days 9 & 10: Emily's first plane ride and the medical exam

Yesterday we spent the morning in the hotel room counting down the hours until we could leave for Guangzhou. It was a windy cold day, too cold for anything outside. We couldn't wait for the warmer weather and more Western feel of Guangzhou!  Our plane left at 4:20 PM so we left for the airport at 1. Security in the airport was much easier to go through than in America, there's no taking off of the shoes nonsense. The flight was 2 1/2 hours, and Emily didn't seem to know anything was different. The landing was bumpy but she didn't flinch. She got antsy a few times and we had to share a row with a Chinese businessman so I tried to keep her as quiet as possible. This girl doesn't like to be held down or told what to do! I can't wait to see what she thinks of car seats since here they ride on our laps without even seatbelts!!
We got to our hotel after 7 but after check in and finally getting her crib it was 10:30, and this momma was tired. For some reason Emily had made a switch to not only preferring me alone but also to pushing away anyone else. This is exhausting, plus I feel bad for David because he tries to help but she won't let him at all. She's definitely opening her shell a little more and showing her true personality. We've had some great play times and some blow out temper tantrums. A good thing is instead of self soothing when she's hurt or sad she comes to me to be consoled. This happened when she bumped her head today and at the medical exam when she had blood drawn. Poor baby! Nothing a snuggle and an oreo couldn't fix. By the way Austin is in love with these oreos they have here. There's all different flavors but his favorite are birthday cake.
I haven't taken many pictures if at all these past 2 days because it's really been just stressful times and not too much scenery. Going shopping on shaiman island tomorrow and I'm quite excited about it! Really missing my family now, especially since I haven't been able to Skype with my mom in over a week! This whole internet blocking stuff is ridiculous and annoying :/ Ready to be back in the USA!! ☆☆☆

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 8: The Zoo in Shandong

I just have to take a moment to brag on my son. He's been amazing so far on this trip. He's tried new foods, most of which he didn't like, but he hasn't complained once about eating all sorts of different things than he's used to at weird times. Don't get me wrong, every other sentence he says is I'm hungry, but that's normal. He's always been a snacker. Emily seems to be the same way, eating all day long. But Austin has been such a trooper. We really have only been eating 2 meals a day. Our semi normal routine has been getting up at 5:30 (yes AM, we're still not used to this new time thing and may never be), Emily gets up at 6 or 6:30;so we have some morning quiet time. She likes to lay there watching us a while. Then we get everyone dressed and go down to our enormous buffet style breakfast. I thought our last hotel had a great Western breakfast but this one takes the cake. Literally, there's cakes lol. There are traditional Chinese foods, sushi, tea eggs, poached eggs, steamed eggs, quiche, scrambled eggs, and an omelet station. 5 kinds of juice including watermelon juice,  4 kinds of milk from whole to soy, 3 kinds of toast, 6 different pastries, noodles and rice, sausage and bacon, hash browns and roasted potatoes, roasted tomatoes, sautéed  veggies, baked beans, and traditional Chinese foods like steamed buns and dumplings. The fruit bar every day has whole and cut up Dragon fruit, watermelon, cantelope, mango, grapefruit, and mandarin oranges. There's a cheese and meat bar with brie and other cheeses, smoked salmon, and fried other little fishes I have no idea what they are. There's cereals, oatmeal, Chinese congee, donuts and pastries. Austin found a waffle station today that also had pancakes and crepes, with either syrup, honey, chocolate sauce, or about 5 fresh pureed fruits. I'm forgetting a lot but,  it's insane. I guess they think, or know, Americans love to eat!
So we eat a big breakfast and try to snack until around 2 or 3 when we get another big meal. Yesterday was papa John's, with chicken for me. Yes papa John's serves pizza but also noodle bowls and rice! Which was good because I have no idea what people would do when I asked for gluten free ;)
We went to a zoo today, we were only there about 2 hours but it was enough. It's getting colder every day and it was Emily's nap time towards the end so we had one upset toddler. Austin entertains her, plays with her, can't wait for her to get up from her naps or to wake up in the morning. He makes sure she doesn't have to pee, isn't hungry, and is warm. We keep having to tell him to get out of her face and to leave her alone at times because she gets annoyed. She's very self sufficient. But the second she's ready she puts her arms up and he's there to pick her up.
As a reward David has been taking Austin to the pool every day, it's heated and indoors. Usually the other families with kids are down there too for him to play with. We took Em one day as well, she wasn't having any part of it! We will try again at home when there's not so many people. We've gotta get this mountain girl ready for the beach!
The Zoo had the normal animals, elephants, tigers, giraffes, etc. We got to see some panda bears which was really neat, our first time! And another animal they had on display were seagulls. Interesting...
The boys are out getting our food right now (hunters and gatherers) while the 2 princesses stay in the warm room playing :) this situation works out well for me! I'm getting used to living in a hotel room that's cleaned every day with a huge king bed, but I miss home and we're only halfway through our trip!!! We leave for guangzhou tomorrow afternoon by airplane so we can test Emily's attitude towards flying. It's in South China and is much more temperate so I'm excited. Plus we can do laundry there cheap, I'm sick of washing clothes in the tub every night! Is much more Westernized there since all families that adopt go through guangzhou, and there's a little Mexican place and an Irish pub I've heard about that will help break up the constant Chinese food! Side note: of anyone is bringing us food when we get back, we want anything that's not Asian! ;) I love Chinese food but we are ready for our own comfort foods from home. And I want regular toilets, not sqauttie potties which are just holes in the ground with no toilet paper, soap, or paper towels in the bathroom anywhere. I want my new washing machine from home and to be able to order drinks with ice. I want Florida weather. I want to show Emily to my family and to be online whenever I want, not just when my vpn decides to work. I can't Facebook, check email, get on pinterest or even Google search Emily's condition because it's all blocked. So frustrating. But we are making the most of it, for 7 more days! Talk to you next from guangzhou :)
-Erin xoxo

Day 7: The Orphanage

Today was an emotional day. Emily is showing her true colors, at breakfast she was a true 2 year old! She wouldn't sit still, threw her food and laughed at it, and jumped up and down on the seats. You know, the kind of family you get annoyed by at a restaurant lol. So we left without eating much and got ready to visit Emily's orphanage. Em decided on the hour long bus ride that she was starving, so we started feeding her snacks and didn't stop until we got back ;)
Emily was at the Jinan social welfare institute, which is a beautiful place set in the mountains of Shandong by a lake. It's not your typical orphanage, the foster families live on campus, the place is very clean and brightly colored, there are many toys and places for enrichment. We met the director and took a group photo with her. She handed me a bag and it was translated that the contents held something Emily had when she was found. I think it's a pink hat, I was overwhelmed at the time honestly. It has a wrapper around it with Chinese writing and the date she was found, I need to have it translated before I unwrap it. It's hard to believe that's all she has, besides the clothes she came to us in.. most of which we donated back to the orphanage because it didn't fit and this princess has plenty of clothes waiting at home ♡
We were one of the largest groups to come through the orphanage at one time! We were surprised to learn that next we would visit the foster families. I was not prepared for this, I had nothing to give them, no questions ready, and emotionally I hadn't thought this was happening. Emily has been raised by this family for almost a year, what can I say to them to show my gratitude?
When we walked in the foster mom took Emily from me (graciuosly) and there were tears in Emily's eyes. I don't know if she was silently crying or if it was the wind from being outside, but coupled with those sad eyes it was heartbreaking! We had some questions translated to and from the foster mom, basically she said Emily eats almost anything and is a smart girl. We saw where Em slept and ate. It was a tiny place but you could tell her foster mom loves her very much. She cried when we left her home, I promised I'd send pictures and she was very grateful.
While we were there Emily sat on the potty chair and wiped all by herself. Little stinker made us believe we had to hold her on there and wipe for her, she's got us right where she wants us!
We toured the rest of the facility, met her teachers, saw her classroom, and saw where the bigger kids have art class. They were selling some of the projects they had made as orphanage donations, I got a beautiful bead ornament for our Christmas tree.
When we got back it was nap time, then we went to Papa John's. She's not a fan of pizza. We gave her what might have been her very first ice cream cone, which she enjoyed very much but I had to feed it to her with a spoon because the other way was too sticky for her and she didn't like that lol.
Time for Emily's bath, right now she's wearing her coat and shoes. Apparently she wants to go back outside in her new stroller, as she's having Austin push her around the room. They are bonding slowly but surely, which makes us all so happy!  :)
Tomorrow is the zoo! -Erin xoxo

Day 6: Chinese supermarket, new shoes, downtown Jinan, springs and lakes

Today we had the morning free so after our gigantic breakfast we bundled up and headed out to the mall 2 doors down. We started at Starbucks of course, Thank the Lord those employees can speak English! Emily terrorized the Starbucks lounge while we waited for the mall to open.
I found out that it's about -2°C here, hence why the Morelands are freezing! ;) we brought Emily some shoes that actually do fit but they aren't warm enough for this tiny thing so we ventured out to get some new warm boots. We went to a crocs store first, they had plenty of kids boots but the lady insisted none would fit Emily. I thought we could at least try some on but she was insistent they would be too big. At least I think that's what she was saying, this province doesn't see much on the outside and besides Starbucks I haven't found anyone that speaks a lick of English. Thank goodness for our guides! But today we are on our own. We finally found a store that was like a babies r us called Kidswant, blaring music that was kids singing English Christmas songs and it's a small world. We had Emily try some shoes on until we figured out her size (it's 140 in Chinese sizes). This girl loves her shoes. She pointed to every pair, had us put them on her and would walk around until we got the next pair. She must know her papa is a podiatrist!
Obviously we had to wear the shoes right away. Ps she's been walking around our hotel room with the shoe box in the bag it came in acting like she's shopping.
It was almost nap time so we went to the grocery store to get some more snacks since Em and Austin eat every hour lol. We all picked out some things, David got a 6 pack of beer for $3.50 but forgot to get water haha! Austin got pringles and oreos, real nutritious but he's lost so much weight on this trip I figure we will resort to healthier eating later. We also got Emily a pink cheap stroller, the girl loves it. She had Austin push her around in the room the rest of the afternoon. 
After Emily's nap we got on the bus and toured some of the springs and beautiful lakes in Jinan, the capital city in Emily's province Shandong. This was the most beautiful scenery I've seen on this trip so far. The contrast though between the old parts, where people are getting their water from natural springs in jugs, and the new parts, with big skyscraper buildings, is so strange! And this may sound dumb, but the area we saw today was very "asian" looking, with temples and pagodas, weeping willows and cherry blossoms. It feels so magical, and just over the horizon are huge mountains. Just breathtaking. The province is known for it's beautiful springs actually. Emily, you are from a magnificent town!
-Erin xoxo