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Friday, June 2, 2017

Our Journey to China - Days 13-19

Back again to recap our final days and I must admit I didn't take as many notes during this part of our trip.  If you want to see Days 7-12 click here.

To see Days 1-6, click here.

We had way less down time in Guangzhou and enjoyed this city so much.  So here is my best shot at a recap.  Better late than never right?

April 8th - Day 13

We went down for an amazing breakfast buffet at our hotel and saw several adoptive families.  It's so refreshing to talk to others going through the same thing as you.  

After breakfast, we explored a bit outside.  It is such a beautiful hotel.  

Cooper next to the giant waterfall at our hotel.

 

 Miss Willow


The giant koi fish


And here she is in front of the beautiful flower display in the hotel lobby of the Garden.


Selfie with Mommy


Our guide met us at 9:30am to take us to Willow's medical appointment.  It was a close drive and not too busy which was great.  It's a medical clinic but they have a separate area just for adoptive families. 

Willow did well and was very cooperative during her exam. They didn't have any concerns.

They did have to draw blood for the TB test.  They took her into another room to do that and of course she cried some.  She was only away from us though for a few minutes and then we got to comfort her. 

Next stop was Wal-Mart but not nearly as Big as they are in Texas.  We grabbed a few things and then our guide wanted to take us to lunch.  We found an Irish pub restaurant right behind our hotel and were excited to eat there.  We had Pizza, Nachos and Potato Skins and it was all Delicious! We would definitely be coming back to this place. 

Later in the day after Willow's nap, we took the kiddos for a swim.  The water was too cold for me but Tyler got in the water with them.

Getting her feet wet.


Didn't take long before she was all in. HAHA!


Since the water was a bit chilly,  they got in the hot tub next.


Love this boy so much! This trip wouldn't have been the same without him.  We needed him with us just as much as he needed us.  Having Cooper with us has been great for Willow as well.  

April 9th - Day 14

It was another nice day, very humid of course but we met our guide again at 9:30.  She took us to a nearby park in the heart of the city.  It was gorgeous to walk through.  In the park you will see people doing exercise, dancing, and playing hacky sack.


Much different than what is used at home for hacky sack.

Check it out.


We enjoyed walking through this park very much.  There is a legend behind this 5 goat statue but I forgot what it was. Pretty neat though.


Willow wanted to explore so we let her loose for awhile and thankfully she kept a hold of Tyler's towel. Lol.  It was really cute.



That face though. :)


As we were about to exit the park, we fed the koi fish and cooper noticed these neat Jeep boats.  Of course he wanted to ride/drive one so we did that next.  If you ask Cooper, this was one of the top highlights on the trip for him.




Next was the Pearl and Jade Market.  I have never seen so much jewelry in my life and this place was like 6-7 stories.  Insane!  Jade is a very precious stone in China, much like we value diamonds.  

I bough a jade necklace for myself and 2 smaller ones for Libby and Willow to give them later.

In the Chinese culture, you would give Jade to your daughter on her 16th birthday. I don't know that I will wait that long but they are a little too young for it now so I will save them for the right time.

We also bought a strand of pearls and made a few bracelets with it.  You can get an amazing price on fresh water pearls in China. The boys were troopers on this stop.  It was hot and humid inside this jewelry mall.

Here we are looking at pearls.


Cooper made a friend too. :)



This day wore us out. It was almost 80 degrees but felt like it was in the 90's because of the humidity.

We got back to the room and this was the current feeling.  Whooped!


We laid low the rest of the day and visited the little outdoor park at our hotel.  We were not sure how Willow would handle steps.  She was determined and had absolutely no problem at all, we were just wanting her to slow down a bit. This girl is really showing Down syndrome who is boss.  She seriously amazes us each day with something new.

April 10th - Day 15th

On this day, we had plans to visit The Little Home.  The Little Home was started by Children's Hope International (CHI) our adoption agency and there are actually several of them.  Its amazing what these little homes do for families. 

The little home is a home for families whom have a child that is going through treatments at the hospital.  It gives them a place to stay free of charge and they share this home with a few other families.  The families said it is a nice support system to have for each other as well. 

We entered the home and the very thing I noticed was how little it was.  The kids began coming into the living room and my goodness it broke my heart.  All were bald and visibly looked tired.  We got to talk with them via our guide/translator and Tyler prayed for all of them before we left.  They were Christians which was wonderful to hear. Praise God!  It was so sweet but yet heartbreaking.  Here we are before with some of the families.


We look forward to sending medical supplies via Mission Regan that these families would otherwise have to purchase. We are so thankful for this stop in our itinerary today.  As hard as it was to witness, it was a very special part of our trip.

The next stop was Shaiman Island! I have lots of pictures from this next stop. Its a man made island and I really enjoyed walking through here. 

There are statues that are throughout the island and these in particular ones have become famous that you see in almost all adoptive families photos when they come to the island.





We were thrilled to see some friends as well. I had met several families online through social media before going to China and some of us knew we would be there at the same time so its exciting when you run into them. 


I found another Starbucks on the island as well.  Carmel Frap for the win! I was smart this day and wore shorts.  I actually bought then the day before from H&M across the street because I did not have any.  This is Tyler's, "Oh gosh, not a another Starbucks face." lol


A real one this time without Starbucks.


This is what you call the Asian Squat. ;)  Cooper is practicing it with Willow and a little friend she made.


More walking through the Island.  She loves her Daddy!


We found some souvenirs and squeaky shoes for Willow.  She was a big fan of them.  Too bad I can't play the little video of them.  I also got both her and Libby an authentic Chinese silk dress.  

Then we visited the Swan hotel to get a famous picture on the red sofa.  It's kind of a tradition to do so.

The silly one is my favorite!


Inside the hotel, I think we have maxed out our picture taking for the day! LOL.

 

We stopped at a little park and let the kiddos play for a bit.


Then we had burgers at Lucy's restaurant on the island.  It was Delish!

One more pic before leaving Shaman Island and this one is my favorite. haha.

I think we nailed it though. ;)


We went back to our hotel for awhile and even though Willow was very tired, I wanted to try her new dress on.  This is her sleepy face.  She loves her new doll too.


For dinner, we decided to try a German Restaurant my friend Shay highly recommended.

Take a look at the ribs they brought out to us. YUM!!!


Well that dinner pretty much summed up our evening. Good thing we had a little walk back to our hotel after consuming so much food. :)

April 11th- Day 16

Today was our U.S. Consulate appointment day! Very Exciting! We kind of sported our red white and blue in a subtle way but believe me we are very "Proud to be an American."

A couple pics in the hotel before leaving.


Look how tiny she is next to Cooper.


Here we are before going into the U.S. Consulate.  We could not bring out phones in.


This was seriously the last picture we took this day.  We went back to the Irish pub restaurant this night because we knew it was a hit and it was also right behind our hotel.  

In less than 48 hours, we will receive Willow's visa and be able to leave China and head home. We are so excited and can not believe our journey to China is coming to an end. 

April 12th - Day 17

Today we were crossing our fingers and toes that the weather would cooperate so we could go to the Safari Park and thank goodness it did. This was our favorite day of the whole trip. Besides the day we met Willow of course. :)  I think it was also a favorite day because it was our last full day before heading home so it just felt good.  Plus the weather ended up being a little cloudy and breezy which made for a perfect day to visit the Safari Park.  Seriously, it was the best Zoo Experience (by far) that I have ever been on.  If you go to Guangzhou, this is a MUST DO!!!!!

I was like a giddy kid arriving to the Safari Park.  I could tell it was going to be fantastic soon after arriving. I'm not going to share a picture of every animal we saw.  Lol! Lets just say all the animal encounters were phenomenal.  Most of the animals were up and moving and even a little too close for comfort at times.  Here are some of my favorite pictures.  You can head on over to my IG page as well @embraceandgrace if you want to see some of the videos I posted from this day.  Feeding the elephants was awesome. I posted a video of Tyler throwing a banana right in it's mouth.  If I could figure out how to post videos here correctly I would. :)


BIG BOYS!!!


Look at the cute little Koala in the bottom left of this collage.  I wish we could of held him too! 


I was probably the most excited about seeing the Pandas! Willow loves Pandas but during this part she was asleep so we had to go back so she could see them.




We were probably entertained the most by these Orangatangs.  We seriously watched them play and show off for like 45 mins.  We got several great videos.  Cooper could have watched them all day. 


Cooper loved the dinosaurs as well! Willow was not a fan so we walked past them rather quickly.


Look at the baby tigers in the incubators. 




And the Koala Bears, how sweet are they? 


Willow was not feeling this character. lol.


Gotta love the Giraffes, it was fun feeding them too. Willow held on really tight to Tyler. 



That wraps up most of the excitement! 


Just as we were leaving, it started raining.  The day could not have went any better.  We will never forget our day at the Safari Park.  

April 13th - Day 18

We finished packing and received Willow's visa at about noon.  Woo hoo!!!!  We said our goodbyes to our friends and went to the train station to catch a train to Hong Kong. 

Cooper and his buddy Will


Willow and Nicky.  We just enjoyed visiting with this family so much. 


The train ride was fun, we pretty much had our own train car to ourselves.  We made it into Hong Kong a few hours later, just as it was getting dark.  Everything was all lit up.  
*not my picture but exactly what it looked like. 


Once we arrived, we got a taxi to the Marriott Hotel that was basically connected to the airport so the next morning would be super easy.  It would have been nice to have a full day in Hong Kong but all I could think of was getting home to my other babies.  Had we had all of our kiddos with us, visiting Disneyworld in Hong Kong would have been really tempting. ;)

April 14 - Day 19

THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE DAY!!!!!  EXCITED< NERVOUS< ANXIOUS….A little bit of it all! So many emotions!  Grateful, Happy, Relieved, the list goes on.

Excited to go home.  A little nervous about the long flight and how Willow would do.   And just a little anxious about it all.  We knew that Libby was a little upset with us at this point, based on our recent phone chats with her.  She was justifiably a little ticked off we were still gone and didn't want much to do with Willow on the phone anymore. It actually broke my heart one night.  She told me, she wasn't my friend anymore.  So I think I was just anxious about the upcoming transition. 

Right before the flight, I started to feel a bit off.  I couldn't figure it out.  I had just had a Starbucks drink so you would think, everything would be golden.  lol. 

As soon as we boarded the plane, I actually got super sick to my stomach and dizzy.  It wasn't nerves because it didn't feel like that but I seriously thought I was going to pass out.  I turned white and I think I freaked Tyler out a bit.  I was just praying non stop that it would pass and we would just get in the air so there was no turning back.  

Thankfully, it did pass but it took a good 2-3 hours.  For those few hours, I was worthless. I sat in my chair, drinking water with my eyes closed and had to be completely still.  UGH! The only thing I could think of was that maybe I had neglected to drink enough water leading up to this point and in these very humid temps, maybe I was getting dehydrated.  That's the only thing I can think of.  As a couple hours went by and I kept drinking water, I started to feel more normal.  Whew! Thank the Lord!

Willow did fantastic on the flight, she slept a good 6-7 hours at one point and happily played in her chair and ate snacks during the remaining hours. 

After 14-15 hours, we finally landed in DALLAS!  Gosh, that felt so good just to land!

We had to go through customs and immigration.  We actually landed an hour early but it took almost a good 1.5 hours until we made it through the Big Automatic doors to see all of our family and friends on the other side.  It was a whirlwind of excitement! 

Here is a LINK to see an awesome video that Sunny Mays Photography shot for us.  I'm so in love with how she captured this homecoming for our family.   It's only a few minutes but it's packed with so much love and excitement.  I will treasure this keepsake. 

Here are some images from our arrival as well!!!! Getting to squeeze both my kiddos couldn't have felt better and Libby and Willows first hug was just simply amazing. 

This was our friends and family waiting on us before we walked through the doors.




I think this is my favorite.  Seeing both the girls hug for the first time was absolutely priceless.  I think I love how much Aiden and Cooper are squeezing each other so tightly just as much in the bottom left corner.  You can feel the love in this picture for sure.


Another angle of this shot :)




Willow loved giving high fives to everybody! This just makes my heart so happy. 


I love this collage too my friend Brittany made. 


Some of my precious girlfriends that could make it.  *Not all are pictured here


All of our extended family that came to welcome us home.  It's blurry but I still love it. 


Last but not least, our FIRST picture as a family of 6! YAY!


Whew! I think that was the longest post ever! Thank you for all the love and support!  We most definitely felt the prayers and they certainly helped carry us through.  We couldn't be more excited for this new season as a family of 6.  

Stay tuned for Willow's 2 month post adoption update.  I'll be doing them at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and so on until 1 year.  Then I'll post one update every 6 months after that.  

I post frequently on IG so if you don't already follow us on @embraceandgrace you can see daily pictures and videos there.  I'm kinda obsessed with Insta-stories. :)

Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! May God get all the Glory for orchestrating this entire journey and all the details along the way. 


3 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story! That video is priceless! How nice to have such a wonderful memory recorded. Wishing you and your family all the best. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. How did you decide to bring cooper and leave the other two at home?

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    1. It was pretty easy actually because our oldest wanted to stay home and not miss school. He wanted to be the man of the house. lol And Cooper wanted to go, he would of had a really tough time not going. Libby was just too young, she just didn't understand it fully so it was better for her to stay home in her normal routine with her big brother Aiden.

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