Thursday, December 29, 2005

I will think of something...

I wanted to post some pictures of Julia's first Christmas and well, there was no way to make it just a few pictures. I wanted to include most of our famiy members. I think that you'll get the idea when you see all the pictures that I posted. :-)

Julia seemed to handle the chaos called Christmas very well. Better than I could have ever expected. She loved meeting new family members and sitting with her Uncle Mark. She also got a kick out of Mark P.'s white socks. She had never met Marko before and was totally smitten with him as the night progressed. We were a bit worried about her getting used to too many people too quickly, but those fears seemed to fade just as quickly as they arised. Julia is a social little girl and loves to be the center of attention. Much like her sister Anna.

So enjoy the pictures and thanks for words of encouragement. We hope that we can help waiting families and ease some of their fears.

My Peace Girl! Posted by Picasa

Yes, I am the cutest little girl from China that you have ever seen! Posted by Picasa

Carla and Jorge Posted by Picasa

Nate, Jake, Sarah and Aunt Beth  Posted by Picasa

Our traditional Samantha and Melissa Christmas picture Posted by Picasa

Julia still convinced about China's victory Posted by Picasa

Anna, Cam and Julia Posted by Picasa

My other parents and my sisters..and Tyler :-) Posted by Picasa

The Happy Fulton Family! Posted by Picasa

Here is my Auntie Cheryl and Uncle Wendell who came home from Florida just to meet Julia Posted by Picasa

Our Granny and Poppa Posted by Picasa

A not so hot picture of our family after a long day of Christmas  Posted by Picasa

Julia loving her new baby stroller Posted by Picasa

Christmas morning at the Wagner house...Julia with a morning bottle Posted by Picasa

Bis sister Anna with new lip gloss Posted by Picasa

Julia really getting into Christmas Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Our first week at home

If you skip this entry and check out the picture I posted of Julia kickin' back eatin' Wheat Thins, I think that you will see a little girl that feels right at home. She continues to amaze us. She's a Wagner kid through and through. She loves POPCORN! If Grandpa George could see how she loves to eat popcorn, he would be so proud. Julia loves COOKIE DOUGH! Yep, a girl after her own momma's heart. She loves her fruit too. We've bought more fruit in the past week than I have in a long time. Cam and Anna are not fruit lovers, but man-o-man is Julia. Oranges seem to be what she loves the most.

Naptime is getting much better. She tends to get up around 5:30/6:00am and want a bottle. I know, I know...a bottle you say? Yes, we still give her a bottle. It's more of comfort thing than a nutrition thing... So, she's ready for a nap by 10:30/11:00. That's ok with me, then she's sleeps till about 1:00 has lunch and is good for the rest of the day. So by 8-ish she's more than ready for another bottle and bedtime.

As for Cam and Anna...they are adjusting to having a baby sister that wants to play with everything! Julia loves Cam's Gameboy and Anna's Barbies. All 3 kids are learning how to share together. I think for the most part they are all ok with it, but sometimes Anna gets a little jealous.

Well, I need to wrap this up. My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Wendell are coming in from Florida today and I need to get the kids ready to go to Grams's house.


Yeah, I'm settled in. All I needed was this cool pillow and a box of Wheat Thins!!! Posted by Picasa

This is what the backseat of my mom's car looks like now with 3 kids! Posted by Picasa

With my dad at the program Posted by Picasa

Getting ready for my sister Anna's Christmas program...This is my brother Cameron! Posted by Picasa

Taking a bath at home (Finally!) with my big sister, Anna! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Our welcoming crew! Posted by Picasa

Julia checking out all of the people that came to see her at the airport Posted by Picasa

Home Update: Our Bittersweet Return

Well, here it is. The last post about our journey to Julia. It’s not the end of my blog, but it’s the last entry about our trip and a few thoughts now that we are home.
Leaving China was easy. Wayne and I both wanted to get home to see Cameron and Anna, get back to some sense of normalcy. God had another plan. We left our hotel in Guangzhou at 5:45 with our guide, Wayne. We had a conversation about he thought was important for Julia to know about her birth country and culture. He would like to see her lean to speak Mandarin. I would love for her to keep up on her Chinese, but in Ludington, I’m not sure that can happen too easily. Once at the airport Wayne saw us off through security and immigration. I really enjoyed my time in Guangzhou.

We landed in Hong Kong a little while later and had a very nice man named Dieter invite us into United’s Red Carpet Lounge. It’s nice! Free food, free drinks...God was looking down on us. Julia did great flying from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. It’s the flight to San Francisco that I was worried about!

Nearly 12 hours later we land back in the US!!! HEEYYYY!!! Normal food, normal money, people that speak English! Julia did really well on the long flight. She never had a huge meltdown as I thought she went pretty smooth. This is where our happy story takes a turn. Wayne and I both knew that we had been out of contact with his family for too long and that we needed to get an update on Wayne’s dad, George. Wayne thought he heard his name paged (I never heard it!). This is when we started frantically looking for a phone. My cell was dead and so finding a payphone was a must. We got to a phone and Wayne dialed the hospital. My heart starts to sink as I hear that there are no Wagner family members in the waiting area. This is not a good sign. Wayne tries to call Jeff, again...there is no one there. He then call John/Dad’s house. John answers. He tells Wayne that Dad has passed away Saturday afternoon. It’s totally devastating. This is not the news that we wanted to hear. We were hoping to get to him before he left. Apparently God needed him sooner.

After hanging up the phone we called my parents and they already knew. No one had told Cameron and Anna. We wanted to be the ones to tell him. Mom gave a few more details and we said goodbye. %#@* !!!! This isn’t real. Grandpa George couldn’t be gone. Wayne and I walked to the next gate in a daze...totally lost. Once over the initial shock we started thinking how happy Dad is now that he’s back with Wayne’s mom and seeing all his family that had passed before him. Those thoughts are hardly comforting, but we needed to not fall apart as we had 2 more flights before making to Grand Rapids.

Lucky for us Julia slept the entire flight from San Francisco to Chicago. Phew! One more leg. We stopped and got something to eat for Julia, she was still in good spirits after all that we had gone through in the past 20-some hours. Flying from Chicago to Grand Rapids is a short 35 minute flight, but it seemed to last eternity. We just want to get home!

We landed in Grand Rapids at 9:12pm. I could see the kids waving out the window with Aunt Pam and my sisters. Finally, we made it. I couldn’t be happier. We walked down the gateway and there they were. Cam, Anna, my parents, my sisters and Tyler, my grandparents, Aunt Pam and Wayne’s brothers, Marc and Jeff. Wayne and I both went to the kids, we knew that they would want to see Julia. In classic Anna and Cam style they started to argue over who would push Julia in the stroller. Glad to see some things never change!

Wayne made it over to very bleary eyed Marc and Jeff. The sadness in their eyes was heartbreaking. They were the ones that chose to meet us and try to comfort Wayne. Jeff had been ready to drive to Chicago to pick us up to get us home sooner. No family should ever to have go through what those boys have.

Since arriving home, we have not had one day of normalcy. Monday was spent at Dad’s house seeing everyone. Tuesday we were at the funeral home all day. Julia did wonderful there. Yesterday was the funeral. I had wanted the kids to go back to school today, but maybe tomorrow. Julia was managed to fit in and win the hearts of all her extended family. Cam and Anna seem to really like having a little sister.

Now, the un-sugar coated truth: It’s hard. For all of the tolerance that Julia has shown for being able to adapt to any situation, her meltdowns have reared their heads along the way. When she is tired, she cries. Not simple cries, she WAILS! There are times when she doesn’t get what she wants and it turns into a major cry. We think that she was somewhat spoiled in her foster home. I know, I know...she’s only 2 and we are asking a lot of her. We asking her to trust us, but her faith in us, and to behave all at the same time! The meltodowns have been frustrating and can be hard to cope with. I knew that she would grieve, but I guess I hadn’t prepared myself for the endless crying that this little girl can do. Julia hated using the carseat for the first few times. You would have thought that we were torturing her. She cried and screamed for nearly 30 minutes. Each day she does seem to cry less and less, so I know that it’s getting better. :-)

So...where does that leave us? We are awake at 4:30am this morning, eating fruit snacks and watching the Weather Channel. Julia was meant for us as we were meant to be her parents. We all need to see that God has a plan for us. His plan was to take Grandpa George sooner than we hoped, but I guess he needed another angel. I’m sure that Grandma Mac was waiting for him.
So in retrospect, this journal has been a great way to share our travels to China and great outlet for my thoughts along the way. I have enjoyed writing and I hope that you have enjoyed reading along. Like I said, I may take a break from writing now that the wild one is here!! Take care all and have a great holiday season!
Melissa, Wayne, Cameron, Anna and Julia Wagner

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The last post from China...PHEW!’s the last night in China. WOW! I can hardly believe that it’s almost over. Am I glad that I did it? Hell yeah! I’ve got one great kid that was meant for our family. It’s like she was destined to be a Wagner kid. One funny thing...she was watching Ping Pong with Wayne the other night and he did the classic Wagner cross over foot rub (all you Wagner women know what I mean!). Guess who crosses her feet and does the SAME THING! So to come full circle on my blog, we need to remember the theory of the Red Thread:

"An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." - Chinese Proverb

I do believe that Lu Yin Gui was destined to be Julia Renee YinGui Wagner. From the moment that I saw her on AAI’s website, I knew that she was my daughter. I knew that she was meant for us. Only God knows how it all happened so perfectly. I remember a conversation I had with Mik about when God asks you to do something (like adopting a little girl from China), who are we to question him? Who am I to say, "Hang on God, the timing isn’t right for us...can we hold off?" If we had held off, Julia would not be with us. She may have been placed with another loving family. She may have stayed in foster care for many more years till she aged out of the orphanage. Those are thoughts that I can’t think about.

Savage Garden had a song a few years back called "I knew I loved you" I’m going to be post the lyrics:

Maybe it's intuition
But some things you just don't question
Like in your eyes
I see my future in an instant
And there it goes
I think I've found my best friend
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believeI knew I loved you before
I met youI think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life
There's just no rhyme or reason
Only this sense of completion
And in your eyesI see the missing pieces
I'm searching forI think I've found my way home
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believe
I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met youI have been waiting all my life
A thousand angels dance around you
I am complete now that I've found you
I knew I loved you before I met youI think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met youI have been waiting all my life

So...where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us with a overwhelming feeling of love, compassion and a bigger sense of faith. I’ve met some incredible families along this way. Liz and Brion of course. Liz helped me see through this maze of paperwork and waiting. Brion, helped out with his sense of humor. The Baldwins, Larry and Melissa, wow I can’t believe we finally made it to China and have the girls. I couldn’t be happier to have the chance to have coffee this afternoon. Maddie is a doll and I’m sure her and Julia will have a great time playing together again. To all the families from the late August group...I can’t thank all you enough. We are planning a get together at Shelli and Daniel’s next summer right?? :-)

To those familes still waiting to are a few things I learned:
1. Packmates are ok...but I don’t think that I saved that much space. It was nice to have all clothes or important items not get wet. (Nothing got wet this trip, but when we went to Florida earlier this year our clothes got damp from sitting outside in the rain waiting to be loaded.)

2. Only bring 1-2 diarrhea medicines. I brought a stock pile and only needed one kind. I like Imodium AD. Rolaids were nice to have too. Never used my Pepcid or Pepto tablets.

3. The pull-ups vs. diapers debate...Julia was/is potty trained. I liked pull-ups, buit didn’t bring enough! Diapers are ok too, but they are harder to get on and off and the sticky tabs get wrecked so they don’t stick anymore.

3.5 . All our hotels had toothbrushes and toothpastes.

4. All hotels had shampoo and conditioner.

4.5. All hotels had lotion.

5. Loved having a Panda Phone, it can be a bit expensive, but the convenience was great. We had perfect signal in all 3 cities.

6. Snacks for Julia: She loved Cheerios and the banana flavored cereal snacks from Gerber. There are some good baby snacks here in China that she liked better, so we just bought them. Julia did not like the dehydrated fruit snacks from Gerber.

7. Chapstick! Chapstick! Chapstick! My lips got very dry and I loved having it with me.

8. We didn’t need the lice shampoo or the scabies medicine. So if there’s anyone out there who wants the scabies stuff, let me know. You can have mine.

9. We had laundry done at our hotel in Wuhan (super expensive) and at The China Doll in GZ. For heavier items like jeans, I’d still recommend having them sent out, but for shirts, socks, undies and kids clothes, I wish I would have brought some laundry soap. I did end up buying some Tide bar soap that worked good.

10. Wayne caught a bad cold that moved to his ear. We wished we would have packed more sinus/cold meds. Getting sick is a crap shoot, but luckily for us we had Amoxicillin for Julia that Wayne ended up taking.

11. Toys! We brought Play-Doh (huge hit!), linking rings (another huge hit), books (eh, not that thrilled about those), Magna Doodle (it’s ok), bubbles (loved them!), My Little Pony (she likes it), Sonya Lee 6 inch doll (loves it), little stuff cat (likes this too). She really liked the ladybug back pack to put it all in.

12. Surge protectors Our hotel lost power for a bit yesterday and I think my cell phone (not the Panda Phone) got cooked even with the surge protector. I got 2 at Wal-Mart for $9-something a piece. I’m glad that our laptop or something else wasn’t plugged in.

13. Danny’s Bagel in GZ is the BESTEST! We loved their food. Great Italian and American subs. Highly recommended and they DELIVERED!!!! Great for those nights when we didn’t feel like leaving the hotel.

14. Jordon’s Place: Great shopping, no hustle and nice people. Go past Sherry’s and Jennifer’s to the next corner, turn right and go for a block or so take another right and Jordon’s will be on the right side. You will need to go through a hotel/hostel type place, but well worth it.

15. While in your child’s province (if it’s north of GZ) make sure that you have layers of clothes on the kids. We got in trouble with a few older folks for not having Julia’s legs covered.

16. If you have the opportunity, learn some Mandarin or Cantonese. Most people in China speak Mandarin. Cantonese is mainly in the south part. It would have been helpful to know a few more phrases to help calm Julia. All I knew was Bo coo? (No crying) and Wo ai nee (I love you). And to be honest, neither of them really worked with a screaming 2 year old. :-)

17. ENJOY YOURSELF! This is your child’s country, no matter what you think of the food, culture or the people. This is where she/he is from. It’s a different world here. There’s far more pushing and shoving to get where you need to go/get what you want. It’s not being rude, just that’s how it is. Get used to being stared at. Once again, it’s not a rude thing, just most people are interested in Americans with Chinese children. I got kinda used to it, but I’m BEYOND ready to be home. 2 weeks from Cameron and Anna is too long!

I hope this helps. I’m sure there is more and once I get home I will add more to my list.
Alrighty, well, it’s time for us to go...take care and please pray for Grandpa George and for us as we take the long flights home! I can’t wait to see you all!!!!!!!!!!!

Maddie and Julia on the red couch at the White Swan Posted by Picasa

More of the red couch! Posted by Picasa