She stroked my face, looked into my eyes, and said, "Love you." 

Melt. My. Heart. 
She didn't have to. 
I was just holding her (which seems to be most of the time). 
Sweetest thing ever.  

Makes the tantrums and sleepless nights fade away. 
How blessed am I to be her mama? 

She amazes me. 
Just when I think I couldn't love her more...
I find myself falling in love all over again.

Adoption has changed my life.


Day 19 Home

Today, I feel like we will make it and that's a great feeling. Emmi has really been adjusting very well despite the sleep issues but I have had a hard time transitioning to four and to having a toddler again. I know I haven't given myself enough time to really recover but I immediately felt the pressure to get back to a full home school schedule etc. It's pressure that I put on myself (lest you think it is others). :) Anyway, it's been a little bit of a nightmare and has made me feel very inadequate and very ill-equipped to continue educating the boys, managing our home, etc.

However, today, I finally feel like this is going to eventually work. We finally had a great night of sleep which in and of itself was rejuvenating and gave me a renewed outlook on life. And we were able to get in a really good day of school - I was able to teach all of the boys, Emmi was happy overall, and Titus and Emmi played together while I worked with the big boys. I am hoping this is the start of a normal routine. I would like to emerge from this fog and feel like we are not only going to survive but that we are going to THRIVE!

Our sweet girl has far surpassed our expectations. She is doing so well! Yes, she is into everything and not sleeping well but she is communicating and connecting and we are amazed. I fall more in love with her with each passing day. She is spunky, opinionated, hilarious, affectionate, stubborn, genuine, smart, and adorable - I am not biased at all. HA! I am thoroughly enjoying having a daughter - I painted her nails tonight. :) So that's our update. I'm exhausted tonight but feeling relieved that there is light at the end of the transition tunnel.


Safari Park

We LOVED the Safari Park in Guangzhou! We went on January 27! It was by far the coolest animal adventure we have ever been to. There were so many different animals and so many of each different kind of animal. The tigers were probably our favorite. We did a driving safari  (we took a tram up close to the animals) & a walking tour. We spent 4-5 hours there and thoroughly enjoyed it! Emmi also tried her first ice cream and loved it - she has quite the sweet tooth - must be related to her dad. :)


Nitty Gritty

Andrew said to me the other day, "I can't believe we have a toddler again." :) We so definitely do. She walks from one thing to the next to see what she can get in to, terrifies us on the stairs (she is learning how to ascend and especially descend them), and enjoys shredding kleenexes and papers. We must keep her in our sight and clean up in her wake. I'm sure it is delightful to her to be free from the confines of the playroom at her orphanage! She is interested in everything and curiosity is a great thing at the age of 2. It's fun to see her excited about things!

However, we are EXHAUSTED. I mean bone tired right now. I resorted to paper plates last night because that just seemed easier. Kind friends are bringing dinner and I don't think they will ever know how thankful we are. By 5 or 6, we look at each other and wonder aloud if it's bedtime yet. :) We'll make it...eventually! :) Sleeping was better but is getting worse again. Emmi is often wakeful for 1-3 hours in the middle of the night and isn't napping well (ie not long). I know the general rule of thumb is one day for every hour of time difference, so I'm thinking (wishfully perhaps?!) that we are still in the window of time for jet lag for her (day 13 will be Tuesday).

We enjoyed overall great health in China which was a huge answer to prayer. We have mostly not been very healthy since arriving home. Andrew & Emmarie have taken the brunt of it with nasty colds.

The boys are so excited that Emmi is here but are also testing boundaries. It's so much change for everyone and I know they are just trying to figure it all out but it's hard. We've had tempers flare, apologies given, bad attitudes, nasty words, and sweet hugs, kisses, and prayers. It's been the gamete. It makes us a little extra tired. They are so sweet in their desire to protect and love Emmarie.

So thankful, so blessed, and so wishing to be through this stage of the journey. Ready to feel back to myself!

And by the way, it's seriously hard to stay frustrated with the cutest girl on the planet - she charms with her smiles, generously gives kisses (to us), loves to laugh, adores cuddling, and has the funniest expressions!


Home Sweet Home

Okay, okay, I know...bad blogger. :) Honestly, our internet connection was A LOT better in her province than it was in Guangzhou - not what we expected. So, I will be going back and catching up on blog posts. We were BUSY the whole time in Guangzhou.

We made it home one week ago today. Travel was long but not awful. We took a train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and it was actually a really nice way to travel. We spent the night in Hong Kong and checked into our flight the next morning. That was an adventure - 45 minutes at the ticket counter, confused representative, phone calls, supervisors  grumpy toddler, stressed out mama...we were about ready to call our travel agent when they finally worked it out...so we thought. She still wasn't on the flight list when we arrived at Immigration in Chicago. Thankfully, we had her boarding pass to prove she was a passenger. And thankfully, we made it through customs, through immigration for her, through re-checking our bags, and to our gate in time. We boarded our flight and it started to snow. So, we sat on the plane for an hour...for a 50 minute flight home to see our boys. It was the hardest part of our trip.

Despite all of that, we cannot say enough good about C*athay Airline. Best economy experience ever. Emmarie did decide that she only wanted Daddy on the trip home - that's a lot of hours of not wanting to be held by anyone else. :) She was a really good traveler and we were really glad we had a seat for her. Oh and she has since decided that I'm totally okay again.

What a sweet reunion with our boys! We missed them like crazy and they were SO excited to meet Emmi. We saw them from a distance waving and Emmarie started waving a smiling like crazy - like she had been waiting for them her whole life. :) She LOVED looking at their pictures and even kissed the pictures while we were in China. It was so adorable.

Both of our families were also there to welcome us and Emmi home and we had a pizza party back at our house before crashing...for a few hours. Yep, jet lag has taken it's toll. Honestly, we thought that it wouldn't be too bad since we hadn't slept very much on the 20+ hour trip home. WRONG. So wrong. We are finally beginning to feel a little more normal and Emmarie is having more regular sleeping hours. It's been hard - especially with three boys not jet lagged. We have been thankful for some extra help and some meals to make this transition a little easier. We also are the proud parents of a very active toddler. She is a busy, busy gal and it didn't take long for her to feel at home and start getting into everything. We kind of forgot home much energy toddlers take (Ty is 4 1/2) but we are loving almost every minute. :)

She is one smart girl! She is copying words and seems to understand a fair amount of what we say to her (as in, she responds appropriately). We have taught her a few signs and plan to teach her more but she is really wanting to use words. Today, she said, "thank you" several times in an appropriate context - I couldn't believe it. She has warmed up to the dog and is trying desperately to fatten Pippi up by sharing her snacks. In short, she has completely amazed us.

She will be seeing an ophthalmologist next month for her eyes - her right one doesn't always track the same. We noticed almost instantly but it is not noted anywhere in her records and the nannies at the orphanage said that everything is fine. :) It does not seem to be significantly effecting her vision (or she is compensating well) - she can obviously see okay. We will see what the doctor says and see what we need to do!

We are completely in love with our sweet girl. It feels like we have known her much longer than 16 days. She fits right in and holds her own.

Finally...here are pictures...courtesy of my favorite (very talented!) sister-in-law, Ashley.

They see us coming - how sweet are they! And my aunt gave them the 'Big Brother' outfits! SO CUTE!

They were incredibly excited and started to go past the Do Not Enter sign. :)

She was seriously thrilled to meet them!

I missed my boys so much - they were such troopers throughout this adoption journey - they encouraged us so much to move forward on adding another child to our family. Such big hearts.

They were pretty excited about being at the airport.

Yep, she has him wrapped - it didn't take long at all. And seriously, check out that smile! That's after travelling for so many hours and having all kinds of new experiences!

All of my kiddos together at last.

Our family of SIX!