Monday, August 31, 2009

Head Over Heels...

Smitten as a kitten. Head over heels. In love. Ah does NOT divide, it multiplies. Life is far from perfect here as our family of five, but it is a very blessed life.

Tessa's possible helmet consult went well, and between me and the tech, we decided her head wasn't misshapen enough to do the helmet. So, sweet Tessa is now done (for awhile, anyway) with doctors and tests. Phew.

She continues to do very well. She isn't napping the greatest, but I attribute that to the fact that I've got two older, very active kids who aren't keen on staying home all day so Tessa can take two naps. She hasn't been given consistent nap times, and I hope that will change (at least a little) once the kids are in school. She loves to eat. So far, I've not yet met a food she doesn't like. And she's VERY good at feeding herself...much better than being fed with a spoon in fact. A perfect third child, since she's content shoveling carrots and green beans in her own mouth, as opposed to having mommy do it for her.

She still prefers mom, definitely over strangers and even somewhat still over daddy. She likes him though, and loves to play with him. :) The kids still adore her, and want her here...but I'm waiting for that to change at any moment. I fully expect Sara to ask me to send her back at any time. :) Jacob did have a weepy moment over the weekend when he realized that there are only two parental laps in the house and three kids. :( But, he quickly got over it after some good momma lovin'.

In other news, Jake and Sara start school next week. Jake will be in second grade, and Sara in enrichment (like a young fives program). And, I started back to school today in my continued effort to achieve a degree in social work. This semester I'm taking Social Welfare and Gender & Society. I truly love my classes and taking them helps me to find balance as a mom.

That's all for now! Hope everyone enjoys Labor Day Weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Test Results

Tessa's doctor called last night to let me know that the test results were in. From the echo cardiogram, she has a very small hole in her heart (can't remember where, sorry) that will most likely close on its own. We don't need to do anything now, but will probably follow up with another echo in a couple of years.

Also, her cat scan was fine! Yay! So relieved!! The only thing is, they have referred her to an orthopedic and prosthetic office to have her evaluated for a head shaping helmet due to her misshapen head. It's minor, but we'll follow up with that to see that the experts say. Our appointment is on Monday for that.

We've been crazy busy here between Tessa's appointments and getting the kids ready for school. Hopefully we'll get a couple of warm days before school starts, as it feels like fall here already!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tessa's Catscan

Today, Tessa had her catscan. It was hard to have the nurse take my baby from my arms, but she did really well. They actually gave her some gas to help her fall asleep and keep still during the test. She was pretty mad when she woke up, but settled down after her bottle. She had an echocardiogram on Monday, and hopefully we'll hear the results from both tests soon. Please keep our Tessa in your prayers that all is well with our little peanut.

Pics from the day...she loves her little swing! And a pic of the three of is it hard to get three kids looking in one direction at once!! Hats off to you moms!! :)

We are all progressing well as a family. Tessa continues to bond well to all of us, but still slightly prefers mom. She definitely knows her family though and isn't too keen on strangers holding her yet. She continues to sleep well, maybe waking once per night to get her diaper changed. This blows me away, since neither of my other kids cared when they were wet, or even poopy. Tessa will scream bloody murder when she poops! What a princess!! We love her to pieces and feel very blessed to have been chosen to be her family.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home for 5 days

Hello all! It seems I'm one of those bad bloggers that returns home and doesn't find the time to post! Ack!

We've been home for five days and things are slowly improving. The jet lag still do NOT underestimate that wicked beast!! :)

Tessa is doing well. We went to the doctor yesterday for a checkup. She weighs 15 lbs. 9 oz and is 27" long. She's quite a bit longer than her last check up at TWCA.

We asked about her head symmetry (it's a bit off, an abnormality on her skull) so I took her for a cat scan today. That was hard, but we got it done. Then the doc ordered blood tests too and we tried to get that but the nurses could NOT find a vein. Poor girl. I had Tessa, Jake and Sara all crying at once. Phew.

Then, on Monday she goes in for an echocardiogram to check on her heart. Seems she has a heart murmur they want to check out. I'm not too worried, as Sara had this too and all was well with her.

Sara is adjusting to being a big sister better than I had anticipated. Of course, she's a bit sad that she's been knocked out of her position as the baby of the family, but who could blame her? Jacob is doing absolutely wonderfully. When she cries, he goes to her and gets her to quiet down for me if I can't get right there. He is sweet, sweet, sweet to her.

Hopefully, one of these days I'll feel confident in my position as a mother of three. Right now, I'm just winging it. :) Luckily, Tessa is very patient with me. She continues to bond very well and definitely knows me. She is sleeping well at night, but her naps could be better...hopefully that will come with time.

I'll try to post pictures next time...I'm fresh out of energy right now!! Thanks for your love and support and this crazy journey to Taiwan...complete with Typhoon Morakot!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home At Last!

What a, I don't want to repeat that for quite some time. 12 hour time difference, forever in a plane...phew.

But, now we're home. Yesterday was our first full day home and it wasn't good. The kids love Tessa to pieces...but between my feelings of guilt over leaving them, jag lag and sheer exhaustion I was so SO emotion yesterday. I avoided all family and friends (sorry guys) because I just needed a day to process our new family. Someday I'll go into this more.

Todd and I are still absolutely exhausted and are recovering from jet lag. In fact, I felt so bad yesterday that I hardly ate anything, which is totally not like me. :)

Tessa's so cute...she's sitting here by me in her high chair smiling at me. :)

Anyway...sleep is going really, really well. Better than I could've hoped. The first night she went to bed at 6:30, Sara went to bed at 7 pm (they sleep in the same room) and we didn't hear a peep from either of them until 6:30 am. :) Yay!

Here's a few pics from our first moments home. I'll post more about the last day in Taiwan when I recover a bit more from the trip.

Thanks so much to everyone who followed along on our journey...we love you all and appreciate all the comments we received. They helped immensely while we were in Taiwan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 7 - AIT and Taipei 101

Today we went to AIT to apply for Tessa's visa. The AIT is the American Institute in Taiwan, which is basically the US Embassy. They don't call it an embassy because Taiwan is technically a Republic of China and not its own country. Everything went well, and two hours later, we were told to return tomorrow for her visa. Phew.

Afterwards, we were supposed to go sightseeing, but decided to stay at the hotel instead for the afternoon. Tessa hadn't been taking her bottles at all from us, and she seemed really tired so we thought maybe it was time to take a break. She ended up taking about a four hour nap! And, we figured out the bottle issue. We think the first bottle we gave her was way too hot, and she remembered. She's very smart. :) Over the past two days, she'd take water from a cup, but the second you offered her a bottle she'd freak out, arch her back, and cry. Crazy. Finally, this afternoon we made a bottle, then poured some in a cup. She sipped that. Then, we took the nipple off the bottle and let her drink from it like a cup. She sipped that. Then, we showed her the bottle while we put the nipple back on. She finally took it...and sucked it dry. We were SO relieved!! Since then, she's taken two more bottles and is down for the night.

She's really starting to bond well to us and even showed some stranger anxiety and a bit of separation anxiety today. She doesn't seem to have a preference between Todd or me, but does seem to know we're mommy and daddy. She continues to have a happy, content personality, and she falls asleep really easy.

We've learned that in China (Taiwan), she is considered very beautiful (of course)! Alex told her that it's considered beautiful and lucky that her eyes turn up on the outside, like a crane. :) And she has a beautiful mouth. She definitely gets attention when we're in public.

This evening we ventured out on our own and hailed a cab to the Taipei 101. What an amazing building it is. We were very impressed. The bottom four stories are an upscale mall, and we even shopped at this cool grocery store. We took the elevator to the 89th floor viewing deck. It's the fastest elevator in the world! 1,010 meters per minute...whatever that converts to.

Tomorrow, we'll go to the Chang Kai Shek Memorial and the AIT to pick up Tessa's visa. We hope to have time to stop at the Handicraft Market too, as we never did get there. Then, at 2 pm we head to the airport for our 7:30 pm flight. We land in Chicago (via LA) at midnight on Thursday. Depending on how tired we are, we may stay the night in Chicago. Then we'll drive home Friday morning.

We've had a very good trip. Mr. Yeh said that because we arrived just before the typhoon (just in time) that God really wanted us to get Tessa, and that she must be a very special girl. We think so too. :)

We are very, very anxious to get home and start our life as a family of five. We miss our Jake and Sara terribly and can't wait to get our hands on them. Two more sleeps babies!! We love you!!!! XOXOXOXOX

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 6 - Wulai

Mr. Yeh and Alex picked us up at 10 am and we were off to Wulai. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Wulai is set by this amazing waterfall, Taiwan's largest. To get to the hotel/restaurant, we had to cross the river valley by gondola...this was much scarier looking than it actually ended up being.

Once at the other side, we hiked up to the top and had lunch...yummy food. We had a beef dish, a pork dish, some veggies, and some bamboo fruit of some kind. After lunch, we walked around and did the ropes course...well, Todd and Alex did anyway...although I did go over the rip line, with Tessa strapped to me even! :)

Then, Todd tried his hand at archery and paint ball. Alex was shooting archery with Todd and at that point I decided I was switching tribes...Todd was not bringing home the game! LOL!

Back down the gondola and over to the aboriginal show we went. Interesting. VERY, very loud. And note to other families...babies can't go in the show due to the noise, and it was an hour long, so keep that in mind. I had a hard time leaving Tessa with Mr. Yeh.

Overall, fun day. Amazing scenery. Taiwan is truly a very beautiful island. We've been surprised and impressed with all the mountains and greenery.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tessa Day - The Details

We started the day with Starbucks...of course. :)

Mr. Yeh and Alex picked us up at the hotel at 11 am. I was really nervous. We drove for about two hours then stopped at a rest area to use the bathroom and to get some lunch. Mr. Yeh is very sweet and super accommodating...he pays for everything.

On to TWCA where we picked up Samantha and got Tessa's schedule. Then just a quick ride to the foster mom's house. On the way there, Samantha (who is the director of TWCA and speaks perfect English) told us that Typhoon Morakot was the worst storm they've had in 50 years. There's been a lot of devastating flooding and mudslides, so please pray for those involved. We are safe and unaffected in Taipei, but the coasts are suffering.

We pulled up to the foster mom's house and I was very nervous by now. As soon as we parked, I saw the foster mom, Mrs. Chen holding Tessa at the door. Wow. She looked SO cute. We went in and sat on the foster mom's couch. She sat by me and slowly transferred Tessa to my lap. She began to fuss a bit, so the foster mom told us to give her a rice cracker and she loved that. The foster mom told us she's a happy baby and that she sleeps in her own crib, all through the! We stayed and talked for about 20 minutes, then left. The foster mom had tears in her eyes, it was very emotional. It was very hard for me to leave...taking Tessa away from everything she had known for the past four months.

Next we went to the baby store to buy formula and all the necessities for Tessa. The diapers they told us to buy are way too big, so future families, bring your own. :) Tessa wears a Pamper's size 2. Little butt. :)

Then we went back to TWCA, where Samantha led us upstairs to a room to meet with Tessa's birth family. Five members of her birth family where there and it was extremely emotional. It's clear that a lot of people love Tessa. I won't go into the details of the meeting because that's Tessa's story, but I will tell you that we asked who named her and found out the social worker did, not her birthmom. I asked if they would like it if we named her Tessa Mei after her birth grandmother and they nodded their heads yes. So, she will be Tessa Mei. We still call her Yi-Hsiu for now, and will for awhile. And she'll always know her Taiwanese name. :)

We signed one paper, got all the stuff back I had sent, and got back in the van and drove back to Taipei. In the car, she taught us that she knows Peek-A-Boo...we were very impressed! We found out that Yi-Hsiu Lay (they say this too her a lot in the videos we got) means Where is Yi-Hsiu? So, I think her foster mom must have played peek a boo with her.

It was late by the time we got back to the hotel, so we gave her a jar of apple baby food (since she wasn't quite ready to take a bottle from us yet), a bath, and laid her down in the crib with her pacifier and little blankie from her foster mother. Amazingly enough, she babbled for about 5 minutes and fell asleep. She slept from 8 pm to 6 am without so much as a peep! I didn't sleep well because I kept expecting her to cry at least once...but nope! Yay! Let's hope this is a trend that continues.

This morning, she took a bottle...we were so relieved! She played for quite awhile and now she's napping. She's a very, very sweet, content baby and we are definitely blessed to be her parents. I'm not sure why we were chosen to be the parents of the three best kids in the world...but hey, we'll accept our fate. :)

Jake and Sara...THREE more sleeps babies!!! I can't wait to hug and hold you two!! Hugs and always.


Day 5 - Tessa Day!

We got her!! :)

What a day...we are soooo tired right now...just got back from the trip to get Tessa Yi-Hsiu. It was such an emotional

I'll blog more about it tomorrow...but here's a couple of pictures until then.

She's an absolute delight...VERY happy and smiley baby. She's very content too...laid back. She's rolling all over the place. She ate a jar of apple baby food tonight and she LOVES the rice crackers...but she won't take a bottle from us yet. I think it's because she associates the bottle with her foster mom. As soon as we get it close to her mouth, she cries and arches her back away from we'll try again later. She's had a lot of changes today, poor baby.

Jake and Sara...get ready! You two are going to have a ton of fun with your baby sister!!! We love you always and forever...and miss you oodles and oodles.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 4 - Jade Market, Yangmingshan National Park and Night Markets

Like yesterday, we loaded up with Joyce and Co. and headed out for a very, very long day of touring (10 am to almost 10 pm)!

First stop, Jade Market. This was a BALL. Loved looking at all the beautiful jewelry and jade artifacts. Amy and Tami, we had success...can't wait to send your stuff out to you once we return stateside. We also found a large dragon/tiger statue made out of stone that is supposed to help you save your money...HA! We found jade animals for each of our kids zodiacs (mouse for Tessa, monkey for Sara, and snake for Jake). My favorite thing is a black metal's very simple and beautiful and we were told it was from the time of Ching...over two hundred years old.

Next, we traveled up the mountains to Yangmingshan National Park. Of course, it was raining, darn typhoon, which prevented us from getting any good pictures of the incredibly beautiful scenery. Near the top of the mountain, Mr. Yeh stopped so we could have coffee in this teeny tiny cabin like building where there were NO other buildings. It was really, really cool. We did get a picture of the cabin. Imagine my and Todd's surprise when the nice clerk handed us a menu with the word "MOCHA" on it. Ahhhhh. And it was delicious. And since we were up so high in the mountains, it was cool and breezy too..perfect mocha weather. We sat for quite awhile enjoying each other's company and trying to figure out a "naughty" song that little Trey Jing Cyuan had created. :) Too cute.

Next we drove to a place in the National Park where you could walk around. It was SO gorgeous. LUSH jungle. Travis and Todd kept making jokes about t-rex's jumping out at us. It really did feel like Jurassic Park. :) We walked around for quite awhile and but unfortunately the most exotic animal we saw was a squirrel. :) We LOVED this park and could've of stayed all day if it hadn't been for the rain and say it with me now, the darn typhoon. I would highly recommend coming up here to future traveling families.

We stopped for lunch at the park and had noodles and broth with pork balls...which I didn't attempt. :) Back down the mountain. We drove by Danshui and Beitou, but it was raining too hard to get good pictures or get out and wonder around.

It was late by now, so we headed back to the hotel so we could get more money (yeah, spent all we had at the jade market) to go to the Shilin Night Market and the Snake Alley Night Market. The Shilin Night Market is not what any of us expected. It was high fashion and more geared towards teens and young adults. We quickly walked through and then headed to Snake Alley.

At Snake Alley, I got some really cute traditional dresses for my girls and then we went to the very famous scroll guy. We had a scroll made that says Love, Family, Yi Hsiu. And in small letters, 2009 Taipei, and the scroll guys name. Then we also had him make us a really cool silk fan that says Newman in the middle and forever on the left of Newman and family and the right of Newman. I LOVE it.

Little some point when we were driving from Yangmingshan back to Taipei, Alex cleared up a bit of miscommunication for Joyce. For the past few days she's been saying AnChee to Trey, which she thought meant be quiet. Today, Alex told her AnJEE is be quiet, AnChee is DIE. For three days Joyce has been telling Trey DIE DIE DIE!! This was hysterical!! Mainly because Trey has a very happy personality and he clearly never took Joyce or Travis seriously!! :) :) Classic.

Well, as I write this we are three hours away from leaving to go get our sweet baby Tessa Yi-Hsiu. We will meet her birthmother soon after we receive Tessa, so it's definitely going to be an emotionally charged day. Please say a prayer for all involved that we find peace, and that Tessa transitions ok. She's leaving behind all she knows and loves.

Jake & Sara - FOUR MORE SLEEPS!!
We love you too always always always and more than anything in the whole wide world!!

Mom - Thanks SO much for taking care of our babies...we so appreciate everything you do, and sorry to overschedule you. :) Love you!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 3 - Keelung and Jiufen

This morning we loaded up with Mr. Yeh, Alex, Joyce, Travis and little Jing and headed north. We went to Keelung and looked at the massive female buddha statue. She is the buddha of safety for the fisherman...fitting since she overlooks the harbor. Beautiful. There is a huge bell that you can ring for luck, but unfortunately, they took the rope that you use to ring it down for the typhoon. Darn typhoon. We briefly peaked in the temple and headed back to the car.

From here, we were supposed to go to the Yeliu Geo Park, and Ocean World, but they were both also closed due to the typhoon. Darn typhoon.

Mr. Yeh decided we should go to Jiufen instead. It's a beautiful city high up on a mountain. We loved it. We walked through a market and got to buy some great souvenirs for our kids and friends and try some wonderful foods. One thing about the markets here, there are some strong odors from some of the fish and seafood.

We had a ton of fun and laughed alot despite the rain and wind from the darn typhoon. I even managed to do what I'd set out to: eat stinky tofu and drink bubble tea. Joyce was impressed. :)

All in all, a very good, fun day. Alex and Mr. Yeh are very sweet and accommodating. It's funny, if you even mention the 7-11 or Starbucks in your conversation, next thing you know, you're parked in front of one. :)

Jake & Sara
We got great stuff for you two today! Can't wait to be home to show you your treasures. We love you always and talk about you both all day long. :) Have fun!!

For Jake & Sara

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 2 - Hotel

Who was I can't shop in a typhoon. All the schools were closed, all the government offices were closed and most of the store were closed. So, we stayed at the hotel today, and caught up on our sleep. The picture above is of the doors to the hotel. They have to wrap them shut so they don't blow open.

Jake & Sara...we continue to think of you constantly. Hugs and kisses more sleeps. Love always.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 1 - Taroko Gorge

Wow, what a day! Originally, we were supposed to go to the gorge today, on Friday, but because of the incoming typhoon, Mr. Yeh switched it to today. I wouldn't recommend such an intense day of sightseeing on your first day in the country. :)

We got up early and went down to breakfast at the Agora. It is a very big, delicious, easy buffet (you just get them your room number, no tipping allowed). There was a large selection of both western and Asian dishes. But the very best part...they had a serve yourself, completely automated, high end ESPRESSO machine!! We are in heaven. :)

After breakfast, Mr. Lai (Mr. Yeh's associate) picked us up for the trip. We drove out of Taipei, which is mountainous and gorgeous and headed for the east coast of Taiwan. The first half of the 3 hour drive is highway and fairly straight. Well, then you hit the coast and the road becomes crazy. It's built on the side of a 4,000 foot tall range of mountains. And it turns like crazy. Like CRAZY. I was very nauseous as we hadn't even been in the country for 12 hours by this time and I was still recovering from the flight.

However, you simply cannot imagine the beauty. The mountains are covered in lush tropical vegetation and the cliffs are breathtaking. After a long time on the coast, we finally reached Taroko Gorge. The gorge is simply phenomenal. I bet I said "wow" a hundred times today. Unfortunately, due to the impending typhoon, many of the trails were closed off. But we got to drive about 10 miles into the gorge and it's SO amazing. If you are planning on coming here soon, I'd definitely recommend seeing the gorge (if you have a strong stomach for the ride there)! Truly, truly and amazing place and definitely the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life.

At the top of the gorge we stopped at the Taroko Hotel for lunch in this little nook of a restaurant. It was a bit intimidating but Mr. Lai assured me, "no fish" and it was actually very good. We had rice, cabbage, a leafy green, a pork dish, shrimp/egg dish (which I passed on) and a mushroom dish, which we tried to be polite (Todd and I both hate mushrooms). We also had a Chinese flower soup which was very good. Yum.

During lunch, it started to rain, and Mr. Lai realized that the typhoon that was expected tomorrow appeared to be making its way to land early. So we headed back to Taipei. OK, remember the crazy drive I described along the coast earlier? Add to that a typhoon and a driver in a hurry to be back. YIKES. I said Hail Mary's and Our Father's and squeezed Todd's hand white all the way back. Scary, but we did arrive back safe and sound.

We got back to the hotel where we met Joyce and her new son (SO cute) and found out that tomorrow's sightseeing is cancelled due to the typhoon. Fine with us, as at this point we had had about 3 hours of sleep since Monday night.

Last night after I fell asleep (at about 7 pm!) Todd got a call from Samantha at TWCA. She told him that Tessa's birthmom wants to meet us! I'm excited, nervous and emotional all in one. What a fabulous gift!

Today, we are going to brave the storm and explore the area on foot a little bit.

Jake & Sara...we'll be buying souvenirs for you two!! We love you SO much and are missing you tons. Be good for grandma. Soon, we'll all be together. LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We're Here!

Wow, I can't believe that we are actually in Taiwan right now. :)

The trip was very smooth. Both our flight to Chicago and our flight to Taipei were on time and very smooth. And all of our luggage arrived, can't ask for more than that.

Mr. Yeh, Alex, and the son of another couple here adopting (Hi Travis!) met us at the airport. It was so great to finally see Mr. Yeh and Alex in "real" life after seeing him on so many blogs over the past year.

We didn't get to see much of Taipei last night since it was dark when we arrived. But so far, it seems very nice. We have a great view of Taipei 101 outside of our window. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful. Especially my fellow yahoo group member Joyce! :)

We checked into our hotel at around 1 am, and tried to get a few hours of sleep. We are leaving here in a half an hour (6:30 am) to go to Taroko Gorge. I'll post some pictures and more details later this evening. (If I'm not asleep.)

Jake & Sara:
We love and miss you two SO much!! Jake, yesterday there were SO many boys playing DSs at the airport and we thought so much of you. Sara, we see cute little girls and think of you constantly. We will always love you too..forever and ever, no matter what. XOXOXOXOX

Monday, August 3, 2009

We Made it to Chicago

We're at our hotel in Chicago for the night. It's a great room and we're enjoying some R&R (aka alcohol) before we leave tomorrow. Our flight is off at noon tomorrow. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

Jake and Sara...we miss you already. Hugs and good! :) We love you!

Mom & Dad...thank you SO much!

Last Pic as a Family of Four

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Two days....two days!

I'm so excited, but at this point the nerves and anxiety are starting to settle in as well. Nerves for the plane ride, new culture, and new baby whom I really hope is a mellow one. :) Anxiety for leaving my two babies home...without us. That one is keeping me up at night.

But overall, so excited and happy that this long road is coming to an end and our new journey as a family of five is beginning.

Today, we're off to the grocery store to stock the house with lots of food and goodies for my parents. Later, we'll begin to pack our suitcases. :)