June 27, 2012

CHINA: glad to be home

Last night we returned from our wonderful adventure in China.  I feel pretty embarrassed about how horribly I kept up with blogging and picture taking on our trip.  Between jet-lag, keeping a seven month old happy (she actually did EXTREMELY well!), having what I'm pretty sure was a miscarriage, food poisoning, oh and not being able to get online for most of the trip it just didn't really happen.  My dad wrote a beautiful tribute to each of our days in China that you can read on his family blog at fullmerfam.com.  I really suggest reading it if you want a real glimpse of what our trip was like.  Oh and my dad takes GREAT pictures.  

Obviously I plan on writing about some of our adventures and sharing my small collection of pictures.  But I need to go through those pictures and kind of gather my thoughts.  So until then I hope you enjoy reading about our trip here.  
Just incase you were wondering, yes, if I were over thirty and an extra $20,000 - $30,000 hanging around, these boys would be home with us.  I fell hard for them.

June 20, 2012

CHINA: We made it!

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post more updates!  We figured out how to use our internet in Xi'an as we were walking out the door so I had no time there so today is the first chance I've had to be online since we got here.  But I'm keeping a journal on my computer so I remember everything.
Also, no pictures.  Sorry.  I'll get some as soon as I have a chance and choose posting over a nap (probably never... ha)  Our time here has been amazing and I can't believe it's been almost a week since we left home.  There's a lot of things we miss but I've relaxed and am enjoying this country and especially the people so much.  Don't be surprised if I come home with twenty Chinese children.  


Well we made it to the hotel, uh… I don’t even know what night, Thursday?  Thursday I think.  We were behind the other car by a fair amount so when we finally got to the hotel we assumed they’d be there already.  It was 1:00am, too, so not much was happening.  We finally got a hold of the other car and they had taken a wrong turn and were lost [google maps: 1  iPhone navigator: 0].  When they eventually got there they went to check in and the hotel had overbooked their room and given it to the other people who rented it.  REALLY!?  So they called another hotel (a 15 minute drive away) and got them a room there.  Just how we wanted the trip to start.

Hannah, Rachel, Madeline, Jeremy and I were in the one room that didn’t get taken.  We pretty much went right to sleep.  Madeline didn’t sleep horribly that night, but it wasn’t her best night either.  We got up with more than enough time to shower and eat breakfast.  When we got to the typical continental breakfast the hotel provided we were the only Caucasians.  Culture shock got a head start on us.  At the other hotel, breakfast was not provided and about $12 a person so we told dad we’d get them some food from ours before it closed because they wouldn’t get to our hotel in time.  I sent Jeremy, Hannah, and Rachel down to get muffins.  They came back with one for everyone.  So I suggested they go back and get a few more.  They also brought back yogurt and then I sent Jeremy down for some sausage.  After three or four trips to the lobby we got a call from Dad saying their hotel let them have breakfast for free….. oops. We just left the fifteen muffins, eight yogurts and ten sausages in our room.  Happy eating housekeeping!

We took shuttles to the airport.  Everybody that saw us loading up the two vans to get there kept telling us we were crazy.  At one point I asked dad, “Are you sick of being called crazy yet?”  We were quite the sight scurrying through the Seattle Airport.  Each of us has our own carry on suitcase because we’re too afraid we’ll loose our baggage checking it.  We also all have a back pack along with two strollers.  One for Elizabeth and one for Madeline.  Oh and two boosters (that we haven’t even used) and a carseat (which sadly hasn’t been used too much either).  We ate our last meal in the US at the RunWay Grill.   We all ordered a cheeseburger thinking what a great way that would be to leave the country.  It was n.a.s.t.y. and way over priced.  But hey it filled our bellies. 

They let us board first.  Something about thing we’d take forever?  Weird.  Right before we boarded one of the stewardess called my name over the intercom.  “Woolis, Saaawah”.  I don’t know how I even knew that was my name.  The lady was Chinese.  Chinese airline so even in Seattle everyone that had anything to do with our flight was Chinese.  She wanted to tell me they didn’t have a basinett for Madeline.  They were supposed to have one but it didn’t get here in time.  We hadn’t asked for one so I was like, “Oh don’t worry about it!  We didn’t think we’d have one.”   She was extremely relieved.  Like she thought I’d bite off her head or something if they didn’t have one.  We boarded and were pleased to find out we were in the first row behind first class so we had TONS of leg room! How often can you say that when flying?  Sorry for the rest of my family they were a lot further back and in much tighter seats.  Sorry! 

Overall the flight was pretty good.  Madeline had a REALLY hard time falling asleep.  She sleeps really well in her crib, but she’s out of the snuggle-and-fall-asleep-in-your-arms stage.  She took a short nap during the first half of the flight and then slept for almost the entire second half.  5 hours! Awesome!  They gave us a meal about an hour into the ten hour flight.  Rice with some chicken that I didn’t attempt.  It also had some steamed vegetables which were pretty good.  I’m kind of a picky eater.  The goal is to lose like ten pounds this trip :)   After our first meal they dimmed the lights and made us feel like it was time for bed even though it was only 4:00.   We got another meal about two hours before we landed.   As we were descending the plane kind of dipped a couple times and made all of our stomachs feel like we were on the tower of terror.  Scary.  Just then Jeremy pointed out the window and we saw a bunch of lightning.  I didn’t think we were going to make it to China alive.  But we did.  Phew You’ll never guess what the first thing we did was when we got off the plane.  We ran to the bathrooms to see if squatty potties were a really existed.  We just wanted to make sure people weren’t making that up.  They’re real.  And they stink.  I think that’s one thing I’ll never miss about China.  It smells like smoke and porta-potties everywhere. 

Our ten hour flight only took us to Beijing and then we had a five hour layover and another flight to Xi’an.  We got to Xi’an after midnight China time. I don’t know what time it was in Spokane, but regardless we were really confused.  We all took naps on the floor of the airport in Beijing.  We met our guide, Sally (that’s the English name she chose) and she led us to the bus that was our transportation for most of our time in Xi’an.  It was SO NICE to have someone to translate.  The language barrier is HUGE!  I had no idea it would be such a challenge.  We got checked into our hotel and just about collapsed.  A bed never looked so beautiful to me.  

June 15, 2012

CHINA: And They're Off!

Today was the day we finally left for china. 

We are in the car right now. I'm sitting on an iPad trying to soak in all that the next two weeks holds in store for us.  I think I'm still in denial... I mean I am VERY excited, but CHINA??? I'm taking a six month old to China? China. Like panda bears and egg rolls? (obviously those are the least of my concerns).
I started packing yesterday. I get the last minute packing habit from my dad... (thanks dad).  There's something about needing to be under pressure and just do it. I cant explain it.  But packing, or starting to pack rather, a whole twenty-four hours ahead of time was a bigstep for this girl.  Jeremy got back from working out of town late last night (Wednesday) and then had to leave again for a couple hours this morning.  My brother Adam, 14 years old, had a school trip to Silverwood, a very sorry excuse for a theme park, and didn't get home until 5:30 today.  "Perfect" we all thought.  We will leave right then and get to Seattle (the plan is to drive to Seattle  and stay in a hotel tonight, Thursday, because we fly out of Seattle for Beijing at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon, Friday. Confused yet? me too. Just wait til we add in international date line crossing and time changes and jet lag and constant tourism and sightseeing and foster homes and oh yeah a baby! Anyway, we didn't end up leaving until 7:45 which, as grandma teddy noted, "not bad for a group your size!" I suppose. But now we wont get to Seattle until 1:00am at the earliest...  I guess if you think about it we are going to be so turned around in a few days that whatever. No sleep? Awesome.
Every few minutes I find myself exclaiming, "China?????!?!!!!!??? Waaahhh?"

We are driving two cars to Seattle.  Mom is driving the highlander with dad and the three youngest plus Hannah.  Jeremy is driving the Yukon.  I sat in the front seat for the first while but after a rather traumatic feeding of greenbeans (compliments of Peter and Christian who were sitting on either side of Madeline)  I switched Peter places and now I'm sitting behind the passenger seat. 

It smells like ranch doritos because they help keep Jeremy awake.  I pause every time I hear the bag crinkle because I'm afraid Madeline will wake up. So far so good.  I sang, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" at least five times to get her to fall asleep.  She loves that one. That and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  Madeline is confused to say the least. She is almost always bathed and in bed by this hour.  Still, she is a trooper.  I hope she sleeps til we get there, or longer. Longer would be great.

Christian is asleep but I can still hear his music softly floating out of his headphones and through the car.  I can't make out what song it is.  Probably because I've never heard it before.  Adam has had his feet up on our bench from the back row.  Theres not much room back there.  He keeps adjusting and readjusting. It's been a while since he moved last.  He probably fell asleep too.  Rachel just asked how long until we stop again.  'Not til we get to the hotel Rachel.  You're gonna have to hold it,  sorry'.

I'm ready to give in to sleep and dream of SAFE travels and HAPPY memories.  But I find it hard to sleep when there's thoughts racing through my heart and mind and my husband tends to get dozey at the wheel.  Maybe just a few minutes.   Please keeps us in your prayers the next two weeks.  I think we're gonna need it.

Oh and here come the "I need to go to the bathroom NOW" tears.....Enjoy these last ten minutes of sleep Madeline..... Because I doubt you'll stay asleep when we stop.  Peachy.

June 14, 2012

video: happy Madeline

Madeline loves looking in the mirror.  We pass by one every night when I'm about to put her in the tub and she always catches a glimpse of herself and just beams. It's so cute! I don't think she understands, yet,  that it's her reflection she's seeing.  She is a very social baby and loves to smile and chat with just about any baby (around her age) she meets.  Especially her cousin Scarlet.  She sing and dance for Scarlet every time she see's her.  It's pretty cute.  Here's a video of Madeline from yesterday at lunch.  She can see herself on the video and that's why she's so excited. 

{sorry I really need to learn to use vimeo or something.  This is tiny and anyway... at least it is a video! That's like a first for me... right?}

June 13, 2012

april came in june this year


It's been raining a lot the past few days week two weeks.  Sometimes it drags me down.  It makes me super lazy (like how we're leaving for a ten day adventure in a FOREIGN capital F adventure to China in a couple days tomorrow and I haven't started packing! ah! I need to start packing!) but other times it kind of seems magical.  That's what my three year old sister keeps saying every time we hear thunder, "It's the magic!"   I love the way the thunder helps me think about God in all of His grand glory.  How omnipotent He is to control not only the wind and the waves but the sky as well.  And then I hear the soft patter of rain hitting the ground and I think, what a kind and loving God He is as well.  Blessed is the next word that comes to mind. 

Yesterday the sun came out and we were SO EXCITED TO SEE THE SUN!  Like I said yesterday, sometimes He lets it rain so we can appreciate the sunshine that much more.

Two little experiences I wanted to share, mostly, so I remember much longer than the day I die.  This morning, Jeremy being out of town, I let Madeline sleep with me long after I'd fed her and around six-forty-five we both woke up, probably because of the thunder.  We layed on our sides and stared into each other's eyes waiting, listening for the next thunder to strike.  She gently traced the lines of my face.  And it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  

My other memory happened about a year ago.  Maybe a year and a half.  I don't know.  It's a little more cheesy romantic than the last one... regrets.  Jeremy and I were living in the treehouse at the time. It was probably around our three month anniversary. We had just woken up to the sound of rain, either because we slept through our alarms and were late to class or it was the weekend.  I don't remember. But I do remember we listened to the rain hand in hand for a few minutes.  And then Jeremy rolled over on top of me, brushed the hair out of my face and softly sang "Banana Pancakes" while kissing me softly.  And that's a treat because this husband of mine doesn't sing to me that often.  (And now I've officially used this setting WAY too many times) I'll just tell you that we did make pancakes that peaceful morning.  And they were good.  I wonder how long it'll be before we have another morning like that.  Just the two of us.  Probably twenty... thirty years?  Now you know why I had to write about it.  

Thank you April showers for the cozy happy moments you bring.  Even in June.

June 12, 2012

what happiness feels like

Nighttime tends to be a little bit tense these days.  With a husband that's working his rump off (hard man work, too) a restless wife that's not getting nearly enough sleep (thank you Madeline.  No really, thank you.  You slept through the night last night for the first time in weeks!) and a baby who just popped her first tooth through today (hoo-rah!!!) bedtime seems to consist of a few too many snappy comments and cold shoulders.  

You can imagine, then, how wonderfully rewarding it was to spend a whole half an hour before bed,  just the thee of us, smiling, giggling, kissing, snuggling and enjoying some much needed time together.  And in that moment I remember thinking, "This is what happiness feels like." At the time I secretly wished we could spend every moment of every day like that.  But as I look back I realize that it was special because it wasn't part of each day.  I'm grateful to our Heavenly Father for seeing fit to bless us with trials and hard times so that the happy times are that much sweeter.  

June 7, 2012

growing growing growing

she's a cheese-ball

It's hard to believe how fast our little Madeline is growing.  She's six months old (a few weeks ago) and I just can't even believe it! I keep pulling out outfits that I think will be way too big and they are a perfect fit.  How is this happening!? She learned to sit practically over night.  I tried letting her sit right after our trip to Arches (about five months) and she did.  It took her about a week to be really confident about it and she's just been a sitting princess ever since.  She loves the grass (incase you can't tell by the pictures) and could just sit in it all day.  She loves the way it feels and she loves pulling it up.  So cute. She's also in a bubble blowing stage.  She puckers up those lips and just spits/blows bubbles.  Also so cute (it's not that wet yet :)

 We started rice cereal at five months and that's been great.  (I need to find the video of her first time to share with you)  She especially loves carrots, bananas, pears (although they gave her a mild rash all three times we tried - weird, because strawberries didn't do a thing to her) watermelon, squash, peas,  and pretty much everything.  hot or cold, fruit or veggie, she loves it.  She also has a big thing for bread.  And cheerios... well cheerios aren't as soft and they stick to her tongue... so we're working on that one.  She's thinking about crawling but she hasn't made much progress yet. Totally fine by me.  The more immobile days the merrier.

A friend of mine asked me the other day how life was and all I could do was smile and say,"Good. Life is really good."  It's far from perfect.  There's a lot of unknowns right now and I don't know how everything will work out (i.e. place to live, affording a place to live, moving across the country just to name a few....)  but life is good.  I trust that the Lord will help us figure everything out and guide us to where we need to be.  I'm just happy I'm here to enjoy it.

June 6, 2012

I pained my nails obnoxious blue

Lately I've been trying to figure out a way to remind myself to eat healthy, chew my food more, and eat smaller portions.  Usually if I THINK before I eat something I can determine if my body actually wants it.  But I don't think.  I'm so bad at just wolfing down a meal.  I don't stop when I'm full.  I just keep going and going.  It's gross.  I didn't want to spend any money to remind myself so I decided to paint my nails obnoxious blue. no offense if anybody likes this color on their nails.  After being a finger nail polish virgin for so long it really is quite bright and frankly obnoxious to me... I used to paint my finger nails a lot.  I don't do it too often anymore (apparently every guy I've ever dated thinks it's dumb) so I just stick to my toenails now.

I'm wearing a hate because I haven't washed my hair in a day or two.......... ok it's been three days. Seriously, how do people go like a week with out washing their hair?  I can't do it.  I just can't.  I'm getting in the shower right after this.

I've lost a fair amount of weight since having Madeline (not even close to how much I'd like to) but still, exercising has been good for me the past few weeks.  I kind of came to the conclusion that if I want to get past this weight plateau something's gotta give.  I don't want to do those crazy diets I want to change my lifestyle and as dumb as it sounds, my relationship with food.  I have one of the world's biggest sweet-tooths and I don't want to look back on this time in my life and wish I'd lost that x mount of pounds. Wish I liked the way I looked in that family picture.  I'm want to love myself with out jumping off the deep-end in the world of weight-loss.  I doubt I'll ever look back and say, "Why didn't I have another slice of that cake?!" And that's why I painted my nails obnoxious blue.

June 5, 2012

"healthy" cookies: you're gonna want to pin this one!

so cookies can't actually be healthy and still be tasty enough to be called a cookie (or at last that's been my experience) but they can be low-fat cookies and that's better, right? ....right?  

Today I was craving cookies - oh boy was I craving cookies (In a non-pregnant way (don't worry babe, no #2 yet)).  But I kind of have this rule that a cookie isn't really a cookie with out chocolate.  Its just gotta have chocolate.  Here's the recipe for the cookies I chose to go with.  I'm so glad I did!  Hope you think they're as tasty as I found them.  Thanks Gina

P.S. I added a dash of cinnamon (we have a thing for each other cinnamon and I) and my dough turned out WAY thicker than hers.... unrelated to the cinnamon affair, but the cookies were still excellent.  hip hip hooray!

P.P.S.  It's tempting to eat lots because they are "healthy" but I realized after the fact that they aren't actually that healthy if you eat 5,923,097,439,208 lots of them... just a thought....

June 2, 2012

thank you arches

Oh arches... you astounded us with your stunning red rock and your beautiful blue skies.  You gave us our first family camping trip.  You let us escape the world of school and work and computers and phones and let us just breathe.  We got up with the sun and went to bed with the moon.  It was such a wonderful three days... Thank you thank you thank you.

p.s. Did any one know Arches was so stinkin' big!?
p.p.s. also included are some pictures from canyonlands national park (they're right next to each other! woot woot!)
p.p.p.s. The hubby and I decided we're gonna hit every single national park before we die :)  And get a magnet from all of their gift shops.  We're pretty excited!