Friday, April 25, 2014

Update from Home!

"My family is all things unconventional. But it is real. Real because God has knit our hearts together in a way that only He can and real because no matter what anyone says or thinks, I am their Mommy, and they are mine."
 (Kisses From Katie pg.179)

I started a post a week ago.

Worked on it a bit each day.

And tonight I went to add photos and it was gone.

Nothing annoys me more than spending all that time typing to have it LOST. Ok there are many things that annoy me more, but that is frustrating!

So here we go again. And actually, maybe it is for the best. I am in a better place than a week ago.

That first week is HARD. 

REALLY hard when you have 2 new kids who are jet lagged.

And 5 who are not. (Malaine did awesome and got right back to schedule)

 Mercie fights sleep with all she has.

Why do 2 year olds hate sleep so much?

To get her to sleep it is like wrestling a cat. You might win, but you will come out bleeding.

Or missing a clump of hair. Or you will have been hit, pinched, bit, kicked, probably all of the above.

My 22 pound almost 3 year old is STRONG and mighty. She has learned to survive well these past 2 1/2 years.

BUT it is getting better. Baby steps each day. She DOES nap this week. (after the wrestling match) And she is sleeping all night IN MY BED.

I am not sleeping all that great because she is either on top of me, kicking me, well, you can imagine. BUT at this point I am just thankful she is sleeping!

And she is SMILING. IF she sleeps, she is happy. I have finally moved up the ladder and I am at a close tie with Malaine. Unfortunately Mark has moved down and so we are working on that. It is hard on him, but he is trying and we all know she will adore her daddy soon.

Mercie is a wild woman. Why does this shock me? For some STRANGE reason I just thought child #7 would be easy.

I should just stop thinking.

You don’t dare take your eyes off of her.

Running across the table? Check.
Diving off the couch? Check
Throwing herself down the steps. Check.
Dumping out every thing, CHECK.
Pulling the dogs tail CHECK.
Into EVERYTHING, Check, check CHECK. 

I am feeling my age with this adoption. 

The only quiet moments I get are when she is eating or in the bath. And the bath is not necessarily quiet. Because she is a FISH. She goes under, she rolls, she dives, she is CRAZY.

And we wouldn't have it any other way. Well, maybe a LITTLE calmer might be nice! :-) 

We went to the doctor the first week home and she is very underweight but I am not to worried because my girl can EAT. They said at the orphanage she was picky but I am going to guess that is because she was tired of mush. She eats everything. She is not a food hoarder by any means. (we had that in the past) she just eats really well and eats whatever we give her.

She is smart and catching up so quickly. She gives kisses, she says bye, she understands important things like “where is your hairbow” and "bathtime!" She doesn’t say anything really understandable (though I am almost certain I hear Mama!) but she jabbers and I wish I could catch it on video because it is the cutest! 

Syler is really doing amazing. I read stories of older child adoption and he is honestly making it look easy. We have our moments, and when we do, I get frustrated. BUT really he is a sweet boy and so laid back.

If I had to describe him to you, if you know my children, I would say he is very similar to Sage.

Today we were doing school and I had him practicing his name. Which he can already spell. I tried to get him to write his Chinese name under it. He said no, SYLER.

Mark tried tonight something with his chinese name and he shook his head no and said SYLER.

This makes me happy and sad all at once.

Syler is finding his place in this family. He loves being a brother and a son. He really seems to LOVE having a family.

He knows he is now Syler Laxton.

But it makes me a bit sad that he seems to be DONE with life before us. And I know this is normal and expected, but for some reason it still makes me a little sad.

We are going to be doing school at home till the fall and then he will probably go with the girls.

He is catching on so fast to language.

Language is one of those things you just can’t comprehend. Everyone told us how fast it happens.

But when you meet it seems overwhelming. And especially when you have the first “melt down” and you feel so helpless.

So thankful for friends who have traveled this road and who have been so good to encourage us through this.

Because it DOES happen fast. Or for this age, for him, it has.

He understands:

Night night
Let’s go
Buckle up
Wait & Later (though he HATES these words!)
All our names
Dogs/Cat and their names
Brush teeth
Take a shower/bath

And the list goes on.

He SAYS with out prompting:
All our names including his
Some of his letters
Numbers 1-10 (can put in order)
Many colors
Mama, Syler outside?
Come on
Pixie drop it!
Fei Fei no!
Brush teeth

Food wise he is doing well. We had a few moments over food, but with ME sleeping and a bit of patience we have come along. I fix the kids plates (because if he can CHOOSE, he won’t choose much!). He knows he needs to TRY a bite of everything. He is not a huge fan of pasta, potatoes, veggies or cheese. BUT even there I have been shocked at the things he has started to eat. Last night he ate mashed potatoes! He has had a salad (no dressing) and meatloaf with cheese. I didn’t even have to encourage him, he just ate!

In China you might remember he ate SOOOO much. But that has not been an issue at all here. Of course we don’t have a buffet, but I am thankful food hoarding has not been an issue for either of them.

**Seriously have to do a HUGE shout out here while talking about food. We have had meals delivered to us EVERY day of the week since coming home, with another week to go! My "village" is THE BEST and I am SOOO thankful!! It has been such a tremendous blessing for us! ****

Doctor gave him a good report besides teeth. We have some big dental bills in our future. He is in pain and we will see a pediatric dentist in 2 weeks. He is on an antibiotic right now so we hope we can make it till the appointment.

There are moments that are hard. Typically with me, never his daddy. (which is the same for ALL my kids, so perfect for dad!) He still has his pout down and can glare at me like nobody’s business. Many of these times are simply communication and I am praying the Lord would give ME more patience during these times.

And when you adopt TWO at one time, it is CONSTANT work. So much to teach and guide and train and on top of it all trying to bond well. When they are both asleep you sit and wonder, WHAT HAVE WE DONE?? 
Ok, just sometimes I think that. Most nights I am to tired to think period and just happy if I remember to brush my teeth before falling into bed.  

But really,  there are times I wonder, are they HAPPY to be home? Do they miss that old life? I am certain when I tell Syler no or remind him of the rules he probably DOES miss his life of doing what he wants all the time! And Mercie still gets so sad at times. 

But then I see Syler sit down to eat and wait for me, his hands folded in prayer. Or I hear him call out Mama. Mercie runs into my arms and snuggles in, and I am reminded of what we have done. We have followed God's plan for our family. 

We have brought our children home. 

  "I have to feed her, clothe her, care for her, and love her unconditionally as I tell her that I love her. Once she can understand and see my love, I can begin to tell her about a savior who loves her even more. That is the truth for these children- that they are loved, that they are valuable, that they will not be left as orphans, but that they have a plan and a hope for the future. What a beautiful truth." (Kisses From Katie pg.90)

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Just wanted to share we made it! Will post more tomorrow, but oh it feels good to be HOME!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Goodbye China, Hello Hong Kong Disney!

 Thursday morning we all slept in. We talked with our kids at home. We enjoyed our last breakfast buffet at the hotel and we packed up to leave.

A driver picked us up at 3pm and drove us to the Consulate. A driver from Hong Kong, who did not speak English.

And did I mention in HK they sit on the wrong side of the car? Not to mention they drive on the wrong side of the road. But they have some fancy vans.

We arrived at the Consulate where our guide had said he would meet us. We pull up and the driver points at Consulate. Does this mean our guide is inside? Does this mean, WE go inside? We have no idea and no way to contact our guide. Mark decides to get out and go check. Because you can just go in and check the US consulate for fun. (that is sarcasm, you don’t do that!)

Eventually our guide shows up at the van, Mark comes back and we have the kids passports and visas in hand.

Richard (guide) tells our driver to drive safely. Gulp. I asked how we would tell him if we need a potty stop. Toilet is known in both languages he said. So off we go.

We had a few options to get to Hong Kong from GZ. Fly, which you know for me is a big no. Train or hire a driver.

Let me just say a bit on transportation in China. I hate flying, that is no secret. BUT I also hate the wasted time it takes. Sitting at airports waiting because you have to be early, AND the chances your flight leaves on time are slim. The train is obviously my favorite because it is never late, it is smooth and easy and roomy and it is ON THE GROUND.  But you also do have to get tickets so you are on a time table, you have to carry your own luggage on and find a spot for that luggage. Plus the train to HK still requires a driver because of immigration. SO, we opted to have a driver pick us up at hotel in GZ, drive us through immigration and drop us right off at the HK hotel. 3 hour drive.

The negative on this is that you are on the highway, in a car, with your children, who are not in car seats. Because China does not do car seats. Going REALLY fast. And our driver was texting while driving.  But he did understand toilet. And thankfully the kids did really well in the car.

We arrived in Hong Kong and when we pulled through the gates of the Disney Property, I about cried. It looked like HOME. (well that and we were ALIVE and not in a car crash like I kept envisioning!)

We stayed at the Disney Hollywood Resort.  On the way into HK we stayed at the airport hotel, but figured it would be nice to be near Disney to visit Disney on our way out.

And I am glad we chose that! It was fun to have the Disney touches and exciting for Syler.

We had breakfast at Chef Mickey in the hotel Friday morning. Syler was SO cute seeing Mickey mouse there! He could not stop staring at him through breakfast, which is a BIG deal because he did not eat as much as normal!

We headed to the park where we had no expectations or agendas. Just have fun and when we stop having fun, we come back to the hotel.

We really debated over Disney with the kids. I have wanted to go for the last 6 trips, so Mark finally caved on this one. (being that it was my birthday I think is why!) He was very against taking the kids and his idea was to do Disney on the way in, and do a tour on the way out. WITH kids. 

We read other families opinions who have done it both ways, Disney first, Disney last. And for us I am so thankful we did it with Syler. Seeing the magic of Disney through your 8 year old’s eyes is unforgettable. Disney is magical the first time for most kids, of course. But take a child from an orphanage and it is the sweetest thing. The first ride we went on he tried to give us change from his pocket, thinking it cost money to ride. To realize he could ride ANYTHING was priceless. The rides my kids are bored on typically, he was giddy over! I constantly had tears in my eyes and whiplash from tying to keep up with all he was pointing out!

My boy can also read a map. He studies it, leads us to things and knew exactly what he wanted to see. Space Mountain was at the top of his list. I guess it looked cool on the map. Now, you know that we are a thrill seeking family and our kids all love to ride rides. But I was just not sure about putting him on this! I asked the attendant to describe the ride in mandarin and Syler insisted he wanted to ride. We did child swap so we could both ride and take turns with Mercie.

Who by the way was CARRIED the entire day. How did I NOT lose weight on this trip??? Or maybe I did and it is now muscles showing up on my scale. Hmmm….

Mark and I decided the ride would either be REALLY good or really bad and at least we already knew a good therapist if needed! :-/

In true Laxton fashion Syler LOVED it and so we now know there are no worries with him fitting in just perfectly with the rest of his siblings!

This is a MUCH smaller park and if you try to compare it to Orlando, you would be disappointed. But we enjoyed that it was small for the kids. It was a bit more crowded than I expected so some of the lines were longer than I wanted to see. Our favorite ride was the Mine Train ride (can’t remember name).

Mercie enjoyed it about as much as any 2 year old does. She is terrified of characters, won’t sit on her own seat and by days end was done. But she did not seem traumatized by being there or anything and if she would have sat in a stroller it would have been great with her. One tantrum when she was dead tired, and it was not fun, but it was expected. 

Syler did run off at lunch, EEK! Mark took him in line to order while I held a table for us. Mark came back with him and said he was about to order (after waiting in a long line) and Syler took off. So he left him with me, took Malaine with him and went back to the long line. Well Syler took off on ME. Who was at the table (which were hard to get) with the baby and all the stuff. I had just translated that he had to stay close. He looked at me and started inching away, glaring. All of a sudden he was gone, so I grabbed the baby, left the stuff hoping for the best and went to find him. I think he knew by the look on my face he was not going to be doing that again.  That was the last time he has done that to us, so the pure terror on my face must really have worked. Or anger, they were both there!

We left the park and headed back to our hotel where we met up with Alex again and her kids. (you might remember she lived with us for a time in 2010) She was so sweet to even bring me a cake for my birthday, which was delicious!

Almost Home! 

Flights Home!

Will you pray us home??

Specifically that  I can stay calm. :-)

Syler is SOO excited, every time he saw a plane today he was joyful!

I need that joy about flying.

We will be traveling for a total of 24 hours tomorrow. With a 2 year old.

I am terrified.

Visions of Mavery dance through my head, she screamed our whole flight home!

We depart Hong Kong at 11:55 AM on 4/12, tomorrow, Saturday.

(Cathay Pacific, please be as nice to us as you were on the way over!)

That is 10:55PM for you all in St Louis, Friday night.

Flight lands in Chicago at 1:50 PM. On Saturday, April 12th.

That is a whole lot of hours.

On a plane. With 3 kids.

Really, I can take the amount of flying if the plane is just SMOOTH. And on course. And smooth.

Please Lord, a smooth flight!

We have an almost 5 hour layover in Chicago. Where we will go through customs and our children will officially be US citizens!

Depart Chicago 6:45 PM American Airlines 1634

Arrive St Louis 7:50PM.

And of course, we don't mind if you are at the airport! :-)

SO close!


I want to come back and do this day justice, but I am way to tired tonight.

It was magical.

Besides Syler taking off from us at one point. He doesn't usually do that, till he is in a mood.

And Mercies melt down. But it wouldn't be Disney if a 2 year old did not have a melt down on me. And yes we carried her the ENTIRE day.

Honestly overall we LOVED every second of our day.

And we even ended the evening with a visit from dear friends who brought me a birthday cake!

But now we are counting the minutes till we are together with our children. I am trying not to dwell on the flight part, just the seeing my kids part!

I got the best video today of them singing me Happy Birthday, I miss them terribly!

And I miss my bed. Because see this little spot? Can't even see it can you?

That is my space. HK beds are a bit small!

Thank you for your love and prayers. We know that our journey is really just beginning and I hope that I can find the time to still fill in the gaps of THIS side of things (orphanage visit!) and as we settle into life as a family of 9!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Arrived in Hong Kong!

3 posts in one day?? Scroll down to read about Mercie and a sweet poem written by Makenna's friend.

This post will be brief. Just wanted to give a quick update that we are in Hong Kong!

At the Happiest place on earth, Disney land! :-)

I about cried pulling up through the gates, it felt so much like HOME.

This was my birthday wish (which is today) to go to Hong Kong Disney. We could not leave China for so many hours after our consulate appointment, so WHY NOT take the kids to Disney while we wait to leave!

We are so excited! I have no idea how they will do, but we will try it tomorrow and see.

Hopefully I will fill in with our exciting drive today. (because it is always fun to ride 70 MPH with a baby on your lap, and a driver TEXTING!)

It was a GOOD day. Everyone was happy and did well, just 2 more sleeps!

Thank you again for your continued prayers, we are feeling them!

Oh Mercie

You might remember our story of our baby girl.  

I met her in 2012 and fell in love. It was easy to do. She captivated most of us on that trip with her sweet smile and spunky personality. She was just HAPPY and so easy to love.

The way God wrote our story is nothing short of a miracle, and I am still in awe.

As you know, as much as WE wanted Mercie on Gotcha Day, she wanted nothing to do with us! We had been with her all weekend before gotcha, and I think that helped her seeing Malaine but NOT me. It was almost like the more they pushed ME, the less she wanted me.

So it was a rough few days. Watching this child you have dreamed of for so long be SO heartbroken was, well, heartbreaking! I was her least favorite person in the world FOR SURE and she ONLY found comfort in her Jie Jie. (big sister)

One thing that brought us comfort is being with her the weekend before, we had SEEN her personality. In the orphanage she laughed, she played she hit on the other kids and gave us scary visions of nursery trouble and the PLANE ride. We knew she had spunk and of course I had seen her on 3 previous trips!

I had asked the nannies to love her well these past 2 years and they did, she was well taken care of, and probably spoiled.  I am so thankful for how much they cared for her.

But oh those first few days!

Slowly though we saw smiles. She started to let me do a bit more each day.

And then, she started to reach for ME for comfort. Today she gave me KISSES.

I am seeing glimpses of that baby girl that stole my heart almost 2 years ago.

Mark is finally seeing WHY I fell head over heels, and he is quickly falling there himself.

She has the most amazing smile! When we get out the camera she frowns, but really she can light up a room.

She is a MONKEY. (this will surprise no one who knows my children!) She climbs, she jumps, she dives off the bed, the couch, the coffee table! She is into EVERYTHING and we are tired. I really wish I had spent the last year baby proofing my house!

She is tiny but mighty. She is actually taller than I expected, just so thin.  But she has big feet! Our guide kept commenting, her feet are huge! J

She has such a sweet tiny voice. But she can be LOUD.

She eats great. She sleeps great! Though she still needs Malaine to help her fall asleep. She sleeps with us, and so I hope we can break the habit of needing Malaine soon. (because 4 in a bed would be a bit much!)  I feel it is coming. As I see her reach for me over Malaine more, I know eventually it will happen. 

She is very nervous with change, and if she is uncertain of what will happen she clings.

Which means she REFUSES to walk most of the time and don’t even think about a stroller. We know carrying her is good, but it is tiring!

Did I mention her giggle? She LOVES to laugh and we love hearing her laugh!

12 days together and SO much change in our miracle Mercie. It is like watching a little flower that is blooming right before our eyes and we are loving every second! I can’t wait for you all to meet her. I know you will adore her too.

We pray that Mercie will see how God has given US mercy and that she will understand what a miracle she is.