Monday, December 23, 2013

First Week Home Highlights

After arriving home we finally managed to get everyone to bed (with the help of melatonin gummies) around 2am, and Brian headed off to work bright and early 5 hours later! I went from 3 kids and 3 adults to 3 kids and 1 adult. Gulp. Nothing like jumping right in. Thankfully the kids slept late. I woke up M and C at 11:30, L got up on her own around 10:45. It made for a rather short and easy morning! I could tell poor Lily was feeling a little scared and unsure. She went from a curious and independent explorer in China to the quiet, withdrawn, and clingy girl of our first few days with her. She also went back to sleeping on me, but apparently our bed is way more comfortable and my back didn't hurt so I didn't mind. She also backtracked a little with Brian and didn't really want much to do with him. We did manage to meet him for our traditional Monday lunch at Subway. The kids were a little confused since I was calling their sandwiches lunch but it was really their breakfast. I mean, if you can have breakfast for dinner why can't you have lunch for breakfast? Makes perfect sense! Now I must say that getting three kids out the door in a timely fashion is definitely going to be a goal that I will be working toward. However, for my first outing alone I managed to have clothes on all three kids, and 2/3 with shoes. But I did not manage to bring my phone. No big deal, except that our 12:15 lunch date was quickly turning into a 12:30 lunch date, and I was sitting by myself in Subway with all three kids and no way to call Brian to see if he was actually coming. Finally at 12:45 he walked in the door. Hi honey, I'm out! No, we actually did eat lunch together and then took our weekly walk down the sidewalk to throw rocks in what used to be a pond but is now a dried up mess of weeds. M and C don't seem to mind as long as they get to throw stuff. Typical. Lily started to come back out of her shell a bit, and decided to walk with us and then slightly ahead of us or behind us, depending on what was piquing her curiosity. We came back home and the kids had fun showing Lily the toys in her room and playing with their toys that they hadn't seen in two weeks. We obviously skipped naps, although I really could have used one!

We were very fortunate not to experience much jet lag. Lily and Matthew switched their schedules right away, and Caroline was the only one who was waking up at 2am for the first 3 nights. Although I must say, she did that before China on occasion. And I'm not sure if it was the jet lag or just the fact that she was used to sleeping the same room with my mom and Matthew the whole time and didn't want to be alone. Overall, everyone was sleeping at the right times. I just felt like I needed a whole lot more sleep than I was getting! I definitely missed out on a lot when we were in China. This resulted in many incoherent sentences, misplaced objects, and I'm pretty sure I lost some brain cells permanently.

One of the reasons I really wanted to travel over Thanksgiving was because Matthew would only miss 2 weeks of school total. If we traveled before or after or close to Christmas, he'd be off for those holidays plus 2 more weeks. Yes, I realize that he is in preschool and that him missing school is not going to be detrimental to his academics or education. That's not why I was concerned. Last year he liked school until about November when he missed several weeks due to illness, then cried every day and the rest of the year was a struggle. Needless to say I did not want to repeat that. So, praise God, we were able to travel over Thanksgiving and he only missed 2 weeks total. We talked about going back, he was excited to go back and see his friends, he practically skipped down the hallway, and then when he entered his classroom and all his friends were talking to him and looking at him and excited to see him, he started crying and didn't want to go. Lovely. Here we go again. Thankfully he has a wonderful teacher who took care of him, even though she had to hold him back from following me to the car, and he was fine a few hours later. Turns out he just got shy with everyone staring at him. Now he's fine. Lily seemed to have no problem with people looking at her and welcoming her and giving her attention. She just smiled at them all and hit herself on the head. You know, her standard greeting. Thank you again Matthew.

Another reason I really was hopeful for Thanksgiving travel was so that we'd be back in time to see Matthew and Caroline's Christmas program at school. Yes, I know that makes me a crazy mom. I don't care! Thursday night our family all joined us for the show. Now if you'll remember, getting three kids ready and arriving on time is still a challenge. I managed to get Caroline into her sweater dress (which we strategically call a shirt because she hates dresses) and leggings. It only resulted in a 15 minute screaming fit this time. Matthew was wearing a costume so I didn't worry about changing his clothes from school. We were still late. I walked Matthew up and his class was already heading out the door to the sanctuary. Then I realized that even though they were wearing costumes, that was only for part of the show. They were wearing their clothes for the last song. All the kids were wearing button down shirts or sweater vests and pants or dresses. Matthew was wearing his motorcycle shirt, athletic shorts, and blue crocs. Oh, and he was also wearing his medal from climbing the Great Wall that he had just gotten back from Baba. Awesome. Yes, I was that mom. So the show starts and when Matthew's class comes out they are all dressed as angels or shepherds. They were adorable. And then out walks Matthew with his medal over his costume. It was priceless and by far my favorite thing. Caroline's class came out to sing Jingle Bells and Away in a Manger (or what she calls the Jesus Sweet Head song). Even though she knows every word by heart and sings it all the time, she didn't utter a word up there. Actually none of the kids did. I think they were preoccupied with everyone staring at them. She did have fun shaking her jingle bells though! Lily was great the whole time. She really seems to enjoy music and happily ate her Cheerios and stood at my feet. The only sounds she made were happy sounds and giggles. After the program we enjoyed some cookies and juice. Lily took off walking all over the room. I think she was just making sure that no one took her cookie from her. Brian followed after her, and for the first time she let my dad play with her and hold her too! Of course it only lasted until she saw me, so they kept her up in the front of the sanctuary for a bit. It's so much fun to see her personality coming out again!

We got our Christmas tree this week! Not sure it was the smartest move, since Lily just likes to undecorate it constantly. But the kids did have fun finding the ornaments that weren't breakable to put on the tree. I just have to plan on having at least 5 ornaments on the ground at all times. Matthew and Caroline were so cute decorating it. They like to put the ornaments on the very tips of the branches, and definitely do not limit each branch to one ornament. The bottom branches are already losing lots of needles due to the frequency of ornaments being put on and taken off. Check out all the ornaments Matthew put on one branch below. And photo credits are shared with Matthew here, Brian wasn't home! He's a pretty good photographer!

So here's the adoption/Lily update. At the beginning of the week it was pretty rough. I felt like I had absolutely no time to do anything, just like it was the first few days in China. I had to go to bed when she did, which basically meant that I didn't really get to see Brian at all. Plus he was working longer hours to make up for the 2 weeks he missed. He'd basically come home, we'd eat dinner, give the kids a bath, have a little play time, then I'd put Lily to bed and that would be it for the night. The people that brought us dinner that week were such lifesavers. I have no idea how I would have cooked anything. During the toughest moments I couldn't help but think how much easier it was just having 2 kids, and I prayed that God would give me an overflow of love to give to my kids. As the week went on, Lily felt more and more like my daughter and just fit right into our family. My love for her progressed from loving her through my actions to loving her with my emotions as well. She opened up to Brian again and allowed him to put her to bed at night which freed me up to take care of things in the evening. I started to feel like a real human again! She started to feel safe and comfortable in our house and would sit and play or wander around the rooms. She still preferred me and would get upset if I was holding Matthew or Caroline, but she was returning to her curious independent self. Friday was a big milestone day for us. I took all three kids to Walmart by myself! Then by Friday night I actually left all the kids with Brian and ran a 5K! We have really come far in a week.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thank You!

The 2 weeks we've been home have definitely been a whirlwind! I will update later, but first an overdue thank you post!

We are truly blessed with THE MOST AMAZING friends and family. I cannot thank you all enough for the support you have given us throughout this entire process. You have prayed for us, cried with us, been excited alongside us, and longed to bring our daughter home too. We could not have done this without you. Truly.

We came home to a clean house, meals in the freezer, groceries in the refrigerator and pantry, a completed crib in the nursery, a pack and play in the bedroom, and some festive decorations. Thank you for that Scott, Catie, Alice, and our awesome life group. You are greatly appreciated :o)

We also had an awesome welcoming party at the airport, complete with signs and a decorated car. Thank you to everyone who came out. What a great sight after completing 15 hours of plane rides!

A big thank you to everyone who has provided dinner for us since we have been home, and thank you Kristin for setting up our meal train. It has been such a blessing not to have to cook in the evening. I guess I'll have to figure that out soon enough!

I have been completely overwhelmed by the amount of people that actually read this blog and followed our journey. And who want me to write more posts! I will try to update soon, I promise ;o) Thank you all for caring about our family and being a part of our journey.

Finally, thank you all for loving us and loving Lily. And thank you for giving us grace as we adjust to being a family of 5. We love you all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square - Sunday, December 8th

We woke up on our last day in China! We are definitely all ready to get home. We were doing really well until the late night travel to Beijing and now we're all tired and cold and want to go home. We slept in a bit this morning and headed down to breakfast around 9:00. There's a little play room right off the dining area and when we were done eating all three kids went in there and played together. For the first time in 16 days the three adults were able to have a conversation without kids! It is so encouraging to see Lily playing with her brother and sister and just fitting right into our family. Just two weeks ago she wouldn't leave my side and definitely didn't want me to put her down.

Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City were on our agenda for our last half day, and they were supposedly within walking distance. We headed out into the cold (the kids had on two shirts today so they were much warmer) to find them. Two blocks from our hotel is a famous pedestrian shopping street, so we enjoyed walking down that. We kept seeing large tour groups so we used them to determine that we were still going in the right direction. Then all of a sudden they were all gone! We asked a shopkeeper where to go, and she told us to go up and turn right. We turned under this archway that looked promising and ended up in this crazy food market! For the first time I really felt like I was in China. There were food vendors lining the street on both sides selling everything you can think of on skewers. My favorite were the scorpions and seahorses. Ech! The smells were out of control too. Every few feet we were hit with the smell of whatever was cooking at that vendor. Poor Matthew kept saying "It smells yucky. Why does it smell so bad?" Lily was asleep on my back in the Ergo and Brian was carrying Caroline through the crowd so that someone didn't try to steal her from us. It was quite a cool experience! When we made it through to the other side, we discovered that we were no closer to finding our destination. We asked another person who vaguely pointed in front of us so we kept walking. Still nothing. Then we asked a military guard who told us where to go in Chinese and also pointed. Finally we made it to a huge main road with street signs and figured out where to go.

We went into the Forbidden city and walked around the courtyard. There was really nothing that exciting about it, except for all the people staring at us. You can buy tickets to actually go inside the museum, but with 3 kids we decided against that. It was getting close to lunch time so we thought we'd walk across the street to see Tian'anmen Square and then head back. On our way out all of sudden all these street vendors started sprinting past us with their stuff in garbage bags. Apparently they use plain clothes policemen to crack down on the street vendors, and one had tackled a vendor to the ground and they were shouting at each other in Chinese. Just a little bit of excitement! We were glad that for once the attention was diverted elsewhere around us. We crossed under the street to the other side, but didn't want to wait in the long security line so we just looked at the Square from the other side of the barricades. We wanted to catch a taxi back because it was almost 1:00 and we had to be out of our rooms by 2:00, but the barricades lining the street never ended! We kept walking and walking looking for an opening and never found one. Soon we were back at the shopping street and decided to cut our losses and just walk the rest at that point. We did stop into McDonald's to grab some lunch to take back while I packed. Matthew really wanted a chocolate milkshake to give him energy after our walk, so the little cutie froze his hands carrying his ice cream back. Then I once again did a whirlwind packing job, and we made it down to the lobby to meet our driver and head to the airport. I scarfed my rather cold food down in the van. Yum.

The airport was thankfully rather uneventful. We were able to check in and let the kids run around for a bit before getting on the plane. This flight was only 12 hours compared to the 13 on the way over. Woohoo! Followed by a short 3 hour plane flight. Funny that 3 hour flights are now short! Caroline watched a bit of The Lorax, her favorite movie, then fell asleep and literally slept the entire flight! Matthew did great watching movies and slept for a few hours. He thought he was pretty cool and told me that he stayed up all night long. Lily did really well too. She fell asleep for the beginning of the flight and I was able to watch a movie, then woke up for the dinner service. She played with Brian and I, slept some more, and only had 2 crying episodes the entire time. If I could have found a way to get comfortable, I could have slept too. Oh well! After the flight from Guangzhou to Beijing I was really worried about the long flight, but it really wasn't so bad. Thank you for praying for us, we felt it!

We landed in Detroit and made it smoothly through customs and immigration. We did have to go to the non-US-citizens side since Lily had a Chinese passport, but we had our own lane and didn't have to wait in the long line. I waited with Lily to open the infamous sealed brown envelope, and the customs officer very undramatically stamped her passport, took our papers, and sent us on our way. We got our bags, rechecked them for our flight to Tampa, and then spent some time waiting at our gate. I found an outlet and was able to blog about our trip to the Great Wall. While I was blogging Brian came over and told me that Mitt Romney sat down across from them! I finished up my post and headed over. Of course I sneaked a picture of him :o)

We boarded our last flight, and we pretty much all slept the entire time. When we landed in Tampa it seemed to take forever for everyone to get off the plane in front of us! We finally made it out into the terminal and were greeted by an amazing welcome party! Matthew and Caroline ran straight to Daideo and didn't let go of him for a good 15 minutes, and we were able to introduce Lily to our friends. It felt so good to be home!!!! Thank you to everyone who stayed up late (and brought their kids!) to come and see us. It really meant a lot. We love you! We finally made it home around 1am, and found even more surprises at home! We have the best friends! Then we took some melatonin and put everyone in bed around 2:00. Home sweet home!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Great Wall - Saturday, December 7th

Today was the first day we had to set an alarm to get up! We were meeting our guide in the lobby at 9:00 and had to eat breakfast first. We were all so exhausted from traveling, and getting the kids up and ready wasn't easy. Some chocolate muffins at breakfast helped to brighten their spirits a little. Right at 9:00 our guide and driver met us in the lobby and we headed out to the Great Wall. Between the traffic and the distance it took us almost an hour to get there. Of course Lily was crying on and off because she wanted to walk around. Seriously cannot wait for that carseat! Then all of a sudden we pull over and they have taken us to a jade factory, AKA tourist trap. Our guide wasn't super verbal, so I'm hoping that he didn't think that this was what we had signed up for, but I was pretty sure that it was an extra stop. I was very thankful that we had already been in China for 2 weeks and knew what prices were competitive. This place was super overpriced! But it was cool to see people actually carving the jade and to look at the giant dragon boat sculptures. We were done rather quickly since we weren't planning on buying anything and then had to look to find our guide. We walked through the factory twice before we saw him. We piled back in the van and headed to the Great Wall.

I knew that the smog in Beijing was bad, but man was it terrible. We drove all through the city and could hardly see any of it, and by the time we got to the Great Wall my throat was literally burning from the pollution. It was hard to even see the tops of the mountains that the wall is on. So sad that such a beautiful place is so clouded by pollution. Our guide showed us where to go to climb the wall, and then left us to explore on our own. I had Lily in the Ergo, and Caroline was having a hard time thinking that we were going to leave her behind somewhere and wanted to be carried so Brian had her. That left Matthew to hike the wall on his own. I gave him a lollipop for extra energy and it worked! I was so proud of that kid. The steps were incredibly steep, even hard for me to climb some of them, and he climbed every single one! He held tight to my hand and we took breaks whenever he needed them. I was glad to have those breaks too! It took us about 30-45 minutes of climbing to get to the watchtower. Matthew was so proud of himself. Mom bought him a medal engraved with his name on it that said "I climbed the Great Wall". He's going to take it to show and tell at school, and wanted to wear it with his name facing out so everyone could see it. Precious boy. Then we had to climb down! That was a little more tricky because I couldn't really see my feet, and Matthew was a little more timid about going down the steps. I held the hand rail with one hand, him with the other, and we slowly made our way down. So many people touched Matthew's head or smiled at him or talked to him on the stairs. One man said "Hello beautiful boy" and Matthew asked me why everyone was talking to him and touching him. I explained that he looked different than everyone here and that they thought he was handsome :o) I was very thankful that Lily slept the entire climb until the end when we wanted to take some pictures. I can't imagine how I would have made it down with a writhing baby attached to me! Once we got to the bottom both kids were tired, hungry, and cold. We still had about 30 minutes until it was time to go so we walked around a little pagoda that was there and got them each a snack.

The next part of our tour was to the Summer Palace. The temperature seemed to drop about 10 degrees between the Great Wall and Summer Palace, and we Florida crackers do not have proper winter attire. And all the kids fell asleep in the car and did not like being woken up when we got there. So to say that the trip to the palace was not as enjoyable would be a bit of understatement. Matthew was crying because he was cold, Caroline cried every time Brian put her down, and Lily was crying because she didn't want to be in the Ergo. Plus it was lunch time and we didn't have an official lunch. While we were standing there buying tickets with multiple crying children I had two different Chinese ladies come up to me and point out that Lily's pant leg wasn't all the way down. Yes, thank you, I'm sure that the two inches of leg skin that are showing are the cause of her screaming fit. I definitely do not have more important things to worry about right now. Please scold me again. Gotta love the Chinese.

The palace was really beautiful, but once again spoiled by pollution. There is a beautiful lake in the center with views of the emperor's home, the longevity temple, and gorgeous scenery all around, but the smog was so thick that we could hardly see any of it unless we were right in front of it. I loved the intricate details, the art work, and architecture and I would have loved to see this palace at the time when the emperor actually lived there. Matthew was pretty miserable and cold the entire time, so we made the tour kind of quick and headed back to the warm van.

Our guide asked us if we wanted to stop for afternoon tea at a tea house. We decided to risk it, even with cranky kids. I'm so glad we did! We went to a tea house called Dr. Tea, and were led to a large table for a tea demonstration. The woman taught us about four different kinds of tea, what they are used for, and how to drink them, and we got to sample each one. We had jasmine tea, oolong tea, puer tea, and fruit tea. The kids tried them too, and actually liked them. It was also free, because the Chinese government wants to educate people about the importance of tea. Thanks China! At this point it was 4:00 so we headed back to the hotel and ended our tour. Since no one got much sleep last night Brian walked down the block to get some takeout so we could feed the kids in the room and get them to bed. Tomorrow is our last day in China!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Back to the Island and off to Beijing - Friday, December 6th

For our last day in Guangzhou we decided to head back to Shamian Island to do a bit more shopping and to enjoy the gorgeous weather before freezing our tails off in Beijing. We enjoyed one last AMAZING breakfast buffet, and even got upgraded to the 30th floor restaurant so we didn't have to wait. Amanda and I sat with the grandmas and babies again, and Brian and Beau had the other 3 kids. It was of course delicious, and I am already going through hash brown and bacon withdrawals. The Dusseaults headed off on their first sightseeing adventure, and we made one last visit to the fish. We stole little pieces of Lily's croissant to feed the fish when she wasn't looking, and then this nice young guy gave Matthew a piece of bread to feed them some more. Matthew had fun trying to get the one all black fish the food out of the hundreds of fish. I think he was even successful once or twice. The kids were so precious saying goodbye to the fish, my favorite was when they said "see you next time!"

I attempted to do a bit more packing before heading to Shamian Island, because we had to have our bags ready by 4:00 and I didn't know when we'd be back. Then we grabbed a taxi and off we went! I am really dreading/looking forward to Lily having a car seat when we get home. I'm pretty sure she's going to scream her head off while she's in it because she hates being restrained, but at least I won't have to hold her while she's screaming in the back of a taxi anymore!

We were able to find the two stores that we had missed when we were here earlier in the week. One of them A Gift from China, donates all of their profits to orphans. They had some beautiful Christian wooden carvings and displays of verses translated into Chinese so we got some for our house. My mom also bought several gifts, and made me happy because one was for me and it was also helping someone in need. My favorite kind of gift! We bought a couple more things next door at Jenny’s then headed to find some food for our starving children. I was so excited to be able to order some stir fry broccoli! I never thought I would miss vegetables so much, but I guess when you can’t have something you want it! We let the kids play for a bit longer on the playground there, and then made one last stop back at Michael’s to buy an additional suitcase. Side note - I just love how there are people doing modeling photo shoots all over the island. I think we saw at least 15 brides in the two times we were there, and countless other models as well. I’d like to know where these ads are so I can see how they turn out! It was getting close to 3:00, and if you remember our bags had to be ready by 4:00 and I wasn’t quite done packing. We headed to get a taxi, and I started to get worried when several minutes went by and we hadn’t found one. Finally we flagged one down, and then I got more worried when we sat in traffic forever! It’s tough when you have no idea how far away you are from your destination and you have a deadline. And it’s not like you can really communicate with your driver to find out if you’re getting close. We made it back to the hotel at 3:15 and I entered hyperdrive packing mode! We put the kids in their pajamas for the flight since it was going to be late at night, shoved everything into the suitcases somewhat organized, and barely squeaked by getting everything ready.

So all week long the hotel has been decorating the inside and outside for Christmas. The entire front is covered in lights (which we saw them putting up like 5 days ago and have been anxiously awaiting for them to turn on), there’s a huge tree in the lobby that literally changes every day, and it seems like each morning there are additional decorations around. Turns out they were getting ready for a Christmas celebration starting at 5:30 tonight and we were going to miss it! There was going to be free turkey and roast beef, champagne, wine, other food, Christmas caroling, Santa’s arrival, and all sorts of fun stuff. We were originally supposed to have our bags ready at 4:00, pick up Lily’s passport in the lobby at 4:15, check out of the hotel at 4:30 and head to the airport. We were so bummed! Plus, our flight wasn’t until 9:00, was a domestic flight, and we had Beau and Amanda’s rooms to hang out in after we checked out. Simon and Miko were great, and let us stay until a little after 6:00 so we could enjoy our friends and the festivities. Unfortunately, not everything went as planned. After the super stressful packing situation ended we went down to the Dusseaults’ rooms, but Henry and James were sleeping and Amanda and Beverly had gone shopping. We hung out in Beverly’s room, which was great because the kids got to watch some Chinese tv and Lily got to walk around, but we didn’t get to spend time with our friends. When it got close to 5 we decided to head down to the lobby because we thought the celebration was going to start then. Plus we needed to visit the ATM and replenish our Cheerios stock for the bottomless pit herself. We got down there and they were still getting everything ready. We probably should have just gone back upstairs, but we didn’t have a key to use in the elevator and we thought it would be starting any minute. So Brian left for the Cheerios and my mom and I attempted to entertain the kids while preventing Lily from injuring herself. After a few escalator rides we settled on pretending to ice skate on the blue rug and backdrop where I’m assuming Santa would be coming. This actually meant the kids running around in circles, falling on their knees, and shrieking. Did I mention that once again my kids were in their pajamas? Man, when are those crazy Americans going to leave?! Finally at 5:30 they started passing trays with food and drinks and I enjoyed some free champagne. If I had known what the next few hours were going to hold, I would have opted for more than one glass!

After a few Christmas carols and watching them carve two turkeys we decided it was time to get out of the chaos and piled into the van. Traffic was terrible and it seemed to take forever to get to the airport! Or maybe that was just because Lily was crying… Anyway, Miko accompanied us inside and helped us get to the right counter and check in for our flight. We said goodbye to her at the security line, and now we were on our own! We made it through security easily. I laughed at Matthew and Caroline running away from the woman with the wand trying to make sure they weren’t smuggling any weapons in their pajamas.
The Guangzhou airport is much nicer than the Beijing airport, but apparently not as English-friendly. They started announcing stuff and people just got in line at the gate, so we joined in. No idea who they were boarding, but I guess it was ok because they didn’t turn us away. They did however forget to give us back our boarding passes after they tore off the stub and the military officer stationed on the jetway refused to let us enter the plane without seeing them. They also took our stroller from us and told us that we would get it back later. Turns out that didn’t happen, but that’s a story for later. Brian ran back, got the boarding passes, and we were finally allowed on the plane. We sat down and it wasn’t 2 minutes before Lily started crying. Genius me realizes it’s past time for her bottle, so we get it out and Brian goes to ask the flight attendant for water. Lily saw this transaction go down, and was not happy! I think that literally every person on the plane was staring at me and their eyes were saying “Why are you trying to steal this Chinese baby? She obviously isn’t yours because she seems terrified of you and is screaming her head off. And you obviously should not be allowed to be her parent if you can’t stop the screaming.” That’s one thing about the Chinese – they are not discreet. Yesterday on the island this older man just stopped in front of us and stared, going back and forth from Lily to Caroline, for a good 2 minutes. Even my evil stare back didn’t seem to faze him. After what seemed like an eternity, the Brian got the bottle back from the flight attendant. Turns out she was nicely trying to boil water for us, that takes about 10 minutes. We, again, are not up to China parenting standards because we have never used boiled or even warm water for Lily’s bottle. She just doesn’t seem to care! Crisis #1 averted. Happy baby drinking her bottle. After the bottle ran out I attempted to get her to sleep. The flight wasn’t horrific, but it also was not even close to peaceful or easy. Lily slept on and off, but when she wasn’t sleeping she was crying. It may have been the rather loud action movie that was playing overhead (I don’t know why it wasn’t set to play with headphones, but loud cell phone rings, gun shots, and sirens are not helpful for sleep) that kept waking her up, or the fact that they never turned the lights in the cabin off. Caroline was also a bit of a mess, and she cried several times too. Especially during the descent.  By the time we did land, all three kids were asleep and we had to wrangle all three of them and all the bags.
Now, let me take a minute and tell you what my plan was for this trip. I packed our carry-on suitcase with everything that we would need in Beijing in case our luggage got lost. This included all of our coats for easy access. In my mind, I was not going to bother digging out coats to put on because a) all three kids were somewhat asleep and b)we only had to walk from the airport to our waiting car and from the car to the hotel.
Ok, so we had figured out how to each carry a sleeping kid and the bags, and we only had to make it to the stroller which we should be getting back once we got off the plane, then we could put Caroline in there. So we get to the door of the plane and discover that we are not walking into a jetway to our gate, we are walking outside in the freezing cold to get on a tram that is packed full of people. And our stroller is nowhere in sight! So we wait for the second tram, Matthew is almost crying at this point because he's cold, and stumble on with all of our stuff. One nice man offers us a seat, but I can't use it with the Ergo so mom and Matthew sit and cuddle. Then we embark on the LONGEST RIDE EVER. I think we were at least two miles from the airport, and I had to hold on with one hand while straddling luggage and holding Lily. When we can finally get off we have to walk outside again. And to the woman behind me not so discreetly and rudely commenting on what a terrible mother I am because I don't have a coat for my kids, you're lucky my hands are full of luggage and a baby or I might punch you.
We finally get inside and go ahead and find the kids' coats so they can stop shivering. Then we find the baggage claim area and wait for our bags. Now Lily is awake and mad that she's in the Ergo, and Caroline is afraid that we're going to leave her somewhere so every time someone walks away she starts crying and wants to go with them. So here we are standing in the middle of the airport with two crying kids while Brian gets our bags. Our stroller still has yet to show up, so we inquire at the baggage desk. They tell us it will show up somewhere else, Brian checks, not there. At this point it's 1:00 in the morning and we decide to just leave the stroller behind. We find our driver in the terminal and he helps us take our bags to the van and drives us to the hotel. Hiring a driver was the best decision ever, especially since the taxi line was crazy long, outside, and in the cold. We get checked in, make it to our rooms, and fall into bed around 2:15. Good night!