Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Flip, a Flop, a Snort, With a Few Words Exchanged and I don't Know What to Think?

Chelsea lived in an orphanage for nine years. It is all she knew. . When she was in China she slept three to a bed. Three kids one single size bed. OK I get that she is having trouble sleeping at night because she is not used to having an entire bed to herself. At first she would fall asleep but get up in the middle of the night and go sleep with Chase. Then she and Sophie would sleep together. She even slept with Nolan one night. Let’s just say that a teenage boy waking up to his sister next to him was not well received. Bedtime starts at our house around 8:00 – 8:30. Beginning tonight it starts at 4:30.

First we have to get her into the bath. These takes about 30 minutes and includes at least one forced game of hide and seek. Then we have to get her out of the bath that takes another 30 minutes plus the 20 in the tub actually scrubbing. Now she needs to get her pajamas on, brush her hair and teeth. OMG, the teeth take 10 minutes by alone. We are now a full 90 minutes into the process, and it is not like the sounders full 90. This is not fun and exciting, it is frustrating and exhausting.

OK now it is bedtime and she cannot sleep alone so of course while we have been playing hide and seek filling and raining tubs and wincing at the approach to “sugar bugs” the rest of the kids are say “why do we have to go to bed? Why does she have to sleep with me? I don’t want to sleep with her!!

OK FINE! Tonight Chelsea can sleep with Michael and Myriam. Chelsea is quite excited at this news and actually shaves about 11 seconds off her nightly routine. OK, time for bed. Everyone to their own and Good night!

OK so here is what I do not get? As I said Chelsea slept three to a bed for basically 9 years. There could not have been much room; I saw the bed where she slept. Three across would be like rolling hotdogs over on a grille, one moves they all move. You would think that after 9 years she would have this down like a military fighter pilot making a routine maneuver, with his wingman (or woman) 6 inches off her wing.

She is more like a fish out of water. She flips this way, she flops that way, she sleeps alongside, she sleeps at a 45 degree angle, and she sleeps at a 90 degree angle she was even sleeping at 180 degrees. This is when she began talking in Chinese while asleep. Seriously I thought a Tom Clancy novel had come to life in my bedroom and China was on the move. She does a spider imitation with limbs going everywhere. What happened to the precision tuck roll she had to have mastered in China? Even the dogs are standing around thinking “Dude we need video of this, this is nuts.” At 3:00 in the morning I bailed out of the bed after taking a slap to the head with her hand, followed by a foot in the ear not two minutes later.

NOW I know why the kids were saying “I don’t want to sleep with her.” They could have added it’s dangerous.

We are going to have to figure this out before the dogs send us into “America’s funniest Masters.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Preparing for a Chinese foot rub in
Mom and daugher geting ready for foot massage
Even Uncle Panda got a massage
Nana and Big Sister Sophie getting a foot massage.
Mom, Chelsea, Sophie, Chase (yes Chase) Mady and Ron
All got foot massages.

Lighting insense at the buddist temple;
Prayers left to right
Please provide food and nurishment soon
Please let this be my forever family
Please someone fund the college fund X4
Outside Lucy's American burger restaurant in Guangzhou.
Everyone knows these statues as "the fat Americans"
Gotta work off the extra pounds after Lucy's
China is known for these exercise parks. The
government puts in little community parks for all
types of exercise.  They are well used
 instead of the American style gyms

Quick rest

Over and a perfect dismount. See we all
knew these Chinese Gymnists were youger
than the rest of the world
Hanging out in the Bannyan tree - Guangzhou China

Apartment life in Guangzhou.  It was so nice to spreadout in a
country so densely populated

Uncle Panda listening to Hip Hop and Rap on his new $7 Beats

Checking out the pool for the first time.  A few minues late
Chelsea slipped and got "the full experience"  After a brief
moment of shock she lovved it and and would spends hours
there is she could. She will at Lake Jane Pool here in
Bonney Lake 

Pool Life

Relaxing after the pool.  Diva in training...
Sophie the jock playing "Flyers Up"


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Week of Firsts

Where to start;

It has been a long an emotional week for the Avery household.  It started on Monday, the tragic accident in Bonney Lake that claimed three young lives struck close to home as Myriam knew the young family.  It was an emotional low for the family, making everyone realize how precious and fragile life and family really are.  Luckily it was offset by some of the firsts for Chelsea who makes us laugh on a daily basis.  We definitely needed her this week.

First day of School. 

OK technically it was her third day.  On the Thursday 4/9 Chelsea and Myriam went to school to have lunch with her class.  Everything went well and after lunch Chelsea was ready to stay but it was time to go.  The next day Chelsea came again for lunch and this time stayed for the reminder of the day; about 3 ½ hours.  Sophie and her best friend came and had lunch with Chelsea as much to do something different at lunch as it was to reassure Chelsea that someone was there that she knew.

Monday was different.  It was a full day of school no special treatment.  Well actually that is not entirely true.  Chelsea has a para-educator for half the day, starting in the morning, and staying with her until lunch time.  Darlene is wonderful and is there to help Chelsea in her first weeks of school. She is helping bridge the gap for Chelsea and we are grateful to have her for four weeks.

Chelsea is learning new words every day and we are impressed with how much she absorbs.  In fact we are now pretty sure she understands everything we are saying and is holding out on us.  Her favorite word is “No” as in Chelsea it is time to get a shower “no” time to brush your teeth, “no”, time to get up and get ready for school “no”. Her facial expressions during these conversations are what make them priceless.  She never ceases to make us smile and laugh.

The school has been amazing.  They have been waiting for Chelsea for most of the school year.  They found the para-educator who speaks Chinese and purchased Rosetta Stone software for her computer to help her learn English and when you arrive at Bonne Lake Elementary everything is in English and Chinese.  The office, classrooms, library, everything is dual language.  They have really outdone themselves, we are so grateful for the warm embrace they have given Chelsea.

The Boss arrives:

On Wednesday Michael had to repair one of the toilets.  He turned off the water and disassembled the unit which caught the interest of his youngest child.  She followed him to the garage where Michael assembled the new unit under her supervision.  When Michael returned to the bathroom it was here that Chelsea decided she needed to use the facilities.  Michael told her “you cannot use it here, you have to go upstairs, and this one is not working.”  This received a sharp and clear “NO”, and a firm point to the disassembled toilet. Michael resumed his work under the watchful eye of his new foreman.  Sophie was not at the house she was with her best friend and that did not set well with her.  She wanted to be with her sister and new friends.  When the doorbell rang Chelsea was sure it was her sister and left her post over Michael’s shoulder supervising the work being done.  When Sophie was not at the door (I could have told her that Sophie does not ring the doorbell when she gets home but I was too busy turning wrenches.)

Myriam was surprised to see her coming out of the bathroom headed for the front door and asked what she was up to.  Michael informed anyone who would listen that she needed to use the bathroom upstairs because this one is not working.  With the knowledge that Sophie was not at the door and having no desire to go upstairs Chelsea quickly returned to the bathroom, yelled “NO” then closed and locked herself inside the dismantled bathroom with Michael.  At this point she turned and said “Daddy Hurry!”

The event that distracted the foreman gave the general laborer just enough time to finish the job.  And typical of Sr. Management no thank you was offered, just a firm finger pointing the way to the exit.  The door was closed and locked.

Other notable firsts:

·         She has traded her spider monkey routine when encounter the dogs to one similar to a lion tamer, smacking the dogs on the rear when they fail to move out of her way fast enough. 

·         She has begun eating grapes with the skins.  Seriously try and peel your next grape and discard the skin. You can only use your fingers and teeth.  I guarantee my daughter will put you to shame. So now she eats the entire grape -thank goodness. 

·         She is now addicted to chips and salsa just like Sophie and Myriam.

·         She received her first knee scrape.  It did not require a band aide but she got her first one anyway

·         She is now addicted to band- aides.  She likes to stick them on her knees.

·         She then walks with one leg stiff as if she has an injury.  If you watch she will switch legs from time to time.

·         Her first park soccer game with friends and siblings; she may be a keeper. Actually she is a keeper but she may also be a goalie.  She likes to throw herself on top of the ball even if people are kicking at it.  Now we just need to prevent her from doing it at the 50 yard line.    

While we were in China we noticed Chelsea can sleep 10, 12, 14 hours a day.  We assumed it was because everything was so new to her.  When we got home she continued to sleep long hours.  We discounted it as getting use to the new time zone.  OK we have been back for a couple of weeks now and sleeping 14 hours just will not due.

 We are learning a lot with her like we need to time things better. We need to allow 10 minutes to brush teeth.  If we rush her we get locked out of the bathroom. She is hard to get into the shower; it usually includes some bribery and at least one search of the house after she has “agreed” to take a shower.  She is small and hiding places are plentiful. She is not a morning person. Each “good morning sweetheart it’s time to get up and get ready for school is promptly met with a groan and a “NO!”

So the restroom humor continues this week.  Myriam thinks we need to call them Chelsea Chuckles and I agree. So here goes the first one.



Chelsea does not miss a beat, Michael routinely stated while in China that she never blinks.  She takes everything in; as you read this imagine the scene in your head. 

Chelsea tells her teacher that she needs to use the bathroom.  This is a regular event as Chelsea has the bladder the size of a pea.  Chelsea gets the appropriate hall pass and proceeds to the restroom where she selects a stall. While in the stall she looks down and recognizes a pair of shoes in the adjacent stall. It is the shoes of her friend. Ever so eager, Chelsea quickly crawls under the divider wall pops her head up and says “HI”!!

Not sure what you would have done but if I am in a stall and someone pops their head up from below and shouts HI!  It is probably a good thing I am where I am at the moment; let’s just say it is an appropriate spot for what would happen!  We are going to have to work on personal space, and apparently physical barriers.

Her first Sounder FC cap and t-shirt
complements of the Dynacraft quality Dept. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Best Made Plans...

Four legs and a tail and now we are home.

 Speaking of four legs and a tail....  Chelsea is afraid of dogs.  Actually she is terrified of dogs.  We tried to warn her up front about our furry companions.  About seven months ago we sent he a little photo book full of pictures including the loveable lugs Hank and Hudson.

While touring the Spring Palace the topic came up.  We asked our guide, Alice, to ask her if she had seen the photo album, she said she had.  Alice asked her what she thought of it.  “She said they have a dog.” Alice asked her if she liked dogs and Chelsea shook her head no. We figured it was a bad time to tell her we do not have a dog we have two 100+ Lbs. dogs that spend half of their life being called a Jack-Wagon by one or more members of the family.

Michael had a plan to gracefully introduce the last two members of the family to the newest.  He would go collect the boyZ from the Kennel and bring them home.  Let them into the backyard where they would run to the back door.  Chelsea could see them (both of them) for the first time clearly separated by our full length glass door.  Next Michael would send each of the other kids out to play with the dogs.  This was intended to show Chelsea that they would not eat her, it would wear the dogs out as they played, and calm them down a bit for phase three.

Michael would then allow Hudson, the calmer of the two into the house.  The probability of a quick sniff then a nap on the couch was very high.  Next Hanksta the Gangsta would be allowed in.  For those ho have not met Hank, we have several nick names for him.  Hanksta, Hanksta the Gangsta, Hanky, Hanky-Panky and… Jack-Wagon. Introduction here would have to be more controlled because Hank, although looks like he could eat your face actually cannot control his lick-er.  All he would want to do is knock Chelsea to the ground and kiss her to death. 

Michael expected this to be the hardest part of the plan.  Holding a 105 Lbs. dog back from a 40 Lbs. frightened girl until he could contain himself from being the Jack-Wagon would be difficult but could be done with a well-executed plan.  Well you know what they say about plans…

The first part of the plan went flawlessly.  Michael picked up the four legged family members and brought them home.  He placed them in the back yard. Here is where things went slightly awry.  It seems that the plan although communicated to some of the family members it was not communicated to all.  Or All of the family members just decided to ignore Michael. I am not sure which one it was and it is not really relevant, the important thing here is a loan will be taken out to pay for therapy.

Both dogs were allowed into the house at the same time.  Both dogs were very excited to see their long lost family and lets face it the dogs believed they had just been paroled. As 200+ Lbs. of dogs came bounding into the kitchen Chelsea turned into a spider monkey.  Quickly ducking around the kitchen Island swing herself up onto the bar stools to the countertop and finally to the highest accessible point in the kitchen the raised breakfast bar.  Standing in the middle of the bar head amongst the pots hanging from the ceiling rack she now morphed from a Spider Monkey to a Howler Monkey screaming at the top of her lungs and I am sure thinking, they adopted me to feed me to these monsters?!!!

Myriam was able to pry her from the ceiling and hold her.  While the dogs jumped around wanting to see the new addition. “Is it another kid? Is it a squeaky toy? It made one heck of a racket let me see, let me see as they jump up and down.

Michael had a perfect plan but alas it is only the execution  that matters I am just glad Chelsea did not have a weapon at the time, mostly because I am not sure who she would have taken out first.

The following days brought more startled screams, then the eventual being in the same room as her tormentors, then on the same level.  Eventually Chelsea snuck a pet or two with Hudson and them Finally Hank.

I would not say that dog is Chelsea’s best friend just yet but they are making progress.  The boyZ have somehow figured out that Chelsea does not like them.  It is possible that the Screaming and spider monkey simulation was recognized at not normal.  For whatever reason, the dogs have been on their best behavior.  Even the gangsta has refrained from being a Jack–Wagon for about a week.  A person best for Hank.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Planes Trains and Automibiles

As I had said before I was going to make a few more posts after we got home, if for no other reason than to post more photos.

Well we have been home for a week now and plenty has occurred.  So let’s recap.

When it comes to travel Chelsea is a trooper.  Prior to joining the family her worldly travel experience consisted of a 1 mile bus ride to the school she was attending.  Her longest bus ride was when she left the orphanage to come to the government office in Hefei to meet us; and you know how that went.  She got sick on that ride and a few rides after but nothing that any parent could not handle.  The next challenge was her first airplane ride from Hefei to Guangzhou.  We were a little concerned about the motion sickness and pulling from our personal experiences Sophie screamed the entire plane trip last time.  OK yes, she was two but that is all we knew about adopted Chinese girls and airplane rides.

Chelsea apparently decided that being adopted by this family was her lot in life and she may as well make the best of it.  To that end she turned out to be a world traveler in disguise.  She wanted to wear her backpack carry on.  She wanted to pull a wheeled carry on behind her.  She seemed (in most cases to know where she was going and often lead the way along with one of her brothers.

Leaving Hefei Myriam warned us (and Michael remembered) that in China although you have an assigned seat boarding a plane is a lot like festival seating at a “Laser-Floyd” show at the planetarium.  Every man woman and child for themselves, and pretty much in that order…We made it onto the pane but the festival continues with people taking pictures having conversation or arguments,( what do I know I don’t speak the language and it always sounds like the Chinese are angry when they raise their voice) three rows apart. Photos were completed and the plane began to move.  Chelsea was excited about everything she saw.  Planes taking off, meal truck moving on the ground even people walking around in safety vests were a sight worth poking Chase in an effort to get him to see the same thing.

By the time we left Guangzhou and flew to Beijing things were less exciting.  By the time we left Beijing to fly to Seattle Chelsea had been there and done that.  She did not even have a desire to sit near a window.  Michael was excited because the plane ride that was designated to be 11.5 hours turned out to be only 10.  He was giddy about not having to spend an extra 90 minutes buckled into those awesome airplane seats.

Do you ever wonder, when they tear a stadium down one of the first things to land on the selling block is the stadium seats?  They are small, metal and ungodly uncomfortable and they do not recline.  Yet these seats go at a premium.  You know why they sell because they are still more comfortable than the airplane seats.   Think about it.  Most of us travel to and from on plane rides of approximately 3 – 4 hours; roughly about the length of a MLB baseball game.  Which seat is more attractive to you?

Chelsea has gotten over her motion sickness, we have tested her on planes trains and automobiles and she is a champ.  Now off to the next “FIRST” adventure.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Everest - I can see Seattle from Here

We woke this morning prepared to climb "the wall." Unfortunately it is cold here in Beijing and we Americans were ill prepared to climb in the poor conditions. (52 degrees, overcast and a light breeze) For that reason we opted to go to the Silk Factory first. Here we purchased yet more headphones a nice backpack and North Face and Columbia jackets. We had to pay more than last time. We shelled out $130 MRB per jacket. This equates to $21 American.

From there we went to the Cloisonné Factory. It was fascinating to watch the product being built and painted. The finished product was stunning and it was not uncommon for a 12 inch high vase to cost $1,000 USD. It truly is beautiful. The work was lost on the kids but I assured them as time passed they would grow to appreciate it more. We then went upstairs to have another fabulous meal. Now out of excuses we set out to do what we intended to do. Point me to my Everest.

Now properly equipped we headed for our Mt Everest. Ron and Mady walked to the first area below the first guard tower and called it quits. Michael was the next to drop after his knee said he was done. His quest for the summit ended shortly after the first guard tower. Soon Chase met Michael at the first guard tower headed down. Chase decided the wind had kick up to much to press forward and was headed down to base camp. That left only 4. Myriam, Nolan, Sophie and Chelsea pressed forward braving the high winds and uneven steps. Some steps are 3 inches high then the next step is two feet high followed by another 8 inches high which makes it very hard to get a rhythm. Onward and upward they marched toward their goal. The secret of the Great Wall is as tough as it can be going up coming down is much harder; a fact that Michael passed onto Nolan as they started up. Ultimately the four reached their goal summiting the fourth guard tower. They were all alone at the top. A few photos and a couple of high fives and down they came. Nolan arrived first followed by Sophie a few minutes later and finally Chelsea and Myriam. All were exhausted and everyone was suffering from jelly legs. But we did it. Michael has now climbed the wall twice. No match for Myriam's fourth or fifth trip but for the rest it was a new experience and one to mark off the bucket list. Most Americans will never claim the wall and as the famous quote from Mao says "You are not truly a man until you have come to the wall." Far be it for us to agree with the father of Chinese communism but it is an experience that if presented to you should be taken with a great leap of faith. Health and faith is what you will need to summit.

Now that half the party made the summit and all made it back home to the condo we are ready to make the final trip home. All four legs are now complete. The only thing left is to head home on the tail wind.

We leave tomorrow evening, Thursday for you Friday for us Our plane leaved Beijing and China behind at 4:50 PM on Friday and we arrive at 1:00 Friday. Almost 4 hours before we leave ;)

Things we miss
Family and Friends
Our dogs
The English language
and American food.

Things we are grateful for
Friends and family
Chelsea Chun Tai Avery (She is a hoot you are all going to love her; lack of filters an all)
Our dogs
The English language
And American food.

It has been a wonderful adventure, one our children will never forget. We are glad Mady and Ron (now forever known as "Uncle Panda.") were able to come along but it is time to come home.  We were sure we could see Seattle from that last guard tower...

See you all very soon.

Lat full day in Beijing

Today we went to the Sumner Palace and the Temple of Heaven. Both are located in Beijing. The thing about Beijing is there is over 20 million people in this quaint little hideaway. Walking on the sidewalks you would never guess it. However sitting in traffic makes me yearn for a 10 car pile-up in the rain on a Monday night. The events we go to are maybe only 20 miles away but it is at least a 40 minute drive anywhere.

Myriam, Mady and Michael had been to the Summer Palace before; it is one of Myriam's favorite spots. The summer palace is now a park / historic site and the kids loved running a playing together. The adults were in awe of the painting and workmanship. Michael had told Nolan about the concrete boat built during the Ming dynasty. The boat actually sailed once as a sign of the Ming Dynasty engineering.

Before the Summer Palace we went to the Temple of Heaven. Originally built in the 14th century for the emperor to come and pray for good harvests and good weather it is now a large 280 hectors (acres) park. The local citizens can go there to exercise. they do what they call square dancing (because they dance in a square) Americans would call it line dancing in fact they were dancing to the "Boot Scoot Boogie" while we were there.

later we went to a Gymnastics show that was quite impressive. Everything from traditional gymnastics, to guys doing incredible single hand handstands to 8 motor cycles in a metal ball (death ball)

Finally we were back at the apartment for dinner and bed. Tomorrow we tackle the great wall then pack for home on Friday. we leave a t 4:55 PM on Friday and return home to SeaTac at 1:00 PM on the same Friday. This entire trip has involved fuzzy math. I expect someone to explain the entire math to me when I get home.

I am going crazy trying to upload photos. I may have to continue this blog for a few weeks just to get all the pictures uploaded and believe me they are worth it.