Sunday, April 19, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Easter Weekend
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Surviving Winter

Whatever it takes to get through winter with a smile...

LiLi is squeaky clean...

Daisy and Liana share their stuff...

Silly faces

What's more fun than a box?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

1.11.09 Reunion in Milwaukee

Liana and some of her girlfriends decided it was time for a little get together. Over a month was just far too long to be apart. So we were off to Milwaukee, Lucy Gill’s hometown, for a Sunday afternoon reunion.

We met for lunch at TGI Friday’s inside Miller Park (home of the Brewers). Trev, Ben and Zach thought it was ‘so cool’ to be inside a baseball stadium in the winter. And they were genuinely excited about meeting the babies too.

After lunch and a few pitchers of beer (a tradition with this group of ours, and hey, we were in Milwaukee after all), we were off to the Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee’s indoor botanic garden.

Lucy and Liana had fun hanging out while Amy, and Elizabeth were on the move exploring. Sure was nice to see the real Amy, happy and healthy and on the go after being so ill in China.

The Franz and Fuhrman boys had a good time together, and Zach and Tim Franz, the proud ‘big little’ brothers, disappeared with their sisters for a little bonding time. It’s been pretty special to see our boys and the Franz boys embrace and enjoy their sisters so much.
It was really great to get together with these beloved friends, the Burna’s, the Franz’s, the Gill’s and Papa Jim. We clearly share a unique bond and common experience that will keep us connected for years to come.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12.30.08 Holiday Greetings!

It’s been a memorable and joy filled season for our family. Liana is surrounded by love, with 3 big brothers who adore her, and grandparents, cousins and family friends who make her feel like the center of the universe. She’s one lucky girl and we are all feeling extremely blessed and in awe of what God has given us.

Liana has been showered with love and gifts. She now officially has the cutest wardrobe ever assembled and has amassed a collection of toys have that have taken over the family room, living room, and a good part of the basement! We’re not sure who enjoys the toys more, Ben, Trev and Zach or Liana?

Life has taken on a new form of normal. The adjustment to being a family of 6 is well underway. We’re just loving this whole daughter thing and are well aware of the need to cherish every moment. Time definitely goes by fast and all we have to do is look at our boys as clear reminder.

Liana continues to be a genuine sweetheart. She's a very happy, silly and playful little girl. We’re amazed by her adaptability. She is willing she is try new things, meet new faces, and absorb her new world - at first with very serious and stoic observation, and eventually with smiles and silliness. She's fine with friends and extended family holding her - for brief sessions - and then reaches for Mom. She has fully bonded with Mommy (first), Daddy (second), and brothers (third). No attachment issues here! She's even saying, appropriately, Ma ma, Dada, ba-ul (bottle) and baba (bye bye). We are working on learning brother and dog names. She has a host of tricks like waving, clapping, so big, peek - but refuses to be a trained monkey and do them on command - only when she feels like it darn-it!

She's adventurous too. On a beautiful and snowy evening, Liana experienced her first tour of the Cuneo Garden's holiday light show and she loved it! She was mesmorized by all the colored lights and she bopped along to Christmas music while standing on Mommy's lap - and then discovered the dashboard of the van which trumped the lights altogether. The boys were very excited to share one of their favorite things (the lights not the dashboard) with their sister.

Liana's also discovered that she loves the mall, and I swear she gets excited when Mommy says ‘shopping’. She’s the best Fuhrman ever in the car seat, she loves to go ‘bye bye’ and take a the stroller for a spin. Everywhere she goes she smiles and gives her silly 4 tooth grin. She’s flirty and charming and seems to love all the attention she gets when greeting ‘her public’. We are a little concerned with her affinity for the mall and loud bar/restaurants (Micky Finn's for you locals).

She's eating everything and growing fast which has made mommy a recognizeable fixture at Babies R Us, Target and Jewel. Some clothes are already getting a bit tight, and she's getting a little 'frog' belly like her brother Zach had. She's also starting to sport a new spikey 'up-do' as her hair is starting to grow in on top.

Life with Liana and 'her boys' is great! We hope you all are having a joyful holiday season and wish you many blessing in the new year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

12.17.08 2 Weeks at Home

Hard to believe that our little ‘LiLi’ has been home for 2 weeks. She’s already brought so much joy to our family and friends and as they boys say, "She’s the best Christmas present ever!"

The boys really adore her, and she’s getting a lot of attention. The first night home, they helped give her bath and Zach decided he needed to fully immerse himself in the experience, so off he went to put on his swimsuit and join Liana in the tub. Liana is loving her brothers, and we’re so proud of the selfless way they have welcomed her into their world.

Our sons help feed her, play with her, and take care of her – they really have been helpful. They all helped Liana decorate the Christmas tree. Zach introduced her to boy toys like fire trucks and Legos, loves to read to her, and always sits next to her in the van to make sure she's o.k.; Ben has series of funny faces that just crack her up, and he has taught his little sister to ‘shake it’; Trevor just simply loves to be around her, carrying her around the house, babysitting when we parents are trying to get something done (!) and rocking her to sleep in our indoor swing in the basement.

It’s been a remarkably smooth adjustment – Liana is amazingly adaptable. She’s met dozens of new faces, welcomed a parade of relatives and visitors, discovered the fear and then joy of dogs, she’s been to multiple doctor’s, the grocery store, the mall, Target (of course!), a birthday party, family holiday parties, Zach's hockey game, and she takes it all in stride.

After a week of being messed up by the time change, which also affected her appetite, she’s back to being a great eater. She much prefers whatever we’re eating to anything that comes in a baby food jar. Her menu is broad and she likes variety - with expectations of buffet service like we had in our hotel: eggs and pancakes, ham and turkey, beans and potatoes, mandarin oranges, apricots and pears, real prunes, pealed grapes, pizza crust, oyster crackers, and even broccoli! Her favorite so far was a chicken pot pie that friends prepared for us. She had more than we did!
With all this eating, and lots of playing, she’s noticeably grown in size and strength since we got home – the girl is changing fast! She’s confidently pulling up and starting to cruise, her crawl has really picked up speed, and she enjoys jumping and swaying the bouncy swing.

Like most of the families in our group, our biggest hurdle had been sleeping at night. A combination of the time adjustment and fear of new surroundings has kept Liana from sleeping through the night. We’re adapting to her needs, comforting her nighttime fears, and giving her room to adjust at her pace to her new life. She's made huge improvements in this area and has even slept through the night for the last two nights! THIS IS HUGE!

We pinch ourselves as it’s still hard to believe that after all this time she’s really here. Everything feels right, like it was just meant to be, like she’s always been a part of our family. God truly has an awesome plan, and has blessed our family immeasurably with an abundance of love.

This is truly an unforgettable, joyful season that we’ll always cherish. Love and happiness to all of you this holiday season.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12.4.08 Home at last!

After 20ish hours of traveling (back in time), from Guangzhou to Beijing and Beijing to Chicago, we finally arrived! And thanks to strong tailwinds, we got back earlier than planned.

We all made it through customs without a hitch! And started the green card process for our daughters, who are now official U.S. citizens.

Liana was an angel throughout the entire trip home - really hard to imagine a sweeter, more playful, more joyful child.

Once we finally ran the customs gauntlet, we were greeted by Pappa Fred, Grandma Pat and our 3 wonderful boys, Trev, Ben and Zach. It was so great to finally hug them again, and even better to see the unabashed excitement and joy they expressed when finally meeting Liana. As Trevor said, ‘I finally have my Christmas present!’
(Sorry, I was so overwhelmed that I didn't shoot any photos - hoping Pappa Fred has some for us).

We’re all exhausted from this experience. Our lives have been changed forever. And yet we have a strong sense of calm and peace, and joy knowing that our 3 years of ‘labor’, and 2 and half week in China ‘delivery’, was so worth it!

We can’t wait for all of you to finally meet Liana Grace Shun Fuhrman…

Time to start the paperwork for our return trip, Liana needs a sister after all…just kidding…I think...

Much love to all of you, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah and Joy to all of you this extraordinary season.
(Photo of our Hotel on Shamian Island)

12.4.08 Farewell China... Homeward Bound!

Our amazing journey to China has come to a close, and whole new chapter in our extraordinary life journey begins. God has been so good to us, and has entrusted us with a very special gift. We’re so very blessed to have this opportunity to provide a new future, a loving family, and a life that she deserves.

We are extremely grateful for the wonderful people that we shared this journey with. We could not have asked for, or ever imagined, a better experience. We’ve developed what we know will be a life long bond, and deep and meaningful friendships, in a matter of a brief few weeks. We shared a life changing event, a marker and milestone in all of our lives, and witnessed the answer to many prayers. It’s been humbling, inspiring, exhausting, and joyful honor to share this journey with our Guandong group family of Midwesterners: the Franz’s, the Burna’s, the Rigney’s and Uncle Steve, the Gill’s and Pappa Jim, and the Swiatek Porter family.

We were also blessed to share our Beijing exeperience, and some of our post 'Gotcha Day' time in Guangzhou with the Bray's from Tennesee, and the Seattle area families, the Williamson's, the Dalton's, the Nunes, and the Wolf's.

We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our representative and guides from Faith International:

- Charlotte ‘Du Yong’, who welcomed us to China, introduced us to the splendor of Beijing and the Great Wall, and primed us in the culture, leaving us well prepared for the adventure to come.
- Our Quangzhou guide, dear sweet Cordelia, who coached us through the process, immersed us in the culture, cried and laughed with us, sang to our babies, and showered us with compassion and love, and always reminded us that we were her ‘dear families and friends.’
- Myriam, from Faith Seattle, who was a huge help to Charlotte and Cordelia, and so many families including ours; master of the haggle, a guide in her own right, and for me, a Guangzhou subway companion.

One last hurrah to share with our blog watchers – last night we gathered for a post consulate approval farewell celebration. Knowing our daughters would be U.S. citizens in a matter of hours, and tha that we were finally heading home was a huge relief. We all exhaled, and laughed and reflected on our experience over a few buckets of beer on the patio at Lucy’s. A final great memory with these awesome families!

Blessings and heartfelt thanks to all of you who have prayed for us and encouraged us, who loved our boys while we were gone, and who will greet us with joy as Liana comes home.