Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Oh, my poor neglected blog.  I had such high hopes for it.  Ah well!

We made it home after a rather epic journey, involving a train, a cab, a wonderful dinner with an old friend, a bus, two planes, and a car.  Gracie was pretty good, overall, but slept VERY LITTLE on the flights (except the last two hours of the Tokyo -- Dulles 11.5 hour leg), so that meant, of course, that Joy and I slept very little, either.

Finally conked out somewhere over the midwest!  Had to wake her up to get her off the plane!

We passed through immigration quickly, handing over the precious "brown envelope" whose safe placement in my backpack I had checked at least 20 times over the course of the day (especially after having to take it out and actually hand it to the generally clueless ticket agents at the Hong Kong airport, who did retrieve our botched up Economy Plus reservation but couldn't manage to get us three seats together -- fortunately someone switched with Joy (although after nine hours of Gracie's non-stop antics, Joy probably wished she hadn't).  Just like that, Grace Mellier LiRong Helfrich was an American citizen!  Joy tried to take a picture to commemorate the occasion, but was shouted down by agents of the agency formerly known as INS.

My mom and aunt came out to Dulles to meet us, which was fun.  My dear friend Katherine had planned to be there as well, but couldn't due to sick kids (but so sweetly leave my car and bag of much needed snacks in the Valet parking area -- hooray for good friends!).  Gracie slept the whole ride home through DC beltway rush hour, managing to wake up for playtime and a little dinner when we got home, and then sleep through the night.

I'm writing this on Tuesday night, so we've been home almost a week.  I'd like to say we are all settled into a routine, but that would be a lie.  Gracie is sleeping fairly well, although struggling to go down sometimes and also often waking for an hour or two in the middle of the night.  Food is a challenge, and there is a lot of limit-testing, as is to be expected given all that she has been through.  I'm working on adjusting my own sleep schedule, maintaining my sense of humor, and not getting too discouraged/frustrated when I make a misstep and end up in a lose-lose power struggle with a little one who is definitely living up to her orphanage description of "playful, active, and obstinate."

Things Gracie likes at home:
  • Taking the magnets and pictures off the fridge, examining each one, and putting them back on.
  • Taking walks around the neighborhood
  • Baths
  • Yogurt and ramen noodles straight from the bag (uncooked)
  • Coloring
  • Her grandparents
  • Toilet paper -- unrolling it is very fascinating
  • Throwing things in the trashcan
  • Her Fisher-Price school bus
Things Gracie does NOT like at home:
  • Getting OUT of the bath tub.
  • Any thing vaguely resembling a vegetable
  • Dogs -- even on a video (Hermione is still in exile with my parents!)
  • Pants (or really any clothing, but especially pants).
  • Her hands being messy, or food being dropped on the floor (we need Hermione to come home!)
Signs that Gracie has used without an immediate model, or has shown understanding of:  Water, Cracker, Cookie, More, Help, Open, Light, Shoe, Dirty, Flower, Brush Teeth, there might be a few others.

A few pictures from the first few days at home (now that my official photographer has gone home to Montana, I don't have as many!)


  1. she is beautiful Marny...congratulations on your mongolian princess!

    Emily Schraud

  2. Oh, she is such a cutie! Welcome home, Gracie! We can't wait to meet you. For one week home, you're doing AMAZINGLY well! She slept through a night? What? I think Michael just did that last week! (Kidding...but that did take him a while.) We are excited for a playdate one day. :)

  3. Welcome home Gracie! Your momma waited a long time for you!

  4. Grace's transition seems like an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 to me. Little people are so resilient. I like hearing about her spunk and can tell from her cute smiles that her reputation is well deserved. You two are in for an amazing life together. Hope we can get to Baltimore to meet the newest Helfrich sometime soon. Love, Debby and Tim

  5. Welcome home, Marny! Glad you are home safe and sound and hope you soon find yourselves settling into a nice routine together. It does take some time! Would love to meet you sometime and let our girls hang out if you ever have some time! Gracie is absolutely beautiful!


  6. Absolutely beautiful! Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job loving and learning about Grace and yourself. Forgiving ourselves and giving ourselves the same love and patience we give them is hard. And there are always two sides to an power struggle, just this week I realized why I'm so good with children: I'm just as creative and stubborn as they are!! Can't wait to hear
    more about your amazing physical and
    emotion journey.

  7. She's adorable! Congratulations, and I hope things continue to go well (overall) as you make adjustments and settle into a routine.
    -- Julia (from cicircle)