Friday, November 30, 2012

Going Home!

We are ready, emotionally that is, because I haven't packed yet! I just don't have the desire to pack up this mess of a room! I'm debating whether to do it tonight or tomorrow morning. We fly out of Guangzhou at 1:15pm (Saturday) with a short layover in Seoul, and arrive into LAX at 1:30pm (Saturday). Crazy! If anyone wants to make the trek to LAX, we'd love to see you there! We are flying on Korean Airlines. ;-)

Today we ventured out in pouring rain to Shamian Island. We planned to go yesterday, but because of a poorly timed nap, we weren't able to go. It would have been so much better yesterday, since there was no rain. I have never been to the Island (which is not really an island, I understand) but have heard a lot about it. All I have to say is beautiful! I wish we could have stayed there. SO much nicer then being in the city. We took some pictures that I still need to upload. Despite the rain, we had a nice time. We ate at Lucy's and shopped at the few shops left that are hurting for business. I hope adoptive families are able to return to The White Swan Hotel when it is finished, but I'm told that the hotel plans to cater to business people, not adoptive families. We'll see...

There is so much that I'd still like to share about our time here and adopting Isabel, but it is late and I obviously have packing to do! :) I plan to share more over the next few weeks. Isabel is a true treasure. Out of loss we have been given a gift. All of our children are gifts. They are the greatest gifts of all!

A big thank you to all who prayed for us, supported us with words of encouragement and provided the finances to make this possible. To all of you, we are truly grateful! You hold a special place in our hearts! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shopping and The Consulate

Yesterday, I headed out at 10:30am with another mom and a guide. She took us to many different stores based on what we wanted to buy. Don't ask me where in the city we went to. Crazy taxi drive there. Walked around. Another taxi drive and then the subway back to the hotel. We were gone over 3 hours and shopped... a lot. Jim asked me to take pictures, but honestly, there was no time to even snap pictures. I've uploaded one of the shelves of bags of pearls at the Pearl Market and me with my loot at the end of the day. It was good and I got a lot of nice things.

Last night we had another group dinner. It was at a different restaurant and not quite as good as the first one. Also, only half of our group seemed to be there. I think all of us are ready to go home. There is just too much down time here. This city is big... over 17 million people and not one you could walk around and meet the locals, like we did in Zhengzhou. Our hotel is like a Vegas hotel. Self-contained, busy and very westernized. I suppose some people would like that because the amenties are there when one needs them. It's just that sometimes I forget I'm in China. Ok, not really, but you get the idea. ;-)

This morning was our Consulate Appointment. We had an early 8:30am appt with 3 other families. The rest of our group went at 10:00am. It was in a very big building. We were not allowed to bring cell phones or cameras into the consulate, but was able to snap a picture next to the sign in the lobby. We went to a special section for adoptive families, took an oath that all our paperwork was accurate and then took a seat until our name was called. We had a very nice official. She asked us a few questions, said everything looks fine and that Isabel's visa would be ready tomorrow afternoon. Back on the bus at 9:30am and we are all done for the day. It's just after 12pm here. Isabel is down for a nap and then we are going to venture out to Shamian Island for the afternoon.

There's a beautiful park across the street from the hotel. You can't just cross the street because it's about a quarter of a mile wide! You have to go down the subway entrance, walk under the street and then come up the other side. The park is huge with a big lake in the middle. Very green and beautiful. I've been there a couple times now with the kids. It's a nice place to let them run around, even in the rain.

Isabel is doing great! Really, we are blessed! God truly prepared this little girl's heart. She wakes up happy and goes to bed happy. The only time we've seen her get truly upset is when we are getting ready to leave the room. When we get our jackets and shoes on and pack up the backpack, she starts crying hard. I don't know what she is thinking; that we are leaving her, maybe. Jim thinks that it is some sort of abandonment issue. I'm sure she will get better and feel more secure in time.

Jim went to get us lunch. Starbucks. I could really go for some good Chinese food right now. ;-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guangzhou Zoo

Ok, so, it rained this morning... a lot! Luckily, not all the animals hid from the rain. We pretty much had the zoo to ourselves because no one else was foolish enough to venture out to the zoo in such weather. :) We were an umbrella and stroller brigade. I used the Ergo Baby and Isabel slept through the whole thing! It was a nice morning, though. I just uploaded the pictures. We took a ton of the animals, but I only uploaded a sampling. I figured you weren't all that interested in 25 pictures of panda bears!

We got Starbucks sandwiches, hot chocolate and treats for lunch and brought it to the room. Just a dreary day. Jim has bad allergies, so he also needed to take a Benadryl and sleep it off this afternoon. I'm about to take the kids out for an hour. I can't stand to be cooped up in the hotel room. We have group pictures at 4:30pm and we are on our own for dinner.

Tomorrow is shopping day! ;-) Gotta make my souvenir and Christmas list for family and friends. I'm leaving everyone at the hotel and another mom and I are "power shopping" with a guide. Supposedly, she knows the best places to shop for good quality items at wholesale prices. We'll see what we can find!

Medical Appt

I only have a few minutes to post this morning. I woke up late, so didn't have quiet time this morning. :)

Yesterday was Isabel's medical appointment, a requirement for her US visa. This facility is for all people who are immigrating to the US. There is a separate section for adoptive families. We had to go to 3 separate rooms: one was ENT, the nurse, and then a general exam. The doctor asked if her thumb had been surgically remove. Umm, no. Despite us being a big group, we made it through quickly. No TB test for Isabel since she is under 2. We had a lazy afternoon in the hotel. Isabel took a much-needed nap and I had to do consulate paperwork. It was a chilly, rainy, windy day yesterday. A good day to stay inside.

We are off to the Guanzhou Zoo this morning. It's overcast and a little chilly, but no rain. Hopefully, the animals will be out and we'll see lots of interesting things! I should be able to upload pics later today.

Ok, gotta go! :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday's Touring

Unfortunately, all the pictures are it of order again! Oh, well! I will try to describe them the best I can. The first few are of us leaving Zhengzhou on Saturday (in the bus and airport) and sitting for the yummy breakfast buffet Sunday morning. I am forever spoiled by these buffets. Back to oatmeal and cereal when we get home!

Our morning of touring took us to the Six Banyan Tree Buddhist Temple. The guide told us at they were a number of beggars out front. She advised not to give them anything, but it was hard not to. She said they were very nice and it was ok to say no. They were understanding about it and smiled, but I still wanted to give them something. Once inside, the temple was beautiful.  The grounds, the pagoda, the flowers... just beautiful. There were people praying and burning incense. I felt kinda awkward. I, of course, disagree with their religion of praying to a false god, but still felt odd walking through with our guide shouting out narrations for us. There is a tradition that if you rub the happy buddha's belly you will have more children. He was behind glass, but I did find one later! ;-). Jim made friends with the monks and took their picture. He cracks me up!

The Chen House, which was make into a museum when the communists took over, was so interesting. Again, it was much larger once you step inside and the details in the architecture was fascinating. Jim said it was hard to get a good picture of it to truly show the magnificent craftsmanship. Again, all the pictures uploaded out of order, but the pictures of the crafts are from here. This was a Chen family house that was also used as an academy for those young people studying for the emperor's exam. Back in the day, you had to pass the emperor's exam to be in any kind of business or work for the emperor.

Our last stop was the arts and crafts store. I am so leary about prices because I paid way too much at the Silk Factory. We were told it was a good price for excellent quality, but still! I found a couple things that were a good price, I felt. And this is where I found the Buddha! In all fairness, Jim told me to touch the belly, so it's his fault! :)

Back to the hotel, McDonald's for lunch and a mocha from Starbucks! I know, I know! But we had a great Cantonese dinner with the group last night. The guides ordered for us. It was really nice. I gave Isabel her first bath. I still have to upload those pics. After her bath, she was getting tired, but playing nicely on the bed. I was laying on the pillow with Jim and Isabel was more in the middle/end of the bed. I was working on the iPad when Jim told me to look at Isabel. The poor girl was falling asleep sitting up. She was starting to sway! So I put her to bed and she has been asleep since 8pm. It's 6:30am now. I've been getting up before everyone else to shower and get ready and to have time to blog in the mornings. It's a nice quiet time for me.

Anna and Will have been great. They have a good attitude, most of the time. Anna always goes with the flow and Will is working on it! :) I was disappointed that we weren't able to visit the orphanage in Nanyang. I'm disappointed that for the most part these children have only seen nice hotels, museums and official sites. Other than walking around in Zhengzhou that one day, they haven't seen the China that Isabel has experienced. Maybe next time...

Today is Isabel's medical exam and photo for her visa. This all has to be completed before the Consulate Appointment on Thursday and before she can enter the U.S. I've been told that it is an unpleasant experience, mainly because they strip the children down and poke and prod them. But, you know, it's kinda sounds like going to the pediatrician at home!

Oh, I met an adoptive mom at breakfast yesterday whose blog I follow. Hi Yvette! We had a nice chat and I so enjoyed meeting her oldest son and new addition. She has such a sincere, real way of sharing her family's story. If you don't know her blog, you should!

Ok, the room is stirring, so need to go. I will try to upload the bath pictures before we leave this morning. They are so cute!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In Guangzhou

It is almost 7 am on Sunday morning. Everyone is still asleep! Another long day of traveling and getting settled in. Isabel did great on the airplane! No issues at all! I'm hoping that is a precursor to the long flight home next Saturday. We were quite a sight on the plane with 12 families (many of us with other children and grandparents) and our new children. They put us on the back of the plane. ;-) We were towards the front of the group, closer to where the Chinese people were seated. One woman across the aisle and one row up kept staring back at us. She did that for almost 2 hrs before she finally said something to me and pointed at Isabel.  Since I didn't know what she was saying, I said "gu er" (orphan). She shook her head. I tried to show her my name tag that states that I have adopted her. She shook her head. She grabbed Isabel's shirt sleeve. Does she like her shirt? Does she want to know where I got it from? I said "America". She shook her head again and looked away. But she was determined. As we were ending our flight, shed said something and grabbed the bottom of Isabel's shirt and started to fold it vertically, like a fan. She didn't like Isabel's swing top she had on since it was letting air on her skin and kept riding up when I held her. I nodded my head like I understood her, tucked in Isabel's shirt and the lady smiled and was now very happy! :)

Guangzhou is very tropical. Humid, overcast, but warm. It is supposed to be about 70 degrees today, but we won't see the sun. We are taking a tour this morning of the Six Banyan's Temple, Provincial Folk Art Museum and going to the arts and crafts shopping center. Should have pictures posted later today.

We are staying at The China Hotel and it is HUGE. Unfortunately, all our families are on different floors and different sections of the hotel. It's a self-contained hotel with a bank and Starbucks downstairs, shopping, bakery, numerous restaurants to choose from. Very crowded and noisy. Kinda missing the quaint hotel in Zhengzhou! : )

We're all up now and heading to breakfast soon to start our day. We are here for a full week with only the medical appt tomorrow and Consulate Appointment on Thursday. So we have lots of time to see the sights and take some good pictures!

Friday, November 23, 2012

On to Guangzhou

Today we leave for Guangzhou. It is currently 6am Saturday morning and we have to be in the lobby by 9:40am. Yesterday we received Isabel's Chinese passport, so we are able to leave. Thursday we received a stack of notarized documents that we will need for the Consulate, as well as paperwork from the orphanage: her immunization chart, our original Travel Approval, receipt for payment of the orphanage fee and the "finding ad" in the newspaper. For those who are unfamiliar with what that is, it is a section on the newspaper where all the babies who were recently found are listed. The orphanage must do this as an attempt to find the parents before listing the child for international adoption. There were over 20 babies listed with Isabel on this particular day. It was very sad to see, knowing the decision that these parents had to make and the pain associated with that decision. I just can't imagine. It made me cry.

I just put up 2 pictures to Shutterfly.. The first one is of everything Isabel had on when we got her. I don't know if you can see it all clearly: one long-sleeved shirt, 3 sweaters, bib overalls (that are split pants), a separate pair of the famous split pants, jacket and socks and shoes that were way too big. No wonder that sweet girl was sweating! I had read and was told by the adoption agency and the local guide that this may be how we receive our children. Not all of them were dressed in this many layers. I believe Isabel and the other little boy from Nanyang had on the most layers. Because the children are used to be bundled up so much, it is important to not take off too many layers and to continue to keep them dressed warmly. Many who are not catch colds. When we got back to the hotel, I took off a little at a time. I felt like I was unwrapping a present!  The best present ever!! : )

The second picture is of Jim with 2 Chinese police officers. If you have checked out Track My Tour, you have seen it already. If not, go there anyway to read Jim's description of the events. Pretty funny! Not a place to visit, apparently!

Well, I hear Isabel stirring in her crib.  Gotta go! I hope we will have good wireless in Guangzhou. If so, you'll hear from me tomorrow! ;-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


First off, I have to say that after reading my last couple blog posts, it seems that I am a bit negative about our time here.  That is completely not how I feel.  After traveling numerous time zones, whirlwind tour of Beijing, an emotional day on Monday and traveling to Nanyang on Wednesday, I was just worn out! I am VERY happy to be here! I am VERY happy to be holding my little girl! I am VERY happy to be experiencing her culture! Today was a good day. Today was what I was missing and didn't realize it until I experienced it. Today we saw real Zhengzhou. We walked the back alleys. Met and talked to (or at least tried) with real people. I have travelled internationally extensively and what I enjoy most is not being a tourist. I want to eat at the local restaurant. I want to shop where the locals do. I do not want to be a tourist and here it is hard not to be. I really wish I learned more Chinese before we came here.  I can fake it with Isabel, but that doesn't work out on the streets. Jim, the kids and I walked a maze of back-alley streets and boy did we get some looks! First it was the look of just us, but when they realized I was holding a Chinese baby, it was stares and comments.  But they were very nice, just curious. One woman holding a baby girl came over and we tried to talk. Our agency gave us a tag that we wear around our necks that states who we Re that that we are here to adopt this little girl. But even that isn't completely understood because adoption is so foreign over here. But, like I said, they were just so nice about it. Jim's got some pictures of a small crowd around us, trying to talk to us. Oh, how I wish I could have spoken to them. Jim took video and showed it to our guide when we got back to the hotel so that she could tell us what they were saying. One older man said that we would take Isabel back to the States and feed her until she is full. It was a compliment. :). The morning just made me happy; it made me feel like I got of glimpse of what I've been wanting to experience.

One funny thing happened as we were walking back to the hotel. I looked over to see a man just inches away from Anna's head. He was examining her roots! :) Like I said, the blond hair is a curiosity!

I just have to say that my husband is amazing. First, he has no concern about ordering for us and doing the crazy pantomiming with the waitresses.  He is so adventurous. He is now on a bike riding to the local police station to try and trade patches with them. He put some phrases into google translate so hopefully it'll work out well. Jim has had the best attitude about the trip. He's having a great time. Isabel will not sit in a high chair, so Jim makes me and Isabel a plate every morning from the breakfast buffet. Last night we ate with the family whose husband is sick with the stomach flu so he couldn't be there. Jim had to help not only me and our kids but the other mom and her kids. He was up and down getting napkins, moving plates from grabbing babies, pouring water, getting noodles out of broth bowls to cool, etc. Jim is Isabel's bottlemaker at night.  He makes the Internet work when it is acting up.  Like I said... amazing. I am so very proud and my love abounds. : )

I'm working on uploading the pictures from today. They will have our time in the hotel playroom, the streets of Zhengzhou, the kids eating chicken feet (no comment) and some pics of us in the park.

It's been a good day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Yesterday was a very long day! We left the hotel at 9 am with another family, a guide and the driver.  It was about 3 hrs to Nanyang, which wasn't too bad.  Both Will and I took a Dramamine since we tend to get carsick. Another mom gave them to us. I was hesitant to take it since I know it can make you sleepy but I didn't know how bad of a drive it would be. Will and I sat towards the front of the car, which helped too. Nanyang is a smaller town, but still has its share of tall buildings and traffic. We stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant called DMQ.  It's a cross between a KFC and McDonalds. I ordered a hamburger, took one bite and decided that it would be best for my health not to have any more. I am not a fast food eater at home anyway, but something just tasted off. I really would prefer to eat Chinese food since... well... I am in China, but we have been warned against eating anywhere but the hotels or fast food chains.  After lunch we met the orphanage official at the local police station to process Isabel' Chinese passport. It only took about 15 mins. We went to the finding spot of other family's son. Since it was in town, it was easy to go to. Unfortunately, Isabel's finding spot was an hour away in the opposite direction. By now it was 2pm, so we had to head back. We asked about going to the orphanage but it was 1 1/2 hrs away, again in the opposite direction.  Jim took a lot of random pictures of the town. We definitely stood out. The girls at DMQ asked our guide why we were holding Chinese babies. She told them that they were from the local orphanage and that we were adopting them. The girls commented that they thought it was so nice of us to do that. International adoption is not talked about here. Many, especially in the rural towns, have no idea.

As we headed back, Will started to feel sick. We pulled over and he got out for a few minutes to get some fresh air. He was sitting in the back with Anna and the daughter from the other family so they got hang out. We decided that it would best if he came up front to sit with me again. After a few minutes he told me at he felt like throwing up. I grabbed a plastic bag and it was not pretty. Poor boy! We were still about 1 1/2 hrs from the hotel... and it was now rush hour in the city. Talk about gridlock! It took 30 mins to go 3 blocks! It really would have been faster to walk and we considered it except that we really weren't sure where to go. Will was dying in the car! What we thought was carsickness quickly became apparent to us it was much more. In threw up on the stairs to the room, in the room and the bathroom. He was white as a sheet. We put him to bed right away. He is better this morning, just weak. Thank goodness we have nothing on the agenda. We have been going non-stop for a week now and we all need a rest. As it turns out, the father of the family that want with us to Nanyang was up all night with a stomach bug too!

Sorry for all the typos in my posts. I'm trying to write quickly and don't have time to fix them.

We have another down day tomorrow as we wait for Isabel's passport. We should that Friday and then fly to Guangzhou Saturday afternoon.

It's Thanksgiving Day here, but I don't know if we will be doing anything special. It is really expensive here! We made the mistake of having the buffet dinner at the hotel the first night. We didn't know how much it was until we got the bill. $150!! It was good, but not that good! Everything is expensive.. food, souvenirs, everything. Oh, well!

We are only halfway through our trip and are ready to be home. It's hard living out of a suitcase, in a country that is so different. We are making the best it though. We are enjoying Isabel so much. She's doing great. She is over the diarrhea but now has a runny nose! She is just so sweet. She is starting to chat more and come out of her shell. She is pensive, observant and quite. She has the saddest little cry, especially when I leave her sight. She prefers to be next to me at all times. She'll flash Jim a smile now and then, which he loves. He is smitten!

Ok, better sign off as my battery is low. I posted pics this morning from yesterday. Jim is back on his bike running errands and taking pictures around town. We'll see what he comes back with! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Official, She's Ours!!

Yesterday (Tuesday), we headed back to the civil affairs/registration office to complete the registration of the adoption. The official said some words and presented us with the official red-bound adoption certificate. It is a great feeling knowing that she is legally ours. She is now part of this crazy, fun, large family with 5 older siblings that love her to pieces!  She is a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin. Isabel has a beautiful family name, named by us as with all our children. She has her lovely Chinese name too.  She is a sweet little girl who has her rich Chinese heritage, but will have all the opportunities and advantages as an American citizen.

Yesterday morning started off wi another diaper explosion. We have been feeding her lots of rice, rice congee, bread and such to "stop her up!" Yesterday, our guide bought some medicine that is supposed to be quite effective and quick.  Basically, it's volcanic ash that binds it all up. ;-) I'm hoping it does work quickly because today we have the 3 1/2 - 4 hr van ride (each way) to Isabel's birth city to apply for her Chinese passport. One other family is going with us since their son is from the same city. Not looking forward to the long ride with a 16 month old, but I am looking forward to seeing where our daughter has lived. Just hoping the medicine kicks in.  Really don't want to do it with a poopy baby!

I could talk bout the pollution and congestion in this city... oh, boy, it's crazy! Pedestrians, bike, scooters and sometimes cars share the sidewalk and the pedestrian always loses. It is VERY dangerous. Jim and Will rented bikes from the hotel because they feel safer on a bike. I don't blame them! The short walk to the park is quite the adventure.  Jim summed it up right when he said that if you hesitate or don't look like you know where you want to go, you're done for!  And the pollution... yesterday was the first day that it was really bad. It was overcast with a partially exposed orange sun. My throat hurt terribly and it smelled like you were next to a forest fire. It hurt to breathe. I am unaware as to exactly how many days are like that, but I have heard that it is quite frequent.

Isabel slept great last night. We all were very tired, so went to bed at 8:15pm. Isabel and I were up at 5:45am.  Another good night for me!

I haven' t loaded the pictures from yesterday yet. I hope to do that before we leave is morning for our all-day trek.  Oh, last night we saw the lighting of the Christmas tree in the lobby and a choir stood on the marble steps singing Jingle Bells.  There was a Chinese Santa and the hotel manager said some words. It was nice and kinda funny at the same time!

Ok, Isabel just reached for me and said "Ma". Melt my heart! I don't know if she was really calling for me, but I going with it!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Isabel Day- Part 2

I finally was able to upload the last of the pictures this morning. Internet was SO slow last night. Much faster at 5am. ;-). The pictures don't seem to load in order. Oh, well!  After I posted yesterday evening, I woke up Isabel because it was getting close to 6 pm and I wanted to make sure she would fall asleep at night at a reasonable hour. Jim and the kids walked to Walmart. They had an adventure of their own! Isabel woke up so well. Just a couple of whimpers and then she was fine. We played and I gave her some snacks. Shortly after that Jim and the kids came back. We were getting pretty hungry so sent Jim and Will to get dinner. Isabel was sitting on the bed playing. When Anna went to sit next to her she cried out, " Oh, mom!" It turns out that Isabel had diarrhea up out her diaper and was sitting in a pool of poop and Anna sat in it!! Ugh!! I took her into the bathroom to clean her up and give her a bath, but the switch to change the water from the spigot to the shower head wasn't working properly so some water still came from the shower head! I was trying to block it with my head and back.  Isabel is crying. I'm soaking and have poop on the front of my pajamas! Oh, boy! Thank goodness for Anna. She had a towel ready and I was able to calm Isabel down quite quickly to get her pajamas on. I sat Isabel on the other bed with her toys and Anna and preceded to clean and dry myself off and clean all the poopy clothes. But, I still had to call housekeeping about the bed. I tried to call our agency guide who is staying in the hotel with us, figuring she would have a better job explaining poop all over the sheets then I. She is Chinese. But she didn't answer, so I took my chances and called the front desk. I got passed to a second person who at least knew that I needed sheets, but I don't think he knew why. :) Housekeeping came quickly. It was the nice lady who helped us with the crib and thinks Isabel is so cute. So, she was good-natured about it all. It's not the first time for her, I'm sure! Just after everything was all cleaned up, the boys came back! They were happy to have missed it all, of course! Isabel went to bed just after 9pm. She whimpered a little, but calmed down after I talked to her and fell asleep until 4:30 this morning. I got up to go to the bathroom and she started to cry. Her cry is so sad. I picked her up and cuddled her. I put her down after a few minutes. She didn't fall back asleep but chatted for about 20 mins and then decided it was time to get up... so, we have been up since about 5am. That's ok. I had my best night's sleep yet! Almost 7 hrs!!

Today the adoption is finalized. We will go to the registration and notary offices this morning and then she will be officially ours! Of course, she has been ours in our hearts for months already.  It will be a great feeling to have it finalized and official!

Isabel is doing great. She cannot walk or stand on her own. She most likely needs to just build her core strength. She sits just fine on her own. Because of the missing bones in her arms, her arms are shorter then usual, with one arm more than the other. She works so hard to hold objects in her hands. Physical therapy is going to help her a lot, I'm sure. We will be pursuing whatever medical care she may need back in the states with a lot of doses of love!

We are off to get dressed and enjoy the wonderful breakfast buffet downstairs before boarding the bus this morning! Busy morning ut we have the afternoon off!

Isabel Day!

There are no words to describe what I am feeling at this moment.  Sweet Isabel is currently asleep in her crib in our hotel room. It has been a good day. She was one of the last children to arrive. We were at the office for 40 mins or so before she came. When I saw her, my eyes immediately welled up! I had waited so long for this day and to have her here... oh, it was just too much. But I knew that my tears would only make her frightened so I took a deep breath and took her in my arms. I stared at that sweet face and she cried! I immediately used my important Chinese phrase: hao le (it's okay). I have used it a lot and it works! Also: e le ma? (Are you hungry?) has been a useful one, and boy was she hungry.  She ate a ton of snacks at the civil affairs office and then congee and noodles and some meat when we got back to the hotel. She really hasn't cried too much.  The kids have been great about playing with her. She loves peek-a-boo and her stacking cups. As you'll see in the pics she came to us in MANY layers, which is typical. She had on SIX layers of clothing and that poor girl was sweating! When we got back to the hotel I got her down to her long sleeve shirt and then put on some pajama bottoms and socks. She played on the floor and bed and was chatting away. I left Jim and the kids with Isabel to go do some paperwork for tomorrow and when I came back she had already fallen asleep. Jim put her in her crib and she is sleeping soundly now.  Since I do not know long that will last, I wrap this up! : )

This first day has gone exceptionally well, so far.  She has bonded to both Jim and I as well as can be expected, but I'd say that she is a little more of a mama's girl! ; -) I look forward to learning more about our little girl and giving her that extra love and attention that she has not had for the last 16 months from her mama!

I am working on uploading a few pictures to Shutterfly; link above header photo, if you haven't already looked : )

Thank you for your prayers! They were were answered in abundance today. I witnessed families being united and children finding their forever families and those moments will be forever etched in my heart and mind.  All of these children were special needs children.  All of them have physical special needs; some obvious, some not... but as I have heard before and believe to be true, the only true need was a family of their own.  Today those children have found home! Thank you, Lord, for making right what was once broken by our world! All glory is yours!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Almost time!

3 hours to Isabel! We are all very nervous.  12 families here with our agency and a few more with other agencies and you can just see the emotions in everyone's faces. I was up at 4 am with so many thoughts swirling through my head. I don't have time to share it now. We only have wireless in the lobby and it seems to be unpredictable.

For our family, we are unable to FaceTime right now. Miss you so very much! Kate, Dan and Nate... we love you!

We will post pictures as soon as we are able to. Thank you for the prayers. Please continue to pray not only for us and Isabel but for all the families here today. It will be such an amazing experience to see all these beautiful children home in the arms of their families.

Finally, we thank God that he has stirred our hearts to bring home Isabel.  We will never be the same...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beijing- Day 2

It is currently 4:40am.  I actually got more than 4 hours of sleep! Yay!! It was a very busy day yesterday.  We were on the bus at 8am and didn't get back to the hotel until after 7:00pm. We were started off with a tour the Jade Factory on the way the the Great Wall. Jim took some nice pictures of the amazing jade pieces in there.  It was a bit pricey, but neat to look at the beautiful craftsmanship.  Then off to the Great Wall. It was really cold.  In the mid to low 40s. But once we started hiking up the wall, the layers came off!  We decided to take the harder route.  The steps were steep and uneven and most had snow still from a couple days ago.  You'll see in the pictures just how steep it was.  Jim and Anna rested after a while and Will and I ventured a bit higher. So glad we did.  It was breathtaking up there.

After that big hike we were ready for lunch.  Another family to visit with over lunch and as good pre-ordered meal by our guides.  After lunch we stopped by the Olympic Park to see the amazing structures built for the 2008 Olympics.  It was there that my blond-haired, cute darter became a rock star. One mom gently pushed her little toddler girl next to Anna so that she could get a picture of the 2 of them and then she told her daughter to give Anna a kiss on the cheek.  Shortly after that another group of young ladies took turns taking pictures with Anna.  I was in a couple of them because Anna was just so embarrassed by all the attention.  The only way she would stand for the pics is if I was in them with her.  By now I was exhausted, but we had one more stop... the acrobatic show.  Jim took some good pictures of the show.  There were some amazing stunts.  So glad I chose to not go back to the hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel, I was in nightgown and asleep shortly after 7:30pm. I had 5 solid hours of sleep and then had a few short stints of sleep until we all got up at 4:15am.  This jet lag is brutal.

We have an early start to our day today. We need to be checked out, have eastern breakfast and in the lobby by 7:15am. We have a 10:20am flight to Zhengzhou.  I believe it is only a 2 hr flight and then we will settle into our new hotel for the next 6 days.  Isabel Day tomorrow!! We are all very anxious. I have had a great time in Beijing.  Saw so many wonderful sites, but Isabel was never far from my thoughts.  Every little girl around her age that I saw reminded me of her.  Experiencing all the sights and sounds minded me that this is her country. It is her culture. It is who she is at her core... even after she becomes an American citizen in a couple weeks.  We will do our best to help her retain this rich heritage, to embrace and love what makes her so very special in our family.

Well, off to make sure the pictures uploaded to Shutterfly ok. Next post from Zhengzhou. Please continue to pray. Jim's got a slight cold and Anna still has her nasty cough.  We ask for healing, safe travels and a good day for us and Isabel tomorrow.  Thank you!

P.S. I have a special message for a little boy named Noah Hester, who loves the Great Wall!  Noah, it was amazing! I thought of you as I hiked tho steep steps.  I hope you enjoy the pictures. I am bringing back something special for you from that day. I think you'll like it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beijing- Day 1

Yesterday was our first full day in Beijing and boy did they keep us moving. After several failed attempts to Facetime one of our family members or friends we headed out to the big bus for our day of adventures. Our first stop was the Hutong section of Beijing. We all took rickshaws over. We were quite the site with about 20 rickshaws driving through the streets! We received a fascinating history lesson about a Hutong home and was able to visit a gentle men's home who is a local artist. From there we took the rickshaws back to the bus and headed to The Silk Factory. We saw how the silk is unraveled from the cocoons and Will and Anna we able to stretch some of the silk to show the strength of the silk and how it is used in making the stuffing in duvets.  After the demonstration, we were escorted to a huge room filled with silk shirts, robes, gowns, traditional wear, etc. I was able to get some nice souvenirs.

Lunch was next.  We were taken by our guides, Michael and George, to a nice restaurant where they ordered for us. It was a great meal and gave us a chance to visit with a couple families.  There are 11 families on this trip... a large group compared to usual.

After lunch was Tianeman Square and The Forbidden City. It was really starting to get cold as it was late afternoon by now. Anna and I were feeling really cold and both of us are feeling a little under the weather.  That's why you'll see us huddled together in most of the later pics! : )  For about 3 weeks before we left on our trip, I had been teaching the children an overview of Chinese history from the time of the ancient civilizations to modern time. When we were in The Forbidden City, I was asking Will what he could tell me about the City and some of the emperors who lived there. I was pleased by all that he remembered. Gotta love homeschooling!

The grounds in The Forbidden City are extensive.  You just keep going through one gate and then through another.  It was an amazing site and I feel privileged to have seen it.

Well, I better wrap this up as I keep getting booted off the VPN and it is very difficult to reconnect. The Great Wall and acrobat show today! 2 more days to Isabel!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We are here!

Sorry I did not post last night.  We were far too tired to figure out how to work the wireless and our VPN after being up and traveling for over 24 hours!  We flew to Seoul and had a 2 hour layover and arrived in Beijing at 10pm local time to a bustling airport! Immigration and customs was uneventful and we met our wonderful guide, Michael, upon leaving customs clearance. We met 2 other families from our agency at the airport in Seoul. It was kind of easy to identify one another as there weren't  too many of us Westerners waiting at the gate to fly to Beijing!

Korean Airlines was great! The food was fantastic. The service was excellent. Just wish I could have one of those first class seats that lay entirely flat so I could have slept. The kids did great. They watched enough TV to last them a week! That's ok. There isn't going to be much time for TV the next 2+ weeks.

It is currently 5:00am Friday morning in Beijing and I cannot sleep so am typing this in the bathroom so as to to wake anyone! : ) Today we will go to The Forbidden City, Tianeman Square and a Hutong tour (older, traditional part of Beijing).  We have to be ready to go at 8:15am for a long day but it is good to keep us busy so we adjust to the time difference and what wonderful sights we will see.

Jim posted a couple pics of our travels to get here on Track My Tour. After today he will have a lot more pictures that he will hopefully post at the end of the day!

Thank you for all your continued prayers. We are grateful to be here... finally on the same continent as our Isabel and only 3 days until we will have in our arms!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

At the airport

We are about 5 minutes from boarding the plane.  We are ready!!! Bring on the 14 hour flight!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leaving Tomorrow

We're leaving tomorrow!  I can finally say that!  In fact, I'm so excited I'm going to say it again!  WE'RE LEAVING TOMORROW!!

Bags are packed...

Traveling kids are excited...

Kids staying at home are excited...

Mom and Dad are excited... sorry, don't have a picture of that!  : )

Be sure to follow our journey pictorially using Track My Tour.  The link is also noted above, right under the main header photo.  I hope to blog as much as possible and Jim's in charge of the pictures. : )

Please remember sweet Isabel in your prayers.  She has gone through a lot of transitions in the last few months.  Her heart is tender and needs the Lord's comfort.  I am prepared for and expecting a lot of grieving from her, but I am also praying for the Lord to protect and prepare her heart for us; to know that she is finally home in our arms!  Thank you!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mowing the Lawn

Dan loves it when I mow the lawn. As soon as he sees me getting out the mower, he runs for his little mower and is right there with me. Jim caught us on video this afternoon.  So sweet!

His Plan

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Andrea's blog this morning before church.  Her closing thoughts ended with these words:

Life is too precious and short- with too much opportunity- to do anything else but walk in His path.

That's where I want to be.  That's where I want my family to be.  That's where I want my friends to be.  That's where I want my church to be.  That's where I want the world to be!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank you

I've mentioned before that our wonderful agency is very active in the orphanages of Isabel's province.  Prior to Travel Approval, we were told that the orphanages needed cleft lip/palate bottles and baby summer clothes.  I sent the word out to some friends and they were happy to help.

Thank you to Susan, Kristin, Penny and Britney who provided funds to help buy cleft lip/palate bottles and purchased clothes for those left behind.  I am pleased to bring these needed items with us next week!

Monday, November 5, 2012

This Boy

This boy is about to have his world rocked!

This is my Nate... happy, lovable, curious, caring, never met a buffet he didn't like!   ; -)

He is 17 1/2 months old and he has no idea that he is a big brother.  He has no idea that in 9 days his mom, dad, big brother and big sister are leaving him for 2 1/2 weeks and coming back with his little sister.  (Of course, she's only 6 weeks younger then him!)  Even at his tender young age, I know that he will do well.  I know that he will be gentle and kind.  It's just his nature.  He has an old soul.  God sure knew what He was doing when He created Nate to be our youngest (at home so far).

I look forward to seeing my "twins" together at last!


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Today is a special day... well, it IS my birthday, but that's not what I mean.  : ) Today is Orphan Sunday. Today and leading up to today I saw many videos about this special day that touched my heart and made me cry.

This day is to remind all of us in the church that to care for the orphan is not an option and will look different for each family... adoption, mission trips, foster care, child sponsorship, advocacy, support for adoptive families (financial/prayers), etc, and for some it will be a combination of all of the above.

Right now, our family is just days away from traveling to bring home our little girl. But just because we adopt doesn't mean we are "done."  We will continue to sponsor and pray for our sweet boy in Ch*na, we will go on mission trips, we will continue to financially help other families when we can.  We may even adopt again! ; -)  This will be a life-long journey for our family as it should be for all Christians.

Since my heart and mind is with adoption, in particular, I'll leave you with this cute video by Love Without Boundaries, which does life-changing work for the children in Ch*na.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Tried!

Halloween pictures did not work out this year.  We started out with these 2 cute girls...

Equestrian rider and Cowgirl
Then we tried adding a couple more out front...

Will is quasi-Darth Vader and Dan's a Power Ranger ; -)
But when we added the toddler, it all fell apart...

Oh well, we tried!