Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Baby goes first class...

...to Chicago, that is. We were bumped up to First Class from Detroit to Chicago. Sweet! We were wishing it was the loooong flight to Beijing, but we're not complaining.


We almost forgot it was New Year's Eve until we got to Chicago. We thought Baby would want to celebrate in style so we made him/her (?) a little hat. You don't want to know how long it took us to make it, nor how many strange looks we got when we took this picture.

Next stop...BEIJING!

We are heading to Beijing in an hour, and will celebrate New Year's on the plane. Hopefully, I will be asleep. haha

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

T minus 19 hours and counting....

I have no idea what 'T minus," means, but it sounds good when the NASA people say it!

We leave in 19 hours for our long-awaited trip to China to get Zoey and Kate. In the past few days we have been packing, finalizing tickets and schedules and battling the stomach flu. Not fun. We hope we have seen the last of the stomach bug.

We have been so humbled and blessed by three families who have stepped forward to watch our kids while we are gone. It is inconvienent and a sacrifice for them and we are so grateful for their offers to help. One of the families has a young daughter having surgery today and still insisted on having SaraGrace stay with them. Please pray for these families (that they will stay sane!!) and for good health for everyone.

And...ahem...'Baby" the bunny is actually a dog! At least, Jeff thinks so, and the more I look at Baby, the more I agree. Originally, I just glanced at the long, floppy ears and thought, 'bunny.'

We are all a jumble of emotions...fear, excitement, anticipation. The kids are doing well so far, although I am not looking forward to our good-bye's tonight. We leave for the airport at 5AM Wed., so when the kids wake up, we will be gone. (For those of you who get this blog via email, we will probably be gone by the time you get it.) For those of you who are praying....THANK YOU!!! We appreciate it so much. Feel free to email us when we are gone - or post comments on the blog. We LOVE hearing from home!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Meet "Baby"



Meet "Baby," the bunny! Baby will be traveling with us to China, courtesy of Chloe's kindergarten class. Her teacher, Mrs. O., will be reading parts of the blog to the students and hopefully, Baby will be having lots of fun adventures for them to hear about. Baby the bunny is loved by Mrs. O.'s little boy and has already been to several foreign countries.


Baby checks to make sure the luggage is packed

Itinerary and prayer requests

We have our finalized travel dates and flights. We are having to stay a few extra days due to full flights on the days we originally wanted to return, but we are thankful to have flights!

Dec. 31st – leave for Beijing, arrive the afternoon of Jan.1
Jan 2 – Visit foster families at Hope Healing Home
Jan 3 – free day to adjust to time change :)
Jan 4 – fly to Zhengzhou
Jan 5 – GOTCHA DAY!
Jan 6 – paperwork
Jan 7 - visit Kaifeng orphanage?
Jan 8 - visit Nanyang orphanage?
Jan 9 - fly to Guangzhou
Jan 10 - medical exam
Jan 11 - free day
Jan 12 - Consulate appointment
Jan 13 - get girls’ visa
Jan 14 - free day
Jan 15 - free day
Jan 16 - fly to USA on Kate’s 3rd birthday

Arrive home Jan. 16th on United flight #526 from Chicago to Detroit at 3:30PM. If any of you want to meet Zoey and Kate at the airport, we would love to see you!

For those who want to pray, here are our requests, and thank you so much for standing with us:
- Please pray for our kids and their caregivers at home. We are so incredibly blessed to have friends who have stepped up to take care of our kids for two weeks. Some of our kids will be home, and some of them will be staying with others. We are trying to prepare them as best as possible, but they need God to help them not get too lonely for Mom and Dad.
- Bonding for Zoey and Kate, to us and to each other.
- Good health in China. It's no fun to be sick and just makes getting to know each other harder.
- All of our paperwork would be correct.
- Flights on time, no lost luggage, and that our computers, camera, video camera would work properly. Three of our last four times in China, our computer died. ugh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Since I knew that Zoey and Kate were not going to be with us for Christmas, I had been working on a slide show for them. I was just finishing it when our agency called to say we had travel approval. Here is my amateurish attempt at a Christmas gift to them.

video

If you receive the blog via email, you will have to click here to see the slide show.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Travel Approval!

I returned home from running errands today to find a message on our answering machine from our adoption agency. Our travel approvals have arrived! Our agency is tentatively scheduling us to leave Dec. 31 or Jan. 1st. ACK! I was not expecting such short notice. We will be spending the rest of the weekend scrambling to find flights. We will hopefully know on Monday if the dates are firm or not.

Zoey and Kate...just a bit longer, sweet girls, and then you will be in Mommy and Daddy's arms!

Friday, December 19, 2008

No school!

We woke up to a blizzard today - as did many parts of the country. School was cancelled, meaning that the kids' Christmas program and parties at school were also cancelled. wah. Jeff was on a business trip and got stuck there. We lost our power for about four hours, but thankfully, it is back on now. I want to move South. haha



Spoons

A week or so ago, I noticed a puzzling pile of spoons in our silverware drawer. They were not with our other silverware, but rather lying next to it. They were also sticky and obviously had not been washed. Hmmmm....

I figured one of the little kids was the culprit, but knew it would be a waste of time trying to question them.

The other day, I watched Jake as he was his usual helpful self. He cleared his bowl from the table and set it on the counter. Next, he carried his spoon over to the drawer, opened it, and threw the spoon up and over the side. He knows that is where the spoons come from, but since he isn't tall enough to see inside, he doesn't realize that there are compartments for spoons, forks and knives. Thank goodness - since I can easily take out the pile he has squirreled away, and wash them when he's not looking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it Snow!

I have a friend in California who misses the changing seasons...so in Nancy's honor, here are some pictures of our first decent snowfall.




OK--this isn't a thing of beauty, but blog-worth nonetheless. Guess who?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas preparations


Christmas preparations are in full swing at our house. I love this time of year! Jillian, Molly and Chloe have been practicing their songs for the Christmas concert at school and our littlest three have been picking up some of them....sort of.

This morning, as they followed me around the house, they were each singing - but not together.

SG: Dingle bewws (jingle bells), Dingle bewws, dingle all da way
Jordan: Dinle bewws, dinle in a one hosse sway
Jacob: HEY!
SG: I tawt I'd take a wide...laughing all da way
Jacob: HEY! (he has this part down!)
Jordan: Dinle bewws, dinle all da way
SG: Mom, am I a good singer?
Jordan: I wike singing
Jacob: jiggle beww, hey!
SG: Are my nose holes big?
Me: huh?
SG: (forgets question and starts singing again) We wish you a Mewwy Chwistmas
SG: (goes back to jingle bells) Dinglw bewws, Jordan smells... (stops and grins mischeiviously)
Jordan: smiles - because boys consider it a complement to be told they smell
SG: ....Jordan smells, Jakie laid an egg.
Me: (wondering what possessed me to EVER sing the Batman smells, Rudolph laid an egg version of Jingle Bells to my ever-impressionable children)

SaraGrace mercifully went on to other things since the "Jordan smells, Jakie laid an egg" didn't get the big reaction she'd been hoping for. I'm guessing it will reappear at a most inappropriate time.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's Christmas...but you're not home




Zoey and Kate's stockings are hung, but we know they won't be home for Christmas. As we wait and pray for them, our hearts ache that they will spend Christmas alone - but rejoice that next year, they will be surrounded by family.

The Christian music group, "Third Day" has a Christmas song called, "Merry Christmas" about a family waiting for their daughter from China. It is so sweet and worth the time to watch. Click to see 'Merry Christmas!'

Monday, December 08, 2008

Girl Day

Several weeks ago, Jillian, Molly and I went on a much-anticipated trip to the mall so that the girls could get their ears pierced. Jeff had finally given his consent, and they were very excited. My mom met us there and we started out the day with lunch at one of their favorite restaurants. Then, it was on to the main event.

Molly went first.



Then it was Jillian's turn.


Grandma and the girls pose in front of their favorite store after Grandma does some early Christmas shopping...


Then it was off to Build-A-Bear, to make bears for their new little sisters, Zoey and Kate. Jillian made Kate a panda, and Molly chose a little pink bear for Zoey. Mommy blinked back a few tears when Jillian was putting the heart into Kate's bear and the store employee said, 'Give it a kiss so that it will beat healthy and strong." If he only knew....





Our next stop was a visit to see Santa. The girls know he is not real, but they like to pretend (and I think they mostly like the free candy cane). Each year they give me an update on Santa's breath - good or bad. It cracks me up! This year, his breath was minty. Other years, the report has not been so complimentary.



We finished up the long, but extremely fun day, with some yummy fruit smoothies. The girls continually told me that it was the best day EVER! They were so cute! I enjoyed every minute of it!

Coats and Cribs for Kids

Several of you have asked me to post again about the Coats and Cribs for Kids campaign by Love Without Boundaries. For only $12, you can provide a winter coat for an orphaned child in China. This makes a great teacher gift! LWB will send your child's teacher a gift card, informing them that a coat has been purchased in their honor. There is still time to do this for your child's teacher(s)! I probably don't have to tell you how cold it is in some of the orphanages in China. Many are with little or inadequate heat, making life pretty miserable during the winter months. Click here for a direct link to the Coats and Cribs for Kids page on the LWB website.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Birthday Week


Our little Miss Chloe turned 6 on Sunday. Happy Birthday to our sweet Chloe!!

Tomorrow is Jeff's birthday! Happy Birthday to my wonderful man! The other day, my dad sent me a link to a music video called, "He Didn't Have To Be." It is a song written by a son whose step-father was a wonderful father to him. It's a beautiful song, and there is one part of it that resonated with me when I think of Jeff. He didn't have to be a father to ten children. He didn't have to take on the financial and physical responsibility of adopting ten children who need him. However, he chose to heed God's call, and give these precious ones his name, his heart, his life. I am thankful to have the privilege of being his wife.

If you'd like to view the video, click here.

Jake the Climber...

...as opposed to Joe the Plumber...

I put Jake to bed for his nap this afternoon, and with a sigh of relief, settled down to do some work on the computer. One minute later, Jake came sauntering into the room. I looked at him with disbelief and realized he had learned to climb out of his crib. Life, as we know it, will never be the same.

Tonight, as I was getting the boys ready for bed, Jake climbed in and out, in and out of Jordan's bed as if it was a new Olympic sport. Since Jordan can be trusted to stay in bed, his rail is down so he can get out to go potty during the night.

I told him in no uncertain terms that he was NOT to get out of his bed. "OK, Mommy," he solemnly agreed, his velvety brown eyes wide with sincerity. That lasted about 3 minutes. Let's just say that mommy got a bit grumpy by how many times she had to go back upstairs and place him firmly back in his bed tonight.

Earlier today, I was alarmed to see a blood-red streak coming from his nose. I went over to see if he had a bloody nose, only to discover that he had apparently stuck a marker up his nose. There was red marker all around his nose hole and down to his mouth. He is so funny! Jillian saw me cracking up after scolding him and said, 'Mom...don't laugh at him!" I told her I couldn't help it...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We were blessed with a great day, and enjoyed spending time with our family.

My Aunt had many fun activities for the kids. Here they are making fruit kabobs.

Jake was no help whatsoever and just kept eating his contribution. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!



From our family to yours...have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey, pumpkin pie and have fun counting your blessings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zoey and Kate Plus 8 Siblings


Here comes the FedEx truck with our referrals!!!


The FedEx guy who 'delivered' our twins...


Signing the paperwork on the spot so that the FedEx guy could take them with him.

There are so many parts to this story that will have to wait to be told until after we are home with the girls. However, I can answer some of your questions now.

--Yes, we are going to be able to bring both girls home on the same trip! We hope to leave for China right after Christmas or early January.
--Yes, they are both from Henan, but from different orphanages.
--Kate has a single ventricle and some other heart defects, with an unknown future prognosis. Zoey has a 'little foot' and a leg that is much shorter than the other one. Her ankle bone is missing and she faces a possible amputation.
--Kate will be 3 in January, and Zoey will be 3 in April. Jake will be 3 in July, so we will have virtual triplets. Since Jake is a boy, we will probably just do a 'twin' thing with the girls. :)
--The girls do not know each other yet. We will all meet on the same day.
--Yes, we have to pay double for most of the adoption fees.
--Yes, this is a very unusual situation. Kate needs open heart surgery very soon and that is why we have been allowed to adopt her at the same time as Zoey. CCAA has been awesome about wanting her to get the medical care she needs.

And no one asked this, but yes, we are scared! :) Like any other parents-to-be of twins, we are excited and scared at the same time!

I CAN tell you about one of the miracles we experienced along the way. When I called our social worker to ask for an amended homestudy, she was happy to do it. However, she stressed to me that our USCIS (immigration) office would NEVER amend our approval from one child to two. She was adament that USCIS would make us start a brand new process for Kate (which would take a minimum of 6 months, lots of paperwork and money). I told her that we at least wanted to TRY to get the necessary approval from USCIS and if God wanted to work it out, He would. We emailed our USCIS office to ask how to proceed. We never received a reply. Our agency tried, and they too, got no response. They finally were able to talk to a different USCIS office, who gave us the information we needed. Ten days after I sent the change request to our USCIS office, I opened the mailbox to see a letter from USCIS. My heart dropped, thinking they were sending me a rejection letter, but no!!! Inside was our new approval for TWO children!

We have had many different experiences with our adoptions and this one has been no exception. This time, we have felt like the Isrealites standing on the shores of the Red Sea, watching in awe as it parted in front of them. At times I felt like a bug on the wall, just watching all that was happening around me rather than being in the middle of the fight (like I usually am!). "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14 It has kept us at peace during the process to know that God was totally in control...that this was His project...and that if He wanted to bring Kate home to us, He would have to do some miracles. He proved that He is completely capable of doing what needs to be done to accomplish His purposes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Double Happiness!



Now that we have gotten final approval, I am able to let you all in on a little secret. We are adopting TWO little girls from China!! Both little ones are from the same province and are almost the same age. Zoey Faith will be three in April and her 'twin' sister, Katelyn Joy, will turn three in January. Kate has a very serious heart defect. She has had one corrective surgery but needs another one soon. It is very unusual to be allowed to adopt two children at once from China, but both of our daughters had more severe defects, which made them harder to place.

Kate is currently living at Hope Healing Home, where SaraGrace lived for awhile. We once again are indebted to Love Without Boundaries and Hope Healing Home for providing care and heart surgery for one of our daughters. I actually saw Kate when we were in China adopting Jordan, and stopped to visit at Hope. I didn't hold Kate, but she had just arrived at Hope and I took a picture of her. She was so sick and frail. I have followed her story through the LWB blog over the years - never dreaming that someday I would be her mama.


This photo was on the LWB blog a long time ago, and it is the one that is imprinted on my mind when I think about Kate.

I will eventually post the miraculous story of how God has written Zoey and Kate's story.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Zoey News....

What a difference 48 hours can make! We got a wonderful phone call this morning from our agency. Our Letter of Acceptance has arrived for Zoey! That means we are almost done! We will sign it, send it back and in about 2-3 weeks, we should receive travel approval. We anticipate going to China in about 7-8 weeks, just after Christmas.

Hang on, sweet girl...we are coming to bring you home!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zoey news

I have some news and it's not great. We got a form letter email from our adoption agency today saying that they are closing their doors. Their phone is disconnected already and I haven't been able to get any information about how this will affect our adoption. We do know that another agency is going to pick up the files of all of the parents who are in process. What we don't know is if there will be a delay in our adoption, or additional fees to pay.

We are supposed to be contacted by our agency within the next few days but until then, we have no idea how this will affect getting Zoey home.

I am thankful that we know this was no surprise to God and that He has everything under control. If you would be willing to lift this situation up to Him, we would be grateful!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hat Tricks

Little Jake likes to wear hats. He has a bit of trouble putting them on, however. He consistantly puts them on sideways, giving me a succession of photos that looks like this...






Lookin' good, Little Man!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sometimes You Just Shake Your Head

It will come as no surprise that SaraGrace found herself the object of discipline the other night. I gave her the usual talk about how I love her and I want to help her make good choices - therefore I must discipline her.

Later, as I tried to tuck her bouncing body into bed, she threw her arms around me and said, "Thank you, Mommy, for helping me make good choices. You are da best Mommy in da world. Thank you for getting me in trouble so I can be fun to be around. Oh, thank you, thank you, Mommy." I couldn't believe my ears! None of my kids have ever thanked me for disciplining them! And lest you think she was just buttering me up, no, that is her true feeling about it. She is so passionate about everything. I love that little imp!

And speaking of imps, here are Jake's latest pictures.

How Can My Baby Be Graduating?

Yesterday I wrote out a check for some of these:



And graduation pictures....We will probably add some more poses to his pictures in the spring when his hair grows out from the goofy buzz he got at the end of the summer. He wears a hat constantly, so his forehead is not nearly as tanned as the rest of his face. With no bangs, there is a definite glare off his forehead. ha.






Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom is never free


On this Veteran's Day, I would like to thank all who have fought and have given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms of life in America. We are so incredibly blessed in this country. I am deeply thankful to the men and women who have made many sacrifices and/or given their lives for us. And I thank their families for the sacrifies they also make as they are separated from their loved ones.

There is a deep yearning in the heart of every man, woman and child, to be free. Let us not forget the cost that has been paid to ensure that very freedom.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." Ronald Reagan

"Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit." Ronald Reagan

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Little Artist

Taylor babysat for me the other day while a ran some errands and when I returned, I was greeted by a grinning Jordan.

His shirt had some strange markings on it, and when I leaned over to check them out, he proudly lifted his shirt to show me this...


Before I could ask who had done this dirty deed, I turned him around to see his back...

...and noticed that the perpetrator had written her initals there! I cracked up!! Her name is too long for her to write at this point, so she writes SG for SaraGrace. She wrote it backwards, but it's there.

She hasn't realized that when you want to draw on your brother with a marker, it is wise not to sign your initals.