Beautiful Life





Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Friday, March 28, 2008

No News

We do not have our travel approval yet and therefore there is no new news! I was given an indication by our agency that they may have news for us Monday, so we hang-in there until it comes.


In the mean time, life goes on and we have lots to keep us busy. Here is list of SOME of the things I need to do before we go:
  • Upload my camera software to Paul's laptop
  • Put together a small photo album of pictures of the house, pets and family members for Claire to see when we get her.
  • Get a car seat
  • Get some sippy cups
  • Get some diapers and wipes (no she is not potty trained)
  • Pack
  • Weigh the luggage to be sure it does not exceed the limits for in-China travel
  • Repack because I am sure it will!
  • Gather all the documents on the checklist
  • Write 2 weeks worth of lesson plans for the children to do while we're gone
  • Buy two weeks worth of groceries for the children to eat while we're gone
  • Write out their daily schedule so they will get their schoolwork done and get to ball practices etc...
  • Arrange for someone to come help the boys with some of their school work
  • Get the crib out of the attic and put it together
  • pick up antibiotics (just in case)
  • get more vaccines
  • Exchange $7000 for CRISP NEW $100 bills because China will only accept CRISP NEW bills
  • Buy the gifts, gift bags and tissue paper for the officials in China
  • Get electric outlet adapters and money belts
  • Book International flight tickets
  • Get our visas back from the courier
  • Get the toys out of the attic and clean them up
  • Wash all the toddler clothes I got out of the attic
  • download Skype or reserve a Panda Phone to communicate with the children while we are in China.

I am certain that this is not a complete list because I continue to add to it daily. In the midst of all this I still have to conduct our home school 5 days a week, teach the Wednesday preschool class that I committed to earlier this year, deal with baseball and piano practices and soon the games will begin, keep my house clean and straight, keep the pantry full, run the errands........................you get the picture!

This week we were on spring break so I tried to get a little more than usual done.

  • Made our appointment with the Adoption Clinic and the Spina Bifida Clinic
  • Got our prescription for antibiotics
  • Sent our passports and visa applications off to get our visas
  • Found all the toddler clothes in the attic
  • Found the diaper bag in the attic
  • Researched flights
  • Contemplated club-foot doctors and treatments
  • Transferred home movies to DVD to free up tapes to take to China
  • Shampooed the carpets because that sweet girl will spend a lot of time on them
  • Rearranged the living room so we can all move better in there
  • Read some more of the book, Attachment In Adoption

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

DATES!

We do not have our travel approval yet. But, I spoke with Ann, from our agency, and she confirmed that our names are down for the May 8th travel group! Based on the way things have been moving, she is expecting our official "Travel Approval" to come from the CCAA this week or next. Then Karolyn will make our appointment with the American Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Apparently she already knows about when she will be able to get this appointment since they already expect us to be in this travel group. We will not be making any travel arrangements until after Karolyn has confirmed the appointments and given us the "all clear" because we all know, anything can happen.

Our 14th wedding anniversary is May 7th so I guess we will spend our second Honeymoon in China! I know what I'm getting! From what I understand, we will spend several days in Beijing and then travel to Tianjin to get Claire. Maybe we will get her on Mother's Day! I guess I know what I'm getting for Mother's Day too! After a few days there we will go on to Guangzhou to stay until everything is finalized.

Now, we do have one little glitch already! In the midst of finding our sweet baby Claire, we were trying to renew our I-171-H. For those of you who do not know, an I-171-H is an approval from the Citizens and Immigration Services that gives you permission to bring an orphan into this country. Without it you need not leave the states because you will not be allowed to bring your child back with you! Due to the long wait times, ours, along with countless others, has expired. We knew it was going to expire and we began the tedious process of renewing it back in January. In order to do this, we had to each see our doctors, get doctors letters stating our health, see our social worker, have a SLED check done, have our social worker write up an update to our home study and send everything to DSS and then to CIS for approval. All that has been done thanks to the efficiency of our wonderful social worker who got every expedited for us. However, the last thing to do in that process is to have your fingerprints done and then run through the FBI database. CIS sent us appointments for that and the appointments were for March 28th! WHAT! I emailed them real quick and begged for an earlier appointment! The officer said there were no earlier appointments but she got us special permission to come in any day and wait until they could get to us. So, that is what we did Friday! It really wasn't so bad. I think we waited a total of one hour before they got to us. When we had this done in 2006 it only took a little over three weeks to get our approval so please pray with us that it does not take any longer this time!

The other fun thing we did Friday was get immunized! I got three shots-Hep A, Hep B and a tetanus booster. I still have to go to the health department and get a polio booster and MMR booster. AHHHH! My arms were sore all weekend. No wonder all those children are so cranky the day after they get shots!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tianjin Children's Welfare Institution


During an internet search, I came across a website for a Swiss charity that was founded in 1998 to improve the conditions of the orphanage in Tianjin. It said that Tianjin, the third largest city in China, is currently home to just under 700 orphans with about 100 new arrivals each year. These children range in age from infants to 20 year olds and the majority of them are mentally and/or physically handicapped. We learned the other day that our Claire is in living with a foster family in Jinghai, Tianjin. On this website I found out that there are about 320 foster children in this program, housing 3 children per family. It also seems that she might go to the Jinghai Kindergarten and Therapy School. This is very good news. It means that she is getting more attention than we originally thought!

Monday, March 10, 2008

A DAY WITH LIZZIE

Our Lizzie has been a very busy girl! Between school, work and household responsibilities there has been little time to schedule any visiting. Thankfully, she was able to be with us for a few days over Christmas break, but we had not seen her since then. Finally, she let me know that she would have a Saturday off if we wanted to visit with her in Lexington, so we headed up there for the day. We spent the day eating out and going to the children's museum. The kids had a blast at the museum and Lizzie enjoyed hot tea at Starbucks afterwards. We loved just getting to hang out with her. It was a good visit! We know she just has so much going on right now that she can not help it so we feel blessed to have gotten the chance to see her. It may not happen again for a while....but, that is what happens when your kids grow up!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Shopping therapy!



Some people call it shopping therapy, some call it celebrating. I think it was a little of both! After all, we are still celebrating getting our official referral on March 3rd-the day China said we could have Claire. That date will be etched in my mind like my anniversaries and my children's birthdays. So, we were in the local "Wally World" and what do I spy............PANDAS. Personally, I am more of a panda person than a ladybug girl (for those of you who do not understand that train of thought, ladybugs are a very popular theme among people adopting from China, but that is another story). I could not resist the pink and green panda accessories. They had all kinds of stuff-a broom, rake, shovel, bucket, watering can, jumprope, binoculars, bug box, flashlight, garden gloves, and the list goes on. I did restrain myself to just a few items; a picnic basket with dishes, an umbrella, a beach ball and a backpack! Honestly, we did not need any of it but just look at how cute it is! I have rationalized this to myself by saying that after all, we did miss first and second birthdays and Christmases so, I have to make up for that, right?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Happy Birthday-A Tribute to Paul


Paul at four days old with his brother, David


43 years ago today, Paul was born. He is my love and my best friend. He is an amazing father and a great leader. Around here he is also the coach, minister, carpenter, mechanic, plumber, electrician, yardman, handyman, roofer, dish washer, fill-in chef, comic relief, paramedic, gofer, nutritionist and the list goes on. He is indispensable and irreplaceable and WE LOVE HIM! This is a photo tribute to the boy he was and the man he became.















Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Stork Has Landed!


The stork, aka Chuck the UPS man, has delivered the package! This is the landing picture! I left a note on the door to our Chuck so he wouldn't run off after dropping the package. He came in for pictures and said he had never been the stork before!











Here are the kids with the stork!
















Here is the official referral from our agency and the Seeking Confirmation Letter from the People's Republic of China!
















This is now on it's way back to Children's Hope International so it can get back to the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs)! The next step is Travel Approval (TA). This usually comes in a few weeks. I'll keep everyone updated! We have a lot to do in the next two months! We can not wait for everyone to meet little Claire!









This is what it's all about!








Angels in Tianjin

When we decided to adopt our sweet girl, Claire, I found a yahoo group for families adopting from her welfare institute. Since then I have found out that two of the members of this group are an American couple that live and work in Tianjin City. They volunteer at Claire's orphanage! The husband contacted me yesterday after reading my introduction to their group. He said he had a funny story! He was asked by a family to check on their future son. He knew that child to be in foster care so asked if he could see the child. Instead of bringing that child, they brought our daughter to him. They were confused because both these children are called by the same name, Tong! All this to say that he saw Claire about two months ago and she is also in foster care! He said that he didn't pay that much attention since she wasn't the child he wanted to see but that she was with her foster mother and seemed to love her. We were very happy to have this little tidbit of information about our girl! After reading back through the older posts to that group, it seems that the Tianjin families have a few extra angels looking over their children!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Stork is Flying! We Got Our SCL!


The stork is flying is a term used when an agency knows that a batch of referrals are on the way from China or when a family knows that their referral is being sent from the agency to them! Today at 12:20PM we got the call from Leslie at our agency. She said she had our official referral on her desk and was looking at it! After our phone call, she shipped it out via UPS and we will get it tomorrow. So, the stork is flying! When we get that package we will sign our SCL (Seeking Confirmation Letter) and return it to Children's Hope to be sent to the CCAA. It took less than three weeks to get from PA to SCL! Now we just need our Travel Approval!

We were told to expect to travel around the middle of May. This is what we had hoped for so we are very excited! Now we have a lot to do!


Basketball Season Comes To An End!

As a child, I did not play sports and had no interest in watching sports. I had no idea how much I would enjoy watching my children play sports! This year all three of the children played Upward basketball. Upward is a wonderful program that focuses, not on the competitive aspect of the sport, but on the fun of playing and learning. This was the 5th season for the boys and the 1st for Isabel. Parker and Noah, thankfully, have inherited their father's athletic ability. Isabel, on the other hand, never showed an abundance of that quality, leading us to believe she is taking after me. However, she showed GREAT improvement from the beginning of the season to the end! After trying soccer and tennis, she has deemed basketball "her thing"! Our family is sad to end the season but we played our last games on Saturday. We'll be back next year. For now, we move on to baseball with the boys and wait for swim team to start in May! Here are a few short clips of the games.


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This was Isabel's First basket! It was not the last, but I was not able to get the others on video! The next video is one of the baskets Parker made this season.


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This video is Noah! The boys were awesome this year!

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