A dose of reality as we head out

8 duffle bags and 8 backpacks wait in our schoolroom.

We have maxed out our big 12 passenger and will be having a friend not only drive us to the airport, but also towing our utility trailer behind us with our luggage as well as my parents’ luggage and 3 strollers.  Moments like this make me realize we have a larger than typical family.  Funnily enough, someone seems like they are missing.

Nw for the dose of reality.  Little Theodore’s photos haven’t been shared a lot by us.  I know it’s a little strange for those who have walked with us through our other adoptions.  Truth be told his first photos just made us heartbreakingly sad.  9 months old and 9 pounds.  Red eyes from crying.  Unable to sit.  A long list of expensive lab tests had been run.  His stated diagnosis was clear cut in one respect and very dire in another.  He was not meeting milestones, nor was he ever expected to, according to one respected professional who looked at his medical file for us.

And yet we sent in our letter seeking to adopt him and make him our son.


Because he’s worth it.  

Totally worth it.

Our agency director went looking for an update.  She called his orphanage and found that he had been transferred to a special medical foster home run by a NGO (non-governmental organization) in the same province. We were thrilled!  His pictures show a very serious little face, but he is now nearly 26 months old and he has gained 10 pounds and 10 inches.

We aren’t sure what his medical future will hold, but we do know that God woke us up to love him unconditionally, to fight for him, to give him a place to belong.  We have several medical teams available to us here in North America and once we are home with him we will pursue all of our options to get him the best treatment we can.


And we have been given a little glimpse into his personality.

Theodore belly laughs when he is tickled!

 How great is that?!

As we leave tomorrow please pray for us about the following:

*easy travel (all parents will understand the full depth of our request!)

*that Theodore’s heart will be prepared in whatever way it can be for the enormous life altering changes about to occur.  Adoption, while redemptive, is still trauma.

*the hearts of our Chinese born children who are returning to their birth country.  So much processing has already occurred as we went through this preparation for this trip.  They are new ages for this homeland visit and with each new developmental stage come new ideas, memories and levels of processing.  Pray that this will be a rich time for them to see China, to know China and to love China.

*the hearts of my children not Chinese born.  They have welcomed their siblings like kings.  They have embraced their adopted country wholeheartedly.  They look at China with pride and realism and helped our other children feel brave and strong in spite of the complexity of what they are processing.  They take leadership roles with their younger siblings on all of our travels and it can be exhausting.  Pray that they would have strength beyond their years and experience.  Also, pray for their patience while trying to breach the great firewall of China in order to connect with their loved ones and peers back home. Not.even.kidding.

*Health.  Stephen and I have been trying to get healthier over the past six months knowing this was coming.  We are on a continuing journey with this, but I pray that God would honour our attempts and keep our backs strong, our stomachs ironclad and our sleep deep (even if only for a few short hours – haha!).

*for my parents.  They come with us on these trips and there is very little glory in it.  It is not how most couples would choose to spend their empty nest or retirement vacations, but they do it without any complaint about missing the actual tourist areas, grumpy grandchildren (and, ahem, children), and enormous piles of luggage and children attracting stares and stopping traffic everywhere we go.  Please pray for their health and that they would be able to enjoy their time away in spite of the busy schedule.

*for Stephen & I.  It’s physically exhausting, but it’s also emotionally taxing.  I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in, oh, about two years.  Adoption does that in the final days before we leave.  Pray that I would hear God prompting me to be quiet as Steve leads us and that I would listen more to Him rather than trying to control each and every detail.  Truthfully, that is my downfall.  And pray that Stephen wouldn’t run down to far as he tries to juggle all of us and be emotionally available to all of our many and varied needs.

And thank you, each and every one, who has offered to pray for us.  We’ll be thanking God for you all too!


Time rolls by

So much has happened since that last post.  We finished the 15 casts on Isaiah’s legs, the 5 on his arms, spent time touring the area around Philadelphia, NYC and DC.  We even took the long circuitous route home by cutting across the US and visiting the Grand Canyon and Disneyland before making it home just in time for Christmas 2014.  Two Philadelphia visits, Portland visit, and several trips to Vancouver happened over the past year for medical check ins, casting, new or repaired prosthesis and braces.  We schooled, we worked, we started attending a new church, we camped, we dirt biked, we took the motorcycle out, we swam and well, we decided to add one more little person to the family herd.

The process for our newest child began with a call to our agency November 2014 while we were still in the throes of Isaiah’s casting.  Many months of soul searching visits with our agency social worker, piles of paperwork and more recently, drama over just when we would be travelling to meet our new child have culminated in a China trip planned for Monday, piles of stuff surrounding me in our schoolroom and butterflies as we pray for our newest family member’s heart to be prepared in some small way for the enormity of what is to come.

I hope that you will follow along.  We feel the most sure of this child out of any we have welcomed into our home, but we also have probably the least information to date.  Please pray for our children, all our hearts to have peace in these days of upheaval to come, the process, the travel (that’s many posts in and of itself!) and my folks (who are joining us once again!).  We’ll be in China from November 9-26.  IMG_0035-Edit DSCN0427

              We can’t wait to meet you, Theodore!


Such a difference!

DSC_0680 DSC_0683 DSC_0705 DSC_0767Within a week of the last post I was amazed at how much things had changed already!  Isaiah has returned to his settled self.  {Could this actually be more than the honeymoon period?}

This next bit is more for me than you, and is more list than literature.

He takes a morning and bedtime bottle and snuggles up really well.

He plays cute little games with us.

He loves to catch our eye across a room and beam one of those famous smiles.

He hates having his diaper changed and will yell loud and clear until the SECOND the new diaper is on.

He has trouble chewing and loves soup, yogurt and noodles.  Other more solid food comes tumbling out into his bib pocket, but he’s game to try it all.  It’s up to us to catch it as it tumbles.

He uses a soft sippy spout (like a bottle nipple, but shaped like a sippy spout) for water. Sometimes he drinks from a straw.

He enjoys and can manage big knobby wooden 3 piece puzzles.

Anything that he can open and shut it a hit.

Speaking of hit… he likes to play the toy xylophone and can pick up the wooden mallet and play it himself.

He still proudly turns the pages of books but will actually pause long enough for me to read the words on his board books.

He enjoys humming along to Twinkle, Twinkle and has been caught humming bits of it to himself.

He loves peek-a-boo at nap time with his blanket thrown over first my head and then his.  He pulls it off me and I him.

He recognized and loved the green tassels on the stuffed fish he and I bought for him at the Dirt Market in Beijing.  It’s been 3 weeks exactly since he last saw it.

He is incredibly ticklish.

He LOVES cars, vans, trucks and would sit in one all day if he had the chance.  His head whips around fast when he catches sight of one driving past our front window and we have to look out his window before bed and when he wakes up so he can see them in the driveway.  He was quite concerned when Stephen took one of them to the shop last week, but was quickly comforted when he saw the courtesy car in the driveway instead.  He can say car and truck in Mandarin and differentiate between the two.

He adores his siblings.  No really.  He does.

He is quick to laugh.

He loves his Praise Baby DVDs.  So do we.  1/2 hour of quiet play in the afternoon works for us!

Swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s is still asked for daily.  He floats in the baby inner tube and kicks his little legs.  He gets a little frown if I tell him we can’t go when he asks for “Gamma”.

{We are utterly in love.}


So here we are

After writing that last post about our visit to Samuel’s friends, we returned to the hotel and Isaiah promptly fell into a deep, dark, angry grieving rage.  It was a long and loud one.  So long in fact, that we sent my folks off to the Goodbye China Party that our agency throws all on their own.  We ended up following them after a bit, and enjoyed watching Samuel so excited over the magician, but that’s not really the point.  Actually, that rage was only the beginning.

The airplane.  The drive to Stephen’s folks.  Driving home.  At mealtime.  At bedtime.  At play.  At the doctor’s.  Never for so long that we fear for him, but definitely intense.

Isaiah had fussed and cried before.  Not long-lasting, but it spoke of what was going on underneath.  It appears to be a typical two year old type of thing, for sure.  Head clunking against ours.  Back arched and stiff.  Sharp screams and yells.  The hard part is knowing where the two year old part of it begins and the fear and grief ends.  And mix it all in with thoughts like our doctor voiced yesterday, “He’s got to be frustrated that he can’t do for himself.”

Yeah.  Not a simple thing to sort out.

He has enjoyed playing with his siblings, that’s for sure.  And honestly, I will do a post later about it, but they’ve enjoyed him too.  That is the 90% of it.  The 10% remaining is this rage.

0-60 in no time flat.

So, we hold him and remind him and love him and hold him some more.  And sometimes when the yells are too piercing we hold him and wear ear buds.  Whatever it takes.



Post swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  He’d say, “WOOOOOOW!” with great enthusiasm every so often.


Samuel, showing Isaiah how to open one his birthday gifts.


Rolling, rolling, rolling…  Sure glad we kept those baby gates up!


Yes, we own desks and nice furniture.  This is James’ room.  And this is the den of Minecraft.  Isaiah was welcomed into the fold.


It looks sad, but this is the crew allowed to play, yes, you guessed it, Minecraft, together for a few minutes before we headed out for swimming at their grandparents’.  They had just finished laying all over the floor playing with Isaiah.  He was kind of like, “Huh?”  He is pretty good at swiping on the iPad.  IT’s only a matter of time….


He’s sexy and he knows it.





Friends and Fears

We made our visit to New Day Foster Home today.  We wanted Samuel to build a few memories of the place he had called home before meeting us.  We are forever indebted to the staff and volunteers there.  He received therapy and encouragement that definitely helped prepare him well for his future.  We were so thrilled that some of Samuel’s special friends came to visit us and while he was a bundle of nerves, his response once he got back to the hotel with us really showed us the value in the visit.  The real Samuel returned and spoke about his “friends” and “when I was little”.  The pictures will be priceless to him in the years to come and the visit with friends was priceless to us.  Such a treat to visit a place so close to our hearts!

We finished the day with our travel group at the Goodbye China party our agency always throws for the families.  It’s always a nice way to end off the adoption trip.  This year Samuel was so pleased to receive an Opera mask like the performer of the changing faces mask.  He told us he needs to go home to practice his magic!  My folks, Stephen, and Isaiah received beautiful scrolls.  Long Life, Happy Family and Isaiah’s Characters. So lovely. We are truly spoiled by our agency and appreciate them so very much!

Off to Canada tomorrow on that incredibly long flight!  The best and most motivating factor is seeing our kids the next few days – first Faith, Grace and Garnet, followed by James on Friday.  It will feel so amazing to have the Super 8 together at last!

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A little shopping

Yesterday (yes – I’m still playing catch up!), we started late.  We had been intending to visit New Day Foster Home, but a friend there let us know that most of the staff and children were going to be on a rescheduled field trip. So, we switched dates with them to today.

After breakfast, we hung out in our room for some quiet playtime with the boys.  That quickly turned into a long Skype call with our three kids who are at Stephen’s folks house.  Three weeks is a long time to be away from home, let alone away from our young kids.  We are ready to see them and they us. Emotions are high on all fronts in that regard and so it was good to talk with them.  Stephen’s folks are truly heroic for having the kids for this long.  Love aside, it’s just simply a very long time for anyone to have house guests!

As it was closer to lunch by the time we finished up with the kids, we went across down the block to McDonald’s for lunch.  It may seem crazy to go to a fast food chain while in China, but even there can be a cultural excursion.  Food aside (yes, the menu is different there), we had a father insist on having Isaiah and I sit next to he and his two children.  His daughter gave Isaiah her Happy Meal toy and the brother was urged to give his sister his.  I got to practice my meagre Mandarin and we had a little conversation.  The little girl blushed all the while.  The table of tween boys next to my folks were fully engrossed in games on their iphones, save one boy who had an older phone and a separate mp3 player.  They treated him well, but it made me wonder about him.  His hair wasn’t as neatly trimmed as the other boys and his clothes weren’t as polished.  Just interesting.  Stephen and I shared a two person table area with the boys and were smooshed up against a young couple that kept watching us carefully.  The girls eyes bugged out when I asked Stephen to get me a spoon so that I could break up a fish burger for Isaiah.  I think she thought I was going to eat it with the spoon!  Her jaw dropped.  LOL  Another table of early twenties girls was filming and videoing us.  My face is a tad red from the heat every time I leave the hotel, I’m certain I smell terrible and my hair is a wee bit wild from all the humidity, but from all the footage people have taken of me, I’m certain I am the next Chinese Weibo sensation!

After lunch and our stop at the little water store in the shopping plaza, we went and bought a couple things upstairs.  It’s a lot like shopping at an indoor market.  Separate booths and shops, freedom to barter, and lots of, “Lady, Lady!  Cheapa’ for you!”  Well, a lot less of that than at the tourist markets, but it seems to have caught on with at least a few of the sellers!

We walked back to the hotel and the males took naps while Mom and I went in pursuit of a certain shop for some gifts.  Talk about a shopping street!  Nanluogu is a lot like Granville Island.  Not a lot of bargaining here, but a bunch of tourist hovels mixed with a few big Chinese name brands.  It has a fun feel to it.  As with every public area, there are always a few sad cases and lots of colour and life. We walked the length of the street and then down towards the drum tower, finally finding another cab to take us back to the hotel.

The day was finished at the hotel buffet for dinner, courtesy of my folks. I think we all hit a wall yesterday.  It was fun to get out, but Stephen and I turned a corner and were ready to head home to the kids.  I enjoyed getting out to see how the lake district had changed since the first time we walked it in 2007.

And a little eye candy to spice up the blog.  Isaiah and Samuel, posing as Baba!

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The Greatness of the Climb

Well, as you all know from yesterday’s post, we visited the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall yesterday.  Other than a short time of panic, the day was really quite exceptionally wonderful!  You know those party games where people have to guess things about you?  I always used the fact  that I hoped to visit the Great Wall before I died.  This visit marks my fourth and honestly, it doesn’t get old.  I can’t get enough of the mountains and the feeling of being where thousands of people have trod for thousands of years, wow!  It’s honestly something I don’t just remember, I cherish it.

Yesterday was hot in the city and slightly cooler on the wall.  That coolness was short lived though with carrying the kids and marching up and down.  We chose to go to this section of the wall knowing we could ride the gondola up and the bobsled down.  It’s still a fair hike in between, especially for Samuel.

Samuel has had a number of reactions from and to people here in China.  Most people have been curious and some have been atrociously rude.  I’d like to say it’s specific to this area of the world, but I regret to inform that it just seems like a part of humanity.  :/  Anyway, Samuel started the trip ducking his head and then he decided to tune most people out.  This day at the wall, he really just became focused.  He was a champion.  Stephen was too.  He picked him up the tricky well worn paths that were too steep or slippery for him to navigate and marched him through them.  The rest of the way Samuel walked.  And people clapped and cheered and gave him the thumbs up. A fellow and his daughter were visiting the wall from Hong Kong, but had been to visit Vancouver and Victoria last year!  The father bought both his daughter and Samuel a medal.  Samuel has carried it around like the champion he is. We are beyond proud of him.

Pardon the photo heavy post (not that you mind), but it is one of my favourite places, after all.

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And so it hits me

We were able to visit the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall today.  It was cooler there (we still sweat buckets!).  The sky was overcast and the mountains were shrouded in haze.  I truly love those mountains and today i got to see a side of them that I’d only seen in photos.  Absolutely majestic.

Samuel walked much of the way from the gondola to the slideway.  He truly impressed Stephen and I.  We are so fortunate to see his strength each day and then days like today show us how much farther he can push himself.  It honestly inspires us as much as all the other folks who stop and salute him with their praise. God has made him with an inner determination that will prove him so well.

Isaiah was honestly quite amazing too!  He is not yet two and yet he braves new situations really well.  Tucking into us rather than fawning for others attention. IT’s been so hot and we’ve been on the move so much and it really amazes us that he has chosen (yes – chosen, at his age) to make us his new trusted people.  He will learn to love us with time but for now this is so big.  Trust is so valuable and he has let us in.

Here’s where it hit me.

Without betraying the trust of others in the story.  We had the friend of a friend guide us at the wall today.  Our friend had asked this woman to take us in spite of the fact that her English is quite rusty and she doesn’t get out much anymore.  You see, she had lost her daughter awhile back and we were told that it had sent her into depression.  When we met her, she was pleasant but quiet.  As we arrived at the wall, she was unsure, but pushed through to help us and we really appreciated it.  She was obviously drawn to Isaiah and he was happily smiling and chirping at her from my arms.  And then she asked to hold him.  I held her off for a time, but he was happy and I wondered if it would help her heart a little, and so I broke our one cardinal rule.  We never, never hand off our new kids to others outside our family trust circle for many, many months until the attachment bond has begun to take root.  That rule has been firm from Garnet, to Grace, to Samuel.  It was even something we held fairly fast to with James and Faith as babies.

But it felt right and when we took a break he continued to sit on her lap while I fed him snacks.  I held his hand and played peek a boo with him as we walked.  And then I took him back into the baby carrier and slid down the mountain on the bobsled ride.  He was quiet and seemed pretty happy afterwards. Stephen and I had a couple items that we knew we wanted to buy from the vendors while we were there and so with my parents helping Samuel farther up the hill and both our hands full, I handed Isaiah back to the woman. We carried on our shopping and she was with us to help.  Finished, we started towards the van. Stephen and I were chatting and she was right next to me.  I turned away for what felt like a second and then looked back and she was gone.

Like GONE gone.

I called out his name in the sing-songy voice we’d been using all week and no response.  I whirled around and started dodging around vehicles looking, looking for them.  No sign. I could feel the panic rising and I called out to Stephen that he was gone.  He started looking.  He ran ahead.  No sign.  My parents and Samuel came up behind us and asked.  No sign.  I ran back to the vendors and from the panicked look on my face and my voice as I loudly called and called out Isaiah’s name in that sing-songy voice, they came out of their booths calling to each other in Chinese, “Where is her baby?  Where is her baby?”  I ran back to the parking lot and Stephen called down from the vehicle in the upper lot, she’s not here… oh wait!  There she is!  Behind you and to your left!  I looked and looked and finally I saw them.  I ran to her and grabbed my baby out of her arms.  Oh my heart!

And then it hits me.  I love him.  Like REALLY, REALLY love him!  I am Mama Bear.  And nothing will get in my way.

Did she intend harm?  No.  But in her own way she did as she wanted and wandered off with my son.

MY son.

I know I hurt her.  And it was never my intent to do so.  In fact, my intent had been so good towards her, I had reached out to her, breaking our family rule.

And all afternoon I was so close to tears.  I was really aware that something had changed in me.

I had bonded to Isaiah.


{The photo today is not the one I thought I’d be posting today, but it is one Stephen took from the upper parking lot just after I had reclaimed Isaiah and started the walk back to the vehicle.  Maybe I can catch up on the other part of our day at the wall, tomorrow.}



Feels like coming home

We’ve been in Beijing for a couple days and our internet has been sketchy at best.  I’ve been fairly wiped out, as well, and I needed some extra sleep the past couple of days.

Our final day in Hunan was spent sifting and sorting luggage.  We had picked up a fair bit during the past two weeks and needed to get rid of a bit too.  We had lunch in the second floor Cantonese restaurant before getting in the van and heading to the airport.  My Mom teased the driver and told Vicky, our guide, to let him know we were heading to the forest in the Western region – a four hour drive one way.  His face spoke of his shock!  We got him good.  🙂

We had a really great group of tour staff for those two weeks in Hunan.  Stacy was helpful and could roll with our questions.  Matthew had such an understanding way about him and really understood our sarcastic Canadian wit from his two years in Canada.  Vicky was wonderful to see again and was helpful with our new baby.  And as illustrated above, even though we couldn’t exchange conversation with our driver, we did a fair bit of bantering and conversing anyway!  He was very kind with Samuel and a big help to each of us over our time there.

During our last trip to Hunan, it was one of many, many stops and it felt like a blur.  Returning there and driving back roads and seeing so much more of the region has given Stephen and I an equal appreciation for Hunan along with Ningxia and Guangdong.  We are so thankful to have had the opportunity and were left with a list of things we’d like to attempt to experience the next time we visit.  Honestly, the very best part of China is the people.  The longer we spend here the more we love the fact that people are people wherever they live. Having the chance to truly appreciate the areas that our kids are from and learn to love them, speaks to them that we love not only where they are from, but who they are.  They will always be Chinese and Canadian.  Being here and then pouring over the pictures and reliving it all at home with them long after the memories have faded into their childhoods, helps them plant roots.  Sounds pretty big for a couple weeks time, but we have seen the benefit to our kids again and again.

We arrived at the airport and began the check in process.  Unfortunately, we were told that although Air Canada had booked us all the appropriate tickets, Air China had booked us into lap tickets?!  Crazy!  A visit to the supervisor cleared that up and our bags were checked in.  However, when it came to the paper voucher for Isaiah’s lap ticket, we were told that it was invalid and so off Stephen went to another desk and then back to the supervisor.  In the end, a new one was issued for a fee and we had about 20 minutes to not only get through security, but get to the other end of the airport for our gate.  And let me tell you, while we have had  nothing but courtesy at each of the airports we’ve travelled in Canada, the USA and China, it takes a bit of extra time for them to scan Samuel’s prosthetics and crutches!  Add in the stroller, baby carrier and infant, and all of our electronics, well, it was a mad rush to the gate!

We galloped up to the gate (the last one – 50 of 50!) and found that the airplane had been fully boarded, save us, but they called the plane and they held it.  Then because of the gate checked stroller, they called for another bus and escorted us with two pilot cars and a handful of staff to the plane.  We made it and got our bags stowed just in time for Isaiah to decide that maybe skipping his nap was a bad idea.  LOL!  Ah well, he settled after awhile and as we were getting ready to de-plane, the people around us were kind.  The whole thing makes for a good story.  🙂

And this is where it feels like coming home.  We got our luggage and around the corner we say one of our familiar Beijing guides, Faye (who is married now, for anyone reading this from our other trips) and the familiar “Panada” flag.  She had a van waiting for us and we headed to the hotel.  Yulin (our agency director) was there waiting for us and as usual, she had everything more than sorted out for us.  We headed out for a quick meal and when we returned she had us booked into bigger rooms.  We are totally spoiled here.  No, really.

The next morning we ran into a few families from our group and Yulin and Faye (and Mr. Lee) had Isaiah’s Visa photo taken and his citizenship part 2 paperwork filled out for the Canadian Embassy.  Everything is streamlined here.  We also had our adoption group photo taken on the stairs (fourth time for us, so it’ll be fun to have one for Isaiah too).  The families seem nice.  Everyone seems to have little ones this trip (born 2011 and 2012) so it’s quite a different group.  I guess we do too this time.  🙂

We have completed the official process now and we just wait in Beijing for his Chinese passport with the Canadian entrance visa in it to be returned to us this week.  Once home, we send off for his Care card (he’s already got access to BC medical officially now as he is our son), Citizenship card (he’s already a citizen once the part 2 paperwork is finished, but we are trying to expedite the printing of the official card so he’ll be able to leave the country with us for Samuel’s surgery in October), his passport, and his SIN card (so he can get a job, of course).   😉

Later that day we braved the Hong Qiao Pearl Market.  I really “needed” a new purse and have been hanging on until I could get here.  Mom seemed to “need” one too.  The men and boys headed to the Toy Market.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  Oh, except, as usual, we one of the vendors not only trioed to rip off Mom’s thumb, break my wrist and then proceeded to tell us she hates us.  🙂  All in a day’s trip to the pearl market.  LOL

Last night we walked across the street and had supper in the food court and the shopping centre and bought a couple more electric fans.  We left our apple fans in Changsha.  It had rained the night we arrived and the pollution was caught up in all that evaporation.  Blech…cough…cough  Today was gloriously clear and HOT!  But it lacked the humidity, making it a lot more like home.

This morning we went to the Panjianyuan Market aka the Dirt Market.  At its best early Sunday morning, it was busy.  Can’t say a lot about this either (somebody might be reading – haha).  It was a successful hunt though.

And I think that pretty much covers the past couple days!  DSC_8965 DSC_8969 DSC_8970 DSC_8978 DSC_8982 DSC_8984 DSC_8987 DSC_8988 DSC_8990 DSC_8996 DSC_9003 DSC_9007 DSC_9011 DSC_9013 DSC_9014 DSC_9021 DSC_9030 DSC_9033 DSC_9037 DSC_9041 DSC_9043 DSC_9048 DSC_9053 DSC_9056 DSC_9057 IMG_1113 IMG_1115 IMG_1117 IMG_1119 IMG_1123 IMG_1124 IMG_1746 IMG_2742 IMG_2747 IMG_2751 IMG_2753 IMG_2757 IMG_2759 IMG_2760 IMG_2766 IMG_2767





A walk on the wild side… and the finer side of life

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This morning Isaiah woke up and rolled over.  Before his eyes had fully opened, I leaned over his crib and he dreamily smiled up at me.  Melt my heart, why don’t ya’ son?  He’s feeling a lot better today, but he’s definitely learning to let us know when he is unimpressed too.  Think, arch your back and yell.  Ah well, I’d say he’s earned the right this week!

We took the boys to the Civil Affairs building one last time for a special ceremony that has been implemented here.  Both ourselves and the other family that had their adoption co-incide with ours this week (from OK, USA), were seated in the central meeting room.  The registrar read a message from the official government edict regarding our promise to adopt our sons, our acceptance of the process as China has outlined it and our commitment to raise our sons as promised.  We agreed verbally and then were called to the front of the room in front of a large Chinese flag hanging on the wall.  She then officially congratulated us and handed us our red booklet/adoption certificate.  It was actually a nice touch and again it hit home the significance of this week’s events.

We spent the remainder of the morning at Martyr’s Park, so named after the many Chinese soldiers who died in the “Japanese Aggression”.  There is a memorial tower there.  For us, though, we enjoyed the cool walk on shady paths winding through the park around a picturesque lake.  People out doing the kinds of things being done in hundreds of parks across China, music, exercise, dancing, napping, chatting, strolling and game playing.  We took time to rent an 8 person boat and let the wind blow through our hair, until, Isaiah decided it was hot and he felt insecure with his new parents out in the middle of the water (can you blame him?  At one point we were being pursued by a young boy and his father who chose to fire at us with his water gun.  The Dad not the boy, who happened to be the driver.  LOL)  It had really interesting controls and Stephen managed to only nick the roof on the way under the bridge.  He aced it coming back through though, in spite of Isaiah’s crying.  Nerves of steel, that husband of mine.

After the park we headed back to the hotel, where my Mom and Vicky, our guide strolled down the alley next to the hotel to buy the guys’ lunch.  The restaurant is literally behind the hotel with access via the alley.  It is apparently beautiful and extremely hard to get reservations there.  And lunch for six of us with a pile of leftovers?  100 Yuan ($14 Cdn)  Our guide will try to get us table for lunch tomorrow, but she doesn’t hold out much hope.

On our way out with her, Vicky took Mom and I in a taxi to a local fast food place.  Big bowl of rice and spicy bamboo shoots with preserved vegetables, and a canned sweet herbal tea was less than $1.50 Cdn each.  Yum!  We asked what type of oil they cook with there are apparently it is tea seed oil. With Mom’s legume allergy (soy, beans, peanuts), she has had an easier time of it this trip to Hunan, perhaps that’s why (less soy and peanut oil).  Interesting.  Mom though Vicky had said it was the seed of a Camellia flower).  We’ll have to look it up, as she also claimed it is supposed to be healthier than many other types of oils.

Mom and I had Vicky take us to the Provincial Embroidery Museum this afternoon during the boys nap time.  The specialize in a unique two sided embroidery technique that features a different but complete picture on both the front and back sides of the cloth, with absolutely no sign of a “back side” to the design.  THe designs are incredibly life like and often feature copies of master works of art.  The detail is phenomenal.  I purchased a design with four characters on it for Isaiah. The layman’s meaning is that the more peaceful you are in the inside, the farther or more successful you will be.  Good words.

This evening we walked around the corner to the convenience store for a chocolate bar run.  Don’t ask.  I’ve been avoiding it for a number of months now and Stephen doesn’t even like chocolate.  Somehow though, on holidays, we eat Snickers bars daily.  Weird.

Anyway, while we were there, I bought another wooden comb.  I had bought one for Samuel there 2 years ago and he loves that it’s from “his China”, so with all Isaiah’s hair, I felt it was a good purchase for him.  He was so proud – like sit up straight and looked himself in the mirror proud, when I combed his hair tonight.  Too cute!

We also found the shop where Dad bought the hack saw blade to break into the safe in their hotel room last time.  It was a good memory.  Would you believe they had safe trouble again this trip (in Yueyang City)?  Fortunately, we know where to get the tools for the family safecracker, if the need should arise again.

Dinner tonight was again on the second floor.  Seems to be where we have settled in for both trips.

Tomorrow? Beijing.  And, Isaiah’s first flight.  He seems to enjoy the airplane rides I give him laying on his back in the hotel room on the 31st floor. Hopefully the much higher variety will be a hit too.

P.S. We’ve picked up on a few bits of mandarin that Isaiah says: Good (Hao), I know! (jie dai le  – or something similar), Good bye, and “Aye Yah!” said just like a Chinese grandmother.  LOL