The post in which I tell you…

DSC_8035 DSC_8056 DSC_8061 DSC_8096 DSC_8097 DSC_8118 DSC_8123 DSC_8128 DSC_8132 DSC_8134 DSC_8135 DSC_8148 DSC_8149 DSC_8150 DSC_8153 DSC_8155 IMG_1086 IMG_1097 IMG_1102 IMG_2704 IMG_2707 IMG_2712 IMG_2718 it’s all going eerily well!

We all slept at least eight hours and had a two hour nap this afternoon.  Isaiah was pleasant and smiled and even laughed at times.  He took his bottle (hated it last night, I think it needed tweaking; more milk powder and less warm) this morning and ate really well at his meals.  He’s even had two baths and done all the right things in the diaper department.  Whew!  Somehow I waste more hours on these sorts of things before we meet our kids and yet they seem to know how to do what they are going to do and off we go!

I put out the infamous stacking cups this afternoon and he worked really hard at pulling them out of their nesting spots and then putting them back in.  He either pinches and locks his fingers to grasp them or he puts his hand inside one and splays his fingers to gain a grip on them.  Either way, he’s innovative.

He works so hard on whatever task he is at that he has an ever present drip of drool hanging from his bottom lip. Not the yucky gooey kind, but the kind that just sits there because he is so focused that he doesn’t even notice.  I will say, that he’s not a fan of having his face wiped (not many kids are!).  🙂

Oh, and we know he is leaning towards a vegetable-arian, like Samuel.  It’s not hard to tell.  Stick in a piece of meat and next thing you know he makes a really disturbing face and out it pops.

Samuel is doing much better than we expected, but still in the normal range for a five year old who’s didi position has been usurped.  He shows him tenderness, but there is lots of grumpiness and sass mixed with attention getting.  The tender times are there though and so there’s hope.  🙂  Isaiah is a very tall boy and so when the two boys are sitting together, while Samuel is a bit taller in a seated position, at first glance it’s like seeing twins.  A bit awe inspiring for this Mom who never dreamed she’d be the matriarch (whoa – can’t believe I just wrote that word down!) of this many children!

Oh, and Samuel is fascinated by Isaiah’s long hair!  He’s always loved long hair and he strokes his hair all the time.  Until, at least, Isaiah, lets him know, thanks but no thanks, pal.

The little photo album that we sent to the orphanage is still a hit.  He enjoys turning those pages.  Stephen added a simple game with it.  It’s a little rythymic retelling of the names in the book.  He chats it without help now and looks for approval.

As for today’s agenda, we headed to the civil affairs office to complete Isaiah’s adoption!  After we had our photo taken with him and had our thumbs/his hand printed with the red ink, the registrar said, “Congratulations! You are his parents now!”.  My heart stopped for just a moment with the reality that – Wow! We made it!  He’s really, finally our son! It was really quite nice as I don’t think that we were afforded that moment during the other kids’ registrations.  It can be a bit of a blur of paperwork on the finalization day!

On the way to lunch, we stopped at a store called Metro to pick up a couple pieces of luggage for Isaiah’s belongings.  He came to us with quite a bit and we’ll be shopping some in the next week.  It was interesting.  A lot like Costco (membership card, multi-pack format products) and yet the stores colours were Ikea blue and yellow.  They even had a backyard swimming pool for sale (1,300 or 13,000 Yuan – couldn’t be 13,000 could it?) and our guide shook her head.  Even if a person had the money for it, where would they put it?  And she’s right.  Everywhere you look there are skyscrapers and apartments.  It was her neighbourhood that we shopped in.  Afterwards, we took a short cut through through a fruit wholesalers market.  Apparently watermelon (pink and yellow fleshed) is in season.  Traffic was gridlocked on that street and people kept hopping in and out of cars and off and on the backs of trucks to buy them.  It seemed to be great fun, by the smiling faces!

For lunch, we went to the Guinness Book of World Records award winning Largest Restaurant in the World!  They have a 17 acre piece of land that is essentially a compound with many many buildings.  We ate in the Hunanese one and they had a stage with dancers performing minority dances from the 7 minority people groups in Hunan.  Delicious food and a nice show.  We enjoyed really enjoyed it, especially the funny Chinese grandmother dance performed by strapping young men.  LOL  On a more serious note, we have been focusing our attentions on our sons and connecting with the family at home.  The giant screens at the pre-show, showed the rescue efforts in Gansu after the terrible earthquake there. We are praying for everyone impacted.  It’s especially horrifying after driving through rural villages, to see the devastation to the rural farming area in Gansu.

Overall, it was a really good day!  Tomorrow we have been offered the chance to drive southwest to Loudi.  This is Isaiah’s hometown.  We will visit his orphanage and finding location.  We feel honoured that they will allow us this chance as we have been told that it is fairly uncommon.

Off to join the others in bed!




Returning Home, part 2

DSC_6507 DSC_6508 DSC_6584 DSC_6618 DSC_6623When we arrived in at the Yueyang County SWI, we were let into the gate and pulled up in front of a shiny, new, several stories high building.  The old orphanage had been only used for offices for some time, as the children had all been fostered in the neighbouring area.  The new building was designed to house the offices and the children.  We were told that the children’s home was still being furnished and completed, but that the children would be returning soon.  They had begun building it shortly after we’d visited in February 2011 and had only moved in recently.

We took the elevator upstairs and were warmly welcomed by the staff, one of whom we had spent time with during our initial visit, as she’d come to process Samuel’s adoption.  We were ushered down the hall into a meeting room.  Samuel was much fawned over and we shared stories of his progress, as well as the photo book we had brought.  There were many framed photos waiting to be hung on the walls of the new meeting room.  They each featured returning families on homeland tour visits.  It was fun to see all those photos of tweens and teens returning to visit their roots.

Samuel’s file was brought out without us asking and we were able to see original photos of him as an infant.  The youngest photos we have of him to date.  (He has hardly changed!)  We appreciated the information we were offered and took photos of everything.

There was much laughter and smiling over Samuel’s attempts at showing off his new walking skills. There were also many gasps as he tried many stunts near the glass topped coffee table.  We all were trying to protect his noggin’ from the tile floor and table! But, I think he got his point across.  It had been a good idea to send him to Beijing and to have his paperwork processed for international adoption.  We were happy to have them see him so full of little boy spunk and strength!

All of a sudden his foster grandmother came in holding a small boy’s hand.  She was exclaiming in excitement to see us all again and we her!  Big smiles, handshakes, hugs and happiness to see each other!  The little boy (in split pants, much to Samuel’s amazement) was her grandson (25 months old).  The last time we had visited, her son had just been married and this was his son.

Much laughter, showing off, snacking, and kisses ensued.  Samuel was less than impressed with the kissing, but he was rescued by his Dad and all was well in the end.

We then headed off around the corner for a relaxed lunch.  Samuel and his “cousin” faced off across the turntable at the table and had that food spinning.  By the end of the meal, the little guy was fast asleep and Samuel was in a trance like state in the stroller.  Both had full tummies and were surrounded by happy chatter and smiling faces.

Joining us at lunch was another staff member and her two “nephews” (according to our guide, “Stacy”), which were in actual fact nieces.  The nieces had studied English in school and while they could understand much of what we said, much like myself with Chinese, they were too shy to use much of their English on us.  I did manage to get the one girl to tell me that her English name in school was “Vivienne”.  She blushed mightily and laughed behind her hand when I told her that Vivienne is considered a name for beautiful girls.  She took the teasing well.

After a few photos at the orphanage gate, we headed to the foster grandparents home.  Samuel enjoyed handing out his hand drawn pictures for them, as well as the photos and other gifts we had brought.  He warmed up to his foster grandpa and shared the fact that his tooth is wiggly (he is convinced that it is a sign that he is growing up).  He sat on his knee for a bit.  They served us the best watermelon I have had in my entire life.  It grows here in the south prolifically and really, as with all food, is best eaten close to its source!  Samuel and his “cousin” played with the boy’s plasma car and other ride on toys.  The family’s daughter came home and we found that she has also been married and is expecting.  The son and daughter live at their parent’s home with their families.  The little guy really warmed up to us by the end.

Samuel did not want to leave.  I was so pleased that he enjoyed his time there.  I did say to him as we left, “Can you believe you lived in this house when you were a baby?”

“No”, he said.

I understand.  It’s a bit much for me to take in, let alone a 5 year old.  After all, sometimes, it’s hard to imagine a time without him.  And I suppose that is why these trips back to visit our kid’s homeland areas are so very valuable.  It’s so important to not forget what is so integral to who they are.  Not Chinese.  Not Canadian.  Not even, Chinese-Canadian.  Rather, they are Chinese + Canadian.

Samuel’s foster grandma and cousin joined us for a quick photo op at the finding spot.  And then off we went back to the city, exhausted and emotionally spent.

Was it too early for a return visit for Samuel?  It all depends on what the goal was.  Did he gain value and meaning of his past?  Yes, but not at the same level as if he had been older.  Will it provide continuity for his next few years as the questions get wider in scope and deeper in meaning?  Absolutely.  As I posted on Facebook, he has a deeper sense that this is his wider, global extended family.  Because really, that is what they are.  They are no less related than we are.  The legacy of love they gave him from his infancy lives on in the way he has opened his heart to us.



A few of my favourite things (and people too!)

It was a very good week – full of the best!

{Hover the cursor over the individual photos to read the captions.

Click the individual photos to enlarge them.}


Ahhh the memories

Just now as I was walking past Grace’s room on my way to bed, I had a sudden urge to check in on her.  You see, she hasn’t been sleeping well for the past couple weeks and normally we hear from her every so often in the couple hours between her bedtime and ours.  So, walking past I suddenly wondered if she was actually asleep.

I opened the door and saw a quick movement of the blanket, followed by a very still and motionless form lying there.  Hmmmm this looks familiar.  🙂

I quickly threw off her blanket only to find her buried underneath with her new Leap Pad from Christmas.

I hear her intake a deep breath, “Okay.  I was doing this.”

Good for you, I think to myself.  You admitted you did wrong.  (Little proud moment there.  Trust me, if you lived in this house, you’d understand.)

I took the Leap Pad.  Told her I’d be keeping it for tonight, that I loved her and good night.  And down the hall to my bedroom I go.

Once there, I explained to Stephen what had happened.  Then I followed it up with a chuckle and asked him to reminisce.

“Sooo I remember reading under the covers and hiding books, what did you do secretly in your room after bedtime?  Did you ever get caught?”

He shakes his head no and then breaks into a blush and a grin…

“Actually, my parents bought an old used black and white tv one time.  I carted it into my room and put it in the closet  where I could see it from my bed.  That night I rigged a couple of skipping ropes that I could pull from my bed in order to shut my closet doors in a hurry if they suddenly came in after it was lights out time.

Sure enough, long after bedtime, my folks came in – my room was across from theirs.  I quickly shut the closet doors and suddenly I saw the flaw in my plan.  There was a bright glow emitted from the TV screen in the closet.  The volume didn’t hurt either!”

We had a good laugh over that!  Sometimes it’s so nice when our kids just plain old behave like, well, kids!




Merry Christmas!


Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2011

James (15.5) – “Nudist on Strike:

Faith (2 days from 11) – Mime

Grace (3 weeks from 9) – Mermaid

Garnet ( 7 years 1 month) – Clone Trooper

Samuel (3.5) – Lion

With the addition of some face paint and a glitter, it looks like we’re ready to party!


Everyday Chatter


Click on the photos to see a larger version of the  {Real} us.

I need to write about our trip to Portland Shriners.  I really am very thankful for the prayer we have had on our behalf.  We came back 100% confident in the team there, but I’ll need to save that for a day when I have a bit more energy to pour into an update.  I came home and woke up the next morning with some king-sized stress knots in my back.  Moving slowly and spending time flat on our hard as rock mattress has helped a lot.

Today I simply want to blog a long string of quotes from my very precious children.  They are treasured things I’ve overheard them say over the past 2 months.  I tend to scrawl things like this on post-it notes and every so often flip through them.  With my latest foray into blogging, I figured why not post some of them? 

From Faith to Grace, “Whine always leads to bad things!”  Exclaimed by Faith when Grace was whining over a lesson.  (Yes, my children do whine on occasion, but you can imagine which winemy mind leapt to!  :))

Samuel, May 17/11: “I tsee you!”, in a sing song voice.

Samuel, April 9/11: I heard, “Smack!  Smack!”, like someone smacking their lips together.  I peeked around the corner and found Samuel using a purple glue stick like lip gloss. 

Garnet: “Tell Dad I have a garbage can in my tummy.” (Too full after a snack.)

Samuel, May 21/11:  Apparently undecided, “Yup!  Nope!  Why?”

James, April 22/11: James using a crayon resist effect on his Easter egg that is intended for his 87 year old great grandma {Granny}, “Eat Pork!” (She giggled herself silly and that’s why we love her.)

Samuel, May 12/11: Calling from his spot at breakfast, “Wake up!”  “Samuel”, I say, “Are you calling for Gege James?”  “Yeah!”, he nods, “Gege three!” (With fingers to show three.) (Gege= Big brother)

Grace, April 6/11: “…Because in this family everyone is special, right Mom?” (Said with an air of, “See!  I told you guys!”)

Faith to Grace: “Just put the angel in the back with the extra toilet paper.”  (Meaning that they had been in charge of building a replica tomb in which to entomb Jesus body over Easter Weekend.  They needed to hide the angel until Sunday morning and apparently they decided that the way they clean their rooms is good enough for the burial site of the King of Kings too.  :))

Garnet: Said extremely cheerfully, “I don’t really want to go, but thank you!”

Samuel, May 3/11: Loves to eat “‘Pie-see”, “Icy-team” & of course, “Choc-a-yee!” (Spicy Thai Chili Sauce, Ice Cream, Chocolate).

James, April 22/11: Again decorating an Easter Egg with craypn resist, “I shouldn’t have gone in the Hot Tub!” ( The colour of the egg?  Well, let’s just say that they don’t call it potty humour for nothing!)

Garnet: Describing some thing’s size, “It was a boat as big as Jesus!”

Samuel, April 9/11: I hear, “No!  No!”, said very sternly from the other room.  It was Samuel looking into the mirrored closet door, telling himself under no circumstances to enter.  hehe

Faith, May 23/11: “I don’t know why, but it makes the family feel really small when one person’s away.”  {This one makes my heart sing!}


Just a Moment

For just a moment,

all seemed calm,


and I breathed deeply,

in thankfulness.


We are getting so close!

One more ring left on the paper chain in our dining room.  2 more empty days waiting for Cars stickers on our Samuel’s calendar in Beijing.  Everybody’s doin’ the countdown. 

Bags appear to be packed, but I’m sure some more shuffling is inevitable tomorrow.  Last minute errands and a final tutoring session for one of the kids. 

Housesitter has come for her pre-trip visit and gone again.

Final e-mails are coming in from China.  “Why are you only staying for “x” number of days?  Please come visit my home!”, they say. 

Lots of questions from the kids.  Lots of “Don’t forget to pack such and such!”, from the adults. 

Absolutely tickled over this post on the New Day blog tonight.  I love the absolute trust and innocence.  Oh Lord, Jesus, that all people would be so gentle as that young lady!

Overflowing with thankfulness for our church family’s support and prayer.  Unmerited outpouring of support from the virtual adoption world.  A surprise gift from a beloved great-grandma, not to mention a box of cookies, devoured by my children (okay, and me!). 

Reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  How is it that what He spoke to her a few years ago, is exactly what I need to hear today?

(Oh and btw, it comes in a hard copy too.)

Pondering the question: How did I get to be so blessed to be living this life, in this moment?  And oh, am I thankful He picked me!



Travel Plans… almost

Got you, didn’t I? 

Nope.  We’re still plugging away.  We have narrowed our plans down to three different options and are now pricing them out.  My head hurts.

We also have a houseful of teenage young men this weekend.  They are really great guys and I love having them here.  No really, I do!  But it has just hit me this evening just how blessed and amazing it is to be the Mom of an almost 15 year old and an almost 3 year old, all at the same time.  There is just nothing like having the giggles of the little guys in combo with the deepening voice of my almost man-child. 

So, while I am overwhelmed with the details tonight, I  just wanted to pause for a minute and be thankful. 

I am truly blessed.

And deeply grateful.