Monday, June 1, 2009

Others need our help

I hate to admit, that it's hard for me to remember to feel the pain and need of others. I am usually too busy complaining about bills, expenses, taxes, and pay cuts. Recently though, when I consider those things, I am stricken with a sick feeling. I have a close friend who has shown me over and over what real need is. I am adapting a blog post she recently made here, but feel free to go to her site directly and read her account. God has given her a precious and sensitive heart; I only hope one day that the Lord enlarges my heart as much as He has hers. Please carefully consider what the Lord requires of you.

Too often I hear heartbreaking stories and do nothing. I feel helpless, so I move on. Not this time. There are people DYING in Uganda right now. There are children whose bellies are hungry and aching. There are mothers who are too weak to stand and babies begging to be held. There are people trapping termites to be eaten as food and eating dung in helplessness. I can and WILL do something.

Children's HopeChest to FEED THE FORGOTTEN!!! Click HERE to give now! Please write "Feed The Forgotten" in the notes section.

For $0.14, they will feed someone a meal of posho and beans (posho is cornmeal used to give them a "full" feeling and the beans provide protein). Take that in for a moment. . .

$0.14 a meal
$2.86 for 20 days
$1 per FAMILY
$20 feeds a family for 20 days

How much did our family's Subway meal cost yesterday? How much is my cup of iced coffee at Starbucks? A better question is how much am I willing to give up so that others can eat?

Remember Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan? Remember how his neighbors walked right by him? They probably looked at him with pity. The probably thought "Oh poor guy. That breaks my heart.". But the fact is, they did NOTHING.
What will you do? These children are starving. Will you help or will you do nothing?

The money raised will feed precious people. Children's Hope Chest is currently targeting 3 - 4 villages to bring food relief to as soon as possible. These people are literally starving...and waiting for you to act. Will you help? Even with paypal fees (2-3%), $1 will feed 6 people! You CAN make a difference.

Spread the word, blog about it, facebook it, twitter it, ask your church or school or business to give, post the blog badge anything. I am asking you, on behalf of these people, not to forget this post and move on to your next. Stop, pray, act.
GIVE TO FEED THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN!!!!! Remember to type "Feed The Forgotten" in the notes section when you give.

To GET the blog badge, click on Brandi's post where she has given the html code and explains how to post it.

There is also a very moving story here, a real life news report, chronicling the desperate plight of this region.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Remembering Memorial Day

Price has recently taken an EXTREME liking to all things baseball. He was practicing in the backyard on Monday with his oldest brother, Adam. ADORABLE, if I do say so myself!!!

Calming Down

THIS is how Madeleine calms down and gets ready for bed.

I went running tonight after dinner and came home to find "the bigs" waiting for me to kiss them goodnight. I was thrilled, because I really don't like missing that time of night. Hello? The kiss off? Just kidding. Honestly. Anyway, this is what she wanted to show me when I went in to kiss her. That girl is FLEXIBLE...probably cause I was doing yoga (including backbends) until I was about 8 and a half months pregnant.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carmon Playing Peek A Boo

Tom worked from home yesterday so we could go get "the bigs" out of school and take them to see the shuttle launch in the afternoon. Carmon and I were playing on the floor and Tom caught this:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Surprise Picture of Carmon

I got this email the other day:

"Hi Abby,

Oh, what a coincidence!! today I read your blog and saw everything. and guess what??? I met your daughter March 24th when we visited the orphanage. She was given to you in the lobby by our son's nanny (I saw that in one of your films on your blog), and your daughter's nanny was in the babyroom when we visited Yugan SWI. I actually posted a picture of your daughter tugged in a basket a week ago, just check the pictures and you will find her, we also have a couple of seconds of footage of your daughter in the basket rocking happily :o)

Hanneke from Holland"

WHAT A SWEET TREAT! She saw our daughter not even a week before us. This is the picture she was talking about:

We are in the process of trying to figure out how to get the video. She wasn't able to email it and if she puts it on a DVD in Holland, it won't be readable here in the States b/c their format is different than ours.

In a subsequent email, she wrote this:

"In the very end of the film (appr.12 seconds before the end, you can hear our guide say: "Sunday, she will go" You can't see our guide on the film, but our she was pointing at your daughter when she said that, that's how I know she was adopted on the 29th (right?)"

Cool, huh?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carmon's Dedication

This is Tom, and there is more to the story about getting Abby and Carmon home, and I have video of their arrival and subsequent greeting by friends and family…but I am on Family Leave this week, and work of any kind – including video editing - seems to be escaping me.

While she was in China, Abby arranged for Carmon to be dedicated at our church (Westwood Church in Orlando) on Easter Sunday. Since Abby got home and into bed Friday morning around 2:30 AM, we spent her last waking hours Friday night getting the video and pictures together – we had picked the song long ago. As usual, our church did an outstanding job with the dedication video and the dedication itself, and I wanted to share it with anyone who wants to watch it. This is as close as I can get with the software I have, I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

They're on their way home!

Abby sent me this picture of my girls this evening, showing me what they are wearing so I will recognize them at the airport. Their plane leaves at 11:00 PM Wednesday night (EDT) and they arrive at 12:05 AM Friday. I can not WAIT to have them home!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

She's DEFINITELY a Chitty

There are so many ways that Carmon is already showing she's a Chitty:
  • She stopped taking a bottle already. Our other 3 also stopped drinking from bottles around 9 or 10 months and started drinking straight from a glass.
  • She is a GREAT sleeper, just like Madeleine and her mommy.
  • She's satisfied by simple things like Jack is. She is entertained by a single toy for about as long as Jack is entertained by an airplane simulation game on the computer.
  • A diaper wipe lasts a long time in her hands...as it does in Price's.
  • Her eyes are very happy, just like her daddy's.
  • And, like all the Chittys, she loves being outside.

She was made to be "one of us".

This is Tom, with one more video. While were driving back from the Yugan SWI, Carmon and I were playing with a wipe. (Remember what I said about Price and wipes - well, TWO of our kids love playing with them now!) and she started laughing. Abby got out the camera, and you get to see it!

Afternoon Ritual

Every afternoon, Carmon and I carry out a ritual. We go here:

And she does this:

Monday, April 6, 2009

More charming today than yesterday

This girl gets sunnier every day.

In case you're wondering, it's NOT chilly enough for the hat AND hoodie, but the "clothing police" hinted that I should add the hat. The temperature is probably around 65 or 70.

Sitting by the phone

Today is the day of our consulate appointment. From 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Bob will be incommunicado at the Consulate Office on our behalf and I have to wait by the phone for his call. Many of you know the specifics of our paperwork trouble. I don't claim to have the market cornered on issues, but these are MY issues and we need prayer. Please pray with us that all the idiosyncracies will be ironed out and that we will receive our visa without any complications. That's the only thing we're waiting on. After that is issued, it goes into her Chinese passport and we are sworn in Wednesday afternoon for our flight home Thursday. It feels so close now, but I also still have 2 more whole days here which feels like a long time, too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blessing our daughter

Today, Xi Xi (pronounced shee-shee) took me to a temple where people come to bless their children. Don't worry, I didn't let any Buddhist monks pray a blessing over her. I did that myself. We are so thankful that the Lord allowed Carmon to join our family. I offered up this incense as an offering of praise for our sweet daughter.

The sun is shining

Carmon has come out of her shell. It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but she's smiling...BIG! She's a real ray of sunshine now.

Notes from the home front

Hello, all - this is Tom. Price and I made it safely home, and I finally have gotten around to putting together a couple of videos that I would like to post. Also, I have some pictures from my time over in China that I wanted to post, along with my comments about them. I just finished emailing with Abby around 1:00 PM, which is 1:00 AM Monday her time. So, I want to get this posted before she wakes up and updates the blog herself.

Here we go!

This first picture shows Price asleep in the seat of the van we were riding in. In his right hand? A wipe! He will often ask for a wipe as a plaything while we're changing him. It's nice having kids who appreciate the simple things in life...

This next picture shows our Nanchang guide, Mary, explaining paperwork to Abby. Mary was very sweet, and very helpful the whole time we were in Nanchang.

This third photograph is of Price and Carmon on our bed in Nanchang. Price was being sweet to her, laying on her, patting her, and she started to smile at him, so out came the camera!

This next picture is of Price sitting in front of a lion statue (female, in case you're wondering - check the baby lion under her paw) at the Pavilion we toured. Price would all but shout "LION!" when he saw one in China...and there are plenty to see!

This picture is of a vehicle of some kind that we saw on the way to Yugan to tour the orphanage. The variety of vehicles on the road was stunning - only cars, buses and mopeds/bicycles looked familiar. We saw vehicles carrying everything; beds, rebar, sticks, people, bricks, huge bundles of something. I think the loading rule is, if the vehicle isn't overloaded, put more on!

This photo is of two young girls at the orphanage, who were enchanted with us, and Price in particular. One of them, the older one, is 11, and just showed up at the orphanage one day. The story on her was that her father beat her because 'he was crazy in the head' (the orphanage director's words) and they couldn't locate her mother. Yet, she was so happy - she laughed and smiled the whole time - and now she lives in the orphanage and helps out. Abby and I both thought there is so much need - just at this orphanage - and it is a shame we couldn't take a few more kids home with us...

This picture is of Carmon's nanny with Abby. We had a request for a still picture of the nanny, as some of the video was not viewable by some folks. Anyway, it was so sweet and touching to see how much this lady cared for Carmon. She replaced the original nanny in Dec, 2008, do she'd only had Carmon in her care for about 4 months - yet she still cried when we left with Carmon.

Now, for the first video. I had been taking video in small sections, so that we'd be able to upload it. The blog uploader limits you to 100MB in a single video, and some of the sections I took were too big. Now that I am home with the video editing software, I combined the video and created a format that makes the total upload smaller than 100MB. :) Now, I am sure that the above explanation is TMI for some, much the same as Abby's quest to get a razor and remove the stubble from her stubbly areas was for some. So, explanation over, here are the videos.

The first video is all the good footage from when we got Carmon in the hotel lobby. There are four sections to this video. The first is when we first see her and Abby is handed Carmon. Carmon doesn't appear to cry until after the nanny wipes her face / nose. Carmon doesn't really seem to enjoy having her face wiped with a cloth of any kind. Hopefully, that will get resolved. In the second section, Abby attempts to calm her with a bottle, but that doesn't work, so in the third section, the nanny hands Carmon a kleenex package. Carmon often likes to hold things, so it was no surprise that she took it. When that still doesn't calm Carmon, the nanny takes her - I guess she thought she'd be able to calm her. This is the section where I asked Abby why they took her away, and she said because "I couldn't calm her". In the last section, you can hear the associate director ordering (at least the tone suggests that to me!) the nanny to give Carmon back to Abby. Watch Abby's hands make a couple of small lunges for Carmon before she actually gets her back!

The last video is of our tour of the orphanage. There are seven sections to it. The first is a short view of the outside. My taping was interrupted when Abby asked me to go back to the van and get pictures she had brought to have identified. We got these pictures from Yugan visitors and we thought some of them might show Carmon, but we wanted the orphanage staff to confirm that. The second section is me walking into the orphanage, and shows the kitchen where they were cooking our lunch. The third portion is a quick look at the ladies room at the orphanage. I DID ask to use the men's room, but it was broken and the door chained, so I was directed to the ladies room. For those who don't know, they have 'squat potties' in some locations in China, and this was one of them. Being a guy, it didn't matter to me, though... :) Fourth, the ladies are looking at our pictures during lunch to see if Carmon is in some of them. She was in a couple, but not all of them. Then, the two girls who followed us around show up at the end of that section of video. Fifth is a view of the downstairs of the orphanage. Lots of floor space, but nothing in it! The sixth section is us walking down the upstairs hallway to Baby Room Two - where Carmon lived. Last, I panned around Carmon's old room, it is what the rooms typically look like. The bathroom / washroom is to the right of the desk as I pan around.


I'm sure you've experienced face-ache in your lifetime at least once; we all have. It happens when you are trying to get pictures taken and you stand there with a cheese-y smile pasted on your face for what feels like an infinite period of time. It also happens when you are an American on any kind of trip overseas. In my case, that means I am experiencing face-ache every time I step out of my hotel room. I am met by so many well-wishing and curious people that I walk around with a smile constantly pasted on my face. It would really tickle all the Chinese people if Carmon would do the same, but she still really only smiles for me, Tom, and Price.

That brings me to the real joy I experienced today. I wrote the other day about a 28 year old Christian Chinese girl I met named Judy. At the time, I was a bit skeptical if she was genuine or if she was just claiming to be a Christian because she thought that's what Americans want to hear. She invited me to join her this morning, so I went with her to Shamian Christ Church and had face-ache from real joy. Sitting in the Mandarin/English service was glorious. I hate that word, but there is no other word to describe how I felt. I was able to imagine a taste of what heaven will be like when ALL nations will raise their voices in worship! What a blessing!

Here are the three of us in the chapel. And, for the record, I think that's a smile on Carmon's face, too.

Wedding Photos

Remember when I told you about the brides all over Shamian Island taking wedding photos and how they wear pants under their dresses?

They are beautiful!

But, the jeans are hilarious!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What you're really interested in

It seems that the most requested thing is video of Carmon. So, as requested, here's the star of the show:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yesterday's exploration and today's visit to the Guandong Folk Arts Museum

Carmon and I had an awesome afternoon yesterday exploring. We crisscrossed the island for almost 4 hours and saw many interesting things WITHOUT MY CAMERA. We saw some uniformed military officials in a public courtyard practicing what appeared to be karate moves. While I was watching some primary school children in their school's private courtyard practice for a perfomance, I met a 28 year old Chinese woman named Judy who is a Christian. She came up to me to chat and asked me straightforwardly if I was a Christian. I teared up when she told me that she had been one for 4 years. Someone shopping in her store gave her a Bible to read. She said her first two years as a Christian were not so good, but now she goes to a Mandarin/English church at the White Swan hotel and stays afterwards for the Bible study. We saw about 10 brides and grooms in a park having their wedding photos taken. The brides all wear pants underneath their dresses because they sit on the dirty ground for pictures and then hike the dress way up when they walk around. They were really beautiful! I even took some time to sit at Starbucks to have a cup of coffee and share a muffin with my girl. It was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon.

Our guide wasn't meeting us until 11:00 this morning, so Carmon and I headed out for some more island exploration, just me and my girl. She always has this cheery expression :). Recognize that outfit, Jackie Sue?

Bob met us in the hotel lobby at 11:00 to take us to tour the Guandong Folk Arts Museum. The structure was amazing enough in itself.

The courtyard was also exquisite, very lush.

There was a hand painter there. All of his paintings are made just using his hand, no paintbrushes. He had paintings of the Great Wall, panda bears, mountain landscapes, and bamboo trees, to name a few. All of the pictures were done using the heel of his hand, his fingernails, and his fingertips after brushing them in the plate of ink by his side.

Turn your heads sideways

I'm not kidding; turn your head sideways. If my computer geek, ahem, I mean, my hot computer guy was here, he could show me how to turn this video the right way. The Help Desk must be sleeping :). So, in the meantime, you'll have to lay down to watch this. It's a short one though. These ladies are um...exercising? There's a park on Shamian Island, where my hotel is, that has exercise machines and playground equipment for adults and children to use. Our guide told us that only old people do formal exercise though because young people are too busy.

Tom and Price make it home

This will be a short update from Tom. Price and I left Nanchang around 10:00 Thursday morning local time, and got home and into bed at 2:00 AM Friday, for a total travel time of 28 hours. Price slept GREAT and was GREAT when he was awake. He gave one last performance for the Chinese in the Beijing airport, and (as usual) they loved him. Now that I am home, I will go through the pictures and post some in a blog.

Abby and I have emailed some today, and she and our daughter are doing fine. I am fairly confident she'll find time to blog some when her day starts in a couple of hours.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The gardens were BEAUTIFUL!

This is a single Bougainvillea tree. Amazing, right?

This is taken in the Orchid Garden in the greenhouse. Doesn't Carmon look comfortable?

In the background you can see the greenhouse mentioned above and a botanical clock on the hillside.

Consulate paperwork done

Bob came to our hotel this morning and we got all of our consulate paperwork completed and compiled. Man, there's alot of paperwork for this baby! Here's the funny (?) part. We probably can't take care of correcting Carmon's TA today even though the CCAA is open because...drum roll, please...all the CCAA employees were told to go outside today and plant trees. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? I really don't mean to be derogatory, but COME ON!! Sorry, just venting a little bit.

Anyway, my sweet girl slept through my meeting with Bob. He's going to meet me in the lobby at noon so that Carmon can finish her nap. Then, we're going to go on a tour of a botanical garden. It's sorta cloudy out, but rain may be in the forecast soon, so I wanted to go ahead and get this tour in.

I'll post some pictures of the garden later if I can. Now, I'm going to try to get a tiny nap before Carmon wakes up. I usually finally let myself get out of bed a little before 5 in the morning. It's all I can do to make myself stay in bed that long. I must look at my watch 30 times in the night...from 10-ish p.m. to 5-ish a.m. That's a lotta watching-looking!

We made it

Carmon and I made it safely to Guangzhou. She fell asleep right before I got on the plane and didn't wake up until we were almost at the hotel. I think she's sleeping to escape life right now. I don't blame her; this must be SO much for her little system to process.

Shee-Shee introduced me to Cassie at the airport who helped us check into the Guandong Victory hotel. Our room is VERY nice...too chic for my thrifty self! Last night I went out for dinner, and, when I got back, they had remade my bed, set out slippers for me beside the bed, put on soft lighting, refolded the toilet paper and tissues into a "V", and replenished the tea bag that I had used. But I'm jumping ahead myself in the days events.

This is Carmon with a BEAUTIFUL flowering tree outside the window of our hotel room. I could stare at that tree and the swallows that rest in it for a long time.

"Bob", my guide here, came to my room at 3:00 to take me to Carmon's medical appointment.
We were the only ones in the waiting room and, when we got there, all the lights were turned off. Tom and I have been impressed with a simple measure the Chinese take to preserve electricity. When you are in your hotel room, you have to leave your room key in a slot to have any power in your room. That way, when you leave your room and have to take your key out of the slot to take it with you, all power in the room is turned off since you won't be needing any. It was for this reason, I believe, that all the lights were turned off in the Adopted Child examination rooms as well. Here Carmon visited 4 different rooms. The first was a check of her ears and throat. Nothing the matter there. Then we moved on to weight and height. I didn't notice the height, but she weighed 8.88kg (19.56 pounds). In the third room, the doctor measured her head circumference and looked over her entire body. Another thing we noticed earlier on our trip is that there are SO many employees wherever we go. It was explained to us by our guide that this is because labor is SO cheap. It applied at the examination office as well. For those 3 "minimal" tasks, we went to a different room with a different doctor. Then, when we left each room, the light was turned off, and that doctor diappeared.

This is Carmon in the waiting room of the Adopted Child examination area. In the background is room number 3, with the lights off, as you can see. Do you remember reading Tom's post about how the supermarket in Nanchang played the Happy Birthday song in a loop the entire time of our visit? Well, the floor covering in here was like a kind of laminate, and the decoration on it said, you guessed it, "Happy Birthday"! Made me chuckle...and wish Tom was still here with me to see it.

The final room we went to was for her shots. She ended up only needing 2 shots and they gave her one in each leg. Wanna guess how much she liked that? She CAN NOT STAND even having her nose wiped, as you can tell from the video from Gotcha Day when she about did a "Poltergeist" to keep one of the nannies from wiping her nose. She LOVED getting shots. I had to squeeze her feet between my legs and hug her whole body to me. Then I had to switch her to the other side and do it all over again so they could reach the other leg...'cause it's SO hard to reach both legs while she's sitting on my lap, right? Oh well, as soon as I picked her up, she stopped crying. We had to wait 30 minutes after her shots were taken to make sure she didn't have an adverse reaction to the immunizations, but she fell asleep.

After our appointment, we took a quick walk around Shamian Island (where the Victory Hotel is located) so that Bob could show me some restaurants that Westerners tend to like and that have English picture menus. Nice!

Then, we headed back to the hotel to discuss ongoing paperwork issues. There still seems to be a problem with some of our paperwork. Apparently, there is a disrcepancy between the spelling of Carmon's name on the Travel Authorization issued by the CCAA (Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs) and the immigration paperwork for the U.S. So, today at 10:00, Bob and I will to try to straighten it out. It appears that we will need to request a new TA (Travel Authorization) from the CCAA. It doesn't seem like that's a HUGE deal, but just something that needs to be taken care of. I have also been told by Bob that our appointment with the U.S. Consular is not in jeopardy. So this appears to be strictly a formality.

After taking care of our paperwork, I am going to tour the city some with Bob. I'm not sure yet what that means, but I am happy to have a plan to not be in the hotel. I have a feeling that I will spend a lot of time discovering what is on Shamian Island on my own. I have to admit that I am feeling intimidated and lonely. I don't feel like I am in any sort of danger, so I feel free to be out and about, thankfully.

Please pray for me that I will be able to take advantage of this sweet time alone with Carmon. The first few days she looked at my face with the saddest expression. Just to think of it still tears me up. I have never seen that look on my children's faces. I've seen anger, and hurt, and hunger, and tiredness, but never sadness at the sight of my face. She deserves to be sad for what she has lost already, but I am so thankful that, already, she is smiling at the sight of me, talking to me, smiling at me, and laughing when I am silly. She is still quite congested and has a bit of a clear, runny nose, but the doctors yesterday didn't seem to be concerned. So you can also pray that she won't feel so crummy as she fights this bug.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Health Update

So, I said Carmon had a little chest congestion, but now it's worse. Her nose is running a little more; it's still clear, but she's been coughed a lot in the night.

And Price, he's in our bed...with a fever. He kept calling Tom's name out in the night. Well, he was actually calling "Daddy, not "Tom". :) Anyway, he would settle back down immediately after finding a pacifier. Then, one time we got up to check on him and he was on fire. We uncovered him for 20 minutes first to see if he would cool off, but he didn't. So we gave him some ibuprofen and put him in our bed. His fever came right down.

This morning at 8:00, our guide comes to take us all to the airport. I have a 10:00 flight to Guangzhou for the last leg of my trip, and Tom leaves at 11:00 to fly home to Florida with Price.

Tom, understandably, is worried about this BIG trip with a 2 year old who has a fever. Hopefully, it will make Price lethargic. I hate the thought of him being sick in any way, but we are praying there will be a bright side to whatever he has. Please pray for Price and Tom today. They arrive home in Orlando at 5 minutes after midnight in the night on Thursday (technically Friday morning).

Once I arrive in Guangzhou this afternoon, I have the first of two medical appointments for Carmon today. Over the next 2 days she has to get five immunizations as part of the requirements for a Hague Convention adoption. At home, if your kids are sick like she is, they won't give them an immunization. So I am concerned about either the toll immunizations will take on a sick baby or if they will do them on a sick baby here. We are in a bit of a time crunch, so I'm not sure if they have the liberty of waiting until she gets better. I am hoping, though, that they might be able to tell me what's causing her chest congestion.

And, for those of you who are wondering, I will still be blogging once Tom goes home. There is a computer in my room in Guanzhou so I'll do my best to keep up. Unfortunately, my Help Desk is going home, but I will try to limp along unassisted.

Buses and Kisses

Price apparently gets REALLY excited about buses. Oh, and he likes his new sister, too. Check out this sweet boy! We are watching out the window of our hotel from the 17th floor at night.

Going to Carmon's finding spot

Tom took this video as we were approaching the spot where Carmon was discovered on June 9th, the day after she as born. She was left outside the "gate" of an old orphanage. This building is no longer used as an orphanage, but there are some people still living in the building. The orphanage Carmon was raised in was opened in 2001.

Buying food from a street vendor

We have been strongly cautioned not to eat food from street vendors, but following rules has never been my strong suit. So, here I am purchasing some kind of dumpling. I bought one two days ago, and it was filled with mystery meat. This day, it was filled with cooked, sliced mushrooms.

Get our your tissues ladies

This video is sure to bring on the tears. This was taken of Carmon's caregiver. She was crying as soon as she saw Carmon. Carmon had a different nanny until December of 2008. Sometime during December, the first nanny left and the one you see in the video took over Carmon's care.

When I asked her if there was anything she could tell me about Carmon, she told me "She's smart.".

Special Treat from the Orphanage

Our visit to the orphanage was quite an experience. I will blog in more complete detail if I can later tonight, but I wanted to show you the gift we were given. Can you tell what this is?

The photos, that probably appear VERY tiny, were taken of Carmon the day she was found outside the orphanage gate. If you can see, she is wearing a blue jacket over a white shirt. When we went to the orphanage today, those clothes were given to us as a gift. What an unexpected surprise!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is for Jackie Sue

I think it's interesting what details are important to different people. So, I'm taking requests. :) My dear mentor, Jackie Sue, wanted to know the answer to a few questions. Feel free to leave your questions and I'll do my best to get to them.

Is she sick at all or is she feeling good? She has some chest congestion that doesn't sound nice at all, but her nose is running clear, she doesn't have a fever, and isn't batting at her ears.

Do the clothes you took fit? I took a combination of 6-12 months and 12-18 months clothes and she definitely fits the 12-18. I could easily put her in 18-24 months, but they would be baggy.

Is she bigger or smaller than you thought? I think she's a little bigger than I thought. She's definitely more perfect than I could have imagined though.

How is she eating? We haven't figured out her eating schedule quite yet. She doesn't like bottles very much though she, on two different occasions, has sucked down a small bottle. She eats congee (rice soup), likes mandarin oranges, banana bread, kinds likes watermelon, can't stand prunes (Who does like those, though?), likes crackers and bread and egg. Much to our dismay, we have not gotten the first poo out of her yet.

Does she prefer one of you over the other? She loves us both equally. She will miss her Daddy when he leaves tomorrow.

I have to go now. The US immigration decided that a form I got approved when we were at home is no longer filled out properly. I need to get a shower and get that paperwork done. We leave for our daughter's orphanage in less than an hour.

Price Kissing Carmon

The videos seem to be a real hit, so here's another. Price seems to be really sweet on Carmon, sometimes much to her dismay. He invades her personal space a bit, I think. You tell me.

Carmon playing in Mommy's lap

We just got home from a night walk down "The Walking Street" and were getting ready for bed. Enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Misc pictures and comments from Tom

Abby and Carmon are napping and Price is watching a Thomas DVD, so I am going to take a minute and post some pictures along with a short (for me, anyway) explanation of them.

This first picture was taken at Washington Dulles airport. Price was in the back pack, and we were riding their shuttle bus between terminals. I grabbed a hand rail and Price decided he needed to help me by grabbing one, too. You can imagine how much help a two year old gives...

This next picture was taken on the flight to Beijing. Price fell asleep stretched out across three seats, and we both thought this was a cute picture.

This next picture is Price walking with our guide Maggie in Beijing. He would talk to her, call her name, and generally loved being with her.

Next, we have a photo of Abby near the top of the Great Wall section we climbed. The parking lot is behind and below her.

This next photo is near the top of the Great Wall. It was an amazing sight, very pretty despite being very brown from lack of rain.

Here are Maggie and Abby at the Summer Palace, standing in front of a male lion statue. How can you tell if it is a male or female lion statue in China? The male lion has the world under his foot, a female has a baby lion under hers. Plus, Maggie told us that as you face out from the building the female is always on the right, since (wait for it....) the female is always right. :)

We have a 10:00 tour of the Pavillion today, and tomorrow we tour the orphanage where Carmon lived the first few months of her life. Thursday, we part ways and Price and I head home via Beijing and Dulles. Abby and Carmon head to Guangzhou and the appointments there that will make Carmon a US Citizen. They arrive back home a week after Price and I do.

We appreciate all the emails and the expressions of love and prayers. We're doing great considering all that is going on, and as long as I can get enough to eat and not get grumpy, we'll all be fine. There have been quite a few positive comments about the videos, and since we are going out among the locals today, I am fairly certain there will be more to post tonight.

Jack and Madeleine, we all four miss you. Price is already being a GREAT big brother to your new sister - he even offered to share one of his binkys with her! This morning, she started crying a little, and he kept saying to her "Its alright baby, don't cry".

Love to all.


Carmon playing in the mirror

Well, Abby woke up and asked me to post this video. Nothing else to say about it except she started seeing herself in the mirror.

One from Tom

This blog is being done by Tom, and as, you’ll see, Abby and I comment and write about different things. The kids slept great from about 9:00 PM Sunday night until Price started talking around 5:00 AM. Abby and I woke up, and she started working on the second effort at her post that took three tries (see the previous post). We decided to grab breakfast from the hotel before getting cleaned up for the day’s appointments. The hotel breakfast is included with the room price, plus the food is a) good and b) mostly recognizable as exactly what the label says it is. Although, I have to say, their idea of orange juice seems to be more juice that is orange in color as opposed to juice from an orange. We have discovered that a BIG breakfast in these nice hotels will save us money and give us enough food to get through until mid afternoon.

Our guide, Mary, picked us up at 9:00 for the three appointments we had today. The first was in a building that had a waiting area which contained another a dozen or so families who are also adopting. We had an ‘interview’ – four questions, a couple of signatures, we got a gift for adopting, and then we waited for our formal Adoption Certificate to be printed. Next, we got back in the van and drove to a very quick notarization appointment, and then last, we had her picture taken and we were done for the day. Mary took us to a grocery store to get some milk, water, and soft drinks. You just have to see this place to believe it - people every where, and so many workers in the store straightening displays, standing around to help, etc. It felt like there were often more workers than shoppers. I’ll have to go back to get the names and descriptions of some of the items for sale in this store to post. Some of the English names and descriptions are really amazing. Then, Mary brought us back to the hotel, made plans for tomorrow, and we were on our own.

We fed the kids some lunch and then put them down for naps. During this time, Abby actually got her post completed and posted while I watched a movie on her iPod. When we got the kids up, we went back to the grocery store, because Abby hadn’t gone in with Mary and me earlier, and because we needed a couple of more things. Then, we went to the ‘walking street’, which is blocked off at the ends and has stores, shops, and food stands/stalls up and down the whole length of it. While we were out, we ran into two other adopting couples: one in the grocery store, and one on the walking street. While we were talking to the couple on the walking street, a small crowd gathered around us, and, before we knew it, we were celebrities. Also, we had several older ladies, and a few men, come up and touch the kids hands or feet to check to see if we were keeping them warm enough. In one instance a lady came over, checked Carmon’s hand, and then went back to her friend and explained that she was fine and that Carmon also had a pair of tights on under her long pants!

At the very end of the walking street was a McDonald’s, and. after the hamburger (I use the term loosely) we had from room service the night before, I wanted to try to see if American Hamburgers had made it to the Far East yet. I went in and ordered from a picture menu and paid. When I came out, a small crowd had gathered around Abby, Price, and Carmon, and I could just barely see Abby’s blonde hair surrounded by many locals. I shot some video of this. As Abby and I were walking away (still being stalked by the clothing police, I might add), she told me that Price had started playing Peek-A-Boo with some of the people who were looking at him.

A few observations and comments, NONE of which are meant to be disrespectful of the Chinese: first, Diet Coke doesn’t exist in China. Coke Lite, yes, Coke Zero, yes, but you get a REALLY strange look when you ask for Diet anything. Second, driving on the roads is, at best, go where you want, in any lane you want, including the lane of traffic moving in the opposite direction’. It works great for them; it really does! As Abby and I were watching it from the sidewalks (or moped lanes as they are known here) or the van, it is absolutely amazing that we didn’t see many, many crashes. Bicycles, mopeds, cars, SMALL cars, walkers, trucks, buses, all go where they need to go, even if they cut off a police car or van while doing it! Third, the people are all very, very friendly, even if they don’t speak English. People everywhere we have been always smile at us, wave, want to see and talk to the kids; it’s like we’re part of their family. This also means, though, that there is the occasional look at us as if we’re the Black Sheep of the family for not dressing the kids warmly enough…

Well, the kids are in bed, Abby is snoozing and my head is drooping, so I am going to post this for now, along with some video for all you to see. All this video was shot with Abby’s new digital camera, because the digital video camera we brought over with us broke somehow. We discovered that about 15 minutes before going down to have a quick lunch before we received Carmon. The first video is when we first saw her, and Abby got to hold her. The second video is of the crowd surrounding Abby and the kids when I came out of McDonald’s this afternoon.

One last thing I thought of as I was getting out of bed to post this…our legs are KILLING us from the climb up the Great Wall Saturday! Every time we’ve had to get in or out of the van, go up steps, or squat down to pick up a kid or a kid thing, we’ve both laughed about the soreness and the way we are moving. It looks like we’re both in our 60’s!

Jack and Madeleine, you’re going to love Carmon! Mommy and Daddy miss you both so much, and I can’t wait to see you Friday. Everyone, please keep the prayers and email coming!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The most unabridged version I can manage

Third time’s the charm, right? This better work this time folks, because, if it doesn’t, you are OUT OF LUCK! I first typed this directly at the Blogger website. I was ALL DONE and highlighted all the text to make it larger and poof! ALL GONE!! Then, it did an autosave. Nice, huh? Didn’t do an autosave when I had everything typed; it waited until I was done deleting it first. So, I learned my lesson. I decided to type everything first in Microsoft Word and just cut and paste it into Blogger. Brilliant, huh? I know! I know! It took another hour to get everything typed and edited again. I saved it and thought we were good to go. Thing is, I got some funny error messages when I started the computer up and logged in. Apparently, I should have paid attention to them. It had created some sort of temporary profile that was erased when I later logged in properly. I found this really hot computer guy who was kind enough to give me the bad news. So, here I am, sitting in the dark, with 2 nappers and a hot computer guy next to me watching a movie on my ipod…in between bouts of snoring :). Don’t worry, I’m typing this in Word and saving it after every sentence, and have verified that I am properly logged in and saving this file to the correct file location. Whew!

So now, I’ll gladly take myself back to yesterday again…

Our Beijing guide, Maggie, met us in the lobby at 9:00 a.m. to take us to the airport for our 90 minute flight from Beijing (pronounced with a hard “j” actually, not with a “zh” sound) to Nanchang (short “a” first, then an “a” pronounced somewhere between an “ah” sound and a “u” sound). Maggie was able to convince the manager of our airline, China Southern, not to charge us a fee for our excess baggage by telling him we were adopting. She said, “They’re taking care of our babies”. Heartbreaker, right? Price fell asleep before take-off and didn’t wake up until we had already started our descent.

We arrived in Nanchang 30 minutes early, at 1:30 in the afternoon where, thankfully, our Nanchang guide, Mary, was already waiting for us. We collected our baggage and made our way to our van for the 20 minute ride to our hotel. It was at this time that Mary told us the orphanage would be bringing Carmon to the hotel around 3:30 or 4. We checked into the Gloria Grand Hotel and, as soon as we got to our room, I started nesting. I quickly unpacked the kids’ suitcases into drawers and started organizing things so our room would be uncluttered when they brought Carmon up. Tom wrapped some presents because we didn’t know when we would have to start passing them out. We finished that at 2:45 and decided to go to a cafĂ© downstairs to grab a bite to eat. We didn’t know when we would have an opportunity to eat again.

We got downstairs and I asked Tom to go back up to get our camera. I was worried they’d come early, and we wouldn’t have the means to document our first meeting with our newest daughter. As I waited downstairs, I noticed some babies in the lobby. There were 2 little girls, and I was devastated because I was afraid one was Carmon and I wasn’t recognizing her. Not to worry…those girls were carried up to meet their adoptive parents within a few minutes. Then there was another little baby who appeared to be a boy to me. He also seemed like he was with his father and was walking already, but our guide came into the lobby and was talking with them. I gave her “the eye” asking if that was Carmon. She smiled and gave me “they eye” back. I was mortified at the thought that it was Carmon and I’d called him a boy and not recognized my own daughter. Not to worry, again. There was apparently a miscommunication between my “eye” and Mary’s “eye”.

There was a lady in the lobby that Mary went to sit with. That lady had also been sitting with the previous 2 adopted girls, so I am assuming she is some sort of liaison between the “state” and the orphanage and the adoptive parents. I was sitting on the edge of my seat while trying to choke down bites from a club sandwich…that had egg on it. The liaison hopped up, and I could see an SUV in the reflection from some marble tiles through the window we were sitting by. I looked at Mary again, afraid to give her “the eye” for fear of another miscommunication. But she was also up on her feet moving toward the door. I got on my feet, too. She did give me “they eye” when some caretakers came through the door holding Carmon. I KNEW IT WAS CARMON!!! And, for the record, I had correctly picked her out of the orphanage pictures that I’d previously posted on my blog. I tentatively headed towards them, not sure if I was allowed to go over. Mary motioned me over and I went straight for Carmon and took her from the lady holding her. She already had a tear on her face when I got to her, but she shared a few more of those with me. An orphanage employee seemed to think I could use some help soothing her and took her back from me. I wanted to swat her hands away, but I thought that might not be a good idea. But it wasn’t long before the orphanage director told her to give Carmon back to me. I’m not going to let anyone take her away from me ever again!

Mary got some paperwork from the orphanage employees and said we were free to take Carmon up to our room. Mary came with us because we had to sign some papers and thumbprint our signatures. Carmon was already showing some periods of calm, but she also showed some real, pure anger, bowing her back and letting out a different sounding cry.

By 4:35 Mary had left our room and we had our little girl all to ourselves. I felt a little bewildered. She was still mostly crying, especially when she looked at my face or when Tom or Price tried to talk to her. We were kind of just looking at each other with a “Well, here we are” expression on our faces. I put Carmon in our Hip Hammock and just walked around bouncing her. Tom set up a Thomas DVD for Price to watch and basically just tried to keep him entertained.

I sat in a chair and, with Carmon still in the Hip Hammock, she fell asleep on my chest. What a treat! She’s MY girl!

Almost an hour later she woke up. She fussed a little bit when I gave her to Tom, but the fussing was short-lived. We tried to feed her a bottle, but she wasn’t interested. Tom and I ordered room service…an interesting beef burger, some very non-American “American cheesecake”, and a bottle of Nanchang beer. Tom was holding Carmon while he ate his dinner and she was very excited by his food, so he gave her a French fry. :) She didn’t care for that much but did very much enjoy the bun from his burger. We were all exhausted and were asleep by 8:30.

She cried out a few times during the night but didn’t even give me time to get to her bed to comfort her before she had quieted herself back down.

So, there you have it…the complete story of the day I had my last baby.

Both the babies asleep

After breakfast this morning, both babies came back and went to bed...at 8a.m. Wouldn't u love to go back to bed for a nap every day at 8? Obviously, we're all exhausted and adjusting.

The complete - VERY short version

Everyone - Abby has twice tried to post, but the computer lost the blog update both times! We're getting ready to go to our first paperwork appointment, and both kids are napping. Carmon calmed down after a couple of hours (maybe less) of our first meeting and slept through the night until about 5:30 when Price was talking to her. We had a good breakfast, and things are going VERY well, we are so pleased and thankful. Thanks for your prayers, thoughts and emails, keep them ALL coming!


Jack and Madeleine, here are pictures of your little sister

We were down grabbing a quick bite when in comes a group of ladies with Carmon. I am posting a couple of pictures, and when Abby feels like she can let go of Carmon, she'll post a real update. Tom

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Almost time...

Our plane arrived in Nanchang about 30 minutes early, but we were welcomed by our guide Mary. It's now 2:45 and we just settled into our hotel. We were told that we would get a call around 3:30 or 4:00 that our daughter was here and she will be brought directly to our hotel room. I'm nesting. In a flurry, Tom and I got the room cleared and organized so that we would have space for our expanding family. We'll be posting pictures soon!!! BTW, we just found out that our video camera is dead. Yippee!

The Great Wall of China and other adventures

We are EXHAUSTED but from a very rewarding day! After a really tasty buffet breakfast in our hotel, we met our guide, Maggie, at 8:30 in the lobby of our hotel. We headed first to The Jade Factory.

This is an example of agate jade. The workmanship was truly fantastic. We learned that jade comes in many colors, and that the majority of the statues are carved from one piece of jade. Even the one pictured above, that has rings hanging off the handles, is carved from one single piece of jade.

From The Jade Factory, we traveled to The Great Wall of China. Price made it all the way! Can you believe it? The real miracle is that Tom was able to backpack that baby all the way up and back down.

The monument in this picture displays a quote by Chairman Mao that says something similar to this: “You are not a real man until you have climbed to the top of the Great Wall of China.”. It was a real dream come true for me to be able to visit the Great Wall and enjoy the amazing views from the heights it took us to.

After leaving the Great Wall, we went to tour and have lunch on the second story of the CloisonnĂ© (pronounced cloy’-sun-nay) Factory. Again, we were in awe of the skill involved in carrying on this ancient art form. The first course served to us was oxtail soup. It actually sounds a lot more exotic than it tasted. It tasted like spicy, watered down tomato soup. I did eat something in it that I didn’t recognize, but I don’t think it was actually oxtail. It was more similar to the texture of water chestnuts.

After lunch, we traveled to the Summer Palace. The history of the largest imperial garden in China was fascinating to Tom and me, but I doubt you are interested in the details. One thing though…it is located on one square mile and is made up of 60% water from a manmade, 2-3 meter deep, HAND DUG lake. HAND DUG!!!

The garden was exquisite. I personally loved the Chinese magnolia trees that were in bloom. Price slept through the entire garden in the backpack on Tom’s back!

After touring the Summer Palace, we made a final stop at the Pearl Factory before

coming back to have dinner at a very authentic Chinese restaurant near the hotel. The meal was delicious. We started with an unnamed vegetable. Our guide is going to try to figure out the English name for it, but she doesn’t think we have this vegetable in the States. Then we had pork and green bean dumplings, a lamb dish that was garnished with a lot of cilantro, and fried rice. It was so delicious! Did I already say that? Price fell asleep on my lap at dinner, so we are hoping he will get a better night’s sleep tonight than last night.

Jack and Madeleine, we had lots of fun bragging about how special you guys are as our guide asked questions about you! She thinks your nicknames (Pumpkin and Sassy) are very interesting. Tomorrow afternoon we will get to meet your new sister. When you wake up in the morning on Sunday and check the computer, we will hopefully have a video and pictures for you. We love you two very much.