Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's TIME...

It really really is time! We are all packed and ready to go get our daughter. How surreal it all feels. I am truly at peace with the trip as I really feel that God has everything under control. I know He always has it under control, but today of all days, I really felt His presence taking care of everything. All day long I kept replaying in my head this verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11

It is so fitting and so true and so perfect for our journey. If you notice the last 3 digits of the verse...yep 911 once again has appeared so strong and true for Shelby!

Here are the final pics of all of our luggage. I have no idea how you people can go carry on only?!



Oh and of course my little trick or treaters as well. They are very excited!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bottles, Diapers, and Meds-Oh MY!

Well we are about halfway done. As you can see we are in full stage packing mode! As you can see Lori really gets into this packing stuff. She and CJ really had it going on squooshin' those little bags down. Now all I have left to do is our carry-ons. I will take care of those tomorrow after my final Wal-m@rt run. I will of course post some final pics of all of luggage once completed tomorrow. Only 2 more sleeps until we leave (that is how I have been counting it down for the boys). Tomorrow will be busy busy busy wrapping up all the final plans. I have to get the house ready for my nephew as well since he has volunteered to house-sit for us when we are gone. Can't have a teenager in the house without junk food around ;)

I went to Travis' school today and read the Waiting for May book to his class. They didn't have a lot of questions, but they were very good for the story and I think they kind of understand about Travis leaving soon. Travis actually has a little girl in his class that was adopted from China about a year ago. She is 4 now and cute as a button. Her mom joined me for the story as well since I wasn't sure if I would need reinforcements on answering some of the questions. Fortunately, no one had any tough questions and they were pretty much simple 4 year old questions. I am sure the questions will be much harder as Shelby enters school. Hopefully I will be more prepared to answer them all by then!

Oh, and I took my first @mbien tonight to see if I have a reaction or anything weird before I strike off to China and need to use it. I guess if I can get at least a couple hours of consecutive sleep, then that will be an improvement over the last few nights :)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Church Event

We had a busy day today to keep us going and pass the day quickly. It started with attending our church for all 3 services today. Since this was our last Sunday before we leave, we thought it appropriate to do a little adoption promo for the entire church. To see the video we played at church today click here. Needless to say there were a few teary eyes for sure today. We also made up little business cards today to share the blog and give people a name and face and phone number in case they had any questions about China adoptions. As I always say, share your story- and that is what we want to continue to do. You never know whose life you might touch or change by just sharing your story. So since I may have a few new blog viewers, here is a letter that I posted a long time ago to give a brief introduction to our daughter and our journey. To read our letter to friends and family click here. If you ever have any questions, please just ask. You can even click the comment button on each post and post a comment even if you are not a blogger member. All you do is click anonymous and then you can type a comment and just sign your comment with your name. We will be able to read all comments even while we are in China. So please post away as it will be great to hear from the states while we are away :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Intervention!

That's right, I was in desperate need of an intervention-PACKING Intervention that is. Fortunately Kim and Michael came to the rescue. It was a pretty tough job for them, but they managed to keep on with the "no, you don't need that" to over half my stuff! They wouldn't even let me pack any of Shelby's frilly little dresses. They kept going back to that comfortable and practical stuff I was supposed to pack-go figure ;) Look at what they managed to do...

I started with this:








and wound up with just this:








As you can see, they really strong armed me here and won! This is all of Shelby's clothes in one little space bag. Pretty impressive I think.
Oh and guess what the best cure for packing stress is...



That's right-Sheridan! After a little bit of toddler giggles, baby squeezes, and stealing some sweet kisses, I remembered what all this was about!! A big fat thanks to this perfect little family for your kindness and friendship and of course gadgets :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chinese practice

Time to start practicing our Chinese! Here are a couple of words in English then Chinese (spelled phonetically):

Hello - Nee How
Goodbye - Zie Jen
Good Morning - Zow
Please - Cheeng
Thank You - Shay Shay
You're Welcome - Buke A Chee
Not Good - Boo How
Excuse Me - Dwee Boo Chee

Last Day at Work for a while

Can you believe it- today is my last day at work for a whole month! Crazy that the time has finally come to only focus on our trip and get everything ready to go. Everyone knows I love my job, but I don't think I am going to miss it too much ;) I have been working feverishly to get all of my duties assigned to others while I am away. Hopefully things here at work will go smoothly while I am away. I am sure my desk will be full when I return. However that will be OK as I am sure the busier I am then, the less I will think about leaving Shelby at daycare. So needless to say today will be crammed full of things here at work in preparation of my departure!

I was able to set up my big shopping spree in China. Since everyone knows what a big shopper I am (NOT-my sister got that gene), I have been blessed with a personal shopper to accompany me in China. Her name is Ann at RedThreadChina in Guangzhou. She knows which shops to go to and of course she speaks Chinese, which is a definite benefit, and she knows what is a good deal and what is not. In China the price of something is not neatly posted on a nice smiley face price tag like we expect here. In China you have to negotiate a price for purchasing items. Now I can negotiate with the best of them; however, that is only when I know how much something is truly worth. Since I am going to be shopping for things in China that I would not normally be shopping for-like pearls-then I need some help knowing how much something is worth to begin with. It will be great to have Ann as reassurance that I am getting a good deal, since I LOVE a good deal. So hopefully November 12 will be my big shopping spree in China!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Final Itinerary

I received our final day by day itinerary from Hope yesterday. I will list it below. I was very happy that there were no surprises on it and of course even happier that there were no surprises in the fees! We were given the hotels and the suites we requested- so perfect! I get to go to Caleb's school today to read a book about adoption to his class. I chose the book Waiting for May. It is a great book that talks about a little boy waiting to go get his sister from China. This will be my first "public" talk about adoption and answering questions about Shelby from people (kids) who don't really know what politically correct means. This is going to be a great opportunity to educate the kids and I hope that might spread to the parents a little bit. I am going to use this chance to help me be better prepared for some of the ignorant comments I expect to get once Shelby is home. I will read the same book to Travis' class on Monday. I don't expect the 4 year old questions to be quite as intrusive as the 8 year old class though :) Here is our final day by day agenda and of course Shelby ready and waiting for us!


Oct 31- Leave Atlanta at 12:30PM (go thru Detroit and Tokyo)

Nov 1- Arrive in Beijing at 9:30PMNov 4- Fly to Nanning from 2PM-6PM

Nov 2-Great Wall and Peking Duck Dinner

Nov 3-Sightseeing and Acrobatic Show at 6:30PM

Nov 4(Sun) – Your guide in Nanning, Belinda, will pick you up at the Airport in the evening and escort you to the Wharton Hotel. Relax and rest at the hotel

Nov 5(Mon) – You will pick up your daughter in the morning and do some paperwork.

Nov 6(Tue): Complete Adoption Registration and Notarization process. You will also take your family picture and apply for your daughter’s Chinese passport.

Nov 7(Wed): City tour and sightseeing at the Mountain Park.

Nov 8(Thur): You will visit Yongning Orphanage and try to meet foster family

Nov 9(Fri): Sightseeing at the zoo/park. You will pick up your daughter’s passport in the afternoon.

Nov 10(Sat): Depart Nanning at 6:10pm and land in Guangzhou at 7:25pm. Jophy will pick you up at the Guangzhou airport and check in at Victory Hotel

Nov 11(Sun): Complete USCIS paperwork with Jophy, then she will take you sightseeing.

Nov 12(Mon): Your daughter’s physical exam; more shopping.

Nov 13(Tue): Consulate Appointment at 11:30am (Jophy takes your INS paperwork in for you).
Nov 14(Wed): You will go to the Consulate for your Oath Swearing Ceremony.

Nov 15(Thu): Sightseeing at the Baiyun Mountain.

Nov 16(Fri): You will leave to go home. Arrive in ATL at 5:36PM on Flight NW 469

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This time next week...

Yep, this time next week we will be on our way to the airport-woohoo! Fortunately, we won't be broke as the bank did come through with the money yesterday. Actually they produced the money twice at 2 different branches. Too bad they didn't offer me buy one get one free deals :( It was not all new, but at least it is "nearly new" which our agency said is fine. Hoping to get our final itinerary later today so I will be sure to post the details tomorrow when I get them.

I stole this post from Darcy and she stole it from a4everfamily.org. It is a great article to let yourself walk in Shelby's shoes for a moment. Our little girl is about to be changed forever. I am so glad that we are her final "spouse" and stop in her journey...

Immense Loss; Walk a Mile in Baby’s Booties:
Imagine for a moment… You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life (Shelby's birth mom). He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face. But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man (the orphanage nannies- then to Shelby's foster family). You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved? You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay. But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him? Weeks pass.

You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone. You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy (Shelby's foster mom)tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact. Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy.

He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it. More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried. The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you. You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. (Orphanage Director)

The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before. (Finally she meets us-CJ and Donna)

You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation. Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black. You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep. People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness. (Thanksgiving Celebration/Christmas Celebrations)

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house (Shelby's forever family) is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along. Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait. --
Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp, analogy courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You think you prepare

Well today I am finally supposed to get my "new" money from my Walkalloverya Bank! I ordered this money from my bank over one MONTH ago and they are just now ready to produce it for me. And I had to throw a fit on Friday to even get it today. So just a note to all of you planning your trip to be sure to talk to your bank about the money way in advance. I hope you don't have as much trouble as I have had. Hopefully my visit with them today will turn out well.

I did a little bit more of shopping this morning. I remembered to get some bribing materials for Shelby (aka SUCKERS) for Gotcha Day! Also picked up a few things for the boys to have on the plane. Amazing how many times I go in the stores these days for just a few things and wind up with a whole bag full. I am really going to need Kim and Michael to strong arm me into not taking the whole house to China. They have volunteered to help me with my packing on Saturday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh what fun it is to ride...

on this incredible journey! We had a great time on Saturday celebrating Shelby's arrival. A big fat thank you to my sister for hosting and for everyone who came or brought a dish or simply has wished us well on this journey to Shelby. Shelby racked up on some great things and best of all was that we collected almost $300 to send to Grace-Hope!! I know this contribution to their organization is going to change lives. So thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has supported us!

As you can tell from the pics we were really bored at the shower ;) Even though Sheridan appears to be really bored, he was just having a small meltdown since my sister's dog ate one of his crackers. This boy loves his food!! I just couldn't resist snapping a true 2 year old shot of him! Lots of the other big smiles came at the end of the shower when the conversation somehow changed from adoption and babies to waxing and Velcro-weird I know! Great time had by all :) Oh and here is a little shot of Lily doing her dancing for us...
video

Well we are getting closer and closer to the big day. What a great feeling to finally be able to answer that ultimate question of "When are you going?" with a big fat NEXT WEEK :) Yes, we are going to China next week. How cool is that! We were able to visit with Ally and Frannie yesterday and it is great to get those little visuals of what we are about to have added to our family. You can sneak over to Lucy's blog for some pics. I am looking forward to seeing all the girls play together very soon.

I did manage to finish up getting all the "gifts" that you are supposed to take to China. I went with little tool kit thingys and lipstick for each gift. I also finally found some red envelopes for a few of the cash gifts as well. I decided to buy Shelby's foster mom a locket. I am going to put a couple pictures of Shelby in the locket and give this to her along with the regular gift bag. As everyone said there is no way I will ever be able to thank them enough. The CCAA does not want to corrupt their system by allowing people to give large monetary donations directly to foster families. I don't blame them for that as that is something that would be too hard to control once ever allowed. I just feel strange handing this woman $10 for loving my child for 2 years, weird :( However, I thought the locket would be something they would allow me to give since it is truly from my heart to hers.


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Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Friday!

We have a fun weekend planned that of course includes Shelby's Shower! I am so looking forward to seeing everyone and having fun celebrating my little girl coming home soon. My sister has been working hard on pulling everything together. Oh and it was brought to my attention that mapquest sees her address as Vally Mill Ct, instead of Valley. So just FYI if you looked up directions. I plan to take lots of pictures tomorrow to post so Shelby will one day be able to see just how much fun we all had anticipating her arrival home :)

We also get to go see Frannie again on Sunday for her baptism! All of the digit moms will be there and I always enjoy getting together with them to talk about the babies and China. So needless to say I am excited about this fun weekend we have ahead.
Caleb is feeling better today. He came down with a terrible case of strep throat yesterday. I suppose it is better now than later as we need to all be healthy by the time we get on the first plane. He will finish up his antibiotic in 10 days which is just in time :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Remembering the important stuff

Over the last couple of weeks, my focus has some what shifted from Shelby to the trip to China. I really want to stay focused on the reasons we are going to China and this brave little girl who is about to have her whole life changed. I stumbled across this letter from from Amy Eldridge (of Love Without Boundaries) that I think every adoptive parent should read. It is truly what I am trying to do as to prepare for the worst, and at the same time, continue to hope for the best!

I most definitely wish there was a way to educate ALL adoptive parents about the truths of institutional care, however I have come to realize in my daily work that just as many parents are not online reading everything they can find on adoption as are reading.There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents out there who have no idea what life is like for a child in an orphanage, and who head overseas to pick up their "China doll" only to be handed a baby who is unresponsive, thin, unable to eat...and on and on and on.
While adopting my son last month, I walked several times over to the White Swan (Hotel where parents stay in China) to talk to parents, and over and over I spoke with moms and dads who had no clue whatsoever about the issues their kids were having. I heard so many times things like, "she won't eat solid foods" (oral aversion), "she has no muscle tone" (muscle atrophy from lying in a crib all day), "she won't smile" (pure grieving from being taken from her foster mom). I guess since I live China 24/7, I assume everyone adopting does, too, which is not the case.

I was trying to process how many parents get all the way to China without ever reading about post-institutional issues. It was sobering to me. Babies in the NSN (non-special needs) as well as the SN (special needs) path can have issues with attachment, motor skills, emotional issues and more. Again, I am often surprised to talk to parents leaving soon and to realize they are not prepared. One family was adopting from our foster care program, and when I told them that the child was DEEPLY attached to the mom,the father said, "guess she might cry for an hour or so then?" An hour or so? She had been in foster care for over a year! I tried to explain that this little girl was about ready to lose everything she had ever known, and that they should not expect her to be sunny, happy, and full of personality after an hour. I told them to please remember the 72 hour rule.......that after 72 hours they would probably see her spark, but that she would probably grieve for a long time after that as well.

I think for many adoptive parents, they just don't want to read the "bad stuff", and so I do think that ultimately it is the parents who are at fault for not doing more to educate themselves. There certainly are books galore out there about post-institutional issues. I think adoption from China is very similar togiving birth.. it is much more rosy to only read the happy stories on APC (another website for adoptive parents), but I now encourage every family I meet to read the harder ones as well.

It is always a very sad day for the orphanage and everyone involved when a child that they know is absolutely fine, but perhaps thin and grieving, is returned by their new parents for being "delayed".I think far too many people believe their child's life is going to begin the moment they meet them. The truth is, and everyone must realize it...a child's life is going on RIGHT NOW in China, and all of their experiences are shaping who they are. The one thing I have learned over and over again about the kids in China is that they are fighters and survivors. But for some reason, people seem to want to ignore these issues in public forums.Recently, one of our medical babies that we had met several times in person was adopted, and we all knew that this child was a "spitfire". When the family arrived and spent a few days with her, they decided she was too much of a handful for them and they wanted to disrupt. She absolutely was not what they expected.

I think all of us, who do realize that delays occur and that babies can usually overcome them, should be these children's advocates by continually trying to educate new parents on what to expect in China. By helping them be better prepared, we just might help stop a disruption in the future. I love Chinese adoption with my whole heart, and it is my life's work…but I also want every family who goes to get their baby to go with their eyes open and to be as emotionally prepared as possible, for the child's sake.
Amy E"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oh the little things...

Ok, now is when this non-traveled person starts to worry about the little things. First thing I have been thinking about is tipping in China. We are going to have a tour guide/driver pick us up everyday in Beijing and take us to the hotel, sight seeing, etc. So how much do you tip them everyday?? Then once we get to our province we will have the agency's guide the whole time and I would assume a driver there as well. Do you tip the driver daily? Do you wait and tip your guide at the very end of the entire trip? How much should you tip? I have at least figured out that you don't tip inside the restaurants (one less thing to worry about). So I am looking for some advice in all this tipping chaos in my head.

Next little thing I am concerned about is the whole gift giving thing. I know everyone says not to stress over this and thank you to Kim for her list of ideas. BUT, do you really just hand the foster family who has opened their home and their HEARTS and given your child her whole life for the last 2 years -only 10 bucks?!? That doesn't sound right to me?? I am cool with the other gifts I am supposed to bring as that is not a big deal since those people don't really care what I bring them. I am just torn about the whole foster family gift. Anyone out there who would care to help me out in these "little things" would be certainly appreciated. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hotels, hotels, hotels

All of our hotels are booked and just waiting for us to arrive. 2 and a half weeks is a long time to live out of suitcases and sleep in strange places. I thought I would share the some pics of our soon to be sleeping quarters. As you can tell, we are really going to be roughing it ;)

First stop is in Beijing at the QianMen Jianguo Hotel. We will arrive here on 11/1 and check out on 11/4:

Second stop is at the Guangxi Wharton International Hotel. We will arrive on 11/4 and check out on 11/10:

Finally our last hotel home is going to be Guangdong Victory Hotel. We will arrive on 11/10 and check out on 11/16!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Still 15 days to go

I have heard from a few people now about how fast October is flying by. Well, I guess I should feel the same way-but I don't. As you can see from the cartoon, I am one of the impatients! We still have 15 days to go before we board the first plane. I suppose it will eventually be time to go, but it sure seems to be taking forever. I am looking forward to the baby shower this weekend though. I hope everyone can make it over to my sister's house for a fun afternoon of food and fellowship. I am very lucky to have so many people around us who share our excitement of Shelby coming home. I will try to focus on that fun event to get me through the week.

We did have a great weekend at the lake just fishing and hanging out with my aunt. Trust me as it was a great alternative to hanging out with the Boy Scouts in the woods! Here are a few shots of our weekend. I tried out my new camcorder I bought this weekend and took these pics on the still shot function on it. It was pretty convenient to do; however, when you take a picture it takes it a long time to save so you can't take another pic right after. I will have to get used to it, but it is nice to have both functionalities in one little gadget. I will keep playing with it so I can perfect my shots before Gotcha Day!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tickets-Check!

That's right we have officially booked our flights to China, WOOHOO! It certainly was not an easy task, but I did it. I was truly amazed at the wide range of quotes I received from all the different travel agencies. I suppose a lot of people aren't as frugal as I am with their money and they just choose an agency and hope its the best price available. Well I am here to tell you that I was quoted a lot of different numbers that ranged in price difference as much as $3K! So for those of you out there looking or one day to be looking make note of these 2 folks: Mandy Hu at Asia Travel and also David at Tam Travel. These 2 were by far the best deals out there. I chose Mandy because she has been so helpful from the beginning and she was the first one to give me the best price. We are going to be flying with Northwest Airlines and Air China. So here is what our flights look like:

Oct 31- Leave Atlanta at 12:30PM (go thru Detroit and Tokyo)
Nov 1- Arrive in Beijing at 9:30PM
Nov 4- Fly to Nanning from 2PM-6PM
Nov 10-Fly to Guangzhou
Nov 16-Leave Guangzhou at 8:30AM, Arrive Atlanta 5:30PM!

So everything is coming together wonderfully. Turns out that our Gotcha Day is going to be on Monday, November 5!! I was a little disappointed that I have to wait one extra day to finally meet Shelby; however, I am glad that we will now get a full 2 days to spend in Beijing sight seeing. I think this is all for the best as we will now have all day Sunday to simply get from one province to the next and not be rushed. So now I am on to planning my Beijing portion of the trip. I am only really interested in doing the Great Wall, Peking Duck Dinner, and the Acrobatic Show. These are the 3 things that I don't want to miss, so I am now getting quotes for all "private tours" just for these items. I am not a big fan of big tour groups and buses especially not with my kids. I don't want my 4 year old to have to hold it for an hour just because it would be an inconvenience to the "group". So I am willing to pay a little more for the convenience of a private guide. I will let you know what I come up with.

PS- Turns out that I am so smart that I bribed my 7 year old out of the big Boy Scout Camping trip that we were supposed to attend this weekend. Once I found out that is was going to be in the 40s in the mountains and I was supposed to sleep in a tent, I knew I had to do something! So yes, I bribed him with nothing less than his weakness-FISHING. I promised him a fishing trip instead to south Georgia in a nice cottage by the lake with heat ;) So we are going to be spending our last "vacation" without Shelby with my aunt in south Georgia on the lake. And yes, I know I am spoiled :) Sorry, but I just could not make the switch from this:

to this:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to spell stress...

C-H-I-N-A!! Ok I know that people plan trips out of the country all the time, everyday, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well this GA country girl doesn't! My mind is going about 800 mph all the time about all the things I need to do, when I need to do, how I need to do, and what NOT to do. So what does all this seem to lead to...That's right-eating. Yes, I know that I should have this all under control considering that I have been "on program" and at goal for almost 2 years. Yes 2 years, so why now am I all of a sudden having a problem?? Of course my blame factor is simply going to be = China. Never mind the fact that I eat all the chips at Mexican now, indulge in the chocolate cake at parties all of a sudden, and of course forget to go to meetings regularly. I am sure none of that has any bearing on my weight gain, so it must be China! Now for those of you who haven't known me during my larger days, then here is just a little recap of what can happen to me if I don't put full focus on my eating habits:
Yes, I know not pretty. And actually this is not a bad before picture considering that I was at one time even bigger than this. It just happens this is the only one I could find on my computer quickly. So needless to say, I am frustrated with my recent weight gain. I know that I need to get it back under control quickly. With everything going on about the adoption and traveling, I have not been focusing on what I need to be doing for me to be a healthy mom to Shelby. So if you see me with a cookie in my hand, please kindly give me that look-yep, you know the one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

3 weeks left to go

In exactly 3 weeks from now, I will be headed to the airport courtesy of Papa and Grandma. We are getting closer and closer to our girl! I had the privilege of visiting with all of the girls yesterday including the 2 newest members of our luncheon crew. I am still just so amazed at how tiny and petite they are. Ally and Frannie are both about the size of a typically US size 12 month old. So it is going to be really interesting to see exactly how big Shelby is going to be. It is hard to comprehend in my head what size she is going to be. She looks bigger than Frannie and Ally in her pictures; however, I don't guess you really know until you see her in person. It is great to have real life examples of how my life is going to look in less than a month. I can't wait!!


We talked about the trip and what to do and what to see and what to take. I think my biggest tip of the day was to go ahead and take my stroller. This has been a dilemma for me as to whether or not I could get the stroller on the plane or if it was worth the hassle to take. Since Travis is still just 4, I think the stroller is really going to come in handy at the airports and in general getting from one place to the other. So my final answer is now a yes that I am going to take it. Ok so now I can just stress over which one to take...sit-n-stand or just a single?? Oh the little things us moms can stress ourselves out with! So of course I will be happy to hear BTDT moms opinions as to which one to take. The single of course if quite handy and easy to pop open and store closed and such, but the sit-n-stand is able to accommodate 2 kids- one standing and one in a traditional seat (pic for your viewing pleasure). Now the sit-n-stand is not so convenient in terms of popping open and closing and storing. However, it is very nice once open and functioning. So what do think? Which one should we take?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Digit Dining Club

Ok, I know the name is cheesy, but I had to think up something to call my big luncheon date. Today number 6, 7, 8, and 9 are all meeting for lunch, YEAH! The numbers are referring to our babies who were on the last Hope for Children waiting child list. So now all of our digits have names- Danielle (who we are desperately hoping gets a blog soon), Shelby, Frannie, and Ally. Here is a picture of Frannie and Ally together in the US. I am really looking forward to adding Shelby to the picture, and then 2 weeks later Danielle will join the crew. We are soon to have all the digits together for a spectacular Digit Dining Club experience. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone today for lunch. Only us China moms can appreciate (0r maybe tolerate) a whole lunch discussing paperwork and poop ;)


In the Atlanta Journal recently was an article about a family who is with our agency who recently traveled to get their son from China. The Burkes actually were travel mates with little Ally. Click here to see the great article about their adoption. They also have a slide show of pics if you click here. I have actually had about 5 people ask me if I saw the article. These are people who I believe would have never noticed such an article- until now. It is amazing to see how many lives can be touched just by sharing your story with others. So as I have always said before...please share your story with everyone! You never know whose heart you may touch or even simply brush up against that may have a life changing effect on them.

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Photos of my Baby Girl!

Yep, just got some new photos of Shelby today! Needless to say I am thrilled to see her :) The photos came from the amazing Misty at China-Babies. I can't say enough wonderful things about her and her husband and the service they provide waiting families. Whenever someone tells me they have been matched with a child in China, I immediately refer them to China-Babies. These pics I received today were completely a surprise and unsolicited. Since the owners of China-Babies are also adoptive parents, they understand how hard it is to have your child on the other side of the world and not know if they are OK or not. Thanks to their services, I see that Shelby is more than Ok, she is BEAUTIFUL :)

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Real Life Celebrity

First Friday was great as usual. It definitely had a different tone to it being in the new building, but it was nice to be able to accommodate so many people. I really enjoyed seeing everyone and of course playing with all the kids. As I said before, this was my last one as a "Waiting Family". How nice it is going to be to finally have Shelby visiting with everyone at December's event. As the evening was winding down, I stopped to speak to a familiar face about Shelby. After talking with her for several minutes, just like I knew her, I said well I guess I will see you at 3rd Friday. I thought that is where I had seen her so many times, well she said she didn't attend 3rd Fridays. I was confused and said well I know I have seen you many times and heard you talk many times (she has a very distinct southern accent). She said well maybe you have seen the National Geographic video she was in. I was like OH my Goodness-it is you! I met Denise Hall and her 2 daughters in person. I have watched that video countless of times and felt like I knew her personally! She is in the video China's Lost Girls documentary. I was first introduced to this video by my friend Ellen. This video has been an awesome resource for me and my family and friends. I have passed around this video to everyone I know so that they can get an accurate picture of what we are doing. If you haven't watched the video, you are really missing out on a great one! Every adopting family should purchase a copy and share it especially with the people closest to you. It is only about 30 minutes but it FULL of information. So needless to say I was excited to have met this hometown celebrity in the flesh!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Big Event tonight

Join us for First Friday tonight if you are in the adopting world. We are sure to have a great evening at the new location. I am excited as this is my LAST First Friday without my daughter!! I can't wait until I get to finally attend with Shelby. Looking forward to a great evening spent with friends.

Only 25 days to go until we get on the plane. It is getting to be so real now. I seem to get little reminders all the time of how close it is getting. Even going to the $1 store this morning, all the Halloween stuff is out but so is the Christmas?! They act like Halloween is tomorrow so better get on with the next holiday. Well I personally can't wait until Halloween this year! And no my poor children won't have to miss out on trick-or-treating entirely. My great neighbors have all volunteered to let my children trick-or-treat a night early. So we will be the only kids out, but that is Ok as I am sure my boys will gather up plenty of candy to enjoy on the airplane the next day. Ok maybe they will enjoy it but I am sure we will "pay" for it ;) Either way we will definitely be getting on that plane come Halloween morn!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Time Ticking Away

Still in number crunching mode for travel arrangements. At this point, Northwest seems to be the best deal going right now. I am still getting more and more information. We may have to wind up staying an extra day in China to save a lot of money, but that still has yet to be decided. I will keep you all posted.

Also trying to get work prepared for my 6 weeks absence. I am just trying to train enough to "get by" without me. I am sure to have a mound of work waiting for me when I return. At this point, I am planning on returning part time in December and then returning full time in January. Shelby is going to be fortunate enough to have my mom around for this transition. My mom is actually finally going to RETIRE the day we leave for China! So she will have plenty of time on her hands to help with Shelby's transition to me working part time. Once I go back full time, Ms. Carol will take over Shelby's care. Ms. Carol has helped raise both boys their whole lives, so I am sure she will do fine with my new one :) Just a little reminder of what all this planning is for:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Who knew there were so many?!

Started on my journey to find the absolute best deal out there. So for those of you looking at travel and ALL the options out there here is a little glimpse into the world of adoption travel:
These are all of the agencies that I have sent requests to for a quote on our trip. So hopefully I will get good quality information from at least a few of them. If anyone has good, bad, or ugly comments about their experiences with these agencies I would love to hear about them. Please email me if you don't want to share in the comments.
Oh and from what I have seen so far, let's just say I think I see a lot more ramen noodles, pinto beans, and mac and cheese in our future ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Let the Games Begin

Now is when the travel fun begins! Here is a glimpse of my "hoped for" itinerary. The reason I say hoped for is because we have to get confirmation on our requested CA (Consulate Appointment) in Guangzhou. We won't know if we get the requested day of November 13th until next week since everyone is on holiday in China this week. However, I have faith that my agency will come through and get that day for us. So here is a peek at our trip to China:

10/31/07 Leave Atlanta
11/1/07 Arrive in Beijing
11/3/07 Fly from Beijing to Nanning
11/4/07 Gotcha Day! (Day we finally meet Shelby)
11/9/07 Fly from Nanning to Guangzhou
11/13/07 Consulate Appointment
11/15/07 Fly HOME

So now I am on the mission to find the absolute BEST deals available for our trip. Everyone knows how cheap (frugal) I am, so this is like the ultimate adventure in seeking out the good deals. If anyone has any tips in the area, I sure could use them!

Monday, October 1, 2007

TA TA TA TA

Guess who is definately going to China THIS month?!?!?! Oh yeah, we have our TA, TA, TA, TA-that would be Travel Approval for you non-adopters. So what does this mean?!! It means we are definately going to China on October 31! I will be busy making the final travel arrangements and of course packing. We can finally book the official tickets to Shelby! WOOHOO!!

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him." - I Samuel 1:27

Another package to Shelby

I wanted to send Shelby one last package before we get to finally meet her. So this time I used Ann at Red Thread China. I have heard nothing but wonderful comments about her services. She lived up to her preceding reputation and has been great. I would really recommend her services to anyone sending packages over as she is very affordable and dependable. She took the time to take a picture of the package sent over as well. And to top it off, she even called the orphanage and emailed me over recent measurements of Shelby. Now that is excellent service!!


I sent a small package that included a stuffed panda, some books, a translated letter, and another photo album of us. The letter asked the foster family to help Shelby with the transition in preparing her for us. I pray that they show her our pictures and really do their best at explaining this life changing event she is about to experience. Not sure how much a 2 year old will understand, but anything is better than nothing! My worst fear is that she will feel like she has been "kidnapped" and stolen from her family :( I hope that we can meet the foster family so that she will know that her foster mom approves of her going with us. I cannot imagine how tough that meeting will be emotionally, but I feel like it is something that would really benefit Shelby in the long run. So I guess we will just have to wait and see if this is possible. I recently picked up this fortune from my Chinese lunch. I believe someone was just trying to remind me of what I should be doing!