Mom’s Travel Journal
August 9, 2007
We began today like everyday for the past week. We went down for breakfast at the breakfast buffet. I still get amazed by all the many choices it has to offer. Of course, since I am not very adventurous, my breakfast has remained relatively the same for the past few days (I think I can do without French toast for a little while). It occurred to me this morning that Mandy is going to be so used to this type of breakfast that she isn’t going to know what to do when all she gets at home is Eggo waffles or cereal. Our house won’t be the same as this five star hotel either. She won’t have a housekeeping service (unless of course you count mom), and she won’t get to go out to eat 2 times a day. We can’t forget that she won’t have a beautiful swimming pool in her backyard either. What a shock it is going to be for her!
After breakfast, the girls got dressed
up, and we took a lot of pictures of them in their Chinese silk dresses. There
are so many great photo spots in this hotel. Our girls are so beautiful, and
they looked just gorgeous as I watched them model in their dresses for their
daddy. When we finished with the red couch pictures, we changed back into our
sundresses and went shopping. We stopped at
I asked Brad this morning why it is that the homesickness
subsides close to the end of the trip. I was feeling not so home sick today
(perhaps that is because we know that we leave tomorrow). I enjoyed getting out
and visiting the shops. We had a good morning with the girls, and I just felt a
bit sad that our trip to
I have to take a minute to thank all of you
who have followed our journey or should I say trip. The journey has only just
begun for our daughter. We have so appreciated all of your notes, emails, well
wishes, and most of all we have cherished your prayers. Please continue to pray
for our safe travels home tomorrow. Your support and prayers have helped to
make this trip one that we will treasure for a lifetime.
I have to thank my three handsome boys at home. They are such amazing young men. They have willingly sacrificed time with their mom and dad to allow us to come get their sisters (not once but twice). They make me so proud. They are so giving and loving, and they have opened their hearts to adding children to our family. The boys have welcomed Mandy by talking to her on the phone (even if they are unable to understand each other). They are so full of love and show an enthusiasm for sharing that goes much beyond what we could ever expect. They are truly my “super heroes”!
Check our blogs for home updates … we hope to keep everyone updated as soon as the jet lag and weariness ease up a bit.
We will see you in America real soon!!!
August 8, 2007
Well today was more of the same. The only thing that set this day
apart was that today was our Oath Taking Ceremony at the US Consulate. As we
were describing what would take place to another couple, I mentioned that it
was really kind of a let down after all we had been through already. I actually
was a little “matter of fact” about the whole thing that is until the ceremony
actually took place. There were about 70 families there in the room to take
this same oath as we were about to take. Each of us had to promise that all the
information was true and correct to the best of our knowledge, and then our
children are all ready to become citizens of the
After the consulate appointment, we went to eat dinner. We chose to eat in the River Garden Coffee Shop. We opted to order off the menu versus eating the buffet (which was largely a seafood buffet). We had some pretty good food; however, it was pretty pricey too. It is not something we could do everyday, but it was good for a change. For lunch we had eaten PB sandwiches in the room, and we were all starving by dinner time. So, it was a nice, it was filling, and it was a change from Lucy’s. The girls did very well and seemed to like at least some of the food they ate. We walked a little around the hotel enjoying the beautiful atmosphere. They have some beautiful pieces of furniture that I would like to have; however, it is just a little too expensive for my pocket book. We made a stop at the Swan Room (a children’s playroom). It was a bit of a disappointment because there weren’t many toys and definitely no toys for kids over the age of 2. After our short time there, Mia and I went to the room while Brad and Mandy went to get us some bottled water. We watched TV and played for a bit, and then it was off to bed.
It wasn’t a very exciting day, but it turned out alright. It really surprised me that the day went by as quickly as it did. We are one more day closer to seeing our boys.
August 7, 2007
Today started with our usual trip down to the breakfast buffet. Mandy takes delight in filling her plate to the brim. Brad has started to put a limit as she fills the plate but only eats a little. With limited communication, we are finally conveying that she can always go back for more if she wants it. So, this morning she did better at selecting and finished off her breakfast. Mia and she are still having a few fights. Mandy wants to care for her Mei-Mei, but Mia is three and has her own independent streak. When Mandy wants to brush her hair, hold her hand, tell her no, and feed her, Mia is always hollering NO, NO, NO.
After breakfast we took a walk down to the park and let the girls play on the playground. They had a good time and loved being with the other kids. Mom and Dad got to talk to the boys today! It was great to hear their voices! They are such awesome, understanding young men. They love having sisters and are such great brothers. They always ask about the girls and always want to say “hi” to Mandy and Mia when we call. We walked around the park and past a few shops. We were able to pick up Mandy’s chop (name stamp). It was time to return to the room to wait for our guide to call with news from the consulate appointment. She called at 12pm and said all went well. We went to Lucy’s (yes again). It is the only place we are able to get things that we all like to eat. Mandy doesn’t like pizza, nor does she like fried foods (so Mcdonald’s is out). Mom is not much on Chinese food. Mandy did try to eat a grilled cheese sandwich today. She took a big bite and then made this horrible faceJ! We made her finish the bite (as we had told her she wasn’t going to like it, and she kept saying “Yes, Yes, Yes”!), but she ate only the cucumbers, tomatoes, and extra broccoli we had ordered after that. Next time I guess we try something different.
Mia is taking a nap, and Mandy and Brad went to check out the electronics market and guitar shop. There is no telling what he will bring back (maybe I shouldn’t have let him go aloneJ). I am not sure what else we have planned for the evening. We may swim a little, and perhaps Mandy and I can take some time together to go shopping. She may reject that idea. She has been trying to get Ma Ma to GO, and Ba Ba, Mia and Mandy STAY! I am not sure what to make of that… Brad is so good about telling her that Ma Ma stays, and we all do things together. I know we will bond with time! She won’t have much choice when daddy has to return to work. I am just amazed at how well she has done in such a short amount of time.
Tomorrow is our “swearing in” ceremony
August 6, 2007
I want to wish a Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband of thirteen years! In some ways it seems as if it was just yesterday that we promised before God and a multitude of family and friends that we would love, honor, and cherish each other until death do us part. Little did we know then how our love would continue to grow, and little did we know then God would bless us with 5 beautiful children. It has been a great thirteen years filled with the many things life has to offer. We have weathered many storms from miscarriages, family deaths, and job losses to trips around the world to build our family. I am so blessed to be able to share it all with the love of my life and my very best friend.
Today was Mandy’s physical examination day. It was fun to sit back and watch her take it all in with gusto. She followed every direction that the doctors gave her, and she did it all with that gorgeous smile on her face. When Mia went through her exam, she started crying when the doctor touched her. We were uncertain what a seven year old might think of it all. She (once again) surprised us somewhat. I am not sure why I should be so surprised especially with the way that she approaches everything in life. I know the power of prayer. I have witnessed it so many times, and yet it continues to blow me away. I prayed (and I know many of you have been and still are praying for her) that she would have an adventurous spirit. That only begins to describe her. She takes everything by storm. She loves to learn new things, and she is not afraid to try anything new (at least once). Mandy has begun to discover the differences in foods (partly out of necessity). She may not like what she gets; however, she will try it all.
We have been having some testing and clashes of wills. She wants to do things her way (not much different from any 7 yr old). We are trying to balance setting boundaries with allowing for all the changes that have occurred in her life. Mandy is still having hard time bonding with me. She wants Ba Ba to do everything for her except that she will allow me to fix her hair. Ma Ma is a bit quicker to tell her no and to make her follow rules. She has Ba Ba under her princess spell. Over all she is doing much better than we could ever have expected, and we appreciate all the prayers. They are most certainly being felt.
After the physical exam, we went to
Brad took us down to the Train Station Restaurant. It was a fun place to celebrate our anniversary. We liked the spaghetti even if it was a bit different from home. Mandy tried the sauce, but she preferred just the noodles. I am still uncertain what this girl is going to eat at home. She seems to be rejecting most American style foods. I hope that since she will try things that she will come to like some of these foods as she adjust to them. We had fun visiting with the waiters and waitresses who wanted to practice their English. There was one waitress who came to our table, and she spoke English well; however, it was hard to tell it because she just kept giggling. We had to laugh with her. Our princesses were pretty worn out, so it was home and ready for bed. Mandy, Mia and I put together a puzzle. Once we had the puzzle complete, it was off to bed, and the girls were out as soon as their head hit the pillow. It didn’t take long for us to follow. All in all we had a fairly good day. We are counting down the days until we can get home to our boys. It is great to hear that they are having a good time and being well taken care of.
Thanks again for the continued
prayers, the good wishes, the emails and the notes. The prayers are definitely
being heard and felt. We love to hear from you all back home… it is helping us
get through these last days in
August 5, 2007
Today was a very relaxing day for us. We started the morning with
the breakfast buffet. The selections of food on the buffet are so plentiful
that I think you could have a different thing to eat every morning for a month.
Mandy’s eyes got as big as saucers as she saw all the food. The hotel buffet in
We spent the morning walking around Shamian Island. We visited with Michael (one of our favorite shop keepers here). He remembered us from a year ago. We had met his family last year and got to meet them again. His little boy is 2 years old and so adorable. He was talking to us in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. We (of course) had to make another trip to Lucy’s for lunch. I have a new favorite food there (grilled cheese sandwiches). I can see why you were so hooked on them last year, Ms. Tami. (Guess what else Ms. Tami, Mandy is now hooked on peanut butter M&M’s) While we were eating at Lucy’s, we saw several couples getting their wedding portraits done. Mandy’s eyes just lit up as she saw the beautiful girls in their beautiful dresses. She is definitely a princess at heart! A trip to Beatrice’s for bottled water and Gatoraide was in order. Then it was back to the room. Mia and I took a nap while Brad and Mandy went swimming. ** Nolan, it just doesn’t seem the same without you here. We are missing all our boys terribly. So, we are counting down the days with you. **
We had a nice afternoon, playing in
the room. The girls and I got a little mommy and me time. We played with play
dough (I am so grateful I brought it with me). We colored in our coloring
books. The girls helped me do a little of the “hand wash” laundry. They are
such big helpers, maybe a little too much. Mom, Dad, and Mia ate pizza, and
Mandy had some sort of noodles that daddy went out and got especially for her.
Our day was pretty boring, but it was a great day for bonding and resting.
Tomorrow, we go for Mandy’s physical examination. Tuesday will be the consulate
appointment, and Wednesday will be the swearing in ceremony. We have a tour
planned for the
Hopefully their will be some fun pictures tomorrow…
August 4, 2007
Well I approached this day with many mixed emotions. We were
preparing to leave
We started the day with our usual
breakfast buffet. After finishing his breakfast, Brad made a quick trip to
Wal-Mart for an extra suitcase. Mandy brought a few gifts from her foster
family, and they had given us a few gifts as well. So, we decided not to crowd
the suitcases (I am sure we will need the extra one upon leaving
We were packed and our guide arrived
in plenty of time to take us to the airport. It was hard saying goodbye to
Nolan, Garrett, and Nate…mommy misses you guys and your terrific hugs. Save some of the hugs for me! We are halfway through the trip. So not much longer now!
August 3, 2007
This was a day for some much needed rest and time for bonding with our daughters. We had a leisurely breakfast at the buffet. We ran into another adoptive mom with her three year old son. They joined us for breakfast, and we enjoyed each others company while the kiddos ate and played. We took a trip around the park. Mandy was the big sister to both the little boy and Mia. It was so cute to see her hold there hands, play with them and speaking with them (Mia looked a little perplexed). After our trip around the park, we were extremely hot. Mandy wanted Ba Ba to take her swimming. They made a quick trip to Walmart for floaties and rolls for our PB lunch. Mandy discovered that “yes,yes,yes” she likes PB very much. We finally got to go swimming for about an hour to hour and half. It was lots of fun and the girls had a blast, but we had to get out as we started to bake.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in
the hotel room resting and watching movies. We had dinner at the hotel
restaurant, and then it was back for baths and bed. The clean laundry arrived
just in time to pack up for our journey to
On a side note: Mandy has bonded so well with her daddy today. She has wanted Ba Ba to play and hug, and I stand amazed again! She hasn’t let me get too close except to be the care taker of her needs. As we were watching a movie she climbed in bed between Brad and I. She snuggled close to her daddy. It made his day! Mom and Mandy made a small step tonight as she let me wash her hair at bath time and after drying off mom was allowed to rub lotion on her arms and legs. All baby steps…but we are doing great. I so appreciate all the prayers, emails, and notes. We are so blessed.
I want to take a minute to thank our
tremendous guide here in
August 2, 2007
**I know, I know, there are people waiting to read my journal. I am having a hard time keeping up with a three year old and a seven year old needing momma’s attention. I can’t just lay the blame on them… I have been exhausted with all that this trip has entailed.**
Today was a very emotional day for all of us. We started the day with a good breakfast and rushed to meet our guide. We were going to take a tour around the city and see a bit of the area where Mandy has lived all her life. She started recognizing areas and talking excitedly with our guide and the driver. We just kept laughing at her as she was so excited to show us things, and we couldn’t understand a thing she was telling us (this is where mom and dad acted very excited and shook our head a lot). The guide took us to Mandy’s finding spot. Wow, this was a lot harder than I thought. For a moment we forgot that Mandy was seven. When we stopped and got out, Mandy asked our guide where we were and why we were stopping. Our guide explained to her what this place was and that we would have pictures for her later. This brought on a deluge of questions. She is just at that age to start wondering about her birth parents and why she was abandoned. Praise the Lord for our wonderful, wonderful, wonderful guide! She explained to Mandy that there were several reasons parents have that cause them to leave their babies. She told her that it didn’t matter and that she was loved by her adoptive parents and that she was a worthy part of society. She told her to work hard and be everything that she could be. Mandy seemed to accept this answer well. When she becomes more efficient in her English language skills, we will further that explanation and help her see her worth as a child of God. We hope to instill in her His love for her and teach her of the plan that He has for her life. I have spent the last three days on the brink of tears … it has just been so emotional. It is emotional anyway, but when you add the vocalized thoughts and feelings of an older child… it can just make a wreck of your heart.
Following the city tour, we went to
the Elephant Trunk hill. It is a beautiful rock that has the natural shape of
an elephant. The city of
The last few days that Mandy has been with us she has not had any grieving time. She has been so eager to please and do the right thing. She has expressed some frustration to the guide about not being able to understand us, but we haven’t seen much else. This afternoon (with all the pent up emotions) we had an incident with Mandy. Brad scolded her after she defiantly said (more like shouted) at me, “NO,NO, NO”. When daddy scolded her she fell apart. The tears started flowing and turned to sobs. I held her tightly (she was stiff as a board, but I held her tightly none the less). After holding her for a little time, she curled up under the comforter on the bed and sobbed her little heart out. We let her have this time alone. It seemed to help her immensely. She seemed more relaxed and able to play. She giggled and copy-cat everything we said. We had fun helping her explore new things and new English words. We enjoyed a room service lunch of noodle soup. She ate it with gusto. I was amazed at how well she can use the chopsticks. She worked them almost as if they were a pair of knitting needles.
Shortly thereafter we met our guide
for the trip to the train and then back to
August 1, 2007
** I am typing this a day late but wanted to share my thoughts of these incredible days**
Today we took the Li River tour.
It was yet another amazing experience. We enjoyed the boat ride and the
majestic scenery. It is almost indescribable with words. Tall towering
mountains with greenery growing right out of rocks filled much of the banks of
the river. We saw lots of bamboo growing and towering as big as trees. We saw
lots of water buffalo and fisherman on their boats. My favorite was passing the
many villages and waving to the people or watching them as they went about
their daily chores. We saw children swimming and playing together. As we went further along the tour, we saw
many of the famous picture spots and famous rock formations. Lunch was served
about half way to the stopping point. We played it safe with the food as Brad
and I were both feeling a little sickly. The ride was a bit long for the girls.
They are true princesses indeed and preferred to stay in the air conditioned
part of the boat. We would go outside from time to time, but they wouldn’t stay
for long. I am glad that I had brought sticker books in their backpacks. When
we disembarked, we went through a touristy area called
We rode back to town in a Taxi cab. It took about an hour and a half to drive back (the boat tour was over four hours). Mia has been doing well, but she was tired, hungry and a bit overwhelmed. She was a bit cranky on the ride back. Mandy was doing well, but appeared a bit sad all day. She was missing her foster mom. We were trying to be understanding. It gets a bit trying though when you are unable to comprehend what each other is saying. She has come to rely on our guide a lot. We are a little concerned about this from the attachment to us perspective. As we continued the ride back, we had a little incident that worried us a bit. She had asked our guide to play the game on her cell phone (Cindy had let her play it before on the boat). Cindy agreed and the next thing we know we hear her talking on the phone. She had called her foster mother. We were unsure how to react. We tried to explain it to Cindy as being too soon, and that Mandy needed to attach to us and not rely on her “Chinese” momma. I think our intentions might have been slightly misinterpreted. We want her to know of her foster parents love for her, and we certainly don’t mind her staying in touch at a later time; however, we want her to bond with us and trust us as her parents. We marked it down as yet another cultural difference and pray that we didn’t offend anyone by our reaction. Brad was most upset that she was sneaky about making the phone call. We are definitely seeing a few of the challenges with having an older child.
When we returned to the hotel, we
rested a bit, and the girls watched videos. Then Brad took Mandy swimming for a
while. Mia and I played Barbies, and then I took her
down later to swim too. When we returned to the room I started having the
dizzy, nauseous, overly tired feeling again. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Mia
fell asleep at 7:30 and I was asleep right behind her. Mandy and her Baba got
some more good bonding time again last night. He had to see to it that she got
ready for bed. I am ready to be done with this tiredness…tomorrow is another
big day, and we leave on the afternoon train to return to
July 31, 2007
** I am typing this a few days late but wanted to share my thoughts of these incredible days**
Today was adoption day. Mandy became “officially” ours! We went back to the civil affairs office this morning and answered a few questions. They congratulated us, and the orphanage director presented us with a gift for Mandy. It was all of her records and information from her preschool (Half the Sky Little sisters program). It is all in Chinese, so we will have to have to have it translated at some point. There are some of the cutest pictures of Mandy as a 3yr old. Her smile is just adorable. After the official ceremony (which was slightly more formal than what I remember Mia’s being), we went back to the hotel. Our guide took us down to a restaurant on the bottom floor of the hotel. She said it was where a lot of locals eat. We were grateful for her assistance as Mandy hadn’t liked much of the other foods we had offered her. As it turned out, we enjoyed the food very much ourselves. We were able to find noodles for Mia and some milder selections for momma (beef fried rice). Brad is much more adventurous and tried “spicy” chicken. It was so spicy that it looked like it was glowing. He loved it!
After lunch, Mandy, dad and Cindy (our
guide) made a trip to Walmart to pick up some things.
Mom and Mia packed and repacked our suitcases. Since we were leaving for our
side trip to
I had to fit enough stuff for all 4 of us and anything we might need into 1 suitcase. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought. I wasn’t sure what we might end up needing. Mandy and dad returned just in time to pick us up for our trip to the train station. When we realized that we had to take the luggage on the train with us, we were more than thankful that we had only 1 suitcase. Managing 2 little girls, backpacks (with entertainment for a 5 hour train ride) and luggage proved to be a little harder than we had imagined. We made it onto the train with only a few minutes to spare. I felt sorry for Mandy. We were so rushed that she hadn’t gotten to go to the bathroom. She needed to go badly, but had to wait until the train was underway. You could just sense her discomfort. She finally was able to go and made it just in time.
Now the incredible part of the train
ride was to begin. For a little while, all Brad and I could do was sit back and
take it all in. We were surrounded by the local people throughout this train
ride, and for a little while we could just sense what Mandy’s life will be like
entering a strange country, with strange sounds, smells and many things
different than she is used to. It didn’t
take long for us to feel entirely welcome. The Asian people were very curious
about us and about the girls. Our guide translated for us, and we were
welcomed. They were extremely complimentary and told us how nice we were for
adopting orphans from
All I can say about it all is that God has orchestrated this amazing plan for us this journey. How amazing is He!!!
We arrived safely at our hotel in
July 30, 2007
I am not sure how to journal about all the events of this day. There is so much to tell. It is a day that will forever be treasured in my heart. Today our daughter Wei Dan Na joined our family forever.
I must back track a little and
describe the magical day we had in
Mandy seems to be making the adjustment better than we could ever have expected. Throughout this whole process I felt that God was telling to Trust him on this one and let him have control. It is terrific to have that peace in your heart and to watch God work. You truly are blessed beyond measure. Mandy seemed to enjoy her first afternoon with us, and we only sensed a few times when the language barrier got in the way. She seemed a bit weary before bed but she made it through and fell asleep when I handed her the photo album given to her by her Foster mom and dad. She is sleeping peacefully now.
Garrett, and Nate… one of the first things Mandy asked was where were her Ge ge’ s (brothers). We explained
that you were at home, and then she wanted to know when we would go to
I could go on forever about this
glorious day, but I am tired and it is Brad’s turn to journal. Good night from
July 28-29, 2007
Somewhere around here I lost a day! We
spent the night in
We took our flight from
only describe the scenery with a “wow”. As we neared the
Mandy joins our family around 4pm
Well jet lag is setting in for the evening. Brad and Mia have already turned in and Mommy is not far behind. We have some free time in the morning and will get things prepared to go get Wei Dan Na (Mandy). Until tomorrow…
July 27, 2007
It is a very unsettling feeling to have your agent call on Thursday afternoon (the day before you are to travel halfway across the world to get your daughter) and to hear her say “Your flight has been canceled”. It fills your heart with a terror that only another adoptive parent can know; however, God is good and He gave us a sense of perfect peace. We have said from the start of this adoption that we put our trust in Him. Both times he has provided us with a travel agent that we consider to be our guardian angel. She was on top of it all and made sure that another flight was booked and that all adjoining flights were booked as well. So, as we prepared to leave on our flight, we were at peace that everything would go well.
of our flights were wonderful. We were feeling rather spoiled as the plane we
As you can see, we arrived safely in