Saturday, December 29, 2007

Promised Pictures




I planned on getting a bunch more online, but with the sun down and need for sleep, I want to keep to my promise to post pics. Details coming. Promise. We're a little distracted with ear infections right now. At first I was beginning to think she was allergic to airplanes b/c the first flight to Guangzhou was the time we discovered little LuZi had a fever. And I stayed home from a festival that Troy told me he knew was too loud for me. :) I'm going to bed, but posting a few before midnight to keep my promise.....so much more to tell. so much more. i feel like eating lunch. better go to sleep instead. xoxoamy

Friday, December 28, 2007

In the dark, anyone?

Okay... I fear no one will read this, now that we're home. We arrived tonight at 6:15. It was a hellacious trip. I'm not even kidding. The first two weeks were easy peasy and this past 28 hr travel from Guangzhou to Tokyo to Minneapolis to Nashville really put my humanity to the test. Actually, probably more accurately - my spirituality. :) This is a quick note to say that I was doing too much shopping and eating to blog, and if anyone wants to follow this at all, I promise to post pictures soon! Like, tomorrow! AND.... If you have happened upon this blog, you've wondered where I went. I was in the dark, too b/c I couldn't see any of our comments....Baby girl has a fever and is hot and sweaty. Pictures tomorrow. xoxoamy

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve Gift

Ha. Gotcha this year. Every year my family wakes up early, calls one another and says"Christmas Eve gift" which means you owe me one early. I never win. It's past noon here in China, so I've made the rounds and am one up on the fam. They insist that it's not Christmas Eve yet, but it is legit. Sooo....I haven't typed in a few days. We are here now at the White Swan, located on a beautiful river. I feel like we're at Opryland Hotel in China with the windows, waterfalls, shops, etc. We have our beds turned down each night and we're no longer sleeping family style. I may have mentioned that. The craziest thing is that there is a concierge on each floor, so you can't roam different levels. And before you need an elevator, she has it waiting for you. We got the infamous world-renown limited Barbie. She's blonde (go figure) holding a Chinese baby. I wish I looked like her. But instead, my lack of Pilates+rice-routine=Buddha belly. For dinner the first night Troy ate escargot and caviar while I fed the baby and shared a burger with Dodger - I already mentioned that it was $18. We went to a whole sale mall yesterday and Troy gifted me with a strand of pearls. Now I'm aching to go back for other things. They have 2 towers of shops with jewelry and clothing and pretty much anything you can imagine. We had a little bit of an incident last night, though. After our cab ride back and laundry pick-up, Li Li started tooting and making a red face. Then she cried like I have never heard before and stuck out her bottom lip. It was so sad. Come to find out (very quickly by the smell) that she needed to "make a poo poo" and was constipated. I'm glad we have been around this block before and I didn't wait to get help. We tried to put her on the potty the Chinese way by holding up her legs and grunting but it just didn't work. So we went to the clinic (is this too much info?) and the doctor (an older Chinese man with a big smile and white lab coat) and younger nurse gave her an enema and quickly fixed the problem.. We were so anxious to get her back in a diaper after the emptying process that the doctor stepped in the bed pan of poo while on his way back over to the bed. The one thing that really amazed me in the process was that our guide, Dennis is a single guy of 30 and he was more involved in the process than I was. What single guy do we know that would do this? We love him and are trying to tempt him into coming to the US and visiting...or settling down. Today we had to go to the WHO clinic for Li Li's medical evaluation. Seems like they would have done this BEFORE we adopted her? Like what are we going to do if she doesn't pass... stay here with her? It was a packed room and the last place I wanted to be on Christmas Eve but we now know she is 16.6 lbs and 72. 5 something long. Don't know what that means in inches, but I have a converter on the laptop. In about 30 minutes we are going to the zoo but I'm wanting to shop. The thing is, it's a sunny day and it rained yesterday, so the group doesn't want to take their chances on tomorrow. I just want to shop til I drop. Did I say that? The plan for Christmas is to eat Thai and ride on a river boat. Not sure if they are simultaneous events or separate. And I need to figure out how to get some Santa gifts and stash them before tomorrow morning. Dodger is with me every time we go out, so it's hard to be secretive. I'm about the blow my cover but he's only six. Have any advice? Gotta run. Li Li needs me. xoxoamy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Guangzhou aka Canton

We made it to our semi-final destination.  We're here in Guangzhou to get baby girl's visa and celebrate Christmas, then it's back to the states for we four!  The children are a bed, so I can have some uninterrupted thoughts.  Wait. Troy can't find the meds.  Okay. We're good.  We had a trial run flight today only of about an hour.  During that time I sat in apple juice, threatened my eldest to eat a sesame "digestive" cookie, then he sat in throw up.  The really bad part is it is all over my new friend's sweater, so if she reads this I have to confess.  I'm hoping to wash it myself and then have it laundered.  For a short flight, it was one of the hardest 1/2 days we've had.  At least the baby was happy.  No issues with her, except the formula was packed in the luggage and I think the bellboy got lost on the way to our room.  But we're settled and ready to take on the next six days.  Unfortunately we'll only be able to post words and pics because the video won't upload to blogger here.  We'll keep working on it.  We had a cute patty cake diddy to show, but oh well.  Another time.  Dodger and I split the best $18 hamburger and fries today - US dollars.  This hotel, the White Swan, is not cheap.  Apparently the shopping around us is, but you can't browse w/o being attacked by the merchants, and it's exhausting to watch a child, keep the other in a pouch and stay on guard.  We were so close to finding the Starbucks today for an afternoon treat, but went the wrong direction.  We did see photo shoots galore of not so glam models, so we are wondering if there is a modeling school or photography school nearby?  We sat and watched them pose for awhile.  Dodger thought one of them wasn't alive because she didn't move for 2 or 3 minutes.  Great news: We each have our own bed in this hotel, so there's no family bed sharing and hopefully all of us will get better sleep.  Since Li Li is now rolling in each direction it's just not safe to put her on a twin bed with me.  I gave her a bottle, rocked her and put her in the crib for the 2nd time.  Troy placed her in it for naptime today while Dodger and I had a moneyless date out on the town.  That's where we discovered the park with slides and semi-exercise equipment...the river walk, people - ones and twos doing tai chi, and all the merchants who wanted our business.  I was being super nice and talking to store owners a long time b/c I knew I didn't have a penny, but I may have done myself in for tomorrow...I just can't be rude.  But I also haven't been able to walk into a store yet because their persistence is pushing me away.  Jiangxi is the province where Li Li is from.   Her orphanage - no, it's not hers! What am I saying!  The town she came to us from is 3 1/2 hours from the capitol Nanchang (where we were) and...what is my point?  OH - they are known for their spicy food and their porcelain in that province so I bought her a present yesterday.  If it remains intact, it will be a gift for her when she is much much older and out of the careless, breakable age - like 20.  I also, surprisingly shed my first tears here in China.  We were boarding the bus for the airport which would take our girl further away from everything she has ever known, and it was very somber.  I want her to know that I care that we've turned her world upside down.  It was a bitter sweet step toward our future and her first plane ride.  I'll always remember the different colored flags that I saw when we stepped outside the airport in anticipation to be one step closer to her, and the same flags as I walked away from Nanchang, toward Guangzhou.  She didn't seem to mind.  Then all the stuff went spilling and spewing and somehow the moment left.  But it has been a day.  the plan is to go to bed, get up and take Li Li for a Visa photo then go to church in CHINA!!!! It is not illegal!  Is this news to anyone else but me?  OOOOHHHHHHH and why didn't I say this first?!?!?!? This is so serious...another news flash:  We stumbled into our hotel room, ravenous... I turned on the TV as we were settling in, and there was NEWS THAT ERIC VOLZ HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM PRISON IN NICARAGUA!!! THIS IS A MIRACLE, FOLKS!  If you are in the dark about him, HE'S ON THE COVER OF FOX NEWS and his mother is dear. Very dear.  Please continue to keep Maggie and her son, Eric in your prayers.  I was literally jumping up and down thanking Jesus.  I hope you will do the same! :)  OK. I'm going to bed.  Either that, or eating some more.  I guess I'll go to bed.  Please e-mail us.  We are missing friends and family!!!!! xooamy

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fishing in China



Yesterday our small group of 5 families went to the "countryside" to see and walk around a small Chinese village. The people were absolutely amazing. The village was about 20 buildings in a semi-circle around a 5-6 acre lake/pond. We got there just in time to see the men of the village harvesting the fish out of the pond with a net. They called it white fish (a delicacy) and the were all ~18 inches long. There were 8-10 men holding up a net walking it slowly into shore while 10-15 people at each end were helping them pull the net in. Dodger, Blaise (Dodger's little friend), and myself walked down to the shore and the villagers immediately started yelling (in chinese) for me to come help them so I jumped in and help pull the net in for a while. They thought that was the funniest thing ever! I gave the camera to Dodger to get some pictures but he only got my arm... :).

The biggest point of conversation in the village was my lack of "layers" and the fact that Li Li only had two sweaters on over her T-shirt. In the winter the Chinese put layer upon layer on themselves and their children. Our guide explained to them them I could wear short sleeves because my arms are so hairy. That got a huge cackle out of the entire group. One older lady (probably 70 years old) went as far as to walk up to Amy and start counting the layers that Li Li had on then stuck her tongue out at her. It was pretty funny....

The Village also grows mushrooms to sell in the local market. One picture below is of a mushroom house. - Troy








Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dang, Where's the Tang?

Sorry, folks. That sounds crude. But all I want is a sweet orange drink and I can't find our Tang powder. I woke up sweaty just now from an hour and a half long nap. Baby girl is still asleep. :) I was dreaming that I was in the middle of a movie - not watching it, part of the cast. It was a combo of Pirates of the Caribbean and Beauty and the Beast part 3. Hopefully there's not a part 3, because this was my own rendition. Glad to be awake. Still can't find the Tang. On another note, Dodger and Troy are on an outing with the group. Li Li and I stayed at the hotel for several reasons, not sure which one ranks the highest, but it was naptime, she has a mild fever and is teething, a little cough and the Chinese are so over the top (in my opinion) about all the layers babies need to wear to be protected from the elements. Yes, it is cold outside. But it makes me even more concerned to take a sweaty baby out in the frigid air than just a regularly clothed baby. We went to a Wal Mart yesterday, yes Angie a Wal Mart and all the baby clothes are stay puff outfits. Baby girl is waking up....or not. I'll go til I can't go anymore... Here's some things I'd like to compare about China and American ways - especially for future travelers. Leave the Yoplait at home - even the wonderful Stonyfield Farms yogurt is no match for Chinese Dannon. I keep stashing them in my pockets at breakfast to bring up to the room. Yes, you can bring Carnation Instant Breakfast powder over, b/c the milk is drinkable. But I left mine at home. Only once have we eaten Tuna that we brought and that was yesterday, so I don't really think it is necessary to bring food over here - except for the plane ride. We had to PURCHASE snacks on the first leg of our 8 hour flight. That was a bummer. The beds and pillows in the hotels are much better here than over there. But I can't imagine what a non-smoking hotel room is like b/c I smell like second-hand smoke just from being in our room. No wonder Li Li is coughing. If you are a smoker, no offense. I'm not making a judgment statement, I'm just not one and wish I didn't smell like one. OK. I'm sorry, but the Chinese food is way better over here. Are you surprised? And the memory of the shower pressure at our Raddison in Beijing is torturing me right now. It was unbelievable. I hope to find more Beijing Olympics trinkets in Guangzhou - our next destination, or we won't hear the end of it from Dodger. It was not smart of us to leave the big city w.o the Olympic mascot babies. He keeps saying he wants the green baby. I hope we see a green baby next week or could someone google it for me and order one on Ebay? I think the internet here is in Chinese. Blogger is - and it is BLOCKED so I can't read what I am typing. Am I really this illiterate? Yes. No proofreading folks. Oh well. OH MY GOODNESS. KFC is actually barfable here. No one has lost their lunch yet, but if I had to try to eat that stuff again, I would. Last night we went to a walking only district and I highly recommend it for future Nanchang families. We didn't buy anything, but I felt like I was in Europe. Julie is saying "That's because you've never been to Europe". Ok. I felt like I was in Japan then. Lots of cool fashion and stores. I want to go back but I don't think the prices are affordable. If I could, I'd throw out all the clothes i brought just to bring back some of those. THEY ARE THAT COOL and I am looking that much like I'm camping every day. At least I am glad I haven't cut my hair. Troy says "When are you going to cut your hair?" He likes it short. But Li Li likes to grab it and play with it and pull it out. So maybe she'll actually make my hair short. We saw some salons, and I wanted to go in, but how would I tell them that I want my hair just like my sister's? She has the best cut right now. I wish I had a photo of it! PAGE! E-MAIL A PHOTO OF YOUR HAIR TO ME AND I'LL TAKE IT TO THE SALON HERE!!!!! Li Li is still asleep! And here's somthing new...She kept trying to throw herself out of my arms so when I laid her down she rolled back and forth moaning until she fell asleep. It was much more like I imagined her doing if she slept in a crib. She is slowly getting more secure I guess. Two days ago she was on me, yesterday she had to touch me, now I'm at the computer and she's in the middle of the king sized bed. There is a lady cleaning our room and I know she feels strange that I am here. She came earlier and I told her to stay, but she came back with a note that said "May I clean your room now?" She almost left again, but i pointed her in...she is in the bathroom. I wonder if she has found the Tang? :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

SSSHHHhhhhh

I'm supposed to be sleeping, but how can I when there's an angel next to me? I keep staring at her. She has such distinct Chinese features. What do I know though, about Chinese beauty. I did find out from the Dr. that she saw yesterday for her diaper rash (that she doesn't have) that she is beautiful. That's what he said. I don't think he just throws comments out like that. The back of her head is flat (like mama's) and this morning our guide Cindy said that it is a sign of beauty - that there are certain pillows they lay babies on to flatten the backs of their heads. I feel proud. I wonder what the marks of beauty are here? Fair skin? Lots of hair? Her eyes are delicately shut. Her lips are pursed together, but not angrily. She has the most beautiful smile. I keep wondering...what pushes a mother to give up her child? Was it the worst day of her life? Or was she numb? Was she poor or overpowered by her family? In-laws? Parents? Husband? How did she carry this little one so far to then be able to leave her to chance? Does she believe there is a God? What caused her mother to keep her and not abort - to set her in a place of finding? Was she forced into the decision or chained to generations of rules and expectations? Was she in love? The worst day in one woman's life brought about the best in mine. And don't feel sad for Li Li. Pray for her mother. Pray that her mother one day loves the Father and sees her baby girl in heaven. Because this I know, this child is royalty. And I also know the mercy of the Divine One. A bruised reed He will not break - a smoldering wick He will not quench. Li Li was crafted by the Master craftsman and she is the apple of His eye. One look at her and you know who made her. Not my flesh, not my traits, but she was sent from heaven. She was kept for us in the palm of His hand until the day we came to get her and bring her home. I asked Li Li (because she loves to be held) "Did you cry for me like this for 9 months?" Because she can't bear to be away from me for a minute. What did she do those 9 months???? We are making up for lost time. I don't care where I am. There's no anticipation for the United States. I no longer care what day of the month it is. December 16 came and went. I think Christmas is next week. Now that I have her, she is no longer an orphan and we are at home. xoxoamy

I want to tell you about her...

It's 5:30 AM in China, and this is my first chance to document my heart and tell you about our new love. Li Li is so... amazing. There's not one word to describe her - but I can tell you a little bit about her. She sucks her tongue. Especially when she is tired. She is very curious about the things around her and she LOVES pulling Dodger's hair. Her cries are very lonely at bedtime - kind of a distant and unconsolable whine. But the best part of all for me is that I have gained her trust. My heart floods with butterflies when I think about the way she wants me to hold her - no, not even the way, but the amount of time that she wants with me. The moment I put her down she wants me...she looks for me....she wants my touch. So, really, I can't set her down. And I don't want to. And although my arms are so very sore, this is one of my first prayers answered. She loves to cuddle and she loves to sleep on me . So I would have to say, the hardest part on my bod is that I haven't had much of a break in the past 24 or so hours because even when she sleeps she wants to be on me. We have very quickly become a co-sleeping family. But what do you call it when the children hop in the bed, and kick out the daddy? :) I had one arm under Li Li last night with her head on my chest (she was snoring). Then Dodger was having bad dreams and said "mom, I want you. someone just shot me" (too many violent Chinese movies). So now they are all asleep and this really is my only thinking time. But I don't even care. How does God know how to give you MORE than you could ever ask for? The crazy thing is, every parent here (and there are 10 of us) feels the same way. I can't believe it has only been hours. It feels like a lifetime already, but maybe because we're back into the days of interrupted sleep. What else can I tell you about our girl? Oh - that wah wah means baby doll...bao bao is baby and to console her i say bocu bocu (like french, beaucoup) which means don't cry - or howla howla when she is getting a diaper change and you want to tell her "almost done". We are quickly learning Chinese. The pronunciation of her name sounds like "Lootsuh". And although I thought she would be chubby tubby baby doll, she is thin and LONG. She does have the most kissable cheeks ever and 4 teeth. THANK GOD I'm not breastfeeding. Her bite is solid. She loves to eat congee which is soggy rice and the bottle thing was a little stressful because she didn't like our western ways. Only when Troy made it scalding and thick would she attempt it. I ONLY THOUGHT BOYS PEED WITH THEIR DIAPER OFF. Enough about that, but we are definitely first time parents all over again. I am back tracking, but as of yesterday morning and all the signatures and photos, she is officially OURS. We met the Orphanage Director and thanked him for taking care of our daughter. He said that all of the nannies cried when they said goodbye, and that's why we do not get to see them...other women brought the babies to us from Yifeng, 3 1/2 hours away. I started to blog last night, but Dodger left with our guide to the grocery store and Pizza Hut. After an hour or so I started to get the mommy jitters as I thought about my precious first born outside with millions of Chinese and no one else to help if he got lost...but they came back - after a TAXI RIDE which I had no idea they would take. I don't even want to tell you what traffic is like here- or maybe I should so that you will be on your knees interceding on our behalf. NYC is like . . .I don't know... Driving in slow motion compared to here. You just have to smile at the car that is inches from you, and thank Jesus. A lot. Lots of honking and near misses. Selah. So...I can't believe I haven't talked to anyone yet! But my one goal has been to establish my mommyhood with Li Li and it's been successful thus far. There's a stirring in the covers. I better go see what's up. xoxoamy

Dodger took the below pics....



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Li Li (Yes, you read that right) GOTCHA

So we've decided that we were right the first time. We ARE going to call her Li Li. LuZi Jubilee Vest is in the building....she arrives about a minute thirty into the video below...

We left Beijing this morning and flew to Nanchang. Got to our hotel room around 3PM then went straight to the Adoption Center.... We are tired just hanging out in the hotel room. Dodger is bouncing off the walls and Li Li is eating cheerios for the first time...one after another.

BTW, blogs are blocked in China so we can't view our own postings but we have figured out how to post. Also, we can't read any comments that are being left so sorry if we don't reply.


INTRODUCING Li Li

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MORE Li Li...

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AND A FEW PICTURES....



The Great Wall



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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Today's Adventures

I don't know what post # this is, but I know tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY! We can't wait to meet our Jubilee! I am a zombie right now, so Troy's words would be more eloquent. But we promised Dodger some Chinese candy today, so they are out on a search.  My fingers are still frozen from the trek up the Great Wall (so is my brain) so if something is missspelled, forgive.  Dennis is our guide and Dodger calls him "Mr. Dentist".  It's actually quite funny and Dennis didn't skip a beat when Dodger wondered if Mr. Dentist would be climbing the GW with us and he said "Yes, but I won't want to check your teeth after that".  I personally had the best shower of my life today, the best buffet breakfast and the best Chinese food - ever.  It was a huge let down, however to get to the Great Wall and not want to climb it.  Dodger was skipping up ahead, Troy closely behind, and me...dizzy headed, short of breath and trying to rid myself of the many recommended layers for staying warm.  I checked my heart rate monitor watch and I think it lied.  I was sure to have a heart attack at any moment.  So...my first big expectation came and went.  I had dreams of climbing the wall, feeling exhilarated and refreshed by the exercise.  Instead, I stood by the hero sign (the spot that you actually become one by climbing that far) and I just laughed, while Troy and Dodger skipped up 100 more stairs...and back.  Everywhere we have gone today, people stare at Dodger and giggle or point.  One couple came over and asked for a picture WITH our celebrity son, and later at the Forbidden City, these sweet older women were taking turns getting his photo with them.  We loved our day and all we learned about Jubilee's homeland.  She's Li Li, by the way. Dodger always interjects that when people ask "So, what are you naming your baby?"  I learned something about dragons today and want to pass it along before I forget - I have a bad memory and can't tell a story to save my life...so hear goes.  And you know me, the details could be slightly off. I liked what I received through my personal filter, so again...here goes.  On our Forbidden City tour there was mention of the primitive Chinese - long before other civilizations.  Our guide was sure to tell us that of course they know dragons aren't real, while all the while it has been a part of their legacy that they are known for....He said that way back when different minorities and people groups fought against one another (he related it to the Native Americans) the stronger people group would conquer the other group's totem pole "mascot" - oh, did I mention the Chinese are EXTREMELY supersticious to put it mildly... so, my bad story telling side is surfacing...it was cool. I promise.  People groups had totem poles.  The more powerful group would overtake and steal the animal that represented the group they conquered, and they would build their own totem pole.  The stronger the group, the taller the pole.  It is believed that the dragon is the most powerful creature of all, because it is made up of each of the different animals (which represent the various regions/ethnic groups).  For instance, the nose is the snout of a pig, the skin is made of snake scales, there's the forehead of a bear, etc. including each of the regions and animals to be the most powerful being of all.  I thought it was cool. Is this even making sense?  I can tell I need to sign off.  We did get some great footage today and will post it soon.  Since I can't remember the Chinese word for goodbye right now, I'll just say adios. -Amy

Thursday, December 13, 2007

from Tokyo...

We've been on an airplane all day!!! 9 hours from Hawaii to Tokyo then a 4 hour layover before our next 4 hour flight to Beijing. Dodger has been the center of attention....the looks he gets from the folks over here are amazing...they stare at his amazing red hair... It's 1:38am nashville time and we are about toast. We are going to try to stay awake on this next flight so we can crash hard in the hotel room tonight. BTW, I'm reading The Shack by William P. Young. If you haven't already gotten it go get it now....half way through and I can't put it down.

Tomorrow is sight seeing in Beijing all day....Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc... and I'm sure they'll try to get us to buy some ridiculously expensive jade...

LuZi Jubilee in two more days.....

- Troy

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DAY TWO...

We spent our first morning trying to sleep in. Dodger woke up at 5am (HI time) but we were able to talk him into sleeping in until about 7. Dodger and I then walked Robin and Steve's youngest, Grace, to school while Amy started re-packing all of our luggage (for the 4th time). We then went to the beach to let Dodger get wet....Robin took us to the famous North Shore so that we could experience the sea turtles coming in to sun. We then stopped by Dole's tourist trap to eat some pineapple ice cream and apple bananas.

BTW, Hickam AFB is a really nice base and we can see Pearl Harbor from the home we are staying at. Last night we drove around the harbor and one of the big ships...and I mean BIG...was a Japanese destroyer. Facinating and surreal to see it in the Harbor...can you imagine what those sailors were thinking this first time they pulled in?

One more day until we leave for China to pick up our little one!!!

A FEW PICS FROM OUR DAY IN HAWAII

(name the artist for extra credit)


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(click the arrow above)

Day One

300+ pounds of luggage, 5 carry-ons, a 6 year old and 10+ hours in a plane. Tough? Well, honestly it was a pretty easy day. Our good friend Derek picked us up at the house at 6am and it seemed like no time before our our friend Robin picked us up at the airport in Hawaii. For those of you who don't know we were able to stop in Hawaii for a couple of days to stay w/ our good friends that are stationed at Hickam Air Force Base....see you tomorrow...



Friday, December 07, 2007

Luggin' Luggage


Our friends in Hawaii love us no matter how many suitcases we carry, but let's just say I'll post a photo soon of the THREE of us carrying SEVEN suitcases. Three of which will go to a foster home for wonderful special needs children in Beijing. Dodger wrote a letter to his classmates and gave them each a picture of Zi Zi so they could collect preemie diapers, hand sanitizer and cough meds that aren't available in China. We have a class photo and cards that read "I'm sorry you don't have a mom or dad" or "What is China like?" We stuffed a few Santa candies and Praise Baby videos in the mix. Hopefully the Hope Foster Home will have a warm, cozy Christmas! OH- Go over to the sidebar on the left, there is a link to Hope Foster Home and pictures of the children we will be sending goodies to!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dodger's Thoughts on Zi Zi

This is the first of the video blogs that we'll be posting as you walk with us through our journey. God has been good and allowed Amy and I to experience an amazing 6 year old named Dodger Busby Vest. His energy is overwhelming and he can't wait for his little sister...

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dodger is Thriving

Yes, I'm his mother. So if it bugs you that I brag, skip this post. I love that Dodger is a happy child. I remember my melancholy days too well, and he is just a gift. Yesterday he walked out of the school door grinning ear to ear and holding his chest. Then he pulled out his "take home" folder in which he wrote a note "mom i got a gold medal". He showed me the note, then the sticker on his chest. He told me that his teacher, Mrs. Litzner gave him this special award during writer's workshop because he has really come a long way from the beginning of school. He used to ask her during writing time "When can I be done? How many sentences?" But she told him yesterday that he really stretched it out. He wrote his first chapter book! Illustrated and all...It's about his favorite holiday: Halloween. Can't beat dress up and candy. :) He and I have been reading Magic Tree House books together and he loves chapter books now. He has recently "graduated" to chapter books in reading group and today was another fun after-school pick up experience. He was grinning and said: "Mom, I can't wait to do my homework today!" Then showed me the book. I was showing my excitement and he said "No, just kidding. I already did it today instead of having free time!" Will he always love school like this? No pressure, Mrs. Contich, but please keep giving him teachers that ROCK!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What's in a name?

I have one child that celebrates life by nature. My other one, I haven't met yet but we celebrate every time we think of her - and we're naming her JUBILEE! So...I was jazzed when tonight, waiting on my prescription for my infected scab/scar...yes, infection....I found nanny gifts for China - these are gifts of 8-10 small items that you bring when you meet your contacts and those who kept your baby, OUR baby! What am I saying?!?!? WHO KEPT OUR CHILD for so long!!! So, I'm at Target, accosting (is that spelled or used right?) a lady with a 3 year old Chinese daughter that is obviously adopted, and searched the $1.00 section for gifts. At first, I was thrilled with the boxed chocolates I found. Then I remembered they like chapstick and got Dodger some candy flavored to bribe him to keep his lips functional. I turned the corner and found a whole slew of JUBILEE POMAGRANITE (now I can't spell that either, and don't even care) lip gloss, etc. That's what the nannies are getting - plus some gloves because everyone needs gloves! And a fold-out JUBILEE brush and mirror. Woo Hoo!!!! I don't believe in coincidence right now... I had to share that with the pharmacist and the checker....Once you tell people what you're up to, they say "oh my brother did that" or "my neighbor's sister's nephew's mother just got back with a baby from China". It's cool.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

China Trip Needs

I'm not asking for handouts, and this is no shameless plea, I don't even know if my parents read our blog. :) But if you were thinking of buying us Christmas gifts (LOL) these are things you could send us instead!

Diapers (15-20 lb) baby weight, that is. :) It may be a size 3? That's what they're in the longest...month wise, not each. We don't let it fill up to 20 lbs before we change it in case you're reading this, dad.

Baby Wipes
Suction Bulb - for Troy :)
Baby Ambesol
Powdered Pedialyte from Walgreens.com
Bottles - the kind with the inserts so we can pre-pack formula and just add hot water.
Formula - any brand, since she eats Chinese formula. Good Start has a positive mental image.
Instant/one use hand warmers - we have heard there's only heat in the hotel! We're practicing now by keeping our house at a cozy 64.
Baby shampoo/soap/lotion
Warm Baby Blanket
(Don't need clothes - I covered that last week! ) ;)
Digital Camera - Just Kidding - I do need another card for our Nikon D70.
Money Belt
Ziplock bags - all sizes
Cash
Small Flashlight

Poi

I can't believe there's actually something called "POI" and it's a food! We were playing Zigity last night - now I'm not sure I even spelled that right, when Troy pulled a fast one on me and spelled the word that I disagreed existed: poi. Now I'm worried about my grammar. So, we're playing the Z game, Troy spells poi, and I throw a fit. Dodger goes "I know what it is!" and I was at him, "Yeah right, what is it?" He then unfolded the following definition: "It's food they eat in Hawaii made out of corn, and you can put hot sauce on it. Shaggy and Scooby really love it". I couldn't believe it. My whole (almost) family knows more words and ethnic foods than I do! I can't wait until there's another girl to back me. Then it will be 2 against two!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful

Beijing weather is not what I imagined. Unfortunately for me, I thought location-wise that Hong Kong and Beijing were reverse. No, I didn't actually. But I didn't know WHERE Beijing was on the map. It's NORTH and COLD. We'll need parkas for sure, then we get to go south. What kind of wall climbing will we want to do in such chilly climate? Anyone have advice? Atleast the bebe won't be going to Beijing.

December in Beijing ranges from 30ish F to 40ish F
Jianxi Province is 45-55ish
Guangzhou may be in the 60's!

Tell me I'm wrong...What is Christmas like in China? Does Santa come on the 24th or does he save himself a trip and leave presents at your casa? Who wants to be santa at my house this year???

This is not Zi Zi


No, we didn't just get back from China with a baby that looks Guatamalan. This is sweet Macy Bell! And I've decided not to put her down until I have another 15 pounder in my arms. Macy is the wonderful daughter of dear friends (who are also neighbors) Derek and Jennifer. Since she lives just down the road, I'm looking forward to many play dates. And Macy has a new brother, Parker, who is just over a week old, and came into the world at 9.4 (lbs, that is)! ! ! I just might get to hold Macy a bunch before our trip to the East.
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Friday, November 09, 2007

Zi Zi's room


This is the fabric I chose for Zi Zi's room. I don't sew much. I've attempted curtains with the help of friends, but my brain is not mathematical enough to enjoy this type of work. However, there is just nothing out there when you've painted your baby's room burnt orange. It thrilled me when Nancy Bailey gave me some fabric finding tips. What do you think? The brown fabric pattern actually has asian fans in it, so it was an easy choice. If I have left over material, I'll have to make a bag. Wanna come over and sew?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jesus and Dodger

How could this week get any better? Maybe just a tad more on the health meter, but as far as our family and our relationships - we are more than blessed. Dodger was in the bath last night - he's getting too old for a picture of that, but he called me in and said "Mom, I want to sing you a song I made up."..he continued... "If you make bad choices you will go to hell, but if you make good choices you will be good and go to heaven". I wanted to interject the part about us most of the time not making the right choice even when we try. Then the subject was changed to "Mom, I decided want to help people when I grow up." We talked about that awhile but I had to get us back to the topic at hand...salvation. He's prayed to God/Jesus and said a "sinner's prayer" but he's at an age where I think something clicked. When I explained about Jesus being in our lives "in our heart" and our Lord, that it means getting to know him, reading his word, obeying and talking to him, he was on board. He said, "What do I do?" and I said "You pray this prayer after me." I wish I could remember all that was said. But I know God recorded it in His book. He repeated me and we were thrilled. He finished the tender moment by saying "Let's start reading the Bible every night...after we finish the Magic Tree House series". There's like 34 and we're on #17.

Zhuang Lu Zi

The first name above is actually the last. The middle is the first and the last is the middle. Let's focus on Lu Zi for a minute. The translation of this name means PURPLE ROAD. So her name is PURPLE ROAD CELBRATION. Celebrating her path to the King? We like that.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Li Li's Development as of June 15, 2007

Here is a document we received today that was translated for us. It even included information about her day and place of discovery, but that is for her to share when she grows up (if she chooses to).

With the good care of ‘mother’ after she came to our Institute, Zi Zi has been growing healthily. Her crying sounds are loud; she has good sucking strength.
At one month old, she was strong in moving her hands and feet. When she heard the bell go off, she stopped her activity to listen to it. She was able to see the objects clearly, and able to trace a moving object with her eyes. She excitedly waved her arms when people amused her.
At two months old, she was able to keep her head steady. She was able to steadily lie on her stomach. She was able to raise her upper body with the support of her forearms.
At three months old, she was able to turn her head. If people showed her a picture or a toy, she stretched out her hand to feel it, giving out ‘Ao Ao’ sounds. She smiled a lot.
Zi Zi is lively and bright. She is very energetic. She loves to listen to music. She becomes fussy if she is in need of food or a diaper change. After her needs are met, she stops crying, and then she can stay quietly having fun by herself or go to sleep. Zi Zi is a very lovely little baby. She has fair skin, a pair of bright eyes and a pretty little mouth. She is pretty, lovely, bright and lively. She is energetic and happy every day. She enjoys being entertained. She loves to listen to music. Currently she is able to consume 110 milliliters of milk each time. She eats six times a day. After she has enough amount of food, she closes her mouth to tell that she does not need food any more. She is really pretty and quick-witted. Everyone loves her. We believe that she will become more and more lovely.
Zi Zi follows a good daily routine. She gets up at 7:00 am and goes to bed at 9:20 pm. Her mealtime is 7:15 am, 10:00 am, 1:20 pm, 4:30 pm, 8:00 pm and 11:30 pm. She is also provided with rice milk, vegetable juice and fruit sauce. Zi Zi eats well and plays happily in the daytime. She sleeps well at night. She takes two one-hour naps, in the morning and in the afternoon. Occasionally she gets a cold and she is recovered after taking some medicine.
She loves the toys that can produce sounds. Her favorite activity is to have her ‘mother’ hold her watching TV.
Guardian: Yao Yiguo
The Yifeng County Social Welfare Institute of Jiangxi Province
June 15, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November 5th Referral ! ! !

Can't Sleep

I feel rested but I can't sleep. I don't know if I'm worried I'll oversleep the UPS stalking hour or if her face is keeping me awake. It's a fun kind of anticipation, though and when I say I can't stand it, I'm really eating it up. I guess I'll post a picture from yesterday. I received a call from our agency yesterday Morning, and by 11:40 AM Troy and I were at his office looking at her face! Just like I vividly remember details about the hours before Dodger came, I'll remember what I was doing, what music I was listening to, how I was excited FOREVER.

Monday, November 05, 2007

An Elephant Pregnancy

I don't know the exact length of an elephant's pregnancy, but our waiting for our baby girl is - believe it or not, 28 months from the time we turned in our first signed contract to Children's Hope International. We're on China's files as of 12/5/5 and as of today we are in the final stretch of the waiting game! We are eight weeks away from meeting our dear, cute, chubby cheeked, amazingly gorgeous daughter. We've only seen something similar to a mug shot, all b&w and fuzzy, but that was enough. We fell in love. The dark night of waiting this year has turned into hopeful waiting, due to God showing us His hand in the timing. It's so great when He gives us road signs along the way. One of those was the treatment I found for my tumor-like blood vessels in my head. Two surgeries down, and I'm a thankful, happy camper. The October surgery went amazingly well and I knew once that hurdle was crossed we'd be closer to our girl. If you ever want to read about a miracle worker, just google Dr. Milton Waner. This man was able to do what doctors in Nashville haven't had much of a clue about, and has greatly improved my life. I am so blessed to have found him and been able to be treated by him. There is story after story about God's faithfulness in my health issues but I'm not quite ready to type about it. I'm so ready to meet Lu Zi who was born March 14, 2007 and is waiting for us in the Jiangxi Province (southern China, east of Hunan). We are so full of joy that we are exhausted. So... I'm going to close this post and stalk the UPS man at 7:00 in the morning. At that time, our package will contain more pictures and history and stuff. Friends and family are so welcome to share this with us, celebrate and pray with us that she is well covered while we are apart. This just might be a long 8 weeks. Home stretch is feelin' good.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our Jubilee

The date and time of meeting our daughter, Mei Jubilee (Li Li) is an unfolding mystery. We have been wondering and waiting for this little girl for two years now. I have grown weary of predicting a likely date. Our timeline has more than doubled since we began the adoption process. To my great surprise and God's loving hand, our hearts are large with hope that only grows with the waiting. A year ago it was not so. I couldn't help but watch friends and family members bring children into the world and wonder when our daughter would come. I had questioned her coming at all. But the reality is that she is coming. And it will set in as time grows closer to her being a part of our every day lives. It could be just right around the corner that our highly anticipated fourth member arrives. As our excitement grows, I can't help but share everything I know, since it's all I have about her. The first thing I want to say is that we have not been matched with a baby yet. Our "plan" was to wait and name her after we received her picture. But with the wait came the need to connect with the idea that we will have a daughter, and she is a real person we can pray for. That means there is no particular baby waiting for us...yet. But God knows her and at the right time will match us (we are currently in the matching room in China). We have requested a baby girl, as young as possible, so she is not waiting for us...yet. At the time we began our process, she had not even been conceived! I'm spending time listening to rumors on chinaadopttalk.com each day to track others' wait and come up with new guesstimates all the time. We are basically in line for a referral within the next 4 months and will travel to China two months after. Our desired travel time is before the end of the year, but the likely travel wait for our date (according to rumors) is January 2008. If you would like to follow along with us, feel free. Just click on Rumor Queen under our links to the side. The one thing I would like to try to explain and it will hopefully make sense is that we are a piece of "approved" paper in China with the date of December 5, 2005. The organization that does international adoptions (CCAA) has completed paperwork up through November 14, 2005. We are close on paper, but they are processing only 6-7 days per month. Each month referrals come out (the first week or so) and each time they do we are one step closer to our moment. Please pray with us as we are matched! She is growing in our hearts and is somewhere on the other side of the moon. I was thinking about that at the beach...that (if she happens to have a window in her orphanage or has ever seen the night sky) we see the same moon. And someday we will look up at the moon together. Selah.
In the picture above, Dodger is holding a Jubilee tomato. We planted these in the spring and are watching them grow. It seemed like forever, waiting for our tomato plants to produce fruit. But they arrived when they were ready. And they continue to be so so good. I can only imagine how perfect God's timing will be when he brings Jubilee home.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Summer Fun

We've had such a blast since school ended that my last post was in March when Dodger turned 6! Since then, we had atleast five Kindergarten parties, because none of us want it to end (including the adults). And many of the moms from Mrs. G's class just recently started to bond, so we've been having girls night outs of our own! Many of us in the former K class have been hit with physical ills this past year and it has brought our group together. By the end of the year, Mrs. G was e-mailing prayer requests to the entire class. And out of our struggles - and Little Hayden who was born TODAY and almost came too too early - a prayer group was birthed to pray for friends in need. The awesome thing about it is that we're all from different backgrounds and denominations but love the same Jesus and have so much color to add to the mix. Make new friends and keep the old...Dodger's exhausted from summertime. Poor dude. All he wants to do is lay on the couch and watch a pup named Scooby Doo. D-man finished up baseball in June and met some cool new friends. He went to Honi and Daddy D's on an airplane, FLYING SOLO, attended Pirate Camp with the Katie and Sam, and today he swam for the Seahawks and won 1st place in his heat for freestyle! I thought summer would be restful, but I guess I've never had a 6 year old before! I'm trying not to hyper-parent and over activate the guy but we're having so much fun. July should settle a bit, and we're going to the beach for the first time that he will be able to remember. He wrote a book in Kindergarten about a hypothetical trip in which he played at the beach making sand castles, ate snacks all day and took a nap under an umbrella. I'm looking forward to that kind of trip. When we come back I will have my next trip to consult with Dr. Waner at the Vascular Birthmark Institute in New York City! I finally have a diagnosis. I have a diagnosis, Finally. Finally! A diagnosis!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dodger's Class Party


Dodger had a class party that I can't fail to mention. He was king for a day and loved it. He requested green and blue rice krispy treats, and i was just glad he didn't want cupcakes. More work. Troy came and his whole class sang. He loves to be celebrated! And celebrate we did. Look at the Lick-A-Stick powder on his tongue.

Dodger Turned 6

Last Monday Dodger turned 6. It was the first day of Spring Break, so lots of his schoolmates were out of town. We spent the whole year before planning and talking about when and where we'd have his 6th birthday party. He would tell me way back in July that he wanted a Bionicle cake and that we'd go bowling or to Let It Shine again. But as it rolled around, we had a small family party that turned into Dodger getting toys every day for a whole week! He almost has the entire Aqua Raiders Lego collection. We just hit Papa up for the big one last night. :) Those things are not cheap! But the best present, in my opinion, was a $1.50 kite I bought him. Monday was a sunny, windy day and we spent the entire morning outside. We got the kite up in the sky and it was a moment I wish i could go back to. I'm going to remember it forever. The great day didn't end there. I told Dodger he could be the boss that day and do or eat whatever he wanted...candy for breakfast, snacks right after that, you name it. He took total control as he said "Today, I'm going to be the Daddy". My sister and her daughter Winter came all the way out from Lebanon to spend the afternoon with us. It was so fun. Page is a 2nd grade teacher and was amazed at Dodger's ability to build Aqua Raider Legos and follow directions. The only problem was, when he needed help I couldn't help him. My brain doesn't work that way. If I'm bragging on him, I'm really just exposing my lack. ;) We played outside again until Winter gave out and once they went home, Troy took us to Chuck E. Cheese. My only bummer of the day was that we have a tradition of going to a movie with Julie D. on Dodger's "real" birthday and there wasn't anything suitable in the theatre for kids. But the day was super special and none of us would have changed it a bit.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I AM written by Nichole Nordeman

Pencil marks on a wall
I wasn't always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,

And When I was weak unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”

Only 16, life is so mean, what kind of curfew is at ten PM
You saw my mistakes, You watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again

When I was weak, unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper,
be my Best Friend” and You said “I am”

You saw me wear white, by pale candlelight,
I said forever to what lies ahead
two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
too much it might seem when it’s two AM

When I am weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home

I will be weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning and
the End, I am, yes, I am.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This morning I was dancing and singing to Nichole's Recollection CD that Troy just gave me - what a gift. At the same time I was stirring sausage, unsticking rice crispies from my fingers and watching Dodger play with his new birthday toys. Just now I was stopped in my tracks by this song and literally went to my knees, and then into a fetal position (or yoga if that suits your fancy) on the song above. You've got to hear it, and it will be the theme song on this blog, if I can figure out how to attach it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Coffee For Li Li and Bainbridge Island Coffee Roasters



Our good friend, Hugh Robertson and former boss (where Troy and I met and fell for each other) came to town to host our very first coffee tasting. We have a history of good times, and having him here really made me nostalgic for the days when I was his assistant and he was telling Troy not to boss me around. :) Hugh has transitioned from the music biz to roasting high quality coffee, and since it is by far my favorite beverage and morning meal, I love that he is allowing us the opportunity to enjoy great, fantabulous coffee and raise funds to bring our daughter home at the same time. We had a coffee tasting on Friday, February 23rd. Did I mention that? I have some great photos from the soiree, and I was thrilled to have the event at our house so that I would finally make time to feng shui and bake. Not only was our time with friends a blast, we were so coffeed up, that we stayed up until Midnight and I heard some of the rest of our guests did too. I won't mention your name, Shell. :) There's much more to tell about how fab this coffee is, but first enjoy the pictures.

Coffee Tasting for Li Li


I was thrilled to have sister come a little before everyone else so we could talk and prepare. We all munched on Chic-Fil-A and talked about our week. She's my bud and I don't see her enough. Plus, she and I (and Tanner below) moved here together when he was 8 months old. We've both stayed and he's now a tween. I'm getting to be the age where I can't remember exactly how old I am, what year I was born or what day our anniversary is on. Don't tell Troy. No, tell him it is May 30th AND May 31st. That way he can take me to a B&B before Li Li comes.

One of the other things that brought joy to my heart Friday was that my nephew Tanner wanted to come with Page (his mom, my sis). He doesn't even drink coffee, but wants to help bring Li Li home, and that means the world to me. He has a tender heart towards God and others. He is going to be a great husband and father someday - it was evident the way he loved on Ayana.

Coffee Tasting Pictures


These two girls holding bebe Ward are Ikuho and Liho - our beloved neighbors from Japan. We are praying God will keep them in America longer than expected. Pray with us for that! :) Masako is my good good friend and I just realized that when I pronounce her name, I put the wrong emphASIS on the wrong syllABLE. Ayana Ward is with her mama, Sonya and she, Bryan and Jarett have recently adopted her from Ethiopia. One of the coffees that we tasted was an Ethiopian bean and it was Troy's favorite... I'm sure it would be Ayana's too, if she were allowed to imbibe.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kindergarten Days

This photo is already outdated. Dodger's hair is twice as long now as it was then. And we've cut it, twice. We took this picture just before we boarded Minnie Driver, our van for Lipscomb Elementary School sometime at the end of August. It's all a blur because I cried the first week - no, the first month. But Dodger is in good hands, the best in fact. Mrs G. (Laurie Gross) told Dodger on the first day that she loved him and I knew it was a relationship meant to last. She is everything and more than I could ever dream of in a teacher. We are on the same page about loving and teaching and nurturing children and she does a great job at bringing the best out of these kiddos. But the parties, man. They are over the top. I'm not one to complain but come Dodger's birthday, he's gathering some pretty lofty expectations for what parites are. Maybe if it doesn't rain we'll do the deal here. I'll make the cake. And we have a pinata that we bought a year ago and forgot to use around Easter. The kids will never know... shhh. It needs work, but here's what I wrote one day after dropping Dodger off at class.

THE RED BALLOON

(my emotional letting go of Dodger into Kindergarten)

Red

Not the square, flat color of a brick

Not the shell of a ladybug, that is more orange than red anyway

A bright, round candy-apple red

The kind of red that makes your eyes smile when you see it

The red that looks so good you want to eat it

Balloon

Not the kind you blow up yourself, wearing out your cheeks and your

Lungs

Not one from the grocery store that looses all its air and pops on the

Way home

A carefree, weightless balloon floating in the sunny breezy weather

The only way to keep it with you is to hold on tight

Red

How I'm feeling

Gravel dusting my shoes, everything grey at the carnival, except...

The reddest shiniest candied apple

The kind you don't care to spend two dollars for

Hardly waiting to take the first bite

Getting sticky on my face

Sticky on my fingers

But I'm no way ready to clean up

(Unless licking counts)

Balloon

Cheery cherry balloons lined up near the stone steps

Attached to poles, these weightless fliers

All those balloons who can't stand still

They're blowing back and forth, back and forth in the breeze

I wanted to tell them they didn't need the poles

They could fly around the whole world if they wanted to

But would they come back to me?

A Red Balloon

It caught my eye - It made me think

I stopped my step - I couldn't blink

Even though I always walk down the stone steps

I closed my eyes and imagined that red feeling

The crisp autumn air

A candy apple in one hand and a red balloon in the other

I took a step

I headed away from the school and toward the car

I placed both hands on the apple

Something slipped through my hand

I took a bite with sticky on my fingers

Just then, the red balloon floated

Happy and carefree

I held on to my apple and I set the balloon free


Picking It All Up

I can't begin to recap the last year. But I can hilight. I've been picking up all sorts of things. Not just me, we've all be picking up stuff around the Vest casa. We recently picked up our living room and turned it upside down. I thought about picking up the Christmas tree box and putting it in the garage, but it's too heavy. The last time I posted it was last Christmas. But rest assured, the tree has been put up twice since then. Since last Christmas my dear, beautiful, role-model grandma-lee-the-Busby went to be with Jesus. My heart needed to blog about it but it was too difficult. So instead, I have a computer "account" of events that I wrote it into. But since then, you could say I've been pretty un-motivated and out of time for blogging. I needed to pick up some extra minutes before I could pick this back up again. And by turning this house upside down last week in preparation for a coffee party, I have those minutes back. The house was so cluttered it was a chore to maintain. But now, well, we threw it all out (including the tree) so I have time to write. I'd tell you about the summer, but I don't even remember it. Oh- here it is: Tennis shoe obsession where I went on a 2 month quest to find the right shoe. Didn't work. Robin and Steve came to visit with their bunch and Troy told me he's officially taken over the friendship with Steve. Every day the thought of kindergarten approaching was looming and I was trying to make the most of my time with Dodger. By the time he started, he told people he didn't want to be in school for 7 hours a day. I wonder where he heard that? It has been such a wonderful and exciting first year of school. I know there will be none other like it. I bet Laurie won't even read this (if you do, send me a note!) But she is amazingly gifted as a teacher and a God-send for our family. It's been the best year for the three of us and has made the dark night of waiting for Li Li not so bleak. In fact, the waiting is fun now as we get closer and closer to her arrival. I need to start on the arm weights again. I've been a little lazy, but soon I'm going to be picking her up and I don't want to put her back down on account of my arms. Well... I'm already behind on this posting stuff. I'm going to pick up where I leave this post...