Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Looking back on 2007, it was a really great year. It was our first year having AnnaClaire and one of the best years yet. I can't believe we are already ending this great year! Last New Year's Eve, we had just recently come home from China. I remember how little AnnaClaire was then... she was a peanut, 14 months old, still a baby. Now look at her! 26 months old! Yesterday we had someone ask if she was 3! Does my baby really look that old? A year has brought us to whole new places in life. I am looking forward to hopefully hearing about Kate sometime in 2008! May you all have a blessed New Years, as well. I am looking forward to starting 2008, and hoping it will be even better then 2007! (if that's possible!)

Happy New Year!

Itsy Bitsy Spider (and more makeup)

Miss AnnaClaire absolutely loves the "Itsy Spider Song." She is so cute singing it and doing the hand motions. It's adorable. She will just randomly start doing it, so when we were playing makeup the other day, it was no surprise when she started singing, "Itsy spider up water spout..." Here's a few pictures from that. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Praise God for Rain!!!

After much to long with no "real" rain, we are finally getting some! AnnaClaire loved wearing her rainboots and raincoat on errands today. I think "Puddle Jumping" is a new favorite for her =]

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Card Picture

Above is our 2007 Christmas card picture. With Drew in college, we don't have many opportunities to get a perfect picture, but we were taking some family pictures when my Grandma was here for Thansgiving and we liked this one, so we used it. I think it came out well.

Here are a few others we took... the family one was one of two we got of the whole family... and the first one, too!

And then these two I thought were just sooo cute =]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

KidKraft Retro Pink Kitchen

If you're looking for a good kitchen, this is a really good one. We love it! So first let me tell you that we really, really wanted to get the PBKids kitchen. Well as you might know, the PBKids Pink Retro Kitchen costs $750. AnnaClaire's new retro pink kitchen (by KidKraft) cost $150. It is a perfect size and has a fridge and sink & oven. It has really great storage and the buttons actually click... and there's real timer. It is absolutely the perfect kitchen for AnnaClaire. So if you have been trying to find a good kitchen, I definitely recommend this one!! We found it at Costco, but you can order it online, too.

Oh and I did quite a few posts tonight, so make sure to check them all out!

All girl!

The minute I got home from my friend's house today, AnnaClaire grabbed my hand and said, "Sissy AnnaClaire walk outside!" and ran over to her doll stroller. We were about to eat, so I promised her after naptime. The minute she woke up, we sang Frosty the Snowman. When we got to the policeman part... she yelled STOP and made the stop signal. Too funny. Then she remembered my promise and we went on a nice long stroller walk with her dollies. We passed the stop sign and she said "bye bye stopsign!" She waved to every car that went by, and skipped along the sidewalk, laughing and smiling. I love taking her on walks.. she is so happy pushing her dolls. We came home and we played with her new makeup kit for awhile before she went to the park with Dad. Right when she got home, she appeared in my room holding her makeup, "More makeup, Sissy!" The makeup kit is a huge hit. Tonight we moved her kitchen into the kitchen and I completely organized it. She was playing with it before bed and I told her I had just cleaned it and to keep it clean. She kept it perfect. It was funny. She also has a little hot cocoa mug, her favorite kitchen accessory, and it has litle marshmellows on it... but she WON'T keep the marshmellows in! "No marshmellows! OUT!" is what she says whenever they are in. She just makes me laugh. I love my Bu so much!

Here's some pictures from today... enjoy!

Christmas Shopping (12/15.. just found these!)

Christmas' past




Christmas Pictures!!!

I forgot to mention in my last post how good AnnaClaire was for the Christmas Eve service! We practiced with her saying the following:

"What are you doing to do in big Church tonight?"
AnnaClaire- "Sit quiet and STILL!"

At first she sat perfectly still on my lap. But then she realized how interesting the Church was and started pointing everything out... including "Two Christmas trees!" in the middle of the prayer! She was pretty chatty during the service and moved around laps, but she is 2... and over an hour of sitting "quiet and STILL" is pretty tough =]. She did really well though and she loved singing!

So anyway... enjoy the Christmas pictures! As you can tell, we had a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

AnnaClaire's 2nd Christmas!

We had an absolutely amazing Christmas... but, before I start, I wanted to post a few pictures from yesterday and the day before. (Having trouble uploading pictures and/or doing slideshows, so I guess pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.) Mom and the "Chatty Girls" did Secret Santas and Sunday was the time to open them! Mia sent AnnaClaire a Christmas cd and a ladybug apron, potholder, oven mitt, and towel! It is the cutest little set... and perfect since our girl got a kitchen for Christmas!

These ones are from last night. AnnaClaire was so excited to leave a cookie for Santa! She happily brought the plate over and put it down. I told her she was leaving it for SANTA, and she picked the plate back up and held it towards our little Santa thing. It was funny. She said her night nights and went to bed while the rest of us watched Christmas with the Kranks and assembled Little Miss' pink kitchen!

So after having a pretty late night assembling, we went to bed. I think I was the first one up, despite being up until 2. After a little, I heard AnnaClaire so I went in and AC woke up Will and Drew by knocking on their door and saying, "Merry Christmas, boys! Wake up! Wake up! Santa came!" She was very excited. We posed for the infamous stair pictures and went downstairs. Immediately AnnaClaire noticed her "pink kitchen" and ran over, "Pink chitchen! Pink chitchen!" That kept her occupied awhile... even though it was bare! She opened her stocking to find crayons, a pink princess apron (which she insisted on wearing... and wouldn't let anyone take it off!), a baby bottle, a little block thing with automobiles and if you match them correctly, it makes the sound that that thing makes. She loves it. We then started opening presents. We made the rounds, and I'm going to have to say Miss AC fared pretty well this Christmas! Her big thing was of course the kitchen. Besides that, she got pots, plans, dishes, kitchen tools, a mixer, foods for her kitchen, books, Elmo, Christmas cookies stuff, a little fabric makeup kit from Pottery Barn, a pink princess camera (from Sissy), and one of her favorites of all... an Asian meal thing from the Whites! It's the cutest thing. There's a wok maker and then all sorts of Asian foods. AnnaClaire walked around all day with her "chops" (rice and chopsticks)and fed them to everyone in the family, including Elmo. She would not let go of her "chops" and wouldn't let anyone else touch them... only AnnaClaire! She was adorable with them. Thank you so much Maddy and family!!! I think that's it, but I might be missing something. There were so many! AnnaClaire loved all her gifts. I think it was really overwhelming for her. We are blessed with so many kind friends, family, and neighbors. Every gift came from someone other than mom and dad besides the kitchen and stocking stuffers. Anyway, I wish you could've seen our princess open her gifts. She opened each one carefully and with such care. If it helps any, the opening of the gifts took almost 3 hours this year. Normally it takes about... 1 maybe. AnnaClaire would open each one and would do it all by herself. Then she would take it out look at it, play with it, and just sit there loving it. This is how it was for each and every gift for AnnaClaire. She was so cute. So focused. Near the end, she was ready to just play with what she had and wanted me to open for her. All her presents were huge hits. She carried her camera around for the longest time, just "taking pictures" of everyone. She also loved her wooden hot cocoa mug and carried it everywhere. She got so many great gifts. She also has a new favorite stuffed animal... Elmo! Funny because she doesn't have one Elmo book, and has never watched Elmo, but she knows exactly who he is! Maybe the nursery. But what 2 year old DOESN'T love Elmo? I'm going to have to say AnnaClaire got some really nice pots and pans. They are really nice! PB has really cute pots and pans and dishes! Also, Target makes really good, nice wooden foods. Joesph Beth also has really cute Melissa and Doug foods. We had a delicious Christmas brunch and birthday cake for Jesus. We finished up advent and all afternoon was spent playing with our latest stuff, until a delicious Christmas dinner.

Of course I have to share all my goodies =). My big thing was I got an ipod touch! It's so awesome!! I love it. It is really amazing... internet, youtube, music, pictures, video... wow. I also got sweat pants, a sweat shirt, lots of giftcards and money, great stocking stuffers, cds, and stuff to print pictures. It was a very good Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I just love Christmas time. I'm sad it's already over. Have a great night and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!

Sorry again about no pictures. I even tried just uploading one to hold you over... no luck... I'll try again tomorrow as I have quite a few to share!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everybody!
Love, AnnaClaire

Remember the true meaning of the season!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas is almost here!

First of all, just want to wish a happy anniversary to my mom and dad... it's their 23rd! Here's a picture.. sorry its really bad quality. It's a picture of a picture. I The picture I really wanted to post is the best one... but we moved it to put decorations up, and I'm not exactly sure where it got moved to... but anyone, here's one. It's funny to think back and remember that last year their anniversary was spent sleeping until about 3 and then at Wal Mart Supercenter and Qdoba! This year they had more of an anniversary celebration and Sissy was left in charge of AnnaClaire. Of course, we had a great time playing, eating, bathing, reading, wrapping presents, etc.

I'm so excited for Christmas!! I can't believe it's in just 3 days! It is so fun getting ready for Christmas with a 2 year old. AnnaClaire absolutely loves Santa. She points out ever Santa thing she sees. Our neighbor has a Santa "blow up" in their yard and not a day goes by that AnnaClaire doesn't point out whether "Santa upside down!" or "Santa right side up!" It's so funny. More importantly, she loves "Baby Jesus". Everytime she sees something "Baby Jesus", she points it out and says in the happiest voice, "BABY JESUS!!!!!" My favorite thing is when she randomly bursts out singing, "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Jesus, happy birthday to you!" It's so cute! She is fully aware of what Christmas is, and whenever you ask her what she wants, she responds, "Pink chitchen!" (and it's not the PB Kids one, either!) She enjoys doing the advent calender every morning and loves all the things the resemble Christmas. She points out any and every reindeer and Frosty, too. She is also a huge help wrapping presents! -no joke! She puts her little finger in the exact middle and holds it as tight as she can so you can tie bows! She is such a big help. She also loves putting all the gifts under the tree. Christmas season has been so much fun with AnnaClaire... I can't wait til the actual day!

The other day I asked AnnaClaire what she wanted to play with, and she responded, "cars!" I'm going to have to say I was quite disappointed in her, but told her we should play babies instead. So we did. Now she loves her baby dolls! We played store with them and whenever "babies CRYING!", she would pick them up and kiss them, pat them, and tell them she loved them. The next day we took babies for a long walk outside. She was once again so sweet. She even told me that the babies were cold so we covered them! After an hour, and freezing cold, I brought her back in, much to her dismay, where she carried both babies and bunny around everywhere until dinner. I got lots of sweet pictures of her with her babies.

Other than that, we are just enjoying spending the season with our little AC. I can't even explain how fun it is with her! She is so full of spirit and spunk, she makes everything so fun. She also has discovered a new love for Christmas candy and Christmas cookies!! She loves Christmas music, and her favorite is Frosty the Snowman. She also loves all her many Christmas books. Once again, her favorite is Frosty. We are almost done Christmas shopping and boy does AnnaClaire have a stash! I can't wait until Christmas comes, and we spend our 2nd Christmas with our precious gift from God!

Remember the true reason for the season!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20, 2006 HOME!

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Ruth 1:16

Well, here we are on Dec. 20, 2006. It's about midnight here in China and we leave for the USA today!!! I probably won't have a chance to post in the morning, so this is my post for the day. We are leaving at 6AM for the airport. We go from Guangzhou to Beijing, Beijing to Newark, and Newark to HOME!!! We land at 10:48PM! If anyone is still awake then... we'd love to see you at the airport!

Thank you for following on our journey. It’s been quite the journey, filled with ups and downs. But we have our baby girl, and we couldn’t be more pleased. She is absolutely perfect for our family and I can’t imagine life without her! The plane ride should be interesting. Hopefully AC will sleep and maybe I can get some in too…………. But after undergoing a total of 30 hours of traveling (we leave at 6AM today and get home at 12PM on the 21, China time) our girl will be in our house sleeping in HER crib, which is in HER room. She’ll be an American citizen and can do anything she wants. She’ll be an American girl, and a sweet one she’ll be!

I'm not so ready to be home, but it sure will feel good!

Love you all and can't wait for all of you to meet our sweet angel!!!!!! Come see us at the airport!

Love to all and thank you again for being a part of our journey to AnnaClaire. Next posts will be in HOME UPDATES!!! See you there!

and the rest of us

Flight info:
Continental Flight 3070, arrives home at 10:48PM

Thank you Jesus for bringing us home safe and sound!

WE ARE HOME, and boy does it feel nice! At 5AM this morning, we got up. We got boxed breakfasts and our group left at 6 on the dot. We got to the airport soon after and said goodbyes to our wonderful travel group. We've already planned a reunion! 2 families are staying longer, so 9 of us were at the airport. 6 flew to Hong Kong and 3 to Beijing. Our flight was at 9:35 along with a family in our TG, the Cox'. The Dagenbachs had an earlier flight to Beijing because their flight out of Beijing was earlier. Ours wasn't until 5PM! All I can say is THANK GOODNESS FOR THE COX' and... THANK GOODNESS FOR FONTANA! I don't know how we would've done it without them! Fontana flew with us to Beijing because she lives there. It was so nice having a guide guide us through we were to go! We sat at the gate for awhile. AnnaClaire was very sweet and really liked playing with Fontana! Our flight was on time, which was nice. It was pretty crowded 3 hour flight. AnnaClaire did well. (I think. I can't remember, it seems so long ago!) We arrived in Beijing and Fontana brought us where we were to go next. She had to stay behind there, but luckily we had the Cox' to be with! We found where Continental was but no one was working there! There was a very friendly young American man there and he told us the Continental office didn't open until 2! How annoying! And, we were trapped! If we left the Continental place for food and stuff, we would have to fill out paperwork to come back in! So we waited and waited. We talked to the man and he had been in China for 16 months! He teaches English at a school there. He was so sweet with AnnaClaire and Sara Beth. He asked where AnnaClaire was from and it turns out he has friends working in Chenzhou City! He was very into the adoptions and told us he really wanted to teach English in an orphanage, but he wasn't allowed! Finally at 2:00 exactly (don't you get so annoyed when the workers are standing there but don't open until the exact time?) they started checking bags. Dad was very near the front of the line, so we got through fairly quickly. We met some more people in the airport and they were all so excited about AnnaClaire and Sarabeth. We then got in the long security lines. Security was terrible there! It was very easy for Will and I, but the Cox', Mom, Dad, and AnnaClaire were in different lines and had a terrible time! The workers were just mean! They were pushing poor Sara Beth through the security thing and almost confiscated AnnaClaire's bottles that didn't even have anything in them! I was surprised they didn't take away our 4oz bottle of benedryl! We got to our gate around 3:45 so what was a 5 hour layover was now 1 hour and 15 minutes to get food. We went across the street to an American/Chinese/Japanese/Korean cafeteria type thing. It was pretty bad. It's called Bisun or something?! They had a Starbucks next door, but for some reason even though there were frappichinos on the menu, they wouldn't let me get one. By now, AnnaClaire was in her last diaper. Greatttt... Dad hunted and hunted and finally asked. In the entire airport, there were no diapers. How annoying! The Mrs. Cox lent us a pull up and we just hoped AnnaClaire would not go to the bathroom much. We met a lady VERY interested in adoption. I mean VERY interested as in asking Dad for an AWAA business card! She had been thinking about it for awhile and after seeing AC, was ready to start the process! I thought that was so neat! After security came to our gate and rechecked all our carry ons, we finally got to board. Praise God it was an empty flight! We had rows 41 and 43. No one was sitting in the middle seats of either of our rows. Oh my gosh, it was so nice being able to spread out! Most of the rows only had 2 people and some only 1! A very empty flight compared to our over crowded one on the way to China! Right as we were about to take off, the captain got on the intercom and said that the Chinese officials hadn't approved the plane to go to the US yet and we would have to wait. They said they didn't know how long it would take and would let us know. We were all worried that we'd miss our connecting flight. Needless to say, 5 or 6 minutes later, we were taking off~no explanation. At first, Mom and I sat together and Will, Dad, and AC were behind us. But shortly after, Will and Mom switched. I listened to my ipod and stuff and slept for 2 or so hours, woke up and watched a movie and slept for the next 6! When I woke up, there was 1 hour and 33 minutes left! What a treat! Wow the ride home went so much faster than the ride here! Mom and Dad said they had a tough time with AnnaClaire. I think she only slept 3 hours! Luckily for us, Mom found another family with a baby who lent us diapers. Good thing, because AnnaClaire had bad poo on the plane! For part of the plane ride, we had a baby party! There was a little area in the plane and I went over there to play with AnnaClaire. A father with his daughter from China (who we actually saw at Lucy's once and at our swearing in ceremony!) joined AnnaClaire and then a mother with her 7 month old (from China) came over as well! We had a little "party" and the girls had fun together. The party ended when the missy had a poopy diaper. Then they made us fasten our seatbelts! That was before I fell asleep, so you know how the rest of the flight went already. We landed in Newark around 5:45 and went to the immigration place. We had been told that after getting her passport stamped, AnnaClaire would become a US citizen... A woman got us out of the LONGGGGGG line and starting helping us. She asked how many adoptive families were on our flight (7) and pulled every one of them to the front of the line! How nice! She stamped AC's passport but told us that she was only a US resident, not yet a citizen... Hmm, I've read it on lots of websites that they are citizens when they touch US soil AND at our swearing in ceremony, we were told the same thing. So, I'm not sure if AC is a US citizen yet or not. The lady told us we should get a paper in 45 days telling us she is a US citizen. We then went on to get our luggage. It all made it! WOOHOO! We rechecked it which was a very easy process and then proceeded to our gate. We found diapers, thankfully because AC was now in the last one we had been lent! So we changed her and then were on our way to find pizza! There was a place that served UNO right by our gate, so we went there. Oh, how good REAL AMERICAN pizza tastes!!! It was delicious. Danny's Bagel's pizza is nothing compared to that! We went to our gate and took AnnaClaire out of the Ergo. She was so cute and got tons of "SHE IS ADORABLE!"s from the other people waiting. Our flight was delayed about 30 minutes and we finally boarded around 9:15. We got on the plane and they quickly boarded us so we could get going and maybe be on time! We taxied around and then the captain got on the intercom and told us we were 28th in line for take off and it would take another 45 or so minutes!!!! UGH! We were SOOOOOO ready to get home at this point. There was a friendly man sitting next to us who was actually on our Beijing flight. We talked with him and about 30 minutes later, the captain got on again and told us that we were 5th in line for take off and would take off shortly. About 10:05, we took off for HOME! We had called Drew and told him we were delayed and it was looking like an 11:40 landing. The flight was okay. AnnaClaire slept the whole time (in the Ergo) and I dozed on and off. I don't think Dad or Mom slept and Will took a few naps. About 20 minutes before we landed, AnnaClaire woke up. We looked out the window, which she loved. The flight attendant kept coming over and admiring her. She is just so cute! We landed at just about 11:40 but then had to wait for a ramp! We got off the plane and went to the bathroom to change AnnaClaire into her Chinese outfit for "coming home"! I proudly held her and when we got to an area just outside of baggage claim, I was stunned!!!!! Drew and his best friend, Laura, our neighbors-the Pughs, Mrs. Schwarz, Mrs. Towery, Mrs. Kallander, and friends Mrs. Huber and Mrs. Edmisten (also adopting from China) were all there waving balloons, signs, and flags! I was honestly just expecting Drew. I also knew the Pughs were coming because one car wasn't enough with all of us and all the luggage! I am so amazed at the kindness of these dear friends to come greet us so late! We stayed at the airport until 12:40 just talking and showing off our newest family member. All our luggage made it which was another blessing. We packed it all up and got in cars to come home. We didn't even try AnnaClaire in the car seat. We knew she would just scream the whole time! We'll do the car seat the next time we go out when it is day time and it's not such an overwhelming time. We got home just after 1 and there were more blessings! Our yard is COVERED in pink ribbon. There are balloons and an "IT'S A GIRL!" sign. (THANK YOU HUTTS AND PUGHS!) Our refrigerator was stocked with food, and there was deserts waiting on the counter. We are so blessed with the most amazing friends. Our precious friends went all out to make our homecoming special. I have always dreamed of our "coming home with AnnaClaire", but I had never dreamed of it to be this awesome. The neighbors stayed for a little and then left. We gave AnnaClaire her first bath at home and she didn't want to get out! We changed her and Mom rocked her to sleep with a bottle. We talked with Drew for awhile. It is so nice to be home as a family of 6! Now we just need our dog, Maggie, home! I'm not so sure how AnnaClaire will react to that. Or maybe I'm more worried about how Maggie will react to AnnaClaire. It is now 3:40AM. Of course the time I am used to, it is 4:40PM! I'm not really even tired but I'm going to try to get some sleep. I think my camera is downstairs and I don't want to wake AnnaClaire, so I'll add pictures tomorrow. I miss China and I really love it, but it is nice to be home. It has been a really long day with over 31 hours of airports/flying, but WE ARE HOME!!! I'm going to go brush my teeth with tap water..........

Love you all!
Thank you to all of those who made our homecoming so special. We are blessed so much with you all!

Kisses from CHARLOTTE,
P.S. sorry if there are any spelling errors... I’m kind of out of it…

UPDATE: last night went great! AnnaClaire slept in her crib and woke up at 3:30AM. She fell right back asleep and Dad said she woke up again at 9:15AM. Will got her out of her crib and brought her in his room and she fell asleep. Dad put her back in the crib and she woke up at 1PM! I woke up at 1:15, Drew at 1:40, I don't know it Will even went to bed. Mom is STILL sleeping. Dad and I played with AnnaClaire and fed her some egg and she fell back asleep at 1:50 and Dad put her in the crib. She is sleeping there now. I enjoyed some donuts that were left in our fully stocked refrigerator. YUM! We are all exhausted. Enjoy the pictures!!! There are more, but I didn't snap pictures at our homecoming, so I'll have to get the rest off of our greeter's cameras!

Love to all!

Oh did I tell you, THE HAIRBRUSH HAS BEEN FOUND!!! In China, we searching and searched through ever suitcase. Well, I was going in AC's suitcase to get out some pjs, and the brush was in it!!!!!!!! yahoooooo
All day I kept thinking, "It's been a year." AnnaClaire has officially been home for a year. It really does shock me. How is it that it's been a year. For a year she has been an American citizen, for a year she has been HOME. December 20, 2006 at 11:40PM, AnnaClaire came HOME. We woke up early and ate breakfasts on the bus. It was really sad being with our TG for the last time, heading to the Beijing airport. We said goodbyes right when we got there, because us and another family flew back to Beijing, while everyone else flew to Hong Kong. It was really nice being with Sarah Beth and family. We had the same flight to Beijing and the same flight to Newark, so that was fun. We had more fees and waiting before we got to our gate. I remember eating the delicious Chinese mandarin oranges at our gate. We talked to Sarah Beth's family and compared stories of our gotcha days. We were also on the same flight as Fontana (one of our guides), who was extremely helpful. It wasn't long before we got on the plane and flew to Beijing. We had anothe rlong wait there, but thankfully we had Sarah Beth's family. This is when the infamous diaper story happened. Of course, I've told it so many times I'm sure you've heard it. We had yummy starbucks and lunch. I also remember talking for awhile to a lady who was so interested in adoption. We gave her AWAA cards and she told us how she was going to call right when she got back. It was awesome telling someone. She was soooo interested, too. After a long wait, we got on the flight to Newark, the long one. While this was a great flight in my opinion (slept the entire time with 2 seats to myself and watched movies) it was not so great for Mom and Dad. It was nice that the flight was empty so we had 6 seats. AnnaClaire didn't sleep at all though. There were about 4 other adopting families on our flight and we had a little party and all talked for awhile. That was fun. AnnaClaire and Mom did laps around the airport for a lot of it too. Over 14 hours later, we finally landed in Newark. Right upon landing, we knew we were in America. The smell. We waited in a line and got passports and stuff stamped. We got diapers and ate at California Pizza Kitchen. We also waited in the longest security line. It was insane. Finally we arrived at our gate... but just our luck, our flight was delayed. So we sat at our gate for 1.5-2 hours waiting. AnnaClaire did love going up and down the escalator. Finally we got on our plane and the Bu slept the whole time. We waited a long time taxing, because we were 27th in line. That was harsh. Finally we arrived home to all our friends waving signs. We landed just before midnight. Out friends our so good to us. AnnaClaire was home. God is SO good!!

AnnaClaire, officially one year ago, you came home. We went on "the big airplane up in sky" as you would say... and we came home. We landed to all our friends, our support, by our side rejoicing that you were home. It was the best feeling ever, to see that crowd of people there for us. Big signs, American flags, and all. You, Will, and I rode home with the Ps and our neighbors came to our house, where we were greeted with a huge "ITS A GIRL" sign and pink streamers.... all for you. We walked inside and our house was packed with food. Our friends are so good to us! You explored the house while we all chatted and then you took your first bath at home. We were finally home. It would be awhile before you were on a schedule... but you were home. I can't believe it's been a year. Sweet, precious girl... what would I do without you in my life? I love you more than words can describe. ~Sissy

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19, 2006

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.”
Mark 9:37

Today was a really good day! We had our swearing in ceremony which was very nice but also different from what I thought it would be like. But, our swearing in was at 4, so we had quite a day before that. It is our last day in China! I can’t believe it. The time has flown by, and I’m not quite ready to leave. I really love China and I am really dreading the flight tomorrow. Breakfast was delicious!!! We planned to go to Shamian Island with the Howards, the Dagenbachs, and the Martins to do a Red Couch picture! We took taxis and met up by the “bird cage couch”, which Mrs. Martin informed us, was the famous one. We dressed our girls into their Chinese clothes and posed the girls cutely. They all cooperated quite well and we got some good shots. We then did babies with family members there, babies alone, and AnnaClaire and me. It was a blast. We kept AC’s Chinese clothes on to take some pictures by the beauty of the White Swan. We then went on shopping. We got quite a few last minute things. We found tons more squeaky shoes at Sherry’s Place. It is the best for squeaky shoes. They have all the shoes organized by size, so you just go to the sizes you want and pick out the shoes you like. AnnaClaire is wearing 20s now, so we got 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24. 24 is the biggest. It was VERY helpful that it was organized by size. We got some other cute things and by then it was just after 1. We went to see if my comforter was ready. It wasn’t. They said they’d bring it by the hotel tonight. We said goodbye to Stella and then left. AnnaClaire fell asleep just as we were leaving and we basically had to wake her up so she’d be ready in time for the group picture at 2. We got her all dressed in her pretty dress. (not the dress we had planned~that one was huge! We put her in her Christmas dress.) We posed her for pictures and she is just so cute! Our whole group was present for the picture, which was nice. We got a few good shots, whole group, Moms and babies, siblings and babies. Our family headed to McDonalds after that because we had never eaten lunch. McDonalds was good. Same ol same ol. I’m sick of McDonalds and I’ve only had it twice!!! We put AnnaClaire in the high chair and she loved it. I fed her corn which she loved! We got back and got on the bus for the consulate. It was about 30 minutes away from our hotel. We had to walk up about 5 escalators and there was a room with a sign that said “American Consulate”. We went in and had to go through security. We got through right before the big crowd… that was nice. They told us to be seated. It was a huge room with all these chairs. A few people were already in it. We sat kind of in the middle with the Martins. We talked to them for awhile. AnnaClaire was being sweet although she wouldn’t let Rosa put the bow in her hair! She needs to keep it in! I saw a family I recognized from their blog so I went over there. There was a small table with a few chairs. AnnaClaire was very happy to be there with the toys. We talked to the other families and one lady came up and said, “Emily!” She introduced herself and it was the mother of a little girl, Holly Wen, whose website we have been following for who knows how long! We got to meet little Holly and her family! We also got to meet a little girl, Sophie, and her mom! It is so cool to meet families that you’ve been on their websites! Anyway, I thought that was so neat! I also recognized Lucy and her family, the family who was on our flight from Changsha who we had made friends with. They came up to us and told us they had a surprise. Turns out, their friends adopted a boy and so they didn’t need the Going Home Barbie the White Swan had given them!!! (The Going Home Barbie is a blond haired, blue eyed lady with an Asian baby made especially for the White Swan Hotel. They give all the adoptive families who stay at the hotel this Barbie). Anyway, Lucy’s mom had remembered me saying I was disappointed we weren’t staying at the White Swan because that meant we wouldn’t get the Barbie. So she told her friend she knew of someone who would love the Barbie! I was amazed on the kindness of this family! Earlier today we had been talking with the Martins that we’d need to go on EBay and get the Barbie for $200+! They told us we could come pick it up tonight. We talked around with other families both known from websites and from our TG and finally the lady started the swearing in process. It was very simple just I swear to blah blah blah. She gave us all this info and then sent us on our way. We had to wait for the brown envelopes and visas to come out and then we came back to the hotel. On the way, Rosa and Fontana presented us with some presents. They gave us a shirt for the babies that has a traditional Chinese girl on it. It has the babies name in Chinese and says something about cute girls at the bottom (in Chinese). It is very cute! They also gave us 2 pictures. I forget what the technique is called, but it's very pretty and "big" here in China. One of the pictures is red with fish on it, and the other has santa. They are both matted in silk and framed beautifully! There was also a sweet poem for the baby. Thank you so much, Rosa and Fontana! WE LOVE YOU! We played with AnnaClaire a bit before heading for Shamian Island. We went to the White Swan and were given the beloved Barbie. Thank you so much Isaac and family for this gift!!!!!! Our whole travel group is jealous! We got to see a White Swan room. I SO wish we were staying here. We had heard they were small and not-so-nice, but it was beautiful and not much smaller then our rooms! But that’s okay; we have the Barbie, no fear! We went to the silk place to get my blanket so they wouldn’t have to deliver it. It was ready and it was made right!!!!!!!!!! YEA!!! We also picket up the Dagenbach’s comforter and pillow and the Martin’s pillow. We then decided on a place to eat. I said “Let’s just go to Lucy’s!” But Dad was determined to find something better. We found some sort of chicken head fondue place that didn’t have an English menu---nahh… We passed up another place that had the animals in the windows… eewww…. And finally after circling around most of the island, went to Lucy’s. It was really good! We all liked it today! We ended up getting ANOTHER suitcase, so now we’ve bought 2! Gosh, we have a lot of stuff!!!!!! We got back to the hotel around 8 and delivered the Dagenbachs and Martins stuff… it was wrong, what a surprise. They still liked it though and it wasn’t horribly wrong, just wrong trim on one pillow and wrong size on another. We got to our room and AnnaClaire was asleep. Mom had put her down just before 7 and she had woken up coughing and screaming a few minutes ago. Mom had finally gotten her back to sleep. Since then, it had been a pretty rough night. She falls asleep but doesn’t stay asleep. She is now up talking with Dada and it is after 11! At one point while she was sleeping, I went down and gave Fontana and Rosa their gifts. The Martins were in their room as well and we talked for awhile. They lent me sissors and we have everything pretty much packed. We're ready to go!!!!! (I guess). Dad and I enjoyed a last Guangzhou Starbucks and now it's time to sleep!

AnnaClaire was very good today. She has gotten better at the whole "going to everyone" thing and lets anyone from our family hold her without crying. It is so nice. She let me hold her for a very long time today, and I enjoyed every minute of it. She is so sweet and cuddley and makes the absolute sweetest baby noises. She talks and sings to herself and blows kisses constantly. She can keep herself occupied very nicely! Today we saw a new trick: she claps her hands! We had seen her do it once, but not exactly CLAPPING. Today she actually clapped! Our group was clapping on the bus because our guides had just given gifts, and she saw me clapping so she clapped. Now she claps a lot. It is so cute! She doesn't mind getting changed (which is good, we had her in 5 different outfits today! 1 for shopping and then we slipped her in her Chinese outfit for the pictures because it was to cold to wear, her consolute dress which was fancy so she couldn't wear it all day, then we slipped her into a play dress because she was tripping over her CA dress when we got back, then her pjs). She also doesn't mind getting her diaper changed and helps you by handing you the diaper. She still doesn't keep bows in, we need to work on that one! She waves and has the cheesiest grin. She is absolutely precious, and I love her SOOOOOOOOOO much!

So today has been a fun and eventful last day in China. I hope to come back some day. I really love it here…. I would stay another 2 weeks if I could! But I will admit, I am ready to brush my teeth with tap water, eat Chickfila and Qdoba, have my own room again, and SEE MY FRIENDS!!!

We love you all,

P.S. for some reason, the pictures are showing up our of order. Sorry about that!
It amazes me to think that a year ago today, we had our swearing in ceremony. I remember in the morning a couple of us went to Shamian Island and took Red Couch pictures. Bekah, Claire, Kenzie, and you. You guys were so cute. It took a couple of tries, but you all looked so pretty in your Chinese outfits! You were so interested in Kenzie's yogurt! We shopped around, as it was our last day in China. It was a very sentimental day because of that. At 4 we had our swearing in ceremony which was a little ways. We took the bus there and it was a fun ride with our entire group. We all compared stories and as we arrived there, we were in shock this day had come. We had to go up tons of escalators until we got there, where we had to go through security. We got there early, so we hardly had to wait. A little later, there was a huge line. It was packed. We saw tons of people we "knew" from their blogs, which was really quite fun! All the kids were precious. We had to recite an oath and then do something with the brown envelope before we went back to the hotel. It was an amazing feeling... as soon as we landed in the US, AnnaClaire would be a US citizen. We headed back for our last night in China. Lots of packing was done, as we left at 5am the next morning. It was an emotional day. I was definitely not ready to leave China. AnnaClaire had already grown so much in the 8 days we had had her... I fell more in love with her every second I saw her. She has grown so much, a year later. God is SO good!

My precious Mei Mei,
It is very hard for me to believe that it's been a year since we had our swearing in ceremony. That was a very special day. It was also a sad day, as it was our last day in China. I loved China so much. I miss it terribly and I cannot wait to go back someday soon. You have grown so much in the past year. I look at these pictures and you are a BABY. Look at your hair... so short. I remember you would never leave your bows in. I remember standing in the lobby of the hotel and just putting your bow in and the you taking it out every time until finally I gave up. Now you never take out bows! You have grown and developed so much. I simply cannot believe it's been a year... God has brought us so far. All praise to Him! I love you sweet girl. Love, Sissy

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December 18, 2006

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

First of all, I cannot believe it has been one week since a sobbing little baby bundled in a huge red outfit was placed in our arms. A little girl who had never known a mom or a dad or brothers or a sister. She now knows all (but still needs to meet her biggest brother!) A little girl screaming and all bundled is now always smiling and dressed in cute dresses daily. A little girl who was afraid of us now loves us so much. A little girl we had never known, we now know so well and love so much! One week ago today. It seems like we've had her forever!

We had a fun day today. It started off with another delicious American buffet. Oh yum! A lot of the girls were down there and played around a bit. AnnaClaire wore her bib without a peep and even sat in the high chair. She ate these amazing Clementine type things, noodles, egg, yogurt, rice, and veggies. She is a PIG! No wonder she’s such a chubster! She said goodbye to her friends for the time being and we went to the room to get the Ergo. We then ventured out to the bank. Needed more Yuan! The bank took the bills that the hotel would not (ones with writing, rips, etc) which was nice. AnnaClaire, Mom, and I stayed outside while Dad got the money. 2 hot pink hello kitty buses passed by. I was sad I didn’t have my camera, they were pretty cute! We went back up to the room and had to sit there until 12:15 in case Rosa or Fontana had a question for us. See, it was our consulate appointment day. We don’t go, our guides represent us. It was a kind of boring few hours (10:30-12:15) but we survived and Fontana knocked on our door to let us no everything was okay and we were free to go anywhere. While waiting, Dad stayed in the room and AnnaClaire napped, while Mom and I headed to the Dong Fang shops by our hotel. There were a few cute things we considered buying but ended up not getting anything. Our group had planned a 2:30 outing to the Chen Family Temple, so we had about 2 hours to do something. We walked out to a nearby park. It was so much fun. It cost a few Yuan to go in, but it was so beautiful and a great outing. I definitely recommend it. We had to go underground to get there. It was on a lake and there was a huge beautiful restaurant at the other side (wish we had eaten there, but I think you have to be “special” to eat there.) AnnaClaire loved going around in her Ergo and looking at the water. She especially loved when we stopped to admire the waterfall! We came to a dead end so went back and turned another way. We got some great pictures of her in the grass and she was just so sweet and let me hold her! At one point, a very nice Chinese man stopped by to see our sweet one. He was so friendly. He spoke little English and thought AnnaClaire was beautiful. He asked if she was a girl. (Like he couldn’t tell? She was wearing a flower jumper!) Anyway, he told us he had a 2 year old daughter at home. He was so nice not trying to pick AnnaClaire up or anything. He was very friendly and recommended we put cream on her face (it is SO rosy red and chapped!) We told him we were bringing her with us to America and she was going to be a part of our family. He thought that was neat. AnnaClaire must’ve thought good about him, because she said “BA!” as we left… sweet girl! We walked back to the hotel and got Will who’d been chomping on McDonalds. We changed AnnaClaire’s diaper and packed the diaper bag. We then headed downstairs. AnnaClaire saw Sarah Lu come down and wanted to go see her. They are SOOOOOOOOO cute together! This morning, we tried putting a bow in AnnaClaire’s hair, and Sarah Lu (who I guess knew AnnaClaire didn’t like bows) took it out and smoothed AnnaClaire’s hair for her! How sweet! Anyway, this afternoon, Sarah Lu leaned down and kissed AnnaClaire on the head. We all said “awwww” and she did it again. AC had a huge smile on her face! And then, AnnaClaire was playing with her drum and anytime someone took it from her, or she dropped, Sarah would take it and give it to AnnaClaire. It is so cute how she looks out for her!!! The bus left a little late and we got to the Chen Family Temple around 3. We only stayed for an hour. It’s a very small museum and it is not my favorite thing we have done. They did have some beautiful ivory sculptures and pretty closianne pots. We also found very pretty bookmarks at the gift shop. I think it is funny who you can recognize someone from their website. As we walked in, I noticed the family of a blog I follow (Maisie). It’s such a small world!

We headed straight from the Chen Family Temple to Shamian Island for more shopping. AnnaClaire’s name painting was ready. It looks AWESOME! My comforter was also ready, but they did the wrong colors so they have to redo it. UGH! AnnaClaire’s pillow was ready and that was right.. yes! Dad and Will hunted for another suitcase for our purchases while Mom and I went in more stores. Andy’s is great! I got a beautiful feather painting (a painting on a feather which is framed) and we got a photo album. I bargained and got a good price. Another store, which I am unsure of the name, we found a few things too. It is a great store right next to Andy’s. We got AnnaClaire a Chinese silk dress that will fit her around age 4. We also got her another set of the hot pink and green pant outfit we got yesterday. We got this one in a size that will fit her when she is 3… we just loved it so much!!!!! We found some beautiful hand embroidered Chinese folk art. Mom had found them awhile back and wanted a few. We got an awesome price and got 3. They are beautiful!!! I think that is all we got at that store. They had awesome bottle paintings that are of your kids! You give the man a picture of your child and he paints it in the bottle. We are considering doing that tomorrow, depending on how long it takes and what the price is. We didn’t have a picture of AC with us today to get it today.

We then had to head back to the bus. We didn’t have much shopping time because our group dinner reservation at the Banana Leaf (40 min. away) was at 6. The Banana Leaf is AMAZING. It is a Thai restaurant in a mall sort of thing. We walked up to this restaurant that looked so pretty on the outside, kind of like a hut. We walked in and the people were cooking food in font of you. We crossed a bridge with alligators under to the dinner area. There was a huge palm tree in the middle that was decorated for Christmas. First they brought out this mango juice. It was delicious! We were sitting with the Martins and AnnaClaire and Claire LOVED it! We all did! Then a band went up and starting playing guitars and all the waiters and waitress’ starting marching out and grabbing people to dance with. Some strange guy came and grabbed me. I was glued to my seat. Liz, I felt like you that one time when you hid under the table when they were singing happy birthday at TGI Fridays! Then I saw Olivia start dancing and I was like okay, I’m not the only one! Some guy got Mom too. It was hilarious and fun! I was not so in to dancing, but the man was persistent. The song finally ended and AnnaClaire was cracking up at Mom and me! It was SO funny! Dad and Will were holding her and dancing with her. It was sooooo cute! Mom got grabbed again and Mrs. Martin did too, much to her dismay! We got the whole thing on video!!! It was sooooooo much fun. Then they brought out the food. It was one of the best meals we’ve had yet! All kinds of meat, calamari, fried tortillas with peanut butter, fried tortillas with bananas, veggies, noodles with shrimp and more. The dishes were yellow and green and were so pretty. I knew I was going to love the meal. And boy, did we all! It was so good!!! The dancing and singing+the food=a great meal! To anyone looking for a fun place to eat in Guangzhou, GO THERE! There was an interesting few minutes when a very disturbing security man was being very interesting to say the least, but we won’t let that ruin this post. AnnaClaire had so much fun dancing and singing with Dada and Will and she did not want to leave that place! She’s a Latino gal! ;)

After delicious dinner, we came back to the hotel. Mom changed AnnaClaire’s diaper and put her in jammies. We then went and brought Mia a sleeper that is too small for AnnaClaire on the way to go to the Martin’s room. They were lending us some amazing lotion for AC’s cheeks. AnnaClaire and Claire had fun and so did Mom, Mrs. And Mr. Martin, and Mr. Howard who came later. Mrs. Martin showed us the pictures she got from Claire’s orphanage. There were 2 really sweet girls with Claire who will probably never be adopted. That makes me so sad. We had so much fun and Claire and AnnaClaire were quite funny! We then left and Mom put AC to bed while Dad, Will, and I got Starbucks.. Ahhh, yum! We came back and AnnaClaire was still asleep. Our normally asleep-in-2-minutes-baby has been very restless all night and is finally fast asleep! We starting packing all our goodies into the new suitcase Dad bought and we are almost ready to leave. Tomorrow we have the Swearing In ceremony and we are going to try to get our group together for a Red Couch picture. We’re going to do some last minute shopping with the Martins, the Howards, and the Dagenbachs, and maybe a few other families who decide to come. I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day in China! I don’t want to come home yet! I LOVE China! I do want to see all my friends and introduce you all to my sweet sis though!  And I can’t wait to get back swimming although I’ll feel very “out of it!” (Sydnee, I feel like you were in Europe… I haven’t found time to swim in the pools, plus this one is outdoor~BRR!)

How is it that it's been a whole year since we woke up and ate that amazing buffet with our group. I remember how I always looked forward to going down to breakfast. For some reason our whole TG just happened to be there at the same time. It was great! Breakfasts were always fun! A year ago was our CA. Of course, for us, that just meant we had to be in our hotel. Funny, because that's such an important thing, yet we don't even go to it! We went to the beautiful park next to the China Hotel. It was gorgeous. AnnaClaire enjoyed the fresh air. We met the nicest man who talked to AnnaClaire and us and showed his appreciation that we had adopted her. Later that day we went to the Chen family temple. It was really pretty. We then went out to the Banana Leaf, which was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, without getting into too much detail. There's really no way to describe that dinner other an amazing, funny, fun, and well... interesting. A year ago, we had spent a full week with our precious AnnaClaire... God is SO good!!

AnnaClaire, how has it been a year since our CA, since we visited the beautiful park, since we went to the Chen Family Temple, since we ate at the Banana Leaf. You loved the Banana Leaf. You loved the mango juice and got so into the music. You were nicknamed "Latino" in our travel group because of the way you danced to all the music. That was such a fun day. I can't believe it's been a year! I love you so much, little one! You have grown so much in the year. Just look at the pictures... and look at you now! I love you!!

Sick of it =[

I came on to catch up a little but I really feel like I can't. I'm sick of comments I've been getting. I thought moderating them would help, but honestly it hasn't. I really am considering making my blog private, that way I know whose reading and that way I know no one will leave nasty comments. It all started with the one about my ticker awhile back. They haven't stopped since. While we were in Disney World, I got an extremely rude one about how "obese" AnnaClaire is, and how if they knew our names, we would be reported to the Obesity Clinic. "What do we feed her?" That is so out there and stupid, but saying "you are just a spoiled, rude 14 year old girl" at the end really hurt me. Then on top of it telling me she would've been better left in China?? What?? I'm sick of stuff like this. Now I've been getting all this stuff about how I'm a bad sister and It's just getting old. I try not to let them effect me, but sometimes it's really hard.

I have tons of pictures from the past couple days, and more China thoughts. I'll try blogging a little more tonight but I have my Spanish exam (last exam til break!!!) tomorrow so I need to study a little more.

update: I added posts for the 15-17 which I put on those days. So be sure to check those out!

Monday, December 17, 2007

December 17, 2006

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

What a fun day we had in good ol’ Guangzhou! AnnaClaire slept well last night, as always. We played in the room some this morning before heading down for breakfast. Almost all the other families were down there. AnnaClaire wore her bib, yesssssss! She hates it and usually yanks it off meaning the meal ends with food all down her, but not this morning! The only food on her was from the banana Dad dropped on her! We tried her in a high chair but I don’t think she liked it very much. The breakfast was amazing, again. I am loving these American breakfasts. They aren’t quite like ours, but close enough! We got on the bus promptly and headed to Shamian Island for shopping! We walked through the White Swan Hotel… ugh, I am so mad we aren’t staying there! It is beautiful, big, right on the island, has tons of adopting families, etc. PLUS they get “Going Home Barbie”! Anyway, we walked through and admired it. Our first stop was “A Home of Love” right outside of the White Swan. Tons of us went in and stayed for over an hour! That is my favorite store we have gone in this entire trip. It is awesome. One of the sweet workers, Stella, helped us. We found 3 beautiful traditional Chinese outfits for AnnaClaire. We also got her a few more pairs of squeaky shoes. Who can go wrong at $3 a piece? In the US, they are $30! We are getting bigger sizes for later times as well. We got tons more stuff and had 2 huge bags of stuff. Stella let us leave our bags there and come get them later. Mrs. Bryne, we gave Stella the pictures and she was SO excited. She couldn’t believe how beautiful the girls were and said she really missed you guys. There was a rattle AnnaClaire was attached to and Stella gave it to her. She also gave AnnaClaire and me bracelets before we left. Yesterday, Mrs. Martin (Claire’s mom) showed me a beautiful blanket she had gotten for Claire. I was in love. I had wanted to get a silk comforter while we were here, so I thought this would be perfect. Today after the first shop, Mrs. Martin brought me to the blanket store. It is the coolest thing. You pick the fabrics and they make it for you. You can get blankets, pillows, dresses, and more made. Mrs. Martin and mom helped me decided what fabrics to get. I am so pleased with what I ended up with. It will be ready tomorrow and I bargained the price down pretty low, so I was happy. We walked out and I found a beautiful hand painted beaded necklace. I got that and bargained it down a lot too. I LOVE to bargain. It is so much fun and funny! We went into “Jordon” and a few other shops before going to Lucy’s for lunch again. It is just so nice sitting outside in the park area and the food is good. Today AnnaClaire was awake for lunch and we got her chicken congee. She loved it!!! Did I say that both the Taylor’s and another family I don’t know (not in our TG) were at Lucy’s both today and yesterday? We aren’t the only ones… Oh and BTW, you have to have tickets to use the Lucy’s bathrooms and they are gross! I would recommend walking the extra few feet and going at the White Swan! Anyway, AnnaClaire was leaking through the huge and thin Chinese diapers so we went to the White Swan to change her. We got a great look at the beautiful hotel. I SOOOOOOO wish we were staying there! We walked around a little. AC loved looking at the waterfall! We went back downstairs and there was a Chinese woman with her daughter. She saw AnnaClaire and pointed to her. Then she pointed to her daughter, talked in Chinese, and pulled out her camera. Her little girl grabbed AnnaClaire’s hand to pose for a picture! HOW SWEET! It is the cutest picture even though both girls look terrified! We decided we better go find the guys. They were nowhere to be found. On the way, we saw a wedding car. It was so cutely decorated with roses tapped on! Anyway, we saw the Dagenbachs so ran over to see if they had seen Dad and Will. They hadn’t. They showed us all their purchases and AnnaClaire and Rebekah played around a little. All of a sudden, I saw Dad and Will! I screamed to them and they heard me and came over. Turns out they had seen us in the White Swan! The Dagenbach’s were about to pick up Rebekah’s name painting. We had wanted to get one so went with and got one for AnnaClaire. I’m excited! They are doing it in her room colors so it will be really cute! It should be ready tomorrow. We planned to try Danny’s Bagels with the Dagenbachs for dinner and then left. We picked up our bags at the first store and bought 2 more gotcha day presents. We caught a taxi back to the hotel because the bus left at 1 and that was way too early for us shopoholics! I guess it was early for everyone because we saw quite a few of our TG families still there after 1! We got back just before 4 and put AnnaClaire down for a nap. We went through and condensed all our purchases. We are going to get another suitcase for all our purchases… AnnaClaire woke up just before 6 and we changed her into one of her Chinese outfits to see if it fit. It fit great and boy was she a doll in it?! She is SOOOOOOOOOO cute. I got some great pictures of her in her outfit with her little Chinese drum. We had like a photo shoot. I must say, our little thing is so cute and looks especially darling in her Chinese outfit! The Dagenbach’s called shortly after seeing if we were ready to order dinner. They ordered and then came to our room. The girls played awhile and then food came. The girls had so much fun and we all did as well. The Dagenbachs left to get Bekah a bottle and put her to sleep. We smelled a poopy diaper so I changed the sweet one, put her in the bathtub, and put her in her pjs. We played a little more before Mama gave her a bottle and put her to sleep. We are really enjoying our sweet AnnaClaire and just are so in love with her. We can’t wait for you to meet her! She is just the sweetest thing EVER. Can I brag on her a little more? Mom was putting her to bed, and she brought AnnaClaire to say goodnight to everyone. We all stayed in one room so Mom could be alone with AC. Well, AnnaClaire starting waving right when Mom said, "say goodnight, AnnaClaire". And then I blew AnnaClaire a kiss and AnnaClaire put her hand to her mouth, said "BA!", and blew me a kiss too! ("ba" means "flying kiss".) She is SO smart, cute, sweet, lovable, huggable, and kissable! I love her SO much!

Tomorrow is our Consulate Appt. We have to stay in our room all morning in case the guides have questions (they go, not us). Then our group is going to a museum and a group dinner. That should be fun.

AnnaClaire and I are starting to feel better but now Dad is coming down with something… the hairbrush is still gone! Uh-oh! AC is temporarily using mine!

Love to all,
Mom, Dad, Will, and AnnaClaire

P.S. I still have more pictures from yesterday to add. (The squeaky shoe party). There are on Dad's camera and I haven't had a chance to get them off of it yet. There are also some good ones from tonight on Dad's camera so I will add tonights and last nights (that are on Dad's camera) tomorrow morning while we sit in the room. Sorry about that.

P.S.S. some of the pictures are sorta blurry because AnnaClaire got a hold of my camera and smudged the lens... whoopsies! It is all fixed now though :)!
December 17 was another amazing day in China. Most of the day was spent shopping, as usual. Guangzhou really is an amazing place. I loved it there! Shopping was so fun. AnnaClaire was so good whenever we shopped. She was so content in her Ergo. My favorite place was called A Gift of Love. Stella works there and she is so nice! She is the sweetest store person. It was basically just another day spent shopping. I still can't believe it's been a year... time flies... I remember AnnaClaire woke up from her nap and we sang for the longest time. She had the biggest smiles as we sang all kinds of nursery songs. her love for music began then! I love her so much.... God is SO good!

AnnaClaire, I cannot believe a whole year has passed. A year ago, we were preparing to leave China. We had just a few more days until we were to leave. I remember the feeling I started getting then. I was not ready to go. I could've stayed there much longer. I can't believe it's been a while year. God has brought us so far in this year. He is so good. I love you so much, precious girl. You mean so much to me. I can't believe how you have grown and changed in this year. You don't notice until you compare the pictures to you now... you have changed so much. I love watching you grow. You are such a special girl, and are so special to me. I love you forever!