Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kate is Coming Home!

In a couple of hours, we'll be on our way!

As I mentioned a few days ago, I will not be posting on this blog while we are traveling. I will be posting on Kate's website: I promise there will be at least a post a day. Maybe even more :)

Thanks for all the comments, prayers, emails, etc. They mean more than you know! Feel free to email me anytime at

Oh and check below, I posted some pictures of AC opening a few early b-day presents.

And with that, I leave you with a picture of our luggage. You guessed it, we are going carry-on only! :) (Sarcasim there! I don't know how people do it!) If you knew the weight of each suitcase, you would die. Let's just say we are fine in the US, but overweight traveling throughout China.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Early Birthday, Princess!

AnnaClaire opened a few presents tonight since we will be in China for her real birthday (the 27th). We did save a few things that we could bring with us and let her open on her actual birthday. She loved all her things, especially her Dora Doodle Pro from Mia! I mean... look at the face (center picture) I think that will be a real hit on the plane! She LOES MagnaDoodles, and the fact that it had DORA on it made it even better! Her sweet friend Maddy and family sent her the cutest book and a crayon roll. She loved both of those things and the crayon roll is just awesome to stick in her backpack and bring to restaurants with us! Thanks Maddy!! Mia gave a package of things to do on the plane... a princess ColorWonder book with markers, the MagnaDoodle, crayons, a Hello Kitty activity book, stickers, little ponies, etc. Thanks Mia! Grandma sent her a Humble to put on her shelf. The little girl is holding a bunny... perfect for our princess who LOVES her bunny! Happy birthday, sweet princess! Can't wait to celebrate again with you in China!


I wish I could adequately explain the feeling I have right now. It's just about every emotion I've ever had mixed up inside of me at once. Of course, the EXCITEMENT stands out from the other emotions. Have I mentioned that we are leaving on October 23? And it is October 22? THAT MEANS TOMORROW. YES, WE GO TO CHINA TOMORROW.

I am SO excited. I can't say I'm excited about the 14 hour plane ride that we have tomorrow. Or the fact that we will be with a (very) active two year old on that flight (of course, I'm SO excited that we have AnnaClaire with us this time, I just can't say the flight will be so fun), but... that's okay, because we are going to CHINA!

The suitcases are about zipped, we enjoyed our last Chickfila fix for the next few weeks... I went to our schools state soccer game last night (we lost, but that's okay, we made it pretty far!) and got my final goodbyes and hugs from friends... WE ARE READY!

AC and I were watching Barney this afternoon and you will never guess which episode came on. It was about China! Then after China Barney, I found the episode of Arthur where Binky's family adopts a little girl from China. We hadn't seen it yet and it was cute :)

Tonight, we are going to let AC open some of her presents that are things to do on the plane. We have a few things to let her open on her actual birthday, but we'll do a little mini-celebration tonight.

It dawned on me, as I was putting AC into her bed for her nap, that this is the last time that we only have ONE sweet girl to put down for a nap... next nap time, there will be TWO!

I'm so excited.

In the midst of all my excitement, I wanted to ask for prayers for a couple of families...

This family received their referral the same day as us. My mom has become good friends with this mom and we were looking forward to getting our girls together! They ended up getting their LOA a month before us. Now they have had an ongoing problem with USCIS and expiring paperwork that has caused them to STILL be without their daughter, 2 months after TA. They need mountains moved to be able to bring home their adorable daughter, Cali. Please, PLEASE pray for this family. We serve an AWESOME God who can do anything... we know that! So join me in prayer for the Cali's sweet family!

Ashley's family, Karleigh Mei's family, and Elisabeth's family (password protected) all received their referrals in July. They have been waiting over 100 days for their LOAs. The hard thing is that an AWAA group with referrals and LOIs the same day as these families received their LOAs last month and recently got TA. These 3 families (and others) are STILL waiting for LOA. Please pray along with me that they will come THIS week so they can go get their precious children as soon as possible.

Chayah's family has also been waiting FAR TOO LONG for their LOA. We traveled with this family when we brought AnnaClaire home. They were getting Sarah Lu! They sent an LOI to adopt a precious 6 year old girl from Sarah Lu's orphanage last year and are still waiting to bring her home. Please pray for them as the await their LOA... for peace, comfort, and that it would come SOON!

I'll update again later. For now, lets cover these families in prayers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2 DAYS!!!!!!

The day after tomorrow, we will be on our way. THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW... 2 DAYS!

Here are some picture of AnnaClaire at the park earlier this month. She loves the park :). This particular park has a HUGE slide and she thought it was just the greatest thing! However, even better than the slide is the teeter totter. She LOVES teeter totters and has nicknamed this park "Teeter Toter Park."

Kate has this outfit, too, and I cannot WAIT to see my two precious mei meis in their matching butterfly dresses... not much longer!

On another note, we got our visas back TODAY. Yes, today. Talk about cutting it close! Thankfully, there were no issues... other than the fact that we did end up having to pay to renew them. Definitely feels good to have our passports in hand again, the day before we leave!

And now for some wedding pictures... there were too many to post them all, so here's collages of them! Enjoy! You can click them to see the photos better.

Above: Sweet AnnaClaire enjoying the wedding!
Above: The wedding ceremony!
Above: Enjoying the reception!
Above: AnnaClaire loving to dance!
Above: AnnaClaire and her new friend, Lexi, hand out petals for the guests to throw at the newlyweds!
Above: family brunch the next morning
I forgot to include this one in a collage. I love this. It's of AnnaClaire and Leah, our cousin's (the twin of the one whose wedding this was) wife. AnnaClaire was the flower girl in Leah and Matthew's wedding last summer. She LOVED Leah! (By the way, Matthew is the one in the above collage in the very bottom picture)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Packing Excitement... 3 Days!!

Well with THREE days until we depart for China, we have begun to pack! (Actually last night.) We have the little girls' suitcase packed and our Philip Hayden suitcase packed. The girls' suitcase weighs 47 pounds! We have 12 outfits for each girl, bibs, socks, tights, bows galore, and toys. For Kate, of course, there are bottles, diapers, wipes, lovies, and Robeez, among other things. For AnnaClaire, we have night time diapers, shoes, lots of panties (AC loved picking out PRINCESS panties the other day! All of her panties have been plain HannaAndersson, so it was fun to get PRINCESS panties!) and milk (not risking anything with the milk issues in China... we are bringing Horizon Organic boxes that don't have to be refridgerated!) We have a bunch more stuff packed, that's just what comes to mind. I think we have thought of everything. We have quite the weather changes! Beijing is supposed to be chilly (50s), Jiangxi is supposed to be similar to our weather now (mainly 60s, maybe low 70s), and Guangzhou is supposed to be HOT (80s and 90s!) That could all change, of course.

When we were in China in 2006, we bought a suitcase in Guangzhou to bring souvineers back. It is not a nice suitcase and to be honest, I'm not sure why we still have it. However, we decided to fill it up with things to bring to Philip Hayden and then we can just leave it in Beijing (also because we are allowed to bring two suitcases to China, but have to pay to travel in China with two... so this will work perfectly!) So we went shopping and filled that with nanny gifts, candy, supplies, and little packages for Katherine and Emily. (Our family sponsors Katherine and I sponsor Emily.) I do not think we can fit anything else in there!

The diaper bag is ready, too, with diapers, wipes, a bottle, and little toys for gotcha day. On top of all this packing, we have had to get some things for Boo since we will be in China for her 3rd birthday! I can't think of a better way to spend her birthday than as a family in China! A few of her gifts are for the plane ride, so she gets to open them early. We have a few things to bring with us to China and she can open them on her actual birthday. (The 27th... a week from today, my baby sister will be THREE!)

I have let all my teachers know (don't worry, I let them know before now!) and have gotten work to do while we are gone :(. I will miss 11 school days total. We have a fall break Thursday and Friday of this week, so that's two less days! I'm not going Wednesday (a girl has to pack! Besides, do you really think I would be concentrating the day before we leave for CHINA?) so tomorrow will be my last school day until we get back.

Things are coming along and it is starting to feel INCREDIBLY real. We are going to China THIS WEEK. It really is just amazing to think that we are ACTUALLY going to bring Kate home... THIS WEEK!

On another note, we went to the Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith concert on Saturday night and it was AWESOME. If they are coming somewhere near you, GO. You will not be disappointed. It was an amazing night with a sell our crowd! The music was great (of course!) and the stories were heart wrenching, yet very good. SCC will never cease to amaze me that he can loose his daughter and still sing his songs. It was AMAZING and a perfect way to send us off to China!

Lastly, I promised I'd show a picture of AC and Kate's new stroller. Grandma got this for us. It's a Joovy sit and stand and so far, we are LOVING it! Can't wait to have both AnnaClaire AND Kate riding along together in their stroller!

3 days until we leave for China... 5 until we are holding Kate!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Room Swap! *4 days*

AFTER- AnnaClaire's Room

Those are some pictures of AC's room. We are still waiting on her chair and we still need to do some hanging. However, I think it is beautiful and fit for a princess. She loves her big girl room and has done so well sleeping in her BIG GIRL bed!! Her room has gone through the most changes. It was pink when we first moved here (I wasn't even 2 yet!) and it belonged to me! When I was in 5th grade, we re did it lime green. Finally, when Drew went to college, Drew and I traded rooms. I couldn't find any pictures of it when it was Drew's room, as it wasn't his for long. However, here's my extremely cluttery lime green room which is now AnnaClaire's pink room! What a difference! (once pink, then green, then brown, and now pink again!)

AFTER- Kate's Room
Okay, so this is nothing new, as it was the exact same for AC, but in case you didn't follw my blog originally, we actually floored in our foyer to make a nursery. For the past two years, it has been AnnaClaire's room, but now it is getting passed down to Kate! We are still waiting on a few finishing touches (the pictures above the crib are going into AC's room and are being replaced with cute letters spelling Kate's name.) We LOVE the nursery!

AFTER- Drew's Room/Guest Room
Drew's room has gone through a lot of transformation, too. I didn't have any great pictures of the full room before, but trust me when I say how huge of a difference it is. It was our living room with a beautiful piano (which is now in the family room) and 23 year old furniture against bright red walls.
(Just had to add that the doggie is our precious Maggie who died a year ago today. She was the BEST dog and we miss her so much!)

Just in case you are confused... I lived in the room that AnnaClaire is now in. However, Drew and I traded rooms when he went to college so the once lime green (and before that, pink) room turned brown. Then we did the nursery (which was originally an open foyer). We re-did Drew's room (the one that was mine at first) for AnnaClaire so Kate could move into the nursery. However, we still really wanted a guest room and somewhere to put all of Drew's furniture, so we walled in the living room to make a bedroom which is now Drew's room/guest room. I know that is really confusing...

4 DAYS until we are on our way to China... 6 until we have Kate! Hard to believe that this morning was our last time at Church without Kate!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Last Saturday without Kate...

It's hard for me to believe that today is the last Saturday without Kate... Our last Saturday ever as a family of just 6. Next Saturday, we will be SEVEN! And so to my precious, sweet, adorable, Mei Mei who will be three in 9 days (where has time gone?) I just wanted to let you know how much I love you...

Being your big sister is my greatest joy. I absolutely love being the one you refer to as "sissy." I love the way I ask for a kiss and you pucker your lips up and give me the biggest kisses. I love the way you squeeze me in a big hug and whisper, "I lub you, Sissy!" I love the way you say SUPER DEE DUPER. I love the way you smile when I get you up after your nap... how you greet me when I've been gone. I love the way you told me that you were like Humpty Dumpty after you took a tumble yesterday. I love your closed mouth, round faced smiles... How you are always joking and tell me say, "I'm just teasin' you!" I love the way you always want to help out with anything. I love everything about you. The past 22 months best 22 months of my life. I want you to know that I love you SO much and nothing will EVER change that. You are so excited to go to China and get Kate. You excitedly tell everyone possible who will listen to you that YOU are going to have a little sister. I know that you are going to make an AMAZING big sister, precious girl. However, I know that although you say you are excited, you don't fully understand what is about to happen in your life... however, I want you to know that no matter what, I love you so much. You will always be my boo-baby. ALWAYS. I know that it will take some getting used to (sharing your role) but in time you are going to LOVE having a little sister... a constant play mate!

And so... I just wanted to remind you how much I love you. There is no greater joy for me than being your big sister.

Friday, October 17, 2008

6 til travel, 8 til Kate!

Thursday, Oct. 23rd Depart for Beijing
Friday, Oct 24th Arrive in Beijing

Saturday, Oct. 25th Tour Philip Hayden
Meet Katherine MeiLing
Sunday, Oct. 26th Church, Olympic Pavilions, Drew's University

Flight to Jiangxi

Monday, Oct. 27th Civil Affairs Appointment
Oct. 28th-30th Paperwork, Sightseeing, and Shopping
Friday, Oct. 31st Flight to Guangzhou
Saturday, Nov. 1st Medical Exam and Shopping
Sunday, Nov. 2nd Paperwork Party
Monday, Nov. 3rd Consulate Appointment
Tuesday, Nov. 4th Pick up Kate's Visa

Flight to Hong Kong

Wednesday, Nov. 5th Depart for United States

We finally have our itinerary!!! I personalized it a little, as we are doing a few things differently while in Beijing since we are getting Kate there and Drew will be there. We are SO excited. I cannot believe this is FINALLY happening! We also had our travel meeting yesterday!! We are traveling with 4 other families who are all adopting boys! 4 of us have already adopted from China! 2 of those families and us are bringing our 2 year old girls... so AC will have "sinds!" Those two families are also from NC and will be on our flight to Beijing! So fun! The other family is adopting 2 boys! Links to their blogs are on the sidebar under "Traveling With..."

*updated to add: Keri, are you kidding me? OF COURSE we are going shopping more than one day! CAs, Paperwork Parties, and the oath don't take much time out of the day... the rest of those days will be spent SHOPPING!

Less than a week until we leave... A week from tomorrow and we'll have Kate!!!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


ONE WEEK UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR CHINA!!!! Actually, in exactly a week, we will be about 3 hours into our big flight. However, more importantly...

NINE DAYS UNTIL WE GET KATE!!!! Yes, you heard me right! We are getting Kate on Saturday, October 25! 9 DAYS. Obviously, that gives a huge hint to what is coming next...

When we first found out that Kate was at Philip Hayden, we made it our constant prayer that she would stay there until we could come... that our gotcha day would be at Philip Hayden. I know I've posted about it here numerous times, but Kate has moved so many times in her 19 months of life. Moving around so much is just not a great thing for bonding. Also, I cannot imagine the grief that she would go through leaving this place... and her nanny. Now, obviously that is going to happen when we get her. However, for it to happen twice? Therefore, we cried out constantly that Kate would stay at Philip Hayden. We knew that the earliest she would move back would be when we received LOA, because obviously her orphanage would know that she was being adopted. When she wasn't moved after LOA, we figured by TA, she would probably move. We kept praying and praying. When we got TA, she still hadn't moved. We talked with our agency before we had even received LOA and told them the whole situation and asked if their in-China rep could just talk to the CCAA and advocate for us. (We had been told that Kate's orphanage normally always wanted their kids back before adoption.) We then left it up to the Lord and continued to pray that somehow, God would allow her to stay there. Each day went by with no news that she had been moved, and we praised God that she was still there. Finally, on Tuesday, we heard something regarding the whole situation. Except, it wasn't the news we were hoping for. Our agency told us that Jiangxi doesn't allow families to receive their children in a different province, and therefore, we would get Kate on Monday the 27th. (Which is also AC's birthday). We were crushed. We were getting so close, and were thinking maybe, just maybe, she would stay for the 9 days we had until travel. Yet now, there was no way. I went up to my room and literally lay there asking God if He could just keep her there. I begged Him to show me once again that He was controlling everything about Kate's adoption (like I needed that confirmation... He's showed me far too many times to count!) We emailed our PHF contact and let her know. We asked what happens when the children move, etc. We also told her that we would like to visit anyway (OBVIOUSLY!) and if we could come on the 25th. The next morning, I was getting ready for school when Dad came in my room saying that our contact had emailed back... that PHF had talked to the SWI and that we were getting Kate at Philip Hayden! Mom had gotten up, too, and we were all just practically crying tears of joy. However, once again, our hopes were dashed when Mom talked to AWAA later that morning and was told that the CC*AA had said we wouldn't be getting Kate at PHF... and the CC*AA is in charge of it all. The CC*AA? I think not. GOD is in charge of it all! Our travel coordinator said she would speak to the in-China rep and just see if anything had changed in the past day. Today, Mom got a call from our coordinator and guess what? WE ARE GETTING KATE ON SATURDAY THE 25TH AT PHILIP HAYDEN!!!!!! That's what I call God. That is what I call a PERFECT God orchestrating every little detail in our lives and the life of precious Katherine MeiLing, our precious girl whom we will meet in NINE days!

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

God Story Part 4... and 8 DAYS!!!

I want to start off by saying that many people are surprised to know that AnnaClaire was adopted through China's special needs program. She looks and is INCREDIBLY healthy. Her SN is one that just requires monitoring. (Note: We, as a family, have decided to keep AnnaClaire's medical need private so please do not ask me why she was on a SN list. I have responded to a comment in the comments section of this post to tell you why this is.)

We did not really know much about AC's need at referral and had a lot of questions. However, everytime we looked at those pictures... that precious face, we KNEW Xun Hui was our AnnaClaire and so we took a step of faith and accepted her referral. I often think about that. What if we had said no? She is PERFECT for us. Her need has been SO manageable and we honestly forget she even has it. There is absolutely no doubt that SHE is the child God intended to be a member of our family.

It was easy when we were paperchasing and went on the interested families list for Kate. We wanted another child with this need. We had experience, we have a great doctor, we understand it all, we have researched, etc. We filled out the form in September 2007 with just this one need listed. And then we waited. Our agency doesn't normally match before DTC, so we were officially waiting for a referral in December 2007, once we were DTC and LID. There were a few batches that came from Dec. to May. Not one had a baby girl with this need (that we know of.)

Two weeks before receiving Kate's referral, we went through the checklist again. We knew there were SO many other needs we could handle. Initially, we had felt very strongly about Kate and AnnaClaire sharing their SN. However, suddenly that didn't really matter. We decided to open our checklist up and added quite a few more needs.

There was one need in particular that I remember talking about time after time. Hemangioma. I honestly don't know why we ever questioned it. However, I think there was a scare over the size that it could be. We have two close friends who both received referrals with us summer 2006. Both of these families adopted girls AC's age with small hemangiomas. They both told us about their experiences, the treatment options, etc. We researched and put a big YES by "hemangioma." 2 weeks later, we received a call. A 15 month old girl with a hemangioma on her right cheek. We locked her file, sent our LOI, started preparing for our sweet little Kate, etc. She was PERFECT for us (still is) and we were in love (still are!)

Sure enough, the next month (July), and the following month (Aug), a family with our agency received the referral of a precious little girl with the same need that AnnaClaire has. Now, remember that all of the months prior, there hadn't been one young girl with this need to be referred to a family with our agency. At once, we realized that all of these months, God had kept our agency from receiving a referral of a baby girl with this need. All of these months, he was waiting for us to update our checklist so he could send Kate... OUR KATE, our Kate who has a hemangioma on her cheek!

On that note, only EIGHT days until we leave for China!!!! And somewhere between 10-12 days until we get Kate!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We are finally in the home stretch. SINGLE DIGITS! Yes, 9 days until we leave for China!!!!!! Praise God this time has finally come. We are still waiting on our final itinerary, once a few more things are worked out. We do know that we are on the same flight as two other families in our group! Both are traveling with 2 1/2 year old girls, so that will make it fun! I cannot believe we are only 9 days away!!!!

I ask you to keep Kate in your prayers. Her life is about to change in a big way. Pray that God would just work in her heart, as we know He so perfectly is. Pray that she would bond and accept us as her family and that she would know that we are here to stay and that we love her more than anything in the world! Please pray that she would stay at Philip Hayden as long as possible, and if it be His will, that we will receive her from there. We got disappointing news today that this is not likely anymore. We are preparing ourselves to receive her from Shangrao and not PHF, but we still have a slight, glimmer of hope because we serve a MIGHTY God who can do anything. I know it seems like a small thing, it is just so important to us. As of now, she is still there.

I've had quite a few people ask if I will be posting from China and the answer is YES. We have a travel site like AnnaClaire's for our trip. (I've actually updated quite a few times over the past few months.) So I just wanted to give you all our travel site in case you don't have it yet. It's You can get to it by going to Kate's picture on my sidebar. Kate's info is on there and the website is underneath.

9 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

10 DAYS!!!

until we are on our way to this sweet little thing!
(picture of Kate and her main/favorite nanny!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Never Met a Stranger

We had a very fun, whirl-wind trip to Atlanta. It was so good to see all of our family again! Most importantly, it was fun to see Chris and Shanda get married. They have waited a long time for this day and they were both glowing the whole night long. It was a beautiful night to celebrate such an special day!

AnnaClaire is quite the party girl. She was working off of no nap and was dancing all night long until she finally zonked out on the way back to the hotel... at 11:30! She had a ball. She loved seeing everyone and called the bride "Princess." She sat so nicely through the wedding and during the reception, she danced and danced and danced. She was dancing with EVERYONE. All of the bridesmaids were dancing with her, the bride and groom, her cousins, her aunts and uncles, etc. Half the people, she did not even know. She had the best time and was just smiling and dancing all night. She went to bed asking for MORE wedding! She LOVED the cake, LOVED running around hugging everyone, LOVED taking pictures with the disposable cameras, LOVED the music, and LOVED throwing flowers at the couple as they left. She met quite a few little friends, too!

This morning, we had a brunch with all of the groom's side of the family. It was delicious and we enjoyed getting to visit with everyone once again before we left. I think it's safe to say that AnnaClaire thinks big boy cousins are just the greatest! And of course their wifes and girlfriends, too.

I have a BUNCH of pictures to add, but Blogger is being incredibly slow, so those are for another day. For now, here's my new favorite picture of Miss AC last, taken last night!

11 DAYS!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How bout them LONGHORNS?

We are here and about to leave, but I just had to post... HOW BOUT THEM LONGHORNS?? I'm sure you know we are huge Texas fans in our house (Mom and Dad went there). If not, now you do. Anyway, we were "play by playing" the game on Dad's black berry the whole ride here. We got here right as the 4th quarter started and throughly enjoyed watching Texas upset OU! YEAH TEXAS!!! Poor Sooners!

The pictures are of AC in her Texas outfit last year. It doesn't fit anymore, but I bet it will look really cute on Kate, too!