Saturday, December 29, 2012

1 Month update!

It has been 1 month since we first met Caelyn and 2 1/2 weeks since we have arrived home.  It has been crazy and amazing all at the same time.  At first, jet lag was not our friend at all.  Caelyn was either sleeping all day or not sleeping at all.  We are finally over that hurdle thank goodness.  Caelyn has been doing well adjusting to life in the US.  She likes adventuring out of the house and we hear a lot of questions everywhere we go!  Her English is growing and she is good about asking what a word means if she doesn't understand it.  I think she likes having so many brothers and sisters; most of the time!  Her and Claire tend to butt heads.  They both have strong personalities and like to have things their way and like to win.  Some days I feel like I spend most of my days refereeing between the 2 of them.  Today, they played board games together without a parent and did very well.  Gary and I kept complimenting them on how well they were playing together!  Caelyn has been grieving at times.  It seems to happen at night at bedtime.  Bedtime has been an issue and you can almost see her anxiety build the closer it comes to bedtime.  Right now, we are having her sleep on the floor in our room.  She sleeps well there and we figure right now she just needs to be close to us to feel safe.  We have a bunch of doctor appointments lined up for January to get her checked out.  She will be starting 2nd grade in January as well.

We are so happy to be back home.  16 sleeps was just too long to be away from the other kids.  Since being home we have dealt with:  Caelyn with shingles (her outbreak started before we left China), Claire had a foot injury and ended up in a boot, Claire ran a fever and got the respiratory crud, and Caleb got the chicken pox.  Plus throw in 2 Christmas band concerts for Brianna and Hunter!  Gary's dad, Myron, has been in and out of the hospital as well.  He battled esophogeal cancer and had surgery this summer.  Well, his new esophogus has strictures and swallowing is very difficult.  He has lost 20 pounds which he didn't have to lose.  He is currently in the hospital waiting to get a g tube so he can get nutrition.  Please pray for Myron and the family as we care for him especially Wayne and Teresa.  Whew, this momma is tired!  Praying for a healthy 2013!

Here are a few pictures to catch you up!
Our travel group!
 Red Couch photo!
 Family of 8!!
 My favorite...with 6 kids there most likely will always be someone who doesn't want to participate and on this day at this time it was Claire!
 The girls!
 My 6 kids!
The boys!
Happy 1 month Gotcha Day, Caelyn!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shamian Island, Safari Park, and Consulate Day

Catching up on our blogging. On Sunday, 9 Dec, we did get to Shamian
Island. The White Swan Hotel is completely closed for renovation,
otherwise, everything else seemed pretty much the same. A couple of
the shops we remembered from 2008 had closed, but not many. We got
some shopping done. The Island was full of local tourists and wedding
couples. Lots and lots of pictures where being taken. It seems the
Island is even more popluar now as a weekend tourist attraction.
Unfortunately for all the shops, the locals are not necessarily there
to shop. The restaurants do well though. We found our favorite shop
owners, Dong and Susan. They moved their shop one building closer to
the church. The church had asked to use their old store for
classrooms and Dong agreed. Dong has opened a little Tea and Coffee
Cafe along with the new store location. Susan was selling ice cream
on the corner. Robin recognized her right away, but of course I said,
"I don't think thats her." Dong recognized us right away. He
remembered our family, what I do for a living, and even pulled out
pictures of us and him from our last trip in 2008. It was great. Of
course, we had our traditional tea time with Dong and as usual, the
tea and conversation was fantastic! He says "Hi " to Tina and Brian.
Dong said it would be another year before the White Swan opens. We
had lunch at Lucy's, but it was not that good and slow service. It
sure was busy though.

On Monday, we headed out with our Holt group to the Chime-Long Safari
Park here in Guangzhou. We arrived the same time as a large group of
school children. Boy were we a hit! They all wanted to try out their
English on us. Lots of "Hellos" "How are you?" and "What's your
name?" For the first half of the park, we rode a tram through an open
safari area, where the animals roamed free. I've never seen so many
of each kind of animal. As we would get close, zoo workers would
throw large pieces of meat to the lions, bears, tiger, or wolves to
get them more active. It worked! One elephant was trained to blow
water at people as they drive by. After the open safari, we walked
for several hours through the rest of the zoo. Our favorite stops
were feeding giraffes, feeding the elephants, and seeing the pandas.
Caelyn's favorite was the white tiger show.

Tuesday, today, found us getting up bright and early to head to the
U.S. Consulate for our oath ceremony and Caelyn's visa application
appointment. Everything went pretty smooth and we were back by 1100.
One more box checked and closer to home. For lunch today, we splurged
and ate at the Prime Steakhouse on the 4th floor of our hotel. The
food was excellent. Definitely a place we can't afford for supper
time. This evening we went back to Shamian Island to pick up some
items we had ordered and to eat at our favorite Italian restaurant--La
Dolce Vita. It was as good as we had remembered.

The past days have also been full of card playing, tickling,
wrestling, and laughing. We've also taught Caelyn some of the
essential sign language signs like "Dad", "Mom", "Caelyn", "weird",
"silly", crazy", "won", "lost", etc. The signs for "potty", "eat" and
"drink" will come soon enough! We just love her hearty laugh. We're
all ready to get home. It's been a long trip. Only two more sleeps.
We miss the rest of our family at home.

Please pray for my dad, Myron. He's had some complications arise from
the surgery he had back in August. My oldest brother is with him now.
Mom and Caelyn playing on Mom's phone at Lucy's

Tea with Dong (and his son Zachary)

One of our favorite signs at the Safari Park

Mom and Caelyn on the tram

Feeding the Giraffes

The flamingos

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We arrived in Guangzhou

We made it to Guangzhou. We said good-bye to Beijing and we're one
city closer to returning to America. Caelyn had her very first
airplane flight. We rode Air China from Beijing to Guangzhou. She
had no issues and was very excited about the flight. She really liked
the fact she had her own TV screen in front of her on which she could
choose what she wanted to watch--TV programs, movies, games, etc. We
had some initial problems with seating. The airline had assigned us
to single seats in three different rows. Not what we wanted for
Caelyn's first flight. A stewardess worked the issue for us and we
were finally able to at least get Robin and Caelyn together. Even
though it was a short flight, we were all exhausted and hungry upon
arrival. It was a 90 minute ride from the airport to the hotel. We
decided to just order room service and laid low in the room for the
rest of the evening.

It's now Saturday. Robin did not sleep well last night. This
morning, Caelyn had her adoption medical exam. Nothing too intense.
More of a formality than anything. This afternoon, we put together
all the documents for her U.S. visa. There are six other families
here from Holt. We got to meet and talk with them this morning.
Caelyn is the oldest. All the other children are age 2 and under.
The hotel was nice in that they provided us with a baby girl gift
basket and placed a crib in our room last night. Unfortunately, our
baby girl is 8 years old and doesn't need a crib any more.

We plan to head to Shamian Island tomorrow for some shopping.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Last Full Day in Beijing

It's our last full day in Beijing. Tomorrow, we head towards warmer
weather in Guangzhou. We ventured out into the cold today to the 2008
Olympic Park and tested our ability to use taxis. The first taxi
driver took the scenic route, but got us to the Bird's Nest. Back in
2008 when we came here for Claire, we saw the Olympic Park and
buildings from a distance, but could not get close since the Olympics
hadn't started yet. This is the first time Caelyn had seen the
Olympic venues as well. The Olympic Park was blocked off, so we could
walk pretty much anywhere. The Bird's nest is a very large stadium.
We decided not to go inside it and walked around about half of it.
While waiting to take a picture of Robin and Caelyn by the Olympic
rings, a teenage girl getting her picture taken wanted us Americans in
her picture. So, we accomodated. From there we walked to the Water
Cube--swimming center. We decided to buy tickets and tour through the
cube. We got to see and take pictures of the main competition
swimming and diving pools and the practice pool. The practice diving
and water polo pools have been converted into an indoor waterpark.
That looked like a lot of fun. The rest of the water cube seemed to
be filled with shops and restaurants.

After a quick snack at a McDonald's in the Park we caught our taxi
ride back to the hotel. We had to bargain for our taxi fee this time.
We paid more for the trip home, but we got to see a more scenic route
back to the hotel. This driver stuck to the city streets instead of
taking the freeway like the first driver.

After returning, we met William, from Holt, who delivered us Caelyn's
new Chinese passport. Another major milestone complete! William also
took a couple large bags of Caelyn's school work and books for us and
will mail back to the U.S. We have been blessed by a large amount
information about Caelyn and much of Caelyn's school work. All will
be a great help as we get Caelyn settled into school back in the
states and as we meet with doctors. William also provided us with a
copy of the news article from 2007 where they advertised to find
Caelyn's birth parents and with a copy of the official police report
when Caelyn was found.

We closed this day with a great time of fellowship with Caelyn's
foster family--Dean, Megan, Mia, and Oliver. We ate at one of our
favorite Chinese restaurants located right next door to our hotel.
Mia and Caelyn had a great time together. Again, we could not have
asked God for anyone better to take care of Caelyn for us. It was a
final, bittersweet good-bye tonight for all. Good news...they plan to
visit us in America next summer. A baby girl they fostered before
Caelyn now lives in Milwaukee with her new adopted family, they have a
wedding to attend in D.C., and then of course Caelyn. So, they plan
to take an extended summer vacation in the U.S. Now our challenge
will be to keep Caelyn fluent in Chinese so Mia and Caelyn can talk in
Chinese together.

Tomorrow, Caelyn gets on a plane for her first-ever airplane ride.
She seems pretty excited right now. Pray that enthusiasm carries over
to the actual flight. Caelyn had a great day today. Except for our
short time with William, she was talkative and bubbly everywhere we
went today! Of course, she loved beating Mommy and Daddy multiple
times in UNO today and let out a belly laugh everytime she played a
Draw 2 or Draw 4 on Daddy. Daddy got her back with several tickle

See you in Guangzhou!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Today was a good day. We started the day with sleeping in a little
bit and eating a late breakfast. It was nice to be able to take it
easy. We also got to Skype with our neices and nephew in Georgia and
with the kids at home. Found out that Caleb has strep again and an
ear infection, ugh. He had strep before we left but I guess the
medication did not take care of it so he will try another med.
Praying that this is the end of strep at our house.

This afternoon, we went to Caelyn's school. The past 3 months she has
been going to Beijing City International School (BCIS). We toured the
school and met with her teachers. At the end of the day, they had a
PATH ceremony for Caelyn. This is how the school says goodbye to
students that are leaving. Her classmates read her letters they had
written to her, BCIS staff talked, and then Caelyn read her thanks and
goodbyes. She read her goodbyes with tears running down her face but
she perservered and got through it. She really understands what is
going on. She has been so brave and we are so proud of her. After
leaving the school, we went to her foster family's house and spent the
evening with them. The fixed us a homecooked meal which was wonderful
after a week of eating out for every meal! It was an enjoyable
evening watching Caelyn and Mia sing and dance and put on concerts for
us! We will be forever grateful for this family opening up their
hearts and home to our girl. We are already planning a reunion this
summer when they visit the states!

We have nothing on the agenda for tomorrow. We will see how cold it
is and decide then what we want to do. Gary is wanting to visit the
Olympic venues like the Birds Nest and the Watercube. I am sure
Caelyn would be just as happy to stay in the room and play cards! She
is quite the card shark!
Caelyn with her teachers and class (Mia and Oliver too)

 Caelyn's friend Mei reading her letter to her

Mia reading her letter to Caelyn

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pics of Super Sunday

These are on the cable cars heading up to the Great Wall

Oliver pretending to shoot a cannon

 The luge, or slide found on the Great Wall

Info about the part of the wall we were on and guess what you can even
eat Subway when you are done!

The Schoolhouse restaurant in the village. Food was very good and so
was the hot chocolate!

Caelyn's teachers (laoshi) from Fengtai Orphanage.

Caelyn and Ms Leo (Dan and Megan's nanny)

Caelyn and Ms Sue, from Holt.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Super Sunday

Wow! God is good. He continually amazes us with his goodness and
love. Today was another truly humbling day. We began the day with a
trip to the Great Wall with Dean, Megan, Mia and Oliver. Dean and
Megan rented a driver and large van, someone they use quite often. On
the way to the Wall, Mia showed us a Gotcha-Day video that she had
produced for us. Mia is very talented. The video contained video
footage from the time Caelyn woke up, to the time we left the
orphanage last Thursday. What a treasure!

We headed up to the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall, northeast of
Beijing. A very nice area and quiet. A light skiff of snow covered
the area. Dean and Megan come up to this area often and spend a
weekend in a rented condo. This was the first time Caelyn had seen
this area and seen the Great Wall. We road a cable car up to the top
of the Wall, then we walked about 1.5 hours down and up the top of the
wall. Very beautiful scenery, great conversation, and just in awe
that we were walking on one of the great wonders of the world. At the
end of our walk, we came upon another adventure--the luge. Each of us
road down to the bottom of the hill on a luge. Robin road by herself
and then Caelyn and I road together. What great fun! We certainly
wish the kids and us had visited this portion of the Wall back in

After collecting all of the medals for our records breaking speeds on
the luge, we headed for lunch to a nearby favorite restaurant. The
restaurant was called the Schoolhouse and it was in a remodeled school
once used by the local village. It served western fare and was
excellent. We especially enjoyed having some hot chocolate after
being outside all morning. Dean and Megan shared with us that they
are in the middle of the adoption process. Praise the Lord! Please
pray for them and pray for the special child God has picked out for

After lunch and a wonderful time of fellowship, we headed back towards
Beijing. Dinner was scheduled tonight at Kim and Cameron's house.
Kim and Cameron are also from Australia, but will be moving back to
Australia within the next couple of weeks. They have three children,
one of which they adopted from China, named Tom. An extremely
adorable 4 year old, who just loves Caelyn. Kim is a special
volunteer at the Fengtai Orphanage and was one of Caelyn's advocates.
They live in an apartment very close to the Grand Millennium Hotel,
which we stayed in back in 2008. Before dinner, we spent some time
visiting a couple supermarkets and had some coffee, tea and soda at a
coffee bar.

Now dinner. Before the evening was over, not a dry eye could be found
in their home. Kim had invited all the special people in Caelyn's
life--all of her teachers (laoshi) from Fengtai, Sue (from Holt),
Teresa (volunteer and matriarch at Fengtai), Leo (Dean and Megan's
Nanny), Phil & Jane (good friends and fellow teachers at the
International School (BCIS)), and of course Dean & Megan. Caelyn was
the guest of honor. Caelyn had a great time playing with her friends
Mia, Oliver, Lauren, Michael, Tom, and Leo. Robin, Caelyn and I were
presented with some special gifts. Among the items...Teresa presented
Caelyn with a hand-made blanket from a group of girls from Hong Kong.
These girls have graduated from a school that Teresa and her husband
are affiliated with. The girls are familiar with Teresa's volunteer
work and want to give something special for all the children who get
adopted from Fengtai. In addition, Kim presented us with a bag full
of Caelyn's school work from over the last couple of years. But the
most priceless gift of the evening was a video that Kim had produced,
which captured pictures, video footage, and special messages from all
in the room. It was just very humbling to really understand how much
all these people loved Caelyn and had been praying for her to have a
forever family. It was a time of celebration, a time of sadness for
Caelyn's friends to say "good-bye", and a time of praise to our great
God for bringing all these special people into Caelyn's life. From
the day Robin and I saw Caelyn's photo and said, "She's ours!" over a
year ago, we started praying for God to prepare Caelyn's heart, to
protect her, and to keep her healthy. As God always proves to us time
and time again, He surpassed and exceeded our desires. We always
think too small for our God. A very emotional evening for all. A
simple "Thank you" is not even close enough to express our gratitude
to all these special people, to Dean and Megan for opening up their
hearts and home to Caelyn these past few months and "preparing" Caelyn
for us, and to our Heavenly Father.

Wow! What a fantastic day! Praise to our great and glorious God!
Now, it's time for some sleep. Good night!