Monday, April 23, 2007

New Jersey

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We arrive in New Jersey

We are on the last leg of our trip around the world before we head back to Germany. We arrived at the airport in Philadelphia and Grace met her Greatgrandma (Mema) and Opa and Oma for the first time. My parents had a party planned with all the relatives to welcome Grace. We are truly blessed to have family that care so much about us. The party was wonderful and Grace was definitely the star. We then went back to my parents' house and since the boys' cousins were there we had a little party for Eamon's 8th birthday. We had been in China on the actual day so it was great to celebrate now with family.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grace meets her Nanny and Papa and cousins April 16

Mikes parents and our sister in law and their 4 children drove out to Texas from Alabama to see all of us. We all had a wonderful time and Grace loved all the fun. The hotel they stayed at had a pool so Grace had her first swim. It was so great to see everyone and all the kids loved playing together. We pack up tomorrow and head to New Jersey to see Grace's Opa and Oma, great Grandma and more Uncles, Aunts and cousins.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Traveling to Hawaii and to see our boys in Texas!!!

Wow what a long flight leaving Guangzhou flying through Tokyo with a 7 hour lay over and then a 10 hour flight to Hawaii. We got Grace's citizenship done in one day spent the night in Hawaii and left for Texas to see our boys. Grace was thrilled to realize she wasn't stuck with just Mike and me. We were blessed to be picked up in Hawaii by Mike's brother's secretary's family who were our personal chauffeurs in Hawaii. We are so thankful to our wonderful friends Landy and Richard who watched our boys in Texas for the 2 weeks we were gone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Red Couch Day

Days in Guangzhou April 9 & 10

Only one day left and we will be leaving for home!!! It has been wonderful seeing China, but we are definitely ready to bring Grace home. She had her medical yesterday so they could confirm she is healthy to travel. It was a cattle call but being in the military we were used to that. We went to the pearl market and shopped for pearls to give to Grace when she is older. Today we got the picture on the red couch. Grace couldn't understand the idea that you actually were supposed to sit on the couch. She attempted to do many other things though. She is now sound asleep and did discover tonight how much she loves pizza. We are packing tomorrow and then have our swearing in ceremony and consulate appointment in the afternoon. Then we wake up and get on a 6 hour flight to Tokyo where we have a 7 hour lay over. A 7 HOUR LAYOVER!!!! Then we fly I don't know how long to Hawaii spend the night to get Grace's citzenship then fly to Minneapolis then onto Dallas. This means jet lag!! We are so excited to see our boys, this is the longest we have ever been gone. Grace is definitley ready to meet her big brothers. She had 2 older brothers in the foster care family she was in so I'm sure she will be excited to know she is not stuck with just the 2 of us!!! She is such a joy and we are so blessed to have our precious daughter.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kunming and Guangzhou

We found Grace’s “finding place” under the Dun Ba bridge in Kunming. It was a very busy and impoverished area. It was hard to imagine Grace’s birth mother leaving her – and we wonder how many of the young girls here have abandoned their babies. It was amazing how many of them followed us and stared. We took some video and pictures and then headed to a nicer part of town for lunch.

We walked to the flower and bird market. Lots of people selling stuff.

We packed up and left Kunming for Guangzhou early Sat. morning. We got to the White Swan hotel and walked around town. It is very clean and nice here and everyone speaks English. I feel like we are getting closer to home.

Today we went to a church in English a block from the hotel it was very crowded and we have heard that the Christian churches here are really growing. We have some great stories from people we have met.

Tomorrow is Grace’s medical appointment and paperwork day. Grace is walking everywhere but still falls down a lot. She is a real character!!! Most of the time she is happy, but she definitely wants things her way. We are slowly trying to teach her the world isn’t just about Gracie. We are enjoying Guangzhou but are ready to see our boys!!!

Kunming and Guangzhou

Friday, April 06, 2007

Apr 5 in Kunming

April 6 - Last day in Kunming

It’s Friday morning and we’re getting ready to head out for the day. It’s the first day without any agenda which will be very nice. Slept in until 7:30, leisurely breakfast upstairs, long warm tubby for you-know-who and now we’re off by ourselves to find some shopping. Yesterday we went to a tea ceremony and learned all about tea and climbed up to a dragon temple (Daoism / Taoism). Very beautiful hike up the steep steps on the side of a mountain overlooking the largest fresh water lake in China. It was sad to see these people climb all the way up the 400+ steps to touch this ‘mystical’ piece of rock and then pray to something that doesn’t exist. Kind of like Baal and Ahab’s people.

We ate lunch at a mushroom fondue kind of a place – very interesting. There are about 687 billion different kinds of mushrooms and they were all in our soup!

Today we will go to Grace’s finding place. It’s over by the silk factory we toured yesterday – we’ll go to take pictures and spend some time playing in the grass. Praise God that Grace’s biological mother left her to be found – only God knew what a blessing she would be to our family a year and a half later. His ways are so much higher!!!

We’re off to shop, good thing we brought all those suitcases!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Eamon!!!

Happy Birthday Eamon. We wish you were with us, we'll be home soon!!! Have fun at Brahm's.

We love you!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April 3 & 4

Apr 3 & 4 - Days in Kunming

Yesterday we came back to the hotel and got take out food to eat in the room. We were all really tired. It was cold and rainy and we decided to go out to lunch and to Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart is not like the States. We then went to Parkson’s a really nice department store and bought a great stroller. We then walked back to the hotel about 100 blocks. It wasn’t that far but it sure felt like it!!! We bought Grace a little pair of cute shoes for $5.00. Today we were up early and it was cold again. We went to the Stone Forest. It was really neat to see all the rock formations. We bought some bags with embroidery work done by the minority groups. We then went to the Orphanage to see where Grace and Mei Lin spent their first 7 months. It is really a wonderful orphanage. Really clean and 60 full time employees and 200 volunteers. We saw 12 babies in the nursery with 5 nannies taking care of them. It seemed like all the children are very well cared for. Many of the staff recognized our babies and came out to hug them. We were given a book of the orphanage with many wonderful pictures and we got a lot of people who knew our babies to sign it. The orphanage was quiet and most of the rooms were empty that we saw. Three quarters of the children are in foster care. Grace had been with her foster family since she was 7 months old. We went into one of the rooms where our daughters had gone for game time and the women heard Graces cough and said we should go see the doctor who is part of the orphanage. I told her I was giving her medicine, but she still wanted us to go see him. The doctor we saw was the same one who saw Grace in foster care. He gave us some amoxicillin and also told us he did not hear her heart murmur anymore. He said he feels the hole in her heart has closed. We are rejoicing in God’s goodness!! The room we were in is where they bring all the babies right after they find them. So it was another neat opportunity to see where our little ones were brought at 1 day old. We were really pleased at all we got to see and know that our daughters were well cared for. It was late when we got back to the hotel and Grace and Mei Lin have been doing remarkably well for these long days. Grace seems to be attaching to us and did not want to go with the nannies at the orphanage. She has been burying her head when someone she doesn’t know comes up to talk to her. Grace’s favorite things to do are laugh, giggle and eat cheerios. We are really enjoying this time getting to know her little personality. She does get an attitude when it comes to not getting her own way, but otherwise she is happy and all smiles.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gotcha Day!!!

What a great day!!! We got up early and left the hotel by 8:30 am. The ride to get our babies was about 20 minutes. We walked in the door and about 2 seconds later they were handing Grace to us. Our agency set up a video man to film everything and that was wonderful. Grace came out to us all smiles. She has been laughing and giggling all day. She seems to be having no problems letting us know what she wants and doesn't want. She has a spunky personality and is very vocal and active. She isn't walking yet, but is standing and trying to take steps. I think she was carried in a pack by her foster family a lot because we don't think she ever learned how to crawl. She is supposed to be asleep right now, but she is babbling and laughing in the bed. It may be a long night!!! We are so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity to bring little Grace into our family.

Gotcha Day!!! 2 Apr 07

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Kunming Pictures

Overpacked? I don't think so.....

Our first full day in Kunming brought with it many lessons. Our gracious guide Elsie finally told us that picking through the common bowl of food with your chopsticks is not very polite and pointing with your chopsticks is even worse. We had a good laugh and a great lunch.

Kunming has over 4 million residents, so there is quite a bit going on most of the time. Here are some photos of the people living their lives. This baby was in the checkout line behind us. The banana lady wanted us to take more than a picture. I think it was recess time at the restaurant – it looks like the entire workforce was running laps – maybe someone spilled the soup? The chickens were all lined up for dinner. I don’t think the motorcycle family stopped to smell the roses….

Chrysanthemum tea we had with dinner was very colorful. In fact, our travel guide at the hotel told us that tea was introduced first in Yunnan Province. They do a ton of tea here; tobacco and jade, too.