Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Macy Li!!! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

With her there, and us here, you can only imagine how this mom's heart aches today....not to even mention how her birth-mom's heart aches. I cannot begin to fathom what torment she found herself in that early summer morning when she was forced by circumstances beyond her control, to relinquish this beautiful little child she'd carried in her womb and given birth to. I know that she wanted to be sure that her baby was found and cared for because of where she left her and when. I wonder today what she's thinking...I believe I know what she must be thinking. It's odd how I feel a strange connection to a lady half-way around the world whom I've never met, and probably never will. Her sacrifice became our greatest gift. Eternally grateful, I will forever love and pray for her. I will never forget her, and I'll tell Macy Li that she must have been a courageous and loving person.

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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The Poop, The Newt, and The Closet"

Okay, so C.S. Lewis I'm not. That's alright, I nevertheless must tell you about my own "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" adventure. "Wardrobe" being Macy Li's closet...

With 18 days left to shop and pack the world's-longest-packing-list before China, organize everything in my house that I know I won't be able to do for at least 5 more years, gather a million important papers, get her nursery ready, wash all these baby clothes in Dreft, and the list goes on and on.....I felt the urge last night to tackle "the closet." Not just any closet, but the one that had once been home to a little boy named Tater (Peyton, for those of you who don't know us). With a nickname like that, you can only imagine. Anyway, this closet had not even begun to be cleaned out from the many treasures he'd left behind when he moved on to a bigger room about two years ago.

So, overwhelmed, I'm standing there last night having no clue where to begin. I figure the floor is a good place to start since I really can't even get in there. Trash bags and storage boxes ready to be filled, I reluctantly begin. It ain't pretty. Amongst the football jerseys and ballcaps, I discover old "art." Well maybe not to just anybody, but to this mama, it's Picasso! So, it goes into the "save" box. Being threatened with bodily harm, so do the jerseys and caps. Then there are costumes...everything from a Tigger, to Cookie Monster, to Power Rangers, to Batman, to Daniel Boone, to Pirates, to Hippies, and you name it. Sweet memories flood over me and I begin to squall. Now, if you're a Southerner, you squall...and maybe bawl. I did both.

Amidst the squalling, I find cletes. Soccer cletes. Baseball cletes. Football cletes. Well, what's a boy-mom to do, but sniff 'em. I admit it, I actually like that stinky locker-room smell, for it brings back more memories of days gone by. Days of racing around looking for them before a practice or game, screaming my head off, racing through Brentwood with my boys in the back of the car putting on gear as fast as they could, and all the games...I wouldn't trade any of that for the world.

I keep digging.....and what to my wandering eyes did appear? The poop! We'd all been looking for that poop forever! It was fake, of course, but we all loved that poop! It had been the source of so many pranks and so much laughter. Many a guest, teacher, and friend had been terrorized by that poop. Now, this poop wasn't going in any trash bag or storage box. No way! This was a family treasure so it must be displayed on Tater's shelf, among all his trophies. Afterall, it was a trophy of it's own.

After a while, I felt I'd earned an honorary "Archeology Degree," for I'd unearthed quite a few historical relics....then came perhaps the most prized discovery of all: "Brett Favre!" Sadly, Brett Favre had escaped Tyler's prison many years ago. We'd searched the house up and down, and assumed he'd found his way to freedom. You see, Brett Favre was Tyler's newt. He was his friend. Oh yeah, Tyler thought that all God's creatures must come to take up residence in his room. Much to my chagrin, he'd capture various gross amphibians and reptiles, twist my arm into buying others, and they'd all come home to live with him. Being that he had no driver's license at age 10, I even used to go buy "live food" for them (I'll spare you the details because it was just wrong--SO wrong)!!! Anyway, there he was...'ol "Brett Favre" in all his glory....shriveled up, sorta freeze-dried in a way...on the bottom of the closet. Actually, he looked like one of those snacks you can buy on the streets of China (freeze-dried rooster claws and such...I'll take pictures when we're there and post for you to see). And yes, they eat 'em! I deliberated about what to do with him. No, I wasn't going to eat him! Should I put him on Tyler's shelf? Throw him in the trash? No, there was no way I could just throw away Brett Favre! So, like we used to do for all the hermit crabs, tree frogs, and such.....I had my own little private service for him right there in Macy Li's bathroom. After a short benediction, I flushed Brett to his final resting place.

Back to the closet...and then came the vomit....but surprisingly, not my own! No, this too was fake! Like the poop, we'd made many a memory with that fake vomit. Then came the fake snot. YES! I was making some real progress now! And then, all of a sudden, it hit me.... "What kind of a mom actually celebrates snot and such?!?! I mean, this is sick. I must be unqualified for this upcoming Assignment!!!!!!!!!!!! We can't bring a sweet innocent little baby girl home to this sickness. We'll warp her little mind. We don't do girls here. This place isn't even safe for her!" And another horrifying thought came.... "I'm gonna have to have the 'period' talk with her one day!" Flatulence? Expert. Periods? No way. I mean, we're in full-throttle testosterone mode here. We'd better find a good therapist, and quick!

Before I knew it, the closet had been emptied of the memories of its past....and filled with the hopes of its future...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hang on Macy Li, here we come!

Good news...Consulate appointments set! July 17th is concrete!! 19 more preparation days!!

We're leaving on Nolan's birthday and returning on Papa Kemp's birthday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Care Package

I thought you might like to see the care package I'm sending to Macy Li....It contains a little lovey we've slept with, a little pig (she was born in "The Year of the Pig" and that's a big 'ol deal to the Chinese), 2 disposable cameras with instructions to take pictures of her little life there and return with her when we get her (who knows if we'll ever see those again, but it's worth the risk), some photos us all of us (labeled with "Mama,etc." in Mandarin for her caregivers to show her so that hopefully she'll recognize us when we come--yeah right!), treats for the nannies, and little toys for the other kids....A Chinese family we've recently met at church has translated into Mandarin my letter to go in the box. We'll see if it makes it, and if we ever see any of this again. Please pray it does! I especially would love those photos of her life there at the orphanage.

"MISSION MACY LI".....3 Weeks!!!!

Visual Poetry -

I spoke with the Travel Coordinator at our agency again today, and she's still saying July 17th! That means I have only 20 more days to git-r-done!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Packing for Camp

Earlier Tuesday, I took the boys shopping to get the last of their camp stuff, and again, we got a little off the set agenda. Here's what we found....

So many bows; so little time!

Another trip to REI!! C'mon boys, we have to focus on camp; not Macy Li...

Grabbing a bite...

Now, it's 3:30 am Wednesday morning, and we just got back from taking Peyton to meet the Kanakuk bus, full of wild camp kids. They just left for Missouri for 2 weeks. In an hour, I'm waking Tyler and Nolan up to take them to the airport to leave for Kanakuk-Colorado for 2 weeks! Their time at camp every summer is the highlight of their whole year. They get to see old friends, make new ones, soak up great Bible teaching, do every sport imaginable, act crazy, and just generally have the time of their lives. I'm so excited for all of them. Getting ready for this camp-extravaganza, however, is a whole 'nother story! Below, you can see just SOME of the things they packed...our dining room looked like REI moved in.

"While visions of zip-lines danced in his head......"

Loading the bus with his buddy, Benji!

And here are sleepyheads: Nolan, our friend Callie, and Tyler at the airport this morning before leaving....Awww, aren't they cute?!

Well, that's about it for now. I've got to go recover from this marathon shopping/labeling/packing/sending-off whirlwind! Speaking of packing whirlwind...I guess I better get going on the next one...this time Beijing, Nanchang, Guangzhou!!!!! Yippee!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Travel Approvals" Have Arrived!!!!!

I just received an e-mail from our agency saying that our Travel Approvals from the Chinese Government have arrived!! YES!!!!!
Now, they are working on securing our appointments in Guangzhou with the U.S. Consulate and once those are secured (we'll hear back in 1-5 business days), they can finalize our travel plans!!

Right now, it's looking like leaving the US on JULY 17th (Nolan's 15th birthday) and returning AUGUST 1st!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my word, I just counted and that's ONLY 23 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!

"LI MING," hold on baby, we're coming!!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday at Center Hill...only one thing missing! ;)

No words needed...

"I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in truth." ~3John 1:4

Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting to know her more!

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." ~Proverbs 25:25

This afternoon, we received Miss Macy Li's translation of her growth report, and various details that we want to share with you. The first paragrah goes into the particulars of where and when she was found, by whom, etc., but I just don't feel I should post all that here.

Next, it speaks of her personality and development: The English is a bit broken, but it says:

"Li Ming is a pretty girl with slightly dark and healthy skin, black and thick hair, little face and talking eyes. She is truly a lovely girl. She had good physical development. When 2 months old, she could raise her head, smile, move her eyes with the object moving around. When 3 months old, she could smile and utter giggling sounds, touch things with her hands and turn her body from lying on her stomach to lying on her side. When 5 months old, she could stand up with support under her armpit, sit well with her back leaning against something, and try to find the source of sounds on her initiative when hearing the music and loved giggling.

When 7 months old, she could recognize her name, tell people she was familiar with from strangers and was a little afraid of strangers. When a person she is familiar with passed by her bed and called her name Li Ming, she would show you a sweet smile, with her hands and feet moving and kicking and no one can help hugging her.

By now, she knows how to imitate the behaviors of adults, listens to other people's conversation. She loves to sit in the baby walker and moves around, and loves to be held by the caretakers to go outdoors and play. She is open, active, and happy."

About her schedule, it says:

"Li Ming has good appetite. She has 5 meals a day with 260cc for each meal. The staple food includes Shengyan Milk Powder, Aying Rice Powder with some fish, porridge, and meat soup, etc. Time for the meals: 1am, 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm. Sleep time: going to bed after 7pm and awaking at around 6:30-7:00am. Nap for 2 hours at noon time. Normal and regular defecating and urinating each day, ..."

This little girl is in serious need of some pinto beans, cornbread, and sweet-potato-pie if you ask me!!

Her favorite activity: Outdoors activities (Yep, she's my girl!)

Favorite toy: Rocking bell (huh? better go google that one)

The report goes on to give a lot more specific medical information that I'll not go into here. So many of you have asked about the above, so that's pretty much all I know for now. It sounds like she must be a sweet little thing.

I'm now in love with the name "Li Ming," especially knowing that she responds like she does to it.....I guess we'll have to start out calling her that. Well, you know our family. We have no shortage of nicknames. I've already nicknamed her "Moonpie." It fits because she's sweet, delicious, has those round chubby cheeks, is a "southern" girl in China, is going to be a "southern" girl in America, and because of the "moon-related" folklore in China.

This weekend, I am sending her a care package which will include a "lovey" that we have slept with in hopes of leaving our scents (sounds odd, but we've been advised to do this), a couple of disposable cameras for the nannies to take pics of her there, a laminated card with our pictures (labeled in Chinese: Mama, Dada, Brothers), and a few other things. Also, we are sending another package with things for the caretakers and other children there at the orphanage. Oh, I just have to do something until we can get there!

We're still waiting on the Travel Approval from the PRC....they say it could come as early as next week, or take 3 more weeks. Assuming it comes very soon, our agency is working on a tentative itinerary having us leave approximately July 17th....That is so soon, but oh so long at the same time. I'd go tonight if they'd let me.

I've found a couple of pictures that were taken this past March at her orphanage by another adoptive family. You'll recognize the little outfits. Sorry, I can't get them to transfer any larger.
Believe me, I scoured these pictures to see if I might recognize her in the background, but I can't really tell. There is one little girl way in the back and to the left who could be her, but I'm not sure. She's on the blue duck. What do you think? Oh, and by the way, we also found out that these ducks are their potty seats. They're sitting on them with their "split pants." In China, orphans don't wear diapers from what I understand. They wear "split pants," sit on these potties, and somehow are trained to go that way. How that's gonna work with us, I haven't a clue! Pampers are sounding pretty nice to me!

Also, here are a couple of the pictures we've found of what we believe is her orphanage, but still doing more investigating...

Just look at all those little cribs! How can I leave there with only one?!?!?! Tell me! If they'd allow me, "Li Ming" would be bringing home all her friends with her!

Well, that's about it for tonight...Thank you to all who are praying for her! Please continue to pray for her protection, and that she'd be loved well until we can get there...I know so many of you are praying and I just want you to know that every call, every e-mail, every card, every gift, and every prayer has truly humbled us. She is blessed, and so are we.

"...I have called you by name. You are mine." Isaiah 43:1

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Macy Li's "Bai Jia Bei"

A few fabrics have now been sent for Macy Li's "100 Good Wishes Quilt." Several of you have asked questions about this, so I thought you might like to see an example. This particular one was sent by my friend, Connie Stowers-The Quilting Queen!

So, don't be intimidated by the fact that she's already sewn hers' into this "block" as she calls it. Now, I have no clue what a block is, but apparently quilters do. I just know that it's beautiful! Thank you, Connie!!!! (Good thing I'm not the seamstress for the quilt!)

Basically, you just send an 8 X 8 inch square of any fabric you choose. Yes, that's all the fabric we need. Along with the fabric, you'd send Macy Li a "good wish" (or blessing, prayer, scripture verse, etc.). On this paper where you write your blessing, please attach a small sample of your quilt fabric so that one day when Macy Li grows older, she can go back to her "100 Good Wishes Quilt" book, read all her wishes and be able to identify who sent which square of fabric in her quilt. More details and pictures are in the post below, entitled "100 Good Wishes Quilt." Please e-mail me if you need my address, or you have questions.

I'm working on a link over in the sidebar where you'll be able to go and see all the fabrics as they arrive, and hopefully it'll all begin to make a little more sense. I've had so many questions, that I feel like I haven't explained this well enough. Also, here are a few more examples of what others have done...

For those of you just coming to this blog, you can read about the Chinese tradition of the "100 Good Wishes Quilt" in the May posts.

Thank you to everyone who's expressed interest! This will bless me greatly, but more importantly, it'll be a tangible representation to Macy Li of all those who loved, prayed for, and welcomed her into our family!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"When will you travel to China?"

For those not familiar with China, below you will find the Jiangxi Province in red...Gotta love those southern girls!

And here is a general provincial map of China...

"So, when will you be traveling to get her?" That's the million dollar question everybody asks. Well, I don't know, but this is how it works. We are currently waiting on The China Center of Adoption Affairs to issue what is called a "Travel Approval" letter. This TA let's us know that we are approved to travel to The People's Republic of China for the purpose of adoption, and will let us know what window of time we have to get that accomplished. Once we have the TA, then our agency will secure our appointments with the US Consulate in Guangzhou. The embassy is where her adoption will be complete, and this will be the last city we'll visit in China before returning back home. Once these very important meetings are set, then we and our agency can begin to book flights, hotels, interpreters, guides, etc. around those appointments.

Typically, with China International Adoptions, folks receive their TAs about 3 to 4 weeks after receiving their referral. Travel to China usually occurs 6 to 8 weeks from the time of referral. However, our timing coincides with the Beijing Olympics, which begin August 8th. Some agencies are telling their people that China has told them there will be no travel during olympics...booo! Our agency, however, is working to try and get us over there by mid to late July, which would mean we'd possibly be in China when the games begin, as adoption trips average about 14-16 days. The prayer is that we can go asap! Now that we know who she is and where she is, waiting until after the olympics would kill us.

When I asked the chinese man at the DMV about Jiangxi's weather in the summer, he replied, "Well, have you ever been to Las Vegas in the middle of the summer? Take those temps and add insane humidity and you have Jiangxi weather." Oh, joy! At least I'll feel "at home."

All I DO KNOW FOR SURE is that I've got a load of stuff to do and buy in the next 5 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's unbelievable how much there is to do in such a short time! You should see the packing lists alone!...Then, there's finishing the nursery. It's almost there, but I'm waiting on my draperies and bedding to be finished and installed. I'll post photos of it soon.....I am going to have to go somewhere like, dare I say it, "BabiesRUs" (Yikes!), and register for things this girl hasn't laid eyes on in 11 years!....Oh, and BABYPROOF this entire house (somebody help me!)....And add the little squirt to our insurance....and at least a million other nesting-type things. Better get off this computer and get going!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Our weekend

“Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:4-5)

Over the weekend, we went to Cincinnati to visit my sister and her family. Saturday, we went to the zoo and to the Reds vs. Red Sox game. Sunday was extra special because we celebrated Father's Day, Maggie Leigh and McKenna Grace's baby dedication at church, and after church we celebrated Maggie's 2nd birthday.

All of us at the zoo....

Darling Maggie Leigh....

Happy McKenna Grace...

The 3 Stooges....

Cincinnati vs. Boston game....

My 4 favorite men......Psalm 127:3 "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."

The fam at church...

The "baby dedications" of Maggie and McKenna....

Precious cousins....

Maggie Moo is 2!!

We had a great weekend. We are crazy about our nieces/cousins! We can't wait to introduce them to Macy Li! Happy Birthday, sweet Maggie! To Phillip, Happy Father's Day! Your family LOVES you and is thankful for you!!!