Saturday, June 30, 2007


Lest you think me a slacker, I must say that although I have posted several entries to my blog today, I have been working very hard! I managed to make it to the chair in front of the computer a couple of times to rest my weary feet, but the rest of the day has been go, go, go. I was near tears (very near) several times this morning with the enormity of the tasks of today looming over my head. There is still much to do, but at least I have a good section of the inventory for the movers accomplished. This inventory is of everything in the house, down to number of socks, and each item must be recorded with its replacement value. A separate form must be filled out for the items going into storage, the items that will be shipped by air, and for the sea shipment. This of course means that I have to have decided where everything will go! It's not anywhere near finished, but we're coming along. It may be a long evening!

I know God says He won't give me any more than I can handle. I'm banking on that fact, because it seems like I'm getting close! :-)

More Weekend Pics

My sister's husband, Shann, bought our Honda. Like any loving car owner, he went right to work waxing and polishing. Scott joined right in!

Grandma's bedtime stories with Caden and Gwen.

The ladies in my family... Mindy (my brother's wife), me holding Alyssa, my mom, and my sister Sarah.
Lyssa loves to smell the flowers!

Weekend Pics

Cousins together, bright and early before we left Tuesday morning. Notice that Meredyth just happened to have pants that matched our girls' dresses!
Scott's whole family (he is the oldest, with four younger sisters)... his parents are seated in the middle with his four sisters seated on either side of them. Their husbands are standing sort of behind them, with our boys mixed in and Scott and I on the end. Our girls and our three nieces are sitting on laps in the front. Wait until more grandchildren come... then we'll really be a big group!

We had fun going through old photos together... one of them must have been especially funny!

Friday, June 29, 2007

One Week and Counting

One week from today we will be in the air, all six of us, on our way to Shanghai. I've not really given a lot of thought to what we might be thinking and feeling at that point, because for now I am too busy clearing out the last few unneeded items from the house, making the last trip to Goodwill, labeling everything in the house with stickers saying either STORAGE, SEA or AIR, getting out suitcases to begin packing, and preparing to begin the huge task of doing the detailed inventory of everything in our house. In between these tasks we've had several showings for renting our house in the last couple of days... I was careful to tell our realtor to let people know NOT to expect the house to be clean or even picked up!

I suppose the all-consuming nature of these tasks is preventing me from focusing on the fact that we are leaving a lot of people and places that we love behind. We've had several sweet visits with folks we love this week, and that will continue in the next few days. I don't want to miss this precious time with them because I'm so preoccupied, but perhaps it's God's way of protecting my emotions.

I'll keep you posted.

Tricks with Uncle Justin

Uncle Justin and Gwen put on quite a show for us last weekend, when we were in Ohio visiting our families. She loved this trick of balancing on his hand best of all!

It's hard to keep your balance when you're laughing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

China Sisters

One of Gwen's three "China sisters" came for a good-bye visit today. Kate and Gwen had lunch together (of course Gwen encouraged Kate to eat more cucumbers- aren't they everyone's favorite food?!), played with pretend food and dishes, looked at books, played the piano, and had great fun pulling each other around and around the house in our little wagon.
Favorite activity today!
Jennifer, Kate's mom, and I joked that this was our "red chair" picture, sort of a remake of the famous red couch pictures that every family who adopts from China and stays at the White Swan hotel takes of their sweeties.
Gwen and Kate made beautiful music together today! Good-bye, Kate (and Jen and Steve and Sam)!
Please come visit us in China!
Love, Your China Sister

Friday, June 22, 2007

And then there were Two.... (again)

... two weeks, that is. We leave two weeks from today. Just today I felt like I could see the light at the end of the long tunnel of tasks that has stretched before us. We will leave in two weeks, whether or not I leave some drawers unsorted, or some cupboards in disarray. I'll just have some things to throw away on the other end! But I got the children's passports sent off for their visas today, which felt good to have taken care of, finally. That's one task that has been on my list for a while. And I have a lot of stuff waiting in the living room to load into the car to take to our families this weekend, which also feels good because it means Stuff is Leaving my house! One of our cars is being passed off to its new owner this weekend. Last night I ordered online a large portion of the books and curriulum I need for schooling Madelyn this fall. I called this morning to shut down the utilities that I can, high speed internet and cable TV (the others stay in our name until the house has a renter). Also this morning I put the final coat of paint on a little chest/shelf piece that I plan to use in our new kitchen.

So, slowly but surely we are winding down. Two weeks will go quickly. But it is fourteen days, after all, and fourteen is not such a small number. And after that.... the adventure begins. :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And then there were Two...

With Madelyn in Ohio visiting with our families and Seth at Kids' Camp with church, Caleb and Gwen just have each other this week. It's definitely a different dynamic! This morning Gwen went to wake Caleb up and then asked if she could join him in bed for a cuddle~.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Daddy's Coming Home

Scott is on the plane right now, heading home from Shanghai. It's been 18 days that he's been away, and he's missed some things that have happened at home.

He missed Caleb's return from his trip to Yellowstone with his grandparents. He missed three showings and two offers on the rental of our house. He's missed lots of sorting and purging sessions of the stuff in our house. He missed Seth's Early Morning Wake Up Call (see previous post). He's missed his girls smiles and snuggles. He missed two ER visits and one overnight hospital stay when Caleb broke a rib and bruised a kidney. He missed Madelyn leaving to go be with our families in Ohio. He missed Seth leaving for Kids' Camp. He missed walks and bike rides around the neighborhood. He missed Gwen pushing out the screen and falling out the window (first floor, thankfully!). He missed the boys' baseball games. He missed a fire on the patio, complete with s'mores. He missed Father's Day.

But his trip has been so necessary, and so worth it. I am so very glad he has been able to have this time in Shanghai without us, so that he could really concentrate on getting things up and running in his office, working late when he's needed to. Hopefully once we all arrive there, his work will have begun to settle into a routine (whatever that means!) and we can all reset.

We've missed you like crazy, Baby. Hurry home!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Nightmare

It would be a nightmare for any adult, I think. But for Seth, it was a dream come true, an experience he had been waiting for for a long time.

The Early Morning Wake Up Call. Coveted by all members of the Tech Room (4th and 5th grade Sunday School), each one hoping against hope that perhaps their turn would be this week. Several months ago I asked Pastor Michael, the children's pastor, if there was any way he could make this happen for Seth before we moved. Two Sundays ago he caught me in the hall and asked me if we could do it the next week.

And so it was that last Tuesday morning I was up at 5:45 a.m., dressing and making myself presentable in order to open the door for Pastor Michael and Matt, his very able and equally gifted sidekick, to enter and sneak up the stairs to the boys' room. They arrived a little after six, with a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, chocolate milk, and a video camera. They left the donuts and milk in the kitchen and crept up the stairs to wake Seth up, with a video camera in his face.

"S-e-t-h, S-E-T-H..." they called, video taping all the while. He slowly woke up and realized what was happening. He told me later that he couldn't figure it out at first. He thought Scott was calling him, but then remembered that Scott was in China. As he came out of his sleepy fog, a big grin spread across his face. It's the Early Morning Wake Up Call! I got it! It's happening to me!

Pastor Michael and Matt gave Seth a minute to dress, and then he came down to the kitchen and the waiting donuts. But he knew the drill~ no donuts until you do two things. First, you have to do something crazy. Second, you have to thank God for the donuts.

Something crazy.... hmmm. Crazy things that will be video taped... hmmm. Seth first went to the trampoline and did a few minutes of flips and jumps. Then he grabbed a scooter out of the garage and rode around and around in circles. Next he played a few of his new violin pieces... not exactly crazy, but definitely entertaining. Last he threw some little lights around, put them in his ear, coughed them up, and bounced them off the ground. (This sequence is one of his most fun magic tricks... I would tell you how he does it, but I'm sworn to secrecy.)

Then it was time for donuts and chocolate milk. After Seth prayed a blessing on the breakfast, Pastor Michael continued to videotape. He asked Seth questions about China and moving. He asked about Seth's magic tricks. Sometime during the donuts and conversation, Caleb joined us in the kitchen. Pastor Michael offered Seth a part in a skit at Kids' Camp (where Seth is now, as I write this.) They talked a bit about what the part would entail, and then Seth was doing more magic tricks, and then Matt showed us all some really cool card tricks, and before I knew it an hour and a half had passed since they arrived.

And then they were gone, and we were left to relive it all. We talked about what parts of it they would show on the video they would make to show in the Tech Room on Sunday, and was Seth really surprised, and "Mom, did you know they were coming?" It was a most satisfactory start to the day.

If you're a kid, that is.

Monday, June 18, 2007

First Chinese Lesson

I just now finished my first Chinese lesson. I am taking lessons through Berlitz Virtual Classroom, with an online instructor whom I conversed with for the last hour and a half. Her name is Amy. She grew up in Tiawan but also spent considerable time in the US, and now lives in Atlanta. She was very patient with me as I pretty much butchered her native language. In the hour and a half we spent together this morning, I learned to say the names of several desk items~ book, ball point pen, paper. I answered questions like, "Is this a paper? Is this a book?" I also learned desk, chair, and floor, and then at the very end we counted to five. That's it... 90 minutes of about a dozen words. She told me the first few lessons would be slow... she was right! As she painstakingly taught me the vocabulary, she did sprinkle in lessons on how sentences are structured, how to answer questions, the tones of the language, etc.

Fortunately all the lessons are recorded so I can go back and review. I will definitely need to! Mandarin is so very different, so foreign, that my mind can hardly wrap itself around the sounds to remember them.

I think I can remember ball point pen the best... it's yuan zhu (pronounced "jew") bi (bee). I said that one a lot. I should be able to buy pens in China now!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Mystery

There is a crowbar on my family room floor.

I certainly don't have a clue why.

Sometimes I just can't understand what boys are thinking.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


One more beach photo... I love this one. Ponytails flying, heading into the surf with Dad. Such a good thing!

Counting Down and Clearing Out

The countdown is on, and the sorting and purging are being done in earnest at this point. My mom was here helping me with this task for the last week, and she worked us hard! I told her before she left this morning that I probably only would have accomplished 10% of what we did together had she not been here to prod me along (gently, of course!).

I took my loaded Yukon (not a small car!) to Goodwill yesterday and came away feeling very light! There is more to go, but we sure got a lot of JUNK out of the basement in the last few days!

I have sorted through holiday books and decorations and chosen some to take along... but only what will fit in one Rubbermaid container... except for the Christmas books.... I couldn't leave many of those out and have nearly a full milk crate of those going.

Last week I tackled my hope chest~ it was a Christmas gift from my parents perhaps my junior year in college, just months before Scott and I were engaged. I filled it then with things for our new home, but since our marriage sixteen years ago have used it to store all sorts of things that had special meaning... but as I looked at it all last week, I realized that some of it was not really as special as it once was. Why did I save my nursing bras?! Those went in the trash. There were lots and lots and lots of letters and cards... fun to read through a few, but I decided I didn't need them all anymore. There was the unity candle from our wedding. It was at one time very pretty, but years in the hope chest had left it looking like... well, like an old candle. I have pictures from when it was pristine, on our wedding day. Perhaps it's best to remember things like that as they were, not as they are now. I saved my wedding veil, some special letters, the dolls I played with as a little girl, a sweater set that had been hand crocheted for Scott's baptism, my own baptism dress, and a few other odds and ends.

Scott has been away in China now for 11 days. He will be home in 7 days. Our packers come in 18 days, and we leave for Shanghai three weeks from tomorrow. Whew.

The clearing out feels really good. I love not being encumbered by so much stuff. The leaving~ well, that seems sad. There are so many and so much I will miss here. The going, that seems exciting. It's a new adventure with so much ahead of us to discover together. It's all good... and hard, and sad, and exciting, and scary, and wonderful and so many other emotions.

I think I'm ready. I don't know for sure. But I take great comfort and find great safety in knowing that God takes hold of my right hand and leads me into what is not at all unfamiliar to Him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sweet Things

We had sweet (rice krispie) treats out on the patio with our sweet friends Elijah, Emma, Julia and Kylia last week.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Summer Activities

The following is a list that Seth made last week:

Things to do this summer

1. skateboard
2. skate
3. go to camp
4. jump on trampoline
5. move to China
6. go to Six Flags
7. hang out
8. swim
9. go fishing
10. bike

Isn't that just like a ten year old?!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Just want to make some notes for you about the links in my sidebar~

My dear friend Rebecca (author of As In A Mirror, which I have referenced here before) and her family are in East Africa right now, on a missions trip with a group from their church. I don't fully understand all that they are doing on this trip, but I know that they are seeing and experiencing things that many of us never will. Check out her blog... you will find that she is a wonderfully entertaining and gifted writer.

Blessed is the FRUIT of My Womb follows the pregnancy and first months of new parenting for Judith and Lance and their adorable daughter, Bella. If you want to see a Really Cute Nursery, scroll through the archives and see what a cute room Judith and Lance created for Bella! Scott and I met Lance and Judith through a church small group several years ago. I love checking this blog to get my baby fix!

Chopsticks and Tabouli is the relatively recently created blog of my friend Carol. Scott and I met Carol in China on our adoption journey... her daughter Kimberly is from the same orphanage as Gwen. You can't help but feel a special connection with someone that you go through such a life altering experience as adoption with! Carol and I have kept in touch via email and love to "talk" to each other about our girls. Carol has just switched to a blog from another type of site. You'll find that she is a great photographer and does creative things with the pictures she takes of her cutie.

My friend Andrea took my recent post about wishing all my friends had blogs to heart and started one of her own last week. It's called Cleveland Sports Nut, and already has several posts! Andrea and I are friends from junior high, double dated in high school, had our third children together (our due dates were 9 days apart!) and have shared lots of fun times together with our husbands and children. Our family moved away from Andrea's family three and half years ago, which was sad for the adults and children alike, and now we are about to move even farther away. I'm so excited and thankful that she has started a blog... I look forward to getting a little more news from her family this way!

I've never actually met the author of Double Happiness, but I feel like I know her! She is Donna, the creator of the Family Fun Foto Challenge that I often participate in on this blog. She has two Chinese daughters, named Gwen and Madeline (Maddie). She found me in the early days of Now We Are Six, because of our "Gwen connection". We have emailed ocassionally, but I check her blog often, and have loved watching her beautiful daughters grow up! Donna is also a wonderful photographer, and does creative things with her photos.

OJ is the blog of Rebecca's friend, Beth. I haven't seen Beth in years, probably because Rebecca lives so far away from me that I hardly ever (recent visit aside!) get to see her, let alone her friends. But I love Beth through Rebecca, and I love reading her blog... when she posts (wink, wink, Beth!). It's thoughtful, different, funny, quirky, and she posts cute pictures of her kids. What more could you ask for?!

Photo Diletantte is the blog of my sister-in-law, Mindy. She has just recently taken up photography, but you'd never know it from her amazing pictures. Her goal is to post one picture a day, taken on that day, for 365 days. She on a roll, having done this since March, and I love checking her blog every day for the new picture.

My dear friend Sara Jane is, of course, the author of Sara Jane Says. She is a writer waiting (hopefully not much longer!) to be discovered. Full length devotionals seem to flow effortlessly from her fertile mind. I love how she can turn an everyday event into a spiritual lesson for herself and those who are blessed to read her thoughts. Check out her blog... someday soon you may see it bound on the shelves of your local Christian bookstore!

The View From Valpo, by "Lanasplit", is a also a blog that is currently chronicling a pregnancy. Our sweet friends Brian and Lana moved from our area last summer, and we are moving from their country just one month before their first little guy is due to be born! I am so bummed to miss seeing him in his infancy, but of course I will be able to see him on the blog! Lana sees the bright side of most everything... you'll enjoy her blog and her encouraging words.

Hope you enjoy some of the blogs that I enjoy... happy reading!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Zoo, Revisited

We had a fun outing to the zoo with friends yesterday. I realized when Jo-Ann and I planned this trip that Gwen had not ever been to the zoo! In fact, the last time we were at this zoo was within the week after we had gotten her referral picture in the mail. I remember carrying it with me through the exhibits, often taking it out to look in wonder at the face of this mystery child who would be joining our family.

This time Gwen was very much present, and very interested in everything! We were all interesting in watching this elephant balance on the edge of the moat encircling his habitat to reach out for some leaves on the tree nearly out of his reach. A few moments later, he was using his trunk to pick up mud to throw up on his back (to keep bugs from biting, so I've read) but overthrew and got all the innocent bystanders (us!). The kids, especially Seth and his friend, were sure that it wasn't just mud, if you get my drift!
I love the little smirk on Gwen's face here. The giraffe behind her to the left is a six month old baby. She was so sweet!

Gwen & Madelyn, and our friends Maxwell & Elliot, balance precariously on a giant loon's head!
Got to love the giant kangaroo pouch... Jo-Ann and I laughed at how the fake, statue animals seemed to be more exciting than the real ones. :-)

Counting Down

As of today, we are one month away from getting on our one way flight to Shanghai. Is it seeming more real? People ask me this question often, along with the follow up question, "And how are you feeling about the move?" The truth is, I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know when we are actually doing it. For now all I can say is that I am starting the countdown, and I'm excited about a new adventure. But I don't really know yet what it will be like.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Perfecting the Art

Gwen doesn't quite have her make-up application techniques figured out yet,
But she is still pretty happy with the results of her efforts! Sparkly pink is good in any amount as long as you're smiling, right?!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday's Activities, Hers & His

Here are the things I have done today since 10:30 a.m.

Gone to church with the kids
Returned a pair of batting gloves that were too big
Considered with Seth what the dentist will say about the fact that the expander that was cemented into Seth's mouth has just come out
Made lunch
Ate lunch with the kids
Did the dishes
Weeded a little
Checked out a robin's nest with Madelyn
Put Gwen down for a nap
Took a nap myself
Folded laundry
Jumped on the trampoline with the girls
Read books to Gwen
Took a bike ride to the playground with Gwen
Watched Seth and his friend dig new channels for the water at the creek
Made pumpkin bread
Responded to some email
Emptied the dishwasher
Made dinner
Ate dinner on the deck with the kids
Stacked dishes in the sink
Talked with a neighbor
Gave the girls a bath
Dried Gwen's hair
Brushed Seth's teeth
Admired Madelyn's drawing
Gave good night kisses
Took Gwen to the potty one more time
Closed the house up

And now, at 9:50 p.m., I am off to bed to read.

Scott got on the plane for Shanghai at 10:30ish this morning.
Scott is still on the plane.
Scott will be on the plane for about 3 more hours.

I think I might prefer my day. :-)

Family Fun Foto Challenge... Strollers

This week's Foto Challenge had me pulling a photo out of the archives (not that I really have archives... you know it's just a folder of old pics in Picture Project!). Anyway, it's a picture from Christmas Day, 2005, which was Gwen's third day in our house. The doll stroller was one of her Christmas gifts... and she knew exactly what to do with it!

I can't believe how young she looks...
Go check out Donna's cute girls in their strollers at 2happy.typepad! Thanks for another challenge, Donna. :-)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Weekend Happenings

Just a few photos from the holiday weekend... Scott's parents were here visiting and one of our favoite aunt & uncle pairs joined us, too! We enjoyed the church yard sale and classic car show, butter burgers at Culvers, time on the trampoline, an outdoor concert and gardens, a fire on the patio, Scott's birthday celebration, all the junior high bands and Cub scout troops in the Memorial Day parade, and lots of talking!
Daddy blows out the curly candles on his chocolate pecan birthday pie.
Pa & Nanny and the girls pose after the parade in their patriotic attire.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Last Day of School

A warm afternoon...

Leftover grape soda frozen into little popsicles in an ice cube tray...

A good book...

School over for the summer...

What could be finer?