Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're "pre approved"

Been home since last night, but we just listened to the messages. We had a voice mail on Friday from Pam (that wonderful lady in the Waiting Children Department at CCAI!) stating we are officially pre-approved to adopt our little one waiting in China.

That's good news! Now, we wait for the next step, which I *think* is when we are alerted to download our "TP2" Travel Packet. This gives us the necessary information to begin preparing for actual travel to China...travel agency info, visas, packing lists, etc. When this happens, we will know our paperwork is in the "match room" though I still don't know what that means! Oh, well. Whatever all these acronyms mean, I know one thing for sure. Each acronym we "earn" is one step closer to bringing home Xiang Xiang!

After that, we will await TA, Travel Assignment and CA, Consulate Appointment. At that time, we'll know WHEN we get to go to China. My guess is China in September, but we'll see.

Keep on praying for Xiang Xiang (who, by the way, WILL have an "E" name...we're down to two favorites!) Lord, keep her safe, well and prepare her heart to know You!

Home, again.

We just got back from visiting Dad's family in Ruskin, "home of the big 'mater."

The five of us packed ourselves (literally!) into the new hybrid vehicle Dad drives. We usually travel in the big SUV, but decided to save the gas money - over $3 a gallon - YIKES! Surprisingly, we had adequate space, even more than the other car we used to have. About the time someone got sleepy, however, the "adequate space" became...well, not so adequate! Still, it was a fun car trip...lots of family discussion, a few games (think Quiddler and Catch Phrase), a rest area or two...and BAM! Seven hours passed just like that!!!

When OUT of the car, it was great to spend time with BeBe and Poppy, Uncle Todd and Aunt Sis, Linda and Ashley and every now and then, Chase (love y'all). We ate WAY too much, but hey, that's just what we do on vacation! Hank missed us, but he survived somehow. Our wonderful neighbors took him in and cared for him...thanks, Mark and Terri!

Fun family time...but it's good to be home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A lovely afternoon

Our young ladies joined several others for one of the most pleasant afternoons of late. A good friend of their's - we'll call her Kitty - turned 13 years old. Her mother planned a most delightful, "Regency Era Ice Cream Social" for Kitty and her friends.

All young ladies came dressed in their Regency finest, enjoyed archery, butterfly catching, croquet and refined conversation. Kitty's mom read a beautiful letter written to another young lady, on the occassion of that young lady's 13th birthday, encouraging her to enjoy these next years, and to redeem them for the Lord...to see them as a time to learn, to serve and to think of others. I must ask for a copy of that letter to read again to my daughters on their 13th birthdays, as they enter that season of life.

The afternoon was so nice and the refreshments were too...they consisted of raspberry lemonade, ice cream and a scrumptious four layered, fruit filled cake, topped with fresh fruit! It was so kind of Kitty's mom to allow the Pooch and me to stay and photograph the event. Here are a few pictures I thought I'd share. Thanks again, Kitty and family....what pleasant company, what a nice time.

Some highlights:

Archery while the other ladies watch...

Croquet, anyone?

An afternoon tete-a-tete


Happy Birthday, Kitty!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Introducing the Kids...

Okay, so you’ve met our newest daughter…but we have three already at home! Here’s a little snippet of who they are. On this blog, we’ll call them the Elfin Maiden (Elf for short), Ladybug and the Pooch (not to be confused with Hank, the dog).

Our oldest, the Elf, is 12, soon to be 13, just completed 7th grade and is an avid reader. She enjoys playing sports, especially soccer and track. This year, she learned to throw the discus, just like dad, who taught her everything she knows! She even placed 5th in the county – her first year throwing. The Elf loves to dance (lately we’ve been going to a local Ceili dance club), acting (our local homeschool group’s theatre performances) and playing the piano. The Elf, like her sisters, loves history and dressing up in historical clothing, as well as dressing up and “living” in mythical worlds, unbeknownst to the rest of us! The Elf especially loves anything English…Jane Austen books (and movies inspired by her books), English accents, pictures of the English countryside, English county dancing, English tea, The Importance of Being Earnest, JRR Tolkien books (and movies…), etc.

Our middle daughter, Ladybug, turned 11 this year. She just finished 5th grade and is learning to enjoy reading more, especially on cool mornings outside, though she is quick at math! She enjoys being active – playing soccer and “going on a run,” riding bikes, and back-bends – but can look like the epitome of femininity when she wants. She has a great time mowing the yard?!?!, helping dad build the playhouse, playing historical dress up (like the sisters), having tea, and likes to giggle and put on impromptu skits. Ladybug, with the Bee (best friend down the street), love to play their own creations like: “Mugford Spy Academy”, “International Distress Association”, “Royal Hall of Films”, “Lego-town”, and “Airport, Grocery Store, Hotel, etc.” Recently she has picked up the guitar and is taking lessons. She plays a mean “Every Breath You Take” and can pick out beautifully “Amazing Grace.” She gets up early and is, by far, our most responsible and “self-governed” child, taking very easily to schedules and lines. She keeps the rest of us in line and “on schedule.”

The Pooch (she spells it "Puch"), who just turned 9 years old, is our “baby”…at least for a short while longer. She just finished 3rd grade and like her oldest sister LOVES to read. She can be found ANYTIME with her nose in a book, ignoring the rest of the world around her. She is the friendliest child I’ve ever met…it has been said she “knows no strangers.” She plays sports, but socializing and cheerleading are more up her alley. She loves to play with her bears, baby doll, Polly Pockets and with friends. She has begun recently to play more and more with her older sisters and their best friends down the street, and thus is enjoying the dress-up/olden days games. Pooch likes to color, sew (new interest!), help with tasks (as long as it is doing it WITH someone) and just chat. She is a “sweet-aholic”, and would eat dessert after every meal if we allowed; although, occasionally she will “become aware” of this potential problem and will avoid dessert for a time. (It usually lasts no more than a few days!) Pooch is not the best at keeping her room clean, though we are working on helping her stay on task. She is a great helper with the dog, though, and enjoys giving lots of hugs and kisses to all.

Oh, and then there is Hank…he’s our token male child. I use that term loosely – he’s our black lab. He is the sweetest dog, though I’m sure the Fed Ex, UPS and garbage men probably wouldn’t call him that. He has a loud bark, and most people know that though he sounds like he’ll eat them alive, the truth is he may lick them to pieces. He’s a big softy….sooooo patient with all kids. He’s a delight to have around, even if he does shed dog hair, demand to be fed if it’s five o’clock and leave trails of drops of water across the floor when he comes from drinking. Hank's new trick is to retrieve the discus when the Elf throws in practice. It's the coolest thing. He waits for the command, runs to the discus, grabs it and brings it back. Then he places it, ever so gently in a neat little stack. Hmmm...he must remember those duck hunting days.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

More good news...

God is so kind to continually show us of His love and care for our child! Though an entire continent and a very large ocean separate us, God has placed people in our lives who have bridged this gap - people who know our daughter. Yesterday I received this message from a new "friend" on an online list. (Thanks, Anne):

Your daughter is part of the Love Without Boundaries foster care program. I know that they can not share any information with you until after your adoption is complete, CCAA rules, but, I can tell you that I have held your daughter and she is SO sweet. Very quiet and shy, but also very sweet. Her foster family loves the stitches out of her, esp. her foster dad. (Can we say that he spoils her?!! YES!!) He kept trying to hand her to me and wanted her to call me "mama." He was very proud to show me that she could climb the stairs by herself! I would have taken her in a heart beat if I could have!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Good news about Xiang Xiang!

Pam, one of the fabulous ladies in the Waiting Child Department of our agency, CCAI, emailed us with an interesting little tidbit. It seems someone who has met our daughter passed on this message about Xiang Xiang:

“I have known Xiang since she was pretty tiny. She was a failure to thrive baby who just did not do well in the orphanage, but ever since being moved to foster care she has done great. She has a really nice foster mom who dotes on her (pretty obvious from the photos, huh?) and the staff in Shantou feels she has caught up now. I was not able to see her in December because my schedule was too tight, but I know everyone feels she is doing really well."

Isn't that good news?! Praise be to God for His lovingkindness shown to our daughter!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

It's been a few days

and we've been discussing names for the Princess. When we've settled on one, we'll formally introduce her. But 'til then....enjoy a few more pictures of her!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

May we present...

the one we've been expecting.

To God be the glory!

He has blessed us with another daughter....

Our daughter was given the name of Shan Le Xiang, but she is lovingly called by her nannies "Xiang Xiang Gongzhu" (Princess Xiang Xiang). We're not yet sure what we'll call her! She just turned three years old, is quite healthy and living with a foster family in Shantou, China.

Rejoice with us!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Expecting another....

So we started out (this blog, anyway) with just us...the Dad, Mom, three girls and a dog. True enough. But, we're also expecting...yes, we even have a sonogram to confirm.

Soon, we hope to find out a little more about this child who is no doubt alive, well and growing on the other side of the earth...somewhere in China. Who is this child, the gift of a gracious God to us? We are confident that God is keeping him or her, preparing him or her to come to live with us. May He show this child favor, kindness and love through the hands that care for him or her! Will you join us in prayer for our child?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

In the beginning...

There was Dad, Mom, three girls and a dog.