Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From our house to yours... may your Christmas be filled with laughter in the air, love in your hearts and the knowledge that the Lord of all the earth loves us all so deeply that He gave us His son. Peace and blessings to you all.

Wowie zowie, I need to catch up!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gosh, time really seems to just get away from me these days. There are not enough hours in a day to do all that I really want to. And blogging seems to be getting pushed aside too often. Anyway, I do want to quickly recap our trip to New York, as it was an incredible time.

We actually arrived two weeks ago tomorrow. (Sheesh, how's that for slacking.) Patrick's meeting went very well, which is always a good thing. It was bitterly cold for us Floridians, with temps in the 20s-30s. But we did manage to walk about the city some. We stayed in Times Square, on the 40th floor of the Doubletree. And when I say that the view from our room was amazing, I mean it! It was surreal. I felt like we were in a movie because the view we had is the one so often used in movies that are "taking place" in New York. It was really breathtaking.

On Thursday, Patrick's meeting wrapped up early for him. So we enjoyed lunch at Carnegie Deli. Madeline loved the pickles! It was hilarious. After lunch we walked over to Central Park and took a carriage ride. Despite the cold temps, we all really enjoyed it. We passed by the New York Athletic Club, where our dear friends Jess and Chris were married long ago. Patrick reminisced about all the fun times he had working security at Carnegie Hall and Gracie Mansion. (He had some time on his hands his senior year of college.) That night we ate dinner at a great Chinese restaurant just off of Rockefeller Center. The food was fabulous, as I knew it would be when I saw shark fin soup of the menu.

That Friday, Patrick's father came in to town with his wife, Carol, and son Joe. We had a nice dinner at Becca. And although Madeline can be fidgety in restaurants, she did pretty well, enjoying her meal as well as everyone elses. LOL.

On Saturday, Patrick's mom, Barbara (a.k.a. Bammy) came in from Connecticut, along with Patrick's sister, Michele, our brother-in-law John and niece, Lydia. Caleb and Lydia played with each other like not a single day had gone by since they last saw each other. It was so heartwarming to see. We had predetermined that we would be visiting the new Dis*ney store and To*ys R Us with all kids in tow. And they had a blast. They watched videos and colored at the Dis*ney store and rode the huge, indoor ferris wheel inside To*ys R Us. By the time we wrapped things up, it was time for dinner. So we walked over to Ruby Foo's. By this point, Madeline was so tired, she fell asleep right there in the carrier. Poor girl. A blazing loud fire truck zipped right by us and woke her up momentarily. But she was back asleep on my chest in the carrier. It was a precious moment between us...and she stayed that way through the first half of dinner! I did manage to eat my miso soup "around her" without a spill (I got lots of practice eating with Caleb in the carrier when he first came home. LOL) We managed to walk over to Rockefeller Center after dinner to catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree in all its glory.

We had a such a great time with family in NY, but on Sunday it was time to head to Philly. Caleb was super excited because we took the train. It was his first train ride. The joy on his face was priceless. Madeline enjoyed herself too. It was a really fun way to travel (and good preparation for the possibility of a train ride in Ch*in@ with all our luggage!) We grabbed an awesome dinner at this great little Italian spot on Walnut St. Wow, was the food incredible. And the salad was hard to choose!

On Monday morning, we headed to Shriners to meet with Dr. Kozin regarding possible surgery for Caleb. He was pleased with the muscle/tendon transfer surgery that Dr. Kadiyala performed over 2 years ago. His range of motion is vastly improved. The trouble Caleb has right now is with pronation (turning his palm down.) He suggested a bicep transfer to the forearm for this. Since we didn't even think there was something that could be done, we still have to spend some time researching this option. The whole team was wonderful and caring. So many people on the yahoo groups have said nothing but amazing things about him. And he continues to live up to that. We were thoroughly impressed.

After our trip to Shriners, we headed off to the airport for our flight home. And that basically brings us up to speed. We finally got our tree up this past Sunday (we forgot to get it up before we headed to NY). And tonight, we finally decorated it. Caleb sat on Patrick's shoulders as he placed the star on top. He was so proud of himself. He just melted our hearts. And since I STILL have not even downloaded all my images off my camera from the trip, I will share some video instead. When I finally get around to uploading and editing my images, I will be SURE to post them here. For now, enjoy some sweet love between cousins. And Michele, John, and Lydia, we can't wait to see you again next week!!!!!

Caleb and Lydia, taken by Bammy (look for a hint of Madeline's attitude at the end

Home 4 months

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As we make our way through last minute preparations for our trip north, I am reminded of just how long our precious girl as been home with us. It's hard to believe how quickly these last 4 months have gone by. The little, scared and grieving girl who was handed to us 4.5 months ago has disappeared and, in her place, stands this amazing, strong-willed, vibrant, sometimes naughty, full of laughter little girl. When we recently traveled to Virginia, I told my Auntie Alison, aka Gramma Ali, that she was in for a surprise when we got there. And Madeline Bei did not disappoint!

As we get ready to head north to New York, Madeline Bei will finally get to meet Patrick's family. She will get to meet her Bammy, Patricks' mom, Patrick's sister, Michele, our brother-in-law, John and niece, Lydia. She will also get to meet her Grandpa, Gramma Carol and Uncle Joe. It's so exciting to have everybody meet Madeline so soon after being home with her. We waited almost a year after being home with Caleb before we traveled. So it was a little bit of time before all our extended family got to meet him.

Anyway, we're thrilled to be seeing everybody very soon. And, although we skyped in Chin@, we are so excited to have everybody finally meet our precious Madeline. Hang in there; we'll see you soon!

Madeline, as a ballerina at Halloween. (I know, that's hard to tell. I took this photo while waiting to order our dinner at the Magic King*dom.)
My little Gator Girl. C'mon Gators, get up and go!

Our trip to Virginia {Part Two}

Monday, November 29, 2010

Whew! What a week. So much for getting the rest of these photos up quickly. Ha. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Our friends, Lisa and Shail, came over for dinner along with their 4 kiddos. That made a total of 6 kids under the age of 8. So needless to say, this place was hopping!

On Friday, my sister Deb, came over with Andy and Leah. We had a great time together, planning some sewing projects and taking a few photos. And yes, we were still managing to smile after our huge loss to FSU on Saturday afternoon. Hey, when you go in expecting a loss, it's much easier to take! LOL. Congrats, Uncle Bob! ;)

Well, here are the rest of the photos from our trip to Virginia. As you may recall, we spent one day at the Virginia Science Museum. We all had a really great time and are so grateful for such a wonderful trip. We will be heading up to New York this week because Patrick has a business meeting. We'll end our trip with a visit to Philly to see Dr. Kozin at Shriners for his opinion about Caleb's arm function. I'm quite excited for this visit and can't wait to hear what he has to say. I will try to post again soon. But I still have lots of photos to edit and, of course, now some sewing! Enjoy the photos.

Listening to the jets flying over head

The dumplings with their grandparents

Our trip to Virginia {Part One}

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ah yes,I know this story is getting old. But yet, it continues to repeat itself. I am way behind on blogging these days. And this has a lot to do with finding the time to actually upload the photos that capture all these memories I so long to blog about. In my humble attempt to catch up with what has been happening lately, I have decided to reverse the order of these next few posts. I am going to first share with you about our recent trip to Virginia to visit family and then backtrack to our time at Dis*ney, celebrating Caleb's 3 year Gotcha Anniversary (and of course, all the baseball in between.)

So here goes Part One of our trip to Virginia... (and even this trip will be blogged in reverse!)

A few weeks ago, we packed up the dumplings to visit my Aunt Alison, Uncle Bob, and cousin Ashley in Virgina Beach. Our only real plans were to spend one day in Williamsburg, where I lived for 3 years and went to school at the College of William & Mary. Other than that, we simply wanted to relax and enjoy each others company.

Upon arrival, we were treated to quite a feast. But this was no surprise because my auntie is a FABULOUS cook! Caleb was so excited to see his Gramma Ali and Grandpa Bob. Grandpa Bob got to meet Madeline for the first time. The kids quickly took over the house, marching up and down the stairs at will (while my heart jumped out of my chest.)

The next day was Veteran's Day. We decided to head over to the Virginia Science Museum. The kids (big and small) had a blast. The homeschooling mama in me was happy to treat this as a little field trip. While Gramma Ali and Caleb explored, the rest of us grown ups tried to keep Madeline from destroying things. (I'll be sharing the photos from this next in Part Two of our trip. So bare with me.)

On Friday, we just vegged around the house, went out for some Thai food for lunch and then hit a great wheelchair accessible playground at the beach. Caleb had a blast while Madeline napped in the car with Gramma. That night, we all went out to dinner. We had a big group, including my cousin, "Auntie" Ashley, and Alison's brother and wife, Scott & Judy. Alison's dear friend, Sheila, also joined us. We had such a wonderful evening. Caleb and Madeline apparently won the heart of a gentleman at the table next to us, as he was celebrating a birthday and delivered 2 big pieces of his cake to share with them. Caleb and Madeline ate like champs. And even Madeline behaved herself pretty well throughout the evening. To say that she's fiesty would be an understatement! So this leaves room for lots of "adventure." LOL.

On Saturday, we decided to make our trip to Billy's burg, as some call it. Although we had forgotten our stroller at home, Alison was able to borrow one for us to use. Unfortunately, one stroller and two kiddos isn't ideal, especially when the stroller is really only meant for a toddler (unlike our stroller at home.) So Caleb had to do the walking while Madeline got pushed around all day. Naturally, this didn't please Caleb too much. But he did manage to get over it and enjoy himself some.

When we arrived in Williamsburg, we headed straight to the Cheese Shop for lunch, only in the 9 years since I've been there, it had moved. So we had to find it first! Unfortunately, we arrived at lunch time. So the place was swamped. So we grabbed a few things to "make" lunch and headed out. After lunch, we made our way over to the College of William and Mary campus. We headed straight to the Crim Dell, a quaint bridge where legend has it that if you cross it with someone of the opposite sex, you're destined to be married. Well, when Patrick got wind of this he was determined to propose to me there. And that is, in fact, what he did exactly 9 years ago. (We were living in North Carolina at the time. So he really had to plan this proposal. And in fact, the weekend he proposed was homecoming. And I was determined to make it over to the football stadium. Little did I know what his true plans were. But I eventually gave up my determination to see the game and walked the campus with him. Silly me!)

Anyway, Madeline was in no way interested in having her photo taken. But I did manage to get Caleb to make some silly faces for me while on the Crim Dell.

After walking the campus, we decided to head back over to Colonial Williamsburg, CW(they are adjacent to each other.) We walked down Duke of Glouster Street, otherwise known as "DOG street" for short. It really brought back memories of all the exercise walks I went on as I took study breaks with my friend, Allison. I loved living in Williamsburg. It was a far cry from growing up in South Florida. I just love the quietness and solitude and the beauty all around. Oh yeah, I can't believe I almost forgot to mention the house I used to live in at in the heart of Williamsburg. The little, dumpy, yellow house has been transformed! And that's an understatement! Man, I wished I lived in the house that now stands there. This is what it looked like when I lived there, after the yellow was painted over.

And this is what it looks like today (taken with my iPhone, so I apologize for the teeny tiny size)
And to answer Patrick's question, Yes, they redid the whole house and even put a pool in the back and added a garage! Luxury!!

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the photos from Williamsburg. I will try to get Part Two of our trip to Virginia up soon.
At the courthouse on DOG street, there are some stockades. The kids were too little to pose for this shot on their own. Patrick had to hold their hineys up, otherwise they would fall to the ground. They had an absolute blast taking this photo.

The Governor's Palace

Fall foliage

Madeline wasn't too happy to have her photo taken

Sibling fun on DOG street

Taking a water break

Again not too happy to have her photo taken; notice the tear

Caleb being silly on the Crim Dell on the William & Mary campus

Vacation fun

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Okay, so here are the very long overdue photos and videos from our anniversary vacation at the Hammock Beach resort. Went spent most of our time swimming in the various heated pools, and all in all, had a fabulous vacation. Enjoy the photos and videos. And thank you, honey, for such a wonderful time!

Caleb diving/front flipping into the pool

Patrick hanging out with both dumplings

Auntie Deb finally got her photo taken with Madeline

Playing peek-a-boo

Having fun doodling

Leah on the beach

The best shot I could get of both kids "smiling"

How most of the photos of the two of them turned out

How they really felt about having their photo taken

One year

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Since tomorrow is a big day for us, I thought I would take a moment to share a few things.

For those of you wondering about my sister's dear friend with breast cancer, she gave birth this past Tuesday to her precious baby boy. He weighed 5 lb and 8 oz and is 19" long. He's doing well so far. Everybody is so happy that he has finally arrived.

Tomorrow we are headed to Dis*ney's not-so-scary Hallo*ween. We've never been to it, but friends of ours say it's really fun and not scary for the little ones. So we'll see how it goes. It will be Madeline's first trip to see the Mouse. Since I've had no time to breathe sew, Madeline will simply be an adorable, little ballerina, and Caleb will be a fireman (like last year, his idea.) I will be dressing up as well, wearing an Early American costume given to me by an old roommate of mine. Patrick says he's going to dress up as a cowboy. But I can't imagine him waltzing around the Ma*gic Kingdom wearing his boots. So we'll see.

But now on to the real reason for wanting to blog's really hard to believe it's been one year since we first saw our precious daughter's face. Tomorrow marks the day! One year! Wowie. It's hard to believe because most of that time was spent separated from her, as we waited forever to get our dossier transfered to our new agency and then the Ha*gue hassles. We were so fortunate during that long wait to be in touch with a young lady who used to live in Madeline's orphanage. She was able to give us updates and photos that blessed our hearts, just when we needed them. But it's still hard to believe it all began so long ago.

This week also marks 3 months home with Madeline Bei. It's mind boggling to think that this really is the same little girl who grieved so much in Wu*han. Oh, her fiesty personality is still here in all its glory. LOL. But she isn't quiet or shy anymore, that's for sure! And Melissa, you are so right....Madeline and Iris are NOT the same little girls drowning in their winter coats anymore. It's amazing to watch these girls blossom right before us. Mommy and Daddy "Ya you" Madeline Bei!

She finds trouble

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I know I have often joked on here about how Madeline loves to find trouble. But it's true. Her curiosity gets the best of her. And I often find her fingers doing lots of walkin' where they shouldn't be. Several times a day, I can be sure that when entering the same room where she is, I will catch her throwing something back "into place." Such items include but are not limited to: 1. chapstick 2. pens 3.markers/crayons 4. toothpaste 5. soap etc. Anyway, a few weeks ago, while I was schooling Caleb, I noticed Madeline was silent. While I thought she was in her room, she was actually getting into my make up in my purse. And this is what I found:

Caught! She knew she was in trouble when I found her getting into my make up bag and putting on my chapstick.

Well, not much has been going on since I last updated....just the usual: homeschooling Caleb, running to therapy, baseball, and Madeline just being her cute, curious little self. I am still way behind on editing photos. So I will share what I have managed to get around to lately. I promise to share some cute videos of the kids on our vacation, soon. Enjoy some of the many faces of Madeline.
Peek-a-boo, otherwise known as "Pee-da-doo"

Up to no good

Ready to play catch with Caleb

Recapping the last few weeks

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gosh, it's amazing how quickly time has flown since I was last shared an update. Our days just seem to fly by. So I will do my best to catch you all up on our latest craziness happenings.

Caleb is totally loving baseball! He practices once a week and has one game each week too. The other day I bought Caleb a new glove, which he totally loves. Since Caleb got a new glove, little Madeline had to get a glove too. They are so cute trying to play catch together.

This past Tuesday, Patrick and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. How did we celebrate? By having our social worker come for a post placement visit. LOL. Really, though, she did come. And we had a great little visit. But we actually celebrated by taking a little vacation, or "cation" as Caleb referred to it. We headed over to Palm Coast, just a few hours from home. We vacationed there last year, and Caleb just loved the water park. So we opted to head there again. We invited my sister Deb, BIL, Andy, and niece Leah to join us. And a great time was had by all, despite the Floria Gators losing to LSU on Saturday night! Oh well. (They also lost to LSU on our wedding day, and I thought all my non-Gator friend fans were trying to pull a fast one on me at our reception.)

Caleb's favorite part of the "best cation ever!" was the several story water slide. Last year, he went down the slide many times with Patrick. But this year, he was determined to go all by himself. And that he did......many, many times! We were so proud of his bravery to go it alone.

One thing I was not quite prepared for was how uncomfortable I felt with soooo many people staring at Madeline's arm. Sure, I've read lots of stories from other adoptive families of kiddos with limb differences. So I thought my heart was prepared. But I felt so many people staring at once when we were swimming in the pools, that I had a hard time looking people square in the face. I know people are curious. And I don't mind that. And nobody was rude. There was just nothing I could do get to them to "stop" other than leave the pool area, which I wasn't going to do. So we continued to swim while others took turns staring at Madeline.

One situation I was quite glad for the other day was at Caleb's baseball game. Two little girls approached Madeline with me standing right there next to her while I was chatting with a friend of mine. They began poking and touching her arm. Immediately one of the girl's moms jumped up from the bleachers and pulled them aside and told them it was not okay for them to touch her. I was relieved that she handled the situation so well, to say the least. Little Madeline was so clueless that the girls were inappropriate....she came over to me and said, "See, mommy!" as she stuck her left arm up in the air with a big smile on her face.

Madeline continues to do well. She is such a little ham! She's so dramatic with her facial expressions and the tone of her voice. It's so hilarious. She continues to pick up on English and is doing quite well with it. She continues to eat and sleep well and find trouble be a typical 2 year old girlie.

I have been busy taking lots of photos with my new camera that Patrick bought me for our anniversary (muchas gracias, honey). But now I realize just how behind I am at uploading all of them and editing them. So I have my work cut out for me. Since I don't like to post without sharing photos, here are a few from Caleb's first baseball game and some of Madeline during her photo shoot playing in the yard.

Caleb and his friend, HJ

Playing second base

Swinging the bat

After making it to first base

We're ready for baseball!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Patrick took some video yesterday (with his iphone) of Caleb during his t-ball practice. We are so proud of him for getting out there and doing his best. His first game is one week away! I took some photos too. But I still have to upload them. Anyway, enjoy!

Getting back into the swing of things

Friday, September 24, 2010

Well, we have spent the last week and a half under the weather....that is, Caleb and me. Thankfully, Madeline avoided getting sick at all. Patrick got a little sick. But we're all doing fine now....finally. Poor Caleb had to miss out on a lot of therapy and baseball. So he's itching to get back on the baseball field. I'm also so thankful that we homeschool because I can't imagine having to catch up on a week's worth of school. I used to avoid missing school at all costs when I was little because I hated the idea of having double the amount of work to do. So homeschooling rocks when kiddos get sick, in my humble opinion.

Speaking of homeschooling, Caleb continues to thrive. His reading has improved so much. I never expected him to make this much progress since our school year started because reading has never come easy for him. And as for math, we are wrapping up first grade and will be starting second grade next week! Singapore focuses heavily upon mental math calculations. And Caleb handles it like a champ. It's hard to believe he's doing the kind of math that 7-8 year olds do...and he's only 5 1/2!

Madeline continues to do well. She's a great sleeper and eater. She's quite a ham, like Caleb. But unlike Caleb, she is quite mischievous. She's managed to get into my make up bag, climb up to her brother's sink using his step stool (because we move hers away when not in use) and fill her toy tea pots with water....and proceed to spill it all over the table/floor in our school room. Yeah, lovely. She's unbelievable. She makes the funniest faces. She's so dramatic. And she still babbles in Ch*inese. Her latest English words are "No way!" No surprise, she gets this from Caleb because that's his response when answering his "silly questions" from his Explode The Code phonics program. It's downright hilarious to hear her say it in her accent. I'll have to get it on video.

Update on my sister's dear friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went for her first round of chemo last week. She also found out she'll deliver her son Preston at 34 weeks. And he's doing great in utero right now. She's ready to fight. And she's got a huge team helping her. It's awesome to see.

Well, here are some photos from Miss Madeline's play time in the front yard. Enjoy!

Ms. Chatterbox

Taking a picture of mommy with my iphone...and falling...oops

Cute as a button

Listening to the plane flying overhead

Little Miss

Friday, September 17, 2010

So here are a few photos from our playtime in the front yard last week, while Patrick and Caleb were at the grocery store. At first Madeline Bei took to her dolly. And then she decided she was thirsty and wanted to drink water from a bottle. This was an absolute nightmare in Chin@ because she had no idea how to drink from one, and the water just ran down the front of her every time. I am happy to report she can now drink from a water bottle, just like ge ge. Unfortunately (?) this water bottle ended up in about every shot I took. Oh well. At least she enjoyed drinking from it.

Love her lips in this shot

Pausing for just a moment..... between gulps

Precious girl

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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