Let the countdown begin! T minus 16 days...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What a relief! Can I just say I'm glad that's over. After we got our TA on Friday, we called Lotus Travel to reserve our transcontinental flight, even though we were just guessing at when our consulate appointment would be given. Yesterday, we finally spoke with our agency and found out we did NOT get the date we requested but rather a week later. So then I had to call Lotus to cancel our reservation and make a new one. This is how our timeline stacks up (and I will get back to our domestic travel drama in a second.)

July 16: Fly out of Orlando around 1pm to Los Angeles, get a hotel to rest up during our 9 hour layover. Fly to Guang*zhou at midnight.
July 17: In the air, hopefully all of us asleep
July 18: Arrive in Guang*zhou Sunday morning. Connect to Wu*han at some point (still working on that flight).
July 19: The day we finally meet Madeline.
July 20: Adoption finalization. We are a family of 4!
July 23: Fly to Guang*zhou
July 24: Medical exam
July 28: Consulate appointment
July 29: Oath ceremony at the consulate
July 30: Receive Madeline's immigration visa. Fly back to the US at night. We will arrive in LA that same night (yep, you read that right) and take the red eye back to FL.
July 31: Arrive back in Orlando to be greeted by my sweet sis, brother-in-law and niece

So that's all we know at this point. We'll do some touring in Wu*han and Guang*zhou but we don't have any of that planned yet. I think that I have the info right for Guang*zhou but I will have to double check with our agency. My mind was so scattered when we spoke, and now I realize what little notes I actually took!

So back to the joy of booking your own flights on 2 different airlines....yay,....um not.

Last night, I began looking on or*bitz for potential domestic flights for us to LA and back. But the big road block I kept facing was getting seats together. Oh my word. Unbelieveable. We knew we wanted to fly non-stop there and back and that we also wanted to take the red eye back. With Caleb's adoption, we opted to stay the night in LA instead of the red eye, and it was a mistake. Caleb had slept 8 hours on the transcontinental flight and was ready to hit the town running. I got a meager 2 restless hours of sleep. And I don't think Patrick got any. So needless to say, we were not going to do that again. Red eye all the way this time. While there are several airlines that offer the red eye, only one of them had 2 seats together AT ALL! Same goes for our flight to LA. Only one flight had at least 2 seats together. It was unreal! Almost all of the seats avaiable on any of these flights were all single seat assignments, which you know isn't gonna work for a family of 4 with two kiddos 5 and under. I wanted confirmed seats together, and I was determined to get it.

So this morning, I called Amer*ican and quickly and painlessly booked our flights, using them for our departure and Un*ited for our return (as Ameri*can didn't offer a red eye return.) Pretty painless, and I actually saved money on the tickets vs. purchasing them online. Nice, eh? Then I had to call Un*ited to confirm our seats on their return flight. First time I called, I got all the way through giving our confirmation # and all our identifying information.....then click....the line went dead.....disconnected....AHHHH...I wanted to scream. I call back, go through the whole thing again. The rep is able to locate the rountrip tickets for the 3 of us but not Madeline's one-way. Um....what? He eventually located it. But as soon as he did, he told me that he was unable to confirm our seats and we would have to wait until we checked in at the airport. I told him no way was I going to return from a 12 hour flight with a newly adopted 2yo without a confirmation that at least each child was with a parent. Sorry, I wanted it confirmed. (And besides, I knew the seats were available because I saw them online. So I wasn't going to buy his story.) I added that Ameri*can confirmed our seats for a flight leaving in 2 weeks. So I find it really hard to believe (yes, that's exactly what I said) that he couldn't do the same. A few more "please hold" "I'm working on it" and whadda ya know, "they" opened it up and he was now able to confirm our seats. Man oh man. What a piece of work. I was so relieved to finally hang up....

...and then I realized I still have to book our in-Ch*in@ flight and hotels. LOL. Well, at least that part is over.

So emotional

Saturday, June 26, 2010

While Friday was such an exciting day for us, it was yet another reminder of two special ladies who are no longer here to celebrate with us along this adoption journey. Naturally after our agency called, I texted Patrick (since I couldn't call him at work). Next up to call was my dear twin sis. Then I called my sweet Auntie Alison. And then I had to think about what friends to call.... because I haven't been able to "call" my mom or gramma in years since they both passed away. It's times like these when the pain of their absence just takes hold of me, and I cry out to have them back. I miss them deeply and hurt for my children who will never know their big bear hugs or big wet kisses. I know how excited they would be to witness us growing our family and rejoice right along with us. I just miss 'em. I just plain miss 'em. And it hurts.

Leaving on a jet plane....soon

Friday, June 25, 2010

You read that right!!!!! We will soon be leaving on a jet plane, heading to Ch*in@ to bring our precious Madeline home. We got word from our agency that our official travel invitation has been issued. Our task now is to confirm our consulate appointment (CA) in Guang*zhou. This should hopefully happen on Monday. Once our appointment has been confirmed, we can then book our flights and hotels. We are hoping to leave for Ch*in@ onJuly 9th if we can get our CA confirmed. We would then fly home to the US on July 23rd and arrive back home in FL on July 24th. Now we have lots to do. We still need to finish Madeline's room. I finished the curtains but now have to make the bedskirt and get the rest of the wall art up on the walls. Can we say crunch time?! LOL. Ah....well, it's such an amazing feeling to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

And on another note, Caleb's big boy bedframe came today! What perfect timing, I might add. I'm so glad that he feels so grown up and special today. And not only that but he was jumping up and down with so much enthusiam when I told him we were finally going to Ch*in@ that I almost burst into tears over his joy. Madeline is so blessed to have such an amazing big brother. I just love this little guy so much!

Hang on there, Maddiecakes, we're coming for ya!

Almost ready for TA

Friday, June 18, 2010

So this afternoon, we received a little bit of good news. The courier we have entrusted our passports with in order to obtain our travel visas called to confirm that she received them back from the Ch*inese Embassy and would be overnighting them back to us today! Hip hip hooray. Praise the Lord. The only thing standing in our way now is, of course, our travel invitation....that and everything I still have left to do for Madeline's room. LOL.

I have finally decided on making her curtains and bedskirt. I am repurposing store bought curtain panels because I've had a tough time finding fabric that I like that also looks good with her bedding and rug. This has been quite a chore. So I've finally settled on something and have to get to work making them. I also found it quite challenging to buy a bedskirt to go with the bright fun lantern bedding bedding already in the room. So I decided I would have to make a bedskirt. This is for the big girl queen size spare bed in her room. So it's not totally necessary to have it done before we bring her home. But I've already been down that road before. We were unable to finish Caleb's room before we traveled because it all happened so fast. And consequently, it's taken over 2 years to finally finish off his room. I don't want the same thing to happen in Madeline's room. So I am determined to get both of these items sewn before we hop on a plane.

I also ordered some cute art work from an artist I found on Etsy. And I just can't wait to get it up on the walls. I also have some artwork of my own I'd like to do, but I seriously doubt I'll have time to paint them up AND sew everything. Oh well.

We have now waited 2.5 weeks of our anticpated 2-4 week wait for TA. So we really are expecting it any day now. In the meantime, we have SO much to do still to get ready that I hope we can get enough of it done before we leave.

Our precious kiddos

Monday, June 14, 2010

I love the sound of that....two of them. Two precious children that God has entrusted us to care for and love...one in our arms and one still waiting for us in China. This morning, the Lord poured out His goodness on us, as we received these much anticipated photos of our precious Madeline. Finally finally finally, she is not wearing a wintercoat, and we can see some of her missing arm. If you look closely in the second photo, you can see that she's been crying. Not big tears, but it was Caleb who first noticed and asked me why she was crying. My son is soooo perceptive. It is also great to finally see her in PINK.

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks since we've been waiting for TA. A few families have gotten their TA in record time, like 4 days!!!! And while I certainly wouldn't mind joining them, we still have to get our passports back with our travel visas before we can board that plane. So I'm leaving all in the Lord's hands and am trying (not so successfully) to trust Him with our final preparations and plans.

On another note, you know that I have been sharing lately how much Caleb really enjoys baseball. He loves to play it in the front yard most days, depending on the afternoon rainstorms we have here in Florida. So here is a shot of our precious little t-baller who can't wait to play on a team in the fall.

Updates on Madeline

Friday, June 11, 2010

She's the incredible shrinking child....well, not really. But this week we finally received some updated measurements on Madeline. And as we suspected, she must have been heavily clothed when they last took them in January. She has grown one inch and now stands 34.5" tall and without her winter coat now weighs 26.5 lbs, which is just a little less than the 27lbs she supposed weighed in January. Her head, chest and foot all "shrank" too by an inch or so. I thought Madeline's suitcase was good to go after I made Leah try on at least a dozen outfits this past weekend. But now armed with the latest measurements, I have to repack and simply find all the smallest clothes I have...which isn't much. I have mostly 2T and 3T in brands that run big. I did this on purpose so that she would get some wear out of them. I have just a few 18-24month and even those might be big, as those brands run big too. Oh well. We'll beef her up just as soon as we can.

Also today, Madeline's dear friend, Iris, was united with her forever family. My heart is filled with such joy to finally see this family together. Melissa was kind enough to ask the orphanage staff if Madeline was potty trained and found out that she isn't. I am so thankful that my sister will be picking up the little travel diaper caddy thingie that I'm going to need. I also had to ask my sister what size diapers I'm going to need and what brand is best. LOL. Diapers....wow. We never needed them for Caleb. So this is all new. I just about drove off the road when my sister told me 5-7 a day. LOL. Anyway, the good news is that Melissa said Iris is going in the potty when she takes her. So hopefully this will be short lived. She also told me that Madeline is still getting formula and to bring a bottle!!!! She's 27 months old tomorrow. I was like, WHAT? But okay. I know we'll have to keep her on it for the sake of her little GI system. So it's totally fine. But wow, I was thrown for a loop.

This morning I also mailed off our travel visa applications. Yep....I procrastinated big time on this one. But we finally got them all off. We should get them back with plenty of time to spare though because we likely won't get TA for at least another 1 or 2, likely 2. And then consulate appointments are filling up. So I don't think we'll get to leave when we want anyway. We are hoping for early to mid July at this point, which is fine with us. We still have lots of loose ends to tie up with Patrick not working for 2 weeks. So it gives us the time we need to be ready once we get the green light.

Anyway, although I wish we were traveling with Melissa and Joel to bring our daughters home, I am nonetheless thrilled to be following their trip. It warms my heart to no end to finally see this family together.

Another baby step and some catching up

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I found out today that our Article 5 was picked up from the U.S. Consulate in Guang*zhou. So our wait for TA can finally begin. Our agency said to expect TA in about 4 weeks. We hope to travel 1-2 weeks after we get our TA. So if all holds true, we will likely leave the first or second week of July (hopefully the first.) We will finally send off for our travel visas this week. With everything else going on, I've just been slacking on this because I know it can be done quickly. But we'll finally send everything off, including Caleb's original (and oh so precious) Ch*inese passport.

Caleb and I have been super busy finishing up our kindergarten curriculum for this year. We started waaaay late (end of Sept) because of vacations and ordering materials. Patrick and I are both so proud of him. He actually finished up his math curriculum last week. And to celebrate, I took him to the sporting goods store to finally buy him a batting helmet, some baseball pants, and some throw down bases for the front yard. He was in heaven!!!! Oh my. His joy just melted my heart to no end. We will finish up phonics/reading this week. And although I never officially enrolled him with the school district because he's only 5, we will celebrate his graduation big time with a trip to see the Big Mouse. In actuality, we had planned one last hoorah at the Magic Kingdom as a family of three. But it just happens to coincide with finishing up K, so that it's an even bigger reason to celebrate.

I know we mommas like to brag on our kiddos. And this bloggin' momma is no different. I am just so proud of how far Caleb has come this year. He receives speech and language therapy through the school system because he came to us delayed in those areas. He has made great strides with his speech and is now only working on age- appropriate sounds. He's still behind a bit with his language but continues to get better. I share all this because I knew this would make being a first time homeschooling momma difficult. Although he knew all his letters and sounds before we started last September, he initially struggled with blending his letters in to words and didn't quite get it. We kept pushing through, he finally got it and is now reading beyond his age! He's always done well with learning new math concepts and has been doing 1st and 2nd work already. We are so so proud of how hard he's worked and just how far he's come. It's hard to believe that he has still spent more of his precious life in an orphanage than with his forever family.

One of the things I have learned about Caleb during my first year of teaching him (which, by the way, I never planned on doing LOL) is that one of his love languages is words of affirmation. Whenever we praise him for doing something well, it just strikes right to the deep of his heart. Our words are so powerful to him and speak so much more than we realize. I have also learned that he leans toward perfectionism, which is something we will have to work on. But I'm thankful for all the precious moments we have had together this year. I've been researching and ordering our curriculum for next year (1st grade, woo hoo!) and am just so excited to be teaching him again. Please pray that Madeline also realizes how important it is for us to continue homeschooling. LOL. I know she might have a mind of her own. ;)

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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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