Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy 2nd Birthday Mia Lin!

Mia turned 2 years old on Friday, January 28.  Phillip and the boys had planned to go to Hot Springs to see his dad that weekend.  On their way out of town, we took Mia out to dinner in Jonesboro.  We tried a new Italian restaurant that Phillip has insured. It was pretty good!  If we would have had more time, we wanted to take her to a Chinese restaurant...don't you know they would have given her a big birthday celebration?!  We sang her Happy Birthday, gave her a few presents and had some cupcakes and cookies straight from Wal-Mart bakery!  It was a fun family time! 

Something that I said I wanted to do once we got home with Mia was to celebrate Chinese New Year each year.  I'm not sure how we will do it or if it will be the same every year, but this is one way that I feel we can help her understand her culture and remind her of where she came from. 

 This year though we combined it with her birthday, seeing everything has happened so fast and we are all still adjusting to our new life!  We had a few friends and family over to the house for dinner, cake and presents.  Mia was a little overwhelmed by it all, so Blakely and some of the other kids didn't mind giving her a helping hand!

 I would love to someday cook my own Chinese feast, but it just wasn't going to happen this year.  My goal is to find a good Chinese cookbook!  One thing I did want to do for her birthday is let her dive into her own cake.  That is such precious memories we have with our other three children on their first birthdays and I didn't want to miss out on it with Mia.  Who says it has to be their first was her first with her new family! 

She wasn't sure about diving into the cake, which surprised me because she has grown to love sweets...gets that from her Mom and Fordy!  Her sister decided she would show her how it is done! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have you ever been burdened to pray?

Have you ever had the overwhelming need to pray for someone or something?  It is like the Lord puts a VERY uneasy feeling in your heart and stomach!  I have experienced that this afternoon.  Throughout my morning I have prayed for several friends who are facing some difficult times, some who are injured, my husband who is having to handle some difficult situations at work and my children's behavior.  But as the girls are napping, I was sitting on my bed and felt like God was asking me to pray more!  What about?  I have no idea!  That is hard because you want to pray specifically! 

I just read a blog that was advocating for some children in China who have until tomorrow to find a family!  Maybe it is for them.  Maybe it is for someone who receives some hard news today.  Maybe it is for safety of my family.  I prayed for God's intervention!  If God prompts you to pray, don't ignore His lead!  There is someone who is depending on your faithfulness!  I may never know who I prayed for today, but I trust God does.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Red Couch Photos

When anyone adopts from China, one thing they usually want to do before leaving is get their child's picture taken on the famous red couch in the White Swan hotel.  It was quite interesting to say the least!   There were 10 families in our group.  Each family gets 3 pictures taken: a family picture, a group picture of the adopted kids and one with the whole group (all members of all families!).  So you can only imagine how cranky the kids got by the time we took the group picture!

I love this picture!  We had 3 families that we were with the duration of the trip.  One of their daughters was having a difficult time during this photo session.  Mia knew it was her crying and looks like she is trying to peek around and tell her it's ok!  So cute!

 Luckily we were one of the first cameras to be picked up, so Mia looks pretty good!  I got to the point I just let her lay down on the floor!  Misery for a 2 year old to have to sit still for 10 pictures from 10 different cameras!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Moments with Blakely Ann!

We got to the house about 1am Sunday morning, December 12, 2010.  Once we got up the next morning, we were all so anxious to go get Blakely.  She had stayed with Phillip's mom the first half of the trip and were now with my parents.  We walked in the door and her look was classic!  It was a look as if to say "Are you really standing there in front of me!"  Once reality sank in, she ran to our arms!  Priceless!  You don't know how much you love your children until you are away from them for 2 1/2 weeks!  Enjoy some pictures of the boys, and Mia's, 1st moments with Blakely.

Last week in China

Well now that we have been home for a month, I finally sat down to post some pictures of our last week in China with Mia!    We were so ready to get home and get back to a somewhat normal life.  But I have to admit we were dreading the flight.  We didn't start off great.  Our first flight was from Guangzhou to Seoul, Korea and was about 3 hours.  Mia did take a short nap (which is the first plane picture below) but soon after she woke up she started screaming!  I knew something wasn't right.  Yep, my new precious bundle of joy decided it was time for another first...she threw up all over my hands and her shirt!  Don't  you know the poor fellow sitting next to me was thinking, "Why me?"!  After that we all did well (next picture was at the Seoul airport and in 2nd outfit).  It was a very long trip and we were exhausted.  We finally arrived back to Paragould about 1am our time. 

Above are pictures of some of the sites we saw.  We took a day trip with our group to the Buddahist and Chen Temple.  At night we got to go on a cruise down the Pearl River.  It was beautiful to see all the lights and buildings.  The city spent a lot of money improving the city b/c the Asian games (similar to Olympics but for Asian countries only) were held there the week right before we arrived.  The Guangzhou Zoo was also fun, especially for the boys.  The dolphin in the picture is made of all flowers! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sunday morning was rough, but so worth the struggle! Please read this post!

Our group took a tour of Guangzhou City on Sunday morning. I will save the trip and photos for another post, but I believe the Lord has laid something on my heart that I need to share with anyone reading.

By our third stop, Mia had taken about all she could. She became your typical toddler while trying to do some shopping. We can tell she hasn't been around very many males, if any, because I am about the only one she wants to hold her. Well you mothers can relate...we need a break every once in awhile! She was screaming, kicking her feet, throwing her arms. Phillip has been wonderful with her and trying to slowly bond with her as she lets him. We are beginning to firmly grab her hands when she does this and tell her no and we feel she is responding to that and understanding what no means. All I wanted to do was go back to the room. When you are "touring" with a group, that is not possible! We had to wait on everyone to finish shopping. Mia, and myself, finally calmed down.
I got her in the room and started trying to get her down for a nap, which was way past due! She started screaming at the top of her lungs again. I simply stood up with her, held her as close as I could and bounced her up and down. Once she finally gave it up, I sat in the chair with her for a moment and reflected on what had just happened. It was like the Lord spoke straight to my heart!

This whole journey simply started with making the decision to adopt a little girl from China. Then God started to show us the correlation between adopting a child and His adopting us into His family. Adoption is the PERFECT picture of salvation! We were lost, homeless, dirty, alone, unsure of our future/eternity. He stepped in and welcomed us into His family...taking with it all the negatives and baggage we would bring in! But because of His grace, mercy, love and compassion, He allowed His Son, Jesus to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on the cross. He wants to be our Father! As God revealed this to us, we knew adoption was the right thing for our family. We could love a child, give her hope and a future, and most important, show her the love of Jesus!

As I continued to sit there and hold Mia after her screaming fiasco, I learned the next correlation in adoption. How many times, once we have come to the Father, do we throw our own little tantrums? We rebel against things that we know the Lord has and wants for us. We kick, scream, throw our heads back thinking that will get us what we want. What does God do? He sits there, frustrated I'm sure (just as I was with Mia), and holds us until we are done. He doesn't leave us but instead is patient. We are like little children in need of a loving Father who promises to love us unconditionally!

Don't you see? God loves the orphans all over this world. He has mentioned them in Scripture over 60 times! If salvation is the most important message in the Bible, then don't you think He desires the same for these homeless children? We have said time and time again that adoption is not for everyone. We were called by God to adopt Mia and are so thankful for the opportunity. Our job isn't over though once we get home. We have to continue to do work to care for these children. In China, if kids aren't adopted by age 14 they age out of the system and put to the streets! What do you think they will do to survive? My guess is a lot will do whatever they can (drugs, prostitution). We have been amazed at the stories we have heard from different families while in China. One lady traveled here to get 3 deaf children. Her plans were to only get 2 until she was made aware of a 13 year old boy who only had a few months left before he aged out! She too him into her family...she saved him from a life of misery!

Please ask God what He wants you to do help the helpless!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Outdoor Market

On Saturday we decided to venture off the island.  There is only so much walking around and going in and out of gift shops one family can do!  There is a bridge that everyone walks across to get to the other side of the interstate.  We were told when we got here that the island is very safe but once you step foot off the island that theft and pick-pocketing are very common!  We headed across with Mia in stroller and backpack double knotted and tied up.  We had been told by a few other families that had gone what we might see, but until we actually walked the streets I couldn't believe it!

There were tons of mushrooms, herbs, snakeskins, etc at first, not to bad.  But then we turned the corner and there they were...lots of live animals crawling in buckets!  First was scorpions and they were in a large plastic tub, almost like the outdoor swimming pools we have at home.  They were just crawling everywhere and all over each other! 

As we walked a little further we saw a few common things such as turtles and chickens (which weren't in a cage but just walking around inside this little store, sounds clean, huh?)  Then there was a small tub of what looked like to me tiny baby pigs, but we came to the conclusion they were baby mice/rats!  I hope the picture can do them justice!  By this point I was getting a little queezy just thinking that the people actually come here to buy these things to take home and eat!  Our last stop before heading back to cleanliness was probably the least for the males in the family.  Can you guess?

Snakes! Live Snakes!  Dawson, as you can imagine, was fascinated!  Thank goodness these were in cages.  The biggest snack and scariest was a cobra.  It had it's flat head up in the air.  I was starting to get a little uncomfortable at this point so I started to push Mia a few  yards away.  Phillip even said that if they tried to get the cobra out, he was running!  The man got out one of the snakes and was holding it out for Phillip and the boys to see.  He pushed it up to Phillip as if saying, "please won't bite".  Well Mr. Adventurous took the challenge.  From a distance I zoomed the camera in for a photo opportunity.  Once the head started coming towards him, he politely handed him over!  We went on our way and I made everyone sanitize immediately. 

What an experience!  That has been one great thing about this trip...seeing how this culture differs from ours, some good and some not so good.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Great Wall of China and Shopping

**This post and the post of Tienanmen Square and Forbidden City are the first 2 days we arrived in China. We had trouble getting the blog up and going then. These are actually "pre-Mia" days but wanted to have them on the blog. Mrs. Ashley, thought these would be great to show the class because of the famous sites! Enjoy!**

Today we went to the Great Wall of China. Wow! What a sight to see. The Wall was built to protect Northern Chinese borders from intrusion. Most of the remaining wall was built by the Ming Dynasty. It was absolutely freezing and the wind was blowing which made it even worse. There were times on our hike up the steps that we had to stop b/c the wind would almost knock you over. We walked a pretty good ways up and maybe would have gone further if it weren't for the wind. Those of you who know Payne well enough will laugh at this one. He would count every stop that he walked!

We also made a stop at the Jade Market. Jade to China is like diamonds in the US. It is beautiful! We saw pictures of Michael Phelps in the store because he came and bought some jade during the Olympics. Speaking of the Olympics we were able to see where they were held and take a quick photo from the road.

Well tomorrow is the day we fly to Guangzhou! The city we really long to see simply because our daughter is there! Mia, we are one step closer to you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

1st Day in Beijing

**This post should have been on of the first ones. These were "kicked back" to Gretchen, but have been found!**

After being up for about 30 hours we finally arrived in Beijing, China at about 9:30 pm (7:30am your time).  We had our tour guide, Michelle, that was with us for the weekend pick us up at the airport.  Yes we were one of those families that was looking for their family name on a sign! :)
We stayed at Park Plaza and it was super nice!  We settled in Thursday night because we had a long 2 days ahead of seeing all the sights of Beijing.  Friday morning we met Michelle in the lobby at 9am and headed to Tienanmen Square which is the largest public square in the world.  This is where we were introduced to street vendors.  They were selling all kinds of things but especially panda hats, scarves and gloves.  They would literally try to put it in your hand.  Poor Dawson didn't know what to do when they handed him some gloves.  He walked over to me with them with a look on his face of "What do I do with these?" Michelle told us to keep walking and don't make eye contact!  This is also the first time we started to get all the "stares"!  Our blond hair, especially Payne, was something some of these tourist have never seen.  They were all very nice about it and we came to find out that staring must not be considered rude over here!
  Needless to say  the boys had several pictures taken of them with the Asian people.  They did great! We then took a tunnel under the street that led us to the Forbidden City.  We have learned that everything China is about even today revolves around their past history.  The City is basically the place where the Emperor lived with all his concubines and where no common people were allowed, which is where the city got its name. There was a garden toward the end that we would have loved to seen in the summer/spring.  I think it would have been beautiful!
 We then had lunch in a restaurant located in a park area. It was very good and we had several dishes to try! We then made a stop at the Pearl Market which was very interesting.  The boys were able to choose an oyster and
she opened it to see about 20 pearls!  We made a few purchases and went on to our next event.
 We took a Rickshaw ride through Hutong, the oldest city in Beijing.  It is the center of the city and goes along with the Chinese theory that the closer you live to the middle of the city, the wealthier you are.  We were actually able to enter into one home and talk with the lady of the house. We then went to the top of drum tower, and when I say top I mean TOP with a very steep set of stairs!  We watched 5 young people do a drum demonstration...the boys loved that!

 By this time in the day we were zapped!  We thought we would go back and take a quick nap, grab some dinner and go to bed early.  Well we went to be early....5:00pm!  We never woke up from our nap.  Needless to say we were all up about 2am.  Mrs. Ashley and Mrs. McMillon you would be proud because we took those early morning hours to do some of their homework! 

Some of Mia's 1st...we think!

Well yesterday was a fun day, except our first stop.  We had to take the girls for their medical exam.  It felt like we were in a movie set in the 50's!  There is a nurse in our group and she commented on the nurse's hats...remember the ones they wear strapped around their head?  Those were it!  I really don't know what we accomplished really.  The "exam", if you can call it that, was very basic.  We all have special needs children so you think there may have been some extra test run.  I guess they know we will do that anyway once we get home.

Jocelyn, our rep from CCAI, took our group over to the shopping district.  Everything here seems to be built up because there were so many floors.  It was basically what we consider our mall.  The building we went to and spent most of our time (thanks dads for being patient with the women) was the jewelry, but one store in particular...pearls!  Jocelyn said that  we in the US will pay 7,8,9 and sometimes 10 times what we pay in the States.  I got several gifts for the family for Christmas.  I was worried about Christmas shopping but think I'll at least get most of the adults while we are here!  Payne was starving by this time so we all experienced Chinese McDonald's (1st number 1 for Mia)!  Needless to say I didn't try to eat healthy!  I wasn't sure what I would end up with!  All joking aside it wasn't too bad.  The boys got sweet and sour sauce instead of ranch for dipping though.

Once we got back to the island, we took Mia to the playground (1st number 2 for Mia).  I felt like that overprotective mother.  There were kids everywhere and I was a nervous wreck that she would get knocked down the stairs or pushed off of a slide.  She discovered she likes to slide and then we teeter-tottered (have no idea if I just spelled that right!) with another little Chinese girl.  Fun!

After dinner, we stopped at the water fountain.  I thought she just wanted to watch the water spray, but no she wanted to play IN the water!  I let her lean as far over she could without falling in and splash away (1st number 3 for Mia)!  It was almost bedtime anyway so who cares if she got wet!  She had a blast...and was drenched!  Needless to say, we saw her temper again when we had to make her leave!

She may have done all these things before but my guess is she hasn't.  We are ready for her to experience life as being a kid, and experience it with her!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Park on Shamien Island

We have learned that Mia loves to be outside and loves to watch dogs...Blakely, you will definitely have a play buddy.  It just makes me wonder how much she has really been able to be outside.  Oh how we need to appreciate the small stuff!  The flowers on Shamien Island and all over Guangzhou for that matter are beautiful!  The island where we are staying is so unique and the buildings very pretty.  There are times that we don't even feel like we are in China. 

There was a collie dog that was playing ball with its owner in the park today.  Mia loved to watch them play.  We sat down and watched them for probably 15 minutes! 

We are enjoying reading all of your comments so please keep them coming.  I can't respond obviously because I can't even see the blog, but they are being emailed to me!  Have a great day!