With Christmas now behind us it's time to start thinking of our trip. Not that I wasn't thinking about our trip over Christmas, because I was ... I just had a lot of other things on my mind too! It's hard to believe though but we have only 13 days until departure. So much to get done!
We were there in May the last time so we really only had one climate to think about, hot and humid. This time we will be up north for about half the trip and then in the southern part of China for the last half. We're told to expect Chicago type weather in Beijing and Xian but Florida type weather for Guangzhou. Sure wish there was an easy way to pack for that!
Hi, remember me ... I know, it's been a while. But work has been just terribly busy with end of year stuff besides the fact that I'm about to be off for 6 weeks. It's been a little tough this year trying to get all of the Christmas things done because of not being able to take time off from work. So, please - if you typically get a Christmas card from me, well ... I haven't quite had time to do that.
I can't help but feel that my family has been a little on the neglected side lately. Thank goodness they are understanding and thank goodness I have the sweetest, kindest and most helpful husband that ever could have existed. We had planned to take off the week together but I really wasn't sure until late last week if I was going to be able to take off or not. Then his job has been pretty crazy too and so he had to cancel his vacation. We were going to get a lot done this weekned but Ryan got sick and there went the weekend. So, in between working some and caring for my dry-heaving honey-bunny, I made a list of those things that just had to be done on Monday. I started early yesterday & got most of them done. I even finally got the presents wrapped! At the rate I was going, I was pretty much just going to have to hand everyone their gifts without any pretty paper.
Which brings me to today ... I decided that today was for Ryan and Emma so we headed out this a.m. and went to the Speed Art Museum and spent several hours playing in their awesome Art Sparks area, an interactive and hands on play area for children. The kids had an awesome time and I was able to relax and just enjoy them having fun. Seems like it's been ages since I've been able to do that.
Emma had the best time painting and painting some more and Ryan spent a lot of time in the building area. It was another one of those days when they just couldn't possibly have acted any better or gotten along any better. Not sure when it's going to sink in that how they get along is probably directly proportional to how much stress I'm feeling. After our art time, we had yummy burgers at Dizzy Whiz - I swear they have the best burgers in the 'Ville.
We topped off our evening making treats for our neighbors. Emma had chocolate from head to toe but she loved every minute of it ... and I loved every minute of having them in the kitchen with me!
I'm so far behind on blogging ... sorry, work is kicking my beeee-hind lately but hopefully it will ease up next week.
Since the first of the school year, Emma has been attending a new preschool. It is at our church and Ryan attended there when he was a little guy too. Most of his friends today are the same little boys he went to preschool with back when he was 4! So, we made the painful decision to move Emma, not because of any angst with her old daycare but to have her in an environment where she would become buddies with the little kids she will start school with.
All that to say, as much as we feel it was the right decision, we miss her old daycare terribly. It was onsite at my work so she was able to go to work with me and come home with me ... and I could go see her in the middle of the day or anytime I could fit it in. It's also caused her to now be in daycare an hour longer each day and I SOOO miss our daily commute.
All that to say, a week or so ago (I lose track of time!) one of my co-workers set up a playdate/girls night out with me and Emma as well as Emma's friend Molly from her old daycare & Molly's mom. They were best of buds for several years and used to have the best time playing with one another. The girls were absolutely delighted to see one another! They kissed, and they hugged and they kissed and hugged some more. It was SO cute! I know Emma misses Molly terribly & the whole playdate thing was such a great idea but something I would probably have put off 50 times but thankfully Lori set a date and planned the evening.
Thank you Jesus for such kind and thoughtful friends!
There's a story I've been just dying to share but really have not had the time to get all of my thoughts together. Mostly though, I pretty much get eyes full of tears when I even think of this story and know full well that if I'm sitting in the den typing and crying, well - that's going to elicit a lot of questions from the kiddos. Somehow I've never been able to adequately explain happy tears to either one of them.
While I'm not the best of storytellers, here goes ... I subscribe to a newsletter sent out from the rainbowkids website and back last May or so I read one of her articles that said she was traveling back to China with her oldest daughter who was adopted from China. Part of their trip included plans to volunteer at the Starfish Home. This was the very first I had read about Amanda and her mission to help medically needy orphans.
On May 23, 2007 she posted the most precious and touching story about a little girl named Rebecca who lived at the Starfish Home. You can read her story here:
To say I was instantly smitten is an understatement of epic proportions. If you've linked to this blog, would you agree those are the cutest set of cheeks you could ever imagine? What touched me the most was the description of her delightful personality. The young lady holding Rebecca is Martha's daughter that had traveled to China. She was in the hospital with Rebecca during her heart surgery and in another post on her blog she talks about how Rebecca would cry if Jenn stepped out of the room for just a minute.
Here's an excerpt from that post:
"Now Rebecca, that little mischievous child I praised so highly, is another story. Apparently Rebecca went into surgery and came out of the anesthesia asking, “What in the world am I doing in this hospital bed?” She was a handful from that moment on. Jenni, who is a patient as any human ever was, tried to amuse Rebecca as much as possible. In the end, Rebecca would cry if Jenni left the room for even a moment.
Rebecca is one of those little girls who was blessed with a gorgeous face and an active mind. Her body must move at the speed of light to accommodate her curious nature."
So, all of this to say - if you've wondered why I've been so tickled with every little tidbit of information that I have received on Rebecca - everything from pictures to tales of that ornery personality - it's because of this wonderful story told by yet another person that gives her all to help the orphans in this world.
When we get home with the lovely Rebecca, we hope to be able to meet some of these wonderful people in person. Martha & Jenn are high on that list as well as Elaine (the lady who named Rebecca).
We also recently learned of a church group in Tennessee who has been sponsoring Rebecca. We most assuredly will be traveling to Nashville to visit their church. I was told that among many things that they have sent her is a Build A Bear and another family in this group even sent her a pair of crocs! I have seen those in some of the pictures I've been given of Rebecca. Somehow "thank you" just doesn't seem adequate to say to all these wonderful people.
I've really struggled with how to explain my feelings ... but so many times we give to things without really giving a lot of thought to the individual impact. I think mainly that's just because you think you're never really going to know the impact or you think that what you are doing really doesn't make a difference in the big scheme of things. One thing I can say for sure now though is that this has totally changed my perspective on that.
For this one, all these touches from different people from various parts of the world - it's made a difference. Now that is just the perfect correlation to the Starfish Home!
Ok, now that I'm crying again ... it's time to head off to bed. 28 days until we depart for China. In just about a month's time, Miss Rebecca will finally - after all this time - be united with her forever family. At long last she will finally be held by the mother that fell smack dab in love with her on May 23 of 2007.
We received the news today that our consulate appointment will be January 20th at 9 a.m.! Now we can make our travel arrangements!!! Looks like we're leaving for China on Thursday, January 8th & returning on January 22nd. WOOHOO!
On a not so woohoo note, Emma is going to be a flower girl in a friend's wedding on January 24th. Oh my, a jet lagged flower girl :-)
I recently blogged about all the "Starfish" connections that we have encountered via the cyber world. It's just simply amazing to me and I struggle to find the words to explain how much I treasure and appreciate each little note on Rebecca that I receive. I have no idea how many volunteers have passed through the doors at the Starfish Home during the time that Rebecca has been there but it seems like that for the ones that have somehow found me, they all were touched by her little soul. All these little glimpses into her personality - what a treasure chest of words! I still haven't even blogged about the very first thing I ever read about Rebecca, I need to get that done.
Anyway, earlier this week there was a delightful comment on my blog that tickled the absolute daylights out of me. The pictures from my new friend from the Netherlands were a delight & then now from a lady who lives in Canada - how cool is that!
"Nearly fell off my chair when I saw Rebecca's cheeky little face.........we spent 3 weeks at Starfish last March ......please check out our blog and email us. I probably have some photos to add to your collection. I am so happy for her and for you."
We've traded emails now & she posted this on her blog - what a sweet post!
Check this out! I ran across this on the Ni Hao Y'all site. Stefanie has such a heart for adoption and especially for special needs children. Her story really touches my heart because not only have they adopted several special needs children, but she works tirelessly to help others and is such a strong advocate for special needs children. She truly puts into action that which is in her heart.
She recently had a giveaway on her site to raise money for her sister's adoption and I was the lucky winner of a beautiful Suzanne Myers necklace! She made individual charms for it for each of my kiddos & even though Rebecca is still in China, her name is proudly displayed on it too. I would take a picture & share it with my blogging buddies but unfortunately my canon baby is the repair shop. :-( It looks like this one, but the stones are different.
But - bop on over to My Charming Kids & enter to win your own Rebel! I absolutely love mine! There's even more in the package than the camera too, wow - lots of stuff. More importantly though, the proceeds go to help bring children home to their forever families.
Hip Hip Hooray! We're almost on our way!!! Travel approval came today!
With that said though, we will not be able to make our travel arrangements until our consulate appointment has been made and our agency is working on that. Hopefully we will know the consulate date later this week.
Our agency is giving us a tenatative departure date of January 8th. We had hoped and prayed for a December departure date, but I'm so happy to just have a date that we will take whatever we can get!
It won't be long until Miss Rebecca is with her forever family!