Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two weeks home... and things are going great!

We've been home for two weeks and it's GREAT to be here. Everyone has adjusted well (Lize had a rough first week adjusting to the time zone differences but has since got on schedule) and Sofia and Lize are playing together. There are a few days where Sofia wants Lize to know that her things are her's but all in all they get along great. The boys are so thrilled with being big brothers again and it's fun to watch all the kids play. Here's some pictures from the past two weeks:

We made it back....

We made it back home on Nov 15th to an unexpected crowd of family and friends at the airport. After arriving back home, we were given a surprise welcome home party for Lize. Here are a few pictures of the welcome home party....

As in China, Lize continues to grow with us. She felt "right at home" at the house and it truly feels as if she has always been with us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Day in China.. A Goodbye...Kids, here we come!!!!!

Today was our last day in Guangzhou and we couldn't think of a better way to spend it than with our friend Judy. We spent the morning and early afternoon at White Cloud Mountain. This is the highest point in Guangzhou which allows for SPECTACULAR views of the city's skyline. You really get a good view of just how big this city is....and let me tell you it's huge. Here's some views from the mountain top.......... (note: the picture of the city is only "one section" of the full panoramic view of the skyline. It spans a full 180 degrees as far as you see when looking down on it)
After spending some time on the mountain top, it was time to return to the base. Judy, Dawn and Lize decided to take a cart down the mountain but I decided to take the Baiyun Cableway down. WOW was that exciting. Here's some pictures of my trip down the mountain......

We were then off to Yuntai Garden Park at the base of the mountain. It's a park covered in beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs. It was a picture perfect day.....

Tomorrow is a day we can hardly wait for, our departure date. We can't wait to get home to hug and kiss our beautiful kids who we've missed so much (Zach, Will and Sofi only a few more hours - remember we arrive at 2:00 PM on Saturday). As we close out this chapter and depart China, we realize that we will always have a connection to the country, the wonderful people and the culture that is China. We thank everyone for your prayers and support!

We know we'll be back but for now we walk away and say goodbye...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 15 - A visit to the Wharf, Consulate , and saying goodbye to friends

Today was our final day of any adoption appointments - One of the BIG ONES -- Our consulate visit. Before the Consulate appointment we visited the local Wharf where we were able to see several types of local fish and other sea life caught by local fishermen. In addition to sea life, one of the other big items in the market were snakes.

A funny thing happened while walking by the snakes, one almost got Dawn. Apparently one of the snakes slipped out of the tub and was going toward Dawn who was screaming and jumping all over -- the locals thought it was hilarious to watch her. Here's some pictures of the market.....

Then we were off to the consulate where we would take an oath and obtain Lize US visa. First, we loaded up our group on the bus were on our way.....

Sorry, no pictures or videos were allowed in the consulate. What an amazing scene. A large room full of new moms and dads (regardless of how many kids they already have) along with many family members just waiting for this last step of the adoption process. As you see all the children finally with their families it's hard to think that just a week or so before these same children were homeless without families and now they all are headed to their homes in a promise land of hope and opportunity. On this day, 40 families from 26 states will soon head home with their blessings.

Here's some pictures right after the ceremony with all of us holding our children's passports, visas and immigration documents:

We closed out the day by having our last dinner as a group. It's amazing how so many people can come together half way around the world as strangers and end up being friends. These people were brought into each other's lives and forever will be a part of one of the biggest and best moments of each others lives. God is good!

Only a few more days until we get to be together again as a whole family. WE CAN'T WAIT!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 14 - Waiting and Walking (lots of walking)

Today started off by playing the "waiting game". We had to stay in our room until 10 AM to ensure that we DIDN'T receive a call from the consulate regarding any of Lize's paperwork. We did not receive any call, which is a good thing. That indicates that everything should be going as necessary with all the paperwork to finalize her adoption and visa to enter the states.

After the waiting, Dawn and Richard wanted Starbucks and then we decided to walk some more (actually walk A LOT). I'm sure that we walked over 8 miles today. First, we walked all over an open air market selling herbs, rice, and other foods such as snakes, skinned goats, fish, squid and other normal items. Here's some pictures of the walk in the market:

You get the "picture". Although the the market was "unique" to what we consider normal in the states, it was a great peek into the great culture here. It gives you a chance to understand that what we may consider abnormal is actually a fascinating way of life for others.

After the market, we were off to walk the riverfront (looking for a Mc Donalds). After a very long walk, Richard and I finally found the Mc Donalds. It turned out to farther away than I first thought but we found it nonetheless. Here's some pictures:

Along our walk we saw several people pulling huge amounts of weight by cart and/or hauling it on bikes. Richard and I finally reached our prize....

At the end of the day, the girls and I were off to Guangzhou's equivalent to Chicago's magnificent mile of shopping. This place was great and full of life and bright lights. We had great Chinese food known as Pizza Hut (that's right the same Pizza Hut as in the states). Here's some pics of our night.....

Tomorrow is a BIG DAY, it's our consulate appointment. This will be our final adoption appointment and then we pack and come back home....YEAH!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 13 - Group trip to the Safari

Today was a fantastic day. We took a group trip to Xiangjiang Safari Park Guangzhou. If you've ever had a trip turn out to be much more than you ever expected (as a pleasant surprise) this was one of those times.

We drove in downtown Guangzhou and then around the city (which happens to be the 3rd largest city in China) which gave us an opportunity to see just how big it was....let me tell you, it's big. After about a 45 minute drive, we arrived at the park:

Once we got to inside, we were off to take a tram trip around the safari area. It was a HUGE open space area that took you around the world. The safari area was open with the animals open to roam anywhere they wanted. There were cape buffalo holding traffic up, ostriches pecking at the window of cars, elephants, lions, rare white tigers, to sum it up - there were too many normal zoo animals along with rare endangered animals to mention. Here's a few pictures:

I was able to feed a white tiger cub, Dawn was able to be very close to her favorite animal and Lize was so excited she......:

The good news is that she woke up in time to the see the main attraction (in my opinion) at the safari park, THE GREAT PANDAS. There were 10 of them and it was amazing to see them "doing their thing". I was surprised at how big they are in real life and what they sound like. One of them were biting another and they sound like a dog barking/howling. Just being a few feet from these animals was incredible especially when you consider that it's estimated that only 2,000 remain in the wild. Here's a few pictures:

At the end of a day like today, what else is there to do except go to dinner and then bed. ZACH be advised, there's going to be more pasta eating in our home. Your sister loves pasta..... I know you think that's GREAT!

Today's close brings us one day closer to having our family together again. We love and miss you kids!