Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Time to Relax and Just Breath

I can breath!!!! All travel plans are confirmed. I will post our full itinerary on Lilli's travel blog ... look right for the link! Time to relax for a bit .... knowing our travel is booked, our bags are packed, our funds are organized, our visas are done, and most importantly, knowing we only have 23 days until Lilli...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I was never meant to be a juggler!

Just so you know, if you come to visit in the next few days, you might find me in the "duck and cover" position! Why???? Read on.....

Being a juggler is not in my nature. I can focus on a couple things - but I have definately decided in the last few days that I like order, I like plans, and I like what is expected. My answer to juggling too many balls at the moment??? Duck and cover!

Thank goodness my husband - my Joe - is always standing right next to me ready when gravity inevitabley takes hold! He is always there to catch the balls before they all hit the floor - and my head on their journey to the floor!

I have been so focused on trying to get everything for Lilli's adoption in order that yesterday, the fact that the kids start a new school year next week just snook(is that really a word - snook? sneaked?) up on me! Really! I knew it was coming... but in my mind I was thinking we still had a few weeks for preparation. Nope... Daniel starts Monday and Joey and Holly start Tuesday and Abby follows closely with her first day being Thursday. The one thing that is in order- The Bus Passes - thanks to dad, they came yesterday!

All will fall into place I am sure ~ but if there was such a thing as "Clown College", I don't know if they would accept me at this moment - so no chance of even learning to juggle!!!

Just think.... I get to move in a few months.... to another country! That will lead to what I call my "Ostrich Position".... need I explain???

Monday, January 28, 2008

US Consulate Appointment Confirmed!

We have been confirmed for our Consular Appointment on March 3, 2008 at 9:00am. We will then have our "Oath" Ceremony on March 4th. Now the real travel planning can begin!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shhhhhhhh! Don't tell anyone, but my mommy and daddy are coming soon!

I woke up to a new picture of Lilli AnHui this morning! I never dreamed that a family currently traveling, would make their way to her foster home to visit... but they did and they sent us a few wonderful pictures and some very kind words!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

27 Days!

I just changed the date of my "count down box" on Lilli's travel blog. Today, it says 27 days until we meet Lilli AnHui!
Joe just left with Abby and Daniel to play golf (we love living on the course!!!) and I called out after them as they were leaving our back gate, "In 27 days, you will have one more little one joining in!" Hope Lilli likes sports! If not, she can stay home with mom and do arts and crafts or play with her dolly! Holly would love to share her cooking abilities with another little sister!

27 days....WOW!

Ready for Year 10!!!

Time flies... especially when you are watching your children grow up!
Holly starts year 10 in a few weeks.... It seem like I just walked behind her to Mililani Uka in Hawaii for her first day of Kindergarten. She insisted that I was behind her... she was a big girl and was not scared like all the other kids she informed me! She still has that attitude... planning on University in New York City.... WHAT??? Can I walk behind her there?

I'm Glad I was Born in Your Heart Mommy

Abby bounds through life. She doesn't stop for much - not for food - not for water... she just grabs a little of both and bounces on. Her energy level is amazingly high .. which makes having heartfelt conversations a little on the difficult side. As she runs by - from one activity to the next, she will drop "one-liners" on us that send us to the ground - laughing so hard we are in tears. She is a self proclaimed genius - and I have to say all the Judges agree!

She does stop for the potty.

So this week she was on the potty. She looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, are babies born from Mommies' tummies?" After I was able to process this question that came totally out of the blue, I replied that babies indeed grew in tummies. She thought for a second and responded, "Who was born from your tummy mommy?" I answered that Joey, Holly, and Daniel were born from my tummy and that she grew in another mommy's tummy but was born from my heart. She thought a little more and with a cute look on her face, "Does it hurt when babies are born from your tummy?" I answered with a truthful Yes, but told her it only hurt for a bit and was well worth it. She shook her head in understanding - but wasn't done with her line of questioning. "Does it hurt when babies are born from your heart?" Not at all I assured her! Her smile grew wide and she finished the conversation with a simple, "Mommy, I am glad I was born in your heart and didn't hurt you".

She was finished with the potty and off she went. She makes me melt sometimes... well, all the time! People ask us all the time why we chose to adopt... I wonder why they didn't!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No CA; however, Keeping Busy!

No CA confirmation yet... but it has been a busy week and we are glad that it is Friday!!!

Abby started Gymnastics this week and loved it! She seems like a natural... but I am a bit bias!

We have procured all necessary school supplies for the older kids... Joey and Danny ~ think Black, and Holly - think High School Musical meets a neon rainbow! We are NOW ready for the start of a new school year on February 5th!!

I also picked up a couple of cool pink folders for paperwork while in China - too pretty to pass up!
We will so enjoy the weekend as it is the next to last without planned activities from morning til night for the kids. Holly and I might venture to a movie ... but other than that we are all going to rest and relax!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Come on Down!!!! China has sent our official invitation for travel.

The document is called TA or Travel Approval - It is our official invitation to travel to China to finalize the adoption of Lilli AnHui Yuan and we have received it!!! YEAH!!!

So, we have filled out our US Consulate Appointment Form and have requested a March 3, 2008 Consulate Appointment. We should find out if this is granted in the next 48 hours. Our second choice is March 10, 2008.

If we are confirmed for March 3rd - My parents will depart New Orleans on the 16th, land in Sydney on the 18th. We will then depart for China on the 21st.

I can't describe how I feel right now - thrilled - happy - nervous - excited - scared - panicked - elated - a little nauseous - floating.... you get the picture!!!

We will have our girl in our arms in a month - what a blessing!

Find Your Wings by Mark Harris

Thursday, January 10, 2008

We are officially waiting for TA!

It is official ~ at 2:42 PM local Beijing time, FEDEX delivered our LOA to CCAA (Chinese Government Adoption Office). We are now waiting for our formal invitation from China to travel - this is called Travel Approval (how original :) is that name)!!! WOW!!! We are REALLY going to China to meet our daughter!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Mom, I see the mountains; but they are not blue"

I remember when I was young, getting so excited when my dad's work would take him out of state during the summer - because the whole family would go! My dad would work, but would always fit in hours in the pool with my brother and I at whatever La Quinta or Holiday Inn we were calling home for the week. He would also fit in a few cool side trips to see the likes of Jesse James' Oklahoma mountain hideout, or Silver Dollar City in Missouri - all pretty cool destinations as I still remember the details many(well- not so many!) years later!

Fast forward a couple years and it is the Judge kids turn to follow along on Dad's business trip to Sydney. We found some neighbors to watch our dogs, packed the car, locked the house and headed off to Sydney ~ or Cindy as Abby calls it ~ for 4 days of relaxation! It was a really great trip. We took in lots of the typical sights - Opera House , Harbour Bridge, and Darling Harbor. We also enjoyed some time with Ellie and Matt and their children- thanks for a great dinner and a fun evening you guys!!!

On the way home, we decided to take the scenic route - Canberra via the Blue Mountains. Easy enough drive to the mountains from Sydney - very beautiful scenery. We arrived at the "Three Sisters" scenic lookout at 4pm. We had time to take the incline railway down and the cable car back up the mountain side. Cool - I always love a relaxing train ride... you know, like at Disney when everyone is so tired and hot from the sun - hop on the train and take a 360 degree trip around the park and just "chill" watching all the other guests frantically make their way from ride to ride. So - we buy our tickets and just as we walk up to the kiosk, a uniformed gentleman tells us to hurry and get on the train - it departs in just a minute. OK.... but we did have the stroller and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with 4 children. But... we run and hop on the "train"! Hmmmmmmmmmmm.... not like any other train I have been on. There is a metal mesh net very close and tight over our heads and the seats are a little tilted. I start fidgeting with Abby getting her close to the side so she can enjoy the view - Joe and Joey are in the row directly in front of us - Holly and Daniel ran to get the "front seats". BAMMM!!! I was plunging down a mountain! What had I done.... my stuff was falling off my lap... I was holding onto Abby in a panic - my 4 year old reminding me at that second that this was fun and not scary at all!

Wow - I was thinking that the metal net was to keep rocks from falling on me - not me from falling on the rocks! The terror ended shortly after it started - plummeting down a mountain side on a track takes no time at all! At the bottom, I soon learned that I had just ridden the fastest and steepest (52 degree) incline rail in the world. You think they would have told me that on the top!!!

So we get off - my heart pounding from the "excitement" (fright) and Abby looks up and says "Mom, I see the mountains, but they are not blue"! We were all laughing! I have to research the name! We walk 10 minutes along a "boardwalk" on the mountain side and come to our only choice for ascent back to the top - cable car. Wow! This is not what I bargained for. Huge cable car that holds a hundred people or so as they go up up up - hanging by a thin black wire over the hard rocky ground way way below. The kids loved it - Joe thought it was beautiful - I don't know as my eyes were closed! I have decided Joe and I as "Amazing Race" contestants is not going to happen!

So we get back in the car and head off to the "Major" highway that links the Blue Mountains and Canberra. It is marked "Scenic" - Cool! So we fill up with gas and drive off.... For nearly an hour we did not pass a car. The road went from winding through the mountains with safety railing and bright yellow stripes to a few white stripes and no railing to just a plain slim paved road. WE were wondering if we had missed a turn as Joe said, "I'll only worry when it turns to a dirt road". My tears started shortly there after when the road turned to bumpy gravel and then dirt.... We all decided it was too late to turn back so we would keep going straight. Thank goodness it is summer and does not get dark until after 9pm. We drive 5km down the dirt road and then it becomes a thin paved road again... after the big "road floods bad" signs and 6 meter high marker it becomes a nice paved road again with rails and yellow painted stripes... and then 45 minutes later, we come upon a small dot on the map - a town! We were going the right way! 30 minutes later we were safely in a Kentucky Fried Chicken gaining strength to make the last hour of the trek home!

What did we learn? That our plans to take a camper van around the island of Tasmania need to be adjusted! We need the biggest camper van made so the kids can spread out!

Now we are back home - unpacking and washing clothes. Joe is at work, the kids are focused on the start of school in a few weeks and I am counting down the days until Lilli joins our crazy clan!

LOA in China with a delivery date of: TODAY!!!!

I feel like dancing!!!!
I am so glad FEDEX has online tracking...currently, it makes up for a large part of my personal entertainment time! I have watched the track that our LOA took in the US, to Australia, back to the US, and now to Beijing... WOW!!! But the best part is.... it will be delivered to CCAA today!

We are so close to receiving Travel Approval and racing off to China for our Lilli AnHui!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Letter Seeking Confirmation

Our Lilli
Very Understanding FEDEX "Stork"
Ellie sending me a YIPEEE email!!!
Dad and Abby signing papers and enjoying lollies!!
At the FEDEX office...Abby thought that the FEDEX delivery man was actually going to bring Lilli today and not just "Lilli Papers"...

Just think about this:

You dream about something for years... literally since you were a child. When this something is actually possible, you work really hard planning and preparing for what seems like eternity. When all the planning and preparation and approvals are finalized and you are actually ready... you can't just follow your dream ... you must formally answer the question ~ "Do you really want to do this?"


This is basically the story of the "Letter Seeking Confirmation" that we received from China today. We have submitted all necessary documents and have met all requirements set forth by both the Chines and US Governments. We have been approved; however, they have to formally ask us if we "Would kindly make our decision" ~ We accept Lilli!!!! YES YES YES!!!

So we did just that! We checked the "YES " box on the beautiful document that is lightly embossed with flowers and stamped with an official red star seal.

After explaining to the nice FEDEX guy that this is the most important piece of paper in my life at this moment, I handed it over in a carefully addressed envelope. I made him check it twice for me before I allowed him to take it away! He knew what it was before I arrived ~ he was expecting me because he had already heard about me and my paper from his fellow employee that delivered it! He was patient and kind and assured me that it would be delivered on time to it's destination by noon on Monday ~ US time!

I am a happy girl! After all the ups and downs and strange (and not so strange) delays... we are so close to our daughter!!! My favorite song says it all:

Little Wonders ~ Rob Thomas

let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
don’t you know the hardest part is over
let it in, let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
in these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and i don’t mind
if it’s me you need to turn to
we’ll get by,
it’s the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away some how
but i can not forget
the way i feel right now
in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate

time falls away
but these small hours
with these small wonders,
still remain,
they still remain

these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours
these little wonders
still remain

If you like to read...

Try this book:

Love in the Driest Season ~ A Family Memoir
by Neely Tucker

This is a non-fiction account of a journalist and his wife that move to Zimbabwe in 1997 and their journey to adopt a little baby girl who had been abandoned on the day of her birth.

For my friends in the "adoption community" this will put all the ups and downs into perspective. For others, this inspirational story will give you a little glimpse into the reality, the pain and the brilliance of International Adoption.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Speaking of Facinations...

I have a fascination ~ a love of textiles. I have heaps of them. In all the places that I have visited, I have scoured the markets and countryside for beautiful items to add to my ever growing stash. The pieces of my collection fill cupboards, closets, and drawers. My favorites have been framed and are hanging throughout my house. An antique vest from Sumatra with such fine workmanship and artistry that a hundred years of disregard could not cover up the splendor. A beautiful but crumbling head wrap from Bali hangs in my bedroom ~ I awake many mornings enjoying the intricacy of the batik pattern wondering about the artist and the individual that first wore it many many years before it found its way to me.
The pictures above are antique Chinese baby carriers. As you can imagine - I simply must find one and add it to my treasures. Can you imagine having something so beautiful to carry around your most valued - most precious child.
Ergo carriers might be better on the back and budget... but this carrier is definitely much better on the eyes and on a sentimental heart!