Friday, August 31, 2007

One Year Forever Home & A Family of 6!

August 31st,2006
Psalm 68:6
God sets the lonely in families.
Yes, we are home! I will go back and update about leaving China later, but at least wanted to get this update out there so you know we did make it! Our flight from LA to Denver was easy, quick, Sage slept. Coming into Denver they told us it was going to be rough, there were thunderstorm clouds approaching. Which did concern us a little for the flight home. We had a 3 hour layover in Denver, and again, Sage was great. We got on the plane to leave, and then were told we could not take off due to lightening. So for 2 HOURS we sat on the plane. We were able to call home to let them know, but Mark and I were both upset. We were tired, and we were ready to be home. We finally took off and landed in St Louis around 8:30. They announced on the plane a welcome to Sage coming home from China which was very sweet! We hurried off the plane as fast as we could, and we could hear our crowd long before we could see them! As soon as they got view of us, they were screaming and yelling and oh was it a good sound! We had waited for 18 days to hear that sound and see those faces waiting there for us! Makenna and Malaine were all about Sage that is for sure! But Sawyer grabbed on to us and said, don't ever leave me again! Sage did great, smiling and happy as could be to be passed all around. As I stood there with our family and friends holding on to Sage with the love and tears pouring onto her, God whispered to me. She was born there, but this is her home. She was birthed by those people, but these are now her people. These are the faces of the ones who wanted her, and will forever love her. It was a sweet feeling to know that we are all exactly where we belong.
We did lose one suitcase in Denver, but they promised it would be delivered by 9 am friday and it was. Leaving the airport we had fun trying to get Sage into the car seat. Took us a few minutes to figure out getting her strapped in, guess I did nor refresh myself enough on those straps! She did scream on the way home, remember these kids have never been in a car seat, but fell asleep taking a bottle. The kids were fighting over who could lean forward in their seats so they could stare at her.
We went back to our house along with the crowd for a party for Sage. I appreciate everyone coming, it was so late and not what the plan was supposed to be, but we were so glad to be able to be with everyone and share Sage. There was a spread of goodies, along with a beautiful cake that Sage enjoyed squishing her toes in! Our house was decorated so cute in pink from my mops steering team and they had a wonderful bouquet of fresh flowers waiting for Sage. The kids all had a good time playing with Sage and she just lights up when watching them!
Sage was asleep by midnight, the rest of us around 1ish. It felt good to be in my soft, VERY soft bed, but I am coming down with a sore throat, so that kept me from sleeping well. Sage was up at 530, right when i took cold medicine, so thankfully mark was kind enough to get up with her. Today Marks brother Brett, wife Amy and their kids Tyler and Graham were able to come in from Kansas City to meet Sage. Mark's parents brought dinner which was great.
Sage has wanted to sleep alot, but we are trying to keep her up as much as possible to get her switched. We are exhausted. I really do feel about like I did after giving birth. Emotionally drained, and so tired. 2 days of no sleep wears on you! Plus our bodies are just so confused on why we are up right now, when we should be in bed.
It is good to finally be with all of our kids. They are all overly tired, but they really adore their new baby sister. And she is pretty impressed by them! She just watches them. She is really taking to Makenna, probably because she is giving her the most attention of all of them. Malaine is being my big diaper helper, but she is also having a hard time. Hoping some good sleep will help her out, but she is really wanting me to hold her and do things for her. Understandable. It was a long trip and she lost her place as baby. Sawyer had some big brother snuggle time w/ Sage since he is always up so early. And like everyone else, Sage thinks her big brother is funny!
Please pray for all of us as we adjust. Mark and I just want to get out of this fog we are in, we feel as if we are walking zombies! Pray that we can give all 4 kids the attention they need. We have to find a balance in giving the 3 individual time and attention, yet still trying to bond with Sage. I know that we will be fine with some rest and time.
I will probably move my postings over to the blog, after I finish up the travel journal. I do plan to fill in the days I missed, when my eyes stop swimming!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Looking Back at our Last Day in China

I just love the way her hand was hanging on to me and wrapped in my bracelet.
Evie is not so sure about sharing her stroller, or maybe just jelous of the bow? ha!
Todd enjoying the pigeon, we enjoyed the other parts of the pigeon!
Dreaming of home!

August 30th,2006
Romans 8 :28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
Taking a while, but I am finally going back to update this last page of my travel journal, our final day in China.
We woke and went to our last breakfast at the buffet. Mark said we should eat light, since we were planning to eat lunch with some of our friends. But I felt the need to overflow my plate, I would never get that yummy French toast again! It was so weird, knowing we would never eat at this hotel overlooking the Pearl River again.
Right after breakfast we began to make our rounds to the shops who we had ordered things from. Sadly, no one had our things ready. Lesson number 100. Order your things early, and tell them you are leaving the day before you actually do leave. Granted, I ordered a lot. But we were panicked. We headed back to the room to finish up packing. I left lots of things behind. Our suitcases were overflowing. For lunch we ate at a Cantonese Restaurant in the White Swan, with Jennifer & Todd, Lori and Vinnie. We tried Pigeon, and it was really good. Despite the head on the plate! I think we got a good shot of Todd acting as if he is going to try that part! Fried Green Beans were wonderful, all the food there was really good. Sage slept through lunch, in my arms.
Mark went out and picked up the rest of our orders, only one jacket out of 18 custom made outfits was not finished. Jennifer offered to pick it up for me and ship it to me from the states. No other options, we had to go.
They picked up all our luggage(one great thing, every hotel, they pick up your luggage at your room and get it to where it needs to go) and we loaded the bus for the US Consulate Appointment. It was about a 45 minute drive. Sabrina gave a speech on the way over, which did not help my already weepy emotions. Yes, I was excited to get home, but so sad to leave all these new friends I had met. Much less to leave China, Sages birthcountry. One thing she said that really struck my heart. She said, these mothers do not want to give up their babies. And while we have no idea why Sage was given up, I do want to believe that she was loved, and that her birthmother made a choice to give her up in hopes of a better future for her. There were other options that her mother could have taken, and so we are forever thankful that she chose this road for her baby, our daughter.
We were not allowed to take photo’s in the Consulate. We were also not allowed to take in any liquids so some of our group lost their thermos full of water for formula. We had to go through security to get in. Then we were ushered up to a window, they checked to make sure that Sage matched the picture on her visa. We took an oath as a group, swearing to take care of these babies,which was so moving to me. There were about 50 plus families in the room with us all different agencies. Looking around and seeing all these mommy’s and daddy’s, and all these new babies, some screaming, some sleeping, some laughing, it was just amazing. These parents who have been through exactly what we have been through to get our babies… We were then given Sage’s visa and we left. We did not realize that we were going to be leaving our group right there to go to the airport. We jumped back on our bus, presented Sabrina with a parting group gift. We collected almost $600 we donated in her name to one of the CHI foundations, that helps kids in need get much needed surgeries. And then we had to say goodbye. It was so hard. These families who we have been with for 2 weeks. The ones who watched us become parents to Sage, and who we watched become families. They were our support through each day in China. We might never see them again. It was a quick goodbye, but full of sweet memories that will stay on my heart forever.
We headed to the airport and stood in line forever to get checked in. If the line was a sign of our flight, it was going to be full. We had to go through customs and we had these papers we had to fill out and hand over. Well we hand him Sage’s and he said, you should have filled this out in Chinese, this time I will help you, but next time, Chinese. What? Ok, next time, I will practice up my Chinese handwriting and do that. We had a “western” dinner while waiting, but I got a chicken sandwich which was very spicy and very chewy. I am ready for American normal chicken! The wait was short and soon we were boarding the plane. We did have 6 CHI couples on our flight. 4 Hunan Families along w/ the cutie from our flight in, Lillie and her new sister! We settled in on the plane and we were off. It was a very full flight this time, and we did not receive ANY special treatment this time as before. In fact, we did not see much of the flight attendants on this flight. They served dinner right away, which was rice and some sort of spicy meat. Sage fell asleep pretty quickly. Our seats were the 2 on the side. We had hoped for bulkhead, in that area sometimes you can get a bassinet. But it was fine, Sage fell asleep on my lap, and slept for most of the entire flight. I actually slept a little bit myself. Though we had terrible turbulence on that flight, which surprised me, the way over was so smooth. Being on a Chinese airline, the movies were bad. We could find nothing in English! With only about 2 hours to go, they finally served breakfast. And that is when Sage decided to wake up, and have a bad, I mean REALLY bad diaper blow out. Less than 2 minutes after they set down my tray, might I add, WITH the food cart in the aisle. Thankfully one of the bathrooms in our area was a wheelchair accessible, so it was larger. Of course getting out of my seat covered in, well, just covered, getting around the breakfast cart, all the while the flight attendants trying to ignore me and the stench I think, then waiting in line for that one bathroom which happened to be occupied FOREVER!! Thank goodness I had packed clothes for me and Sage both in our carry on. I quickly lost my appetite at that point! And that little incident did help to pass the last part of the flight pretty quickly! We landed in Los Angeles at 7:30PM. Have I mentioned that the Chinese pilots land differently than US pilots? They are rough, I don’t know why, but we both noticed that they land so much harder! It did go through my head, we saw how they drive, and we actually trust them to fly us!? Good thing I flew China Southern before I rode in a chinese taxi! We rushed off the plane as quickly as we could, we were told to hurry and get in line for US immigrations. There was some man there who had us get in one line, then tried to make us get into another line, which we all refused to budge. When we asked why, he said “Because that is the way it is”. And you know me, that just ticked me off and I thought, you want me to move, and stand in a longer line, AFTER waiting in this line, you will have to pick me up and move me. This is America, I know my rights and I have been on a plane for 15 hours. Thankfully we did not get hauled off to the police station, we stayed in our spot and we made it through. It was so nuts that we did not get to say goodbye to all our friends as we would have liked, but it was good to be on US soil for sure! We gathered our luggage and jumped on the shuttle to our hotel for the night.
By 8:30 we were checking into our room at the Sheraton. We paid $150.00 to stay at this hotel, and I guess we were so spoiled from China hotels, but it felt like a dump! I guess I should not go that far, but it was not the White Swan! Except of course for the heavenly beds! They were well worth the $! We dumped our luggage into the room, and went downstairs for our first American Meal. We both had steak, mashed potatoes, it was good! No pointing at the menu to order, we did not have to ask them to leave out the spice or ice from our drinks! But our dinner was so quiet. This was the first time we had been alone and it was strange! Sage had no friends, we had no one, our trip was really coming to an end.
Mark and I were exhausted, but not our little angel who had slept almost the entire flight, she was ready to go! So it was a very short night in our soft beds! At least they were comfy to lay on awake. By 4am we gave up and got ready for the airport. Mark took a hike down the road to get diapers, we were out. We took the shuttle to the airport and guess what, Sage fell asleep and continued to sleep for most of the day. Mark and I were both so anxious now. Home, we are coming home!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Then & Now

I pulled out Sage's Gotcha Day outfit today, the smell of China whispering from the package. I can't believe as I look at these photo's next to each other the difference. One year of change. A year full of blessings.

Happy Gotcha Day One Year!

First moment I held Sage. What a feeling!
This was Sage's roommate Evangeline meeting her daddy Jeff. I love how Sage is watching her!
Getting to know you! (must love split pants and knee socks!)

Daddy's Little 3rd Girl!

Group Dinner, much more fun w/ babies!
All dressed up
Getting mommy

One year ago, Sage's story as a Laxton truly began. Of course we knew she was a Laxton from the moment we started the adoption. But one year ago we held her for the first time. And just like the details of birth are so clear to me from Makenna, Sawyer and Malaine, the details of that day are forever on my heart. We had prayed this child through a pregnancy in another womans tummy, a delivery, an abandonment, a stay in an orphanage. We had dreamed of what she might look like, feel like, sound like and even smell like. Unlike my pregnancy's that I knew what was going on, I had no control through that wait. I had no idea of what she was living like. I was not a patient mommy for those 18 months of waiting. But on August 21st, 2006, all of that wondering and waiting was over. I held my 4th child, my 3rd daughter. I remember when they carried her out and called us, I leaned to talk to her, and she reached out for me. I remember how perfectly she felt in my arms. So tiny, so quiet and so perfect. She just stared at us w/ those dark brown almond shaped eyes, drinking in every detail. Her hair, oh how we loved that hair! Sticking straight up. Her round cheeks and her tiny bird legs. Sage, this was the Sage we had prayed and cried and waited and longed for. Our daughter, our gift.

August 21st 2006- Gotcha Day!
Hebrews 6:15
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

How do you put into words what just happened? What did just happen? Wasn't it just yesterday I was crying my eyes out saying this day would never come? Wasn't it yesterday, God told us we were going to add to our family through adoption? Wasn't it just yesterday I said goodbye to my kids in St Louis? The Lord is faithful, He promised us that He would bring us this child, and she is here! Thank you Lord for this gift!
I woke up at 430, better than 4! Had a little hair scare, and it is so not about Sage, but I am going to write about it anyways. We have been having issues w/ the outlets, converter not working, etc.. So I could not get my flat iron to work today. And you know I totally have high maintenance hair, I have to have an iron! There was no way I was meeting my baby w/ poofy not ironed out hair! So thankfully I find that our hotel has a salon, that would open at 9. I told Mark, no matter what the cost, I am buying a flat iron from them. He freaks out saying my hair is fine, blah blah... And starts messing w/ the outlets. He managed to figure out we were using the converter wrong, and so he got that working, the flat iron working and we were good! I knew if i threatened to spend $ he would figure it out!
Ok, ok, on to why we are here... We ate breakfast at the buffet, and chatted w/ friends. How does one do normal things such as eating breakfast, using a flat iron, etc.. When your whole world is about to change? Mark and I were in our room getting ready to leave and we stopped before leaving so we could just pray together. Our heavenly Father has been so gracious to even allow us to get this far, and before we left, we knew we needed to be w/ him first. It was such a sweet moment, that I will never forget.
Our travel group of 12 families met in the lobby and then headed over to the Civil Affairs Office. A 10 minute drive. Sabrina was telling us what to expect and how to not be surprised if the babies screamed, they are not used to foreigners w/ our big noses and different smells etc.. The big noses got a big laugh! They had hired a videographer to capture the entire thing which was great! We walked upstairs and as we were going in, a group of other families were coming out w/ their new babies. Smiles and tears on both sides of us! We walked into this large room and they announced that Chenzhou babies were not there yet, but the 3 families who were w/ us that were getting Waiting Children, theirs were there. So it was VERY tearful to watch them get their children. Liz was first, w/ her 2 1/2 year old son. He is darling, but obviously very scared and cried so hard, which made us all cry even more! We were able to watch Owen meet his new little sister Finley and then the Curtis Family met Audrey. It was the most amazing thing watching these people become parents right in front of us! I was crying and they told us not to cry to much, only happy tears or we would scare the babies! Then there were people in the hall and they began carrying in babies, our babies! We all watched intently as they marched through our room to the next room. I could not pick out Sage at all. They brought the babies out one by one and called up each family. They would check each family's passport, check the Travel Approval then hand over the baby. It all happened so fast, I really don't remember much. I know they called our name, Yi Qiao, and there she was! I am not sure I can even put it into words. They handed her to me, and it was just right. She was in my arms and my heart knew that this was Sage. This is what I knew she would feel like. When they called my name, I said something to her and it was almost as if she reached for me. Then as we met her and talked to her, she would just study us so intently. No tears, not even a whimper. She just looked as if to say, So, you are my mom and dad! Thanks for finally getting here! After all the families had their babies, we went back to the bus and back to the hotel. This all happened w/ in an hour. We came in and laid Sage on the bed and just studied her. She just stared. She wanted to reach out and touch. We changed her diaper, yes she was wearing split pants, but w/ a diaper. Fed her a bottle, and she was out. While she was eating she started sweating, ALOT! I was soaked.
Isn't she beautiful! I am not sure the pictures show how dark she is. She has beautiful skin. She has a little bit of heat rash, but not bad. And that hair! She went from no hair to wild hair in 4 months! Everyone loves her hair. Even after her bath, it just sticks straight up! Great, she is going to have high maintenance hair too! Her hair is very black and her eyes really really dark. She also has long lashes. And yes, her cheeks are still as chunky as they were in her referral pictures! I love it! She is tiny, besides the cheeks. We weighed her in our room and it was rough of course, but it seemed to be about 13 pounds. Maybe 3 pounds of cheeks? Her bottom is so tiny, skinny legs, no bootie! Long skinny feet. My size 2 shoes are big. Size 2 diapers are a little big, but since you can tighten them are doing fine. Clothes, I am guessing my 3-6 I brought are going to be a good fit, and I think the 6-9 months will be ok since they are dresses, I guess we will see as we try more things on!
She was wearing another boy outfit, w/ Snoopy on it! Yes, she has on panty hose type knee socks. What is that about? We got nothing w/ her, nothing! Just handed her over and that was that. We did not get to talk to anyone from the orphanage, it is not the nannies who brought them. I am not sure if maybe tomorrow we might get anything or not. Does not really matter, we got what is important.
She is very curious and so far very happy. She does not sit up, but is close. When on her belly she scoots, and she can roll from her back to front. If I have her on the floor and I am not close, she pulled herself over to me. She is going to both of us fine. She reaches for me. I like that. And when she sees me, her face gets happy. Not quite a smile but almost.
She has had 2 bottles and sucked both of them down fast. She fell asleep during her bottle and she is out. When she was awake, she was busy and wants to touch everything. She about fell out of my arms trying to turn around and see things going on behind her. She does not seem scared of anyone yet. I realize that tomorrow could be a whole different story, but today, it has been easy. She has not cried yet. No noise at all. Quiet and inquisitive.
I wrote all of the above before dinner, so just a few more notes after dinner. We ate dinner in the hotel w/ our group. There are lots of families w/ babies here. It is fun to see! We tried to feed Sage steamed eggs at dinner. Her updated information said she was eating food. But she did not seem to know what to do w/ a spoon at all. I brought along Gerber fruit puffs and the same thing, she just looked at me like I was nuts! She barely has 2 teeth in. At dinner she began to talk a little more. She is smiling and has a little tiny laugh that is very sweet. She really watches Mark and I, studies our faces. It is as if she is saying, you are mine.
After dinner a group of us went upstairs to the hotel playroom. It is a great place w/ a wonderful view of the city. It is very interesting to watch the girls together. They do seem to like to be around each other. One of the girls, Vivian is the same age, yet she was on her knees crawling and is larger than the other 3 who were in the room. She sat and played at a toy piano, while the others are army crawling around. They are all just beautiful girls. We were only there a little while before Sage stunk up the place. That is a very good thing though! It is always a concern w/ the constipation, so we are thankful to get that out of the way.(thank you Dawn for vanilla scented trash bags!) We were worried since the girls were in split pants that maybe they were trying to put them on the potty. And they say if you don't try, it can mess them up. We were hoping to stick w/ diapers, so looks like we are good in that area.
Sage is getting more smiley as the night goes on, and I can't wait to see her unfold even more as the week goes on. We did finally hear a short cry tonight. Her bedtime bottle is supposed to be made up of formula and cereal. She could not get it out of the nipple, so while I was trying to cut it bigger, she was not happy. But she got it all down. We laid her down still a little awake and she pulled the cover up over her head. It was so sweet but made me sad. Just wondering how she slept all these nights w/ out me. What was her bedtime routine like. And what is going on in her little head right now? When she wakes up, will she look at us and think, oh great, them again? Or will she look at us and know.
Well, Mark says I better wrap it up, who is still reading to this point! Tomorrow we go and do the "official" adoption. It will be neat to see how all the babies sleep tonight! There have been tears from some, but overall I think the girls (and boy!) seem to be doing very well. Please pray that the rest of the night and week go as well! And thank you for all your prayers. I know that all of you were praying along w/ us that God would plant us on her heart, and I feel those prayers worked!
Sage is here! And I am in love.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Almost Sage Day One Year Ago

Our hotel, the Dalton was so beautiful, much nicer than we are used to.

Our group, signing the paperwork, so offical!

The best place to shop for baby things!

An empty crib about to be filled w/ a bundle of Spice!

In reality, one year ago at this exact time, I was on a bus to the civil affairs office, as China is ahead of us. But since we are on US time, I am looking back at that night before. Every detail of our arrival into Changsha so very clear. The first glimpse of Hunan, knowing we were so close. I prayed as we landed, Lord, imprint every single sight, smell and sound on my soul, do not ever let me forget.

I so desperatly wanted Sage on that first day. She was turning 9 months, oh and she was almost in my arms! But more waiting, those last labor pains I suppose. We met as a group and filled out paperwork, we were given her schedule. We went shopping at the Whaco Mart for baby supplies! We unpacked, we settled in and we waited. For the night to end, for the plan to unfold, for the promise that God had whispered to our hearts so many months before, to finally and forever hold our Sage.....

August 20th,2006
Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a mans heart, but the Lord's purpose will prevail.

First I have to say, we have alot of shy people who are visiting our site! We know that hundreds of people are visiting, (we have a counter) but you are not signing our book. Now come on, you are family! Even if you are here by accident, you are now part of our journey to Sage. This journal is all for her, and we want her to know who was here. So PLEASE sign our guestbook!

Today started at guess what time? Yep, that is right, 4AM. How annoying. The morning has been very full of emotions. Today Sage is 9 months old. We are leaving Beijing behind, and though I am ready to go, it is still hard to go, not knowing if we will ever see this part of China again. This was our first taste of China and it will forever be special. I am really missing home today and especially the kids. We called home and Makenna told us they were really crying last night missing us. And Malaine fake cried along with them. I guess Sawyer said, "why do we need another sister, we already got 2 of them!" I cried all morning missing them. Tomorrow they get to go to 6 flags, so I know they will enjoy that. Please pray for them that they will be comforted and that we can all make it through, we still have a long way to go that is for sure.
Our flight to Changsha was short, just 2 hours. I was able to sit on the flight near one of the moms in our group, Terry, who lives in Nashville. Their daughter to be is Jessie, who was 1 in June. I had a great time chatting the 2 hours away w/ her. Mark tends to sleep or pulls out the PSP, so woman company is always welcome! They served us lunch on the flight which was spicy fish. I stuck to none other than rice. Mark on the other hand is chowing down everything. I really thought he might lick the plate. He tries everything. How he is not sick I am not sure.
We were met in Changsha by our local guide who is named Vicky. So we have our CHI coordinator Sabrina, then also this new local guide just for Changsha. We made our way to the Dolton Hotel. Changsha is the capital city of Hunan. It is very different here than Beijing. Not the tourist feeling at all. Not as many English signs to explain things. It is a large city, and we are in a downtown type area. Our hotel is fabulous! VERY nice! The weather is high 80's today, which they said is great for this area, I guess it tends to be hot, which I am sure we will experience this week. Vicky asked us if we knew why Hunan was known for their spicy food. It is because in the cold they thought the hotter the food was, the warmer they would get. And she said the girls are known for the spicy attitude! So we may be in for a spicy girl ourselves!
Everyone from our group is staying on the same floor which is alot of fun! I am SO thankful we booked a suite here. It is beautiful and lots of room to spread out. I am dreading the bed, I sat on it and it is hard. VERY hard. I knew I should have squished an egg crate in my suitcase! The best thing is the baby things that were waiting for us! A crib, a baby bathtub, and a baby bowl w/ spoon, how sweet is that? We met w/ our guides to go over paperwork and to talk about tomorrow. The plan is that we will drive to the Civil Affairs Building at 1030AM. The babies are due around 11am. It sounds like it will all happen very fast and then we will head back here. So that means for you all at home, it will be Sunday during your night, and when you get up on Monday, I promise we will have pictures posted.
After paperwork we headed out shopping to buy formula. We are quite a site, 12 families walking the streets and storming into the grocery store! I have to wonder, what do these people think of us? It will be very obvious this week as we walk w/ our babies, why we are here.
Dinner tonight was at our hotel where they have a buffet. It was pretty good, I have to go back to get pictures of the turtles cooked whole w/ heads and shells, snake, ostrich tendon, you name it! Mark ate eel, I took a bite, but had to lose it. No thank you! My favorite part of dinner is the company we always have. We have such a wonderful group of families traveling w/ us.
So many thoughts in my head tonight. I can't believe in 14 hours, I will finally lay eyes on Sage. I will be able to reach out and touch her and hold her in my arms. All those months of questions are about to be answered. I am down on my knees in thanksgiving to God for leading us here on this journey to our daughter, His child. We are so in love with her already. This adoption sure did not go according to our plans, we should have been home 6 months ago w/ our baby. But the Lord chose Sage for us, and 6 months ago she was not ready to come home. I think back on those days of tears, and now I see why. No more tears, no more waiting, we are about to meet the purpose that God had all along.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Looking Back To our first day in china

August 14th-16th

Exodus 23:20

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.

We are in China! We have now said that to each other at least 100 times. We made it, our luggage made it, and we are EXHAUSTED! I will go back to Monday for you all. We were planning to leave our house at 1030am. At 9 I zipped up the suitcase, wheeled it to the door and looked down to see INSIDE the suitcase. The seam had busted. You know all my carefully planned out light packing list? I guess it was not so light. So mark hurried to my parents to borrow their large suitcase and I started repacking. But I started stressing because of course i had it all in their so perfect, i had worked on it for weeks! He ushered me out of the room and repacked it all himself! But when we tried to weigh it, we knew we were in trouble. It was 60 pounds! I guess they had a heavier suitcase than we did. But no time to worry about it, we decided we would just pay the difference. We got to the airport w/ plenty of time to spare. Paid our $50 penalty for being over the weight limit, and said our good byes to the kids. It was So hard to leave them! But I know they are already having lots of fun in Branson. Made our way down to security, and my backpack went off. They had to search it, SEARCH ME! I guess they reasoned that I had used hand lotion that morning, which transferred to my bag when I zipped it up. I figured maybe they stopped me because I just looked to giddy! I was on my way to China! We flew St Louis to Denver, leaving just a little late. Denver to LA w/ a long layover. But in La we met up w/ Jeff and Annaliesa Gove who are from Portland. We had been chatting online through our agency. Their baby Evangeline is the same age as Sage and they have 3 bio kids at home. We had a great time chatting and getting to know them. At midnight we finally left! The plane was very nice. We were in Premium Economy, which meant larger seats, more space between, headrests etc.. I have to say, I expected the flight to be hard, but it was MUCH harder than I imagined. Regardless of the seats being bigger than economy, I still can't sleep sitting up! Even w/ sleeping pills, I did not get into a good sleep at all. I kept thinking, I don't understand how we are going to do this w/ a baby! I would look over at mark, who after he closed his eyes, NEVER changed positions, though he claims he did not sleep well, while i tossed and turned. We did get our first taste of chinese food on the flights. Dinner was pork and rice, which I stuck to rice since the pork was spicy. Raw shrimp w/ some other raw meat that we avoided, and a salad. Breakfast was really good, eggs, hashbrowns, sausage. After the 15 hour flight into Guangzhou, we had to fly into Beijing next. We made it through the airport w/ no problems overall. Well we did have some guy take us on a cart who had us very confused (Brenda, we tried to tell the men about the scams, they did not listen so we wasted our yuan on that!). Mark: "It costed us $2.50 and he took 4 of us over a quarter of a mile with all of our luggage. It was worth it!" But other than that, we found our way around ok and awaited our next and final flight of the day. We met up w/ another CHI family at the gate who are adopting their 3rd child. They have 3 year old Lilly w/ them who is from Hunan and just adorable! We will be seeing more of them tomorrow while we tour. The flight into Beijing went fine. Although we definately were the minority there! They served us lunch of noodles and beef and it was so good! We were met by a CHI rep at the Beijing airport, who took us all to our hotel which is the Radisson. She was telling us that Sabrina would be taking us to Hunan to get our "spicy girls". We should meet Sabrina in a couple of days. We had dinner w/ the Goves at The Hard Rock Cafe. The taxi ride was just as exciting as we were told! They just drive wherever they want, they cut into people, very scary! I just tried not to watch. Our 20 minute taxi ride was $2.00! After dinner we went to the grocery store which is next to our hotel. Stocked up on water, soda, and hangers. (not enough in our room!) Cheap, very cheap. I have so much to say, but my eyes are swimming. I have been very dizzy tonight and I assume it is from jetlag. We forced ourselves to stay awake all day so that we could get on China time. It is almost 8pm so we will be going to bed soon. Can you believe it, we are in China! How long I have dreamed of this moment. What would it be like on our flight, how would it feel to get my first glimpse of my daughters birthcountry. It was an emotional day. As we flew we had the personal screen showing us where we were. As we flew over Hunan, my eyes were filled w/ tears, we are close, So close to our baby girl! We have never been as close as we are now. I am where she is, and where she has been. Tomorrow we will tour the Summer Palace, i think. Hopefully i will be able to write w/ more coherent thoughts! Oh, and we are having some hotmail issues, so we are going to have to switch our email to We know we can pull that up, but we can't get into our Sage account for some reason. Please, write us! We treasure the messages we have been able to read in our guestbook. We feel we have already been gone so long, yet it has only been a few days. Good night from China!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Looking Back

Yep, over the limit. What is a mommy to do?
Saying goodbye
Evies mommy & daddy
Sage referral
Waiting for mommy

Hard to believe, but one year ago, August 14th 2006, we boarded the plane for China. The day is still so clear in my mind. The excitment of going, the sadness of leaving. The fear of the unknown, but the promise of our daughter. The plan, that God had from the beginning, was finally beginning!

Tonight, as I prayed w/ the children, Sawyer said "mom, I think God wants us to go back to china for another BABY girl. "I said, no brother? And he said, no, i want a baby girl who is just like Sage! So this sweet little girl, has even the brother who fell on the floor at our agency when finding out he was getting a sister, wrapped.

Even the kids remember one year ago. They were in a hurry to drop us off, so they could begin their vacation w/ Grammy and Papa. Malaine said, go back to china so we can go do that again!

It was also the day we met our friends the Gove's for the first time. We had been emailing, but were blessed to travel together to china. Sage & Evie were together in Chenzhou, in fact they were room mates! We miss them tons.

I will be adding posts this week, looking back at our trip. Enjoying the memory, and thankful for the daughter that baby girl I met in China has become.

Below was my last blog before we moved to our website in China.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

We're Leaving on a Jet Plane...
In less than 48 hours we will board our first flight towards our daughter. Wow! We are ready, oh so ready. Not only are the bags packed, the house is scrubbed, the closets are organized, the lists are made for the grandparents, we are ready. I have little moments of panic that creep in. The thought of being away from my children for 18 days, breaks my heart. That is so long! Sure there have been moments this week, MANY moments, that the idea of quiet has made me smile! And I know they are going to have a blast! They are going to get so spoiled and I am so glad that they are going to have 18 days to build forever memories w/ their grandparents. But we will miss them terribly. There are the panic moments of "please let the plane stay in the air as it should". Or please let my luggage make it to China. But those fears are few and the JOY I feel outweighs all of them that is for sure. I am going to hold my baby! For 18 months we have wondered so many things. What does Sage look like? What does she sound like? Does she have hair now? When she smiles, what is that like, or the sound of her laugh? Does she eat food, does she gulp down her bottles? Does she sleep on her belly and who is holding her when she cries? What does she feel like when she is in your arms? Soon there will be no more wondering. She will be in my arms forever and every question will be answered. How Great is our God? So, Monday we go. Our flight leaves St louis at 2pm. We will be in China on Wednesday at 11am. For you here that is about 10pm here on Tuesday night. We will be updating at our website which is I hope you will join us on our journey to Sage!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Homeschooling, Seriously?

Yep, we are serious. It has been on our hearts for many years. It has been a hard, VERY hard decision. But one we know we need to do. The hard part for us has been that we love Victory, the christian school the children have attended. We love the teachers and we love what they stand for. We have made friends, as have our children. However, what God wants for us outweighs what we want for us. And so once again, we step out in faith and trust that He is leading us. I realize there are many that think we are nuts, and we are a little on the nuts side, I admit and we are ok w/ that! I have included a rundown of the questions and remarks I have heard and my feelings. You must know, that because this is what WE have been told to do, does not mean I think it is for everyone. I have many friends w/ children in public school, who love it. And that is great. Many in private, and that is great. We are simply trying to be obedient to what we believe God has told us.

What makes you qualified to be a teacher?

Well, obviously, I don't hold a degree in education. However, I am the mother to Makenna, Sawyer, Malaine and Sage. I know them better than anyone on this earth does. That right there gives me a step above any teacher. Besides, have you looked at a teachers handbook? It says, point to this and say this, hand them this and say that. I am pretty sure I can follow directions.
(I mean no offense to school teachers, I think God calls MANY to be teachers in all sorts of schools and that is great! And i know your job is harder than reading directions! I am talking about the homeschool teacher handbooks!) I have many friends who are wonderful christians teaching in school, which is a huge blessing to many parents I know.

Why not just keep them in a christian school?

We love Victory, which as i said is why we struggled. But the bottom line is, these are MY children. I only get to have them here in my house for 18 years, unless of course they bum off me for a few more after that, but you know what i am saying. Why do I pay someone else to take care of my kids for most of every day? I have struggled with that for years. They get the best part of my kids every day. I get to rush them out of bed, hurry them out the door, then spend the evening doing homework, or being rushed to here or there and then rushing them off to an early bedtime. Yes, there are times when they drive me crazy, many times. But I still love to be w/ them and want to be with them.

Also of course, is the money. We are paying alot of money for them to attend school. We will eventually have 4 (or more?) children to put through that school. Sure we could sell our house and downsize to afford it, but right now we feel God is telling us to save that money, stay put, and bring them home.

Then why not public school it is FREE!

Yes it is. But Mark and I both agree we want our children to have a christian education. Why would we send them to a school to be taught by the state, where they are not allowed to be taught about Jesus? To us, that is the ONLY subject that matters. So is it right to send them to a place where Jesus is not a part of their day, yet try to tell them that He really is more important than math? I often wonder, how many people would send their kids to public school, if you had to pay for it?

What about being salt and light in this world?

We have heard this since our kids were in private school. First, you go where God calls. Second, for those who want their kids out as the light, how many are enrolling their kids in the Muslim schools, or the Buddhist schools? These are children, and we believe that we are training them now to GO when they are older. I think it is important that we are building a strong foundation for our kids and also by being an example to them now.

What about socialization? How will they be around other peers?

First, socialization that is going on at school, is not always the best. I was a kid once! ;) 2nd, we are already planning to enroll into 2 different co-ops. So they will go to class on Thursday and Friday w/ other kids. They will carry a backpack, they will have a lunchbox and eat together. Co-ops are amazing and provide field trips, parties, etc.. We have more chances of social outings there than before. The kids also attend church activities. Funny thing is, Makenna has been in school now since she was 4. She is the least social of my kids, very shy. The others, don't know the meaning of shy and have been in much less school, if any. I believe that God designs children to be the way they are. Be it shy, or social butterfly's. Their school setting is NOT going to change who God made them to be.

Will you churn your own butter and bake your own bread and milk cows?


What does Mark think?

Mark was against homeschooling in the beginning, it was what i wanted to do before they started school. And I have never pushed it at all w/ him. (other things, yes I am pushy about, no doubt!) He read a book called "when you rise up" by RC Sprouls Jr, and he came to me and said, I think God wants us to do this, now, this year, as in school starts in a few weeks and they should stay home. So we prayed and we talked and we got advice from others and we prayed and we cried and we researched and we just finally said, we are doing it.
Mark and I are opposites, obviously. But we both just want to do what God wants. The best thing is, Mark is ready to be very involved in this. He WANTS to teach math. (or he does not trust me maybe?) It will be like having a live in principal! He has been the one doing all kinds of research while I just sat and cried wondering what to do.
(By the way, I know nothing about Sprouls Jr, just read the book. He is kind of radical, but it was the scripture he brought out that spoke to Mark, not the man himself. )

And what do the kids think?

They have always known it is a possibility. I am proud of them, they have been little prayer warriors through this decision also, trying to be still and listen for God's voice. Of course they were sad to think of leaving their friends. But they are excited about the opportunities to. It will be a big adjustment I am sure. But I think they are ready for it. Malaine will still attend pre-school 3 mornings a week.

Great for you, but i could NEVER do that!

Or i don't have the patience, or the discipline or the whatever...
Have you asked God? Have you gone on your knees in desperation of seeking what HE wants for you and your children? If you have, and He has said to homeschool, then you can do it. You might not want to, it might not be easy. But if He speaks, you just have to listen. Life is not about us or what we want, just ask Mark! He thought he wanted 2 kids that would have a free education, and we would just live our little life's however we wanted. Thankfully, he asked, and God showed him all the blessings He had planned for us in life.

In Deuteronomy 6 God commands us to Love Him with all our hearts, to follow His commands. He tells us to impress His ways upon our children's hearts. When we rise up, we we walk, when we lie down. Not just before and after school, but always.

So there you have it, why we are bringing the kids home this year. Again, this is why WE are doing this. I judge no one on their choice for their kids, as I hope no one judges us. Do I think it is going to be perfect? No way! One reason we also decided to rush now was so that we can try to figure out what we are doing before Malaine is ready for kindergarten. We realize this will be a year of adjustment and we will just wade our way through. 4 children, one of them being a spicy girl, it is going to be interesting. So we appreciate your prayers and if you have any help w/ homeschool ideas, send them our way! We are in the process of reasearching the 1 zillion options of teaching that are available. We could take the easy way and just teach them what they have been taught, but you know us better than that! We would not be happy w/ out spending hours looking for what is out there and praying over what is right for us.

Homeschooling, who would have thought?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

FCC Magic House

Isn't this scary?
A favorite, can you believe that hair!
Dressing up

Behind the puppet theatre
Sawyer, the baker?

Sage's favorite, splashing fun!

We went to the Magic House for an event sponsered by Families with Children from China. It was only open for our group, which was perfect. Sage was very much in her element, able to just run free, climbing, exploring, and climbing and running, and not getting in trouble for it! ;) We love these events. A time to be w/ tons of other families who look exactly like we do. I think they are so important for Sage and we plan to do our best to always attend what we can.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lilly Day!

Isn't she so sweet? Remember I posted the referral for my friends baby awhile back? She now has her in her arms in China! You can follow her family here. Makes me want to go back again...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Sawyer!

Sawyer at 2 years old
Sawyer at 4
Sayyer now!

Today we celebrate Sawyer! Silly, silly Sawyer. 7 years ago he entered our lives, and what a blessing he is. The one in our family who rises w/ the sun, because he might miss something if he sleeps in. The one who has only 1 volume, LOUD or off! The one who makes us just laugh and laugh! He is a wonderful brother, and takes care of his sisters. He was holding Sage one day and trying to put her down. She would cry every time he went to set her down and I said, it is ok, she will stop crying. He said, but i don't like for her to cry! He is usually the one to give in to whatever will make everyone happy. So today we celebrate our blue eyed sweet and silly son. Happy Birthday Sawyer Riley!