Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day three (Thursday)

I will try to keep these shorter now, so that we can get caught up. Day three started with LJ waking up around 6. A little better than the prior morning, but mommy has officially realized that her days of sleeping late are over. No plans in the morning, but we have to go get her passport in the afternoon. She doesn't seem like herself this morning, or at least from what we have seen of her the past day and a half. A very quiet, sleepy, and clingy girl has arrived. The good news of the morning is that we have finally gotten her bottle the way she likes it and she drank 11 oz. This is the first bottle we have gotten her to take!! Hurray for DAD! He has no idea how it was made, but it worked. That also cleared up the question of her being able to suck. Sara has been extremely helpful in getting us in touch with the pediatrician to answer all our questions and concerns from here. The doctor already was in the process of setting LJ up an appointment in Savannah to find out why she was not sucking properly. But, it turns out she knows what to do, we just couldn't get it correct for her. Mommy and Daddy will learn in time.

Today turns out to be all Mommy day. It seems that most of the adopted babies have a rough time on day three. She has come to realize that she is not going back to the orphanage and that we are still here with her everyday. Wanda says that she is probably missing her caregivers from the orphanage and trying to adjust to us. Daddy is not a comfort today. Actually daddy is not really an option today. I knew coming in that it would generally be harder for her to adapt to me than Wanda, so I will wait my turn.

Time to get the passport. A short trip into Guangzhou and we appear at what looks like a police station. Up the stairs and our guide meets someone with paperwork for us. We sit and patiently wait our turn. In the meantime, we get an adoption confirmation paperwork that has our family picture from yesterday on it. It turned out just like we thought. A nice frown from the baby in the middle of the picture. A nice official document with this, our first family photo... boy will she here about this later. We also figured out how to take her picture without the sad face today. Slowly we are figuring these things out.

Our nighttime trip was to a pedestrian street market. It was block after block of shops with everything from clothing to electronics. If you have ever been to Las Vegas and went to Freemont Street, think of it like that only longer and four to five times as many people. Bright lights in the evening, and the crowd seems to grow. Wanda got some things to put her hair up. We also picked up an outfit for Lexi, I think it is still to big though. For dinner we went to an historic restaurant. Our guide left us alone to have a romantic dinner with the baby. Another lesson learned, no more romantic dinners with a baby around. We have learned to eat fast and smaller portions so we can keep her on the move.

By the end of the evening our little Lexi has come back to us. She is playful and energetic. Still a mommy's girl but daddy isn't so bad now. We might finally be growing on her.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking for Advice!

Lexi awoke this morning with a rash on her chest. It was bright red to begin with most likely from laying on her tummy to sleep. It is a raised rash with very tiny blisters. At first is was only in two areas but throughout the day has spread all across her chest on just below the breast bone and now is making it's way onto her neck. We finally used the only thing we had which is Children's Benadryl and gave her 1/4 teaspoon. She took a nap and then woke up upset scratching at her neck. We've kept in the room and took off her shirt because it was bothering her rash. We really don't know what to do. We are trying to locate Benadryl cream via our guide or at least something for itching. She has no fever but has had some rattling in her chest since we got her. No runny nose, just chest conjestion. They said she was getting over a cold when we got her.

We feel so helpless to treat this here. No pharmacy, no English, no Western Dr. So we are seeking advice. Right now, her Daddy is holding her, rubbing her back as she sleeps on his chest. It was the only thing that was really conforting her when she woke from her nap.

This is the rash this morning. I have not taken any pictures since but it's much worse. Click on the picture to get a closer look. I'm hoping someone can recognize this. I know it could be food allergies or any number of things.

Look at our skinny little girl!

Mom bought these little diaper bloomers for her a LONG time ago. Who knew they would come in handy when we had to strip her down. I put them on to keep her from pawing at her diaper.
Daddy Duty calls!
We are worried but not in panic mode yet. That will happen if a fever arrives. I just pray that will not happen.

Can this be real?

Sorry for getting behind in the postings, but it seems like we sleep when LJ sleeps, so there hasn't been much time to spend on here. So lets see if we can do some catchup.

We woke up on day two at 5:00 in the morning to a baby who made one cry and just was sitting up in the bed. That was different we thought. Trying to figure out her new surroundings she just wanted to be held by mommy.



So we sat around a while, then phone calls started on skype. Catching up on the phone calls with family. Everyone wanting to look at our little baby. The biggest news we had at the moment was the clothes we brought were all too big. The little girl is came to us in a six months top and three months pants. It didn't seem to matter what we picked up, it was all too big. We did find a few pj's we brought would work, but not much of anything else. It is so hard to believe that she is so tiny. Not any bigger than the numbers we had at first. We put her in an outfit we brought, but it was way too big. We rolled the pants down three times and the legs up, but it just kept slipping off her tiny waist.

In the morning we went for more paperwork and what turned out to be an interview at the adoption office. This I was not fully aware of, and or necessarily prepared for. We arrived at the office building and they had not fully opened yet. Seems as if we got Lexi one day after everyone else did so we were the only couple to do paperwork that day. We went into the first office sat down and were followed in by a nice lady reviewing our paperwork. She asked us how we were doing and how the baby was. Turns out, this was our day to make things formal. She asked us to sign the paper and Lexi is now officially ours!!

Next step a family picture. This was interesting. We walk in the room, one tall chair in the middle for the baby and a chair on either side for Wanda and I. We all sat down. The took Lexi's bunny away to take the picture, and then it all went down hill. He lip stuck out, tears starting to well up, she reached over for her mommy. We sat her back down.. but again reaching for mommy. We couldn't distract her long enough to get a picture made. So we stand up and try it again. We hold her up high and get a picture taken. Now another one, because I am too tall for the picture. So I am squatting down, Lexi is being held between the two of us and another snap. All done.

Now to another room to meet the notary and another set of questions. Why did we want to come to China to adopt? How are we going to take care of her? These are things we have talked about and discussed between the two of us and I am sure we have put them on paper forms at some point, but I didn't really know how to sum it up at the moment. I don't think we could have had a wrong answer, but yet I was nervous and not sure if the answers we gave were right. After a few minutes he said we were all done. That is it. No more paperwork.. at least for today.

Back at the hotel, we decided on a day to lay low. After so much rushing around, or at least that is what it felt like, we needed some downtime. Our guide was going to come back around and take us to dinner on the island. We hung out in the room for a little bit and then off to find some lunch on our own and maybe a few clothes for the baby. We got her in the stroller and off we went!



We walk down to Lucy's and grab a bite to eat. The park is amazing. People are scattered about doing all kinds of things. The most interesting are the groups playing hackysack. They are everywhere and people just join in at will. We order and they bring Lexi's congee out first. Congee is a rice soup dish and this one has bits of chicken in it. She ate almost all of it. Such a good baby, it is hard to believe. She seems to be adjusting so well. We finish and run into another family. They are on there way out of Guangzhou and let us know a few places to shop and eat. In the shops it is hard to find anything in her size. Clothes range from small to xxl in the baby section and sometimes they are numbered. Rarely do we see anything sized by months. So one of us holds her and the other holds the clothes up to see if they look right. A hard process and we do end up with two outfits by the end of the day. We are also not good at negotiating. At the moment we just pay the asking price... perhaps we will get better. I don't like shopping anyway, and the added hassle of price haggling just doesn't appeal to me.

For dinner our guide takes us to a Thai restaurant. We both can say that we have definately tried more foods on this trip than we thought we would have. It is helpful to have a big appetite at dinner. There are always lots of plates to choose from. We had chicken, beef, rice, eggplant, broccoli and maybe another dish. We tried all of it and even tried using the chopsticks. The chopsticks are typically plastic here and it is much harder to use them, so they brought us forks as well. The little miss was even a delight at dinner. So quiet and calm, and the she shows her wild side. A true budle of joy... and it is so amazing to see.

As day two winds down, we share our little miss again with family on over skype. It is very nice to be able to talk with everyone and see them. We hope that she will be able to recognize some of them or at least feel comfortable from hearing their voices already. She doesn't really notice the pictures... mostly they get to see her and we get a little bit of home over here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And now you know the rest of the story...

When we left off, the three of us, our driver and guide were back in the van, "Where too now?" As prepared as were thought we were, we needed a run to the store. Wanda's friend had told her about Carrefour, a local grocery store. The guide said the last time they took a group there the store was having a big sale and the lines were thirty deep with people waiting to check out, it took them about an hour and a half to leave. That didn't deter us though, we have no fear now, unless of course you consider we have a new baby in our arms, thinking on our feet of what essentials we need and the fact that we do not know the METRIC SYSTEM! Our education system has failed us... or the fact that we did not bother to learn any conversion techniques prior to our trip. Oh well, too late now. We pull up to the high rise building and get out of the van. Off we walk to an escalator going down, then to the right and then a quick left and we are in what appears to be a mini mall. We wind through the halls closely following our guide... and we happen upon strollers. This is a good start. We found one we really liked, but we already have one at home, so we just need an umbrella stroller. Looking them over, we find one that will work. The assistant goes grabs it from the back, brings it out, puts it together and off we go pushing and empty stroller through the store because LJ is sitting tight in her mommy's arms. What does she eat? Everything in the store looks similar and different at the same time. We pick up crackers, cookies, cookies for me (chips ahoy!), potato chips (Lays), a coke, sprite, water, water, water, baby food, milk powder, rice cereal and then we find the diapers. Foiled by the metric system again! How many kilograms does she weigh? As we ponder this thought.. I feel like the Jeopardy theme is playing in my head. My brilliant idea? Buy some of each... we narrowed it down to small or medium. Still not convinced, Wanda and the guide get one of the assistants to come over and ask her... she holds the baby and says medium will work. Now we go to get in line... an empty line is available and we pay. The feeling of rushing around is slowly beginning to fade as we make our way back up to the street.

For dinner, we decide on pizza. Papa John's is across the street and we order a pepparoni pizza to take back to the room. The van pull up, in we pile, the grocery bags, stroller, pizza, the three of us, our guide and driver... pull back into traffic and on the way to the hotel. Pull up, out we get, and we have more paperwork to do for Wednesday. The guide says she will be back at 6 to help us complete the papers. We go up to the room to unpack. Lexi sits on the bed while we scramble about trying to find places to store all our things. Before we know it, the guide is back and I am completing paperwork while Wanda plays with Lexi. Around 7 we finish up and the guide says to meet her at 9 in the morning for our ride back to the adoption office and more paperwork.

We finally came to end our journey. As the notary said the following day our dream realized. The three of us a family at last, but it is not just the three of us. We have been helped through this with family and friends, who have grown over the years and we hope will continue with us as we move forward from here.

And lastly, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has waited with us over the last six years of us trying to get to this point. We've had our ups and downs but every step has been worth it. We can't wait to share her with you.

First Smile and Giggle

This video was taken of Lexi yesterday about 4 hours after we got her. We were so surprised to get some giggles out of her and very surprised to find 6 teeth! video

How about some more pics...







What to say...

Where to start...

We got up early 4:30, well I did anyway, Wanda was up around 2:30. Butterflies and anticipation was building and she couldn't sleep. I woke up because she got Sara and Brennen on the internet and I wanted to talk with the little guy. He just jabbered on about something and we talked back for a little bit. Then it was time to get ready and head downstairs. Get to the breakfast at 6:30 when it opens, finish by 6:45 to be in the van to the airport. We sat down, fixed our plate, got our tea, took three bites and off we went. Got to the airport, checked in and off to security. For future information, you might as well take out every electronic gadget you have to run through the security machine. The signs said laptop only, but two times now I have had my back emptied and run through again. Finally we made it on the plane.. only to be delayed on takeoff and arrive 30 minutes later than expected.

Now the pace quickens... the first question we were asked by our guide, "You've exchanged the money for the donation already?" Why of course not, was our answer. Evidently not what we were supposed to say. Time check 12:45pm... supposed to meet the baby at 2:30pm. No one told us this earlier. We only knew that we were going to get her in the afternoon. Off to the van we go. It takes 50 minutes to get to the hotel. Time is not looking good at the moment. We get to the hotel and check in, Wanda heads to the room and I am off to the bank to handle the money exchange. Time check: 1:50pm. The guide and I are waiting for our turn at the bank. Minute by minute passes... all I am thinking is, what is taking that woman so long in line. Come to find out she is opening a new account, at least that is what the guide said after overhearing the conversation. Finally we make our way up. Paperwork already completed, passport in hand and cash ready to go. Then the next delay... every bill gets checked to make sure they are not counterfeit. One by one she goes through them.. reviewing the front, then the back, sometimes looking again, then passing one or two on to another employee to check... finally I get the money exchanged. Is there a bag to carry it in? Why no... I'm in a hurry, why make things easy at this moment. Time check: 2:20pm... walk fast bag to the hotel.. meet Wanda.. get the driver off to the local adoption office.




In the elevator, up to the eighth floor.. through the double door...

We walk in and see offices on the left, a big desk on the right, large sofa in front of us running along the wall, in the left hand corner is a playroom... but where is Lexi? The guide goes to the office talks for a few minutes, hand over some paperwork and off to the playroom. We move the curtain and sitting on the sofa with a nanny is our little lady. Her big eyes look at us, the nanny picks her up and hands her to Wanda...



Tears rolling down Wanda's cheek, Lexi looking serious.. not making a sound, I can only imagine what she was thinking. She took to Wanda... she loves to be held, just wraps her arms and legs around you like a koala bear (that is what Wanda says). I tried to hold her, but she would have no part of that at the moment... very unsure of me. She stayed in Wanda's arms the whole time... sometimes sitting on her lap, but mostly wanting to be held close. Every few minutes we would here a take a deep breath and sigh... a few more paperwork items taken care of, a few questions asked and a long wait ended. Time check: 3:45pm... baby in hand, off we go to the store..

To be continued...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Butterflies!

It's going on 3:00 AM of Lexi-J Day! I've been awake at least an hour. I finally decided to get up. I thought maybe I'd post more about our sight-seeing yesterday but after all these years of waiting, THE DAY is here! I'm filled with such anticipation that I can barely contain my emotions. I'm trying so hard not to cry those wonderful tears of joy and anticipation because (1) I don't want Lexi's first sight of me to be red swollen eyes, and (2) the medicines I've been taking for the allergies have finally started to work so I don't need to irritate them anymore and (3) my nose is already too raw from blowing it all day yesterday!! Of course #1 is the most important. Who cares how I feel, I just want to hold our daughter in my arms for the first time and look into her beautiful eyes. I pray that Lexi will make this transition easily. I hate to know that we are going to be the source of disruption in her life even if it is for the better. The orphanage is all she has ever known and we will be strangers. Strangers that are white with different colors of hair from hers that speak a totally different language! I pray that God will bless her with the comfort she will need and she can easily learn to rely on Geoff and me the way that Geoff and I do with each other. I truly feel that Lexi is a gift from God to us and to all of our family and friends. God places people in our lives that bless us, make our lives richer and in some ways fill a void. My life is already blessed beyond measure but this little girl has a place that I've reserved for her for such a long, long time. I didn't know it at first. I just knew that when the reality hit me in my 20's that I could no longer have children, I closed that door in my heart. I couldn't go into baby sections of stores without my heart aching. I met other people's babies and was aloof. I went to baby showers only when I had to. I cried with sadness for myself when my friends got pregnant even though I was so happy for them. I yearned for another child.

It took Geoff to open my heart to trying for a child to call our own. He loves Sara with all his heart but had his own paternal need for a baby to call his very own. He convinced me to that we could do it some way, somehow. It took awhile to open that place in my heart to the idea. I am a worrier and all I could do was worry about how we could do it. He never gave up. He found ways. He found IVF doctors, he found adoption agencies, he filled out fostering applications, and finally he found CWA, our agency. And finally~ we felt with all of our hearts that this was the way. It's taken 6 years now to go through all of this. We're six years older, six years more patient, six years wiser, and though the GRACE of God six years finally to our Lexi. This little baby is our little miracle. And even though we've yet to meet her, we are so in love with her! She has blessed our lives and the lives our our friends and family already. So I guess you can say, she not only is healing our hearts, she is healing those of many others. I pray we can do the same for her. I truly believe God places people in our paths for a reason... Lexi is in ours for a reason. I don't need to know why, I just am thankful that she is!

And this in about 12 more hours, if not before ... we should have her in our loving arms! No wonder I can't sleep!!

Touring Beijing... Lessons learned!

We did it! We climbed the Great Wall! It was even harder than usual as their was ice on steps from the recent snow. I held on to the rails the whole way! On the way down.. I held on with two hands at times! It was so steep in some places. This picture is all crooked because we were alone and had no one at that point to take our picture so we propted the camera on a trash can! This was after the climb! We really went a long way! Had it not been for slipppery ice, we would have pushed on but I couldn't imagine slipping, falling, injuring ourselves and then not being 100% for LJ!
This is prior to the climb. The etching says something about one is not a hero until they have climbed the Great Wall. I guess we are heros now!


This was taken at the Palace Garden in the Forbidden City. It was beautiful!
This was us, as we approached the Forbidden City. This was our first stop of the day.

Now... for the humor found in the day... let's talk about the funny stuff! We've so enjoyed our day in Bejing! Just let me say our guide is wonderful! She has a bubbly personality!

1. Typical hats in China don't fit Geoff. Our agency gave us two baseball style hats to wear on the tour I suppose but ...


I can't tell you how this made me laugh!!! It reminds me of when Brennen was only 7 months old and Geoff put his hat at Carolyn and John's Super Bowl Party!

2. Don't pull out your cash wad in the crowd in front of the Forbidden City. I almost had a heart attack! First our guide left us for like 2 seconds to pay our way in and next thing we knew, there were pan-handlers everywhere surrounding us. I was especially moved by an old woman with a tear falling down her cheek. She had a Forbidden City book for sale. I thought it would be a good idea to have one... and then Geoff went to get some cash... out came the whole wad and then comes another book... and another... We ended up with all of these! (Bejing, Forbidden City, and Great Wall)

What we paid for all three was really not bad but it was the whole experience that was crazy! Next thing you know, we had people trying to sell us hats and all kind of crap and then there was an unfortunate man looking for money that had lost his hand. He really was pitiful but thankfully Sylvia rescued us and gave us the lesson of all lessons... ignore and keep walking. (I do this every time I go to the mall in Savannah... don't know what happened today!

3. Geoff is a celebrity in China. I left him long enough to go to the restroom and came back to him telling me... hurry back!!! People are making me pose for pictures with them! They probably were amazed at this tall guy. I told him maybe they thought he was Ben Affleck!

4. Squatty Potty's aren't so bad! I had to go at the Great Wall. I learned that all those rustic camping trips when I was younger paid off... It was fine! The hard part was un-squatting after just returning from climbing the Great Wall! My legs were jello!

5. We got a good laugh about our Chinese Zodiacs. I was born in the year of the Tiger and Geoff in the year of the Rabbit. Our guide laughed and said that this match meant that the woman was in charge and was usually the boss and controlled the money. The rest of the day, everytime it was time to buy something it was me she went to. At the Jade Factory, I picked out a necklace for LJ and Geoff picked out the family harmony ball.

6. Chinese slippers don't fit Geoff either! Poor guy... In China he may as well be a relative of Yao Ming!



7. In China, you don't always know what you are eating! Our lunch was delicious. Our guide had Geoff try the "business men's drink". It was a tiny glass so he figured what the heck... we're in China. Well... as cold as it is here, he said this could warm you right up! I only wish I had the look on his face when he drank it! Geoff's says he would not be a good business man in China.


And tonight we had Peking Duck with all kinds of other delicious dishes! Except this one...

I wish somone could tell me what I ate! It was NOT noodles...and it grew in my mouth with every chew. Yikes!

We have tons more pictures but we're just so tired... time to rest up for Lexi-J Day!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Up and Among the Living!

It's Monday morning for us Beijing! (Where did Sunday go!!!LOL!!!) It's funny, we finally can say we "flew into the future!". One the way over we went over Canada, Greenland, and Russia!

When going to bed at 6:00 pm, one tends to get up early! The first time last night was about 12:30. The room was so warm! Finally during the night Geoff had to open the window back up to give me so cooler air. The heat tends to irritate my sinus even more! Only this morning did we discover we actually could turn the heat down. Our guide told us it was set by the hotel so we never bothered to try.

We were up at 4:00AM and quickly saw family waiting for us on Skype. It worked pretty good until I tried to talk to my sister in NC. Then it decided to cut up. We had to talk to Geoff's parents on their land line as they were having problems with their Internet going up and down due to weather. It was great to get to talk to everyone and even see their faces. My sister Carolyn has turned into me and has teared up and cried more than I have. LOL! That's a role reversal! I can't wait to see everyone's face when they get a look at LJ on Skype! Heck... I can't wait to get a look at LJ! I am looking forward to touring but really can't hardly stand waiting and knowing that tomorrow is our Lexi-J Day!

We went to breakfast and it was really, really nice. It's definitely different from our traditional American meals but was very good with plenty to choose from. We did learn one thing. We went to get a little more and when we came back someone else was sitting at our table! They move quickly here! Everyone cleans up around you so quickly! The hotel is even spotless! I watched women wander around in pairs actually wiping up dust behind each other! I would challenge anyone to find a speck of dust in the hotel lobby.

We have a big day of sight seeing today and I don't think we will be back in the room until after dinner. We will be taking plenty of pictures! I'll be one with the red nose, red eyes, and watering eyes!

Greetings From Beijing!

We are here! We are tired and worn out but HERE! We've been in our room at the Wangfujing Grand Hotel for less than an hour. The flight was long!!!! I tried to sleep as much as possible but it was difficult. Sleep just gave in to pure exhaustion when it did happen. We were lucky to have an extra seat in our row of three so I used my heavy coat to help with seatbelt "humps" and was able to lay my head in Geoff's lap and sleep once. I watched three chick flicks on the way there. Geoff pretty much channel surfed. It was great to have our own screen in front of us. The meals they served were decent and we did our very best to drink water all day. It's weird though, we both feel swollen with fluid. Geoff even took off his wedding ring because his hands were swelling. I thought drinking plenty of water would eliminate that but I guess not.

We arrived here with my allergies in high gear! I've taken meds on and off all day and even doubled up on them and still am stuffy with really red irritated eyes. Our guide made sure we had a non-smoking room to help. I know it sounds awful but with my sinus' bothering me so bad, we opted to skip dinner tonight. We really are fine. We have water and a few snacks and if we need food we can get something from room service. I just feel a bit guilty for not soaking up everything I can about China. Geoff was fine with that as he has not had more than 4 hours of sleep any night since about Tuesday.

We are looking forward to touring tomorrow. We have a complete day! We begin with the Forbidden City and throughout the day will go to a Jade factory, bird's nest, and Great Wall. It should be exciting. It's cold here but not too bad. The room is so warm, we asked them to open the window to get some cool air in. That helps my sinus' a lot.

All day, we have just almost had to pinch ourselves to believe we were actually on our way.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

One Foot in the door!


We made it to Newark! I was so tired when we got on the plane, I couldn't wait to take a nap! We were sitting in the last row and you could lean your seat back maybe an inch! Needless to say I was not too comfy but managed. Geoff napped maybe 20 minutes. Once we arrived, we headed to a restroom and walked past a gate with passengers just arriving. I noticed a family walking in with a beautiful Chinese girl in a stroller. They ended up behind me in the restroom so I asked her if they were just returning. She was caught of guard and said, “from FL?”. I clarified that I meant China and she got it. I told her were leaving today. She was really sweet and told me what a great time we would have in Guangzhou. They have been home with their daughter for two years. The funny thing was her first question was “how long did you have to wait?”. We IA people can't get past that WAIT!

Geoff has been awesome! We got ready this morning and had divided up the money we are taking with us into two pouches. I hate them! I didn't think it would be so bad but they show under your shirt. It made me look like I had a really weird belly roll. His is different. It goes around his neck and hangs. So he volunteered to just take my half as well as my ID and carry it all. So only one of us looks deformed. LOL!

I dread the next leg of the trip... our flight is 13 hours 45 minutes! I don't know why I had it in my head that it was 12 hours. At least our seats are better on the next flight! I keep getting so excited! I tear up still when I begin to comprehend how close we are! It's surreal that we are truly to this point!

And We're OFF!!!!


We're in the Jacksonville Airport awaiting departure time! Our baggage officially checked in at 79.5 lbs. We could have packed another 8 1/2 lbs. !!! Truely I can't imagine taking one more thing! As soon as I stepped on the Airport Shuttle I began to tear up! Then again at check in when the girl checking us in noticed our baggage tags! For Christmas Santa left us baggage tags that have a place to put a picture so our Lexi and her big beautiful eyes were just shining waiting for us to come get her!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Getting Closer!

Today has been a busy day. I'm so happy I decided to begin my family leave today! I had a very restless night and just didn't wake up feeling rested at all. Geoff was the same. He was up and down and finally a little before 4:00, he decided to get on up and go to work. As soon as he comes home, we will be heading to Jacksonville for the night. Our flight leaves early and we didn't want to get up at 2 AM to get ready and leave, plus we didn't want to leave our car at the airport for 2 weeks so Mom and Dad are going to drive us down tonight.

I met my sister early this morning for breakfast and then we headed over to the bank. Her small hometown bank... whom I will be writing a thank you note to upon our return. Last night Carolyn and I sat down and started going through our money for the trip only to realize that there were way too many unclean bills. Geoff and I have tried banks all over the place looking for good bills and each bank had the same story... "we'll do the best we can". Well, Carolyn's bank just took the money I had and went to their vault and exchanged it for good bills. The others would just tell us that they don't get new bills because people take them to foreign countries. So that was a huge relief! We were bracing for a long day of "bank-bouncing" looking for good bills. I was able to go to the board of education and take care of some paperwork, go by the grocery store and by Wal Mart and be home fairly quick.

Once I got home, I have been doing laundry, messing around with the packing last minute stuff and organ zing for the trip. I'm running out of things to do so I hope my dear hubby will be home soon. My nerves were a bit frazzled earlier but being home by myself and having some quiet down-time is helping. I'm ready for Geoff to get on home now though so that Mom and Dad can drive us to FL. Tomorrow... we will finally fly to China! Just 6 days shy of 3 years to the day of when we were LID.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last Family Night W/O Lexi

Tonight was a celebration... I invited my family that live here over for pizza. I just wanted to be with everyone one more time before leaving for China. We had a great time. Everyone is so excited about Lexi. I've never seen anything like it! My sister can't even talk about Lexi without tearing up! I still do the same but have gotten better. Mom surprised us with an extra special treat! She bought Lexi the most beautiful pink Strasburg dress! It's always been mom's tradition to give the grandbabies an outfit to wear home from the hospital. Lexi won't be coming from the hospital but she will be wearing her very special dress! Just wait until you see her in it in the pictures! She also gave us a very special card that meant the world to me! Geoff has been finalizing things at work so he was late getting in but he did get to see everyone and got a little sugar from Brennen. Just two more sleeps until we leave! We'll see just how much sleep we get!! Now off to bed to try...

Our Itinerary!

Our Itinerary

This will be quick as I'm tired! But here is our itinerary!

Feb 22: Arrive in Beijing - Stay in Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel

Feb 23: Local sightseeing: Forbidden City and Great Wall

Feb 24: Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou - Check in to the White Swan Hotel

Meet Lexi in the afternoon!!!!!!!!

Feb 25: Registration and notarization

Feb 26: Apply for passport, visit the Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Shopping Street

Feb 27: Local sightseeing: White Cloud Mountain Park, Yuntai Garden

Feb 28: Local sightseeing: Six Banyan Temple

Mar 1: Local sightseeing: Liu Hua Hu Park

Mar 2: Local sightseeing: Zoo

Mar 3: Get passport, take visa photo and Physical check

Mar 4: Visa appointment at 9:30

Mar 5: Swear in the ceremony at the Consulate, get the visa

Mar 6: fly from Guangzhou to Beijing to Newark to Jacksonville.... Whew! Home at last!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Varoom! Varoom!!

Sara took Christopher Evan get photos made today and I kept Brennen! We had a blast! He got this Tractor for Christmas but has really had nothing to do with it until today. I had tried earlier today get him to ride it but he was not too interested. Later on, I went inside briefly and happened to pick up the camera and then found Brennen on his tractor... this is what happened next...



Wow, what fun! He will have this figured out in no time! It has reverse but I think his Daddy will get the fun of teaching him that one! I can't believe how well he steered around our swing! This was his first ride by himself... watch out Matt Kenseth!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Skype and Airport Details

We will be using Skype in China so if you have a Skype account and would like to try to talk with us there, please email us your information at lexiisours@yahoo.com. I talked with Stephe when she was there with Giorgia. It was awesome and we even got a sneak peak her at her little Princess. I'm sure it will nice to hear some familiar voices when we are so far away. We'll use the Skype settings to let you know if we are online and if so, give us a try. If we don't answer that will just let you know we are both tied up for some reason and maybe try again later. We are taking Geoff's computer with the built in mic and cam so hopefully we can show you what you really want to see! Lexi!

Also, we are coming into the Jacksonville airport. The arrival time is 11:18 PM. I know this is late and very inconvenient from home but we totally welcome those of you who want to greet us at the airport. Just know that we will be tired and can't be sure of the mood or disposition Lexi will be in. We are really hoping she is a go with the flow kind of gal like her Daddy and will want to give out hugs and kisses. Just know we are going to ease her into the family using her ques. I'm sure everyone will understand. I know Mom, Dad, Carolyn, Brittney, Richard, and Sara will be there. I tried to tell them it was okay to not go but they have said that after all this time, they don't care what time of night we come in that they will be there. I just can't wait to get her home and for her meet everyone that love her so much already! We'll post our itinerary as soon as we get it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The packing has begun!



We have tickets! We ended up flying Continental out of Jacksonville which was not our first choice. Continental is fine, it's the drive BACK from Jacksonville in the middle of the night! But it was cheaper than Savannah... WAY worth the extra driving time! Poor Geoff has been searching for flight prices since Tuesday! He finally found one that seemed to be the best we could do so we took it! So this weekend I will have us packed and weighed! The table above has mostly LJ clothes to choose from, gifts for caregivers, and travel size stuff for all of us. I've got piles in our room too of our clothes.

Our biggest problem has been our I800 form! We have TWO now! And both have LJ's name wrong on them. Mei from our agency has been great working with us to get it straightened out. I have no doubt it will be resolved before we leave! (Yikes! I has to be!) I have a Dr. appt. tomorrow to get meds for the trip. With my allergies, I will need plenty of antibiotics, allergy meds, and prednisone. I also have a call in to LJ's pediatrician. I want to get advice for her as well as find out what formula we should have on hand once we get home.

My lesson plans are done... my sub has been scheduled and I've met him and know he will do an awesome job... so the last minute details just are rolling in...
ADVICE ANYONE??

Opposites???

What does this????

And THIS have in common???
UPS Delivery!

I've been subdued this week until yesterday! I was just exhausted and even though I was very happy to know we are actually going, I was just tired. I kept wondering when I would feel like myself again.

I left school yesterday knowing that Geoff was close to making final travel plans and went by the grocery store with 6 new Chinese recipes that I want to try! (you know... got to learn some authentic recipes to make for LJ as I do want her to grow up knowing her Chinese heritage!) So I bought some ingredients and came home and spent about an hour checking emails! Then I started dinner. I was making my version of Asian Beef with Snow Peas served on rice when the dogs started doing their normal cut up routine and barking like crazy nuts! My sister was on the phone with me telling me how annoying they were so I went over to the door to quiet the dogs only to discover that there was a box in the window and a UPS guy in the dark. So I opened the door and found our guy! OUR UPS GUY! Our Steve B! There in my doorway was Steve that delivered our LJ in January! I recognized him and just hugged him immediately! He was so excited! I told him I couldn't believe it was him (he was delivering our new Britax car seat!)!!! He asked me if Lexi was home yet and then told me that he had just been told this week that UPS wanted to do an employee news article about our story in their monthly newsletter. It must have been just published because he was so excited that he had told his wife and she had been on the phone telling their family all day about it! He called his wife and let me talk to her! We had a great little conversation about how special it was to both of our families! We talked about how God puts special people in our paths for a reason! Steve told me that the next time he comes to our house, he will bring his family! He also said that when he saw on the delivery schedule that we we on the list, he requested to make the delivery! We hugged, laughed, and teared up talking and then Geoff came home and it all started again! He invited Geoff to go playing golf at Hilton Head and honestly I hope they go one day even though it is obvious he is a much better golfer than Geoff from their conversation! We finally said goodbye with promises of him visiting again with his family! I came inside to a just before burned beef cooking on the stove but I finished my Asian dinner anyhow and we had the best charred beef stir-fry ever! And even better, I've unleashed that excitement again that had been squashed by waiting, disappointment, anxiety,and just play exhaustion! God sent me a sign... a beacon of light... a hope for our future and I have no doubt our local UPS guy and his family will be a part of us forever! I've never heard of anyone getting a UPS delivery of adoption paperwork... but I PROUDLY share mine with you! I needed this!

How's that for another "BROWN" Story???

It's Getting Harder and Harder to Keep up with the Blog!

The closer we get the harder I find it is to post details that I certainly want to remember! I'm trying though! Below is a few pictures of the beautiful guilt that Gail made Lexi. We learned on Monday that the quilt has Lexi's name stictched in it! Every time I go in her room, I can't help but stare at it, pick it up and just gaze at it in amazement!

And look how it couldn't be any more a perfect match for the glider we bought at Target. Big Daddy Geoff also put that together! We were planning to go with something that would blend into the living room if we were to choose to move out of LJ's room someday but this one was on sale with free shipping so here it is! The quilt Gail made just tied the room together perfectly.
Here's the cute cake from Geoff's office shower! How cute it that!

And finally, take a look at Lexi's closet! Geoff installed a closet organizer a few Sundays ago. He's on a roll! Yes, that is all of her clothes! There is barely room for much more! But some of it will go in drawers once she starts wearing them. I just love the fact that Geoff has really done some "nesting" too!






Saturday, February 07, 2009

Getting Ready...

I'm not the only one nesting... here is Geoff's latest accomplishment ~



Tonight he put together our new table... nothing expensive... Martha Stewart from KMart for $300! I looked and looked for a kitchen table and liked this one over even more expensive furniture shops... plus it fit the adoption bill!

Here's the old table from the kitchen...



This is WHY we felt we should get a new set. We had bar stool height table, which we loved by the way! Geoff's Grandmother bought it for us and we have just loved it but with a baby on the way... we'd like to feed her in the kitchen without worrying that she climb in the tall chairs and fall! Our nephew, Josh, once climbed in one of the chairs and scared me to death! Josh by the way, IS the reason we have gone down this long road to baby Lexi. We kept him for my neice after he was born and both of us got baby-fever that was incurable! He is such a cool little kid that is now in Kindergarten. Amazing how long it has taken but so well worth it!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Special Unexpected Blessings!

Babies are so special. They bring new hope for the future as well as bring out the best in many people. Some people naturally show their unique specialness and we are blessed to come in contact with so many that do. I want to share an unexpected gift to us that we got today.

I was on my way home and as I approached our house I noticed a box by the side door of our garage. This is the door no one ever knocks on and is rarely opened so I was immediately curious! I went to check and found a box with my name on the address label but yet the box looked OLD! Naturally in these days and times, I was a bit concerned and the best I could imagine was that one of the many vendors from the FL tech conference had finally really sent me 34 free mouse pads! Still ... I was confused ...

When I opened the box I saw that it was from Babies-r-us. Then I saw who it was from. Can you believe it was from our local pharmacist?? The last time I was in there, she happened to be there (she doesn't work full time since the birth of her son 6 months ago) and I shared my pictures of Lexi with her. She had referred her pediatrician to us which ended up being Brennens and ultimately the one we chose. She was so excited for us even so much that when I told her how tall and how much Lexi weighed that she went and got her son from the back room and let me hold him to "see" for myself the size Lexi will be. We talked and talked and she was just the sweetest!! I have not seen her since but had JUST left there today from buying new allergy meds to take to China and then found the much weathered package! Who knows how long it has been there!

I am just overwhelmed at her love and support of Lexi. It's people like her that renew my beliefs in the kindness of others. I've always known how special this pharmacy was and have even gone as far as to go without meds for a weekend just to let them get it for me as opposed to go to one of those commercialized pharmacies that make you wait forever! We will forever be customers and will cherish their kindness! Now I have to run... and begin to write some thank you notes to some very precious people in our lives!

P.S. This is just for LJ! Today your Daddy emailed me at work to give me the exact number of hours until Feb. 20th when we get to come get you! You've got him wrapped around your little pinky already!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Baby Shower Highlights and Updates...

What a day! Today I had a baby shower at school! The love we were shown was overwhelming! (I do not have pictures yet but will post as many as possible that do not show me in tears! LOL!) Everything was wonderful from the food to the wonderful people to the precious gifts they chose for our daughter!

Most people who know me know that being the center of attention is not my style but I have to say I enjoyed the afternoon (until the part where I lost my keys!). I came away thinking that we should all find ways everyday to let others know how much they are loved and appreciated. Believe me, Lexi will be loved by so many! She will bless our lives and bring so much enjoyment!

I opened gifts for what seemed forever and we appreciate every single one! I cried as I told everyone how much I appreciated everyone sharing in this special time in our lives and how much their support meant to me over the past 3 1/2 years. Then I pulled it together to eat some very good petite fours and snacks! Then I began to open presents! Each gift was precious. Looking back some of the things I remember the most were the cards... one that had little baby toes on it (oh, how I love baby fingers and toes!! and another with an adoption saying about how the baby was born in our hearts... you can only imagine that made me cry! I'll admit it ... I'm a cry baby! My heart feels so deeply in so many ways!) Everyone had such well wishes and just literally showered us with precious gifts for Lexi. I was a great day full of blessings! Just knowing that you have such a great group of people to work with that care so much is just one great blessing! (I will post pictures later complete with the little Mary Jane socks that Melaine gave us!)

After the shower, I drove my car around to the front of the school and parked. Walked in the front door walked no more than 40 steps and grabbed a handful of stuff and walked to my car. Sounds pretty Normal but then this is me! As soon as I opened the door, my car went crazy sounding a very LOUD alarm!!! My car keys were gone! Why the alarm went off was a mystery! We searched and searched and still no keys. We tried to look through all the bags and packages but no luck. Finally I gave up Sara brought me home while my brother Richard looked over the car full of baby stuff, my computer, and purse. We found extra keys and returned. Only tonight after going through all the bags did we find the keys! This is just my luck! LOL!

Geoff loved looking through all the bags and boxes and discovering all the things we received. When we registered at Babies-r-Us I just gave him free-reign with the "clicker" and he made many choices! One of the shower baskets had a ton of stuff he picked out! I knew he would love it and he did! This daddy has definite ideas for his little baby girl!

And on to UPDATES....

We learned today that our i800 has been processed. We were missing one form but they emailed it to Geoff and he completed it and emailed it right back. We could not get faxed copies of the approval form so we now have travel dates of the 20th. It's one week later but will give us more time to get everything together. So our agency has informed their travel agency to begin the process of making our arrangements. Okay.... YES! I cried at this news too. I cry so easily these days. I cry about delays, I cry in anticipation of just holding our daughter, I cry with just pure anxiety. Heaven forbid! I need to get LJ so maybe, just maybe I can stop crying!

So... needless to say it was a VERY BIG DAY!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Maybe so??? Hope so!

We got a call today from our agency. We might can STILL leave on the 13th (YIKES! THAT'S NEXT WEEK!)but we are still waiting on that darn I800 form. If we knew for sure we'd have it in hand, we'd already have flight arrangements. But we continue to wait. I swear I started shivering when she asked if we could still leave next week. (I think it was the actual words NEXT WEEK!) We could so easily be ready but I guess we will wait it out a few more days and see what happens. We about decided that if we can't get good word by middle of the week, we may as well just ask for them to plan for us to go on the 20th.

We better go get our car seat this weekend! We may need it soon! Geoff put a closet organizer up in LJ's room yesterday so that's another thing down! We also have an assortment of clothes to pack for LJ in the study. I'll probably pack our stuff this weekend!

Tomorrow I'm having a shower at school and then on Friday, Geoff's office is throwing us one. I'll be sure to get some pictures.