Saturday, December 8, 2007

Our First Christmas With Maddie!

December 15th at Grandma and Papa's.
I love my big brother!

Too tired to be away from Mom!

The first half of 2007 was pretty stressful, not knowing when we were going to be able to go to China. But Alex kept us busy and preoccupied! Once we got home with Madison, time has flown! We can't believe that it's been almost 4 months! She's walking everywhere, getting into everything, and babbling up a storm! Sometimes she even says things we can understand! Three big words she says are "Alex" (quite clearly, actually), "hi", and "no".

Alex is an awesome big brother! He loves Maddie soooo much! He had a great year in Kindergarten but 1st grade is hard on him. He misses being home, now that Madison's here, and they don't get to play as much in 1st grade. He's reading at at least a 3rd grade level. He read a chapter book to himself last week in the car on the way to Grandma and Papa's house! His math skills are really good, too!

Jeff and I are trying to keep up with things around the house. I have forgotten how little time one has when one has a baby! Plus, I went back to work at the YMCA in October. It's only 9 hours a week, but I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the things I need to get done at home. I seriously don't know how people who work full time and have kids in extra-curriculars do it!

Jeff still works a lot selling commercial real estate. He and a friend re-modeled the master bathroom this summer before we left on our trip.

We are, as ever, grateful for our friends, family, and our health! We hope everyone who see this has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Baptism

She was a super star at the church!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween

Darth Alex and Maddie the Pooh
Practicing her Frankinstein walk

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fall In Wisconsin

I like the trampoline!
Are we supposed to be raking leaves?
Mashed Potato Hair

Maddie's almost walking now. She's been taking a few steps here and there but today she walked all the way down the hallway without stopping. It's a cute little Frankenstein walk!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Madison's 1st Birthday!

Today was Maddie's birthday! She is getting a cold and maybe some new teeth because she was very crabby all day. We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant and had some of her (and our) favorites, but she didn't enjoy herself much. Just wanted to be held. Poor thing!

Birthday Dinner

Cupcake's Gone!

Friday, October 5, 2007

October

Alex loves his sister!
This was taken the last week of September.

Friday, September 21, 2007

An update on Madison

On the Monday or Tuesday that we got to Guangzhou, we had the chance to go to a Buddhist Temple and have our babies blessed by a Buddhist monk. It was an amazingly spiritual experience, despite the fact that we had no idea what he was saying. The Liurong Temple is a compound with hundreds of images of different Buddhas (some happy, some fierce).
Buddist Monks marching and chanting before Maddie's blessing.
the Blessing ceremony

After the Blessing, in front of a "Happy Budda"
The "Flowery Pagoda" at the Liurong Buddist Temple (a.k.a. Temple of the 6 Banyon Trees) where bones of Buddha are supposed to be buried.

Our Fantastic Travel Group!

Home at last!

Alex helping feed Maddie on her first night home.
Maddie's second day in WI.
Alex rocking Maddie (does she look tired?)

After a few days, it got cold (typical Sept. in WI).

She seems to have completely adjusted to being here after only 30 days! Actually, after only a week, her sleep schedule was great and she was happy and active. She's babbling, crawling everywhere, starting to creep along furniture and even attempted to go up the stairs the other day (guess we'd better get the gate installed, huh? ;-)





She went to the pediatrician on Monday and she was amazed at how well adjusted and happy Madison is! She said to me: "Does it seem to you that she's been with you since she was born?" I said, yeah, it does!

Monday, September 3, 2007

We made it home!

Well, I lost motivation while in Guangzhou. Pretty much everyone in our travel group (10 families) got sick after we got to there. I got it too, but only for one evening, thank God! Some people had to go to the hospital! It's weird, because pretty much everyone was hyper-careful about the food and water, too. Anyway, being sick all night left me too tired to shop the next day, so after that, any free time I had, which wasn't much, really, was spent shopping. There's lots of that to do in Guangzhou! I ended up not buying that much, but I wanted to comparison shop, since you have to haggle with everyone. Shamian Island, where we were staying, is like New Orleans, I think. Very hot, very very humid, and the buildings have a very colonial look to them (as most of them were built by the Brits over 100 years ago - I guess that was they set up their int'l trading companies).


I got Maddie's traditional dress in white with long sleeves, so she can wear it for her baptism. It looks nice! We took a group photo of all the kids in our travel group, which was so disorganized it was a disaster! But there are some funny action shots and you can see Maddie in her dress.

This one's not too bad. Maddie's in the middle in white.


On day 14 we went to the US consulate, got her visa to enter the USA, and swore that we would raise her to be a good person, to the best of our abilities. Jeff and I both got a little misty at that point, but for different reasons, I think. For me, it was the final step...there's no turning back now (not that we would have!)! For Jeff, I think he was thinking about the life she's leaving behind and the new life and opportunities she'll have.


I'll add more later when my thoughts are more organized because we did some cool stuff the last couple of days.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 9 In Guangzhou

Our Hotel in Wuhan
The view from our hotel window in Wuhan

The newest Wisconsin resident on her first plane ride.

I've gotten a bit behind. Exhaustion tends to do that to a person!

Madison was a Rock Star on the plane yesterday. To keep her ears from bothering her, we fed her an apple (yes, she ate 3/4 of it!) and cheerios. That's my girl!

We are now in Guangzhou for the last leg of our China trip. This is where the US Consulate that handles adoptions is located. It's so hot and so humid the towels never dry in the room and a sweaty t-shirt will still be damp 24 hours after you wear it(and believe me, we're sweating!)! It's like you could cut the humidity with a knife! Crazy! The town is on a small island and what we've seen of it, it's beautiful and quaint. The weather and the architecture remind me of New Orleans.

I'm pretty brain dead, so prepare yourself to read a lot of random thoughts.


Maddie with her "Going Home" Barbie from the White Swan Hotel



Maddie is making a lot of progress. She's starting to play independently... if dad's in sight. She lets me hold her and play with her if she's not hungry or tired. Plus, I tend to feed her, so I'm winning her over with food!!! She loves the camera (as you can probably tell from the above photo (she's becoming quite the ham whenever I get it out!).

We get a lot of shocked looks when we tell people she's only 10 months old! They all think she's a lot older because she's so big! It's pretty funny because everyone stops us and wants to see her and talk to her, and sometimes hold her, which is a cultural thing, I guess, and I've started making people guess how old she is. ;-)


Tomorrow (Sunday) we have nothing going until 7:00 so I think we'll do a little shopping.


Here's a photo of the neighborhood we're staying in. Do you recognize the circular sign in the middle of the photo?

Up until today, we haven't been able to read the "comments" that people have left on the blog but now we can and we appreciate the kind thoughts from everyone!

Tomorrow, after I go get a big old treat from the place in the photo above (;-), maybe I'll be a little more clear headed and will be able to think more about what I want to write about.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 4 and 5: Are we dreaming?

She's so easy! She sleeps, eats, looks around, eats, likes to imitate sounds, eats...get the picture? And yes, those of you who are wondering, the weight was not incorrect! She weighed 24 lbs (11 kg) this morning! She's heavy!

She's definitely a daddy's girl. If she's in a good mood she'll let me hold her, as long as dad's not too far away! Jeff's back's getting sore from carrying her!

Last night I swear Madison ate more than I did! She won't drink formula and eats table food (with her 4 teeth). It's the craziest thing! When the caregiver handed her to us yesterday morning, she gave us a couple of slices of cantaloupe for her and put one in her hand. She ate the whole thing and wanted more! The girl can eat!
After dinner she had her first bath with us and by 8:30 was out cold! She slept in her crib all night (until 6:00 a.m.) only waking up once at midnight and let mom rock her back to sleep.

This morning 6:00 a.m.

Today, Aug. 21, we went back to the Civil Affairs Office (that's where we picked her up yesterday) and finalized her paperwork for the Chinese govt.


Our fingerprints and signatures.
Maddie's Footprint.

Now, Dad and Maddie are taking a nap. She really is a dream girl! There is really only one girl in our group of 10 who's having a tough time. The rest seem to have latched on to the dad's and are just fine...as long as they're in sight. They're all around 10 months old and were all in foster care in this province. But they're all different sizes! Some are little peanuts and some are big girls (guess which one Maddie is?!?!?)

Oh yeah, I forgot...I was going to post some photos of the palatial hotel we're staying at.
I'll try to get one of the outside tonight. It's only been open since Aug. 8. I feel like we're going to break something and feel guilty if Maddie drops a Cheerio on the floor! The staff is so nice and so accomodating!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Today's the Day!

Today we go get Madison at the Civil Affairs office in Wuhan! It's 6:00 a.m. right now and we're picking her up at 9:30.

We could definitely get used to living like this! The hotel we're staying in, the Wuhan Jin Jiang International, is like "The Plaza" and I'm not exaggerating! We'll post photos later along with new ones of Madison.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 1 and Day 2 Beijing

We tried to post yesterday (which was day one)and we couldn't get logged in. We think that the hotel or even the city of Beijing is censoring the blog site. Luckily, our new friends, Ken and Katrina, have a super secret access and are letting me use it to post to you all. Thanks a million to them!!!

Anyway, so yesterday (day one, Aug. 17) we went to the Great Wall, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It was hot hot hot! Luckily, our tour group went to an area of the Wall where we could take a cable car up to the Wall, instead of having to climb up the mountain. Whew! It was amazing! And Surreal!

Next we went to a cloisonne factory, where we saw how they make the traditional vases and enamel-ware (just think of the Ming Vase). They also had a restaurant there where they served all 30 of us a huge family style lunch.

Last we took a rickshaw to an old section of Beijing and went to a woman's house where we were served tea and saw how people lived in the past (50 years ago and more). It was an odd experience, to say the least, but I won't go into that now. Ask us later.

We got back to the hotel, showered up after a hot, sweaty day, ate dinner and passed out! That was a long day in the heat!

Day two: Aug. 18
Today was even hotter (at least 95F and humid)! First, we had orientation with our agency, preparing us for when we get to province tomorrow. We also got a beautiful red silk memory book with updated information about Madison and an updated photo. We had another huge family style lunch before going on our excursion.

The first place we went to was Tiennamin Square, which was just hot! It was an experience being there, but sooooo hot!


After Tiennamin, we went to the Temple of Heaven, where the Emperor used to make sacrifices for a good harvest twice a year. Very traditional and beautiful architecture.
Tomorrow we leave for Hubei and on Monday, we'll get Madison. The thought is thrilling and surreal!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Less than 5 days to go!

AAAHHH!!! We fly out at noon on Wednesday, the 15th. I have piles everywhere and lists of things I need to do. Focusing on one task is tricky at this point!

To cut the stress I think: "Remember to take all the paperwork with. Anything we forget, we can buy."

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We're Leaving in 2 Weeks!!!!!!

Holt got our consulate appointment a few days ago so they offically set our travel dates: We're leaving on Aug. 15th, arriving in Beijing on Aug. 16th. We'll be back home on Aug. 30th, exhausted and ready to sleep in our own beds and see Big Brother! Things went so fast! We're rushing to get things organized! Needless to say, things are a bit nuts right now. More details to come....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is This a Dream?

We found out today that we got our travel approval already...and we weren't expecting it for another two weeks!! So Jeff and I are completely freaking out! We're excited, too, don't get me wrong! None the less, we're freaking out!

We may be traveling as early as Aug. 17 now. AAAHHH!

I'd better start getting organized!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Here She Is!




Look at those cheeks!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

We have a daughter/baby sister!!!!

On Friday, July 6th, at 3:43 p.m., we got "the Call" and found out that we have a daughter waiting for us in the Hubei province of China!! All we have until Tuesday are the basics: Her name is Meng Jie Yuan (soon to be known as Madison); she was born on 10/9/06; she is living with a foster family, not in an orphanage, which is sooo great!!

According to our agency, who only had limited info in English until Monday, when our packet - with photos - will be Fed Exed to us, she was measured and weighed on May 14, '07, and was 10kg (22 lbs!) and 72 cm (28 inches!). Wow! As soon as the photos come, I'll post them.

We should know in 4 weeks or so when we'll be traveling to get her. Yeah!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Looks like We Travel in August!!

We got a phone call yesterday...not "The Call", but a good call, none the less. The director of the China Program at our Agency called to tell us we didn't make the match group this time, but that we should definately be in the July match group. That takes a lot of weight off our minds! Now we can plan our summer and not have to speculate as much!

We should be getting "The Call" some time after July 4th, I'm guessing the week after, so check back next month!

Thanks again for all of the thoughts and prayers we know everyone is sending our way!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No Word Yet

Still haven't heard anything. Our best guesses at this point: We have a 30% chance of getting the phone call in June, a 65 % chance we'll get the phone call in July, and the 5% off-chance we won't get the phone call until August. This month, the CCAA matched children through November 1, 2005, though, and there are only 10 days between that and our magic # day (11/11/05), so who knows!!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Still Waiting!

Well, we were hoping to get news from our agency after Easter, so we would have a better idea of when we'd be traveling....But unfortunately, the news we got didn't give us any better clue than we had before. Actually, that's not true. Our best guess now is, that we will not be travelling until Fall; not Summer, like we were hoping.

"Why not?" you may be asking yourselves. It looks like a lot of couples applied to adopt in October and November, as we did (our application was accepted - a.k.a. "logged in"- by the Central Chinese Adoption Agency - "CCAA" - on 11/11/05). The CCAA still hasn't matched families from the end of October, 2005. I know, the gap in time from end of October to Nov. 11 is small! But this is how I've been explaining the wait: Let's say 1000 waiting families were accepted during Oct. and November 2005 (I just made up the # for explanitory purposes). And let's say the CCAA only matches 50 babies and families every month (again, I just made up the #), the couple week gap from end of Oct. to Nov. 11 is really HUGE! In this scenario, there could be several hundred families in line ahead of us, waiting. And if the CCAA only matches a few babies a month...our wait continues.

Anyway, for those who are visiting for the first time or haven't talked to us in a while, we do not have a "referral" yet. In other words, a child has not been chosen for us yet, waiting anxiously for us to come and get her! That would make this long long wait unbearable!! We are so lucky and blessed to have our son and we remind ourselves that it will all be worth it in the end!

Thanks For Visiting!