Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowenn and Shots

......LOTS and LOTS of shots!!!

This morning we went to the Medical Examination Office to get Ashlyn's medical checkup done. She passed everything and weighs 19 pounds! Woo Hoo..we put a pound on her so far! Then it was time for her TB test and her vaccinations. She needs to be caught up on her vaccinations in order to receive her Visa to enter the US. She received a total of SIX shots this morning!!
S..I..X!!!!!! And they s..l..o..w..l..y gave them to her one at a time. It was pure torture for her and her poor Mommy and Daddy who had to watch. Our poor guide was holding on to me so tightly too. I could tell she felt bad for her as well. Ashlyn was in my lap and I was holding her as tight as I could and Kelly was holding me as tight as she could. Like I said, it was pure torture.

After that we went to lunch at Lucy's. It was delicious. Donny had a hamburger and I had a club sandwich, both with french fries. It was nice to feel a little closer to home.

Most people speak English here, since all the Americans come through Guangzhou to go home. It is where the American Consulate is located. It is very pretty here to. We are on an island next to the Pearl River. All of the old buildings and gardens have a very European feel to them, since the Europeans built the buildings here long ago.

Shopping is much better here too. Very specific to tourists. Yes, Lianna, we found you a silk dress today. I know that is the first thing you will ask (smile)!!

So now I am off to do paper work while Ashlyn sleeps. She did well on the plane ride here. A bit fussy, but it was dinner time / bed time by the time we made it here.

We are having a great time, but miss our kids alot!! At least we are half way home.


Oh, I did get to meet my bloggy friend, Diane, and her sweet Tia at the medical exam. Poor little Tia had to get 7 shots today. So unfair!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off to Guangzhou

Today has been a quiet day. We ate breakfast, took a walk around The People's Park, and now Ashlyn and Gretchen are taking a nap before we leave. I'll never get over how everyone stares when we walk by. As we walk down the street, there is not hardly a person that doesn't suffer from whiplash as we walk by. I would say its like being a celebrity, but its probably closer to being someone who is eight feet tall and not famous. Curiosity aside, the people are very friendly and hospitable.

Nanning has been a very memorable place. It is a city filled with young people. The streets are alive all hours of the day and night. The pace is fast, everyone is going somewhere, so you don't see much loitering outside of the park. However, the park seems to embody the culture in many ways. The sounds of music fill the park as choirs sing, instruments play, and people dance. It is really amazing to see the arts on public display in so many ways. These are people who are often too poor to eat more than once a day, and they embrace life in amazing ways.

The influence of the U.S. is clear hear as well. All of the clothing here has English words or references to America. The news is constantly speaking of relations between the U.S. and China. There is significant pride in their country, and respect by the U.S. is symbolic of their prosperity. The NBA is extremely popular, with all of the TNT games being rebroadcast on CCTV in Chinese. Even the stores and restaurants play American music.

I'm hoping Guangzhou has better food. Its not been that bad, but I have had all of the fried rice I can handle at this point. Outside of Pizza Hut, there really hasn't been any other positive food experiences. Those of you familiar with my typical meat and potatoes diet should not be surprised. When I get home, I intend to grab a tall glass of iced tea with ICE (since we can't have any here)!!!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visit to Qing Xiu Mountain

Alot of you have asked about the temperature here. The temperature has been in the high 80's while we have been here, although it is warming up today. The humidity has been high the past two days so we are sweating as we walk around. It is a lot like back home.

Thre is not a lot of AC in some of the stores and businesses, but the hotel has AC and it is fine. The climate is very much like south the Miami area.

Ashlyn continues to do well. She has become a bit more attached to Mommy than to Daddy, but she still does well with him. It is when she thinks he is going to take her from me that she gets fearful. I don't think that she had much interaction with men. All of her caretakers have been women.

Today we went to Qing Xiu mountain, or Green Mountain. It is called Green Mountain because there are more trees and vegetation there than anywhere else in Nanning. The air is alot fresher up there too. At the top of the mountain is a 9 story pagoda. When you climb to the top you can see all of Nanning (that is, if it is not too smoggy). We were fortunate today. It was the least smoggy day since we arrived. We actually could see the sun...not the sky, the sun. I don't think they ever see the sky. It is much more smoggier here than in Beijing. They moved the factories out of Beijing's city limits a couple of years before the Olympics so the smog is much better now. Our guide there told us that about two years after they did that, she saw the sky for the first time in her life!! Can you imagine!! They don't get to see clouds or stars!

Tomorrow we are on our own. Then we take a 6:45 flight to Guangzhou tomorrow evening. Please be praying for Ashlyn as we fly an hour to our next destination. I think that she will do fine. She loves to ride in the van.

By the way, she loves fried rice!! She ate it for dinner last night and lunch today. Mommy can make that! Thank you, Jesus!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day in Nanning

Ashlyn continues to do well. We are still calling her by her Chinese nickname ~ You You (prononced Yo Yo) and throwing in Ashlyn on occasion. She responds to both so we will just keep doing this for a while. Yes, now we have a No No (Noah's nickname) and a Yo Yo. Too cute!

She again slept through the night and is doing very well with this transition. I got her to eat two jars of baby food for dinner last night, so that was very good. She tried some of my noodles (one tiny piece at a time) and was doing good then the texture of one of the noodles hit the back of her throat and she started gagging. So no more noodles after that.

After her nap yesterday we took her to the People's Park right around the corner. It is an amazing place to go. We wish we had one of these near us. People are all over the park doing fan dances, Tai Chi, Latin Ball Room dancing and there are also singing and instrumental groups. It is a very neat glimpse at the arts in this area. It doesn't matter what time of the day, these things are always going on. It is a huge park on a big lake that has walking paths. This is where the people of the city come to relax. Lots of people with lots of babies. There is a children's amusement park in the park. There are big rides, like bumper cars, ferris wheel, games, etc. We have been there the past two days. I am sure we will continue to visit until we leave.

Today we were suppose to go to Ashlyn's birth town, but we decided that a 6 hour, plus riding around the town, car trip would be a bit too much for her. So instead we went to the Minority park and bought some gifts for the kids. It was beautiful and we got some really beautiful pictures.

After that our guide took us to the mall where Donny has been stocking up on DVDs. You can get them here for 3 US dollars a piece. He bought movies that are not even out yet in the States, like GI Joe and the Surrogate. You are probably thinking...But they are in Mandarin. Every DVD here asks if you want to watch it in English or Mandarin. He says he's not done shopping for DVDs yet. He's getting as many as he can.

And lastly we ate at Pizza Hut again today for lunch. The cheese pizza tastes the same as the cheese pizza back home. All the other pizzas had wierd things on them, like corn and other things you would not get back home. It's funny that pizza is the least thing they have on the menu, most of the menu is Chinese type foods.

After she wakes up from her nap I am sure we will be heading back to the People's Park for another stroll. Donny is determined to get pictures of all of the people staring, especially now that we have her with us.

Talk to you again soon!!
~ Gretchen

PS...Aunt Donna, the 12 month clothes that we brought for her fit her as long as they are dresses or elastic waist. If they are not elastic waist then they need to be 6 - 9 month size. Even with the elastic waist we are still pulling up our britches a little. She is so TINY!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amazed by Our Baby Girl

We are absolutely amazed at how our baby girl is reacting. There has been absolutely no fear in her at all. She is taking a nap right now so I wanted to write to you all about our experience so far with her.

First she has not shed one single tear the entire time she has been with us. When we met her in the room she came right to me because apparently her favorite book was the photo album that I sent to her back in April. She knew who we were!! God is so good!! What an answer to prayer. She has been completely comfortable with us the entire time and NEVER wanted to go back to anyone else. In fact, she pulls away from them. She goes to both Donny and I without hesitation. It is just amazing. It is like she has just been waiting on us to come and get her. She knows that she belongs with us. When we went down to make the adoption official this morning and she was with the people from her orphanage again, she wouldn't let Donny put her down.

Within 20 minutes of meeting her she was smiling at me. This was before we had gone back up to our room. Once in our room I had her laughing. What a cute laugh. She is EXTREMELY ticklish!!

We did find out that her cleft palatte has not been repaired. This means that she does not eat much..probably why she is so tiny. We will have to have her surgery probably in February. She can not use a bottle, so I have to feed her with the scoop from the powdered formula. She drinks well from this. I did bring a sippy cup with a silicone tip that she can bite to get fluid out. She finally figured it out today, so hopefully she will get use to it enough for me to put the formula in it. She has only eaten fish congee (like a watery rice porridge) and some bananna her whole life. She also nibbles on cookies that are thin. She could eat more if she wanted to, like scrambled eggs and such. So last night after she had eaten some Gerber graduates snacks I thought I would feed her some eggs. I found out quickly that she does not like texture. She spit the bit of egg on the floor and BEAT it with the water bottle. I emphasized beat because she demolished that egg. I don't think there was anything left when she was done with it. We were laughing so hard. She just looked at us and gave us her signature toothy grin..too cute!

After we got back to the room she spent the rest of the evening just playing around. Looking at her books and photo album and playing with her baby dolls. We skyped with the kids and that was really fun! Then she took a bath which she also LOVES. I took her out and put her in her new jammies. What a princess! She LOVES clothes!! She stroked her clothes and kept looking at them in the mirror and smiling. Daddy is in T R O U B L E!!!

From there she laid on me and went straight to sleep. She slept from 8:30 until 7:00 when we woke her up this morning. After we got back from lunch today I laid down with her until she fell asleep and then I put her back in her crib. Donny and I looked at each other and he said, "This is too easy."

I know it will get hard, but we are so happy that she is so content and comfortable with us right now. She is such a love!

Lastly, the orphanage gave us two gifts today. One was a photo album. The other was the clothes she was found in. One of the articles was a hand crocheted sweater that a memeber of her birth family must have knit for her. What a treasure God has blessed us with!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ashlyn is Finally Ours!!

We met Ashlyn for the first time at 3:30 this afternoon. There were 4 other families also meeting their children at the same time. As you might imagine, their weren't many happy children. Ashlyn was the exception. She recognized us from the photo album we sent her and was immediately comfortable. She was smiling within minutes in her mother's arms. The Lord truly blessed us with a wonderful introduction.

Also - Gretchen wanted me to point out that she is wearing a 6-9 month outfit we sent her a while back. It is falling off of her. We just weighed her and she weighs 18 pounds!! And I thought our other kids were small...

Only One More Hour

....and we will finally meet Ashlyn!!

Thank you all for the comments. They mean a lot when you are half way around the world and you can go all day and not see another foreigner.

The people here are super nice and extremely helpful. It is very upsetting to think that if things were switched they would not get the same treatment from people in the States.
I am a sight to see, apparently. I have never been looked at so obviously in my life. It is quite funny to actually see people walk by, break there neck looking and then actually come back and stare to make sure they are seeing what they think they are seeing. Blondes are quite a sight to them. Even with that they are not being rude, just super curious. Wait until they see me carrying Ashlyn around tomorrow. That should attract even more attention.

So in one hour we will be heading down stairs to a room to meet Ashlyn. ONE HOUR!!! I can not believe that it is finally our turn. I have followed so many of you to get your children, that I can not believe that it is now my turn. I am super excited!! Donny is doing great. We are so ready for this.

Next post will be with amazing pictures of our baby girl...until then...

Sunday, October 25, 2009


What a day we had yesterday... We haven't adjusted to the time yet, so we were up at 4:00 AM the last two days. So here's what happened yesterday.

First Stop: Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. The sheer size was much greater than anticipated: From Tianamen Square through the Forbidden City was several miles long. I would guess there were over 100,000 people there. There were about 10,000 people in line to see the tomb of Chairman Mao. It is very difficult to believe the Forbidden City is over 600 years old.
It takes a while to adjust to the dense population. Everywhere you go, people are bumping up against you. The roads are crazy. There are no traffic laws, only recommendations.

The Great Wall was amazing. Climbing the Great Wall was a lot harder than it looks. It climbs straight up and down the mountains, so most folks don't make it more than a few hundred yards. By the time we got down, I was DONE.

We also had the opportunity to drive by the Bird's Nest, and the Water Cube. They are much larger in person than I thought they would be. However, neither were more impressive than Beijing Int Airport. It was constructed for the Olympics and is an amazing piece of work.

To add to Donny's post...The Great Wall is VERY difficult to climb. Every step is a different size. Most were about two normal steps high. Some went up to my knee!! And it went STRAIGHT up!! I was impressed with the people that built it and then those that had to walk it all the time. My legs were killing me! Donny made it a bit farther than I did. I think he made it farther than anyone else in our group. He made it to the last tower at the top before the pagoda. He got some amazing pictures up there.

We were in a group of 12 families in Beijing. Everyone is so nice and it was fun being with them all for the day. Nine of them went to one orphanage today and us and two other families went our seperate ways to our own Provinces. We will meet back with them on Saturday in Guangzhou.

Nanning is beautiful (as far as the landscaping goes). There are tons of flowers and flowering trees. It is about the same climate as Miami. Lots of Hibiscus and almond trees. Lots of other flowers that we have in Florida and some we have never seen.

While the landscaping is beautiful, the people here are extremely poor. The housing is very, very poor. It is a huge contrast from Beijing. In fact, besides the traffic and bikes I would not even be able to compare the two. We do love this beautiful city and all of the people. We are humbled by God opening our eyes to the great need here. We are so blessed to live in America.

So tomorrow at 3:30 pm our time (3:30am your time - Monday) Ashlyn will be brought to our hotel for us to finally meet her. We are extremely excited and don't know if we will be sleeping much tonight, her crib is sitting next to one of the beds. She will be taken from her foster family tomorrow morning and then make the three hour drive here to us. Please pray for protection over her precious little heart. This will be the most traumatic day of her life.

Thanks for all of the comments. We love reading them. ~Gretchen

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Very Full Day

We just got back to our room at 7:00pm. We have been up since 4:30am this morning. We both agree that we don't think we have ever been this tired before. I asked Donny to upload pictures for you and he groaned and said he was too tired. We are waiting for room service,, then we will skype with the kids and then go to bed. We have to be up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to catch the bus to the airport for our plane to Nanning. We don't have anything to do tomorrow once we get there so we promise a long post tomorrow with pictures.

We did have a blast today. China is amazing!! It has been so much more than we ever could have imagined. What rich history we saw today. We are so blessed to be here.

Well food's here, so we will post again tomorrow. Good night.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We are FINALLY Here!!

After a seven hour delay (Yes, I said SEVEN hours!!!) we finally arrived in Beijing at 8:30 pm China time. It is now almost midnight here and we are going to try to get some sleep. We will be leaving in the morning at 8:30 to visit the Great Wall, Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. We won't be done with the sight seeing until 6:00pm, so it will be another LONG day for us. Fortunately we are looking forward to this long day..unlike sitting at an airport for 7 hours getting on and off the was bad!

Thanks for all of your comments. We really enjoy reading them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Delayed at Newark

Our flight out of Newark has been delayed by two hours. We will now be leaving here at 2:00. That means that we will not get to Beijing until around 4:00.
We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Leave Tomorrow

Today is the last day we will have at home with the kids. We will "sneak" out tonight after they are all tucked into bed (minus my 14 year old ~ he stays up too late). We have a 7:20 flight out of Tampa tomorrow morning and we will fly to Newark for a short layover. After that it is almost a 15 hour flight to Beijing. We will arrive in Beijing at 1:50 pm on Friday (1:50 am Friday for everyone at home).

Please pray for safe travel and good health for us and the kids at home while we are gone. Please also be praying for Ashlyn. We will get her on Monday at 3:00pm (3:00 am for most of you). This is going to be a huge transition for this precious little girl. We have all fallen in love with her over the past 7 months, but she has not been waiting for us. This will change the world as she knows it and I am sure that she will be terrified. We are praying that God will give her an amazing peace and just know that we love her and that there is security in us. we go!! I will post again on Friday (since we will be flying ALL DAY Thursday).

This is IT!!!!!

Today is our last day home with the kids.

Tonight we will spend the night at a hotel near the airport so we can hop on a very early flight.

From this point on I will post at

I'll be back here in 17 days (or so)!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

Ok...this is the first time that I am sitting at this computer updating our countdown and have a great deal of butterflies in my stomach!
We are packed, except every day things, but I still feel like I have so much to do, even though I don't. I feel like I am forgetting something...WAIT...that would be my children!!
I am really feeling the Mommy heart tugs now. I HATE the fact that I will be leaving them for 17 days! It really makes my stomach upset. I am not worried about them. I am just going to miss all of those hugs and kisses. Hope skyping with them helps!
And here is what you have been waiting for...our link to follow us on our trip.
I will post it the next few days so all you have to do is come to this site to click on the link to get there. Or, you can add it to your favorites. (I think you can even subscribe to it..don't remember).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

I am beside myself!!! we go!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Number of the Day is.....

One week from right now we will be on a plane flying to Newark.

From there we will be on a plane to Beijing.
We will arrive in Beijing at 1:50 pm on Friday (that is 1:50am here).

The days are going by so fast!!
Please pray for safe travel for us and protection over our children who will be staying home with their amazing grandparents. I pray that they all stay healthy and well. And I pray that we, too, will stay healthy and well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Exciting News!!

I was just informed by our agency that we will be able to travel to our daughter's birth city!

Usually you fly into the capital city, Nanning, and you are not able to go to your child's city. Because we are the only family in our group they have agreed to drive us the three hours to Yulin, our daughter's birth city, and show us around. What an amazing blessing this is going to be!

We are extremely excited about this oppurtunity to get a closer look at Ashlyn's life. Yulin is a part of who she is and now we can share that part with her when she gets older.

The Number of the Day is.....

We are finally in the single digits!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Number of the Day is.....

Last day of the double digits!!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

....and today will involve even more nesting, I am sure!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

Ok, sorry this is late, but I have been seriously nesting all day!!
I didn't know that happened with adoptions!?!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

We are officially less than two weeks now!
I can not wait to hold my beautiful girl!!

I am working on a web site for travel
(since Blogger does not work in Ch*na).
I will post it once we get into the last 5 days of the countdown.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

15 more days!
We are almost there!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

Yep, 16 more days until we hop on a plane!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Number of the Day is....

We have 17 days left until we leave for China!!
I really haven't had a lot to blog about on this site since all we are doing is waiting to leave. I have already packed everything except our clothes and the things that we use every day. Mostly I have been posting to our family blog~ Tummy Tickles. If you'd like to hop over there feel free...just click here.
So with nothing else to post, I am going to start a count down for our trip.
Hope you are counting down the days with me!!