Friday, June 29, 2007

Little by Little

Things are slowly starting to come together. I'm crossing things off my list and feeling like we're getting closer to China. Time is actually flying by!

Magnolia's nursery is nearly finished. I've cleaned and organized her closet. Everything is size 6-12 months in there to start. I've stored all of her other clothes in the guest room. Now you can actually admire George's handiwork in her "custom" closet. :)
Cleaning out her room has been pretty sobering, there is absolutely nothing left to buy! Oh, I guess diapers and bottles might come in handy. We're going to get the "essentials" this weekend.
Travel dates have been revised. Earliest we might travel would be August 2nd. Still waiting on Travel Approvals. They should arrive late next week.
NPR's Terri Gross recently interviewed the author of China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood. Click here if you care to hear the interview, it's pretty interesting. George went right out to buy the book and is enjoying it very much.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It was just confirmed yesterday that my grandpa is very sick with aggressive bladder and lung cancer. He's starting his first run of chemotherapy today. I'm just so sad with this news as is everyone in my family. It's very very hard to think of him all alone. My thoughts are with him right now.
This was taken 7 years ago on my wedding day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

8 Months Old

Today Magnolia is 8 months old! Eight months ago we were already a year and half into the wait. Eight months ago I started this blog. Eight months ago we bought a lakehouse to work on during the long winter months. Eight months ago I celebrated my own birthday just as she was beginning to enter the world. Eight months ago I really couldn't fathom how much I would love this little one dimensional photo and short history of a baby halfway around the world. It's
been an amazing experience and now I know it couldn't have been any other way. We knew she was meant to be with us the first second we saw her.

"She's as sweet as tupelo honey, she's an angel of the 1st degree..." - Van Morrison

Monday, June 25, 2007

Welcome to the Judy's

It wouldn't be a lakehouse without our name carved in wood, would it? George made the sign and I made the fish out of outdoor material strung on bamboo rods.

The island is very low key. There's really not a main drag with sidewalks and quaint shops. It's mostly just an isolated rural community. Here are some shots around the island. The Albatross. Ice cream, cheese curds, brats, you name it. Their turtle sundae Saturday night hit the spot. :)
Island Post Office.
Lots of rural farmland in the center of the island. You can drive quite a distance before you see anything.
Capital Brewery is a brewer in Madison. They make an Island Wheat beer using wheat grown on the island. Here's a farm that grows some of the wheat. You can see the sign on their barn.
The Twice Around Shop, the islands thrift store in this cute old house. This weekend I found an old tire swing in the design of a horse. I know Magic Cabin sells them for $100 so I was thrilled for finding this one for $5!
We rode our bikes a lot this weekend. We rode to the coffee shop for iced coffees on the porch. We rode to the Marina and had beer and wings on the patio. We rode to the Sand Dunes beach just down the road from us. The water is so low that it's not the best swimming spot but the sand is beautiful. We can't wait to bring Magnolia here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Great news! I just checked online and saw that my passport has been renewed and is on it's way, it will arrive tomorrow morning! Whew, I was really sweatin this one...even too embarrassed to talk about it. I couldn't believe I was sitting on an expired passport all this time! Now I can get our visas! Step by step we are making our way to Miss Magnolia!

Got our Group Travel List today. There are 9 of us from all over the country. I can't wait to meet everyone and see all of our daughters together, what a sight!
This is just so exciting!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Possible Travel Dates

We received our travel packet the other day. Our possible travel dates are going to be either July 26th or August 10th/11th depending on when we get our Travel Approval. We get the Travel Approval from the Chinese Center Adoption Affairs (CCAA). We must have that before we can request an appointment at the U.S. Consulate. We will be looking for our travel approval around the beginning of July.

I've never wished away my summer more than I am now...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

That was then...

What is now?

It was during this weekend that somewhere across the world an auntie in an orphanage took our daughter, dressed her in an adorable yellow outfit, pushed her hair across her forehead, and had her pose for these photos for her new parents.
That was April 28th, 53 days ago, when she was just 6 months old. How has she changed, how has she grown? She's going to seem to much bigger when we get her. I'll be glad that she has grown but also a little sad. Our baby phase will be so short, I will cherish every moment of it.

This picture was taken even earlier...probably when she was only 5 months old. This was the first photo we saw of her. This little mug shot was sent to us via email shortly after our call. It was black and white and very grainy, it was the only picture we had of her for 24 hours. We fell in love with her immediately. I did laugh however, when I read "Polo Sport" on her shirt. I thought, who is this child halfway around the world in China wearing Polo Sport! Turns out this shirt has been around. I've seen quite a few other babies from the same orphanage wearing it.
That's a good sign, she's used to wearing used clothing.
Things are very busy around here for us and all of a sudden my days are flying by. This week I'm concentrating on cleaning out the nursery...washing everything. I will also be making a trip to buy gifts for people in China. I've been given a rough guideline but check back to see what I come up with. :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Finally Summer!

The Siddiquis & Momla came for a visit this past weekend! They arrived at our house on Thursday as a stop over before heading up to the island. The boys are great fun. Here they are helping George mow the yard.

When we got to the island it was very sunny & hot. The water was beautiful, perfect for swimming. These are the only pictures I took because we spent the whole weekend in the water. The boys are so funny, we loved hanging out with them and of course, Alicia, Shariq, and Momla!

We took the canoe out quite a bit. The first time George and I took Musa and we were teasing him the whole time that no one better jump out because if you do, the whole canoe will tip and we'll all go in. When we hit a relatively shallow and sandy area Musa called our bluff and jumped ship! We couldn't believe it! Then George and I got in and had great time swimming around for a while. We saw HUGE fish swimming in the shallow water where we floating on rafts. The boys went out fishing on father's day. They lost the anchor, a hat, and half a fishing rod. Hmmmm?

This was the first weekend on the island where we weren't A: working & B: too cold to swim.
Felt like our first taste of summer. The water was perfectly refreshing and floating on rafts or just putting your chair in the water was heaven! Hope they enjoy the rest of their week up there! We miss them already.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jiang Cheng Social Welfare Institute

I found some pictures of Magnolia's orphanage that a woman took just one month ago when she was there adopting her daughter. Rarely are adoptive parents allowed to visit orphanages but in this case this woman was granted a visit and I think one of the first to see the inside of this orphanage. She said it was clean and pleasant. There seems to be a good ratio of caregivers to babies and she said there was genuine care and love for all the babies there. She said they do the best they can with what little they have but certainly not a place where you'd want a child to be raised. She wasn't allowed into the rooms where all the babies were but she took these photos through the glass. I wonder if Magnolia is in any of these photos...

You'll see that the babies are sleeping in metal cribs with just wood slats as mattresses. I found this very upsetting but felt better when I saw how many blankets they had in there....better than nothing. I'm also happy that all the cribs are pushed together so the babies can be close together, crib mates usually create very strong bonds. Counting the days until we can bring her home...

Precious Magnolia

We received more information about Magnolia just the other day.

Here's some of what we know about this little dumpling.

She arrived at the orphanage a day after her birth a healthy baby with a round face, small eyes, and a full head of hair. She was just 6 pounds 6 ounces and 18.5 inches long. Her medical reports document consistent growth each month. She's on a very good schedule with naps and mealtimes. In addition to formula, they are feeding her calcium, vitamins, fish oil, and fruit juice! She LOVES her walker and moves all around in this. Her favorite toy is a colorful ball. She's babbling. She smiles when she sees her caregivers . And this one kills me...she LOVES to be held by her caregivers. For those that know I don't plan on putting her down for a very long time as part of the attachment process, this is truly my dream baby...a baby that loves to be held! This is very good news that if she's been able to bond to her caregivers then she'll be able to bond again.

She is described as a bright and lively baby!
It's already been one week since Magnolia came into our lives and we've never been happier. One week down, 7 more to go!

I've been in the nursery quite a bit this past week. Getting nowhere in cleaning it up but usually just sitting and looking at all of her beautiful things. Here's her little asian baby doll by Kathe Kruse who makes the most beautiful things in Germany. This was a christmas gift from Nana Joya two Christmases ago!

Here's the first quilt I ever made for the baby we were waiting so long for. I pulled it off the rocker this morning to look at it. I was stunned at how sun faded it had gotten over the years! I laughed out loud thinking how LONG we waited. Long enough to sun fade her quilt! Of course I can laugh now...

It still looks pretty. Kind of shabby chic...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Here, There, Everywhere!

When we went up to the island over the weekend we took Magnolia's picture with us everywhere. When we couldn't see her face we missed her terribly. She's such a little angel, we just adore her little face, those little lips, those feet curled in, her beautiful little hands, and that hair! I just love that hair!

Here she is in George's car. I drove on the way up to the island but at one point George had to take her picture down because he said I was staring at her too much and needed to keep my eyes on the road. :)

Here we are all together...kind of.

Here she is again so we can look at her when we cook!
Our lives have been on pause for SO many years, I finally feel like we are moving forward. I am so busy with the introduction of Magnolia into our lives...I can't imagine when she's finally here! I have so much to share. I'm learning a lot about the orphanage she's in and I just got more translated information about Magnolia. I wake up every morning looking for her picture beside my bed. I was up early this morning reading a book on sign language. Thanks to Emily, I learned a lot of signs a long time ago when her girls were younger. I can't wait to teach it to her.

Please check back soon, I will have a lot of things to post!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Still on cloud 9...

We are still on cloud 9 around here. Completely in love with this little face that has just dropped out of the sky and into our lives forever. She is the most amazing gift to us and we couldn't feel luckier. Now just looking at her picture doesn't seem good enough. We want to hold her desperately!

On referral day I blew up 15 pink balloons while we waited for the call to keep me preoccupied. Not too soon after we got news of our daughter, we went outside to hang them.
Our neighbors came out to congratulate us.

The next morning we waited on the front porch for the UPS delivery of Magnolia's color pictures and medical information. We waited from early morning until 2:30pm! My friend Christine came by and wanted to take our picture as we sat and waited holding the only tiny picture we had of Magnolia.

UPS arrives. I tell him what he's delivering. He agrees for a photo and wishes us luck. Under his other arm is something I ordered from Pottery Barn. He had a good laugh about that. We tear open the package and see the most beautiful color photos of Magnolia. We read through her medical history very quickly and then sat down at the kitchen table to fill out paperwork. George takes this picture showing the very official Letter of Acceptance which goes back to the CCAA. We don't even wait to have her medical records reviewed before accepting her. She's ours and nothing is going to stop us from going to get her. We run to FedEx and send everything off. Then we decide to go to Walmart and make copies of her pictures. Then we decide to get more paint mixed to take up north. I laugh thinking if only my mother knew what I was doing when she was just dying to see her picture!We took her pictures, packed up the car and headed up to the island. We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary with the best gift anyone could imagine. I have a lot more things to share and photos of our weekend. I just realized my passport expires this month. I have been sitting on an expired passport all this time and I'm supposed to go to China in 8 weeks...what was I thinking!? Expediting that today! Should be getting more info about Magnolia over the next couple of weeks. I'm also going to make a video of Referral Day if I can ever figure out how to do it. Check back soon!

Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to follow along and sharing in our excitement. All of your love and support means so much to us.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Magnolia June Ling Judy
Born October 26, 2006
Guangdong Province
People's Republic of China

(turn up your volume and enjoy, color pictures below, video to come)

We are over the moon with happiness.
Completely in awe of this beautiful gift.
We are so in love and cannot wait to hold her.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Once in while, in the middle of ordinary life, a new journey begins..."

We are so proud to announce our daughter!

Chinese Name : Jiang (name of SWI) Cheng (Honest & Sincere) Ling (Smart & Bright)
Birthdate: 10/26/2006 7 months!
Social Welfare Institute (SWI): Yanjiang, Jiangcheng Dist. Welfare Institute
Province: Guandong

At her last medical when she was 5 months old she was 24" and 14.3 lbs.

We think she is just beautiful with a FULL head of hair!
We were emailed a very grainy and small black and white photo. Tomorrow we will get the color photos. We will post them on the blog tomorrow with her new name!

We are on cloud 9!!!

It's Here!!!

UPDATE: OUR CALL SHOULD BE COMING ANY MINUTE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our agency just confirmed that they received referrals!!!
Ours has been accounted for!!!!!!!!!
Called George crying....he's on his way home now!!!!!!!
Agency in STL has to quickly plug in our info then forward it to our branch in Chicago.
We will then get "the call."
All of a sudden this is happening very fast.
So very surreal.
Next post, we will have a daughter!!!

This is the Day!

The sun is shining here today!
Overwhelmed with excitement...the day is finally here!
We both woke up singing this song...

"Sun is shining, weather is sweet, make you wanna move your dancing feet..." -Bob Marley

Shouldn't have had coffee.
Shaking like crazy.
Nearly passed out in the shower with anxiety.
Cleaned the kitchen and set up the camara.
Waiting for email from agency stating referrals have in fact arrived.
Calm again.
Talked to pediatrician about reveiwing baby's medical records.
Nervous again.
Think I'll go sweep front walk.
More later...
I'm back.
Swept the walk.
Called neighbor and her told I have a plant I dug up for her.
Talked to my retired neighbor...told him today was the day, he's excited.
Dug up a bottle of wine we bought in Cali a long time ago for this day.
Set up umbrella and outdoor chairs (why???)
Pulled out bag of pink balloons to put on mailbox.
Going to blow dry my hair, what else am I going to do???
It's getting closer to 10:30.
My heart is pounding and my stomach is full of butterflies.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Here Comes the Sun

Referrals arrived to agencies on the West Coast today!!!

Our agency (in STL) has two packages on their way from China!!! The first one has landed in the U.S. and will be delivered tomorrow. The second one is over the Pacific Ocean right now and should arrive on Thursday. I just have to believe our referral is the package arriving tomorrow!!!

If it is, we will receive "the call" sometime in the afternoon!

We are over the moon with excitement.

The Beatles say it best...turn up your volume and celebrate with us!

They're here!

Or so says Rumor Queen. Just got in from a walk, called George, and logged in and couldn't believe my eyes. Still can't. Shaking and in shock. Still no word from our agency whether they received them or not. Gotta change outa these sweaty clothes, set up the camera, and wait by the phone. George is on his way home. This is crazy, I can't believe it's happening!!!



Our agency has confirmed that there's no indication that the CCAA has mailed out referrals yet. China is sleeping now so this news won't change today. Maybe tomorrow morning we'll hear better news but I'm not holding out hope. I don't think we'll see referrals until next week.

It is now 36 days in between batches of referrals. Is this normal? Not really. Here's what Rumor Queen has said about the number of days in between batches: "The last 12 batches have had 29, 31, 35, 24, 32, 38, 28, 34, 29, 32, 32, and 25 days between first arrivals of referrals. The average is 31 days, and the number that shows up the most is 32 days. The shortest time period is 24 days and the longest is 38 days."

38 days would bring us to Thursday but since we know they're not in the air, this batch is going to break the record probably arriving on day 42 or 43 (next Monday or Tuesday). I hate to be pessimistic but I'm not surprised that it would be our batch to break this new record. I've heard from others that these final days are the WORST part of the whole wait. I completely understand now.

I know it's spring but how come we keep running into bird eggs? First we had them up north right in our window and last night I spotted a robin's egg that had fallen out of the nest in our yard. George picked it up (with a glove on, if that helps) and put it back. I kind of got freaked out that the dropped egg could be a sign. I won't even go there...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Maybe Not Even This Week

Our agency has confirmed that they have NO packages coming from China. They called DHL to find this out. This means that the only chance we have at seeing referrals this week is if the CCAA mails out referrals on Tuesday . If they are mailed out Tuesday then they will arrive at our agency on Friday. If they aren't mailed out by Tuesday then we're looking at next week!!!

Tonight is China's Tuesday so by tomorrow morning (the end of their day) we should know if they have been mailed or not.

I'm REALLY holding out hope here. I know another week seems doable after two years of waiting but truthfully it's torture!

Hopefully I'll have an update in the morning...

35 Days and Counting

35 days already that we've waited! No word, nothing from the CCAA saying that referrals have been mailed. 35 days c'mon! They've got to be on their way SOON! This waiting is killing me! I slept with the computer last night. George rolled over at 6:30am and was like "is that the computer?" Had to laugh, I'm losing it...

Here's the table George built on Saturday for our patio. It's low because our chairs our low, it's kinda like a coffee table that the umbrella sits in. Looks great and now that his shop is organized, he built it in just a couple of hours! He's on to building a swing next...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Weekend's almost over!

No pics to post. Rainy and lazy weekend at home although George seems to be getting a lot done. I'm not. I had 5 projects going yesterday at the same time and didn't complete any of them.

We've read two baby name books cover to cover and that seems to be the topic of conversation this weekend. I feel confident with our top 3 names then freak out that maybe they're not right. I feel like I'm studying for my SATs and don't know when to stop... We just need to see her little face!!!

Tonight will be Monday morning in Beijing so hopefully we'll hear something from our agency tonight. I'm very anxious to get through this day. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 01, 2007

No News

No news and it's the weekend in China right now. That means we have to wait the whole weekend and maybe even all of next week before we hear anything This is killer!
If the CCAA in China doesn't mail out our referral by Monday, we won't hear anything until LATE next week. My optimism of hoping we'd hear by June 4th got me again.

We decided to stay home this weekend, now I'm regretting that choice. I think we're going to go crazy!

I came across Ancient Chinese myths and customs of pregnancy and newborns in China. I find them fascinating and thought I'd share little tidbits of them each day. Here's one for today. It makes me really wonder about the birth mother of our daughter and all she went through to carry and deliver our baby only to have to give her up.

"According to old Chinese tradition, what affects a woman's mind will also affect her heart and connect with the baby in utero. A pregnant woman reads good poetry -- she doesn't gossip, laugh loudly, sit on a crooked mat, look at clashing colors, or lose her temper. Many Chinese women will read beautiful stories before drifting off to sleep.

There are many ancient taboos regarding the food Chinese women eat during pregnancy. It's believed that if a pregnant woman eats food that's not properly cut or mashed, her child will have a careless disposition. Or if she eats light colored foods, the baby will be fair-skinned. Many also believe that no construction work should be done in the house of a pregnant women. Hammering and sawing could lead to an abortion or fetal deformities. And, pregnant women should never attend funerals. To scare away evil sprits, Chinese women may sleep with knives under their bed. Often a piece of paper cut to resemble a pair of scissors is hung from bed curtains and tiger skins are hung over the bed. "