Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Falling into Fall

So sorry for the absence of regular posts, but the past few months have been a whirlwind with Ruby starting kindergarten, Lin going into 8th grade, taekwondo practice, band practice, Halloween, Thanksgiving and more school functions than we can keep track of. So... here are a few pictures to tide you over until we catch our breath!
Ruby devouring some of Dave's gourmet Chinese cooking

Lin handing out candy at Ruby's elementary school Halloween party

A rare photo of us together

Our beautiful monkey girl

Ruby's first day of kindergarten

Lin's first day of 8th grade (next year is high school... help us)

After touching just about every pumpkin in the patch, Ruby found the one!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ending Summer with a Bang!

Wowzers! This past month has been busy... but the chaos of Summer vacation is about to come to an end. Lin is preparing for the inevitable return to school in two weeks by watching as many episodes of her Chinese soap operas as she can fit in her "busy" day and Ruby is bouncing off the walls with excitement for starting all-day kindergarten.

We had a major breakthrough with Lin this Summer! After returning from her week long adventure at camp, she asked for a Facebook account to stay in touch with her cabinmates. Hmmm. Overly-protective and cautious parents warning flags pop up! But knowing her same-age cousins already have FB accounts, we relunctantly caved-in and... it has been a blessing! She instantly reconnected with friends from camp, as well as kids from her school. It brought a smile to our faces to finally hear Lin laughing and running around the neighborhood with her friends. Last Summer, she just didn't have the confidence to initiate asking her friends to hang out.

Arriving early at Walley World! Oops... I meant Cedar Point!

We decided to take the girls to Cedar Point for a week and it was a ball! That girl Lin has no fear... she would happily hop on the biggest, fastest and tallest rollercoasters at the amusement park and Ruby couldn't get enough of the "spinny rides" like the Scrambler and Tilt 'a Whirl!

Ruby and Mama riding the front seat on the Jr. Gemini!

Time for Lin and Mama to ride the Woodstock Express

Not gonna lie... there are some days I wish we had this at home!

The view from our cottage at Cedar Point

Ruby showing off the black eye she got at the water park on our first day of vacation. It didn't slow her down one bit!

Isn't she a cutie?!


The girls after riding the Tilt 'a Whirl for the countless time

Dancing the night away!

Taking a "quiet" stroll through Dinosaur Island!

Cedar Point at night, a beautiful sight

Getting ready to head home after a great time!

Another crazy aspect of this Summer has been getting our rock band back together! We're called Lisa Can't Sing (pretty cool, huh?) and it's been fun for the girls to watch their "Rock Star" parents on stage... mom singing away and dad pounding the drums! Here are a few shots from our latest gigs!!

Lin and friends enjoying the show!
So there you go... a quick update as our Summer vacation comes to an close. It definitely ended with a bang! This week, it's Taekwondo testing for Lin, ice cream social at our adoption agency, back-to-school shopping and, most importantly early bedtimes... for everyone!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Week Away

Sorry for the long lapses between posts, but it's been a busy Summer! This week, Ma and Pa will be getting a little quiet time as both the girls are heading off to different activities. Lin is spending a week at an all-girl's camp and Ruby is spending a week with her grandparents. What will we ever do with the house to ourselves for a week. We actually talked about painting the kitchen and tearing up the carpet in our living room... ha!

Lin will be sleeping in the cabin on the right
Lin checking out the cabin and picking out her bunk for the week

Lin hanging out with some of her cabin mates

Needless to say, Ruby was a little pouty that she couldn't stay with her big sister at camp

Ruby feeling better about the world! We took her out for a nice dinner after dropping Lin off at camp

Ruby loves edamame! She even ordered edamame dumplings for dinner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two Years Ago

Two years ago, Lin Guo Chu walked into our arms and lives forever! It was one of the incredible moments you will never forget. I thought I would share the travel blog posting from that day...

The day started early... 3:00am. We couldn't sleep. Just a tad nervous around here! We finally headed down to breakfast around 6:30 and we were the first of our group in the lobby at 7:50. Yes, we're in a group now with two other families.

So we met Shiyan and headed out for the Big Day! First, a stop at the bank which took a horribly long time. Then it was off to the orphanage. We were ushered into a big meeting room and sat down to do the paperwork. I think it's just downright cruel to expect us to hand-write something so important while our fingers are shaking so much we can barely hold the pen!

After sitting around for a while, not really sure what was happening, Shiyan finally told us the three kids had all been getting their TB skin tests checked... and all three had tested positive. So they were all having to get chest X-rays. Okay, take a deep breath... and panic. Lin, being over 10 years old, cannot travel to the U.S. if she has tuberculosis. Take another deep breath... and pray.

One of the other dads and I (Lisa) both left the room to use the bathroom. As I was walking back out, I saw two little kids in the lobby and I knew right away they were the new son and daughter of our travel-mates. We were told Lin had gone to get her belongings and would be along shortly. Both of the other kids in our group are 5 years old. The little girl was all smiles. The little boy... not so much. That was tough, to be in the room while that poor little boy tried to run away from his new parents. Shiyan assured them that his reaction was perfectly normal, though, and not to take it personally.

Several minutes later we heard someone say "Lin Guo Chu is coming". We both ran forward to meet her in the doorway, and there she was! She had a smile on her face and she let us hug her. She was clearly nervous and unsure of what to do. That made three of us! But we sat down and showed her some of the things we brought her. One of her teachers came in and told us that Lin is very well-liked, a leader among her classmates, and she will be missed. We were told she is a very good girl, and she certainly seems to be!

 Oh, there's just so much to tell and I don't know where to begin, really! She has been quiet, smiles at us every time we look at her. She says Xie Xie (thank you) anytime we do anything for her; she seems incredibly polite. But probably the most important fact of the entire day: she wants to learn how to play the drums!!!

Just a quick bit of great news... her x-rays came back clear!!!! We'll have to carry the x-rays with us to U.S. Customs and Immigration for verification when we land home. Lin is an amazing girl and we are so honored she is a part of our family. As we were leaving the orphanage, the director and many of the other caretakers walked us to the van. It was truly heartbreaking as they all said their goodbyes. She was truly loved there... and the sight of her looking back at them, waving goodbye will forever stay with me.

We've been under a 24-hour harmonious period to see if it'll work out. Our guide Shiyan called last night to talk with Lin. After they were through, Shiyan told us that Lin is very happy!!!! She is scared of learning a new language though. We were playing around with some alphabet flash cards and she got about half of them correct. She was all smiles and giggles, especially trying to pronounce our last name.

Our first picture as a family of four!
It has been an incredible 2 years. There has definitely been some challenges as Lin became a member of our family, but through it all she has shown incredible bravery... we love her so much!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Whew... what a weekend

Friday was Ruby's last day of pre-school! An exciting and sad time. She has learned so much the past two years and made many friends along the way. Here she is posing with her teacher. Our little social butterfly is so ready to tackle kindergarten in the Fall!

Friday night was also the last day of Ruby's Chinese dance class and the Chinese school had a year-end celebration where her class did a traditional dance. They received a huge applause.

Ruby posing with her Chinese dance teacher after the big show!

On Saturday day, the graduating pre-school class walked in a fun parade through town. It was the last time many of the kids would see each other before heading off to different schools. Although I envision many playdates over the Summer!

After the parade, we hit the local Greek Festival for some gyros. Ruby couldn't stop giggling about how much she looked like her Spongebob popsicle.
After such a Ruby-centric weekend, we took Lin out for a little fun and she really wanted to see this one!

Ka-Pow! When was the last time you saw Norris on a movie poster?! Needless to say... Dave is super excited for this one!
Also, we were visiting Dave's parents and Ruby was just playing around the house when she walked into the room with an old phone. She asked if it was a real phone and Dave told her it was and to put it down. She left the room. Moments later, the phone rings and Dave's stepfather answers it. We hear him say that everyone is okay and then he tells whomever is on the phone that his grandkids are visitng. He gets off the phone and calls Ruby over. He asks if she dialed 911 and Ruby's face drains of all color and she immediately bursts into tears. We told her she wasn't in trouble and that we were happy she knows how to call for help, but only do it when there is an honest-to-goodness emergency. She cried for about 15 minutes and calmed down. But, as we were leaving, we asked her to apologize to Grandpa for calling 911. She started crying again, but the funny thing was that she was also holding onto a kazoo she got from the parade earlier in the day... and her cries sounded like a dying duck. We tried our hardest not to laugh as she cried through the kazoo. It was classic... the poor thing. Lastly... our rock band, LISA CANT SING,  had a rehearsal Sunday afternoon. We're breaking in a new bass player and getting ready to rock a big gig at the end of the month.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


My Mother's Day gift this year? Lin was baptized and confirmed at church!

At the beginning of the school year we started making Lin attend Sunday School. We didn't force it on her last year, but this year the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class was doing confirmation and it was really important to me that she be a part of it. She tried to protest but I really didn't give her an option, and so she's been going all year.

A few weeks ago, as Confirmation Day finally approached, it was time for her to decide whether she wanted to be confirmed or not, and if she wanted to she was expected to write a statement of faith. I told her that it was her decision, and I meant it.

Well needless to say, she chose to be confirmed! And along with that came baptism, something we really hadn't talked with her about before. I really was so proud of her! Now, I'm not that naive, I know her decision was mostly because she knew I would be disappointed if she chose NOT to be confirmed. But I can definitely tell that she learned a little something about the kindness and generosity, the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a church community.
Here's Lin in front of the pictures of the confirmation class.

All the kids made their own banners with their names and some images that symbolize themselves and what they've learned as part of the class.
Very cute... All the confirmation class gathered up front for children's time -- probably the only time Ruby and Lin will sit together for this part of the service. It's not really obvious in the picture, but Ruby was so excited that her sister was there with her!
Each student was asked to make a brief comment about their statement of faith. A number of people told me later that they were so moved to hear Lin speak -- I know for many people in our church this was the first time they'd ever heard her say anything besides "Good morning."
Baptized! Our awesome associate pastor was so cool and snapped this picture for us while it was happening!
The fam
Mmmm... cake......

They did confirmation at both services, so we sat in a different part of the sanctuary for the second service. Had to switch things up a bit, you know! Lin received some very nice gifts for her confirmation and baptism. Two beautiful necklaces from her congregational mentor as well as a bracelet, some framed inspirational quotes which she has on display in her room, some cash and a Bible with her name engraved on it.

Even though Sunday was all about Lin, it was a great Mother's Day!