Monday, April 30, 2012

Family Photo

What will probably be our last family photo before Henry joins us...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Photo Catch-Up: Kitchen, Zoo, etc.

For the out-of-towners looking for their Lincoln and Lydia fix... here are some recent photos. Some of these were taken by Jenn. We've talked about how I'd like for her to get used to taking photos so she can get some with Henry and me together. Here are some from the kids "helping" her in the kitchen.

Last Saturday we hosted the staff of Villiage Veterinary Clinic and their families. It was kind of a pot-luck style, and my oh my, was the food good!

Lydia is becoming more and more independent. She didn't mind wandering away from me at the zoo.

Grandma Laura sent the cutest backpack for Lydia. She's always been interested in carrying Jenn's purses and the diaper bags over her neck or shoulder, and now she has her own "thing" to carry.

We're still waiting to hear about any sort of resolution regarding the wild-card issue with the passport office in Henan. It's hard to say if that May 13th date is going to hold. I guess this is part of the wonderful world of adoption.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's been two weeks since I last posted. Wow. To the out-of-town folks, I'm really sorry. I don't know if I've ever gone two weeks between posts before now. Well, here goes...

Things have been moving quickly lately on the adoption front, but much of the movement hasn't yet resulted in concrete details. That's one of the reasons I've been reluctant to post in the past week or so. Also, between our computer being tied up as I prepare movies for the iPad for the trip over and the kids being all over the place, finding the time to compose posts and load photos has been a challenge.

We received our Travel Approval from China on Monday. This was two weeks to the day from when we last heard from them. I've got to give it to the Chinese government, they've always been on the short end of the time estimates. The U.S. government, on the other hand...

Ordinarily, receiving one's travel approval would allow them to request a consulate appointment and know just when they're going to travel. The wild card here is that the area of Henan where Henry is has a court/passport office that has been quite erratic lately. Passports should be issued within 5 days, but they've been taking as long as 8 days with some families. This can be a problem. For example, one family had to miss their consulate appointment and their flight home because the passport office was dragging their feet. Nobody wants this to be our story, so there are some behind the scenes conversations trying to normalize the process, and this is going on just as we're adopting from this region.

All told, it's looking very likely that we'll leave on May 13 and return on June 2. That's a long time to be away from family and from work. I can't say I'm real crazy about this aspect of it, but it comes with the territory. Lincoln and Lydia will be staying with Grandma Laura for part of the time, and then with Grandma Paulette & Grandpa Doug for the rest of the time. We're trying to keep things as normal as possible for them, and staying with Grandparents from time to time is a normal thing for them.

Jenn's been in the process of sorting through and organizing everything from the packing lists she's found from this source and that. Some families, we've come to learn, took everything including the kitchen sink. Others have packed amazingly light. I think we'll fall somewhere toward the "light" end of the spectrum.

More and more on my mind lately has been the thought of taking an 18-month old child away from everything he knows as normal. I've thought about what it would be like for Lydia to be plucked from our home and taken to another home. Even with it being another home that would love her and take good care of her, she'd still have a really rough time. So our prayers from Henry over the past number of weeks have been for the LORD to prepare his little mind and ease the transition from his normal to Jenn and me initially, and then to our home upon our return.

Lydia has been sick again lately. Snotty nose kind of stuff. On Tuesday evening she was up every hour on the bottom of the hour, and that made for tough sleeping for everyone... except Lincoln, who sleeps like a giant log in the woods.

Lincoln spent the day with Grandpa Doug at Leesville Lake yesterday. They left for breakfast at 8:00am and returned at 8:00pm with Grandpa carrying him up the stairs and setting him in his bed. Then Jenn changed his clothes without his help (this is very unusual), sent him off to go potty, and then he rolled over, said, "I love you, Mommy," and fell asleep. Without stories. That's a tired kid. So we'd like to make this a weekly thing.

We'll see how the next number of days unfold, and hopefully I can get some photos up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Photos of Henry

Ask and ye shall receive! Seemingly as soon as I wrote about not getting any updates, we got some photos and info on Henry today! According to the measurements, he's not grown much since the last info. Based on the photos, I wonder if he's slimmed down in some of the chub he had because his head certainly looks like it's grown. Or maybe there were some errors in measurements. Or maybe he's just ready to get away from orphanage food and onto Jenn's menu.
And by the looks of it, we've got another Gates kid that likes to stick his/her fingers in his/her mouth. Take a number.

We're eagerly anticipating getting our travel approval. Jenn has been going through Lincoln's old clothes and filling Henry's drawers. She's also been going over packing lists from our agency as well as from other families who have made the trip recently. We've got our gifts to give to the various officials along the way (BeautiControl products and Malley's Chocolates). We're working on packing extremely light as the suitcase regulations are tighter in China for in-country flights than they are in the States and on the international flights... I think when it's all said and done, we'll have packed less for this trip than for our cruise.

Speaking of our cruise, I exchanged a couple of notes with Pete Casey today. You'll recall that we shared all of our dinners on our cruise with Pete & Mo. He told me that they're ready for another cruise. So are we, but it'll be a few years before we go on one again!.

Getting back to Henry, we know the time will be coming soon when we go to bring him home. Until then, we're praying for him multiple times a day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Another Easter has come and gone. This was particularly meaningful for us this year as our small group worked through a Passover Seder and paid close attention to the four cups of wine. So symbolic and so significant. It was great.

The kids ate more candy on Sunday than they had the previous two months combined.

Lydia has been coming out of her shell even more recently. She's sure she's talking, and I can make out a few words, but that's about it. But she's running a full conversation whether you're keeping up or not. She's also making big messes.
Unfortunately, we're not getting much of a response from Henry's orphanage in our attempts to learn how he's been growing. We'd like to know what size clothes to take with us for him, but the communication isn't flowing much right now. I'm sure they're busy with lots to do, and the staff at the orphanage doesn't even know when he's leaving, so they don't know what kind of priority to place on the requests... shoot, if they haven't received the packages we've sent, they don't even know that he's got a family yet. So there's a variety of reasons why we may not be hearing much, but we'd still like to know. All in time, I guess...

Finally, partners in crime...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cleveland Zoo 2012

Today was our first visit to the Cleveland Zoo of 2012 (and since 2010, for that matter). The Elephant Crossing is first-class, and the Rainforest is really cool, as always. We overlapped the kids' naptimes, and they were really good throughout. We also saw some things today that we hadn't seen before: the sloth actually moved, the chameleon changed colors & Lydia climbed onto some of the exhibits.

The kids were completely wiped out when they got home and they each voluntarily went to sleep. So we just need to take them to the zoo for 3 hours every day...

Reading Material

Lincoln has always been into books, seemingly from the womb. Lydia has only recently shown more than a passing interest in books. What fun to watch from our parents' perspective is what books they're each into.

Lincoln found an old book of mine that is a cartoon representation of anatomy and physiology. He's learned about red blood cells, white blood cells, how the voice box works, how the eating machine works, how we feel different temperatures and textures, etc.

Lydia has been requesting on a nightly basis a booklet that we got at the lamb farm a couple of weeks ago. It talks about the importance of farmers and ranchers to our nation and lifestyle, and is more or less a booklet of agricultural statistics. I like it, but it's hard to believe how much Lydia likes it. There's not action, no story line, and no characters, but she's riveted by it. Might we have a budding FFA?