Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Tree Time



Is this the angel for the top of the tree?



Yes, we still get a live tree every year! We did our annual "Great Tree Hunt" last night. It only took a few looks and the perfect tree (we hope!) was found.

He's A Trooper!




Today was the day I have been dreading - preop bloodwork time. After some prayer and two sticks, they were able to get the 4 vials they needed! We were both happy when that was over :)
Caleb continues to grow and play. It is so much fun to watch him interact with his brothers and sisters. Just thought I'd share some of the photos from today...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

God's in the Details

One of the difficulties in cleft surgery is coordinating all the specialists involved since we are doing things out of order by not attending the cleft clinic first. 90% of all cleft kids end up needing ear tubes so a trip to the ent is a preop necessity. The problem that we were going to have was that Caleb is not the first case of the day - his surgery is at noon - and most ents don't like to do tubes any other time than first case (8am). The cranio facial dr recommended a particular ent who MIGHT consider it - we would have to call and see. I called yesterday and they agreed to see us today. So after I scrambled to find somewhere for the other kids to go (thank you Jennifer!!!), I headed out to this dr appt in No. VA, near the hospital. Well, we got there 30 minutes early (no traffic - yeah!) and were seen immediately. After a quick exam, he said that yes Caleb needs tubes and he would be able to do it. That was it. We were out of there before our appt was even scheduled! I just sat in the car, blown away at how quickly all of this has happened and how it has all fallen into place. There is no explanation other than God has this all figured out. We're just along for the ride. And what a ride it is :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Weikels


Jacob helping Ken stuff the turkey

Kendra, aka Calamity Jane, outshooting her nephews (or at least trying!)

Caleb's first Thanksgiving!

Fall colors before the storm

It was a quiet one this year with just us, my parents and my sister. It was kind of nice to just hang out for the day. Ken brined and grilled the turkey - if you've never tried it this way you gotta!! It was the best turkey ever! Anna was sick in the morning so some of us missed Thanksgiving service at church. A bit of a bummer since that is one of my favorite services of the year and we usually miss it since we are often out of town. The girls and I snuggled up and watched the parade on TV and Caleb got a pre-meal nap so all was not lost. Hope that you and yours had a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving

After contemplating for awhile what to write, I figured I'd just list out the things I"m thankful for and acknowledge to whom I am thankful.
*I am thankful that the Creator of the Universe loves me, sent His son to die for me and is faithful. If I've learned anything this year, it is that God is faithful. Whether it was during our dark days of waiting, the frustrating days of homeschooling 4 (now 5!) kids, the joys of prayers answered, God has been faithful. He has proven himself over and over again. I am grateful to be able to rest in His faithfulness.
*I am thankful for my soulmate, my support, my best friend, Ken. After being married 15 years this year, I can honestly say that it is so much better now than it has ever been. I can't imagine another man who I'd rather spend my life with!
*I am thankful for my children. To think that there are 5 people in my home, each with a unique personality, each with a character and purpose, created by God - wow. To think that we are responsible for their training can be daunting at times but to be able to participate in their lives and to watch God work in them is such an honor.
*I am thankful for having been raised in Christian homes. Our parents have been nothing short of supportive of us, even if they think that we're a bit hairbrained sometimes. Their prayer support and hands on support mean the world to us!
*I am thankful for a church home and a body of believers who are not only supportive but also willing to walk along side us. Their encouraging and sometimes tough words are a treasure. The fun we have is icing on the cake!
*I am thankful that God has given us a purpose in life and that He doesn't let us stay where we are. He has pushed and prodded us out of our comfort zone over the years. It has often been painful. But the blessings have been enormous. When I think of what we would have missed out on if we had said no to His promptings - well it makes me sad to think about it. To think that we almost did not listen to His call to adopt again and to adopt special needs... Watching Him work in Caleb almost takes my breath away at times. I can't imagine having missed that.
*I am thankful for our country. I think every American should spend time outside of our country. Especially those who gripe and complain the loudest. Because, with all our faults, this is still one of the best places in the world to live. I have such a respect for what we have after being places that just don't have these things. Not that other countries and cultures aren't rich and wonderful. They are and I have found wonderful people in all the places we have visited. But we have soooo much to be thankful for here and I just think that so many people take these things for granted.
*I am thankful for you. For those who I call friend who I may not ever meet in person but who's support and friendship in the cyber world have been a balm to my spirit. Thank you!
So, on this day, I say thank you to God for his blessings. I feel overwhelmed by His goodness. The words of one of my favorite hymns keeps playing through my head, "Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not. As thou has been, thou forever wilt be." May your heart be full of thanksgiving and your soul be anchored in Him!

He's a Bruiser!

Ok, not really. But when I took Jacob to the drs today we had Caleb weighed. He has gained almost 2 pounds!!!! He is 17lbs 12 oz - he was 16 lbs just a week ago! We are so excited about his weight - keep on eating little buddy!!
Good news - no strep for Jacob, just a sore throat (although I'm sure it feels like more than "just a sore throat" for him).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We have a date!

The drs called today and Caleb is scheduled for his lip and palate surgery on December 11! I'm a bit shocked at how quickly they are able to get him in but I believe it is due to the width of his cleft and obvious size issues. We now have to coordinate with an ent who can do the ear tubes on that date but are hopeful that we'll be able to get this done as well.
Tonight at dinner we saw a side of Caleb we've only gotten glimpses of so far. He was the true ham! He would do something silly and then pause, waiting for everyone's laughter and response. He has already found his "baby of the family" niche! He even smiled a couple of times during his bath (in between the tears) which is a huge leap forward. Who knows, he might even like the water by summer :)
It is still hard to fathom how far he has come in just 3 weeks. I was going through adoption paperwork tonight and saw all his photos taken for visas, adoption decress, etc. He was just not a happy little boy. Now he grins all the time and loves all the attention. It is just mind boggling the difference!
Please pray for Jacob - he's feeling under the weather. Hoping it isn't strep and that he doesn't share. Now that we have this surgery date, I almost feel like putting Caleb in a little bubble! I don't like seeing any of my kids sick :(

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!!


Birthday Wish!

Living Life Large!!!

Ready, Set.....

JUMP!!!

Grandpa and Caleb - spectators :)


My Jacob is 10 years old today! Double digits already! He had is party last night at the gym where he takes gymnastics. I think they had fun despite the restrictions put on them (they couldn't doing anything upside down - not easy for some of the kids who have taken gymnastics for years!).
There are so many things that amaze us about Jacob. He is certainly an extrovert. His first performance was at just a couple of weeks old (he was Baby Jesus and Ken was Joseph) and he has craved the stage ever since. He has also had a servant's spirit about him. He loves people, no matter what their age. God has given him such a neat package of gifts - we can't wait to see how He uses them!!
We are so proud of you Jacob and are excited that we have a 10 year old in the house!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dr. Update

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Caleb's dr appt. It all went well today and we should hear on Monday if they are able to work us in before the holidays. We really liked Dr. Baker and his office staff. They are trying hard to work with us and we appreciate it! He confirmed that Caleb's cleft is pretty wide and will probably require at least one extra surgery but the plan is to do the initial repair of both the lip and palate at the same time.
One of the funniest things of the day was when we walked back into the waiting room after seeing the dr. Who was sitting there but my friend Jen and her son Ben!! Ben is from Caleb's orphanage and they left China the day we got there. We joked (well, I'm sure we'd love for this to happen) that we'd love for them to schedule the boys' surgeries at the same time so we could hang out in the hospital together :) Time will tell if that happens or not!
I kind of got teary eyed tonight just watching Caleb play with Ken and the girls. Here he was, belly laughing and having a great time. The contrast to what his life had been and what it is now just hits me sometimes. I see God's hand on this little guy and am blown away by it. We see more and more of his personality emerging as the days go by. He loves to be tossed in the air and dipped low. He likes music and has crawled all over the house. He is no longer the sad little boy, left in his crib to cry and be labeled as weak. He is our Caleb, growing stronger everyday and we are blessed beyond words to get to watch it all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Play time

Just thought you'd like to see the boy in action. These were actually take on Monday and he has improved his motor skills even since then. I'm afraid that we'll see his first steps sooner than later at this rate (Sorry, but I'm kind of enjoying the not wildly mobile stage - I guess it is because he is kid #5!)

Scrap that, there is something not working right with video uploads tonight (could be user issues but I won't admit to that just yet :) ) so you'll just have to stare at that cute photo and imagine his sweet sounds and digging through the box with his sisters!

Praise the Lord, Time to Celebrate!!!!

Some of you who have been following my blog for awhile know about one of my best friends, Dawn and her husband Gareth. They have been struggling through their second adoption from Guatemala and have been in PGN (the stage for Guatemalen approval) for 9 months tomorrow. Well, they found out tonight that THEY ARE OUT OF PGN AND HAVE BEEN APPROVED!!!!! They are hoping to travel before the end of the year to bring Nicolas home! We could not be more excited for them and she found out tonight during our Women on Mission meeting. We were all bawling. It is so true that after suffering and struggle, the joy is oh so much sweeter. Celebrate with me tonight in joy for them and pray for little Nicolas as God prepares his little heart for his new Mommy, Daddy, sister and brother!!!!

Oh, and if you haven't listened this week, check out Focus on the Family and Family Life Today, both Christian radio shows. The focus this week is on adoption and orphan care. I about bawled my eyes out tonight with the segment on birth moms. If you aren't sure about when they come on in your area, you can listen to old broadcasts online at www.family.org and www.familylifetoday.com.
But beware, it was this week last year that similar segments on these two shows gave Ken the push to say yes to another adoption. God just might change a heart or two ;)

Lots of Firsts


First Chick-fil-A

First Chocolate Chip Pancake - YUMMY!!!

First bottle with Mamaw Weikel :)


We've had lots of firsts with Caleb this week! His first official Chick-fil-A meal was breakfast Monday morning - of course he loved it :) He had his first flu shot on Tuesday :( Probably one of the funnier ones was his "accident" in Target. We were looking at some new shoes (since he only had one pair that fit) and Anna mentioned the puddle at my feet. Sure enough, he had peed out the side of the diaper all over the Baby Bjorn and his clothes and shoes. Of course the diaper was dry... All I could think of while cleaning up his little mess off the floor was the little boy who just squatted at breakfast and peed on the floor of the 5 star hotel! His grandparents did nothing about it!! Gotta love split pants. And here I was, sopping up pee. Yep, back in America now (thankfully on that one)!
I suspect that he has done more crawling and exploring the last 3 days than he has done his entire lifetime. He is learning how to play. I know that may sound odd but he really didn't know what to do with toys when we first gave them to him. Now he is figuring it all out and was even laughing at his reflection in the refrigerator yesterday. He continues to eat enormous amounts of food. He put away 2 slices of pizza yesterday for lunch alone! I think he eats more than Sarah!!
Tomorrow morning is our dr visit with the cranio-facial dr. We are anxious for this one and are anticipating them scheduling his surgery soon. We've been told that there is a good chance that we could get in before Christmas or shortly thereafter. We are hoping for more answers after tomorrow about scheduling and treatment options.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More pictures

I've tried all morning to get the links to our photobucket to work and it just isn't happening for some reason. So instead I've posted it into the body of the blog. I apologize for not labeling or flipping photos. I started doing it this morning as well and it was taking so long for just one that it would take a year to fix the 500+ pictures I took. If you have a specific question about something, leave a comment and I'll respond. As I get time, I'll go in and try to label some of them.
Jacob and Sarah were up at 4:30 (a definite improvement over 3am!), Anna slept until 6:15 and Caleb is still sleeping (7am!!!). Hopefully we're turning the corner on this sleep thing! Caleb has his first dr appt today to our family dr. I can't wait to see how much weight he has gained in a week!

Guangzhou

Photobucket Album

JinCi Temple

Photobucket Album

Taiyuan

Photobucket Album

Beijing

Photobucket Album

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, We're Home!

Sorry for the long blackout period. We made it home Friday night after some of the most chaotic moments of the trip. Let me just say that you could not pay me enough money to be in Beijing next summer! Talk about airport chaos... Once we landed at Dulles, we met some of the most unfriendly people of our entire trip. To those grumpy (and that is an understatement) customs officials I say that I'm sorry that you are overworked and that you have to put up with some seriously unintelligent people. But, we are people, not cattle and despite traveling with 4 children for over 24 hours, we still do have a brain and prefer to be treated as such. We had even decided that it was almost not worth the non stop flight to have to deal with the one hour we spent in immigration!!!
There was quite a crowd waiting for almost 2 hours for us to finally show our shiny faces. Thanks!!!! It was such a sweet welcome and we were overwhelmed with the love and acceptance you guys showed our family and Caleb. We could not ask for better friends and family. Your prayers and presence are such a gift and we thank you!
We've managed to make it to church today and play practice yesterday but are having some nasty jet lag. Ken, Sarah and Caleb were asleep by 6pm so we'll see how early they are up tomorrow. Poor Nathan doesn't know what to do with all of us in our wacked out body schedules!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One last post from China...


The bags are packed. The kids are bathed. The empty Pizza Hut boxes sit outside our door, testament to one last fast food meal on this side of the world. We will be leaving for the airport in the morning for our flight to Beijing and then at 7pm China time (6am EST), we will get on the plane for our long journey home. I have mixed feelings. I soooo want to be home. I miss Nathan (even if he doesn't miss us :) ) and all the comforts of home. I have no plans on eating at a McDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut in the next year!!! Home cooked meals are going to be so nice! So will ice cubes, brushing our teeth in running water, and sleeping in our own beds. I'm even looking forward to doing laundry!
But I will miss China. I really do love this place, with all its oddities (at least to my American eyes), rich culture and generous people. This is the birthplace of two of my children - how could I not leave a little piece of me behind? So I am anxious to get on that plane tomorrow but I leave with a hope that someday we will be back to explore this amazing land again with my family.
Good bye China. We have had a wonderful trip!!!

ps - thanks for the prayers for our friends! They were able to get everything done and are leaving with us tomorrow - Praise God!!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Feeding Frenzy

Caleb has definitly learned how to eat!!! We were remarking this evening after an hour long food fest how well he has learned this skill in just 10 short days. Of course he makes a mess - that will change once he has his surgery (at least we hope :) ). I thought you'd like to see him enjoying his food - I sure am celebrating!!
video

The Zoo!




After our consulate appointment this morning (everything is fine :) )we got to visit the zoo with the two families left with us. We had a wonderful afternoon! The weather was great and the company was just as nice :) The kids always love a zoo and the grounds were beautiful. PETA would have had a heyday though. It was hard seeing some of the animal displays and we got much closer than we ever would have gotten at home. The panda display was sad that way. When I think about the great habitat that the pandas have at our zoo and compare it to the cage that the panda was in today - it was sad. We got to hail 3 cabs again - always an adventure. We are learning to be much more assertive though!
Please pray for one of the families in our small group. Their consulate appointment did not go as planned and our guide is at the airport tonight waiting for a new adoption decree with the proper name on it. We are praying that they will be approved tomorrow and still get to go home with us on Friday.
Tomorrow is shopping!!! on Shaiman island one more time. I plan to fully take advantage! We have our swearing in ceremony in the afternoon and then pack, pack, pack. We leave here Friday midday for Beijing and leave Beijing 7pm. We are trying to soak in our last couple of days but are getting anxious to be home. I can't wait to brush our teeth with running water and drink all the ice tea I can without paying Starbucks prices!!

Park, Pool and Goodbyes





Yesterday was supposed to be a day of shopping but instead some of us woke up not feeling so good so we decided to lay low for the morning and headed out to a huge park in the afternoon. This is a park that is across the street from where we stayed when we got Sarah in 04. It is huge and we enjoyed the scenery and great weather. We ate at the McDonalds next to the China Hotel and caught a cab back to the hotel in time for the group photos. Of course group photo sessions are always entertaining and this was no exception. The others headed out to their swearing in ceremony (or as our guides call it, going to the consulate to swear) and we headed to the pool to let the kids splash around. Dinner was Danny's Bagels (again) with the Boggs and Hammonds for one last meal together. We will miss the Boggs a bunch, especially the kids. Jacob and Rachel became good buds to our kids! The relationships we've built on this trip have been special and we thank God for them!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chin Family Temple and Banana Leaves Dinner!




Today we enjoyed a leisurely morning and went with the rest of the group to visit the Chin Family Temple this afternoon. This is one of my favorite spots in Guangzhou. It is an old family temple that has been converted into a museum for art from the Guangdong province. It showcases lots of examples of intricate artwork from porcelain, painting, bone/ivory carving and embroidery. It is a peaceful place and we chose to stay a little longer than the group and take a cab to Shaiman island to meet up with them later. We were snubbed again by a couple of taxi drivers (guess they don't like us) but miraculously we were able hail 2 taxis and make the hair raising trip to Shaiman Island.
Tonight was dinner at a great Thai restaurant, Banana Leaves. The food was great!! and the entertainment was, well, unique. They sang several 70's songs (gotta love the BeeGees and Grease!) with the kids dancing. Jacob was a huge hit doing "the worm" and the kids had a good time dancing. Caleb ate nonstop through the entire hour which is why I have no pictures of this evening (Ken got it on video though). He has eaten all day long! I think he is coming close to eating his body weight everyday. He is also showing us his ornery side - I'm afraid that the compliant child that I was hoping for is not going to last for long. He LOVES his Daddy. It is so sweet to see him smile and reach for Ken. He is really doing well with all the kids and has not shown the terror of strangers or noises that they had warned us about. When some of you see him on Friday, you will see a frail little boy. But you will have no idea how far he has come in just a couple of weeks!
Tomorrow is the last full day for most of our group. We are going to be so sad to see them all leave. We have grown close to many of them and hope to stay in touch with them just as we have with some of our travel mates from 2004. I'd say that the relationships built during these weeks are a fringe benefit of it all!

Side note - Jacob has been taking some of these great pictures!! I tried to download more but have had to try 3 times to just get these few. When I get home I will upload all my photos into my photobucket account so you can see more!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Faith and Kendra Sighting





Since there is so much concern about the whereabouts of Kendra and Faith, I figured I'd post a picture of both of them to confirm that they are still with us :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween in Guangzhou







One of the biggest blessings on this trip has been the kids. Over half of the families brought some/all of their other children. In addition to that, 4 of the families have adopted older kids. All the kids have gotten along so well and as parents we keep thanking God for this bonus.
Last night we decided to celebrate Halloween with all the kids. We all bought candy and some of the kids dressed up and we went trick-or-treating to each other's rooms. It was a blast!!!!! It was especially fun to watch the newly adopted kids. One little guy, Scott, is 4 and I could have just watched him all night. The way his face lit up every time he went to a door and got candy would have just made your heart melt. The pure joy in his face was amazing to watch. We even got our guides Maggie and Fontana to join in - they admitted it was a first for them :) This will probably be the most memorable trick-or-treating my kids will ever have!

Settling into Guangzhou



Yesterday was the medical exam and visa photo - Caleb hated both but we survived. I got to enjoy a 2 hour paperwork party while Ken took the girls to the indoor pool - He said it definitly was not warm but they enjoyed the diversion :) Jacob went with some other boys to the game room and he had a sleepover last night with his new buddy Jacob. It will be interesting to see how much sleep either of the boys got!
We had started the day with a HUGE breakfast - french toast with syrup, doughnuts and all sorts of other goodies. We were like pigs in slop! I won't be able to eat like that all week or I"ll find the pounds I've lost!!
Speaking of pounds, our little guy weighed in at a whopping 7.5 kg or 16.54 pounds. I am anxious to get him home to get the surgery done so we can keep putting some pounds on this little guy!!!
The big news is that Caleb is crawling!!!! Ken plopped him on the bed last night and he crawled around for almost an hour. He is pulling himself up in the crib and cruising but we are not convinced he can walk on his own. His little legs don't look big enough to support even his 16 pounds!
We are liking the hotel - quick elevators though. We are on the 33rd floor so I try not to think about how high up we are. Kendra has a neat view from her room though and I sat and watched all the traffic creep by. The driving here is insane. Lanes are merely a suggestion and sidewalks are not just for pedestrians. I have yet to see an accident though - I guess you grow up with it you learn to drive defensively and not do 20 other things while you're driving like we do!
Today is church on the island and shopping. The service is not in English so I think we're going to have our own little service tonight instead. The kids all hit the wall yesterday from lack of sleep so we're letting them settle in this morning and sleep in.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Goodbye Taiyuan, Hello Guangzhou

It was a bittersweet day today. We had to say goodbye to our sweet guide, Summer and to Caleb's province, Shanxi. We really had a good visit in Taiyuan, much to do in part to our wonderful guide Summer. She bought the kids gifts today (you too Nathan!) and there were plenty of tears today as we left from all of us. Yesterday she had taken us to a local noodle restaurant (this province is known for its noodles) and we were able to convince her to eat with us. That was an experience! Our entire meal for 9 people cost us 35RMB or about $5. Yes, you read that right. The noodles really were good and we made quite a scene everywhere we went in the restaurant!
This morning I had a panic moment that God used for another miracle. Our ever dutiful syringe broke in the middle of Caleb's morning bottle. I about cried. So before I freaked out too badly I decided to try the cleft bottle one more time. He took it!!! He is now drinking out of the cleft bottle on his own. It was such a life saver on the plane and we are thankful that we "accidently" forgot the extra case in Kendra's suitcase for the orphanage.
We had a 3 hour flight from Taiyuan to Guangzhou and it was sooo sweet to see all of our group back together again with all the new additions. Everyone seems to be doing well and we celebrated with a pizza party with one of the families whom we got to know in Beijing.
I will try to post photos tomorrow afternoon some time. The usb cable is still packed somewhere and Ken had to go exchange money and make copies for the medical visit tomorrow. I'm so very thankful for Kendra and Faith - they have been so wonderful on this trip. The kids have done well and Kendra and Faith are earning lots of "good aunt" points :) Thank you also for all the prayers - each of you who have prayed for Caleb and for us are part of the miracle of this child. From the very first day, I have felt God's hand on this child and our trip. It has been awe inspiring - I give God the complete praise for it all!!!!