Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vacation Pics??

I really do have pics from our vacation! Actually I have about 600 of them. I just have to upload them from my camera & make some magic. I love PhotoShop. I promise to post some pics in the next few days!

Next Stop California!

Erin & I continued on to California - Sacramento to be exact. My dad & his wife Nancy live there, & we go out every other year to see them. Unfortunately, it's too hard for my dad to travel now so I take Erin to them.
We arrived Friday afternoon. Thankfully, Erin is a great traveler. My only complaint is that she kept whining that it was taking too long to get to her Bubbie & Zaydie (grandma & grandpa in Yiddish). BTW, the flight was 3.5 hours. Get the picture?
Saturday we stayed home since everyone needed down time. The air quality was pretty bad, & there were fires that made the national news. Since my dad & Nancy didn't feel well, we all agreed that staying home was best.
Sunday we went to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. It was awesome!!! David, Erin & I love trains so this was the perfect place for us to visit. The history that is being maintained in this museum is amazing. As you walk in to the museum, you get to learn about the history of railroads in California. My heart stopped. One thing I had forgotten about was how the Chinese workers were treated. My heart tore. What do I do? How do I handle this? Let's face it. The Chinese were treated very poorly by people. Thankfully Erin didn't notice that the statues were of Chinese people so she didn't ask any questions. I know that we're going to have to deal with this topic but am glad it's been held off for a while. Because this is an indoor museum, the trains are in excellent condition. Nancy took Erin on a tour of the Pullman car & the dining car. My dad & I joined them for a tour of the US Postal car. This museum made the trip for us!
The rest of the week we stayed close to home - relaxing & letting Erin play with my dad & Nancy's dog Gellman. Don't ask. I don't know why this gorgeous black lab has such a silly name. Their last lab was named Henry. Go figure.
Usually we make plans to go & do everything. Then the air quality puts the kabosh on them. In the end, Erin enjoys staying at her grandparents' home visiting & playing with them. Lucky me. I get to laze around, read books & nap. A perfect vacation.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Travel Group Reunion

Hard to believe it, but it's been 5 years since we were all together.
Stephanie R pulled together an amazing reunion in San Antonio, Texas! Out of the 15 families that traveled, only 6 were able to attend. And we had a total blast! Stephanie & her husband Gary really did a fantastic job. They took the time to scout out all the hotels & restaurants & places of interest for us to visit. Then they gave us choices to vote on. There is just no way for me to offer enough thanks to them for all their hard work on our behalf!
Erin & I flew in on Monday, June 16th & checked in to The Menger Hotel - a beautiful, historical, family friendly hotel. After checking in & getting settled into our room, we went downstairs to find the rest of our group. We all ended up out by the pool which was too funny. Erin sat there totally miserable since she wasn't in her swimsuit. My thought? Hey. She doesn't like water & doesn't swim. Why put her into a suit? (Reverse psych 101 works!) We ran upstairs to put on her suit & the dads took care of her in the pool. We got together in Stephanie & Gary's room for dinner since they had a suite which was large enough for all of us to meet in. Dinner was a wonderful BBQ that they brought with them from their hometown. Apparently, Texans really do take their BBQ very seriously!
Tuesday morning we all came down to breakfast & enjoyed a leisurely time chatting & watching the children. Then we got ready to walk around the gardens of The Alamo for some pics of our girls. Afterwards we walked over to the San Antonio Children's Museum for fun & games. After a morning of playtime we took the trolley over to Mi Tierra for some yummy Mexican food. Of course we had to walk off that delicious luncheon in the Marketplace. After a wonderfully exciting day, we napped & then met back in Stephanie & Gary's room for a birthday project. Yup. Stephanie again! We brought enough pics for 15 scrapbooks of our girls & stickers that represent things they are into. And now the girls have a scrapbook of each other. We even put together books for the girls who weren't able to be there. And let's not forget Gary's mother Helen (she traveled with Stephanie & Gary) & his dad Melvin who came to visit with us & brought birthday cupcakes for the girls! Dinner & drinks at the pool! Relaxation at its best!
Wednesday brought about a walking tour of The Alamo - not very long at all. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take pictures inside. Me being, well, me I walked over to the information center & asked them why we weren't allowed to. After all, I'm a sight seeing person & want memories of my trip. They looked shocked at my question but very graciously told me that many people consider The Alamo a shrine & get offended when people snap pics. In addition, they are concerned about preserving the artifacts & what the flashes & such will do. Alas, my memories will have to suffice. After the tour, we went back to Stephanie & Gary's room for a delicious & relaxing lunch from a local deli. More time at the pool was ordered by all the children so the adults went for it. Dinner was at Joe's Crab Shack & followed by a Riverwalk boat cruise.
Thursday most of the families left. Erin & I were alone relaxing (a nice long nap!) in our room after days of walking & touring. Amy & Mike joined us with their children Lia & Miles for dinner at The Republic of Texas on the Riverwalk. After that we went for ice cream & then Mike & Miles deserted us so that Amy I could take the girls for a hansom cab horse ride. This is a biggie since Erin has been terrified of horses, but this treat was at her insistence.
It was so much fun seeing everyone who was able to attend!
Stephanie & Gary with Emma, Lissie & Ian
Marilyn with Julianne
Amy & Mike with Miles & Lia
Theresa & Andrew with Joe & Grace
Pam & Luis with Trinity
And, of course, we did miss the families who weren't able to attend! We all had a great time & now we're planning to have another reunion in 2 years. San Antonio will be hard to beat!
Friday morning early, Erin & I left for the last leg of our vacation. On to California!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!!

David is not only a great husband & friend, but he is also an amazing daddy. From the man who once told me he wasn't sure about having kids, he has become SUPER DADDY!!!
When we got off the plane in China, David was still unsure about becoming a dady. When I handed Erin to him the first time, he melted. Just the other day, he told me that fatherhood was so great. He is sure that he didn't want children until he did because then we wouldn't have Erin. I've tried telling him that he always had it in him to be a good father. I think that he finally gets it. When Erin looks at him, with total adoration on her face, he is always surprised that it's for him. But he really is great. David has opened Erin's eyes to so many cool hobbies & experiences. She loves many of the things he loves - astronomy (okay so she calls it looking at sparklies & fuzzies), radio control, building models.
And they really love each other so whole heartedly. I couldn't be prouder of the 2 loves of my life.
Enjoy your very special day my love! You deserve it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Orange Belt Here She Comes!! (6/8/08)

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Kindergarten Graduation (6/5/08)

Ready to go! I didn't even have to bribe her to wear the dress. She was just thrilled to have the headband from Jolene.

The graduating Kindergarten of 2007-2008

Getting ready to walk.

Erin's friend Lauren


Finally! The proud graduate! She worked so hard this year. We couldn't be prouder of her.

I don't think I could say anything else to convey how proud we are of you Erin Chelsie!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Official for 5 Years

Erin - May 2008

Erin's Referral Pic - January 2003

I've been writing all about the days leading up to Gotcha Day & can't leave out Forever Family Day. What's that? That is the day that the adoption is finalized in China.

Don't ask me what the times were. I couldn't tell you. I don't remember. And I don't care. Because they really don't matter. What does matter? The fact that on June 3, 2003 China officially recognized that Chun HuaXu was now Erin Chelsie.

When we got to the police station, our guide Cindy showed us where to go, where to sit, what to do. We were going to get all of the paperwork notarized, completed. On the Sunday before Gotcha Day, the parents went down to Cindy's room to complete the paperwork we would need to accept the children. When I looked at Erin's pictures, I got very upset. In fact, I think I may have screamed that this wasn't my daughter. David got terrified & looked at the pictures & also wasn't sure. All the parents in the room looked at their daughter's pictures & all was fine for them. Apparently Erin had done a lot of changing from the time her referral picture was taken (January 2003) until the date her picture was taken for the Letter of Acceptance (May 2003). Oops. I felt like the behind of a donkey. Anyway, apparently the police officer who was assisting David & me was also unsure. He looked at the referral day pics, the Letter of Acceptance pic & the baby in my arms & started to question everything. I was dying inside. Were they going to take my daughter from me!? There was no way I was going to let that happen. And neither was Cindy! She started to yell at the police officer that everything was okay, & it was the same baby. He signed off on the paperwork.

We went back to the Guangdong Provincial Civil Affairs Building to finalize the paperwork, give the donations to the orphanage directors & give the officials their gifts.

When we got back to the hotel, I called my father. "Daddy, she's ours officially now. No one can take her from me." My dad & I were crying.

And here we are 5 years later. Erin graduates from kindergarten Thursday night. I continue to be awed by the child that is my daughter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Gotcha Day #5

Today is the day! It's Gotcha Day 5 years later & I just can't believe that life was any better than it is right this very minute.
David & I were so nervous about the actual moment. How would we feel? How would we react? How would that sweet little baby react? After all, we looked different, smelled different & sounded different.
Our guide, Cindy got all of the families together early enough so that we could have the special honor & joy of waiting in a room filled with 15 families waiting to be united with their children. A room with not one drop of air conditioning. Not a hint of a breeze. Even I got hot waiting! All of the families walked around the room nervous as can be. I even have a picture of Gary Ranly showing us his watch. I was snapping pics of everyone just waiting.
Art & Susan asked David & me to make sure that we took pics & videod the moment when Julianna was placed in their arms. Duh! Like I would miss out on that moment. I have a video taped segment of Art telling us "no more, we're done." (I knew that was not true.) Susan turned around to address David Scott so of course I addressed Arthur John. Who remembers why? Who cares?
All I know is that when the babies finally came in, the 6 Yangchun families were told there would be a delay. The director with the nannies & babies were facing a traffic jam or some such thing. ARGH!!! I didn't want to wait anymore. I wanted Erin in my arms NOW.
As the babies were brought into the room, I took pictures of the families being joined with their daughters. I knew that as soon as I could I would develop the pics in doubles so I could share that special moment with the families. I had a blast doing it. Those pictures sit in my photo album, & I remember each parent & the look of joy on their faces.
Finally!! The Yangchun babies arrived!! Susan was looking out the door & screamed (in an ever so ladylike tone - not) that they were here. I got my camera ready since I didn't know the order that the babies would be united with the families. As I was snapping away, Mrs. Yu called out "Hersh," & I missed it. David yelled at me to "put the damn camera down" so I could take our daughter in my arms. Thanks for getting that moment Susan!
Tears streaming down my face. My heart exploding with joy. Finally, after all the years of wanting to be a mother, I was holding OUR BABY. I was so humbled by the beauty that was my daughter. Erin just looked at me. No tears. No screaming. She just came right to me. In an outfit straight from Target??? David was looking at me holding our daughter, & never had I seen such a look of total love as I did at that moment. And then I placed Erin in his arms. And he became a daddy. All the years of not wanting to be a father, all the uncertainties of how he could possibly be a good father. They just melted away when he looked into her face.
When we got back to the White Swan, we called our parents to let them know they were grandparents. David spoke with his parents. For some reason I can't remember my in-laws reaction other than "congratulations." I know they were excited since they started us on this journey but can't recall more than that. I spoke with my dad. He & my stepmother were overjoyed. And then my dad told me how happy he was & how happy my mother would have been if she were still around.
David & I thank G-d each night before we go to sleep. We thank Him for placing this beautiful child into our lives & entrusting us with her. And we tell Erin each & every night how happy we are that we all adopted each other.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

And The Nominees Are. . .

Wow! I am really honored. My dear friend Viv thinks I have something worthwhile to say. Ha! I really just ramble on you know. Perhaps she's a little biased since her daughter Kerri is my goddaughter. However, she is right about one thing. Erin & Kerri have this amazing connection to each other.

From what I understand, I have to nominate 5 other blogs that Make My Day. Unfortunately, I can't nominate Viv though. She certainly deserves it since this is how I see what's going on in her family's life on a daily basis. Odd though since we speak on the phone so frequently. Oh well.

And, the nominees for the 5 Blogs That Make My Day are:

  • Gretchen from A Houseful of Critters. We met back when we were DTC (now known as LID). Many Wednesday nights were spent online chatting along with the daily emails. When we finally traveled to China, Gretchen & I were lucky enough to meet at the famed White Swan days after being united with our gorgeous girls Erin & Elise. Gretchen finally joined the world of bloggers this past year. Ever since then, I have to take a daily peek. I'm so glad that she does 'cause I love read about the goings on in her family!
  • Sandra from The Daily Grind: Life With Jazzie and Tahlia. Like Gretchen, she is also a Waiting Heart. Sandra keeps it real over at her blog with topics of all kinds ranging from PAD (post adoption depression) to fun things like how her Jazzie & Tahlia love ice pops. I have been so blessed to have Sandra in my life. One day we'll meet in person. Till then we'll have a virtual cup of Starbucks together!
  • Lori from Stress is the New Black. She is an amazing woman with a wonderful family. One day, she'll tell me her secrets. Like how she manages to be the mother of a wonderfully empathetic law student & the Dynamic Duo. How she manages to maintain a relationship filled with love, friendship & respect with her hubby Marc. And how she manages to do all this looking wonderful whenever I see her!
  • Magi from Kaffee Klatsch. I found Magi over at Sandra's blog one day & have popped in ever since. She also has a fantastic hubby in Jim. (Hey! Anyone who would make fresh pancakes just because is fantastic in my book!) Her daughter Sera is just the sweetest thing! Pop on over on a Friday to see what recipe she's putting out. Pop on over to see what's going on over there. Just pop on over!
  • PIPO from This Year in China. This woman is my hero! She handles all of her home repairs & rennovations with both grace & "pluck." She is crafty - go see the cakes she bakes & the quilt she just finished. She is one tough cookie with a heart of gold.

To be honest, there are many more blogs out there that I read on a daily basis. If you're in my blogroll, I look for you each day.