May in Review

I am quite late getting my May in Review post out because life with a four year old and two two year olds doesn’t allow for much “free time”. Even now, there are many, many things that need to be taken care of; mostly cleaning, but I am taking some time to myself during nap to do something that I enjoy. (That should actually read, “I am taking some time to myself during nap over the course of multiple days“).

The month of May was a BIG one for us and a BIG one for our daughter Callie. Nearly every  single bit of the beginning of the month was spent planning for our trip to China and planning for the boys while we were away. We then traveled for two weeks to China and returned home at the end of the month, jet lagged and exhausted but so happy to be home.

With all the wonderful weather we had in April our yard was looking so beautiful prior to our departure. I snapped a few pictures of everything just before it was about to bloom. You can also see our big pine tree in some of these pictures. Little did we know it was a completely rotten throughout the trunk and highly dangerous – just waiting to crash down in our yard. About a month later it did just that. We are extremely thankful it happened at a time that no one was in our yard. I will post some pictures from that day in my June review post.

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Luke in the sandbox
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Eli building a Lego air ambulance that he purchased with allowance money he’d been saving.
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Last picture as a family of four!
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We got in the habit of using this calendar (leftover from my teaching days) when Eli needed some help remembering how long until his birthday last year. Eli liked knowing what to expect so much that we’ve continued to use it each month; now almost a year later.
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UPS Man Luke

The boys play dress up with each other often. They enjoy pretending the bunk beds are different vehicles (fire truck, UPS truck, ferry, etc). It is wonderful that they are such good friends. They have a certain fondness for the UPS man because we have Amazon Prime, so we get quite a lot of deliveries; saves me so many trips to “the big city”.

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Thursday, May 12th. All packed and ready to depart for our journey to China and Callie!

We left our home on the morning of Thursday, May 12th. It was difficult to say goodbye to the boys but we knew they’d be in good hands with my parents. We drove to Seattle, parked the car and arrived at SEATAC for our Delta flight to Shanghai. Our plane was on time and we were so excited to begin our journey. Sadly, our seats, which we had upgraded to “comfort plus” were super uncomfortable. Since we booked our tickets with less than a week’s notice we didn’t have many options for seats and we were seated at an exit in the middle of the plane. The seats must have been made differently because they felt like plywood. We even tested out a few other “economy” seats and they felt much softer (and they were much softer on the way home when we rode economy class). This led to a very uncomfortable flight since our bums were sore before we’d even taxied to the runway. When Delta emailed to see how our flight was Andy shared about the seats and they were very nice to refund us the difference we’d spent in upgrading to “comfort plus”.

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On our flight.
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So close finally….
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And then another flight to Xi’an. We were so exhausted at this point, nearly 24 hours of travel, jet lag, and a long time sitting in a very uncomfortable seat; with only one or two hours of broken sleep. We couldn’t wait to get to our hotel.

We didn’t sleep much at all on the 13 hour flight to Shanghai so when we landed we were exhausted. We then went through customs, security, etc and waited to board our flight to Xi’an. It was late in Xi’an when we arrived and our bodies were dizzy, tired, confused and totally worn out. It was great to grab our bags, meet our driver and guide and get to our hotel.

We spent Saturday and Sunday morning exploring a local park, looking around the city , finding good food options, getting a few baby supplies (diapers, wipes, etc) and preparing to meet Callie.

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At the City Wall
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At the City Wall
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At the City Wall
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A park near our hotel

Sunday afternoon it was time to meet Callie. It was tough waiting those last few hours. We checked and rechecked to make sure we had all that we needed then anxiously waited for the driver to come pick us up.

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Waiting for our ride to go meet Callie

Callie was waiting for us and had already made friends with nearly everyone else in the hotel lobby. She was friendly to us and had a ready smile. We played with her and visited with the wonderful woman who has been caring for her over the last year and a half. Then, before we knew it, it was time to leave with her to go get passport photos and head back to our hotel.

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Callie! She’d been waiting for us for quite a while so when we arrived we got down on her level and started playing!
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Finally in our arms!
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Heading to get a passport photo.

The following day we went to the Civil Affairs Office to sign paperwork; making Callie legally our daughter.

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Napping while we wait for an appointment.

Our good friends Amanda and Nehemiah came to visit us in Xi’an. They live in China (along with much of the rest of their family; two adult children are state side). We traveled with them 8 years ago when they moved to China. It was so wonderful to see them!

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Our dear friends Amanda and Nehemiah came to see us in Xi’an!

The rest of the week we spent getting to know Callie, helping her feel comfortable with us and getting out and about to enjoy some low-key sightseeing.

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Walking at the park surrounding the Small Goose Pagoda.
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At the Terra Cotta Warriors
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Squid on a Stick at Snack Street Again

At the end of our first week in China it was time for us to leave Xi’an and fly to Guangzhou. The United States Consulate is in Guangzhou and it is a required part of the adoption process to stop there before you leave China to return to the U.S. Due to Thunderstorms in Guangzhou our 7:oo pm flight was cancelled along with many flights that evening. We went to the airport with high hopes to get on another flight at 11:00pm that night. We hoped and prayed that the weather would clear up so that flight wouldn’t be cancelled; this would enable us to make our morning medical appointment in Guangzhou! While I rocked Callie to sleep Andy networked with our friend Amanda, the guide agency, and touched base with Nina at CHI. How nice it was to have internet and cell service to sort all our arrangements out! Thankfully the 11pm flight wasn’t cancelled and there was room on it for us! We were able to get to our hotel by 3:30am, get a few hours of sleep and make it to Callie’s medical appointment!

We had quite a lot of free time in Guangzhou and our hotel was located directly on a subway line; which was fantastic for easy transportation. It was hot and humid but we were able to enjoy a few outings; our favorite was the Safari Park.

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In Guangzhou at the Safari Park
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Safari Park

Our hotel was in a great location with many malls surrounding it. The hotel was actually in the same building as a mall, and there was a huge mall on either side of it. This provided us with a TON of restaurant options and access to anything we needed without ever leaving the indoors! You could just go to the basement and use the underpass to walk to the neighboring mall or subway. This was nice because it was so warm outside and also really convenient when you have a small child to take care of.

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Andy and Callie in a giant mall neighboring our hotel in Guangzhou.
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At the pool
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She loves to draw and color
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Drawing and coloring

After our medical appointment and consulate appointment later in the week it was time for us to pick up Callie’s passport and drive several hours to Hong Kong. It was from Hong Kong that we’d catch our Delta flight home to Seattle. We didn’t have any time for tourism in Hong Kong; we stayed a hotel near the airport and then caught our plane the next morning. Our flight home went fine, but flying with a two year old for 12+ hours isn’t what I’d call enjoyable. Knowing we’d be home with our entire family together was so motivating and we all made it through just fine!

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In Hong Kong; awaiting our flight back to Seattle
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All three of our kids – together!!
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Dog pile on Mom!
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Enjoying ice cream with the neighbors after the ice cream truck made a visit. (Callie was napping – so she missed out).

That is a brief review on our May 2016. My June recap will be out soon!

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