Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First days back home!

We returned home late friday night... saturday morning.... we had hired a friend to paint our house while we were gone so we came home to nicely painted walls! It was so good to be home and Anna seem to really fit in well here and was extremely happy to be around our house. She looked even cuter here, for some reason :)

The first day (saturday) we had the painter at our house so we invited a few friends to just stop by and see Anna. Darci & Chris came by first... and then Shannon, Derek and boys came over later. It was fun to show off Anna. She is such a cutie pie and is actually showing signs of being attached to me! She really has been pretty happy with either Aaron or I but seems to prefer me just a teeny bit more... especially when she's feeling needy.

Enjoy the slide show!

Pictures from Last days in Taipei, plus airport

Here are some pictures of the last day in Taipei, as well as some travel photos..... The Taipei airport had a wonderful nursery area called "hello kitty nursery" where they had diapers, hot water, crib, changing area, nursing area, an extra couch, etc. We spent our time waiting there rather than in the waiting area to board our plane.

The last day, Anna cried alot because of teething issues and we were so nervous that she would cry on the plane, but she did great! Calvin also had some tummy issues off and on, but ended up being OK on the plane! We are so grateful for all the prayers and for God's grace on this journey. He's blessed us so abundantly in ways we can't even count.

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, September 29, 2008

We are back

We've been back for a few days now.... the flights went great... no crying spells and she slept about 6+ hours straight, although we didn't get seats together :( it turned out OK though. She had a bassinett, which really helped with the sleeping. I didn't get any sleep, however, because I was worried she would wake up :) There was another family on the flight that had just adopted a 9 month old girl from Vietnam and their daughter was crying SO much... almost non-stop and I felt so helpless for them. We are all adjusting, although the jet lag is really getting to all of us, even little Anna. She is no longer sleeping a good chunk of the night like she was, so it's been a little harder. She is still very easy-going. we haven't had the heart to let her cry it out because I really want her to know she can trust us and know that we'll take care of her. I do hope I am not ruining the great job the nannies did for her in teaching her how to self-soothe at night. My #1 goal right now is attachment and bonding though, so if that means she gets spoiled and forgets how to sleep on her own, I think in the end, it'll be ok...

well, off to get some sleep... will try to post pictures tomorrow!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Last Day ~ Final post from Taipei

I am closing down the computer... We are going to be picked up in about 3 hours at our hotel to head to the airport. Our flight arrives back home on friday night, 11:59pm in Redmond. I am sooooo looking forward to being home in the states.

Oh, we went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant today and we were treated like celebrities... but not in a good way.... well, maybe they weren't meaning to be rude, but seriously, all the waiters and waitresses(about 5-6 of them) stood by us, speaking chinese WHILE we ate...I think they were trying to be helpful... but to me, it was irritating to say the least, since I really don't like being stared at while I'm eating. I think that's when I realized I think I am DONE being here. I am thankful for this place and will treasure Taiwan because it is my daughter's birthplace, but being away from the US for 2 weeks made me realize how much I love the USA. I hope I didn't sounds too negative.... most of the people here have been GREAT.

Please pray for safe travels!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 4, FREE day

Before I begin this post, I just want you all to know that you HAVE to read my sweetie's post below....It brought tears to my eyes ~ I was about to make this post and he said he would like to blog about his thoughts.... anyways, it is WAY better than anything I've ever posted. Anna is a blessed little girl to finally have a daddy and I can't think of a more perfect and loving one than Aaron.

Anyways, on to our day.... we spent some time again at the Children's Recreation Center and visited the science exhibition and some of the rides. The boys really enjoyed the science exhibition and got to ride on a flight simulator. It was the only place nearby that was air-conditioned so it was a nice break. Today was an extremely hot and humid day so we withered outside in the heat. I can't even imagine coming here when it's actually summer. We met Malin, Kristian, Moa and their new son, Max, who was also adopted from Chung Yi. We both had the same Forever Family Day. They came to our hotel to bring us a gift from Sweden and walked with us to Starbucks for a snack and coffee. I took some pictures of our little Anna and Max playing on the floor under our table, but didn't ask permission to post his picture, so I will not post it here... he is a CUTIE though!!

This may be our last post from Taipei... we leave tomorrow at 11pm. I might post one more time if we have time...

On to the pictures from today!

A post from Aaron ~ Dad's perspective

I usually don't do the blog but I want to say that our new little Anna Li-grace (aka "chen-chen") is so precious in more ways than writing will allow. When I look at her,she is perfect, how can she be so at peace, we are just beginning to know each other. When she laughs and smiles, it does something to me and when she sleeps, her silent trust is such a gift. This is Gods WAY 'beauty from ashes'. I can see she has learned an independent way about her~ preferring at times, the hard floor to being held ~even so she looks long at Pam and I as if to ask are they the ones? The answer is Yes!!!!! we are.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 3 ~ VISA, Taipei 101, Children's Recreation Center

Today was a pretty busy day.... we woke up leisurely, ate breakfast and decided to head out to the Children's Recreation Center that is about 10 min walk from our hotel. We didn't head out early enough though, because by the time we got there, it was pretty hot. We had to go back to AIT at 11:30AM to pick up the visa so we quickly went through the recreation center, did a couple of rides and took a cab to AIT. The visa was waiting for us so now we are free to take Anna out of the country! After the AIT visit, we took a cab to Taipei 101 (the tallest building in the world) and took the elevator ride up to the observation deck. The boys really wanted to do this and we figured it would be a long time before we come back and by then, it may not be the tallest building in the world :) The elevator ride was QUICK! It takes you from 5th floor to 89 in 35 seconds! The view from the top was amazing. It was a very clear day so we were able to see quite a bit. We came back to the hotel, exhausted at 5pm and decided to stay in for dinner. Some things about Anna.... We have found out that she does NOT like diaper changes... everytime I lay her flat to do a diaper change, she cries the most pitiful cry. Tonight, she wailed for the first time and that was during a diaper change. She is a great eater! She eats Gerber veggie baby food... I remember our boys were never that great with vegetables even though I still made them eat it...she just eats it up... She is such an easy baby as long as you're not changing her diaper. She goes to bed easily and wakes up pretty happy. Tonight, she was a little bit too exhausted at bedtime so she cried for about 1 minute ... seriously, that is about the worst so far and it is not bad at all. We feel very spoiled and wonder if we'll end up spoiling her so much that she ends up sleeping in our bed :) She did wake up at 2AM, kinda awake this morning... we felt bad for her just playing in her crib, so Aaron suggested we let her sleep with us.... she then went to sleep quickly and woke up at 6:30AM. Another thing that is amazing about her is her HAIR! It's getting long, but it sticks STRAIGHT up in the air... there's nothing I can do to it to tame it :) I was asked by the hotel staff the other day if she was a boy or girl... what's funny is she was wearing a PINK dress and had a bow on her head... We were also asked by one of the hotel staff how much we paid for her.... I really didn't think I would ever get this question, but they actually asked. I do think that in Taiwan, they really aren't trying to be rude... they are seriously wondering how much it costs to adopt. I am off to bed... enjoy the pictures!

By the way, those that have commented about her cheeks... they really are VERY kissable and I can't count the number of times we've kissed her already... she tolerates her crazy parents!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 2, AIT appt

This morning, we woke up pretty early.... got to AIT at 8AM sharp and was escorted in after showing our US passport. We then headed to the 3rd floor, where a man asked for some documents and then we were sent to 2nd floor to pay for the visa and waited about 1-1/2 hours total. We were first told by the first gentleman that we would get an IR-4 visa for her because we didn't see her prior to the adoption being final... this generally just means we have to re-adopt her in the states, but we really wanted her to have an IR-3, which makes her a US citizen the moment she lands foot on American soil :) We had been praying that God would just helps us get it, but were OK either way.... The interviewer was a really nice gentleman and he told us that we were going to get an IR-3! He was telling us this because he said he doesn't want us to abandon her because that would be abandoning a US citizen...:) Another one of God's graciousness to us. Tomorrow we get to pick up her visa.

Let me back up a little to lastnight... Anna (whom we call Syuan-Syuan for now (pronounced shen-shen)), went to bed around 8pm lastnight and didn't wake up till almost 5AM.. even at that, she was just playing in her crib quietly and maybe would have kept that up for who knows how long if Aaron didn't get her. She is so far such an easy baby... when she's tired, she rubs her eyes and whines a little and when we put her down awake, she goes to bed! No fussing. She is truly amazing and I think we might end up ruining the great work the caretakers did in teaching her to fall asleep on her own. Lastnight she didn't eat much so I was worried for her, but today, she ate GREAT. She is taking formula along with some baby food (rice porridge and veggies and fruit) She smiled and laughed alot more today. She took a big ole nap and off and on slept as we walked around Taipei. We took the MRT, which is a train, and had dinner tonight at Mos Burger. She is doing great in the ergo carrier and is just as easy-going baby. She is VERY active though and would prefer to be on the floor exploring. The boys totally adore her.

Here are some pictures from today....

Monday, September 22, 2008

A day of miracles..


I think my words would not do justice how great today has been....

We went to the orphanage at 2pm (prior to this we had a little problem with the housecleaning being in our room when we had to shower and I was really TENSE because we were running out of time to get ready)....we took the taxi and got to the orphanage right on time. We were quickly escorted by the social worker to the room where they had all the paperwork ready to go and the boys were offered cookies and drinks while we went over some of the paperwork for the visa appt tomorrow. Some of Anna's caretakers came in for questions and then suddenly, another caretaker came into the room with Anna in her arms!!! She is SOOOOO precious and she was wearing one of the outfits we sent her. One of the greatest miracles is that when the social worker was going over the medical reports and vaccination records, she said "We had Li-Syuan's blood tested again to check her Hep B status, and they found that she does NOT have Hepatitis B anymore and we are not really sure how this happened!!"... Ofcourse I knew how!!! It was no doubt God... we've been praying that God would heal her and He did! When she said that, I BURST into tears... even though I knew God could heal her, I really was so surprised to hear that it was actually true. Why do I ever doubt? I am still in AWE of this news... I just am in awe... speechless.

Anyways, back to the rest of the time at the orphanage.... She came to us pretty easily... didn't cry... and she was just taking it all in. The caretakers there REALLY love her and they were all soooo excited to see her with us. I could tell they really love their children. They gave us a quick tour of the place, we watched a DVD movie they made of Li-Syuan and her 7 months of life there.

The one sad thing is that we were not able to meet the birthmom. She couldn't make it to the orphanage and she requested that they take pictures and send to her. We were ready to meet her and ask her so many questions, but hopefully, we'll get to ask her by email through our agency.

We took the cab home and she was so precious!!! She fell asleep in my arms and when we got to our room, she woke up and started playing with the boys and with some toys. She really hasn't cried a lot yet and seems to just sort of go with the flow. She started to fuss a little bit and didn't want food, so I put her down in her crib and she fell asleep right away. So far, she seems like a tough little girl that really loves to explore... she has 2 bottom teeth and she is crawling... even though it's not super fast yet. She really likes the boys and they had her laughing and smiling.

Tomorrow, we have our AIT appt at 8AM... Aaron & the boys are out and about getting food and drinks!


More later!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2-1/2 hours away!!!

What do you do the morning of the day you get your daughter you've been waiting for for the past FOREVER?? You go to McDonald's and Starbucks, ofcourse :) We spent the morning going to those places and found a nearby park for the kids to play at.

As I type this, I am starting to feel a little queasy in my tummy :) I am BEYOND excited, but at the same time, realizing that Anna will be in our arms in less than 2 1/2 hours!!! The boys are at the fitness center and I am ready to go there too, but working out is the last thing I want to be doing right now. Anyways, please pray for us! The taxi ride is a bit scary here with how fast they drive.... Thank you to all who have commented! I love reading the comments and I love knowing that we are being prayed for. Please pray for continued health and a great adjustment between Anna & all of us and that the time with the birthmother goes well!!! Next post will be with ANNA :)

First Day in Taipei

We woke up fairly early this morning and leisurely got ready to take a walk and see what there is around Taipei. Our hotel is not in the downtown area, so there are alot more local shops around. Thankfully, we found a McDonald's and Starbucks within walking distance. Since I've been eating ALOT of Japanese food, I am actually getting tired of Asian food. I never thought I would be excited about McDonald's but an egg mcmuffin was a welcome breakfast for me. I guess I am more American than I thought. I never thought I would say I am tired of rice, but at this point, pizza is sounding really good :) The hotel has a great rooftop area where you can see a nice view of the city and also and fitness center with weight equipment, treadmills and a mini-jogging track. We had to run outside while we were in Okinawa for exercise, so having a fitness center is such a bonus. The hotel room is so nice with a living area, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We have plenty of room for all of us.

Tonight, we get to meet a family that is also adopting from the same orphanage and they get to pick up their son tomorrow morning. They are a swedish family and we are so excited to meet someone else on this same journey.

I will post more later.....

Last day in Okinawa

On Saturday, my sister Deborah, her son Shingo and his wife Chika came to pick us up at the hotel to take us to various places in Naha. We went to a Chinese Garden, given to Okinawa by the Chinese. We fed some koi fish and turtles and walked around. It is located right next to where my sister used to live so I was able to see her old apartment, where I spent 2 months one summer before I graduated from highschool. She then took us for lunch, to a donut shop and then to see Michael(my brother) at his shop. My brother builds motorcyles and does alot of welding and building. He took our boys individually on a ride (which, I was really nervous about at first, but just prayed God would protect them). They had a blast (what boy wouldn't?). We then met my oldest sister Marie and headed to the airport. It was so fun to hang out with my sister Deborah. We both have always got along and she has a crazy sense of humor like me so we were having such a great time together. When it was time to leave, I was so sad... my life in the states is so good and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but spending time with my sisters made me realize how much I have been missing. It was like a piece of me was being torn apart again. Goodbyes are so hard... I know I lived 20 years without them, but somehow when I spent time with them, it was like time never passed. Calvin is such a tender-hearted boy and when I started crying, he started crying and he surpassed my tears and kept crying almost all the way to Taipei! (1-1/2 hr flight!) He kept saying how much he is going to miss my sisters and his cousins.
I do hope to see them again much sooner than 20+ years from now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We're in Taipei!!

We are here in Taipei... I'll post pictures of our last day in Okinawa later, but wanted to let you know that we arrived safely. We are staying at the Riviera Hotel and it is SOOOOO spacious! The hotel in Okinawa was REALLY tiny... we could barely get all our suicases in the room... but this hotel has 2 bedrooms, a living area with a desk, refrigerator, microwave and 2 bathrooms! Tomorrow we get a crib! The lady at the front desk asked us why we needed a crib after seeing our boys :)

We haven't explored Taipei yet since we came in late lastnight, but we are going to head out soon to find some coffee and maybe some breakfast.

More later with pictures :) Tomorrow is ANNA day!!!! I can hardly believe it!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Expo Park/Acquarium

Yesterday, we went to the Expo Park way up north of the island... Sheri picked us up at 9AM and we didn't get back to the hotel until after 9pm. We had to take 2 vehicles because Sheri has 4 children and a fiance'. It was so fun to drive by my old church, the old school we used to go to and see how different things look from what I remember. The acquarium was great... it was one of the hotter days we've had here with really high humidity and in the 90s. We were exhausted by the time we were done walking around. The kids wanted to dip in the ocean so we did that for a while and headed to dinner at Macaroni grill on base. (Sheri works at the base).

It was sad to say goodbye to my sister Sheri and her kids... The kids got along so well and just loved hanging out with them. we will hopefully see them in Hawaii sometime soon, where they plan to get married.

Today, we are going to spend some time with my sister Deborah and my nephew Shingo and his wife. We head to the airport at 6pm and go to Taiwan! I can't believe that in just 2 days we'll be seeing ANNA and keeping her!!!!

Enjoy the picutres

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The past 2-3 days...

We've been pretty busy the past couple of days and I haven't had alot of time to blog. We spent the 2 days after the reunion just hanging out around town with just the 5 of us...I am getting plenty of opportunities to brush up on my Japanese and am starting to get the hang of it... One of the days we were by ourselves, we took the monorail to the airport because Michael had forgotten his backpack at customs while we were collecting our luggage. We prayed God would help us find it since it contained his homework and his Nintendo DS :) The monorail was fun once we figured out how to buy tickets and were on our way....We arrived at the airport and I asked various airport personnel how to find the lost and found and eventually, we found the place where his backpack was stored! We were so grateful. The one thing I LOVE about the Japanese people is that they are so VERY helpful and go out of the way to help. That's not always the case in the U.S. (although, my appreciation for our country has grown since I've been here) We also took a trip to the Shurijo Castle, which is an old Okinawan Castle pretty close to where we are staying.

Yesterday, Typhoon Sinlaku made its way back toward Okinawa and we had lots and lots of heavy rain. We didn't want to be stuck in the hotel, so we took our umbrellas and walked around in the rain anyway ~ We visited a street nearby called "Heiwa Dori" (Peace Street) where there are various local vendors selling souvenirs, fruite, seafood, etc. Our boys have been having so much fun exploring with us.... they are truly the best travelers around and have truly embraced the culture... even eating some of the local favorites like Okinawa Soba, Goya Chips, and Taco Rice.

Today, we visited the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park & Himeyuri Park.... it was very educational, although, somewhat depressing as we saw the reality of what war was like in the 1940s during WWII. Most people probably don't know that the island of Okinawa and its civilians suffered great loss during the invasion of the US troops here in 1945. My mom was only 19-20 years old at the time. Seeing the many faces of lost lives(mainly Okinawa civilians)made me think about how each of them had dreams, hopes, families... It is truly a sad, sad story. The battle of Okinawa lasted 90 days and most of the southern part of the island was completely destroyed and sadly the lives lost were mainly civilians (200,000). There were also US soldiers that lost their lives as well as Japanese military men. Sadly, many of the lost lives were civilians committing suicide before being captured due to the Japanese governement brainwashing them into thinking that if they were captured by the US soldiers, they would be treated terribly and also they were told that they need to never surrender and die for their country. Some of the pictures we saw and stories we read were so graphic and so sad that I wondered how our boys were doing with it. Noah was especially interested in reading some of the testimonies from the survivors. We had a chance to talk about it a little and they all expressed how scary life must have been during those times. I think it was important for us to see.

After this visit, we went to the southern end of the island and took some great pictures! The battery in my camera hadn't been charged since we left, so I couldn't take very many pictures but my sister promised me some of her copies.

Tomorrow we go to the beach! I'll post more pictures then!

Monday, September 15, 2008

9-15-08 Family Reunion

What a day we had.... First of all, Aaron, the boys and I had fun exploring the area... My Japanese is coming back to me even though it was hard to get adjusted to begin with. We started the day finding breakfast on the street, the boys were quickly drawn to McDonald's while Aaron & I wanted Starbucks. We got both and afer breakfast, went to the local market street nearby where English is not really spoken. I found so many great local food that I used to eat as a child and it brought back so many memories. It is so great to share this experience with Aaron & my boys. They are having so much fun learning a few phrases and have been very excited to see all the neat things and asking me a million questions. Aaron has always been great with trying variety of food, so for lunch we had Okinawa Soba, which is made with soba noodles, pork flavored broth and a fairly fatty piece of pork meat. The boys had TACO RICE, which is a Japanese style taco... it's basically tacos over rice (instead of taco shells or tortillas). I had a tofu stirfry :)

After lunch, we took a much needed nap and waited for the reunion to begin. Sheri, (my sister that is one year older than me)& Howie, her fiance' picked us up. Since we were a little early, we drove by where I used to live.... It was so strange to be in the place that I grew up playing... it's funn how everything seems so big when you're a child. Many people are fortunate to have grown up in the same city or state where they spent their childhood and returning is not that big of a deal, but for me, this was the first time I had been back there since I moved out of that area when I was 10 years old. It felt like I had never left, yet those days seemed so long ago like it was part of another person's life. It's a strange feeling.

We got lost trying to find our brother Michael's place, so we waited for my 2nd oldest sister, Deborah to drive up with her son and my mom. As I walked over to my mom to say hello, she looked at Deborah and asked who I was... (since her stroke 2 years ago, she hasn't been quite the same mentally). When Deborah said it was Pamela, she started crying and held my hand really tight. Ofcourse, I started to cry and it made Deborah cry. The evening went on with so many reunions... Marie, my oldest sister showed up with her husband and her son that I had never met, along with her daughter, her husband and 2 children. My brother Michael introduced me to his girlfriend, who was busy hosting the big party. Communication was harder at times with the English/Non Japanese speaking folks, along with the ones that speak both and those that only spoke Japanese. Aaron and the boys did great with meeting everyone.

It was fun to catch up with everyone. Towards the end of the evening, I asked my sister to ask my mom if I could pray for her. She said yes and I prayed with her. As I prayed, tears began to flow and we both cried. I could tell my sisters and brother didn't really know what to do with the crying and the praying that was going on, but in the end, I really just wanted to bless my mom somehow. I didn't want to leave her knowing that perhaps this could be the last time I will see her. Only God knows what was happening in her heart.

It was such an emotional evening. I will see my sisters again before we leave and hopefully my brother too... but I probably won't see my mom again. Typing those words brings tears to my eyes. Only God can do a miracle and that is what I prayed for her lastnight.

I am not sure how much healing is happening with the relationship between my sister and my brother, but I believe it was the beginning. This step was huge and I am so glad that God gave us this opportunity to bring us all back together again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We are in Okinawa!

Here are some pictures from our trip thus far.... We made it to Okinawa lastnight, was picked up at the airport by my sister, one of her sons and her fiance' Howie. They were so sweet and bought us a bunch of goodies for the hotel... It is so good to be here... things have changed, yet I still feel like I've never left it... it's a strange feeling.... We are staying at a hotel on a very busy shopping district with lots to see and do around. Since we were not going to rent a car, this was the best option for us and I am glad we did. The rooms are so small :) But, it is cozy. Tonight, we have our family reunion at my brother's house!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We're in Seattle ~ Flight Delay....

Bad news is, our flight to Taipei has been delayed until tomorrow morning out of Seattle... which means we also miss our connecting flight to Okinawa.... Good news is , EVA air paid for us to stay at Comfort Suites, so we'll get a good night of rest! So, off to sleep I go... pray that we get flights out of Taipei to Okinawa quickly.

Good night!

Friday, September 12, 2008

And we're off :)

Here's a picture of our luggage :) It looks like alot, but it's not too bad... one suitcase is dedicated to orphanage gifts, gifts for caretakers, birthmom and gifts for my family...
We are leaving today from Redmond at 7:55pm... Bags are packed(as you can see), Doors are locked and my mind is racing ~ thinking about what I could have forgotten. The most important documents are in hand so I think we are ready....

As I type this, I hear that Typhoon Sinlaku is making its way to Taiwan AND Okinawa :) (Isn't that interesting?). Please pray that God will blow that typhoon out of the way and we can land safely in Taipei and onto Okinawa. It is suposedly coming in just as we are. We are prepared if we have to stay overnight in Seattle, but I would love to be on our way.

Next post will hopefully be from either Taipei when we land or Okinawa! Please pray for safe and uneventful flight!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

3 days to go!!

We leave the USA in 3 days.... I am beyond excited... Here's our itinerary.

Leave Redmond, OR Friday, Sept 12 at 750pm, Arrive Seattle, WA 855pm
Leave Seattle Saturday, Sept 13 2AM EVA air, arrive Taipei 9/14, 545AM
Leave Taipei CHINA AIR for Okinawa 815AM, arrive Okinawa 10:45AM

My sister will pick us up at the airport and we spend 6 days touring my homeland and seeing my family!

We leave Okinawa on saturday, Sept 20 at 730pm, arrive Taipei 855pm ~ Hired driver to take us to Hotel (45 minutes away)

Sept 21st ~ FREE DAY to explore Taipei

Sept 22nd ~ FOREVER FAMILY DAY ~ Find our way to the orphanage via cab or train and meet Anna at 2pm!!!! Also, will meet birthmom at this meeting.

Sept 23rd ~ AIT (American Institue in Taiwan) appt ~ not sure what time yet... do paperwork for visa

Sept 24th ~ Receive visa maybe??

Sept 25th ~ FREE DAY

Sept 26th ~ Leave Taipei 11pm, EVA air to Seattle... arrive Seattle 640pm Sept 26th
leave Seattle 10:55pm, arrive Redmond 11:59pm

So, that's our schedule... Please pray for us.