Dec 29, 2007

Christmas Update

Wow! Has is really been only a little over a week since I’ve updated? It seems like tons of time has passed. Reality is that we’ve been having a lot of FUN (for the most part) and that has kept me from getting on the computer much and doing any updating.
The Friday before Christmas was Cackie’s last day at school before the Christmas break. Her class party was that afternoon, so I left work a little early and went to enjoy with her friends and their parents. Mayhem is truly the only way to describe the feeling in the classroom! Nineteen 3 year olds enjoying treats (i.e., sugar) doesn’t make for much quiet. I sat with Cackie while she enjoyed her snack plate (sliced turkey, cheese, cookies, cheetos, cupcake & grapes…yum!) She sat down at a table off to the side and was shortly joined by 3 of her boy buddies, such a flirt already! The kids were all super excited about Christmas and Santa’s impending arrival. Alex was fascinated with Santa coming down the chimney and exclaimed to me that he saw a house earlier that week with 3 chimneys! The chimney thing must be something that the class has talked about a lot, earlier that morning I caught Cackie in front of our chimney saying “Santa, you come down chimney… OK?”
After we got home from her party we stopped by Holiday Ham to order some items for our Christmas brunch. We had thought a lot about how we wanted to spend Christmas day and decided that we definitely didn’t want to spend it in the kitchen. So, we figured that a nice big brunch with munchies for later in the day would be a nice change of pace. It turned out really well and the whole family enjoyed it. We’re seriously thinking that it will be a family tradition from now on.
After stopping to order our brunch, we took Cackie to Michael’s mom’s to spend the night. This was a huge help to us to relax and get some things accomplished on Saturday. The Tigers were playing in their bowl game, so we ordered in sushi and watched them get beat L while wrapping some presents.
The Saturday before Christmas we had a party at our house for our FCC “family”. Michael made a couple of pots of chili and friends brought the extras. It was nice, easy and relaxing to spend the evening together. We even had a surprise birthday celebration for our friend Angela! The kids played together really well, they did get into a few confrontations but that’s to be expected with 3 year olds. It was really great to see them all together and watch their developing personalities. I can’t wait until we have Owen home and he can join this great group of kids. I look forward to watching these kiddos grow up together!

The Sunday before Christmas my sister and I braved a trip to Walmart. It was pretty crazy, but not the worst I have ever seen. We were able to get just about everything we needed for our Christmas brunch and even picked up a couple of last minute gifts. The rest of the day was spent getting things ready, baking cookies and wrapping gifts.
On Christmas Eve I had to go into work for a couple of hours, but Michael & Caryn were home with Cackie getting ready for the big day. I started getting a headache after I got home and spent a lot of the afternoon sitting and watching TV, something that I rarely do and it was quite nice to just relax. Late that afternoon we went out and picked up some movies and had a cozy little lasagna dinner. While the lasagna was cooking we took Cackie outside to put out her “magic reindeer food” to help guarantee that Santa and his reindeer would make a stop at our house.

My parents got here around 9pm and we were all glad to see my dad moving around pretty well after his knee surgery. Cackie finally fell asleep around 11 – 11:30 and we were all ready to crash by that point.
Christmas morning Michael & I got up around 7:30 and started getting things ready for our brunch. I’m sure we weren’t super quiet, but Cackie was still able to sleep until just after 8. She stayed in her room quietly for a while until she begged us to come out. The first thing she exclaimed to her Aunt Caryn when she woke up was that Santa did not come in her room because she didn’t see him! When she did come out of her room she was more excited about seeing the table loaded up with breakfast treats, especially the grapes. She hardly paid attention to the mound of presents under the tree in the other room!
Around 9 am Michael’s Mom & stepdad arrived at the house and we let Cackie dive into unwrapping her presents. She had a blast, but didn’t quite understand that she couldn’t open each toy as she unwrapped them. After she was finished we had our brunch and Michael’s Mom & stepdad left. At that point the rest of us unwrapped the remaining presents under the tree. By the time we finished it was 1pm! Cackie and Dad laid down to take naps and the rest of us napped in the living room or just puttered around with things. We had a wonderful rest of the day, just hanging out and relaxing. In the evening we watched a couple of movies and actually got to bed much later than I had intended.
All in all it was a pretty great Christmas and we’ve pretty much decided that we’ll do a Christmas brunch from now on, a lot less stress and more relaxing…exactly what we need.

On Wednesday Michael & I had to go back to work. Caryn was here to help keep Cackie occupied while her school was on break and they both have had a great time together. On Thursday we went out for sushi and ended with everyone’s favorite cheesecake tempura!
Yesterday we went and applied for Caryn’s passport. Hopefully it will come back as fast as Cackie’s did. Last night Michael, Cackie & I went over to his Mom & Stepdad’s to exchange our presents with them. After Cackie went to bed we sat and watched a movie, something we never seem to do anymore.
This week I’ve also gotten some more news about Owen. The American volunteer in Tianjin (I’ll call him AVT for simplicity) saw him on the 26th and said that Owen rushed him along with a whole group of kids when he arrived at the orphanage. His comment was that he didn’t have much to say about Owen because he seems to be a pretty normal kid in a pretty normal situation. I asked about Owen being in the “kindergarten” class even though he’s not yet quite 3 and found out that some children start “kindergarten” early, depending on when their birthdays fall, etc. AVT says that Owen is the same size physically as most of his class, so we feel that he’s probably like Cackie and on the bigger size.
Hearing all this about Owen has been wonderful. It’s so good to know that he’s doing well and is a happy boy. We are starting to put together things for another care package. I’m hoping to get it out in the next two weeks so that he receives it in time for Chinese New Year on February 7.
That’s about it for now!

Dec 20, 2007


The whining is driving me NUTS!
We have had lots and lots of whining lately, so I’ve really started playing the Santa card when the whining starts up.
Yesterday after picking Cackie up from school we had to stop at the drugstore to pick me up some antibiotics (yes, yet another sinus infection for me!). She started whining from the moment I told her we were going to the store and just wouldn’t stop. Nothing that I said or did could stop it. So, I told her that for a little girl who’s hoping that Santa will bring her lots of nice things she sure was doing a lot of whining. I reminded her that Santa was at the North Pole packing his sleigh, but that he could see and hear everything she was doing and saying and that she’d better shape up or Santa might take some of those nice things and give them to another little boy or girl.
Her response was “well, he’s not talking to me” - meaning that since she couldn’t hear Santa he couldn’t hear her either. Oh, the logic of a 3 year old!
So, then she wanted to know how Santa could see her. How do you explain this to a 3 year old? “Oh, he has a magic ball that he can look in and see you.” Yeah, I can just hear the questions coming from that one! So, I told her that Santa just had to think about her and he could see what she was doing.

Then I reminded her by singing…
“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So, be good for goodness sake.”

All was quiet in the backseat for a second and the she said “yeah Mommy and he’s coming to town too!”

Stifling my laughter was nearly impossible! Gotta love 3 year olds!

Dec 17, 2007


So, besides the wonderful news that I received about Owen earlier, I got another great piece of news... I got an A! My grades are in and I got an A in my accounting class. Either I improved a whole lot (100% on the final) or he was just a whole lot tougher at the beginning of the semester than he was at the end. Either way, I'll take it! So, now I feel great with a 3.5 GPA in the MBA program. Yahoo!

Now, for some catching up...

On Thursday we got a huge surprise when Cackie's passport arrived. Less than 3 weeks and we had her passport. We told her that now she's all ready to go get her brother and I thought she was going to go pack! She's really ready for him (or at least she thinks she is, lol!).

On Friday we took Cackie to see Santa. She was real excited before we got there, but suddenly became shy when faced with sitting on Santa's lap. We had a hard time convincing her to smile. In fact, a couple of times she told us flat out that no she was not going to smile. I'm not sure how they got her to smile, but they did and the photographer snapped the picture at the right time. I think this year's picture really sums up Cackie's personality.

The rest of the weekend we did a little shopping, finished putting up decorations and got packages ready to send off to Owen and family out of town. It went by fast, but all in all we had a pretty good weekend.

Tomorrow my Dad is having a partial knee replacement. I teased that 35 years later it's his turn to experience major pain on December 18, lol! I'll be thinking of him all day, hoping that all goes well.

So, now we get ourselves ready for the final stretch till Christmas. I got out the majority of our Christmas cards today and the rest will go out tomorrow. We're having friends over on Saturday before we go to ZooLights and we can't wait for that. I've got just a few small things to pick up tomorrow and then I'm done shopping! Now, I just have to find time to wrap everything!

Best Birthday Present Ever!

OK, so my birthday isn't actually until tomorrow. But, I still got the best present ever this morning. I dragged my butt out of bed, grumbling the whole way. Katie won't "get out of bed" until I do and she was ready to go, so we quickly head downstairs so that I can let her out. I head into the kitchen and get my first of many cups of coffee, let Katie back in the house (it's COLD!) and I sit down at the computer to check my emails.

This is the way things work just about every morning. But, this morning I had a fabulous surprise in my inbox... through the TianjinFamilies yahoo group, I have heard of an American who is living in Tianjin working as an english teacher and he volunteers at the Tianjin orphanage. This morning I had an email from him letting me know that he has checked in on Wei Jian Hang! Here's what he wrote....

Wei Jian Hang is in the Jinghai foster care program and attends the CWI-run kindergarten there. I will pay more attention to finding him next time I am there and hopefully I can give you some more information. Merry Christmas!

Our boy is in foster care! This makes us very happy because Cackie was in foster care as well. I have been worried about Owen's attachment to us, but now feel some comfort knowing that he is (hopefully) in a family setting that will at least (hopefully) have some similarities to what life will be like in our family.

It's my understanding that the CWI (Children's Welfare Institute) Kindergarten is more like daycare, not like what Americans think of as Kindergarten. That's great, since he will be going to daycare here and should find that the routine of that is similar.

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to receive this news today. I wrote "my friend" back and thanked him many times for this wonderful news. The hardest part right now is knowing that we're happily about to celebrate my birtday, Christmas, New Years, Chinese New Year, Michael's birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, etc and we won't be there for his 3rd birthday or to even meet him for months! Just getting any bit of news about him helps to make that time pass and gives me motivation to get things ready to bring him home.

Michael took the first care package for Owen to the post office today. We included many things for him... a fleece hoodie, some dinosaur PJs, a warm hat and gloves, a picture book with 36 pictures of us, Cackie, grandparents, friends, etc, a book, 5 mini toy cars, a Smokie doll just like Cackie's with this picture in it's arms...

and candies for the nannies. I sure hope he gets it.

Some of the things that I've bought for Owen and sent in his care package

So, this wonderful news is the best birthday present I could have ever dreamed of!

Dec 14, 2007

Consider a boy

Consider a boy….

We go to ChinaFor a child
A daughter

We are deeply disturbed at the vastness of girls

We love each of these girls
Even as we are grateful to adopt just one
And we are proud to teach them about
Girl power

We want to right the balance
We want our girls to know they are not a second choice
We want to raise them to be powerful

And many of us believe
That boys in China are Little Emperors
Loved beyond belief

Many are.

And yet
Should you have the great privilege of visiting an orphanage
You will see boys
And not just a few

Many, many boys
Who perhaps were a second child
But, in all sad reality,
Were probably abandoned because of some special need

Cleft lip, cleft palate
Heart disease
Club feet or vision problems

Issues that, in the states,
Are treatable or at least manageable
Issues that, in the states,
Would not define them or their lives

And they wait.

They wait for a home
A family
A chance

Maybe you weren't thinking of
A boy

Maybe you weren't thinking
Special needs

Maybe you were envisioning
Your fairy tale

And you should never apologize
For that

We all have our fairy tale
We all have our vision
We all have our dreams

But so do these children
Be they girls, abdicated to a less than status
By the power of culture and tradition
Be they boys, left to live in an orphanage
Left without the same opportunities
As their parented peers

When I first dreamed of parenthood
It wasn't to an adopted child

I dreamed of pregnancy
Of womanhood
Of giving life

I grieved the loss of that first dream
And yet
The second dream was not
Second best.

Instead of giving birth to a child
I gave birth
To me

I became a mother
When I began to love

I became a mother
When I began to whisper sweet goodbyes
To the dreams that seemed important
So I could listen to dreams
That would not wait

So today,
I ask you to consider a boy
Consider a special need
Consider that you might be
More than what you ever thought

We adopted our daughter
As a non-special-needs child
And her needs are vast
And global
And tiring
And rewarding

We adopted through the traditional program
Because we couldn't handle special needs

Luckily, God knew better

And now,
The couple who couldn't handle special needs
Has become a family who can handle
Whatever comes its way.

Including a boy.
A boy with special needs
Who has captured our hearts,
Intrigued our minds,
And blessed our days already.

And so I ask you again,

Consider a boy.
Consider that you might be
More than what you ever thought.

Just consider.

Lucky Mama to Kate
Paperchasing for our first son

I feel like I could have written this. I had found this on one of the Yahoo groups that I belong to and had sent it to Michael back in late October. Today I was cleaning out my mailbox and came across it. It touched me again and I wanted to share. Many thanks to Melissa who wrote this.

Dec 13, 2007

I got a name!

Like the pine trees linin the windin road
I've got a name, I've got a name
Like the singin bird and the croakin toad
I've got a name, I've got a name....
(sorry, great song and I couldn't resist)

Well, I see that Daniel Thomas JianHang lead the poll here on the good ole blog. Actually that was a late entry on our part and while we love the name Daniel, we really wanted to keep Thomas as the middle name. But, to us, this kiddo just doesn't have a big enough nose to be called Danny Thomas!

So, we're excited to announce that our new son (with the cute little nose) will be named....
Owen Thomas JianHang Walls
We've already started talking about Owen this and Owen that. Cackie is still having trouble remembering his name, but once she's reminded she starts talking about Owen DiDi (DiDi means little brother in mandarin).
CackieDoodle & OwenDiDi - goes well together, don'tcha think?

I'm finished!

No, not with my Christmas shopping (actually, there's not a lot of that this year, but I do still have a few things to pick up). I'm finished with my class! Yahoo! YAY!
I turned in my exam on Tuesday afternoon and I felt a wave of relief. I'll feel a bigger wave when I have my final grade, though. This semester has been tough on me. TTU is using a new system for their online classes and I don't think my prof really ever got a handle on how to use it. Plus, I could never quite tell what he was looking for in the assignments, etc. I had some discussions with classmates and they felt the same way, so it's good to know I wasn't the only one.
At the same time that I'm glad my class is over, it's also bittersweet... I worked so hard to get into the MBA progam this year and get two classes under my belt. Now, I wonder if I'll get to go back and finish. I definitely can't take classes this spring with travelling to China and all the things we have to do to get ready. And, I really don't want to take any more summer classes, we just lose out on so many opportunities to have fun. So, maybe I'll start back with classes next fall, or maybe I'll forget about school and start the crafty side business that I've always wanted to do. One thing I know for sure, I'm going to make sure that I spend lots of time with my kids... that will make life perfect.
Besides finishing up with school, we've had a busy week. Michael has been out of town all week, so I've been doing the single mom gig. It's so stressfull being the only one around to take care of everything. Plus, Cackie has missed her Baba terribly (and has let me know it on many an occasion!). She'll be estatic to see him this afternoon.
We're almost done putting up the Christmas decorations. Gotta get some help from Michael tonight to get the last few things put up. Cackie has had a great time helping this year, every night she wants to decorate the tree again!
Hopefully this weekend we'll finish up the rest of our shopping and have some free time together. We've got to visit Santa as well, hopefully that will go well.
I've been printing off all kinds of pictures to send off in a care package to the orphanage. Plus, I went nuts the other day in Walmart and bought all kinds of trucks and cars to either send or have at the house. Tonight we'll take some pictures that I wanted to "stage" and hopefully I'll get it off to the postoffice on Saturday.
Well, that's about all for now. I'm hoping to have a little free time tonight to post some pictures, but it might be later this weekend before I can get to it.

Dec 5, 2007


This was on my calendar today and it made me smile. It is Massif de chrysanthemes by Claude Monet. Beautiful!

Dec 4, 2007

Need a new look & name

I figure it's time for a change around here. After all, we're going to be adding another male to our family, so maybe I need to update the name of my blog to better reflect that. Then, there's the look of the blog, definitely too girly! I'll need to work on that as well, maybe something with ladybugs & sailboats?
One more week and I'm done with my class this semester, yahoo! After that I'll work on a new name and definitely a new look.
I've got to start thinking about decorating as well... furniture... projects around the house... packing lists. Oh, and it's Christmas! My brain has been going 90 to nothing with all that's going on. The lists around here are starting to build up. There's the ever present grocery list and the must do list. But, now we've added the Christmas list (very short this year, folks), the care package list, the packing list, the things to do before we go to China list (bunk beds, decorate the kids room, sell all those girls clothes that are too small, etc) and the things I want to do before we go to China list. AAAAhhhh!
Maybe I need to make a list of my lists?

LOI & Tianjin (&blogs!)

We're LOI! (letter of intent, that is)
We had to submit a LOI to our agency, basically saying that we know all about Wei Jian Hang's condition and that we want to adopt him. We sent this and some other pictures and information to CCAI yesterday, they should have received it this morning.
Now, CCAI will take our LOI and send it on to China. Once China receives it and "processes" it, they will issue us a PA (pre approval). Basically, this means that they know that we want to adopt Wei Jian Hang and that they are moving our dossier from the non special needs area to the special needs area.
So, now we wait some more...

At the same time, I'm soo excited! I know of two other families who have received referrals from Tianjin this week. Their referrals are here... & They both have sons waiting for them with repaired cleft lip, unrepaired cleft palate. Does this mean that we'll get the chance to travel together? Don't know right now. The special needs program with China is sooo different than the non special needs program and it's really all up in the air. I'll be talking with these families more for sure and will stay updated on their statuses.

And, tomorrow the Lewis family leaves for China to adopt their son David from Tianjin! I'll be following their blog to learn all I can. If you'd like to learn more about Tianjin, you can follow along too. Their blog is
They are planning on visiting the orphanage and are hoping to have the opportunity to ask about the boys who now have forever families. I'm hoping for good news, but just knowing that they are there and thinking of the other boys is a huge plus for me!

Another family that I've been following is in China right now. They were LID just before we were with Cackie and adopted their Mary just before we travelled to China. They just adopted a beautiful little girl with a repaired cleft lip & palate. Heather is a great writer, very down to earth and I love reading her journey. Isn't her Ella just beautiful?

I'll leave you tonight with a Cackie'ism...
Back when we went to MS for the football game and Caryn came camping with us, just after we got to the campground we got out Cackie's tricycle for her to ride & play. She was goofing around on it and started trying to stand on the seat with her hands on the handle bars. Caryn told her to be careful, that she was about to fall. Of course, Cackie responded like a toddler and didn't listen. So, Cackie stood on the seat again, the bike fell over and she fell to the ground with the bike on top of her. Before Caryn could say anything she heard Cackie say "see, that's why you don't do that" - A sign that she'd learned something, NAH!

Dec 3, 2007

Help Aunt Caryn?

In case you haven't yet figured it out.... We're going to China!
Travelling to China to adopt is a wonderful experience, but at the same time it can be very stressful. We are definitely taking Cackie with us on our trip, but we could really use an extra helper to be there ready to assist. When we started on our 2nd adoption journey last year, we asked Caryn if she would be interested in going with us. She definitely wants to go, it's just coming up with the funds that is holding her back.
So in the spirit of "Save Ferris Bueller" (Caryn's favorite movie, by the way), I've started a "Send Aunt Caryn to China" fund. Michael & I, of course will be making our donation as part of Caryn's Christmas present and again for her birthday at the end of January. Having Caryn in China with us will be a HUGE help and we want to do all we can to make that possible. Unfortunately, it's just not possible for us to fund the whole trip.
So, if you want to help here's your chance! Send Aunt Caryn to China (we promise to bring her back!)

Dec 1, 2007

We need a name!

Ok, well... we have a name in mind, but we want to know what you think!
We've added a poll to the right hand side... what should we name our son?
We will consider any and all input! This has caught us off guard, and we're needing advice!
Please vote!


Hello from Nashville!

We're in Nashville, at the Opryland actually, getting some much needed family time.
We've had this planned for the last month or so. It's a huge splurge for us, especially now that we know that we'll be travelling to China in a few months, but much needed family time. We're excited to share our last Christmas as a family of 3 with Cackie and Michael's blood pressure and my stress level have greatly benefited from this trip.
We got here yesterday, late of course (mostly due to taking care of issues with Zack). We also needed to stop by the hospital and check on our buddy Tom. He's back in the hospital (2nd time since his surgery). This time because his incision (throat to belly) is badly infected. Say a prayer for our buddy! We love him!
Anyway, we got to Nashville a little later than planned, traffic played into it also and got checked into our room. I had to attend to some school stuff and then we took off exploring the hotel. Cackie was having a wonderful time! We had dinner last night and got to bed really late!
I slept in the bed with her (after she fell off the bed in New Orleans last year, I wasn't taking chances!) She was into sleeping perpendicular to me, we looked like a T (GREAT LETTER! GO VOLS!)
Today we went out for a good breakfast and then had tickets to the Rockettes. It was a great show and Cackie loved it! Gosh, what I would have done to be a Rockette! Of course, that would have meant that I wouldn't have my awesome husband and daughter and son, so it's OK that that is a dream not realized!
After the Rockette show we changed into something much warner and headed over to the ICE! display. They have taken the Grinch and frozen him! It was totally awesome and we had a great time! We were all frozen by the end of the exhibit, but it was great!
We headed back to the hotel room for a nap and to catch the SEC championship game. GO VOLS!
Cackie took a great nap (Michael, too) and then they goofed off, as you can see in the pics.
I guess that's it for now. I'll write more later. Hugs and Kisses from Nashville!