Monday, October 31, 2011

Special Times

Hangin' out with new big brother, Josh. He wanted to go do something fun so when he suggested bowling, we agreed. It's only about Elizabeth's 2nd time bowling though. It was fun, but the balls are kinda heavy for her and she soon got tired.

Lookin' good Lizzie!

Then we decided to play some pool--also very new to her. Here, big brother helps her out with a few tips.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Road Trip!!

We have waited on Elizabeth's social security number for about 5 or 6 weeks now. Though we applied no more than we got here, there have been problems and delays since her citizenship paperwork was so slow to process. We are STILL waiting on her social security number--due any day now! Originally we thought and had been told that we needed it before we could get her US passport, so we waited....and waited...waited some more till I couldn't stand it any longer!! That's when I went directly to our local passport office and asked "Do we REALLY need to have that social security number BEFORE we can apply for her passport???!" When she said yes, my heart sank knowing we'd be here for another 4-6 weeks or longer. That's when I poured out my heart and told her our situation and our desire to leave for China asap. She said to wait and she'd go check more on it. I was ELATED when she brought back a piece of paper, their official document, that made an exception allowing us to put 0's in the box and go ahead and apply!! I just wanted to kiss her--though I didn't--I simply told her how grateful we were for her help. She asked me how fast we wanted to leave and I told her we wanted to leave last week when the rest of our family left. She then told me that it'd take 6 weeks to get the passport--knowing it'd still take another week or more for the visa. I asked about expediting it and thought it'd be a week, only to be again dismayed to find out it would be 2 or 3 weeks. Then she said I could drive to one of the passport agencies and obtain one the same day!! She also gave me a phone number to call and verify what she told me and obtain all the details. Immediately we went home and I called finding out to drive there for the appointment, we had to have airfare tickets in 2 weeks or less. Long story short, we made all the arrangements and hit the road in 2 days for the nearest passport agency processing center in Chicago Illinois. It was a 9 hour drive one way (with an hour for lunch, which we chose not to do on the way home, we ate in the car instead to shorten our trip). Then we stayed the night in a hotel close enough to walk to the facility as it is in downtown Chicago where parking is a nightmare. I know this cause it wasn't the first time we've had to go to Chicago for an expedited passport. Needless to say, we were successful and left that day with her US passport. Now it is off getting her a visa, which is supposed to be done on Friday. Our plan is to leave the US on the 3rd arriving in China on the 4th--that is assuming all goes well with her visa but don't know why it wouldn't.

Here we are in front of the Kluczynski Building where we obtained her passport.

And here we are standing in front of the headless angel (don't know what that is all about!) in one of the store fronts.

Then this picture is taken of Elizabeth and my sister, Theresa, who was kind enough to go with and help navigate.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Anyone For Twister?!

How many of you remember loving to play twister?! Now that we are more grown up, somehow the game isn't quite so much fun now. Being able to get yourself into (and back out of again) those kind of positions just isn't as easy as it used to be when we were kids. However, our girls really wanted to bring back a twister game for them to play and we were lucky enough to find one in good condition at a garage sale for next to nothing! What a deal!!

They soon were having loads of fun playing with some of their old friends here in the states. I also thought it'd be a great learning tool for our foster daughters in China! Naturally, only mom would think of something like that, huh girls?! It's an English learning game! They can learn their colors, right from left, and how to follow instructions properly---all the while having so much fun! What could be better?!

How about sending me some pictures of Lena, Serena, and Hannah playing Shawna and Elise?!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whatcha Making Elise?

Elise is taking an extra class this year in addition to her regular high school studies. She is very interested in cooking and perhaps making it a career. We signed her up for a cooking class and she had to make something out of a fresh, in season fruit. Soooo since persimmons are in season right now, she chose those. I wonder what she's making?!

As soon as Lena found out Elise was cooking, she got out her dishes to make something of her own. She's sooo cute!

It wasn't long though when Elise tells her she can just help her instead. Thanks Elise! You're such a cool and thoughtful big sister!!

What'd You Bring Us?!

Every body knows when you go on a trip--you ALWAYS bring the kids something back!!

The girls were missed sooo much while we were on our trip to the US!! Randy, Shawna, and Elise were able to return on the 17th, but mom and Elizabeth needed to stay behind to finish up Elizabeth's citizenship and obtain the necessary paperwork to return again to our home in China.

One of the things we brought back was new puzzles. They have really enjoyed them!

Lena's smile says it all, doesn't it?!!

Wow, Hannah, yours is finished! Looking great!

Just a quick update: Sorry the blogs have been a little slow. I know you guys have been missin' your kids, but I've been quite busy trying to get us back to China! Let's see, we had an option at the end of last week--leave in about 11 days or stay for another possible 4-6 weeks. Well.........duh--we chose the 11 days!! However, that meant making a trip to Chicago--an 8 or 9 hour drive from us. It was to get Elizabeth's passport expedited so we drove up on Sunday, stayed the night and then obtained her passport on Monday. Yes!! Success!!! Then we drove back that night and I've been very busy getting her visa application in the mail today--also expedited so we can leave next week!! Though we haven't quite finalized the airfare yet, (a mere technicality) we plan to leave next Thursday and arrive in China on Friday afternoon. Can't tell you how excited we are to get back home and see our kiddos!! We've missed them so! Keep us lifted up that all goes well--we'll keep you posted!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Makin' Cupcakes

Like most of our girls, Elizabeth loves to make things in the kitchen. This week, she decided to spend her entire allowance on a cupcake making kit she found at a store here. She went right to work that day after buying it. These are made in the microwave using a special plastic cupcake mold with a hollow center much like a mini bunt pan. They only take 90 seconds in the microwave using a regular cake mix. This way I don't have to worry about them burning themselves trying to use the oven and they are quick an easy too. Not to mention the cooking fun they have! It turned out to be a pretty good purchase for her. Now she has the stuff and plans to return to China with it so she can continue her cupcake making fun! Another plus is that the other girls will love to help out as well.

Elizabeth recruits big sister, Elise, to help her out the first time.

Pouring it into the molds for baking.

Shawna helps out with the frosting process.

Wow, they're done! Great job girls! And delicious too!

Next week I hope to have some pictures of our foster daughters, Serena, Hannah, and Lena. Though Elizabeth and I are still doing paperwork for her to return to China, I'll try and get Randy to send me some pictures of them so I can do a few posts. I know how much you all have probably missed seeing them for the past month. I know I've REALLY been missing them and HATE that we have to wait even longer to see them. However, we do what we have to and right now that is finishing up Elizabeth's paperwork.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pickin' Up Walnuts

Some of the things I didn't particularly find fun as a child growing up on the farm, our girls thought it great fun. When my sister suggested to the girls that they could pick up walnuts--they excitedly jumped right on it! After they picked up all the walnuts in grandma and grandpa's yard, they were hungry for more so they began picking them up in the fields. Course it helped when she told them they could sell them for money--that just added fuel to their excitement!

So they loaded them up in the truck and took them to the nearest place buying walnuts. It was quite the experience for them. They learned so much about the process of where a walnut in the store comes from.

Here they are after they poured them into the bin. Up, up , up they go on the conveyor belt to be hulled and weighed--so they can get paid for their hard work.

This was the whole walnut gang! My sister and my nephew along with our girls. What an experience! Though they didn't get rich, they did make a few bucks AND gained a
lot of knowledge about walnuts in the process!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fun on the Farm

Every fall, my sister and her husband do a hayride for the kids and a few neighbor kids. It's always a fun time and you don't find too many hayrides these days. It brought back great memories of times past.

Here Elizabeth decides to pose for a picture on the tractor that will pull the hay wagon. She's not really driving--but boy would she love to! I just don't think we'd want any passengers on the wagon though! Nore would it be very safe for her to drive the tractor--sorry Elizabeth, better grow up more first!

We are all on the wagon waiting for the ride to begin.

Elizabeth and Elise roast hotdogs over the fire after the hayride.

Shawna poses for a picture after roasting her marshmallows for a smores.

Elizabeth thinks it was a great day--a hayride, hotdog roast, smores--how much more fun could one have in a single day!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Time of Firsts

For Elizabeth, so many things have been a first since arriving here in the states. For the rest of the older forever home girls, it will be much the same when you bring them to the states--so enjoy! It's a very exciting time for us and for them! We have had a blast showing her and seeing her experience all these new things.

This was Elizabeth's first time on a trampoline. She, as well as Shawna and Elise, had a blast playing on my sister's trampoline. She is pictured here with her older brother, Josh. Also the first time she'd met him in person, though she'd seen many pictures of him and talked to him on the phone before coming to the US.

Also Elizabeth's first time on a 4-wheeler. I have to tell you--she LOVED it too!!
Can't seem to get enough rides on it and/or driving (with help of course) it too!

It was also her first time on a carnival ride--which she found quite enjoyable. We'd taken the girls to a local festival. We all had a great time!

This was Elizabeth's first time riding a horse. Though she was a bit afraid at first, she soon warmed up and thoroughly enjoyed riding it. After all, it was an animal and we haven't found one yet she disliked!

A parade--also something Elizabeth had never seen or experienced. When someone next to us handed her a bag to hold the candy they'd throw from the floats, I thought it a bit overkill, but as it turns out--I was wrong! She did get so much candy her pockets would never have contained it all! Needless to say, parades are pretty cool in her book!

Here she is waving to the person dressed as a dog on the fire truck.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Friends

It seems as no matter where we go, Elizabeth seems to find new friends in animals. I'm not sure we've found one she hasn't liked yet.

My parents live in the country and so there are plenty of animals for our girls to enjoy. My dad has some quail and decided the girls would love to see them hatch so he saved all his quails' eggs until he had 120!! Then a few days after we arrived, it was time to put them in the incubator. After 21 days--wow, new chicks began to hatch! I can't tell you how exciting that was around this house for several days. The girls would run to the incubator and peek in every hour or so to see how many had hatched. After 5 or 6 would hatch, he'd take them out and put them in another warm place to feed them and grow them up. Can you believe it only takes about 6 weeks for them to be full grown! Anyway, it's been real exciting seeing them hatch and grow.

Though Elizabeth was a bit leery of this strange creature at first, a willy worm, I picked it up assuring her it was harmless. She thought it pretty cool once she realized it wasn't as scary as it appeared.

Look, a cat! It isn't often she gets to hold a cat. We don't have one--been there tried that, some of us have allergies to cats.

Though my parents don't have a horse anymore, she seemed to find one somewhere else. Her first time near a horse. She's had an endless list of firsts since we came to the states.

Baby puppies--what is cuter than that?!

I apologize that it's been awhile since my last post, but just been busy here. Early this morning, Elizabeth and I put Randy, Shawna, and Elise on the airplane to return to China. Oh how we wished we were going with them, however, Elizabeth's paperwork is taking longer than we'd hoped. We continue to wait on getting a social security number before we can apply for her passport, also before we can get her visa and an airline ticket. We plan to expedite everything once we receive her social security number. Though we talked to their office just last week again, they are still waiting and hoping to hear very soon. We are still hoping it'll only be another couple of weeks before we can return to China--guess we'll see as it all depends on how fast that ss number comes :) Please lift up our situation. We soooo miss our foster girls! I'm glad Randy and our other girls could return to be with them, but we'd surely like to be there asap too!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Havin' Fun

Shawna, Elise, and Elizabeth pose with my sister for a picture.

We brought a Chinese hacky sack for everyone to enjoy. Everyone had a great time learning to kick that around!

Making jiaozi (dumplings). We often cook traditional Chinese dishes for various people while we are here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Special Treats

We are enjoying our time here in the states. One of the special things is getting to enjoy all those types of food that we normally can't get in China and often miss. While cotton candy is something we can get there on rare occasions, the girls love it and get it every chance they can.

Ice-cream!! The ice-cream in China isn't nearly as good as we have here in the states so we have to visit a few of our favorite ice-cream places while back. Only problem with this was forgetting just how big they used to be!! I was thinking they were on the smaller side so given the choice of a large or small cone, Randy and I decided to indulge in the larger size with the girls getting the smaller one. Well.....when they brought out the first cone--thinking it HAD to be the large one--I told Elizabeth this was the large size. The lady handing the cone over corrected me saying--oh no, this is the SMALL cone. I then told her I was surely in trouble if that was the smaller size. Just like I thought, Randy or I neither one was able to finish ours. So much for remembering the size correctly!

Randy's parents treated and took us out to dinner on our visit. Shawna ordered what she thought was a simple hamburger--only it turned out to be a MONSTER burger--which she was not able to eat! Needless to say, we ALWAYS gain a few pounds during our stay here in the states. But hey, when you only do it once every 2 years--what are you gonna do?!