Our Spicy Pixie Dust dances in Peter Pan 2017

Yesterday was a day our family, especially Stella, has been preparing for all school-year. Buford School of Ballet presented Peter Pan this past weekend and Stella’s class danced in the last show as Pixie Dust. This was Stella’s first year dancing and she absolutely loved being in Ms. Katelyn’s class.

To pass the time while Stella and I stood in the “dancer check-in line” I decided to take capture a few photos. Stella–Miss Photogenic that loves to pose for a photo–had no issues with this plan!

Looking absolutely gorgeous, yet so much older than a 6 year old.

The large audience did not intimidate her one bit.  She felt beautiful and did a wonderful job on stage.

We were grateful to have Stella’s grandparents in town to come. I was sad to not have my mother in the seat next to me to witness Stella dance {she was sooooo looking forward to it} , but know she had the best seat in the house–watching from above and sharing the excitement that filled Stella’s heart.

Stella’s fans: GongGong, Baba & Mama, and Nana Brown & Papa Tony

We were all super excited to have Ms. Debbie join us for the show. Stella’s first evening away from us {10 months after becoming a family} was spent hanging with Ms. Debbie and ever since they have shared a special bond.

As you can see, they spend much of their time together laughing!

This may be my favorite photo of the night. It captures Stella so well.

One of Stella’s pre-K friends also dances at Buford School of Ballet. They will go to different elementary schools next year, but will get to continue their special friendship on Tuesday nights as they will be in the same ballet class.

Stella {Pixie Dust} & Naomi {Baby Fairy}

Owen came along to Stella’s Christmas recital. Though he did fairly well that night, we knew that he could not handle sitting for two hours through Peter Pan. Thankfully, dear friends, Debi-Debi and Alex, were able to come have a playdate with him. Look at the cool artwork that greeted us on the driveway!

 

 

Can you tell which part Owen colored….and which he did not?!

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Three days of being “Under the Sea”

When your princess dress-up clothes have been worn so much that new holes begin to appear in them in late September {they’ve already seen the sewing machine several times}, it should be no surprise what your parents buy you as a costume for Halloween! Add in the fact that your mother has quite the crazy hat collection and your little brother transforms into your side-kick.

Stella and Owen embraced every opportunity to dress up these last three days and had so much fun!

Fun at Trek-or-Treat at Suwanee Park {10/29/16}

Sebastian & Flounder

Sebastian & Flounder

Ariel

Ariel

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WOW! Everyone is looking at the camera 🙂

Thanks Nana Brown & Papa Tony for joining us on our “trek”!

Fall Festival at Calvary Baptist Church {10/29/16}

Aunt Laura painted a cool butterfly on Stella's hand!

Aunt Laura painted a cool butterfly on Stella’s hand!

Sunday {10/30/16} the kids in Waumba Land were able to dress up in a costume for church! Owen is still transitioning into a Waumba Land class, so I am staying with him during the service. It was so much fun to see all of the kids worshiping God–singing their little hearts out and doing the hand motions–dressed up in character! After church, Aunt Ashley joined our family for food trucks, fireworks, and fellowship on the front lawn! Love our Gwinnett Church community!!

Uncle Jake is a big cheese head and was in town to catch his favorite team play football, but before leaving for the game the kids snagged him for a photo op!

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Three kids with silly things on their heads!

The grand finale happened today…Trick-or-Treating {10/31/16}

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Both of the kids had a blast ringing door bells, calling out “trick-or-treat” and choosing their piece(s) of candy. Owen walked the entire time with a spring in his step, enjoying his first Halloween.

Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder

Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder

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Oh how mama loves these cuties!

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Owen decided the glow in the dark fangs fit better over his mouth & nose, rather than his teeth!

Halloween Side Note:  Shorts & a tank dress??? It was 85 degrees today, which is simply craziness for Halloween weather when I think back to my childhood days of trick-or-treating. We lived in Ohio and many years we were lucky if our costume could even be seen from under our winter coat because it was so cold out!

Pirate & Princess Day {10/24/16}

Pirate & Princess day at school =  the chance to wear her other new princess dress {Belle} to school. On the way to school she told me that Belle was one of her favorites because Belle likes books and so does she! {melt a mama’s heart….}  Owen and I wanted in on the fun, so I put on a tiara and he put on his pirate gear for car rider line.  The poor teacher that opened up our door to get Stella out of the car didn’t know what to think. {She probably nailed it though….”that mama is crazy & the little guy is stinkin’ cute!”}

pirate-princess

 

A special piece of mail

I’m officially official 🙂

Owen’s Certificate of Citizenship {CoC} came in the mail today! WHOOP! Though he became a U.S. Citizen on August 5, 2016 when he stepped foot on U.S. soil in Seattle, WA, receiving his CoC gives us the documentation to support it.

It also means that we can now go to the Social Security Office to get his name corrected on his social security card, then go through the readoption process in Georgia, and finally get his U.S. passport {you never know when you want to travel abroad, so best to have it….right?}

Looking beyond the additional paperwork that receiving his CoC brings, I cannot help but to smile when I compare the little boy in the passport sized photo and the one holding the certificate. His hair is so much thicker, his face & belly more plump, and the giggle that you cannot hear from behind the certificate is simply heart-warming.

Medical Appointment Day

Under the circumstances, Stella has been doing quite well adjusting to life as a big sister that has to share her parents’ attention, her toys, and sometimes her snacks.

When Aron told us that only one parent officially needed to go to Owen’s medical appointment, we jumped at the opportunity for Stella to have some special time with Baba and GongGong.

So, Saturday 7/30 was Medical Appointment Day. Owen, myself, three other families in our travel group and at least 30 other families with other agencies were there. Stella’s medical day was rather calm. Not Owen’s. Each medical room was a revolving door–one child after another, getting one last check up before leaving their birth country. Most children Owen’s age {under 2} have 3 stations to visit, but our little man needed to visit all 4.

(1) The nurses measured his weight, height and temperature. To say that he was not happy to get these measurements taken was a complete understatement, especially having something stuck into his ear.

(2)  The ENT did a quick check and having something stuck in his ears got the same results–tears! oh, and screams! The ENT was a little old man and Owen’s screaming helped the doc decide that a super quick check up was best for all.

(3) When Aron took us to the GP, she shut the door behind her. Normal, right? A little privacy for us while we met with the doctor. Not even a minute later the doc asked for the door to be opened because as soon as it shut Owen began his screaming again. My boy has a set of lungs on him! Opening the door did not halt the screams, but it did make it a little easier on our ears. Haha! A quick once over and off to our last station.

(4) The last station was the TB blood draw. Children under 2 years old do not need to have this test completed. While Owen did not have the TB test done, we did have his blood drawn so that we could have his hemoglobin level tested. Owen’s last transfusion was July 14 and after the transfusion his hemoglobin level was 11.3, which is a good number. An updated reading will simply be a data point to help us feel more comfortable about taking him on a long plane ride home. We anxiously await this reading, which we will receive Tuesday morning.

A few of the rooms and the nurses station.

A few of the rooms and the nurses station.

He was brave and strong and absolutely deserved that lollipop!

He was brave and strong and absolutely deserved that lollipop!

An unanswered prayer is exactly what our family needed

The itinerary given to us by our guide read: Orphanage visit or sightseeing (to be determined) for Thursday, July 28th.

I have prayed and prayed that we would be able to visit Owen’s orphanage.

We were ready to pay the additional money it would take for the journey to occur.

The day came for us to make the final decision on whether we would make the 10+ hour round trip journey to MaoNan SWI to see where Owen has spent most of his life. The only decision we could make–the right decision for Owen–was that we would have to pass on this opportunity.

Did I feel as though we made the best decision based on all of the circumstances known to us? Absolutely.

Was I disappointed? Of course.

But this journey is not about me, it’s about our son. The little boy that lived in a small orphanage, was well cared for by the nannies, and until 3 days earlier had rarely seen a stranger {outside of the medical staff that would give him his transfusion}.

So, we woke up Thursday morning and embraced the sightseeing adventures that Aron, our guide, agreed to take us on: the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Harley Davidson dealership!

Canton Tower

While in Guangzhou during Stella’s adoption {the US Consulate is in GZ, therefore every US family that is adopting a Chinese child must pass through GZ before leaving the country} we went on a dinner boat that rode up/down the Pearl River and one of the cool sights on the river bank was the Canton Tower.

From the lobby....the view up the tower!

From the lobby….the view up the tower!

The Jetson looking piano that was in the lobby of the Canton Tower. A company in GZ teamed up with a German company to create it.

The Jetson looking piano that was in the lobby of the Canton Tower.
A company in GZ teamed up with a German company to create it.

We bought tickets to go to the 108th floor, which would allow us to visit the observation deck, step into the glass bottom viewing deck, and finally ride the Bubble Tram. {The Bubble Tram is sometimes referred to as the world’s highest Ferris wheel, though the track is horizontal. The cars circle the top of the tower, 1,493 feet high.} It was a ton of fun and worth every penny we spent on the ticket and few souvenirs we purchased.

The elevator helped us to know how high we were along the way. Pretty cool :)

The elevator helped us to know how high we were along the way. Pretty cool 🙂

Papa's view from the glass bottom viewing deck. You can see the lower twist of the tower.

Papa’s view from the glass bottom viewing deck. You can see the bottom twist of the tower between his feet.

Aron, Stella, Owen and I...super high up! {The colors are off a bit because I had to take a photo of a photo...BOO! }

Aron, Stella, Owen and I…super high up!
{The colors are off a bit because I had to take a photo of a photo…BOO! }

Even though the sky was not perfectly clear, the view was amazing!

Even though the sky was not perfectly clear, the view was amazing!

The bubble tram, which is described as a horizontal ferris wheel.

The bubble tram, which is described as a horizontal ferris wheel.

Our family on the bubble tram.

Our family on the bubble tram.

Papa finally let us take a photo of him!

Papa finally let us take a photo of him!

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Stella on top of the world….450 meters up!

Harley Davidson: Guangzhou, China

As we discussed our sightseeing plans with Aron, she gave us an odd look when we asked if our driver could take us to the Harley Davidson dealership after the Canton Tower. {Some of you may also have an odd look on your face as you read that sentence…haha!} She chatted with the driver and although none of us truly knew where it was located, we had an address, it was within our allotted mileage, and we were all up for the unknown.

Why a Harley Davidson dealership? Papa rides motorcycles with his buddies and although he rides a BMW, the others ride Harleys. Apparently Harley Dealerships sell apparel and often people that ride Harleys will collect t-shirts that have the name of the city of a dealership they have visited. Papa wanted to get his neighbor and partner in crime a t-shirt that he would probably never be able to get for himself. Cool idea, right?! Bummer thing was that there were no shirts in Joe’s size {Aron even tried to convince an employee to sell us his work uniform shirt….haha!}, so Papa settled for Plan B–a pin which is still pretty neat.

Harley Davidson Dealership Guangzhou, China

Harley Davidson Dealership
Guangzhou, China

Back at The Garden Hotel!

Paul and Stella cooled off in the pool...

Paul and Stella cooled off in the pool…

...while Owen and I sat poolside and took selfies!

…while Owen and I sat poolside and took selfies!

We had such a fun day as a family {we count our guide, Aron, as part of our family}!

God knew that my prayer to visit the orphanage is not what our family was going to need on this day.

Today we meet our son, Owen!

It’s Monday, July 25th in China and today is the day! We are meeting our guide at 2pm {that’s 2am at home} in the hotel lobby to head to the Civil Affairs Building to meet Owen. So many emotions, balled up inside each of us, but mostly sheer excitement.

A little background on our little man….

  • Owen is 23 months old and will turn 2 in August, so no more birthdays without his forever family.
  • He is from the Guangdong Province, which is in southeast China, therefore we will be in Guangzhou the entire time we are in China since this is where the US Consulate is as well. {Many have asked if Owen and Stella are from the same orphanage and/or province. No and no. Stella is from Guangxi, which is the province to the west of Guangdong, so though they are not from the same province, they are both southern babies!}

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    Stella’s and Owen’s Provinces
    Image source: http://www.chinadiscovery.com/china-maps/china-provincial-map.html

  • Owen was born with a genetic blood disorder called Thalassemia. In simple terms, his hemoglobin does not make the beta protein that is needed for his red blood cells to function properly. If you want a more detailed overall description, check out this link. One of my favorite blogs also did a series of articles to give insight into the family dynamics of having a child with Thalassemia. Have a moment? Read along here. We won’t know the exact details of his medical treatment until we meet with the Thalassemia specialist {we are fortunate to have a wonderful clinic in Atlanta with top rated specialists}, but know that monthly blood transfusions and a daily chelation medicine are in his future at some point and more than likely for the rest of his life.

Thank you for joining (or continuing) with us along this journey. We appreciate the support and prayers that everyone has given to us this far.

We’ll be back later once we’ve become a family of 4!

One week from today…

Owen TA

The last few days have been eventful, emotional, and conquered with my head spinning at the thought that next Wednesday {ONE WEEK FROM TODAY} we will head to China to be one step closer to our son.

So much for us to physically do to prepare to leave next week {I have to continue saying it to make it seem real}, as well as so much to catch you up on about our second adoption journey. The update may will not come until we are on the airplane….but it will come.

Right now, most people have one question: What does Stella think of all this? Holy cow, friends! She is so excited at the thought of having a baby {as she calls him} that we are praying the excitement does not fade once the thought is a reality! She is also very thrilled to be going back to “her China”!