Thursday, November 8, 2007

On Our Way Home

Well, I don't have any pictures from today, but it is official--we have a son. We jumped through our last few hoops, and we'll be heading home tomorrow. Our corrected documents arrived last night, and Maggie (our guide) picked them up around 9:00 last night at the airport. It was close, but after much prayer, everything worked out just fine. Now we need all your prayers that the return trip home will be as comfortable and as uneventful as possible. Our guide explained to Branham that he's going home tomorrow, and he'll have to ride 3 airplanes, but I still don't think he fully grasps how long of a trip it's going to be. We fly from Guangzhou to Beijing, from Beijing to Chicago, and from Chicago to Dallas with a 2hour drive home. It could all be a little overwhelming for him so please pray that he remains as relaxed as possible tomorrow and that all our flights go as planned. We can't wait to see everyone and for everyone to meet Branham. He's been a lot of fun, with only a few minor battles thus far, and he seems to bring a smile to eveyone he meets. Well, that's all for now. Next time you hear from us, hopefully we'll be safe and sound at home. Thank you all so much for your love and support. It's meant more than you could ever know!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hello All! Well, we've almost made it to the finish line. We had our consulate appoinment today, and we had a small problem with one of our documents. They had to wake up some people in Kunming last night and have the papers redone and then rushed via UPS to Guangzhou. Our guide, Maggie, is supposed to be picking them up from the airport as I write this. If for some reason they do not arrive, we may have to spend an extra night in China, but she was pretty sure it was all going to work out. We are of course praying that it all arrives safe and on time.

Most of the families went home today. Only us and two other families had to stay behind because we had later consulate appointments. Before everyone left, we were able to get some pictures of the group so you can see who we've spent the last couple of weeks with. Everyone was great, and we hope to have some fun reunions in the future after we're all home and settled. The three families who were left behind were able to go to the zoo today. That was a lot of fun, and we were able to get a lot closer to the animals than what you are in the States so we got some good pictures. Raegan, daddy included a picture of a panda just for you because we knew how much you wanted to see one.

Branham is beginning to become more comfortable around us so has been testing his boundaries a bit more with us, but he's also loosening up a bit more and having fun. Oh well...I guess you have to take the good with the bad. We went to the hotel pool yesterday, and Branham was able to go swimming for the first time. He seemed to really enjoy it, and he let Phil take him around the pool on his back. He even stuck his head under water a few times after he got comfortable. All in all, we've really enjoyed the trip but are definitely ready to be home. Tomorrow we're supposed to attend the swearing ceremony which is the final leg of our journey. I'll try and post at least one more time and let you know if we're leaving on time and all of that. Love ya!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shopping and more shopping

Today was a fun relaxed day. Yesterday and today we spent a great deal of time shopping and were able to get some pretty good deals on some treasures to bring home with us from China. Phil had fun bargaining with all the shopkeepers and was able to get some good prices on a few things. We also went to what used to be a temple but now displays local arts and crafts. There were some really neat ivory carvings and some other unique artistic creations. The weather here has been really nice so it's nice to just get out and walk around during the day.

We also went to a neat restaurant that served Thai food and provided dinner entertainment. As you can see from a couple of the photos, Branham and Phil became part of the dinner entertainment as well. Branham shows great promise as a future Solid Gold Dancer--Phil I'm not so sure about. Besides the entertainment, the food was also good and was probably one of the best meals we've had thus far. Tomorrow we do not have much going on, but the next day we have our consulate appointment, and we plan on trying to go to the local zoo. Since tomorrow is a slow day I probably won't have much to post, but after the zoo day, we'll hopefully have some good pictures. We heard rumors that you may actually be allowed to pet and have your picture taken with an actual bengal tiger--we'll see. Enjoy the pictures. The one picture is of Cole and Jonathan, a 13-year old boy who was adopted this week as well. He's very sweet and a bit shy, but he let me take his picture with Cole. Love and miss you all!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Trick or Treat In China

Well we started the day at the clinic for the required medical exam. Nothing too painful--height, weight, ears, nose, etc...and a lot of unhappy babies. Branham was a trooper once again and handled the whole ordeal like a pro. He's really taken to one of the babies in our group--Rebecca, who he's with in the picture below. All of the kids in our group did really well, and the whole thing took just over 2 hours, and then we did a little shopping at Carrefour (Canadian Wal-Mart). We picked up a bunch of candy and had our own little version of Trick or Treat at the hotel for all the kids. They had a ball going from floor to floor getting candy. Some dressed up and some didn't. Cole and Branham went as Buckeyes fans. Phil has already taught Branham to say "Go Bucks!"

We finished the last of our paperwork for the adoption today, which also took about 2 hours, but as long as there are no problems, we should be done with all that and can enjoy the rest of our trip. Yeah!!! Our guide will take it all to the Consulate and we'll wait to hear on Wednesday if everything is ok, and then we'll go to a swearing-in to make it all official. Branham is having fun with all the other kids in our group. He likes to run so we have to keep an eye on him when we're out and about, but other than that, he's been a perfect gentleman. He's so sweet and loves to be helpful to everyone he meets. He makes friends everywhere we go. Everyone loves his big dimple on the right side of his face when he smiles. He's been such a blessing so far, and I would never have imagined that things would be going as smoothly as they are. I can only hope that things continue to go this smoothly. Please pray that all goes well with our paperwork and there would be no issues, and that Branham would continue to be as easy-going as he has been. That's all for now! Enjoy the pictures. You can see some of the other families and their children that we've grown so close to since we've been here. Everyone is so wonderful, and we've really shared a special bond during this time together. Later! Love ya!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Another Day of Travel

One week down, another week to go. We flew into Guangzhou today, and we'll be here for almost a week before we fly home. It was Branham's first time on an airplane, and judging by the smile on his face, I think he liked it. We met back up with the rest of the families today, and everyone seems to be doing well. There were 8 baby girls, an eleven-year old girl, a thirteen-year old boy, a 4 year-old boy, a 2-year old boy, and of course, Branham. It was nice to see some familiar faces, and there is a McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut right next to the hotel. We just finished eating at KFC for dinner. It wasn't exactly like home, but it was pretty good compared to what we had been eating. We didn't do much sight-seeing in Kunming so we spent a lot of time in the hotel, and the walls were beginning to close in on us. We colored, played cards, watched movies, and the boys played their video games. We were glad to get to another destination and get us that much closer to coming home.

Branham continues to do quite well. He's sitting next to me as I type this and admiring himself in all the photos. I don't think he had seen himself in a photo until we adopted him, and he gets a pretty big kick out of himself. Tomorrow we have a medical exam and some more paperwork to do--fun, fun. After that we get a couple days of shopping and sight-seeing. The weather here is nice and warmer than the last couple of cities. The hotel we're staying in now is quite large. We're on the 34th floor, and there's a restaurant on the 45th floor that rotates. I guess that's where we'll be eating breakfast so we'll get to check that out in the morning. We sure do miss you all, and especially my other babies--Cade and Raegan. We can't wait until they get to meet their new big brother, and I know he's excited to meet them--other than just seeing their faces in pictures. Today, Cole even admitted that he missed Cade and Raegan. Well, I'm not sure if I'll have anything new to report tomorrow, but I'll post again soon. Love ya!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some down time

Well, I have no new pictures to post, but I'll give you a little bit of an update of how everything is going. Today we had a little bit slower day than what we've been experiencing. Our guide took us to a temple in down town Kunming where people go to worship Buddha, and then we went to a local tea factory. We were able to taste different teas that are grown hear locally, and learned about all the different benefits they supposedly possess for the body. Cole and Branham did not care so much for the tea-tasting, but I found it pretty interesting. There was even one that was supposed to help you lose weight--unfortunately, it also tasted the worst out of all of the teas we tried. After that, we ate at McDonald's for the first time since we've been here. Cole was most excited about that, and Branham was able to experience his first chicken McNugget--at least we think it was chicken! He seemed to like them anyway.

The rest of the day we just hung out and rested. Branham and I colored some in his Spiderman workbook and worked on the alphabet a little bit. He was already familiar with about half of our alphabet. Then he showed me how to make some some Chinese characters which is quite fascinating to watch the intricate detail that goes into each one--learning our alphabet should be a piece of cake compared to all that. He and Cole played some games, and then we broke out the hand-held Nintendo games, which of course were a big hit. I'm afraid we've created a monster, but there's not much else to do when you're couped up in a hotel room in the middle of a very foreign setting. We had a hard enough time finding our way back to our hotel from McDonald's.

All in all, Branham has a very sweet countenance and has been no trouble whatsoever so far. He seems to love to look at books and really enjoys coloring and playing with the toy cars and figures we brought for him. When we picked him up yesterday, they told us he doesn't talk much, but we have not had that problem. He's had no problem talking to us, unfortunately we can't understand much of what he's saying, but we are managing to communicate pretty well anyways. He doesn't seem to be getting frustrated, and it's been fun watching him experience so many new things. He's been a true delight so far, and we're looking forward to getting to know this precious little one more and more.

We have enjoyed ourselves so far, but we are already experiencing some homesickness. We're the only family from the group who came to Kunming to adopt so it's a bit lonely here. I think when we meet back up with the rest of the group on Friday in Guangzhou we'll have a bit more fun. Just seeing some familiar faces will be welcomed, and there's a Pizza Hut and a Starbucks near our hotel there. Yea! We also plan on doing a "trick or treat" for the kids at the hotel once everyone arrives. Cole and Branham are dressing up as Ohio State Buckeye fans--imagine that! Well, I guess that's about it for now. Tomorrow we're supposed to be visiting a local park and museum. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers! I'll be in touch again soon.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Party of five becomes party of six!

I'd like to introduce you to Branham Phillip-Tian Hammond. I started the day with so many butterflies I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but things went as well as they possibly could have. We met Branham at around 1:45, Monday, October 29, 2007. He was shy for about 2 minutes, but as you can see from the pictures, he warmed up to Cole very quickly. We're so glad we brought him with us--even with the broken leg! He and Branham hit it off wonderfully, and Cole says he already feels like his brother!

Branham is already trying to pick up some English, and we taught him how to play war with some playing cards we had, and he picked it up very quickly. I think he's quite bright, but I am a little bias. We had dinner, and he was a very good eater--someone may finally eat my cooking at home! We're getting ready for bed so we'll see how the rest of the night goes. So far, things have gone almost too smoothly, but I'm not complaining. He is already calling me "mommy," and he likes looking at pictures of the rest of the family and calls Raegan mei-mei for sister. All in all we feel very blessed so far and can't wait for you all to meet him. Continue to pray for things to go as smoothly as they have so far. Hopefully we'll have some fun updates for you throughout the rest of the week. Love ya!