Sunday, March 25, 2007

Our first full week at home!

Well, life is starting to have some kind of order around here now. Monday Jesse went back to school after spring break , & all his friends & teachers just loved Jesse's "I'm the big brother" shirt! We took Claire to lunch on Monday with Jesse & everyone was smitten!
We are getting Claire on a schedule revolved around Jesse's school hours, ect. She is so resilient!

Claire went to the doctor Friday & was re-immunized & had blood drawn. She was a champ..She is definitely 10 months old stated the doctor due to her social & mental abilities. She, however, is behind physically & will catch up in no time. We are blessed to be a family of four & continue to thank everyone for all the visits, calls, meals, & posts! We love you all!
Claire enjoying some play time!
Claire about to go to her first doctor appointment. She did not look this cute when it was over, though!!
Go Tigers! Unfortunately, this outfit was not good luck on Saturday.......

I hope to post soon, but bear with me, as Jenny (Lance's sister) gets married Saturday This week will be crazy! I'll do my best though!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Adjusting to home life....

All is well here! Jesse is adjusting wonderfully to his little sister. He is feeding her, playing with her, & holding her often. Claire loves her new home & has has a TON of visitors! She is getting on a schedule a little better every day! She had lunch with Jesse at school today & laughed & smiled the entire time!

Claire loves her high chair & loves all the different foods introduced to her. She is doing more things every day & is sitting up better, grasping objects, & very interested in her toys, especially the ones that make music! I guess that's why her middle name is Song!! I will post as I take more pictures this week!

Thanks for all your letters, e-mails, visits, & prayers!
Love, Gretchen

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Home Sweet Home!

We are home! After almost 30 hours of travel, we are home safely! Claire did fabulously onher long flight, as she slept 8 hours. We never heard a peep from her! When when finally landed in Memphis, we were met by a crowd of family & friends & Claire just smiled & babbled for each of them.. She was greeted by Jesse first, & she was just mesmerized by him! We are vry tired, but each day I'm sure this will get better! I will continue to post at least each week, so thanks to everyone for following the blog. We are just tickled by all the following our blog has generated!
Jesse seeing Claire for the first time! Such a great big brother. We think he grew about 2 inches since we saw him last!

Family of four finally!

Will post again soon!
Love, Gretchen

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Home Here We Come!!!

Today was our last day in China & a very memorable one. We had our swearing in at the US Consulate & were forbidden to take pictures. It was great & Claire got her visa & Chinese passport. We will miss China terribly but are so ready to return home to Jesse, our family, & a host of wonderful friends! We are also ready to return home to Memphis water, ice, soft beds, & Diet Dr.Pepper! We are currently packing & about to shut down the computer, so I just wanted to say one more time thanks to everyone for all the posts, e-mails, & prayers for us on this journey. Pleas keep us in your prayers as we travel for over 24 hours over the next day. We are due in Memphis Wednesday night 9:52 pm.
This is a girl I met whose baby is youner than Claire (by 2 weeks) & From the same province (Hunan) & her baby weighs 26 pounds! (Claire is 14 lbs) I call her Budda but her name is Elizabeth. They are from Seattle!
We have 2 women on guard on our floor 24/7. They are at your beck & call. They rush to the elevator when you get on & off & will do anything for you. THis is one of the ladies who was there much of the time & fell in love with Claire!
Mad Scientist hair after her last bath in China! Maybe she will have big hair like her mom after all.......
This is all we could get a picture of from the US Consulate. Claire's steps to becomeing a US Citizen!

Thanks to everyone & I will post when we get home & then try to post at least once weekly, so please keep checking the blog when you get a chance! Can't wait for you all to meet Claire!!

PS....Jesse, we will see you very soon! Claire has been saving lots of kisses for you! We can't wait to give you lots of hugs & kisses!
Mom & Dad

Monday, March 12, 2007

Free Day!!

Today was a day entirely dedicated to shopping! We were just getting warmed up in the picture below. We had the negotiating down to an artform. Lance felt wierd about the whole thing & when the deal was done, he'd just hand the money over. It has never really warmed up here, so we are still waiting for this 80 degree temp we've been told we'd have! Tomorrow is a busy & important day, as we go the the US Consulate. I'm told we're not able to take pics at the consulate tomorrow, but we'll see!
This is a school we passed while shopping & they all practiced their English on Lance. They were so cute!
This is also on our way to so more shopping. Military in training......
This is typical of menus here. You get the animal much like this....I have been a vegetarian on this trip!
Claire playing with her sunglasses. The bow ususally is on for a minute or two a day....trying to get her used to bows & hats!

Jesse, we hope you have a great Spring Break & fun at Grandma & Grandpa's! Everyone has been telling us what a great , sweet, & well behaved boy you've been! We love you very much & will see you in just a few days!!!

PS...We think Claire said MaMa on purpose today, but we'll see if she does it again! Well, off to dinner & I'll post soon when I get more pictures!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday in Guangzhou

Today we went to church which was a very cool & moving experience. The church was a Christian church which is one of the few governent permitted Christian churches. The service was half English & half Chinese. We then had reservations for some fancy Thai restaurant which Lance & Claire decided to forgo. I'm glad I tried it, but not again. We then had some shopping time & I'm getting good at negotiating. There are many gifts to be had upon our return. Can you actually believe I bought a diaper bag? We took lots of pictures in our hotel, which is beautiful. Tomorrow our guides go to the US consulate to drop off our final adoption paperwork, so we are to stay in the room in case the consulate has questions. Tuesday we actually go to the consulate & get sworn in as her parents! Wednesday, it's on our way to Memphis!
Jesse, I hope you are having a great weekend & just a few more days until we come home with your sister! We love you very, very, much! Dad got you something very cool today......You'll have to wait & see what it is!

Love, Gretchen

The Day We Got Claire

(Click on the picture to get the bigger version.)

I was looking through the pictures that we've taken since we got here and saw this one I took when Gretchen first got to hold Claire. I'm sure she didn't post it because she is so modest. However, you can see the love and emotions in her eyes. This moment was not like going through child birth... but it was just like going through child birth. Claire might just have gotten a bigger present in Gretchen being her mom than we got in her being our daughter. -Lance

Saturday, March 10, 2007

On the Way to Church...

We're Safe & Sound in Guangzhou!

Well, Claire made it through her 1st plain ride without a fuss. We were stuck in the airport for about 6 1/2 hours & not a peep. We got to the White Swan at 1:30am & were up at 6:30 am. The White Swan is of course gorgeous & all the shops around here are great. This city reminds me a lot of Savannah, GA. with spanish moss trees & all the french influenced architecture. We had a busy day today, starting off with Claire's medical exam. She passed with flying colors, but the doctor kept saying "small baby" & that she was very small for her age. We'll see what our pediatrician says about this when we get back to Memphis.

We went to a tebetian temple & a jade factory today after the exams & then to a tea house that all the moms tried all these different kind of teas. Someone is getting a really cool gift from there!! Tomorrow we go to a Christian Church (translated in English I believe) & then I have no idea what. I'm beginning to lose track of days. We found a restaurant called Lucy's that Lance loves because they have great hamburgers & rice, ect.....

The pediatrician in our group gave Claire an exam tonight & said all is well, but it appears that Claire spent a lot of time on her back. We are changing that of course! She found her mongolian spot on her lowere back ( normal for asian babies), found her birthnark, & said that everything else is fine. She said to see what Claire is doing in 6 weeks & then take her to our pediatrician to ee if he should change her birthdate.

Claire's 1st plane ride! Jesse, Claire saved you her chinese snack!
In front of a Tibetan Temple. Very neat & full of incense & people offering fruits to the budda.
This is Claire being held by Whitney, 10,who is here with her dad to get her sister (5 year old Lainey from Bejing)
These were some of the Budda's. They were enormous, as you can see by the size of the monks below!
I will post more tomorrow. Amy, sorry, but I haven't found any tofu yet......
Jesse, have a great weekend & have fun at t-ball practice. We love you very much & Claire sends lots of slobbery kisses! To Jenny, just 3 weeks! Wooo hoooo!!!

To everyone else, thanks for all the great e-mails & posts! We love you & miss you all!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We're off to Guangzhou!!

Well, we're off to the last leg of our trip! We look forward to to the food, shopping, & warmer climate. It's supposed to be in the 70's & 80 while we're there. Claire is still doing great & Lance right now is re-packing so we won't have to pay as much in penalties as we did on the trip over. (I have a huge overpacking problem) Please keep us in your prayers as we fly & travel a lot today. We will stay in Guangzhou until Wednesday. Then it's back home for that dreaded trip.

This is a foot picture of all the babies in our little travel group here in Changsha. The picture didn't go exactly as planned. We'll try again in a couple of days!
Claire right before bedtime! She loves playing on our bed until her bedtime, then it's to the crib she goes. It's so cute to see her in her crib sucking her thumb intil she falls asleep.
I'll post in a day or so as soon as I can. Also, thanks to everyone for all the posts, e-mails, & words of encouragement. We can't wait to see you all upon our return & see precious Claire!

PS....Dear Jesse, We can't wait to see you next week! Please continue to feel better & do great for Nana & Grandma! Have a great Spring Break! We all love you so much! Take good care of Braxton or us too!

Love, Mom, Dad, & Claire!!

More Changsha Delicacies.....

Unappetizing to us I know, but these are some if the things they love to eat here! The fresher the better they say.

Touring Changsha

Today is our last full day on Changsha so we toured the acedemy where Chairman Mao studied & took a trip to a local market (where, I might add, we paid 10$ for carry on luggage). Claire's doing fabulous & just takes whatever we do with ease. She will eat anything. Just like her brother I suppose!
Claire at breakfast & Gretche & Claire using the Baby Bjorn for the first time.
This is our entire travel gorup with the babies!
Lance with his pal, Confucious.....
This is the food for sale in the local markets. This, I believe, is eel. To my vegetarian relatives, sorry, but I just had to post this stuff!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Trip To Claire's Hometown

Today we took a 2 hour van ride (each way) to Claire's hometown of YiYang City. She did excelllent the entire trip though it was long for the babies. We were very hesitant about taking this trip for many reasons, but are now glad we did. We were able to see Claire's orphanage, meet her nanny, see her abandonment spot, & see her city. We will show Claire these photos when she is older & able to understand.

We are very proud to have been chosen as Claire's parents so we can give her the great life & opportunities she deserves. Here are just a few of the many photos we took today...... This is one of the streets in her hometown.
This is Claire's crib. Notice the close proximity of all the other cribs. She did look to have a super warm quilt though!!

This is the nanny that took care of Claire since 3 days old. She was very happy to see her & kept saying "lucky baby." She also would touch my hair & laugh!!??? This is a picture of the orphanage from the outside.

Claire sleeping on the van ride back to Changsha. Tomorrow we go on more sightseeing & I'll post more then.

Thanks to everyone for all the encourageing e-mails & posts! They've really kept us going!
Love, Gretchen

PS...Jesse....1 more week til we get to kiss your cute face & you can meet your sister!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Another wonderful day!

Today was another great day. Claire was perfect & we're just waiting for the storm.....She just has such a grace about her. Today we went to an embroidery factory. Changsha is known for their embroidery & we saw the ladies at work & bought some handmade embroidery items for Claire. Tomorrow we take 1 1/2 hour trip (each way) to the orphanange where Claire was brought. I hope to plost tomorrow. If not, it will be soon as I can! Love, Gretchen