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June 17th         We made a big mistake this afternoon. After getting back from the museum, our plan was to take the kids to the outdoor pool. But, as it has been the entire time we’ve been here, it was in between thunderstorms and the pool was closed until further notice. With nothing to do, at 2:00 we came back to the room and turned on the TV and.... READ MORE

June 16 Today we made our annual trip to Hong Kong Disney, and at this point we’ve been to HK Disney more than Disneyworld in Orlando. When I’m at home I rarely even leave the house except to go out the door and grab the mail, so I truly go from one extreme to another when I suddenly become a worldwide globe-trekker once a year. We’ve all been looking forward.... READ MORE

Whoever said that “getting there is half the fun” was definitely not attempting international travel with an infant. Before the flight even took off, Gwennie was already beginning to fuss. Our flight was delayed by more than 2 hours, and we made the unfortunate decision to fly the “friendly skies” despite our better judgement. We did not purchase a seat for the baby because we were told we could use.... READ MORE

Just when I was relishing in the thought of how nice it was to not be in the midst of an adoption process- the paperwork, time, money, stress and headache of it all- I made a Facebook post about how NOW is the time to adopt. It certainly wasn’t for ME. We just got home 6 months ago, we’re moving in the summer to KS for only a year, and.... READ MORE

As I sit on our overcrowded couch with nine of my children surrounding me, eating popcorn and watching Toy Story in Chinese trying to finish up this long overdue update, I really couldn’t be happier with how well things are going overall just three weeks home. What a difference we have seen in our daughter from our time with her our first week in China! It was with tears (mine).... READ MORE

Xiao Mei is officially Chaela Marie Odell- all of our required appointments are done and she has given her consent to be adopted for the last time today! Many have asked how her name is pronounced: it is Shay-la, which sounds somewhat close to her Chinese name, pronounced She-ow May, which is why we chose it. We’ve been using her new name interchangeably, but she seems to understand that this.... READ MORE

I am so encouraged by the bonding progress I have seen in the past 48 hours! Chaela is beginning to come out of her shell and we have actually felt like there have been a couple of times we’ve debated correcting her or “reining her in”. Caitlin, my calmest, easiest child said last night when asked how she felt about her new sister, “I love her so much!!! She’s a.... READ MORE

Friday we spent the day packing the suitcases back up and traveling to Guangzhou, about a 2 hour flight from Kunming. It was Chaela’s first flight and I was concerned how she would do with it. Both Claire and Caitlin cry if they don’t get to sit next to her, so she sat in the middle of a three-row seat with her sisters, and Joey and I sat across the.... READ MORE

Today was not very “Kai Shing” (happy). Night before last we were literally skipping together down the street to the performance, smiling and giggling, and today felt like we went right back to where we started. Most of today was spent in a difficult dance of me taking a risk to reach out to Xiao Mei, and her rejecting me. When I would hold her hand to cross the street,.... READ MORE

I am excited to share good news today and some progress! It didn’t start out great, but as the day went on things took a new direction. Since we weren’t going to the orphanage today at Chaela’s request, we needed to find something to do with our free day here. In my pre-trip planning I had on the itinerary to go to see the Stone Forest, the most popular attraction.... READ MORE