August 30, 2011

A groove, of sorts

I get up 10 minutes before the rest of the family, to pull on clothes and read a Psalm and wash my face.  Then I start with Jubilee, who wakes us yelling something in Cantonese.  I turn on her light and she reaches for me with a big smile.  I take her to the potty, fill her Dora sippy cup with milk, and then carry her into the boys' room.  I am greeted with a soaked Brave, a bouncing Zion, and a sleepy Bright who wishes his siblings would let him sleep a little longer.  I change Brave's diaper, let the big boys pick out their own clothes, and make my way to the kitchen to make a lot of oatmeal.  Jubilee will eat oatmeal now, so I no longer have to make her a separate breakfast of fried noodles with salted pork.

By 8 we are done with breakfast, and from then on the clock seems to stop.  The four hours between breakfast and lunch seem like four months.  Play-doh gets us through 30 minutes.  Hide and seek eats up 15 minutes.  Music and dancing another 15 minutes.  On top of the usual challenges of having four kids underfoot at once, I am teaching Jubilee English, teaching her to trust me, teaching her what love is and that I feel it for her very much, teaching Brave that I am Jubilee's mommy, too. I am teaching Jubilee what "No no" means, and that a child needs to obey her mama.  I am teaching Jubilee what a mama is.  By 10 a.m. my ankles ache, my head is spinning, and I am starving.  I shove some kind of cold food into my mouth, preferably high in protein and/or sugar (a banana and a leftover chicken breast work well, especially together).  

Lunchtime is a frenzy.  Brave tests my authority every five minutes, typical for his 26 months of age.  This battle of wills makes Jubilee nervous.  She wants to go to the potty when she's nervous, so after every showdown with Brave I have to unbuckle Jubilee and take her to the potty where she dribbles into the toilet and then wants back up to her seat to eat more of her lunch.  Bright, who has never learned to eat on his own, has to be reminded to take every bite.  Zion sits in front of his untouched plate, picking his toes.  At least he's quiet.  I think I eat something, sometimes.  I'm not quiet sure.  I'm doing good to be dressed by this point.

From 12:30 to 1:30 I do everything I can to keep the tired kids calm.  Books.  Movie.  Whatever works.  At 1:30 the toddlers go down for their naps, and the big kids and I collapse in the school room for downtime (for now) and lessons (later).

From 3:30 to 5 we go outside and "play" and then come back up to our apartment for some kind of dinner (see frenzied lunch description above).

So there you have it, our little groove, of sorts.  Jubilee is doing soaringly well.  It is so obvious that she was made for us, and we her.  However, pair the newness of her adoption with home schooling early grades and taming the terrible twos and Daniel's present busyness, and this is one groove I hope passes quickly.

August 29, 2011

Two weeks later

Two weeks ago, a frazzled Chinese lady placed this little thing in my waiting arms. 

Two weeks is nothing!  I've had stomach viruses longer than I've had my daughter.  Yet it seems that we've always had her.  It seems that she has been with us for ages, pleasing us with her smile, testing us with her gumption, dazzling us with her smarts, shocking us with her adaptability, and stretching us with her sense of humor (I say that because I am 100% sincere and humor-dumb, and Jubilee is a cocky little goober with a laugh that would thrill the grumpiest of grumps). 

She is saying, "Up please" and "More milk" and "No thank you."  She has decided that she likes peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and pizza, though she still can't handle sweet stuff like brownies.  She is filling out a little, and sleeping like a champ, and she is speaking Cantonese less and less (a sad fact, but she gets a forever family out of the deal, so I don't feel too bad about the loss of her first language; maybe she can pick it up again in college).

Happy two weeks, sweetheart!  We absolutely love you to pieces!

August 28, 2011

weak and broken

Daniel's friend Matt recently shared that raising children should be seen as a spiritual discipline, like fasting, that strips us to our weakest state, revealing our absolute dependence on the L0RD for our very breath.

Right now Daniel is away on "business." Because we have not even had Jubilee for two weeks, our family unit is in a state of flux and vulnerability.  We are like a house of cards.

Today the cards fell.  At one point, poor Jubilee was the only one not crying, probably because she was holding her music box to her ear like she always does when she is uncomfortable.  I called Daniel in tears but he was two minutes from going on stage and could not possibly talk to us.  I hung up the phone and began to pray, out loud, for the strength to make it through the evening.

I got the kids to bed and wept into my hands by lamplight.  I am so weary.  Six years of motherhood and I am wondering if I've got anything left.  Then I remembered what Matt had said.  Every day that I mother these children with my heart and soul, I am sharing in the sufferings of CHR1ST, and every day that I do that, I am being made into His likeness.  Like fire purifies gold, so motherhood burns away the dross that clings to my heart.  Perhaps one day, I will shine - just in time to be a fabulous grandmother, right Mom? 

August 27, 2011

No steers here

I am not a farmer's wife, though I did once watch (or rather listen to) Daniel helping Philip's farmhand, Ken, tie off the testicles on a male calf.  Apparently it is painless, once the circulation is cut off, and then they turn black and fall off.  A pasture has room for only one bull, so they tell me. All the rest of the males are tied off, becoming steers, so they can graze side by side without goring each other to death.

We explained all of this to Bright a few weeks back.  He asked what a steer was, as opposed to a bull, and we told him.  He was horrified by the thought, but he understood the logic and accepted it as a necessary evil.  He was happy, he told us, to have his own testicles in tact, so that he could be as aggressive as he wished (within reason).  We told him we were also glad.

Now there is a girl in our house, for the first time ever (moms don't really count).  It is very interesting to note our sons' reactions to this.  Zion is a perfect gentlemen, picking up her toys for her when she drops them, helping her climb things, holding her hand over the bridge that crosses the murky water in our courtyard garden.  Brave is a gentle giant.  He runs at her, full-speed, all thundering 30lbs of him, and then screeches to a halt and pats her, as gently as if she were a moth.  Bright smiles at her from across the room, and then tears off toward the couch, pummeling it with his head and hollering, "I have testicles!"

Daniel has stopped dashing to and from the clean laundry pile in the buff.  Like you needed that visual.

Nope, no steers here.  Good thing they don't have horns!

August 26, 2011

There is a father in all of this

I realize that this blog is mine, not Daniel's, and though he faithfully reads it, I can count his posts on one hand.  He would really like to write about his new daughter, and his cool family, and his crazy life, but he is presently at a conference, while trying to beat back some kind of bronchial ailment, and trying to start a new role in his job.

So I'll chime in on his behalf.

Daniel Rupp is smitten with Jubi Sue.  She is smitten with him, too.  He is comfort to her, and assurance, and specialness, and closeness, and everything's-going-to-be-alright (all the things a Daddy should be).  She crawls into his lap and stays there for as long as her curiosity will allow; always beckoned away by some new trick she sees her brothers doing with the couch cushions.
Daniel is an all-or-nothing kind of guy, and once he makes his mind up about something, it would take all the great armies of the world to change it.  He was slow in deciding to adopt, while I was ready to plunge in hastily (I have just described the way our marriage works, in fact, but that is another subject altogether).  The clincher for him was talking to Tim Hedden, a good friend and adoptive daddy here in our city.  I'm not exactly sure what it was that Tim said, but afterward, Daniel told me he was ready.  From then on, he was 110% devoted to his daughter, from the paperwork to the bloodwork to the gruntwork to the homework.  And now, he is right there with me, in the dirtywork, through the sweat and the tears, forging our family in this way.

I kept him awake on the eve of meeting our daughter, panicking, crying, wringing my hands, and saying lots of irrational things.  He just listened, wishing we were both asleep, and then he said lots of rational things.  I don't remember most of them, but I know that as he spoke, I calmed down, and eventually fell asleep, with the knowledge that G0D has never let us down, and the knowledge that Jubilee was made for us and we were made for her, and the knowledge that through it all, I will always have this great guy by my side, talking me down from the precipice.

Daniel always jokes that a decade from now, while some of our peers are having mid-life crises, we will be needing a mid-life break.  Our whole life is a crisis.  Just when we start to get a teeny bit comfy, G0D or we (or both) gets a crazy idea and we go for it.  There really is no harm in that, I don't think, as long as you get your sleep and read your B1BLE and find a good coffee that you can look forward to; and as long as you pick up birdwatching a good 20 years earlier than everybody else.  I've heard birds are calming.

I think I'll stop there.  I love you, D. Rupp.  You are the best father our new little black-eyed beauty could have asked for.  Here's to this whirlwind we call our life!

August 25, 2011

Two fast

I have two twos, at the same time, and I'm in up over my ears with tears and boogers and fits and discipline and very small bladders and cutting everything into small bites and saying "Say please" a million, zillion times a day (especially since one of them is just now learning English).

But I know that they will not always be two.  Before I have a chance to catch my breath, they will be three, and I will give away whatever XL boy diapers I have left, and I will retire the diaper bag for good, and we will move, as a family, into a new chapter entirely; one marked with family outings that don't include carting around pack-n-plays, and conversations with shared laughter over plates of lasagne, all bites size-normal.

It is a funny thing, welcoming a child at age two.  I am greeting and fairwelling a baby at the same time.  I only changed one of her diapers, the one they put on her for our first meeting, just in case.  Its a good thing they did, too, because the poor little thing was so nervous that she had the runs in her pants (we joke that we scared the crap out of her).  She felt horribly gross about it.  I gently wiped her clean in the ladies room, my first and last fully immodest view of my daughter's bottom end.  I really might not see it again until I attend the births of her children.  Such a thought!

My point is, I am determined to enjoy every one of these absolutely, unbelievably, indescribably crazy days.  They are passing right before my eyes.

August 24, 2011

Falling in love

Passing the 10-day mark was huge for us.  Jubilee has become more than Hong Hong from the Yangchun orphanage, who was the favorite of her caretakers (they told us so); who once, when scolded for taking off her clothes and throwing them from her bed all over the room, took them off the next time and folded them neatly at the foot of her crib (they told us that, too).  She has become more than a new little face at our dinner table.  More than a toddler who points to the potty or the window when she is nervous.  More than a Chinese baby in American clothes being taught to hold a fork; who doesn't like our food, who turns her nose at desserts, who wipes her own bum and brushes her own teeth and misses like CRAZY the sippy cup she used to be allowed to fall asleep sucking on.

Somehow, yesterday, out of the clear blue, she became (in addition to the above), our daughter.  Its not like she wasn't before.  She was born in our hearts many, many months ago, and our love for her has been there much longer than even she has.  The moment they put her in my arms, she was mine, and I pity the fool who might have dared take her out of my arms again.  I would have died for her.  Right there on the spot.

And yet, there is a difference between that kind of love, and the sort of comfortable, "Hey, Babe, how ya doin?" kind of the love - the sort of love that doesn't need to be given a thought because it just is, and that's all there is to it.  That, my friends, is what I felt for her yesterday, for the very first time.

She is Jubilee Rupp.  I will stroke her hair across my lap the first time some bloke breaks her heart (again, I pity the fool), and I will decorate some venue extravagantly for her Sweet 16, and Daniel will walk her down the aisle with tears rolling down his cheeks.

Adoption is more than a decision, more than a financial question, more than a "good thing to do."  Adoption is as real as any EPT, as painful as any of my three labors, and as I am just beginning to see, it is as beautiful as any moment I've had in my life.

I love you, Jubilee.

August 23, 2011

like having a newborn who speaks Cantonese

She needs me and she knows it; she likes me and she lets me know it; she prefers me over anyone else; she trusts me; she follows me; but she does not love me.


Sound familiar?  If you've ever had a newborn it does.  I was talking with my mom last night and she reminded me of that, a reminder that helped.  Nobody takes it to heart when their newborn seems aloof, unhappy, uneasy, needy, and unpredictable.  We wait for the next phase, while diligently meeting their every need in the meantime.  We know that a time will come when a relationship is in place.  And the same is true for us and Jubilee Sue.

Who, by the way, said "Mommy" today!  She pointed to my picture and said it, plain as day, with a smile on her face, and then touched my arm.  She is big into pictures.  She has found every picture of our family around the house and has made me paste a picture of herself into the middle of it.  Actually it was something I did once and it filled her with such glee that I did it to all of them.  She also likes to push the baby bed in her Little People doll house to hear the recording say, "ma-ma," and then run to me and put her head on my lap.

The wheels in her head and heart are turning; she is understanding this thing called family more and more every day.  She also said, "Please" today, in place of her usual scream to get what she wants, and I am thrilled.  We are making progress and she is doing great.  If you are praying, please keep it up.  We can feel your prayers carrying us, and we thank you.

August 22, 2011

Meanwhile, a boy reads

Sometime between crazy and crazier today, before or after I could have been seen swaying in a sunbeam to Bebo Norman, while my 2-year-olds were pulling tape from the dispenser happily and I wasn't stopping them because who really cares about tape anyway, Zion learned to read. 

He sounded out this, his first sentence: "Tom jabs at Bob."

And there you have it.  There are streams in the wasteland.

August 21, 2011

letting go and taking hold

Every afternoon my heart breaks, while I hold my little girl after her nap, and she cries the saddest cry you've ever heard.  She doesn't want out of my arms during these times.  In fact, she wants to be as close to me as she can.  Her reception of our affections is a very good sign, and the fact that she misses her caretakers and previous life are good signs too.  If she has bonded before, she can do it again, and we are seeing this happen hour by hour, day by day, as she slowly, painstakingly lets go of the past and takes hold of us.  It is a fascinating process to be a part of, even as it taps all of us completely dry.
She is not the only one going through change.  Her sweet big brothers are taking all of this like champions.  We are so proud of them.  They are so kind to Jubilee, and so patient with her, too.  While she grieves, they continue to play near her on the rug.  We've talked extensively to them about what she is going through, and they consequently understand the uneasy feelings inside of themselves.  They know that time and love and G0D's faithfulness are making us into a family.

Today, after the tears subsided, Bright turned to me and said, "Is she done grieving for the day?"
"Yes, I think she is," I said.
Then Zion turned to me and said, "I think she's upset because her hair is so short."  I could only smile.  A bad haircut can, after all, bring any woman to tears.

August 19, 2011

Thoughts from the trenches

My life is so crazy right now that there are times when I can hardly breathe.  Literally.  I have upped the morning coffee to two cups, and I am eating like a nursing mom, except I'm not nursing.  I find that if I don't get enough protein, I get the shakes.  My mind is constantly in overdrive, my body is constantly doing ten things at once, and my heart is constantly processing.  If I don't stay on my A-game from sunup until bedtime, I loose the lead and the children begin unraveling, all four of them, followed shortly after by my own coming undone.

Like my friends, Sonya and Travis said last fall when they brought Lily home, I'm not sure how much of the craziness is adoption-related, and how much is because I have four kids all of a sudden (one of whom speaks adorable Cantonese, but no English, and likes to unscrew every cap in the house).  Jubilee is as smart as a whip, though, and catching on to her new white-faced, peanut butter-eating world pretty quickly.  She can already say - in addition to "Daddy" - "Bye-bye," "potty," "down," "Uh-oh," and "good girl."  She is going to bed on her own, in her own room, with only a few tears, and sleeping all night.  HUGE turnaround from four days ago, when she was sitting at Subway with Daniel and me in Guangzhou, at just before midnight, sucking down a mango juice and nibbling on Daddy's potato chips because she would absolutely not go to sleep.

We really can't complain at ALL.  Jubilee is a phenomenal little girl.  We are of the opinion that the L0RD has never made a more wonderful little girl, but we are supposed to feel that way about our only daughter.  When the time is right, we will start disciplining her, and she will stop knocking me over the head with her toy.  Until then, we will hold her when she grieves, and cheer for her when she shares, and remember that in the midst of our bone-crushing exhaustion, our help comes from the L0RD, maker of heaven and earth.

In addition to that, I will keep blogging.  I shouldn't, I know.  I shouldn't have the time or the energy, but writing keeps me attached to sanity, and sanity is good.

Flashback to day one, in pictures

This was the very first glimpse we ever got of our daughter. Daniel put the zoom lens on the camera and when the curtains moved we saw her, way, way down the hall, in the waiting-baby room at the Civil Affairs building, peeking out with those eyes...we knew it was her.

Similar to the picture I posted the other day, this is the ride from the Civil Affairs building to our hotel.  She had been with us all of about 20 minutes at this point.  As you can see, she is already clinging to me.  Her little face is full of such fear. 

Resting against Daddy on the hotel bed.  This was taken maybe an hour after we got her.  I put a bow in her hair.  Daddy is sliding into his role perfectly (she makes it pretty easy).

Cuddling up on the floor of the hotel, outside the Montague's room (#1446), beaming from ear to ear and trying to hold myself together.

The very first shot taken of the 6 of us.

Her first meal with us, breaking bread with her friend Joy Montague!  We went to Pizza Hut.  Jubilee and Joy split an order of fried rice.  I am SO GLAD Kelli Montague was there for me this past week.  The L0RD knows what we can handle, and when we are up against something we can't, he sends Kelli Montague.

She finally let us open the sucker she had been gripping since we got her, or as Daniel calls it, "The sucker she came with."  I have kept the wrapper for her baby book.

August 18, 2011

Things I didn't expect (but should have)

1.) She would come potty trained
2.) Brave wouldn't miss a stride
3.) I would freak out, on multiple occasions
4.) I would be so nervous before meeting her that I would puke
5.) She would have big feet
6.) She would keep us up like a newborn does
7.) She would want to do everything herself
8.) Her first word would be "Daddy" (at the top of her lungs when he disappeared into the lavatory on the airplane today)
9.) She would eat like two grown men
10.) She would have a LOT of sauce behind her sweet sugar-coating;)
11.) She would give us this any time in the first month, let alone the first week

August 17, 2011

together at last

Daniel and Jubilee are still asleep in our bed.  It is 6:30 a.m.  Bright, Zion, and Brave are asleep in their room next door with Ayi.  We will pack today and leave for home.  I am typing now while she sleeps because during her waking hours, and some of her sleeping ones, she is stuck to me like rice to the bottom of my socks.  We are thrilled about that.  She definitely knows that I am hers and she is mine, and she is beginning that with Daniel, too.  She doesn't want him to hold her yet, but if he leaves her sight, she gets very uneasy.

What's it like, adopting a toddler?  Whew.  Overwhelming.  There are so many emotions.  It takes everything I've got to fill the love tanks of all four of them.  All four of them are feeling unsettled, and me too, really, and every single minute I am thinking, "Ooh, I have a spare arm for that one," or "Babe, hand me that one and I'll read him a story while she is pushing that car on the carpet." 

I am completely worn out, and scared, too, if I let myself think more than 5 minutes into the future.  Psalm 121 is my lifeline.  G0D'S faithfulness is my hope.  Her S-W-E-E-T smile and girly giggles are my salve.  The boys kissing on her brown, flexible legs as they dangle from the carrier are my joy.  Daniel's rock-steadiness is my home base.  We're going to make it, together, as a family.  We are the Rupps.  Finally. 

August 16, 2011

she is

She is tall.  She is thin.  She is mild and sweet.  She is neat.  She is cautious.  She is observant.  She is dark and beautiful.  She is very attached to me.  She is getting used to her loving daddy and doting brothers.  She is smiling.  She is eating like a horse. 

She is rocking our world.

She is ours as of today.

She is more than we ever dreamed of. 

August 15, 2011

Jubliee is home

More to come...

August 13, 2011

Our last day without Jubilee

Our lives are marked with milestones.  When we look back over our lives, we see the stones standing there, marking the places and the people and the times that changed us forever. 

Today, a stone is going up, and on it is engraved, "Our last day without Jubilee."  Today we have three kids.  Tomorrow we will have four.  Today we have no daughter.  Tomorrow we will have a daughter.  Today I am not an adoptive mommy.  Tomorrow, I will give my heart to a stranger, never to take it back again, and I will never ask her for anything in return.

August 12, 2011

Thank you, saints.

The prayers of the saints are a powerful thing.  G0D listens when his people call.  We are quite literally feeling prayed for, and uplifted, and loved.  Thank you!

Bright has turned a corner.  Whew!  Brave will have a nice little scar, but it will only serve to add to his rugged handsomeness, right?  I'm thinking so.  Zion is packing his Lightning McQueen suitcase with little things to "make Jubilee smile," such as his rippled black stallion that bucks its foot when you press the button on its back.

"That will most definitely make her smile, honey," I told him.

I slept last night, which might not be completely due to your prayers (Advil p.m. comes in handy from time to time).  The man Daniel hit had no broken bones, and things were wrapped up on that front after only about 5 hours (short for the way things go over here).  The biggest praise is our Ayi is going to be able to come with us afterall!  Her family crisis was smoothed over, thanks to a family member's change of heart, and the generosity of people like Alisa, Jenni, and the Heddens (who not only donated to the cause for Ayi's homeless cousin, the focus of the crisis, but they also brought warm cookies for us, to take away some of the sting of our day).

There really is nothing like the fellowship of the saints.  We love you all dearly!

August 11, 2011

reaching out

Please pray for us.  Brave fell and split open his face, two days before leaving to get Jubilee.  Ayi and I rushed him, bleeding, on foot to the neighborhood hospital, carrying his stroller over the railroad tracks, picking our way through the fruit-buying crowd that hangs around the backstreets of our city in the morning.  Of course the "bleeding ward," as I call it, was overrun with people lying around on cots in their underwear, needing sutures much more badly than Brave.  The doctor swabbed iodine on Brave's small gash and sent us home, telling us not to let him bump it on anything and it should stay together fine.

Deep breath.

That was yesterday.  Then Bright was up all last night with what I surmise to be an ear infection, starting on antibiotics this morning.  Now he has explosive diarrhea.

Then at mid morning today, our Ayi, who is planning to accompany us on our Jubilee journey, ran out of the house in tears to attend to a family emergency, the outcome of which is completely unknown.

Two minutes after she left, I got a call from Daniel saying he just hit a guy on the road.  The guy is OK, complaining only of a sore arm, but Daniel will be at the police station for the rest of day, signing the million papers that go along with traffic accidents.

I am also not sleeping, on account of the anticipation and the concerns.

Please pray for us, as we are obviously coming under spiritual attack. 

August 15, 2011


Jubilee's Gotcha Day is set for Monday, August 15, 2011.  I don't know quite what to say, except that G0D is a sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet G0D.

More to come.  Going to go now, and call a million people, and drink the (not expired) Diet Cherry Coke I stashed away for just such a time as this.


August 10, 2011

introducing love

Jubilee can not remember what love feels like.  She was 6 days old the last time she felt it.  You and I cannot fathom not knowing the feeling of love.  Everyday we feel it, from our spouses, from our kids, from our friends, from our G0D; and if all else fails, we can call our mums and get a good dose of the stuff, anytime night or day.

Two friends wrote me the same sentiment yesterday.  On my Facebook wall, Sarah V.  wrote, "Praying for G0D to prepare your daughter for an overflow of love."  Then in my gmail inbox, Amy H., who has two adopted children, wrote, "When love takes this little one in, she might not know what to do with it." 

"Get ready," G0D seems to be saying, "for the messy business of introducing love to the loveless."

I guess He knows what He is talking about, since He has spent thousands of years doing that very thing.  Interesting how we, too, don't often know what to do with it.

There is little I can do to adequately prepare for what will likely take place on Monday.  I've read books (which are mostly nay-saying, I regret to report) and I've consulted friends who have walked this road before us, and I've prayed and I've searched my heart to weed out the fears that have no place there.  But really, as Daniel pointed out yesterday, its best not to peer over the edge of the diving platform too long.  "One good look, to get your bearings," he said, "and then just dive."

So here we go.  The biggest leap of faith we have ever taken.  I really like what Amy wrote later in her email.  "Before too long," she wrote, "you will wonder, 'What if we had missed out on this?'"  What a sweet note to end on this morning, as I wrap up this post and call the kids in for a day of home school; and really, what a good way to look at life (and love) at large.

August 09, 2011

We have our TA!

I couldn't sleep last night.  I had the jitters.  It was the same feeling I've had each of the evenings before labor began with the three boys.  I always know when the time has come.  I just do.

Sure enough.  In my inbox this morning was a two-liner from our agency.  The second line caused me to cover my mouth with my hand, just like they do in the movies.  "We have your travel approval (TA)," it read.  And then, "Can you travel this weekend?"

THIS weekend?  That would put Gotcha Day on Monday.  MONDAY!

It was six o'clock.  The boys were still asleep.  I ran into the bedroom and woke Daniel, telling him the news.  He jumped out of bed.  He said, "I feel just like every other time you've woken me up to tell me there is a baby on the way."

We began emailing and placing phone calls and trying to figure out if we could pull it all off on such short notice.  It is now just past noon, and it is looking like Monday might be the day!  Please pray with us, that everything will fall into place in the next few days, because we would LOVE to be with Jubilee 5 days from now.  Oh L0RD, please!

The icing on the cake?  The Montagues will still be there, finishing up their adoption.  OH MY WORD!

August 08, 2011

Jubilee's friend, Joy Montague!

This morning, our dear Montagues met their daughter, Joy (the cutie in the middle) for the first time.  
Today was Joy Montague's "Gotcha Day."
The Rupps and Monts go way back.  David was the first person to give us his blessing to get married, back when we were punk kids in ooey-gooey love under his leadership at S.O.S. in Memphis, TN.  Kelli, the hot mama with the pink bunny rabbit above, was the one who talked David out of firing Daniel when he and I refused to recognize the curfew.  We were out late praying, people, we honestly were!!!  Their two oldest daughters, May and Annie, were our flower girls.  Now look at them!  I remember when Mary Van, the darlin' on the far right, was still breastfeeding.  
Ruthie, the second beauty from the left, has a blog called "Journey to Joy."  This is what she posted about today:
The day FINALLY came!!! Joy is here!!! Today we got up at 6:45 am and got ready, ate breakfast, packed things for Joy. Then at 8:00 our guide picked us up and took us to the Civil Affairs where Joy was. We got there and went up the elevator into a room where Joy was sitting on a couch eating a snack. She just sat there and watched us for a while and then she started crying. Mom picked her up and walked her around the room in till she fell asleep. It was so cute! Dad and Mom signed some paperwork and then we left to come to the hotel. Right now Mom is holding Joy and walking her around! It is so weird having her here!!

The Montagues were our trailblazers on our journey to East Asia.  One could say that they are the reason we are here.  They live back in Memphis, now, but they continue to be a huge part of our lives.  David, who has no sons of his own, has been a spiritual father to more young men than he can probably count, my husband included.

Back in 2004, when we told them we were ready to become parents, we got the most interesting reaction out of Kelli and David.  The two of them, who were in the thick of child-rearing, just stared at us blankly.  "It's a lot of work," Kelli said frankly, "and you'll never see your husband.  You'll collapse every night at 9 O'clock."  Not exactly the, "CONGRATULATIONS!!  Welcome to the bliss of parenthood" we were expecting.

Ha, now we know.

And now the folks who have been-there, done-that, are DOING IT AGAIN!  Why?  Because they have a home, and two giant hearts, and they love the L0RD and the children he has made. 

Welcome to the fold of love, Joy.  We can't wait for you to meet your friend, Jubilee, next summer when we drive to Memphis for some Montague time.  Let me tell you this, little one, you are (as you will soon find out) blessed among children.  You really and truly are!

August 06, 2011

my love affair with Ling Du

First of all, I hear the U.S. is having some sort of crazy heat wave.  My sincere condolences go out to those of you who are stuck in the heat.  I thought of you today as I buzzed around town under sunny skies in the cool breeze.  I thought of you again (wishing I were you) as I was splashed by there-is-no-telling-what from the balcony of someone's alley patio.  It is best not to ask what the splash might be.  Just keep going.  Just keep going.

Second of all, today is my little brother's 29th birthday, so I'd like to give a loving shout out to him and his cool self.  I miss you, Jack.

Now to the title of this post, my love affair with Ling Du.  Ling Du is not a person (duh).  Ling Du is Coke Zero.
Though neighboring countries, like Korea and Thailand, have Diet Coke, and when I go there and I drink it like my life depends on it, our sweet resident country prefers Coke Zero.  It took me a while to get used to it, but it has grown on me.  The BIG problem is that I appear to be the only person in this city of many, many millions who drinks Coke Zero, and since stores here don't pay any attention to expiration dates but leave things on the shelves until they are gone, it is really only good to drink for a couple of months out of the year. 

Commerce here is nuts.  The entire city gets one shipment of something and they split it between the thousands of tiny shops.  Therefore, the expiration date on every single bottle of Ling Du is always the same.  Currently, it is June 19.  I'm still drinking them, but give it a few more months and all of those June 19 bottles will have developed that expired-diet-soda taste (when the aspartame has morphed into something more similar to cleaning solution than artificial sweetener).  When that happens, I will have to stop buying Ling Du for a good 4-6 months until the next shipment comes in. 

This affair is more on-again, off-again than a 9th grade romance.  Ling Du, you break my heart, you really do.

August 04, 2011


A week from now we expect to have our TA (travel approval) from the Chinese government.  Thankfully, we don't have to travel far:)  In fact, because we won't need to wait around for her passport and visa, we can pretty much get her and go home.  Well, almost. 

When will this happen?  3-5 weeks from now, barring any mishaps.  We are so very close now!

When we get a date, I'll post it, but the schedule will look something like this.
- We fly into the capital city of her province on a Sunday evening, all five of us, with our Ayi and perhaps our babysitter, too.  Go Team Jubilee!
- Monday afternoon is "Gotcha Day."  Daniel and I will show up, all showered and clean with sweaty palms and lumps in our throats, to the Civil Affairs office.  They will go in the other room and get her.  They will bring her in to our waiting arms.  We will cry.  We will sign some papers.  We will take her back to the hotel with us, to the waiting arms of three little boys.
- Tuesday morning is "Adoption Day."  We take her back to the Civil Affairs office and sign more papers.  She is ours.
- Wednesday we apply for her Chinese passport, which they will mail to us.
- Thursday we will (hopefully) be able to visit her orphanage, depending on how far of a drive it is.  This would be very helpful for her and for us.  Thursday evening we fly back home.

Just Jubilee and I will then make another 5-day trip to her capital city in early December, to apply for her American visa.  When we bring her on American soil in May, in Little Rock, Arkansas, she will be an American.  We will re-adopt her during next summer, on the American side of things, but she will have been legally ours since the Tuesday morning listed above.

And there you have it.  Hotel bookings and flight bookings and schedule-making and it is all just weeks away. 
Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

August 02, 2011

young motherhood is like AA

One day at a time.  One day at a time.