Category Archives: Family

Two Days of Amusement


The past two days have gone by so quickly but have been a blast.  Both days have been focused on the girls and a celebration of their last time to spend together before gaining a little brother.

Thursday we visited Ocean Park.

Kai Ma and Jelly Uncle wanted to take Esther here as her gift from them. Think of Ocean Park as Sea World meets the Georgia Aquarium with the hills of the San Diego Zoo.  The park is packed with rides, roller coasters and huge aquariums filled with fish, sharks, and other marine life that is native to the Hong Kong area.

The girls were captivated by all the roller coasters and basically wanted to ride them all.  Unfortunately… or maybe fortunately for me Noah was only tall enough to ride one of them. I’m just dumbfounded why people enjoy thrill rides so much.  What is so great about feeling your stomach catapult outside of your body?

We didn’t share with Esther that she actually met the height requirements for more coasters than the Arctic Blast because a family is only as strong as it’s weakest link or in this case it’s shortest link.  We couldn’t let one ride and not the other.  The girls were ecstatic to finally have a roller coaster to ride though. It left me wondering whose girls these are.  Is my future filled with vacations where we conquer the world’s scariest roller coasters as a family?

Like a good mom though I boarded the Arctic Blast with them.  We screamed and raised our hands, and had a wonderful time.  Noah and Esther loved it… I did too to be honest.  Maybe it was because it didn’t have any big drops.  The Arctic Blast left them with a thirst for more roller coasters the next day at Hong Kong Disneyland though.

After Ocean Park we too the MTR (the subway) back to the hotel and then walked across the street to a sushi restaurant.  Esther got to pick what type of food because it was her birthday. She had been requesting sushi all week so sushi it was. While we were waiting on our food Kai Ma went downstairs to order an ice cream cake as a gift from her two girls.

Esther was all smiles to have a strawberry ice cream cake with candles and a bear made out of icing.  We sang Happy Birthday to her and then she ate until she couldn’t eat any more of the cake and chocolate bear.  Ten minutes later she was passed out in Michael Luke’s arms before we could even make it down one of the four flights of escalators out of the shopping center.

Friday morning we walked back to our new local breakfast cafe for more egg tarts and milk tea.  With a long day ahead of us we ordered a few combos of food too.  This included rolls, a slice of deli meat, soup.  The soup kind of threw me off but it ended up being a hit with our family.

We tried two different kinds. One consisted of spaghetti noodles, a red broth, and beef and the other had ramen noodles, a clear broth with tiny pieces of cabbage, and shredded pieces of  white meat that was probably  chicken.  Esther loved the ramen soup and Noah was head over heals for the red soup.  I might have to try adding soups to our breakfast menu when we return back home.

After breakfast we found a little side street that served as a local market.  It was fun to wander down it. Many of the booths were still closed because it seams that as big as the city is it doesn’t really come to life until around ten in the morning.

Next, we made it to the part of the morning the girls had been most excited about…. Hong Kong Disneyland.  When we came three years ago to Hong Kong we took Noah to Hong Kong Disneyland as her last treat before meeting Esther. It was fun to do the same thing with the girls before meeting Judah this coming Monday.

HK Disney is great because the ticket are much more affordable and the average wait times yesterday we were 5-20 minutes. With one of the longest waits being for Dumbo.  I think the short lines had to do with it being a weekday because last time we definitely waited longer.

Like I mentioned earlier the girls were on a hunt for more roller coasters. The first one they saw was Grizzly Gulch.  A mine car roller coaster that goes backwards and forwards. Noah just missed the height requirement by a couple of inches.

She was tall enough for Hyperspace Mountain (Space Mountain for the U.S. folks) though.  Can I just add this is the part of the day where I really began to panic.  I’m talking about sweating, nausea, and the uncontrollable desire to bathe my body in Lavender.  A roller coaster in the dark?  Did I mention I’m terrified of thrill rides.  The girls were begging me to be a big girl so we could all ride it together but in the end I begged Michael Luke to ride it first with Esther and then with Noah.

Esther came off of the ride all smiles and begging to ride it again.  She pleaded with me to ride it and convince me that I could handle.  So I put my big girl underwear on, endured the five minute wait for Hyperspcae Mountain, and then found myself locked in the roller coaster.  Esther sat beside me for moral support.

Come to find out maybe roller coasters aren’t so bad.  Space Mountain was fun!  So much fun that we rode it again.  Not exactly what I though I would be doing on my tenth anniversary but I don’t regret it.

We ended up spending the entire day at Disney where we enjoyed milk tarts for snack….

mushroom and chicken tarts for supper…

and egg tarts for dessert.  Has anyone caught on to the fact that we are a little head over heels for tarts?

My day was perfectly capped off by returning to the room to find a gorgeous display of roses from Michael Luke.

Really, I’m just blown away by how beautiful they are.  I’m a little sad that I will have to leave behind tomorrow.  But like the scripture says, “the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.: Isaiah 40:8.

 

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Egg tarts, Dim Sum, and Memories

The past two days have been a whirlwind of activity and at the end of the day we’ve all been too tired to do anything else more than crawl in to bed… our in the girls case placed into bed because they feel asleep long before returning to the hotel.  Waking up early isn’t the hard part when you fast forward 14 hours in your day but staying alert last two or three in the afternoon is the difficult part because our internal clocks are still convinced that it is the middle of the night.

So here I am at five on a Friday morning awake with one of the girls stirring already.  It’s five hours until Hong Kong Disneyland opens so it looks like we’ve got some time to kill and that I can finally put my thoughts down in a post.  My writing may be brief though because my laptop is acting as our sound machine right now. If I was to use it I would surely wake the entire room up.  So it looks like this will be another post published through my phone while hiding under the covers so I don’t wake anyone else with the light of my phone.

Wednesday was our first full day here in Hong Kong.  We ventured out into the busy streets early among the hustle and bustle of so many going to work to look for our favorite… egg tarts.  Not really having any clue where to look or where to go we just sort of wandered around until we spotted a little cafe that had some displayed in the window.

(Well Esther woke up, left the bahroom light on, and ran and jumped on the bed to wake up Noah. So now I have a laptop to type on.)

The nice part about Hong Kong is that so many people here speak English but even when you stumble across a place like this restaurant where only one person speaks English and the other waitresses are too scared to come take your order there’s always pictures to point at. In this case we waited and waited perfectly willing to point at pictures to order but finally ML caught the English speaking ladies attention and she came and happily took our order of egg tarts, milk tea, and pineapple buns.

While not the healthiest breakfast it certainly was tasty and fun getting out in the city so early in the morning.

Eating is one of the focal points of the trip.  So shortly after breakfast came lunch at the Dragon King Restaurant.  Kai Ma and Jelly Uncle selected the restaurant because of the wonderful dim sum options.  According to Wikipedia dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.

(The set of chopsticks on the right is for serving and the black chopsticks are for eating with.)

It was so good. We had pork buns, dumplings with shrimp and vegetables, and some of the most amazing fried rice followed by sesame tarts. The restaurant also had an amazing view of the harbor.

From the Dragon King Restaurant we took a taxi up to Mother’s Choice children’s home.  Mother’s Choice is where Esther lived from the time she was eight months old until we brought her home at close to age three.  Sometimes it can be tough for children who have lived in institutions to revisit their formal lifestyle.  Even if they can’t recall their life in the institution their brain chemistry is forever altered and deep inside their brain remembers that time in their life.  Fear of abandonment or sudden life disruption may always be under the surface for adoptive children.

We made sure to emphasize with Esther that we would visit Mother’s Choice as a family and leave as a family.  She experienced some nervousness that morning but we shared with her that it was normal and ok to feel that way and reassured her once again that we would be going as a family and leaving as a family.

Revisiting Mother’s Choice is something that we have wanted to do since the day we left over three years ago.  We’ve always had dreams of returning to Hong Kong once Esther got older so to be able to come back so soon has been really special and visiting Mother’s Choice was no exception. Through the modern miracle of Facebook I have been able to keep in touch with many of the ladies on staff at MC (Mother’s Choice) and when they saw that we were coming to spend a few days in Hong Kong they invited us to visit.

They rolled out the red carpet for Esther and practically threw her a welcome home party.  All the staff and volunteers were notified that Esther/Shirley (her name at Mother’s Choice) was coming to visit and all were welcome to come see her.  The first thing they did was great both girls with a Play-doh gift and talk with Esther about everything that was going to happen.

Then Janice and a few other ladies gave us a tour of Baby Care where Esther stayed until she turned two and then Wee Care where Esther lived until we brought her home.

We were able to see her old room with all the little toddler beds and her closet as well as the room where she used to play and eat.  I’m not sure how much Esther remembered but it was definitely special for us all to see it again.

One of the most touching things to me was that they still have a picture of Esther at her going away party displayed in the kid’s bedroom.  In the picture above Janice is showing the picture to Esther.

Esther’s primary care giver Jingle was there and we were able to visit with her.

Jingle as well as all the other ladies were blown away with how much Esther had grown, how long her hair is now, and how beautiful she is.  These ladies truly love and care for these children and when the children leave each child takes a little piece of the staff’s heart with them.  So many of them asked about other children that had moved to the U.S.  and I was able to share with them and in some cases show a picture or two of other kids because once again Facebook has connected me with so many mothers who have adopted children from Hong Kong.

(If you are reading this and have a child waiting on you at MC please message me privately. It maybe that we were able to meet your little one and I remember the feeling of wanting to know anything about your special one waiting on you in Hong Kong.)

After we toured all three floors of MC we went back down to the conference room where they had small cakes, snacks, and sodas waiting on us.

We loved all the treats and during this time were able to visit with the staff, share updates with them, what our time shortly after adopting Esther was like, and why adoption is so important and special to us.  They have such a heart for making sure they are preparing each child in the best way possible for their forever family.  Mother’s Choice is unlike any other child care home that I have seen or heard of.

By the end of our visit both girls had really opened up and where talking with the staff and finished off their visit by playing  outside on the playground.

Michael Luke and I are so thankful that Mother’s Choice allowed us the opportunity to visit with them and will treasure this day forever.

After leaving Mother’s Choice we took the tram up to the Peak.

The highest point in Hong Kong that boasts beautiful views of the city…

… and sweet potato ice cream from McDonald’s.

and then headed back down to eat supper.

By this point in the day both girls were exhausted and fell asleep before their supper arrived. We can’t complain though because their behavior has been better than we expected with so much activity and walking around going on.  Michael Luke and I have found that we can’t complain because we aren’t having to fight them to go to bed at night.

These days of fun are flying by and before I know it Monday morning will be here and it will be time to meet Judah.  I can hardly believe but I know amidst of the craziness I need to take time and truly prepare for and process all that is about to change for us.  Soon we will be a family of five but for right now I am thankful for all these special days that so much love is being poured into our two little girls.

 

 

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Up, Up, and Away

By the time this post goes live Michael Luke, Noah, Esther, and I will already be on our way to Hong Kong. Yep, it’s been a crazy couple of days at our house and it sounds like we’ve got some catching up to do to bring you up to speed. So how did we go from waiting on approval of a consulate appointment last Tuesday to physically being on a plane to start the trip that will lead to bringing Judah home?

Last Tuesday we submitted for an appointment date with the U.S. Consulate.  Our coordinator at Lifeline felt like the earliest we would be able to get an appointment would be March 30 but we decided to go ahead and request March 23 as our first choice and put March 30 as our second.  It typically takes about 24 hours to hear back on an appointment date approval but sometimes an answer is given.  Wednesday came and went though and we didn’t hear anything.

Thursday morning I dropped the girls off at Mother’s Day Out and then started on my to-do list for Esther’s birthday party later that afternoon.  As I pulled into the Party Works parking lot to track down the ONLY Barbie balloon available I got a message from ML.

It read:

Step One: Check your e-mail.

Step Two: Panic

Step Three: Call Me

Well anyone who knows me knows I’m not a perfectionist and have never really followed directions well.  I though he meant he checked HIS e-mail and panicked and that I should call him.

So i did….

and then he had me check my e-mail first.  I think he just wanted to hear me panic because PANIC I did along with deep breathing and tears of joy.  We had an e-mail from our coordinator letting us know we had been approved for an appointment with the U.S. Consulate on March 23 and that we would receive Judah on March 13!

That meant that we needed to leave today… Monday because we are spending some time in Hong Kong with Kai-Ma and her husband.  Nearly three years ago I wrote a post titled “Who is Kai-Ma“.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it so that you can truly understand who we are going to visit.  In short Kai-Ma is like a godmother to Eshter and for six months after we brought Esther home we could have no contact with her or anyone else in Hong Kong. When I wrote that post nearly three years ago I had no idea that she was reading it and was eagerly looking forward to connecting with us.  For the past couple of years the girls have Facebook video chatted with her and her husband every Thursday morning.  She sends the girls birthday presents, Christmas presents, and other various gifts throughout the year.  So this week we are excited to spend time with them and let them see what a beautiful young lady Esther is turning into.

Back to the having four days notice thing.  Thursday morning we found out we needed to leave by Monday.  Thursday afternoon we booked tickets and told the girls.  That night we celebrated Esther’s birthday with friends at Chick-fil A.

Throughout all this I was praising God because a) Michael Luke had just started his off week and was able to work on the logistics of the whole trip b) we had planned Esther’s birthday party a week early “just in-case” we happened to be in Hong Kong on her birthday c) we are finally going to China to get Judah!

Friday a sweet friend kept the girls so we could meet with our contractor and work on finalizing everything so they can keep working and hopefully about have the house finished by the time we get back.  So U.S. Government in case you are reading this we did not move out of our approved dwelling space before our trip.  At this point it would have been impossible.

Saturday morning we packed.  This is honestly the earliest we have ever packed for a trip and the best we have ever done at conquering a to-do list. It made this procrastinator couple feel pretty good. So while such short notice might have freaked some people out we feel like we were ready to go with plenty of time to spare.  Saturday night we ate dinner with ML’s parents one last time as a family of four, shopped for gifts for everyone that will be helping us while in China, and then went and bought new car/booster seats for the girls so Judah can have Esther’s car seat.  Noah has been a little rough on hers.

Sunday morning was spent worshiping and praising God because lets just be honest… only he could have orchestrated all of this and boy will we need his strength in the coming weeks as we adjust to life with a little one.  By Sunday afternoon we were busy boxing all our belongings up for the move shortly after we return to the states. My parents came in to town to help us and to see us off to the airport.

And well that pretty much brings us back to us being on a plane headed for Hong Kong.  So as you sit down to your desk this morning, or your morning cup of coffee on your sofa think about the fact that our longest flight with two five year old girls will be SIXTEEN HOURS.  That’s like sitting down at your desk at 8:00 in the morning and not leaving until midnight. Prayers are appreciated.  For a mom that doesn’t allow her girls to have much screen time they are welcome to watch all the age appropriate movies and tv shows they can consume in sixteen hours… as long as they let me sleep.

Like with Esther’s adoption I will be blogging often to help me record my emotions and memories and as we come into contact with WiFi hotspots I’ll be sharing quick updates on Instagram.  It’s going to be a crazy three weeks but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Thank you for all your continued prayers because soon #judahscominghome.

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