Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Treasure In My 'In Box'!!!

I was checking my in box this morning when I received an email from Ann at Red Thread China. My parent's ordered a Mooncake Care Package last evening to be sent to Hannah so I wasn't too surprised to see something from Ann. Thought it might just be a follow-up confirming their order.

You can imagine my delight and surprise when it was updated information about my sweet baby girl!! Included in her original care package I had asked the Director some questions but it didn't even cross my mind that I might receive the answers before we meet. I was shaking when I realized what I was about to read!

I found out the name of her nanny and that Hannah is very attached to her. Thanking God for this as it is something I pray for often - that she will be loved and attach to those who are caring for her now. I know that many of you have been praying this for her too and I thank you! God is answering our prayers and I am praising Him!!

They also shared the names of the 3 babies that share her room in the orphanage and are her friends.

Her feeding schedule and some of her daily routines were also included. She wakes up at 6:30am and likes a bath before her bottle and breakfast. Guess my work alarm will happily be replaced by a new one that wakes me about the same time. :o) Cannot wait to make that switch and also to have a great amount of time at home to get to know my sweet baby girl before returning to work.

Her personality is outgoing, active and smart. She loves to sleep in her rock chair (might need to go to 'Once Upon A Child' and see if I can find a 2nd hand one of those) and, she loves her musical toy. I have a few of those so it's all good. They also said, 'if someone take her toy away from her hand she will be very upset.' That's ok sweetie. Mommy won't take your toys away but am pretty sure your cousin Makenna might have different thoughts about that. Oh how I cannot wait to see the two of you together!!

There was one part of her update that made me smile and at the same time gave me goose bumps. I love this!! 'When she is not happy, give her some toys or hold her. She loves to be holded'!! My girl is a cuddler and I am thrilled to hear this!!! Once again, this is something I have prayed about time and time again.

Lord, thank you for this precious gift of more information about my sweet baby girl. As my Grandma loves to say, 'Each new day holds some lovely secret waiting to unfold.' Today's secret was updates on Hannah and I've had a smile on my face ever since!! God is SO GOOD to provide this gift of information today!

Upcoming Giveaway!

I'm excited about an upcoming giveaway that will be offered here at Catherine's Chatter! Keep an eye out here with more details to come soon. All is a great site for your favorite brands like Roadmaster, KidKraft, little Tikes and more.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Baby Girl is 7 Months Old!!!

Wow!! My sweet baby girl turned 7 months old yesterday!! I cannot wait until we are celebrating these milestones together! We will still be apart when she turns 8 months old but that week we'll meet and begin to celebrate life together.....forever!!

I woke this morning to find our travel information had been mailed early today. I was super excited to find out more details about our China trip and where we'd be staying but my excitement quickly turned to a brief time of sadness when I read that the day I'll meet Hannah has been delayed by 1 day. It's 'only' 24 hours but oh how I wish I could travel NOW and meet my sweetie. I cried a few tears, cried out to God, shared the news with my parents and a couple of friends and then pulled up the old boot straps and let the excitement win out again. As always....God is in control of every single moment of Hannah's adoption including the exact moment we will meet. I thought it was going to be on November 1st but His date is November 2nd and you know what....I trust HIM!!

On another note, it was fun this weekend to see my tickers 'trade places'. I have passed the half-way point between referral and Forever Family day! 5 weeks from today Hannah will be in my arms and our life together will have begun. Praising God for His leading each and every step of the way!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We've Only Just Begun.....

Finally, the day arrived. I had avoided it as long as I could. I woke up knowing that yesterday was Day 1. I was overwhelmed. I was scared. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and just wish that it would go away. I wanted to twitch my nose like Samantha on Bewitched but knew that finally I must gather all my courage together and face what I had created. What was this daunting task you ask?

Tidying what is to become Hannah's nursery!!! I'm guessing one glance at this picture helps you understand why I was completely overwhelmed!! I didn't know where to begin but I also have some amazing friends!!

My friend Joy had offered numerous times to come and help me and finally last week I swallowed my pride and decided to take her up on her generous offer. When I emailed her to ask if she'd come over one evening to help out she couldn't say 'yes' fast enough and even offered more than one evening!

Last night at 6:00 we began the daunting task and before 9:00 had made a big dent in tidying Hannah's room. This is a pic of Joy and some of what we moved out of the room. With the exception of the collection that Joy is standing by, the rest was gone before she left. Some was garbage, some stored in the basement and the stuff near her will be donated to a local thrift store that my parent's volunteer at called, 'Bibles for Missions.'

Can you believe she was willing to come again tonight for a second round? Wow! Thank you Joy!! We tidied the closet in the guest room as well as the one in Hannah's room. Check it out....there's carpeting in there rather than stuff, stuff and more stuff!!

There is still much to do but with the help of Joy I'm well on the way! M and M are coming over on the weekend and have offered to paint so my goal is to have as much of this cleaned out as possible before they arrive. It's going to be busy but I can do it. The bigger items I'll enlist the help of M and we'll carry them downstairs together.

Have I mentioned lately that I have THE BEST friends?!!! Truly, their help is appreciated more than they'll ever know and they take daunting tasks and make them not only doable but fun too!

This picture made me laugh. During the wait for Hannah's referral, when I needed a pick-me-up I'd sometimes purchase diapers and guess I might have bought more than I'd realized. I should be set for a few weeks right? :o)

As I was preparing this post I also thought of this:

Note to self: Don't show Hannah the 'Before' picture of her room or I'll never convince her as a teen to keep her room tidy!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hannah's Care Packages

I've dreamed of sending a care package to Hannah for years! I'd think of what I wanted to include in it with the thoughts of helping her prepare for Family Day. I made her first taggie back in 2006 and it's in her room waiting for her. I made another taggie this spring intending to include it in her care package. Once I received her referral I embroidered her name on it (at least I think that's what I embroidered on it! :o) and began sleeping with it about 6 weeks before referral. I understand that a baby's sense of smell is acute and hopefully the taggie will help her when we meet. I packed it in a ziploc bag and included it in the package I mailed to Ann at Red Thread China.

Also in the care package are a couple of photo albums that include pictures of myself, my parents and my friend Norma as we'll all be traveling to China together to meet Hannah. Friends helped me with the Chinese translation of the words Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie so that the nannies could 'read' them to her. Two of the pictures also read, 'Mommy loves you Xiao Fen!'
I mailed this package to Ann a week and a half ago with the intentions that she would include it in the package she's putting together in China but my excitement got the best of me. Rather than asking Ann to hold off Hannah's China portion of the care package I asked her to mail that package off now and then paid for her to forward my package to Hannah when she receives it so Hannah will receive 2 different packages a couple of weeks apart. I was also excited to get updated pictures and information about Hannah as quickly as I could!! This is one of the free services that Ann offers to those who purchase care packages through her company. I cannot tell you what those pictures mean to me!!!

This is the care package that Ann put together for my sweet baby girl!! Hannah will receive a new sleeper, a blanket, squeaky shoes and little toy. It also includes a 27 exposure disposable camera that I hope to receive back on Family Day along with a letter thanking the Director of the SWI and nannies for taking such wonderful care of Hannah. The letter also containes questions of her care givers that I hope they complete and also return on Family Day. It will be wonderful to learn who she is closest to and some of what her life is like now before we meet.

I cannot say enough about Ann and the amazing service she offers to adoptive families!! Being able to have contact with those caring for her is a gift but the updated pictures...PRICELESS!!! Thank you Ann!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cuteness Abounds!!! Updated Pictures of Hannah!!!

Oh my!!! Every day I'm more and more in love with my baby girl and when I opened these pictures today they took my breath away!! Here are 3 new pictures of my sweet daughter that were taken just yesterday!! She's grown and changed in the 3 months since her referral pictures were taken but she is still my sweet little Hannah and oh so precious to me!!!

Holding these pictures close to my heart until I hold her in my arms in 6 weeks!

Look at those beautiful eyes!!! She is so clean and is kept so well!!

Bathed in sunlight while still sporting Mickey Mouse shoes!

Showing mommy where her little sunflower sleeps each night

The pictures were a precious gift received from Ann of Red Thread China. I ordered a care package from her Monday afternoon (will post about the care package another day) and this morning, less that 48 hours later, there were these updated pictures and information in my In Box!! I was shaking when I opened her post and couldn't believe my eyes when I gazed at Hannah's beautiful face and into those amazing eyes!! She is so beautiful and I love her so much!!

My precious daughter is now 15 lbs. and 27" tall.

So thankful for this precious pictures!! They truly are a gift!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flights Are Booked!!!

It's official!!! Flights are booked!!!

We're leaving Thursday, October 29th at 9:00am and returning Saturday, November 14th at 6:40pm. (Heh...with the time difference we arrive in Toronto 10 minutes before we leave Beijing ! :o)

Wow!!! Can hardly believe it! Flights are booked and I'm going to China to meet HANNAH!!!! (insert...SCREAM!!!)

SO EXCITED!!! (not that you can tell!)

44 sleeps until we fly to China and

47 sleeps until Hannah Day!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Travel Meeting and New Ticker!!!

Wheee....check it out! There is a new ticker at the top of my blog and it's counting down the days until Hannah is in my arms!!!

All going well, Hannah will be placed in my arms FOREVER 7 weeks from today!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009 should be Hannah day!!!

We had our travel group meeting yesterday and it was such fun to see everyone now that we've all 'met' our beautiful daughters! It was an absolutely beautiful day and we gathered in Toronto in the backyard of our agency's representative's home. Our babies range in age from 6 1/2 months (Hannah is the youngest of the 10) to 20 months. Each one is absolutely beautiful and all of us are super excited to travel to meet our daughters! It is quite a feat arranging travel for 10 families and coordinating this with the consulate appts. with the Canadian Government too.

Our little group which is made up of myself, my mom and dad and friend Norma will be flying to Beijing on Thursday, Oct 29th. We'll arrive in Beijing on the Friday the 30th' spend one night there and then travel to Changsha, Hunan province on Saturday, October 31st. The following day is HANNAH DAY!!!

We received a lot of great information about our trip yesterday and discussed:
- money for our trip. Thankfully our agency now has us travel with Canadian travellers cheques for the orphanage donation. Rather than carrying over $5000 US cash we'll now carry the majority of our money in travellers cheques and purchase Yuan in China to pay the orphanage donation. happy not to be carrying that much cash and it also greatly decreases the amount of money we need to obtain in 'pristine' US bills. That in itself can prove to be quite a challenge!

- hotels were discussed but at this time it has not been determined what hotels we'll be staying at

- gifts for the nannies, orphanage director, guides and more were also talked about and we now know what babies are from which orphanages which will allow us to coordinate gifts. Our 10 babies come from at least 5 different orphanages which are spread out around Hunan province.

- it had always been my dream to visit Hannah's orphanage but I think yesterday I finally grasped (for now :o) that it probably won't be possible or wise to attempt that this trip. Her orphanage is more than 5 1/2 hours away from Changsha so it would mean another really long trip for us to get there. This saddens me greatly as I would love to meet those who are caring for her and see where she is living but I just don't believe it's going to happen. One more reason for a Homeland visit in the future and hopefully at that time we could get there!

There was so much more that we talked about but right now I just can't remember what it was. We chose a couple in our group who will be amazing group leaders and help to keep us organized and where we need to be, when we need to be there along with the help of our guide.

Ooooo....can you believe I have a travel date??? 46 more sleeps until we leave for China and 49 until I meet Hannah!!!


PS - For our entourage of loving family and friends who want to come to the airport and gaze at my beautiful daughter when she comes home, our tentative return dates are either Friday, November 13th or Saturday, November 14th. I'll be sure to let you know more when I know more. Probably not until late this month.

Also, all of these dates are based on the Canadian Consulate inviting us when we think they're going to and flight availability. They could change but until they do I'm holding on to what we've been given and celebrating the final countdown!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Formula Dilemma **Updated**

Help!! I've done a lot of research and studying preparing for Hannah's arrival but something I hadn't done too much research on was what type of formula I might purchase for her. Given her young age and small size I'm guessing it will be something she uses for at least 6 months so I want to choose what's best for her.

Milk or soy based?

Iron? I'm guessing it's a good thing. Has anyone been discouraged from buying an Iron fortified formula?

What age group should I buy for? Her biological age or slightly younger to give her some of the added nutrients she might have missed in her diet?

When I look at the tins at the store I'm nothing short of overwhelmed by all the options out there.

If the most expensive brand is the best then I'll happily buy that for her but quite possibly the lesser priced ones will be just as good. I must also admit to considering some of the store brands. They have to meet tough standards from the Food and Drug Administration so they must be ok too, right ? Has anyone used the W*lmart brand? many questions! Looking forward to hearing from those who have BTDT!

I have a new bloggy friend who adopted a beautiful baby girl from Hannah's orphanage in March of this year. Sara took pictures of what she purchased for her daughter including the exact formula that the orphanage was using! Thanks Sara!!!

As many have suggested, I will purchase some of this as soon as we reach Hunan and keep her on it while in China. Once home I will begin to slowly transition her to a Canadian brand. President's Choice has been recommended by many so I think I'll try that first and then if I need to switch I'll go with Nestle's Good Start second attempt. Also, think I'll try a milk based formula without iron to begin with. Will take all my clues from her and we'll see where we end up! Maybe by the time she's ready for homoginized milk/lactose free milk I'll finally have it right?

Almost forgot, I'm also going to buy rice cereal in China to add if necessary to her bottle. Once again will take my clues from her.

Quickly learning that this mommy gig is filled with many questions and much trial and error. Sorry Hannah! Mommy is trying...really she is! :o)

Monday, September 07, 2009

3 Word Sunday - September 6, 2009

Pug Mama recently restarted her 3 Word Sunday videos. If you'd like to see the great video she put together for this week you can view it here.

Here are the 2 pics I submitted.

Pug Mama is also celebrating 3 wonderful months with her precious baby girl! Check out how she's grown and is oh so happy!! So happy for you Pug Mama!!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Hannah's Current Home - A Gift from God!!

We are blessed beyond measure!! God is so good and I cannot thank Him or praise Him enough for my precious daughter!!

A friend emailed me recently and mentioned that I might want to read the post that I put up on March 1, 2009. Wow....just WOW!!! Little did I know at the time that Hannah was just 2 days old!! My sweet baby girl had been born and was living in the Social Welfare Institute (SWI) God had planned for her.

2 weeks ago yesterday I learned that Hannah's SWI is Daoxian (Dao County) SWI in Hunan province and it is a great home for her!! Every single person who has contacted me who has a child from this SWI says that their child was loved, healthy, well cared for, has transitioned well to home and the nannies truly loved them! I cannot tell you what this does for my heart! I'm overcome with thankfulness to God for taking such amazing care of Hannah before He brings us together. It takes my breath away!! It should not surprise me that God is taking such care of her but adopting a child from another country comes with no guarantees so I am blessed beyond measure and thankful that God chose Daoxian to be her first home.

Daoxian is a smaller orphanage with an average of 30-40 babies in it's care at any one time.

One gal came home just recently and she shared that in their group, 2 of the babies were from Daoxian. The drive from the SWI to Changsha where the families meet the babies is 5 1/2 hours. These 2 precious babies were escorted by 4 nannies and the orphanage director!! Wow! And, the tears of both the nannies and babies when they had to say good-bye was testimony to how they were loved.

For sleeping arrangements, rather than all the babies being in a large room, Daoxian babies live in more of a dorm style room. In smaller rooms there are 4 cribs and a nanny's cot. I believe there are just 4 little ones who are bonding daily with a daytime nanny and a nighttime nanny! I've seen pictures of the SWI and it is really nice! (Sorry, I've been told that they're not public photos so am unable to share them here.) The building was built just last summer so it is super fresh and clean. You can see this in her referral pictures too. Something that absolutely melted my heart and gave me such peace was to see little mattresses in each of the cribs. It is common in Chinese SWIs for babies to sleep directly on wooden boards so when I saw little mattresses my heart soared!

One of the other families in our group also received a referral of a Dao baby and in her picture you can see toys in the background. Yay! Mary and I are hoping and praying that our baby girls are in a room together so that they will make the long journey from the orphanage to Changsha with a friend and possibly they will recognize one another as we're together in China. So thankful that we live close to one another and hopefully the girls will have an opportunity to keep in touch as they grow up.

I don't know at this time if I will have an opportunity to visit Hannah's SWI but I will do everything in my power to get there. It may be a long drive but having learned how helpful it can be for the babies to transition I would like to visit. If would also be a wonderful opportunity to meet the precious women who are loving my baby before I meet her and to express my thankfulness to them and also see where my daughter will have spent the first 8 months of her life. This will be so important to her in the future if I'm able to visit. I've expressed my interest to my agency director and am waiting to hear back from her. I'll let you know what she says later.

(If there are any Daoxian families reading this who have pictures I could see (and maybe some I'd be allowed to share here) I'd really like to hear from you!! Have any of you had an opportunity to visit Daoxian SWI?)

Thanking God for placing Hannah in Daoxian SWI and for those who are caring for Hannah and loving her now.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sharing More About My Beautiful Baby Girl!!

Last week when I received the official paperwork accompanying Hannah's referral I was blessed beyond measure! My tiny baby girl is doing so well!! God is taking such amazing care of her and she is so healthy!!

Here is what I have learned about Hannah Catherine XiaoFen (XiaoFen means 'Fragrance of the Dawn'):

- XiaoFen has been in Daoxian Social Welfare Institute (SWI) since she was 1 day old. (More about Daoxian SWI in a post tomorrow)

- she was 6.6 lbs at birth and 19 inches long

- her medical was on June 24th, just 3 days before she turned 4 months old

- at her medical she weighed 12.5 lbs and was 23.5 inches long. These are the most current stats I have although hope to possibly receive more when I send Hannah a care package using Ann's services at Red Thread China. I've started buying 6 and 9 month old clothing to take to China with me at then end of October and also purchased a package of Pampers size 2 diapers

- she has no teeth yet

- this part made me laugh: When the doctor tried to check her hearing, sight and smell she, 'would not cooperate' Heh...that's my girl! Not cooperating at less than 4 months old!

- all of her other medical information was great and my doctor said he has no concerns at all. Thank you Lord!

More information about my baby girl at 4 months of age

- she is a deep sleeper. Yay!!!

- she can hold her head up when laying on her tummy

- grasps a toy near her head

- picks up small things with her fingers

- tears paper

- locates the direction of sound/voice

- visually follows moving toys

- looks for dropped toy (I thought this was great for her age!)

- reaches and grasps a toy beyond

- transfer a block from one hand to the other

- follow you with moving head from one side to the other

- laughs aloud! :o)

- distinguishes between acquaintance and strangers

- sounds directed at someone or something

- she is active and restless

- fond of listening to music (that's a good one for a piano teacher's daughter)

- having a ready smile

- quick in reaction

- closest to caretaker

- favourite activity: rocking the rocker bed

- favourite toy: drum...uh oh!!

Notes from favourite part!

- XiaoFen is said to be optimistic and a cute girl

- she loves to laugh when being teased and her face looks cute

- Little XiaoFen is physically healthy

- when held by an adult she can sometimes sit or stand for a few minutes

- she loves to be held and walk around by the nanny.

- when standing next to her Little Fen (isn't that cute!) will cry so that you will hold her (These last 3 are so precious to me as it shows that she is being held and loved by her nannies)

- if something drops, she will look down and search for it immediately

- Little Fen loves to lie on the rocking chair and let an adult gently rock her to sleep. Awwwwwe!

- she also likes to ride the walker and play with other children

- she likes to chat when talking to her (that's my girl!!)

- when everybody teases her, she will laugh

- she likes to eat rice, chicken paste, fish soup, egg, vegetable past, etc. They also feed her fruit juice and cake! Wheee...add some ice cream and we're all set!

The final sentence on the Nannie's report gave me goosebumps. 'We like her very much and hope she can obtain a new family as soon as possible and live a happy life.'

Hannah, Mommy is coming and we will live a happy life together! Dreams really do come true!!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More and More in Love Every Single Day!!!

I cannot begin to tell you how in love I am with my precious daughter!! More and more every single day!!

I knew that the moment Hannah was placed in my arms she would have my heart forever and we would be inseperable!! What I wasn't fully prepared for (and maybe had a bit of my 'guard' up just in case it didn't happen) was how she would grab my heart the instant I heard 'Congratulations Mom! You have a daughter!!' It was that very instant that my heart opened up and Hannah jumped in. When I saw her precious pictures on Saturday those feelings only intensified and every single day I am more and more in love my beautiful baby girl and soon we'll be together forever!!

This picture is of the first moment I saw Hannah's beautiful face across the table. Angus had been talking and I'd done my best to listen but then it happened. He moved a piece of paper and I-SAW-HER!!! Suddenly Angus' voice was a muted 'wah, wah, wah' in the background and all I wanted to was get a closer look at Hannah's sweet face! (Sorry Angus! ;o)

Before I knew it he handed me 3 pictures of Hannah and suddenly I was all alone, just my baby girl and I. All I wanted to do was to look at her and memorize every single detail about her. I couldn't stop staring and drinking in her beauty!

Once again I was blessed to have mom and dad with me so when I could part with each picture I passed them on to the proud Grandma and Grandpa who were just as quickly falling in love with the granddaughter they have loved in their hearts and prayed for for many, many years!! I cannot tell you how blessed and thankful I am to have parents who are so very supportive of my decisions and who are as madly in love with Hannah as I am. They have been with me every step of the way and will be right beside me in China when Hannah is placed in my arms. Thank you Mom and Dad!! I love you so very, very much!!!

Angus had a lot of papers to go over but as you can see, I wasn't doing very well at listening yet. LOL!! Thankfully he was patient and gave us all the time we wanted with the pics before moving on with the remainder of the paperwork. I'm guessing he knew that if he didn't wait he'd only end up repeating himself so he waited patiently.

We eventually were able to go through all the paperwork and I learned what I need to do this week to prepare to formally accept Hannah's referral next week. I took her medical to the doctor yesterday and he said it looks great! She's tiny by North American standards (25th percentile at birth was still in 25th percentile at 4 months) so I'm wondering if she'll stay that way? Next Tuesday evening I'll meet with my Social Worker and he said before he leaves that night he'll have everything packaged up to go back to the agency. (Our agency rep had delayed her vacation until the end of August sure we'd receive our referrals in July so now we have until early next week to return it to them.)

I was also so blessed to have M & M with me and they were able to share in the excitement as well as capture all these great pics and a video too! Thank you!!! I'm so glad you were there to share this extra special day with me!!

A few of my favourite pics from the day!

Mommy and her precious daughter!!

Thrilled new family!!

And yes....almost 2 weeks after referral and I'm still floating on cloud nine feeling like this!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CHFI Follow-Up Interview, Mon. Aug 31, 2009

What fun it is to share the great news of Hannah with those around me! CHFI has asked me to keep in touch with them and let them know how things are moving ahead with meeting Hannah. What fun it will be to do that!!

We taped this follow-up interview bright at early the morning of Monday, August 31st at 6:35am and then they played it right before the 8:00am news. Sharon and I were up north at her trailer which was an extra challenge as my cell phone doesn't work too well there but my friend Deb let me use her cottage with a landline and it was all good! Thanks Deb!

I have listened to CHFI for years now and it's really neat to have them taking an interest in our story too!

So many people are excited about my sweet baby girl and I CANNOT WAIT to hold her in my arms!! She is in my heart and has me wrapped around her little finger already and soon I will also be holding her close, loving her in person!! Now that it's September I can say, 'NEXT MONTH Hannah and I will meet in person and forever be Mother and Daughter!!'

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