Friday, December 14, 2007

New Blog

I have decided to make my life a little easier, and just post to one blog, rather than to two. Since Janelle MinMin is home (and washing dishes right now, after asking Why? she has to do them tonight) I'm going to only post to my family blog. You are all invited to check that blog for news of MinMin, as well as our other 6 kids.

Please check in often, and continue to leave comments when you have visited. You, in the adoption community, as well as my family, have been a great encouragement and help to us in this journey, and I hope that you will stay in touch!

A View Through My Window

can be found at:

Link is in the right hand column.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


MinMin is 13 today! I think that she had a good day. It is not always easy to understand just how she is feeling about things. She seemed a bit unsure that all of the gifts were for her, and was reluctant to open them at first, but little brother and sister were quite eager and willing to show her how to tear into the paper! She did tell me thank you a number of times.

A few friends dropped by during the day to give her gifts as well. When I reminded her to say thank you, she looked at them and said, "Gracias!" She is a smart girl, and knows when to say thank you and when to say gracias.

We went to our local Chinese restaurant for lunch today in honor of MinMin. Now, in Mexico you don't expect to find a great Chinese lunch, but the people who run this little restaurant are actually from Guangdong Province, the same one that MinMin is from.

Friends came over tonight and we made pizza. MinMin was embarassed by all of the attention, but enjoyed herself anyway!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Love You

Tuesday we made our second trip to the dentist. It was quite a different visit than the first one. This time MinMin basically knew what was happening, and confidently walked in the office and sat in the chair. She didn't even need mom to go with her this time. The dentist fixed the smallest of the cavities--not wanting to scare her off this time. She plans to finish the cavity work this month, and put braces on next month. We are thankful to be getting this work going so quickly.

Yesterday my daughter, Lancy, arrived from Argentina, where she has beenn in Bible school for the last four years. MinMin really likes having her here, and sharing her bedroom with Lancy. Lancy will be here for a month.

Today as she was hurrying out the door to catch up with dad who was going to visit a friend she called out, "Bye mom. I love you." That was a first, and makes putting up with all the shadowing, annoying habits and what not worth it all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Few Pictures

I forget to take pictures now that we are home, but here are a couple taken at our Jiangxi reunion in Mississippi at the beginning of the month, and one from MinMin's first Thanksgiving Dinner.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Me and My Shadow

Had this post all written the other night and it disappeared. With three kids at home again, there just hasn't been time to re-write it until now. They all just ran up to the hardware store with Richard, so I have 10 minutes. I just mopped the floor, and now I have one minute left to write.

I had read ahead of time how older kids tend to follow mom around the house when first home. They just don't have any idea how to entertain themselves, so attach themselves to someone to stay busy. I just didn't have any idea of how that would feel. I'm used to Taylor and LiAnne keeping each other busy, happily playing for an hour, and sometimes two, without needing mom for something. Or, if I really need to get something done, I can put a video on, which is a rare treat, and they will watch that. For the past week or more I have had a constant shadow. There are days that MinMin doesn't get 15 inches away from me. At first I thought, great, she is getting used to me and finding out that I am not so bad after all. But, after a few days it gets hard to take. The day before yesterday, as I was preparing pies, salads, etc. for Thanksgiving dinner, she didn't leave my side. I mean, if I carried something from the kitchen counter to the kitchen trash, no more than 5 steps, she took those 5 steps with me. Part of the time it is fine: she is learning to chop veggies without cutting her fingers, and is great at washing dishes. But after all day it gets nerve racking.

If I sit down on the couch with the laptop to check mail or look up a recipe, she sits with me. If I go to the bathroom, she follows, until I close the door. lol
I'm not really complaining, but please pray for patience for me. Like I said, a couple of hours is ok, but 10 hours a day gets nerve racking.

We had a nice day yesterday, with 10 friends over for dinner. We had bought a couple of turkeys in Texas to bring down with us, as turkeys here start at about $30and we didn't want to pay that. Just before our company arrived everyone changed clothes to something a bit nicer than around the house clothes. I laid out clothes for MinMin, new jeans and a blouse my sister bought her, and she said, no thanks. I said, fine, but if you want to eat dinner with us, you need to put these one. She changed right away. Now, I'm not being mean, but I only ask her to wear certain clothes about once a week, and she needs to learn to dress for the occasion, and to obey.

MinMin seemed to enjoy the dinner and company. This girl continues to eat more than Richard, and we wonder where she puts it all. I do remember that Taylor ate like a horse for about 6 months, so I imagine that MinMin will too. We'll see. (So far we are not winning the war on the slurping and burping. She has learned to say, "Excuse me," after a burp, but the slurping of all food is pretty annoying.)

After dinner the young people got out Hungry Hippos, and played for about 3 hours. I'm not kidding. Do you know how much noise that game makes? They started out in the living room, but it wasn't long until we sent them to Taylor's bedroom. MinMin enjoys the game, and it was good for her to be with kids her age.

A couple of days ago Richard got on MinMin for tormenting the dogs. Now, our dogs are Chihuahua's, pretty small, and don't take much tormenting. We don't treat the dogs like people, but they do deserve some respect, which they don't get much these days. MinMin isn't mean to them, just annoys them to death. I have told her many times to leave them alone. I have explained it on Babelfish, so I know she understands. She just doesn't do it. Richard spoke sharply to her about it the other night, and she sat down on the stairs and started crying. We left her for awhile, but then tried to comfort her. The wailing started, kind of like the first couple of days. Caleb called on the computer phone, right next to where she was sitting, and she just got louder. An hour or so later, she finally went to bed. Next morning everything was fine again. We have found that even when she gets angry or doesn't like something, she gets over it quickly.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Trip to the Dentist--First Day of School

As we sat down to lunch today, MinMin took one bite, and a tooth fell out. It was a rather large looking tooth, pretty bad looking, and I thought that she has broken a permanent tooth. I called the dentist, and made an appointment for the afternoon--which is a rare thing to be able to do.

The dentist is 45 minutes away, so we set off. After a typically long wait it was our turn. I had explained to MinMin on babelfish where we were going and what was going to happen, but she just wasn't prepared. I explained to the dentist more or less MinMin's dental history---which is pretty much nothing---and her first impression when she looked into MinMin's mouth was, "Que barbaro,", or loosly translated, "Yikes!" She decided to clean the teeth first to be better able to see what needs to be done. Poor MinMin just didn't like having this lady sticking things in her mouth. I had to hold her hands and pat her leg to keep her from jumping up off of the seat. After a cleaning, the dentist was a bit happier with what she saw, said that so much plaque was rare at this age, and that it wasn't as bad as first thought. There are a couple of major cavities, but in baby teeth, and some smaller ones in permanent teeth. As we already knew, she needs braces soon, as her upper teeth are way out of line and need to move.

As we were leaving and making another appointment the secretary said something about "my son", so I let her know that MinMin is a girl. Her reply was, "Oh, she doesn't have any earrings." Girls here have their ears pierced when they are a day for two old, so to see a girl her age with no earrings is quite rare. So, it wasn't the short haircut this time (which is definately beginning to look a little bit longer) but the lack of earrings.

Poor girl was quite brave, and smiled when it was all over. She was taught the proper way to brush, which I retold her on babelfish when we got home. I also explained to her that we are going back in three weeks, and showed her pictures of braces on the internet and told her she would need those in a couple of months. So, we are thankful to have the dental stuff started, and will be getting a complete set of x-rays done in the next couple of weeks to see where to start.

I need to get our Shriner's application off in the mail this week. There is a Shriner's hospital in Mexico City, so I am hoping that they will see her there, check out her leg, and just reassure us that all is well, or tell us if something needs to be done for her.

We started school this morning. MinMin enjoyed the English video, and surprises me now and then with English words that she uses. Obviously she did learn some in the Enlgish class she took back at the orphanage. She knows the ABC's pretty well, just missing a couple of letters in the middle. She thought it was pretty funny to be learning the sounds of the letters with Taylor (LiAnne is really not very interested yet.) She did some more math work for me, and gave me more of an idea of what we need to work on.

One of these days soon I'll find an extra few minutes to try to figure out why I couldn't get the pictures to download onto my computer and put some more up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Month, three days with MinMin

I've been waiting to update here, hoping to put more pictures on, but I had to save all my pics to a CD and haven't gotten them on the new computer yet. Today I tried to download the newest ones off of the camera, but something wasn't right, and they didn't transfer. Sooooooo, thought I'd write a little update in the meantime.

We have been home in Mexico for four days now....and they have been busy ones. We had a long drive from Mississippi, but all went well. For those from the reunion, Mrs. Sippi arrived no worse for wear. (She is a cute little black and white kitten we brought back with us. She will have her work cut out for her, as we trapped three mice the second night home. That was weird, as we usually have only one mouse at a time---or maybe we just think that we do!) We have had non-stop visitors since we got home. Everyone wants to meet the newest addition to the family. We are slowly getting settled in again.....LiAnne and MinMin in their new room, and Taylor in his. The kids get along well, though the two little ones tend to play together most of the time, as they always have done. They do like their big sister, though, and had a great game of hide-and-seek around the house tonight. We miss having Amanda here to play that with them!

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that MinMin worked while in her foster home last year. I can't know for sure until she learns English and can tell me, and even then she may have a rosier view of her year with the family in China. Since we have been home (and even before) she is always jumping up to help with whatever I am doing. She will clear the table and wash dishes, sweep the floor, mop, fold laundry, just always seems to be looking for work. So....I am trying to find the balance between having her help me and knowing that she isn't in our family as a maid, but as a daughter. I am also trying to teach her how to do things....washing dishes entails more than rubbing off the food under the running water---you need to use the sponge and soap all the time, even if it doesn't look dirty! She does a great job mopping the floor, though. I am trying to get her interested in doing other things so she isn't bored with nothing to do. Right now she is reading a book that we picked up in Guilin for her. Not sure yet what else she might like to do---we have the keyboard out to see if she might be interested in music, maybe drawing, sewing, we'll have to see.

There are so many things to teach MinMin. I know that many people say that you should just concentrate on the big things, and skip the little things like eating manners, but I disagree here. We are trying to work on eating manners. The slurping and burping have to go. I know that it is quite normal in China to slurp your noodles and hot food, but here it just doesn't go over well. I want her to learn to eat quietly so that she won't be stared at when we are out eating with others. On the eating front---she eats, and eats, and eats! She seems to like about everything, including tortillas and tacos, which is a good thing. She eats at least as much as Richard, or more. I do remember that Taylor ate like that for about five or six months--until he realized that there was always more food to come, so I imagine that MinMin will slow down once she realized this, too.

We have only had one run in over clothes. I ask her to try on the new jeans I bought her yesterday, and she said no. She didn't want to buy jeans while we were in China, and said that she had never had any. I bought her some in Missouri, but she hadn't tried them on yet. I just wanted to see if they fit, and for her to at least try them. So.....I told her no computer until she obeyed, and tried them on. She likes to use, a great website for learning letters and sounds, and we let her and the kids do that for a bit each day. A few hours later she asked if she could use the computer, and I said no. She went and changed clothes, so then I let her use it for a bit. This morning I laid out her pants, new shoes and three sweaters for her to choose from for church, and we had no trouble over wearing something other than sweats.

School starts tomorrow. I have given MinMin a math diagnostic test and have an idea of where she is. We are going to review multiplication, which she seems to know pretty well, as well as addition and subtraction to make sure that she has those down well. She doesn't know any division, so once we have reviewed multiplication, we will start that. I have also printed off some work sheets on telling time and greater than/less than. We will also start Enlgish with material that I have used over the years to teach English to Spanish speaking kids. MinMin is using quite a few English words that she knew from before, and seems to be quick about picking up new words. She greets people who visit with Hola already!

Hopefully I can get the pics up tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Thanks again for all your comments. I haven't figured out how to reply directly to the person who comments so I'll reply here to a couple. The music on the blog is found at:

Feel free to share this blog with anyone adopting an older child. I learned so much about what to expect from reading other blogs, and hope that someone might learn something from reading mine.

My computer is being picked up in a bit here, and it will be a few days until my new one arrives, so I'll be out of commission for a few days. We are also traveling to our Jiangxi reunion on Friday, and home to Mexico on Monday. See you next week!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Silver Dollar City

A Few More Pictures

It has been a quick 5 days back in the States. Has it really been five days?? Jet lag still has me in a fog at times. I wake up everymorning between 3:00 and 4:00, stay awake for a couple of hours, then sleep again until 8:00 or 9:00. It is nice that we are still at my folks house, because my mom fixes breakfast for the kids long before I join them. Richard wakes up early as well, but doesn't stay in bed as long as I do later. MinMin seems to have done fine with the adjustment. She sleeps all night and doesn't take any naps. Must have something to do with the age.....

We feel like the first five days have gone very well. MinMin enjoys playing with the kids, likes to help out, and overall is adjusting well. Of course, we don't really know what she is feeling and thinking, as she can't talk to us, but she seems to be the quiet type, anyway. We have Molly here, a student from Taiwan, who speaks Chinese to her, but MinMin doesn't really say much to her yet. But, from body language, she seems to be doing fine.

We went to church yesterday, and MinMin was reluctant to come in with us at first. I think that it was the overall idea of a new placed with lots of people. She stayed with us in our class of adults, and sat through church. She was very antsy, but then sermons do seem very long when one doesn't understand what they are saying! I know, I sat through one in Chinese in Guilin two weeks ago! Last night was better. She wasn't reluctant to enter, and sat much stiller.

Saturday we went to Silver Dollar City, in Branson. I know you aren't supposed to overwhelm new kids with such things the first week home, but we had the tickets, and it was the only day they would be open while we are here in Missouri. Amanda went with us. MinMin really enjoyed the day! She wanted to ride most of the rides, even when I tried to tell her they were scary, went upside down, etc. I made sure she watched the ride a few times before she got on so she would know what it would do. There were a couple of rides that she didn't like, or didn't want to go on, but for the most part, she enjoyed them all. We had a fun day.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, she has a check up with our family doctor. On Friday we head out to Mississippi for our Jiangxi reunion--the group we traveled with when we got LiAnne almost 3 years ago. It should be lots of fun. We leave there on Monday, heading home to Mexico. It will be a two day drive, and we will finally be home! It will be nice to get the kids all on a routine of meals, school, activities, etc. and really settle in again.

Thanks again for checking in. Your encouraging notes and prayers while we were in China were such a blessing! I'm sure that is why MinMin is doing so well now. Many keep asking me what we call her, and we are sticking with MinMin for now. We haven't really talked to her about her American name, but figure that will come in time, when she is ready to hear it.

I'll post again once we get home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday - Leaving Beijing

Tuesday morning Richard and I were up early, ready to get going. As usual, it was a bit of a challenge to get MinMin up and ready to go. She just didn't want to get out of the warm bed. We ran up to the corner to McDonal's for breakfast--hot cakes were pretty yummy--just couldn't handle more noodles.

Our driver picked us up at 9:00, and we were off! About half way to the airport, MinMin wanted the window down--it was a cold morning, so it was chilly, but the problem was that she was feeling a bit car sick. Since none of our kids ever got car sick I didn't have any Dramamine with me. Other than that, she seemed ok with the trip....I didn't feel like she was reluctant to be leaving.

Once at the airport I went around to a number of people who I saw holding US passports and tried to find someone who had Dramamine or some other nausea meds with them, but didn't find anything. One lady, a nurse, had some Pepto, and we thought that it might at least help settle her stomach, so we gave her one of those.

Once on the plane MinMin was very excited. She had fun trying out all of the buttons, including calling the stewardess, turning the light on and off, trying all of the music channels, etc. She was also very excited to have the window seat and be able to see out as we took off and up through the clouds. It was fun to watch her. Our flight was long, and we napped at bit here and there. She also wanted to follow our flight on the map in the magazine, and asked many times where we were. She circled our flight plan....Beijing, San Francisco, Denver, Springfield, so she would know where we were and where we were going. We actually arrived in San Francisco an hour early, where we proceeded through immigration. We were the only ones in the "new immigrants" line, where MinMin's passport was stamped and she became an American citizen. She has no idea of all of what was happening, but I was excited for her! One day she'll understand. My only regret is that we forgot to take a picture of her there.

Early in the flight I noticed that her face was all broken out, and the only thing I could figure out was that she had some allergic reaction. The only thing it seems that it could have been was the Pepto. Anyone know if there is something in that that people might be allergic to? She really didn't eat anything else that morning that was unusual. I gave her an allergy pill, and that helped the itching for awhile, until I could get to the Benedryl in my suitcase in San Francisco.

We had about 2 1/2 hours in San Francisco to kill, then boarded the flight to Denver, where we had middle seats, and she wasn't too happy that I wouldn't let her go sit by a window. It didn't really matter, though, as we all pretty well slept the entire trip to Denver. Once there, we had to cross the entire airport to get our flight to Springfield. By this time we were hungry, and I quickly bought a sandwich, and we boarded our flight without delay. Again, MinMin had a window seat, and spent most of the flight watching below. She was excited when we told her we were flying over Missouri.

In Springfield we had quite a group of family to meet us. I hurried out to give hugs to Taylor, LiAnne, and everyone else, and MinMin hung back, afraid to come around the corner to meet everyone. Caleb, oldest brother, went over to her and took her hand to bring her close to everyone. We had chatted with him and his family by web cam, and she had really liked him, so she went with him. It didn't take her long, and she decided that she liked all of the little kids who were there. Besides Taylor and LiAnne, our three grandkids were there, and she thinks they are all pretty cute. She enjoyed all of them last night.

I'll post some pictures from the airport, but need to get more from my sister--since we didn't take any pictures, and I'll post more soon from today. I'm feeling a bit jet lagged today, with a headache, but Richard and MinMin seem to be doing fine. Maybe it will hit them harder tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday in Beijing

MinMin is a typical teenager, in that she doesn't like to get up early, and is not a morning person. It takes a couple of hours in the morning before we see a smile.

This morning was no different, and our pictures in downtown Beijing, in front of the Forbidden City are in the "no smile zone". We had wanted to walk through Tiananamen Square, but it was all closed off today, and surrounded by soldiers. By asking here and there, we found out that President Hu was there today. We had heard yesterday that the Communist Party was holding meetings here in the city. Haven't read any news for a few days, but I'm guessing that that was why the area was all closed off. I did get to take a picture of the same Olympic countdown sign that we saw last trip. It is now about 1000 days less until they start than last trip.

We took the metro across town, then took a taxi, and arrived at the Summer Palace--a place we hadn't visited on our last trip here. It is a beautiful spot, and we enjoyed our walk around it. In the afternoon we did some shopping in the back allies of the city where we had shopped last trip. One shop owner said she would sell everything "cheap" because they were closing down the area in a few days. Everything was being torn down and rebuilt for the Olympics. Her idea of cheap wasn't very cheap, but Richard was pretty persistent in the bargaining, and we were happy with the prices by the time we left. Actually, prices are much higher than they were three years ago. That was ok, as our suitcases are already full!

We are in the hotel now, suitcases all packed, ready to go. MinMin understands that we are leaving in the morning. As ready as we are to get home, we also realize that she is leaving home. It will probably be a hard morning for her.

It sure is hard not being able to communicate. We would love to be able to know what she is thinking and feeling. Hopefully she will be able to share that with us some day. Just when we think we are communicating--we aren't. She wanted to know if she should wash out her clothes tonight, and I thought I told her no, we are leaving tomorrow, we have clean clothes for tomorrow, and the rest we will wash when we get to Missouri. Next thing I know, she is in the bathroom, washing out her clothes! So, since they won't dry overnight, we now have wet clothes to pack. Oh well.....

Monday in Beijing

First I'll just post this short message because the internet is not working very well tonight. We keep loosing our connection. We leave here in just under 12 hours to head to the airport. Our flight leave tomorrow at noon, arriving in Missouri 18 hours later. So, that actually means that we leave at midnight Monday night for those in central time, arriving at 6:00pm in Springfield, MO. We can hardly wait to see Taylor and LiAnne, and everyone else there too!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Great Wall

Today started of pretty iffy. We had to meet our guide downstairs at 8:00 for our Great Wall Tour, so that meant that we had to wake up MinMin before she was ready. That is never a good idea. It also meant that we had to hurry through breakfast, as we were moving to a hotel across the street that had internet access. So, by 8:00, we were finally in the van with one not very happy girl. The drive across Beijing was long, with lots of traffic. We drove by the new Birds Nest stadius, but the road closest to it was closed for a marathon. Soon we saw hundreds of runner going down the road. We picked up a young couple at the university. He is a student here from Indonesia, and she was here on holiday from Indonesia visiting him. Turns out, we find out during the day, that they are Christians, and we had a good visit with them.

We had a good guide today, but one thing that is hard for MinMin when we have guides is that they like to tell her how lucky she is, isn't she excited that she gets to go to America? And, did she know that she looks like a boy? They aren't very tactful. She really doesn't need to be told how lucky she is. What they don't stop to think about is that she is leaving the only home she has ever known, and she school and friends, and going with people she can't even talk to. Please be praying for her/us on Monday afternoon, night your time, Tuesday morning our time, as we head to the airport to begin the flight home.

The drive to the Mutianyu Great Wall was 1 1/2 hours, with a stop at a local jade factory/shop. From there we drove to the wall, and MinMin got more and more animated the closer we got. We rode a cable car up the mountain, and she thought that was quite fun. We spent about 1 1/2 hours walking up the mountain on the wall. Some of the steps were STEEP--made the steps of the Pyramids in Mexico seem like nothing! We had a great time taking pictures, and MinMin seemed to enjoy the visit to this stop that she would have read about in her history books over the years. She raced up the steps, like most kids her age do, and thought it was funny that she had to wait for us at each level.

There were hundreds of people at the wall today--and it was amazing to hear all of the different languages--Spanish, German, Indian, French, Chinese and who knows how many others.

Going back down the mountain was a lot of fun, too. There is a toboggan ride that curves back down the mountain. It was great, and MinMin grinned all the way down.

Next was dinner, and touring another factory/shop, then 1 1/2 hours back to the city, which took longer, as there was a 3 car accident on the highway. Last stop was a tea shop, so we got in another tea ceremony, which I enjoyed. Actually, MinMin seemed to enjoy it today much more than last week.

As we drove back through Beijing we were able to drive near the Birds Nest stadium, as well as many other new stadiums that have been built for the Olympics. We also drove next to the Olympic Village, where the athletes will stay. We had blue sky all day, which I know they are hoping to have for the Olympics next year.

I think that is it for now. I need to repack all of our bags to distribute the weight better, and see if we have room to do any more shopping tomorrow!