Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Fun!!

The turkey and ham were wonderful, as well as the pumpkin and chocolate chip pie.
Now for some time outside....Thanksgiving in the deep south means outside playtime..

Beep  Beep!!

Well, it is not the beach, but I really do like the sandbox now....Amazing how far she has first she would not even think about getting into the sandbox...

What would a "Southern Thanksgiving" be without some football..

Walker and his Dad were tossing it around.

He was certainly concentrating on something.

 Keep your eyes on the ball...

Outside time always means some bubble blowing, too...

Heather got the blowing action started.

Did not take Lilly long to get into the action

Look, Mammy, I caught it!!
Big brother Hampton, aka, "Bubba" was hanging around trying to get Lilly to show us her Karate moves...

When it all said and done...there is nothing like sharing good times with family.  Most of our family is away today with other family and friends and we missed them. Hope your turkey day was filled with family, friends, food and lots of love...

Brian, Heather, Hampton, Walker & Lilly

Randy & Donna

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Lilly and "Scrunch"
Friday night in South Georgia means one thing....high school football...and here in Folkston that means cheering for the Indians. It was hot and muggy...definetely not football weather, but that does not deter the Indian faithful. This was Lilly's first football game and she was excited to cheer for the Indians and her big brother, Hampton, aka as "Bubba". She had her Indian t-shirt with his name and number, 18, and her bright red bow. Lilly was just too cute.

Hampton and the Indians won 41-6 and we were so proud that he was in on 4 of the scoring drives.  As a sophomore he is now a strong 6'1", 195 lb. tight end.  Mainly being used as a blocking end.
Hampton up to the line

Doing his job blocking his man
Part of the fun of a Friday night game is sharing the fun time with friends.  Lilly enjoyed having her friend, Addie Jacoby, sitting next to us.  Addie's parents are our pastor and family, Randy & Paula Jacoby.  Addie is really into the football spirit much to her Dad's delight.  Big sisters, Ahnna & Abigail are members of the Indian Marching Band of Pride.  They put on a wonderful half time show.  We are so proud of our band. They are truly amazing every year.
Lilly and Addie watching the action

Having fun cheering for the Indians

Today was a special day for the Jacoby family.  It was Paula's birthday and her special present was notification that their dossier was sent to China for the adoption of their new daughter.  We are all so excited about another beautiful Chinese daughter added to our church family.
Paula & Addie Jacoby
A fun evening with friends and family enjoying another Indian victory.  Hopefully just one of many this season. Our little girl is adapting the all things, "Southern".

Heather & Lilly

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Get Out the Almanac!!

Lilly has spent most of the day with Mammy today.  The rest of the family had eye doctor appointments in Jacksonville.  Mammy has not been able to spend a lot of time with just Lilly since the broken leg on June 3.  Thank goodness the leg is getting stronger.

Lilly & MeMe
My Granny and Granddaddy Tomlinson lived by the Farmer's Almanac.  When one of us kids were eating a lot of food, Granny would tell Granddaddy to get out the Almanac and see when that kid is going to fill.  Lilly was that way at lunch today.  Randy came home and ate with us.  My younger brother, Bill Allen, is the most wonderful cook on his huge grill.  I or rather all of us love his smoked chicken.  He smoked me a 10 pound bag of leg quarters last week and I still had 2 left in the refrigerator(most of them are in the freezer).  We also are still enjoying fresh tomatoes and Lilly loves the little cherry ones.  Leftover mac & cheese, corn on the cob, and English peas rounded out our lunch. Randy just thinks I'm going to cook supper, too.  Wrong O!!  I fixed Lilly's plate and thought I bet she will not eat much chicken because of all the veggies..that was wrong, too.  She ate almost all of my leg quarter, 10 cherry tomatoes, mac & cheese, peas and finished off with a cup of chocolate pudding...then proceeded to grab the chicken leg and see if she could get any more chicken off the bone.  So good to see her enjoying all our "Southern" food.

Mom came by on her way to meet her friend Inez for a late lunch, too.  I tried to get a picture of Lilly with the corn, but did not get the camera out in time.
Lilly wanted her picture with Poppa

After lunch Lilly decided it was time to brush her teeth.  Eating corn on the cob will do that to you. I did not have a small brush for her, so I just got out one of the new ones we got from the dentist last month.  She was just happy to have one of her own.

After the teeth brushing she wanted "bubbles".  So I filled the sink with soap and water.  Memo to all Moms and GrandMoms...a soapy filled sink and an empty Crystal Lite container will occupy a child for about 30-45 minutes.  Now you will have to mop around the sink and put their clothes in the dryer, but she was so happy and entertained herself.
Brush Brush Brush

Mammy..I need more bubbles

Adding water cap full at a time

You have to concentrate to get the water in the container.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You've Come A Long Way, Lilly

I was thinking about that famous phrase today.  Lilly was so happy to see me and greeted me with a huge smile and outstretched arms, waiting for me to pick her up.  I thought back to that Monday morning at the Civil Affairs office in Wuhan when she came walking into the room.  Her little face was looking around wondering where am I and who are all these people.

We are so pleased with the way Lilly has adapted to her new world.  So many changes in such a short time.  Her forever family looks nothing like her birth parents or caregivers.  A new language that sounds nothing like the sing song Chinese language, yet she is already repeating so many words and is actually beginning to put 2 words together.  New foods so strange to her palate, yet she is loving boiled peanuts, all kind of fruits (today she had her first "Georgia" peach and she ate almost 2 of them, skin and all), watermelons, fresh green beans (thanks, Uncle Bill & Aunt Patsy), fresh squash, celery, fried chicken and beef jerky  (just like her brothers and Poppa).

Saturday she spent 4 plus hours with Randy & I while Mom and BaBa went to a wedding.  It was our first time for her to help Mammy bake a cake.  At first she wasn't sure about the standing in the chair in front of that strange machine.  Didn't take her long to get into the adding of ingredients and turning the mixer on & off.  We made a banana crumb cake...yummy!

Do I need to add the eggs?

Taste so good...banana cake!!

Easter weekend was the first time Heather took Lilly out to the pool.  Needless to say, I'm sure she had never seen a swimming pool.  All that water was just too much.  She sat very safely in Heather's lap until she watched the water bugs, Walker, Alaina and Ella.  After a time she actually got into the pool with me.  She held on for dear life, but let me swirl her around in the water.  Fast forward 3 weeks...Randy and I took her out there and she was ready to get into the water immediately.  Laughing, squealing, pouring water on herself and Randy....throwing water at him from a cup...she was not ready to get out after about an hour...Looking forward to having her in the water daily when Walker finishes school later this week.  I think by mid summer she will be swimming around by herself with her swimmies.
This is so much fun
My Poppa is so funny

So many more fun times to come.  It is so amazing to share "first" things in her life.  I feel so honored to have the opportunity to show what an amazing world God has created for her to live in.  Later in June, Alaina and Ella will be here for a week.  What a treasure to have all 5 granchildren together.  Looking forward to making memories...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Family time at Easter

Poppa & Ella at the playground

Hampton holding Alaina, Lilly, Walker holding Ella

Alaina at the top of the big slide.

As you can see it is hard to get 5 children ranging from age 15 to 2 to all look the same way and smile, but we tried.  Mainly it was just hard to get them to stop long enough to snap a picture.  Alaina was wiggling on Hampton who was battling a really bad sunburn via a day at the beach.  Ella wanted to sit on the seat and Lilly was just not sure what to make of all these blonde children.

The little girls all did really well playing together.  That does not mean there weren't some tears over sharing trikes and balls.  Ella was like but, that has always been my trike and I'm not sure I like sharing. Thank goodness I had the good idea to buy all new bubbles and bubble wands, goggles, swim mask, pool balls and dive toys for everyone.

Our Saturday started with Miranda & family going over early to meet Lilly.
JB & Miranda showing Lilly a toy from his Mom, Lee.

Ella, Alaina & Lilly

Poor Lilly we woke her up so she could meet more of her family before the shower.  So many changes and new things and people in her life.

After the shower (I'll cover that in a separate post) we changed into shorts and headed out to see Walker play baseball.  It was so hot, but we enjoyed the time outside and Miranda got to see lots of friends and their children.  In a small town everyone goes out to the ball fields to see the children play.

Walker hit it to the fence.

I just love baseball!

Watching the batter from first base.

After hot dogs, french fries and cokes for the kids, we stopped off for bar-b-cue sandwiches to benefit Dalton Luder and some pool time.  No pictures because Mammy was the only adult that braved the cool pool water.  As expected Lilly wanted no part of the pool at first, but as she sat with Mom and saw the other kids having fun she eventually let me take her into the pool.  Alaina and Ella are little water bugs and they had spent some time with LeeLee ( their other grandmother) and swam in her indoor pool.  It helps to keep kids in the water.  It was funny to me how Ella was not cold even though her lips were blue and her teeth chattering, but Lilly never shivered the first time.  Will thought he was going to have a quiet afternoon by the pool reading and catching some rays.  Not happening with 4 lively children around the pool.  Our day ended with steaks cooked on the charcoal grill.  Nothing better than having my family all together around the table sharing a meal.

No one had to be rocked to sleep that night, especially, "Mammy".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

They're Coming!!

Mammy, Alaina & Ella

JB, Miranda, Alaina & Ella
I realized that I had not included any pictures of my other two grandchildren, Alaina & Ella.  They are just such precious little girls and Randy & I love to have them here in our home.  Alaina will be 6 on July 28th and is a kindergarten student at Peeples Elementary School in Peachtree City, GA.  Ella is her lively 3 year old sister that loves going to "Miss Darlene's" each week day.  Mom, Miranda is our middle child.  She is a physical therapist with her own practice in Griffin GA, while her husband, John Ben, (JB) is a math teacher at Starrs Mills High School in Peachtree City.  They live in the small town of Senoia, and love their church, FBC, Senoia.  Mom & Dad just celebrated their 10th anniversary with a Princess Cruise to the eastern Caribbean.

Will & MeMe
Our son, Will, is our youngest child and looks just like his dad.  He like his older sisters went to Athens to UGA, however he has just never left Athens.  He loves his life there with his friends.  I think Athens would be a great place to live, too.  He is the office manager for Athens Sleep and Wellness Center.  His true love is craft beer and I know he would like to find some way to manufacture his own.  Maybe one day.

Everyone will be home for Easter and Randy & I are really looking forward to having everyone here.  It will be a busy time.  Friends are having a shower for Lilly on Saturday morning, Walker has baseball games at noon, Saturday afternoon will be Mary Eve's wonderful Easter Egg hunt.  Sunday we will all be at church celebrating our risen Savior and then family and friends will gather here for lunch, swimming and hunting eggs.  My two brothers & wives, Joe & Marion and Bill & Patsy, will join with my mother, MeMe, along with our pastor & family and other friends.  I think the count is around 25 right now and growing.  Celebrating with family and friends will be a wonderful to introduce Lilly to Easter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jet Lag is REAL!

Can I can I carry a bucket of Doras & ride at the same time?
It doesn't seem possible that we have been home 2 weeks.  All my life I have read about jet lag and let me tell you it is the real deal.  We were so tired when we got home Friday, April 1, I thought nothing would interfere with sleep....well...I was wrong.  I slept relatively well that first night and felt fairly good all day Saturday.  Randy had started with a cold several days before we left China and it really hit him hard on Sat. & Sun.  I was the only one who made it to church on Sunday morning, but by Sun. afternoon, it had begun to drag me down, too.  Hard to describe how you feel, fine one minute and can't make another step the next minute.  You fight to stay awake past 8 PM and then you are wide awake at midnight or 3 AM.  Lilly and the Hulings were battling it too.  You can't explain to a 2 year old why you are wide awake from 12 to 5 AM and then want to sleep until 10 AM.  By mid-week we were all beginning to sleep better, but still waking at odd hours.  Unfortunately by Thursday the cold bug had decided it needed to visit me, too and I have been battling it and a terrible cough.  Hopefully we will all get back to normal in a few more days.

The number one question I hear everywhere I go is, "How is Lilly adjusting?"  I think she is doing really well all things considered.  She is bonding with all of us and it comfortable around all of us.  She loves to eat and we have still not found anything she does not like, except the baby formula they recommended we give her.  She loves, boiled peanuts, hot dogs, hamburgers, onion, bell pepper, edamame, peas & rice, chicken nuggets, broccoli, all kinds of fruit, carrot salad, cherry tomatoes, you name it she will eat it.  Strangely she will eat small amounts of dessert, cake, cookies & ice cream.  Not sure she has had lots of sweets before.  She really likes yogurt type drinks.  What a blessing to have a little one who loves all kinds of food.

Cooking at Mammy's house.
She is still struggling with sleeping through the night.  Heather says she will cry out several times during the night, never really awake, but struggling in her sleep.  You can not really comfort her and once Heather picked her up out of her bed and attempted to comfort her and she wanted her to put her back into her bed.  After several minutes she went back to sleep.  Lilly likes to sit in her stroller or booster seat.  Last Saturday she sat in her stroller for Walker's 2 baseball games.  Not many 2 year olds will do that.  She played for a short time in Randy's lap and then wanted to get back into the stroller.  Heather says she often wants to sit in her booster seat and snap and unsnap her safety belt.  It is obvious to us that she has not had many toys to play with as she seems unsure how to play.  We also believe she has not been taken outside very much either and if she has it has been on concrete.  I have a sand box that all the kids have loved to play in, but she will only squat down by it and scratch around in the edge.  Can't get her interested in picking flowers either, although she does like to ride on the golf cart.  Heather is taking her outside every day for short times.  She is very much her mother's daughter, as she is very hot natured, just like Heather.  It is going to be a long summer.  She also loves kind of girl.  Miranda has sent probably 10 or so pairs of shoes from Alaina & Ella and she can put on her socks and shoes herself and she loves to try all of them on.  Not necessarily matching the same shoes.

Her laughter continues to light up a room.  She is also very ticklish and will just squeal with delight if you tickle her.  She usually laughs out loud when she sees Randy.  Yesterday I was showing Heather the web blog of Jennifer Turquette, who traveled with us the two weeks in China.  Lilly was in her lap and when the blog opened up it had a picture of Steve, Jennifer, and Sophia, and she was so excited to see Sophia.  She just called out and pointed to her picture.  It was the same on all the pictures.  It was like I know that little girl.  She also likes to look at pictures of herself.  Wonder if she had ever seen a picture of herself?
Poppa loves to tickle me.

 I continue to feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to travel to China and share it with all of you.  God has blessed us with such a sweet precious baby girl.  She continues to bring joy into our lives and I look forward to each day with her as we share God's love and His goodness with her.  I'm excited that next weekend JB, Miranda & family and Will are going to be home with us.  It will be a lively noisy house, but in a very good way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hong Kong to Folkston

Our day started with an early wake up call so we could catch the 7 AM shuttle to the airport.  Randy & I carried our bags down early so we could help the Hulings with all their luggage.  As Randy checked out I stood and watched as the sun rose over the mountains and the South China Sea.  Me, a little girl from rural south Georgia watching this amazing site.  I am so thankful that God has allowed me to experience these past 2 weeks.

We arrived at the airport and quickly found the Delta counter.  Traveling international you have to check in at the counter.  The line was long, but we made our way to the counter.  We decided to have breakfast at McDonald's and then find our way to the gate.  The airport is huge and already very busy at this early hour.  The McD's had about 7 cash registers open and a man was directing everyone to the correct line.  It really moved along quickly.

As usual our seats were in the rear of the airplane, which is not a bad thing.  Less people to crawl over and closer to the bathroom.  We are on a very large 777 with individual screens in the seat ahead of you and access to hundreds of movies, tv shows and music channels.  Much better than the plane on the trip over.  Randy Walker, & I are in the seats directly behind Heather, Brian & Lilly.  Hampton is right in front of them.  We all try and settle in for the 15 hour flight.  Oh, My Goodness!!  15 hours!  Deep breath..just take one hour at a time.

Several hours into the flight they serve the first meal.  Okay for airplane food.  I think they are trying to get us into the idea that we are traveling late into the afternoon/evening so that we will try and sleep.  After the meal they dimmed the lights and most people closed the shades on the windows.  Hard for us to get into the mood to sleep because this is our morning and afternoon.

Lilly is content right now to play in her seat and crawl all over Brian and Heather.  She really wants nothing to do with the headphones, but will watch the screen.  Most of the rest of us begin our movie watching marathon.  The plane has at least 8-10 families with adopted children.

About 2-3 hours out of Detroit the crew begins to try and wake us up by turning on cabin lights and serving another meal.  For us the fatigue is really beginning to set in as our internal clocks tell us it is 9-10 at night.  Lilly has been asleep for several hours and we hope we can keep her asleep as long as possible.  As she wakes up she is really upset and has a meltdown.  Another reason to sit in the back of the plane.  Heather & Brian carried her back near the galley and she eventually calmed down.  With all the people using the headphones I don't think she disturbed anyone more than any other child.  Several of the children had their moments.  Thankfully we arrive in the "Motor City".

All of the planes we traveled on throughout the trip have been full.  So we exit with all 280 passengers to begin the process of immigration customs and rechecking bags.  This also the point where Brian and Heather and Lilly present her official papers that have been collected for the past 2 weeks.  They are sealed in an envelope that the families are warned not to tamper with under any circumstances.  Once we go through immigration they are whisked off to another office to review and open the envelope.  Randy, the boys and I anxiously await their return.  Here they come...all smiles...Miss Lilly Rae Huling is now an American citizen, Friday April 1, 2011.  The long days of waiting...the miles of paperwork...and thousands of prayers....she is finally their daughter.

An hour later we say our good-byes to the Farleys as they head to Lexington KY.  A bittersweet time as we have spent the past 2 weeks sharing a wonderful time with this couple.  The Turquettes had already headed out as they only had 90 minutes between flights.  We just pray they made their connection. (Sat.  I had an e-mail from Jen, their plane was delayed, a second plane had engine trouble, another plane sent was too small and they got bumped and did not get home until Sat. at noon)

Finally our last leg of the journey and....again we are in the back of a packed plane, but at least we got on the plane.  They were asking for volunteers to stay for another plane the next day.

So many thoughts going through our mind as we land in Jacksonville.  Those pine trees never looked so good.  As we entered into the atrium, a squealing Addie Jacoby came running to us along with MeMe.  It was so good to see her and all our friends, about 15-20 were there waiting for us.  Landon had a sign welcoming Walker home.  Thanks Gloria for bringing him and the sign was a special touch. Wish I had been awake enough to have had my camera out.

Luggage collected and finally we are on our way home....15 days, thousand of miles, memories, extra luggage, and new friends.... Folkston is in our sight.  Most important of all, Lilly, our long awaited granddaughter is officially a part of our family and we can begin to make memories.

Thank you for tagging along.  It has been an adventure of a lifetime.  I plan to go back and document our amazing day in Beijing and update along and along.  Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.  We truly felt your support.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Day at Guangzhou

Wednesday's final supper

Lilly likes her noodles!

Our final day in GZ had a lazy start.  All 3 families packed most of their luggage on Wednesday, so after breakfast and a final packing we traveled by taxi over to Shaiman Island.  Mostly we wanted to get out of the hotel room.  Hampton and Randy elected to stay behind.

Laughing at her BaBa
Heather wanted to get another pair of shoes for Lilly as they were a lot cheaper than any you can get in the states.  Brian, Walker, Lilly and I did not shop much we just walked and looked around.  Lilly likes to sit in the stroller, so we think she must had been in one before or sat in some type of chair to play.

We walked over to the park right by Lucy's Restaurant.  Lilly did get out of the stroller,but would not really play on any of the equipment.  There were lots of children playing and most of them were adopted ones.  Some had very obvious medical problems.  One cute little boy had a serious split lip problem, but was so happy you quickly saw past the problem.  Another little girl had no arms or just very small stubs.  Both of these children were on the plane with us from Hong Kong to Detroit.  Amazing how all of our stories meshed together in similar fashion.  It is also very common for you to meet families on their second or third adoption.  We met one family in our hotel with 4 biological children that adopted 2 baby girls, about 12 -14 months old.

The flowers are so beautiful
The park was right on the Pearl River, so we walked over to the walkway.  There was a huge tree located right near the wall and under the tree were several couples ballroom dancing.  The music was playing and they would dance around the base of the tree.  All along the riverwalk people were exercising.  There was even a large display board demonstrating moves to do and the area of the body that would benefit by each move.  It is obvious they are very serious about exercise.

Dancing under the tree
We ate a late lunch at McDonald's and checked out of the hotel at 1:30.  Susan met us in the lobby and we loaded in our two vans to go back to the Consulate office to pick up Lilly's passport and visa.  One of our familys, the Turquettes, left that morning by plane to Hong Kong.  Randy & I traveled with the Farley family in one van and the Hulings in the other van  We left at 2:15 because the consulate is very strict about appointment times and ours was at 3:30.  Susan has seen it take an hour to get there, so she always allows plenty of time.  Of course it took us 20 minutes.  We had to just sit in the van and wait.  We finally said our good-byes to Susan around 4 o'clock.  With passport and visa in hand we said good-bye to GZ and headed to Hong Kong.

Have you ever been on, "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" in Disney World?  Well, if you have you can say you have been in a taxi or van in China.  We traveled 3 hours in bumper to bumper traffic.  Hey, no problem, you just shift over to the emergency lane until you see police and then you slide back into regular lanes.  We have no idea how fast we were going, probably better that we do not know.  All 3 hours the countryside almost never changed....high rise apartments and manufacturing.  The only open space was on the side of the mountains or river marsh.

As we approached  Hong Kong we had to go through customs.  By using the 2 small vans we did not have to get out and unload our luggage.  We were scanned for temperature elevation.  I guess if we had a fever they would not have let us in.
Hong Kong wildfire

We saw a familiar sight on the hillside right as we cleared customs.  A wildfire right by the road.  It looked like it was threatening several houses.  Unfortunately we did not see much of Hong Kong.  Our hotel was right at the airport and it is out from the harbor on the other side of the island.

It was an early bedtime as we had a early call to head to the airport at 7 AM.