Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's Been Six Months Since we Traveled to China

It's amazing to see this picture of Sophie 6 months ago. She has grown so much, 4 pounds and 2 inches to be exact, and has soooo much more hair. Here she is adorned in a pink traditional silk outfit purchased on Shamien Island.

Our little Chinese Sweet Pea waiting to travel home to her new life in America.

June 8th is the 6 month anniversary of traveling to China, so I thought I'd commemorate the occasion by sharing some pictures and memories from that trip. It's funny how we all instantly bonded and felt like family upon meeting each other. We were stuck in a big bus traveling all around Beijing in 19 degree weather with a wind chill that made it seem like sub-zero temperatures. We all had a great story that brought us to adopting from China. The one other commonality was that we all had a strong belief in God, his perfect timing, and generous provision. We spent the first weekend together in Beijing, then some of us separated and went off to different provinces to pick up our new children. But then we reconvened in Guangzhou to show off our sweet little children. We had been through so much together in such a short time. I hope that we'll always stay in touch and that we'll commit to getting together regularly for reunions.

The Gammariello's

We're loving being a family of five!

This is the entire traveling group posing on the staircase at the Asia International Hotel in Guangzhou. Our wonderful tour guides, Maggie and Rosa took this picture.

Our travel group was so much fun. We swapped stories, antibiotics, baby clothes, diaper, formula, and snacks. Eating together as a group was always a pleasure. We saw some pretty "interesting" food choices and even tried a few new things.

All the moms with their newly adopted children
America's newest soon-to-be citizens!

Eating was always a big event for our group. We loved the breakfasts with a great variety of American and Asian foods. Imagine eating Udon soup for breakfast along with plain rice congee, lox and bagels, and french toast!

The Loudenbacks and Woodruffs enjoy the fantastic buffet breakfast in the restaurant that rotates 360 degrees every hour.

The Downing's

Ronnie, Sandy, Mitchell, and Qing Shuang are enjoying being a new family. Courtney and Josh loved hanging out with Mitchell! They loved playing Chinese hacky sac in the hotel hallways and making fun of translations gone wrong.

The Gager's

Karl, Jenn, and Karleigh Mei can't wait to take Karleigh home to meet their other kids. Karl showed us cool tricks and made it something to look forward to at meal time!

The Evan's

Chet, Ann, and Matthew begin their new forever family. We got to share a nice dinner with them and watch "foobers (food-boogers- a term made up at the Gammariello family dinner table)" come out of our cleft affected children's noses.

The Loudenback's and Mr. Jordan

Laurie and Aaron (Scott is taking the photo) pose with the famous "Jordan" the Christian store owner on Shamian Island known by all the AWAA families. Laurie showed us that Jordan had the best deals on squeaky shoes in all of Guangzhou. Her advice on stocking up squeaky shoes for all growth stages was priceless.

The Woodruff's

Dave, Amy and Abby are excited to be in the Olympic Birds' Nest. This was before they met their newest addition, Elisabeth.

The Bythewoods'

and finally, Jim, Rebecca, and daughters-Jennifer and Kimberly go sight-seeing together in Guangzhou.

The Jacobs' and Gammariello's
We traveled to Jiangyin City, Jiangsu with another couple from Ontario, Canada, Lee and Leslie Jacobs. Our daughters, Lyla and Sophie, slept in adjoining cribs for the first year of their lives. Here we are posing in front of the Children's Social Welfare Institute in Jiangyin City after a wonderful tour of the orphanage. We were welcomed like old friends and treated to a lunch fit for royalty. There was a sense of love and caring very apparent from the moment we entered the glass doors of this modern, clean orphanage.

The Jacobs'

We were blessed to be able to travel in Sophie's province with another couple. Lee and Les were such nice people whom we enjoyed eating breakfast with every morning. We loved their Canadian "accents." eh?

The memories of our trip to China are too numerous to include here, but we know we will never forget those two weeks spent halfway across the world.

Monday, June 1, 2009

i <3 mei mei

Courtney posted these pictures of her mei mei. Can you tell that Sophie is her favorite subject to photograph? She sorted through 400 pictures of Sophie taken over the last 2 weeks and finally chose these 12. Enjoy her artistic creativity! Note: The pictures with Courtney in them were either taken by Josh or me.

modeling her sparkly shoes in front of the couch.
is it possible to go up a slide?

Courtney's favorite from that sunny day at the park. :)
Crazy driver at the Santa Barbara Zoo...
Do I look cool or goofy?
They were trying to take cover from the bird poop!
One of her favorite animals at the zoo is the giraffe (look carefully in the background).
Goofing around with her brother, cousins Elizabeth and Mike at the park by Nonie's house.
Her Godmother and cousin, Analise, just adores Sophie as much as Josh!
And there's Chloe, waiting for any little morsel of string cheese dropped by Sophie.
Sophie has so much fun at the park with her Mei Mei!