Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hump Day

Well, typical of many things about my middle-aged self,  I seemed to have worn out faster than I expected.  Today was the half way marker of the trip.  Tonight I have been sad.  Before I decided to be sad, I was just grumpy - that is the way it usually goes with me.  I remind myself of an over-tired toddler actually.  And I think that is probably half of it.  I am a little weary of Julia's cold which woke her often in the middle of the night and keeps her on my hip the large portion of the day.  I have long lists of many things to do before the rest of the Depret-Guillaumes come home.  I hope my expectations can meet my reality soon, otherwise it could get uglier....


Here is tonight's version of the other half of the family.  The internet connection was worse today so the picture is rather fuzzy, but I am still so happy to see them for a few minutes each day.  It sounds like all is still going well.  Ellie looks a little floppy in this picture because about two minutes later she was asleep.  She just falls asleep anywhere, I have seen it twice now and it reminds me of puppies who will all of the sudden drift off where ever they are.   

Tomorrow night the Nortons are coming over to help me set up Ellie's crib.  Julia's crib had Maggie and James in it and then went to India with the Richmond family where two of their children used it.  For some reason they chose to bring it back and we still had it in our basement (not suprising for those of you who know us) when Julia came along.  I enjoyed setting it up for her, paint chipped and all.  It had history.  Loved children had rested there.

Happily, Julia is still in that crib, so we needed a second.  Ellie's crib comes from precious friends of ours whose four children used it.  Two of the Cochrane clan were adopted from China.  Their third child, their Julia, was inspiration for our whole adoption journey so I just love that Ellie will now be using something from them!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doing Well....

I know I have not written any thing deep in awhile ... but these three are just so distracting!  Isn't that just the cutest picture?!  I know I sound like "all the other adoptive mother bloggers" out there but I can't help it.

And this one is great too!!!  Too bad I do not know how to crop the photo in this format.

They had another good night of sleep!  Serge actually had to wake her this morning he said.  (I love this child already!!)  She was much more animated today when we talked.  At first I thought she was going to make a nice audience for Julia, tonight I am thinking they might have to share the stage.  You can see the physical delays for certain, but she loves to be held which is a great sign and is starting to make eye contact with them - also good. 

The other half of the family is doing okay too.  Ginny, the dog is pretty depressed and Julia cried when we had to say good bye to Serge and James this morning.  Maggie and I have enjoyed all of our time to talk, talk, talk and watch "chick flicks", but are ready for them to come home too.

Ellie again

Here is today's Ellie picture.  It is hard to know what else to write.  I mean, sure, I could look at photos of her all day ....
Apparently she slept through the night without a peep which is more than I can say for Julia since they left!  I am still feeling like I have the easier end of the deal though.  Serge and James seemed to be doing okay - perhaps a little tired of Chinese hamburgers, but other than that, good.  Tomorrow they are going to tour the "Ancient University" and see some relics of a famous dead person.  (Obviously I am forgetting some key point to the second half of that agenda.) 
The distance is growing as the days go by and I am feeling like the remainder of the trip is going to feel pretty long - at least on this end.  I want to say, "OK you got her!  Can you come home now?!".  
I miss my boys too. 
A lot.

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Day as a D-G

Here are two photos from yesterday.  When they went back to the hotel room they discovered that she had three pairs of pants on!

Makes you want to run over and get your own doesn't it??

We are hoping their first night together is quiet.
More photos soon??  I hope.

She found them

Well obviously the picture quality is not good, but there they are all together!  She looked happy by the time they called me anyway. 
If James has time he will send more photos.  I did not get to hear much of the story of how it went.  She had a LOT of clothes on.  Serge said she was sweating underneath them all!  They think she is close in size to Julia but have not weighed her or tried on any of the clothes I packed for her yet.  Hopefully there will be more to say tomorrow, but for now am glad they all looked O.K.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Silent Night

I have experienced a lot of different kinds of silence.  The beautiful kind with deep friends or family where you do not have to talk to be comfortable together.  The awkward kind where people aren't responding to your phone calls or emails and you wonder what you might have done or said wrong.  The angry silence between husband and wife or parent and child, where one is trying to punish the other.
Tonight, I have the anxious kind. 
At around 9 pm our time the guys should be receiving Ellie.  There will be procedures and paperwork and who knows what, such that they may not get back to the hotel room to communicate with me until midnight or later.  I have told them to wake me up though!

Please pray for all three of them. 
It is likely that Ellie has never seen a man before.  I'd bet money that she has not seen a bearded Italian looking guy!!
It is not unheard of for the children to cry for hours after being given to their parents.  Sometimes even days (I may have left that little piece of information out of my notes for Serge and James...).  The alternative reaction is for them to "shut down" - they sit and stare and won't interact with anyone.  It is kind of spooky (there is a video about it on this forum I am on).  Either way the next day or two is likely to be hard.

I have been praying that the Lord will give her a vision of her father and her brother (and the rest of us, but mostly them).  He did that in the Bible.  I see no reason why He would not for her.  May her dreams right now be that they are safe and warm people that she can trust!  May they have strength and patience and communicate in the universal language of love to her:  
"You are wanted, Ellie."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Photos from China

Serge and James at Tiananmen Square.

James at The Great Wall.

Well, of course there are others, but we are having technical difficulties in loading them.  If tomorrow proves faster, I will try for some others.  They were also able to go to the Forbidden City and an acrobat show.  Last night included the traditional Peking duck dinner, though Serge seemed most fond of the dumplings on the breakfast bar.

They are now on their way to Ellie's province!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roller Coasters

In about 62 hours the guys will meet Ellie - not that anybody is counting.

The last two mornings I have woken up with this clicking sound in my head - the one you hear when you are on a roller coaster going up.

I hate roller coasters.

When we were first married I tried to like them because Serge loves them.  We would often meet his siblings and their spouses at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion and everybody (but me) liked riding them.  He would try to talk me into going on different ones by telling me how the hydraulics on this particular model made the ride smooth, not jerky.  (You can hear him, I know)  And about once a year, I would fall for his persuasions.  I didn't like any of them.  I was genuinely happy to be the keeper of the coats and the diet cokes.
Serge says what he likes about a good roller coaster is that they are virtually risk free excitement.  You can pretend like you are doing something exciting and dangerous without it being so.

Maybe this is why faith is easier for him - or so it seems to me.  Life is more or less like a roller coaster.  All of the ups and downs and unforseen bends in the road, the jerks, all of it ending with a sudden stop (I'm getting sick just thinking about it).  As believers in our good and gracious God, we know the end is safe and the track is laid by the Almighty.  It doesn't, however, feel that way.

Last night after we talked to the guys, Maggie said, "you know, when they come back, it's not going to be normal." 
Yeah, I know. 
"It'll be a new normal," I answer, because it seems like the right thing for the mother to say.

I'm always a bit suspicious of people who write only about the good and the up on their blogs or in their books.  It feels fake to me.  I realize it is difficult to be transparent, and even if you want to, so many of life's troubles involve other people and you have to be careful writing about others.  But I want to be honest and say that while I am very excited that we will soon have Ellie joining us, I am also very, very nervous about what this is going to look like in a practical way.  I believe this is the roller coaster we were meant to get on - Serge and I as well as Maggie and James and Julia - but I don't think for a minute that it is going to be without a lot of those places where we feel like we are dangling upside down in a loop wondering why on earth we chose to get on this thing. 

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Since there is not much to say about the boys in China (they slept OK - woke up every couple of hours due to the time change) I will post a few pictures from our day:

I took Julia to the zoo for the first time.  It was a lovely day, but honestly she was far more interested in the other preschoolers there than the animals.

Maggie painted her bathroom while we were gone.

And Ginny decided to "play spa" Golden Retriever style, so Maggie gave her a bath.  I don't think either one of them were particularly happy about it.  This was probably about the moment when Maggie really started missing James.

Maybe tomorrow we'll have some photos from China....

Safe Landings

We had a brief conversation with Serge and James this morning.  The plane trip was "long" but uneventful (14 hours in case you were wondering).  They had an empty seat next to them which is almost unheard of!  Then an hour and forty minute car ride to the hotel.  Apparently the traffic is pretty phenomenal.  Twenty-two million people I think Serge said in the city.  They had had dinner with their facilitator (chicken for James and spicy beef for Serge) and were looking longingly at their tiny hotel beds. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You're Tired, I'm tired, Can you imagine how tired they are??

I think the adrenaline of the past few weeks is finally beginning to wane as I am having trouble putting together a coherant thought.  Serge and James called around 11 this morning from the Chicago airport.  They sounded tired.  It might have been the 4 hours of sleep or the sausage biscuits they had for second breakfast.  Their plane departed on time at 1 pm EST and should land in Beijing around 3 am.  It is possible we might hear from them in the wee hours.
Maggie and I spent the day trying to reassemble the house and catch up on laundry - no small feat after three weeks of neglect.  You have to keep a pretty steady pace to out run Julia's efforts in the opposite direction too.  Good conversations and a lot of good "girl food". 
Serge recorded a book for Julia which she enjoyed a great deal today.  Ginny is thoroughly depressed.  I think she is hoping if she continues that Golden Retriever thing, one of us will let her sleep with us.

Sticky Situation

I wanted to title this post with a cuss word and TSA, but it seemed the wrong way to start when you were planning to quote scripture later.  My friend Ginger can do that kind of thing, it looks good on her, but I am not sure I can pull it off.

The boys took off this morning.  At 6:46a.m.  Airport farewells lack the romance of days past when you could wave at them on the airplane stairs, but I saw them to security at least.  I tried to snap a few photos that didn't include random TSA employees, but that was difficult too.

Earlier we had checked the two very large and very full suitcases (thank you Cheri and Trisha).  One had been 2 pounds over the weight limit - "Quick! Grab something and put it in your carry on we were advised."  I was digging for the formula container when Serge said, "no, grab food."  We look at the granola bars - they don't weigh enough.  Wait! Peanut butter - two jars - one pound each.  We got it!  We stuffed those babies in the carry on.  Suitcase - zipped, locked, latched and loaded.

Well, my more experienced readers will immediately see the problem: peanut butter doesn't make it through security.
James texts me later to tell me so.  Bummer.

I am talking to Jesus while I drive home.  "Why? (about the peanut butter).  Why did we pick that?  We should have known better!  Couldn't You have moved our hands to something else?"
I remember - sort of - the verse in Romans 8 about the Lord and those who love Him and good things and all.
"Tell me, now, how is this good?" I ask.  I am not really angry, just asking Him to sometime show me please.  But then I get on a roll and name a few other things - "How was this, and this, and this good?"  The night I spent in the Charlotte airport last week instead of eating the celebratory meal that Maggie had planned, for example.  And - just for good measure, I throw in a biggie - "How was Philip dying a good thing?"  Because if you are going to risk being struck down by the Almighty you should just go for it all, right?

Then the patient response - the still, small voice - "I didn't say the things were good, Stewart, I said I work them for good."


"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose"  -  Romans 8:28 (ESV)

P.S. I'll add a photo when "Technical Support" wakes up.  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012


It has taken most of our twenty year marriage to release the icy grip of control I have had on my life and let Serge take care of me occasionally.  At an altitude of 7500 feet somewhere between Roanoke and Charlotte, the release comes and it occurs to me - for the first time in the five days - that I might have to take care of him.
If you had asked me before, I would have matter-of-factly recited to you the statistical probability that I would outlive him by 7 years and therefore, of course, at some point be his care giver.  But from a practical standpoint I never considered it.
This is the man that while (more than once) catching the throw up of our children, did not catch the viruses.  He evades most illnesses, has never had the flu, nor surgery, nor anything else on those pesky forms.  In answer to all of the hospital questions about medical history, the answers were no and no and no.
My vision of our old age was of me sitting in a wheel chair in the sun keeping him company while he constructed the handicap ramp to our front door.

One of the most grace-filled and stunning things to come out of the past two weeks is the beautiful responses of people who love us and care for us.  It has just been humbling.  Interestingly, many others felt the same things I did - "Serge? sick? no way".

However our story ends, undoubtably not as I expect, I am so, so thankful for the friends and family who love us, and the priviledge of being married to my mostly invincible husband!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The other night Maggie made an oatmeal cake.  It was great.  When our guests left, 3/4 of the cake was gone too. 
Sometimes I think Maggie is a really gifted cook.  She is.
The fresh ground whole wheat, the eggs from our back yard chickens, the real butter, of course.....
But the biggest difference between Maggie's oatmeal cake and the one in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is that she actually made it.
One cake is in a picture and the other is, or was, on our table.

With one traditional exception, I am not fond of Valentine's day.
The world celebrates a day about "love" - but only the kind that fits on a Hallmark card - not the kind that sits at your kitchen table. 
Not the kind that mixes sugar and salt. 
Or that whips through hard butter and hard hearts. 
Or that stays in the fiery furnace of life to produce something edible and good.

Valentine's cards and flowers can be sweet, but Serge making me coffee every morning that he doesn't even drink, or going to work every day to provide for our family, or going to China to pick up a baby girl, that's the kind of love you can put on your table. 
The difference between the love in the card and the love in your prewarmed car in the drive way is like the difference between Maggie's cake and the BHG picture.  I'll take the real cake, even if a messy kitchen comes with it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord..."  Jeremiah 17:7

Serge has never been one to live life waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When we were first married I criticized that in my heart.  Only the shallow or simple would not worry I reasoned.
Now that we have a faith that calls for trust in a good God, I see it a bit differently.
"What are we going to do now?" I ask lying together in a hospital bed at 3 a.m.
"Get up and go to work in the morning." he answers with a smile.  "Only, now you'll have to drive me!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


There will be a time to debate the pros and cons of adoption, especially international adoption.  I say that only to make clear that I know that it is not without controversy, legitmate controversy.  Just like a short-term missions trip - there are those called to go, those called to support them, and those who don't agree with the idea at all. 
We happened to have been called to adopt. 
From China. 
Or so we think, although it has been a most long time coming.  Most of my contemporaries are long done with new children, but after being suprised with Julia two years ago, all of my excuses for why we should not continue with this plan (conceived 7 years past ...) went out the window.  So here we are, with a referral, meaning we have been assigned a particular child and have a picture and a name and all of that, waiting for what is called a TA (travel approval), a document from China that essentially invites us to come to their country and pick her up. 
Elanor is 9 months younger than Julia.  We hope to go get her in February.  No doubt it will be a most difficult adjustment for ALL of us...

Monday, February 6, 2012


Friday morning at 7:30 Serge calls me to say that he has found Jack's body.  On the old, buried railroad bed below our house.  We meet with sheet and sled to move him.  He is at least a couple of days dead, but eight days missing, so despite the closure at one level, there are a hundred questions at another.

He was all dog - and never seemed to forget it.  He would do anything for food, made sure that he did not stay clean for more than 48 hours, and dragged home every interesting thing he could get his jaw around. 

I pull the sled with 110 pounds of dog in it a half mile across a wet soggy hay field while Serge makes the very steep climb back home to get the truck and meet me at the road.  It is a heavy load, but I still believe I got the better job of the two. 

We have lived a lot here, but have also buried a lot here.  Jack has been part of  it all and it seems almost wrong to look out the windows the next morning to the back yard.  He should be there barking at the deer and tormenting the squirrels.