Adoption Trip Part 4: Official Business and Orphanage Visit

I’m back with Part 4 of our China trip recap.  We finally had our girl but we still had several more days in her city to finalize the adoption and apply for her passport.

She woke up on her first morning with us quiet and reserved.  On her first trip to a hotel buffet we learned that she hated fruit, refused to drink, but could eat three hard boiled eggs and bacon.  We had to get our energy up for a long day of official appointments.

The first twenty four hours with your new child is considered a “harmonious period”.  For this period you just have guardianship of your child.  The adoption is not yet final.  The next morning we returned to the government office to finalize the adoptions by signing paperwork and taking an oath.

This is the room in which we received Quinn.  It was so strange to be back in that room.

There was a lot of sitting around and waiting for your turn to be called.

It’s official!  From this moment on she is officially forever an Elsbury.

I believe our first stop was to a notary office that involved climbing numerous flights of stairs to sit in a blazing hot room.  Next up was getting her passport photo taken.  It took forever because the children had to have their head perfectly straight, no smiling, and no crying for the photos.  During the long wait the older siblings took to their electronics.  Official business is boring.

Passport photo complete.  Please note there are more siblings sitting outside with their face in their electronics.  I’m telling you, this errand took forever.

The final stop was to apply for her Chinese passport.  Another building, another waiting room.  Someone was getting sassy.

We finally made it back to the hotel and were starving.  Shane ran out to get carry out with our guide.  The restaurant menu had lots of interesting options, including these whole turtles.

Meanwhile the girls were having a little party in the hallway.  I love that our agency has most of the families stay on the same floor together.  Hall parties were a great way to pass the time and let the littles run out their energy.

Back in the room and being entertained by the big guy.

Time for a little swim.  Can you say adorable?

After a long day of official business these kids needed to have some fun.  I am so grateful for all of the amazing siblings in our travel group.

After swimming it was time to turn in for the night.

The next morning we had a completely free day ahead of us.  Many of the other families were visiting their child’s orphanage this day but ours was planned for another day so we had an entire day to kill.

Her first ride in the carrier was a success.  She slept through our entire lunch.

Anderson was elated because we agreed to eat at Pizza Hut.  After a week of Chinese food he was in need of some pizza.

There was a mall across the street from our hotel.  Since it was raining we decided to wander around the stores for a while.  Already a shoe gal.  How can you say no to that face?

There was a inflatable obstacle course that you could pay a couple yuan and play for as long as you want.  Anderson loved it.

He really wanted to play with some of the other kids but he was nervous because they (obviously) didn’t speak English.  With just a little gesturing they worked it out and started playing tag.

For dinner we wandered into a hot pot restaurant.  This was a highly entertaining experience.  A giant bowl of boiling liquid and a hyper two year old?  Not the best idea.  We had no idea what we were ordering and communicated to our server with a lot of charades and very poor translation app.  We ended up with the most random assortment of ingredients, but it was still tasty.  After dinner it was back to our hotel for bedtime.

The next morning it was time for our visit to Collins’ orphanage.

Driving up to the gates I was nervous.  When we were in China before we did not visit the orphanage because Quinn lived off site in a small foster home located in a little apartment across town.  Knowing that hundreds of children lived in this building made my heart heavy before we even entered the building.

As we walked across the grounds we saw this playground.  It looked nice, but there were no children outdoors playing.

Headed into the building.

Our first stop was to the Show Hope unit’s green room.  Collins spent two years in this room.  Three weeks before we arrived she was moved from here to a foster family apartment on the orphanage grounds.  As soon as we walked in she ran right to the ladies she was so familiar with and had been missing for the past few weeks.

This woman was Collins’ primary nanny.  Not only did Collins seem excited to see her but she seemed to be excited to see Collins.  You could tell she genuinely cared for our girl.

We were able to ask lots of questions about Collins and her history, her likes, her dislikes, her routine, and everything we could possibly think of to ask.  There was also a lot of discussion about how all of Collins hair had been cut off.  They did not seem too happy about this turn of events 😉  We were grateful that one of the nurses speaks excellent English and was able to translate as our guide was hopping between our family and another family visiting a different room with their son.

While the staff doted on our girl we were able to explore the room and love on the other kids.  As a side note: I deliberately am leaving out most of the photos of the other children cared for here.  If you happened to have stumbled upon my blog and are a parent of another child in the green room of Show Hope Zhengzhou during this time, shoot me an email.  I may have photos of your child.  We took a lot in hopes of being able to share with other parents.  We were so grateful of those that went before us while we were waiting!

Her crib.  I am thankful for the mattress and warm blankets as so many kiddos are not so fortunate.

The play area.

The other room of cribs.  I had the same experience here as I did when we visited Quinn’s foster home.  I walked into the crib rooms and assumed the kids were elsewhere because it was so quiet.  Only when I peaked into the beds did I realize that most of the children were in their beds awake but silent.

Play area on the right, beds in both rooms on the left.

Each child had a bin with their medications labeled with their name and photo.

One last photo before we said goodbye to these lovely women.  We are so thankful for them and for Show Hope for caring for Collins.

We then toured other areas of the orphanage.

Many more rooms filled with babies.

Where baths are given.

Look at all of those bottles lined up on the counter.

Hundreds of babies requires a lot of diapers.

The brightest spot in the building is where the laundry dries.

We then moved on to where the older children live.  Cribs are replaced by rows of beds.

I think there is something powerful about this photo. Anderson is peaking into this classroom of boys.  He quietly walked down this hallway, silently looking into each room.  He then came up and whispered in my ear “These kids actually live here? Like all the time?”.  Obviously over the past three years there has been a lot of talk of adoption and children that don’t have a mom or dad.  Seeing the infants and toddlers he was expecting.  But seeing boys his age?  I think this is the moment when the tragedy of this building hit home.  It was a lot for a six year old brain to handle.

Next we walked across the yard to the building containing the foster family apartments.  Shane noticed the shards of glass atop the wall.  Not sure if it was to keep things out or in the walls, but it made me uneasy.

Outside of each apartment was a photo of the family and the children they care for.  These are the seven boys that are currently with them.  That blank yellow spot?  Just a couple of days earlier had a photo of Collins.

Her foster mom was gracious enough to welcome us into her home.  All of the boys were currently at school.

They all share this one tiny bedroom.  She shared with us that Collins was the first girl she had ever had and she was only there for three weeks.  I think this made her a bit sad.

We saw this happy gentleman coming back from his garden.  His smile brightened my day.

See that bag in Collins’ hand?  They are shrimp flakes.  She told us they were one of Collins’ favorite snacks.  She also gave a bag to Anderson who politely smiled and took it from her.  When we later got into the van he happily handed them over to Collins.  Shrimp flakes taste and smell exactly like they sound.

She also shared with us that bottles give Collins diarrhea and she hates fruit, especially apples and peaches.  Remember back on the day we arrived in Zhengzhou and we received information on our child’s likes and dislikes before heading to the store?  Ours said Collins was primarily bottle fed and her favorite snacks were apples and peaches.  What?  I think something was lost in translation.  This explains why we had yet to get her to drink a bottle and she spit every piece of fruit back at us.

One last photo with our lovely guide before leaving the orphanage.

An emotional day calls for not one, not two, but three suckers.

Guess what Anderson wanted to do again?  Yep, swim!

Time to find some dinner.  She is already starting to look like him.

We called this the tomato noodle restaurant.

Chopsticks and a spoon.  He starting to eat like a local.

These cute girls sitting at the table next to us kept talking to Anderson.  They were so sweet and wanted to practice their English.

These light-up ride on toys on the side walk looked like so much fun.

The boys couldn’t resist.  They needed to take this fun thing for a spin.

Whew!  If you made it this far, I’m impressed.  That was a long one.  I better stop here.  I’ll pick up next time with our final days in ZZ, then on to Guangzhou.


Adoption Trip Part 3: Gotcha Day

In my last recap we had just arrived in Zhengzhou and had settled in for our last night before meeting Collins.

The day was finally here!  We awoke before the alarm full of jittery energy.

While I was getting ready I plugged in the hotel provided hair dryer, turned it on, and the room went black.  We were hoping the breaker just needed to be reset so we located the box and tried everything we knew how but we could not get the power back on.

We eventually gave up and called the front desk.  A very nice maintenance gentleman came up and proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes on a ladder working in the closet.  He ended up having to replace multiple fuses and get us a new hairdryer.  It was a huge ordeal that did not help to add to my already stressed mood.  Plus, I was getting ready to meet my newest daughter.  I did not want to do that with wet hair!

I was too nervous to eat much, but Anderson hit the breakfast buffet like a champ.

After breakfast we loaded onto the bus and headed to the government office where we would meet our kids.  Our group consisted of 12 families adopting 13 kids.  Typically the bus was pretty loud and rowdy.  This morning it was eerily quiet as the importance of the day hung in the air.

Walking into the room where we would meet our children.  Several of the kids were already there when we arrived (Collins wasn’t there yet).  It was a different room than where we met Quinn.  The room is crowded and loud.  Lots of nervous parents.  Lots of scared and crying kids.  Picture a chaotic scene.  To respect the privacy of the other families I haven’t included any pictures of how crowded and crazy the room was.  But trust me, it was.

After about half of the kids had arrived, I heard one of our guides say that the children from the Zhengzhou orphanage had arrived.  I knew that was us so I quickly ran to the entrance.  Here came the orphanage officer with a little peanut that I instantly recognized as our Collins.

Our first moment together.  I was already smitten with the scared little girl.

Meeting baba and Anderson.  Snacks always make you feel better.

I can’t believe we finally have our girl.

The emotions of those first few minutes are overwhelming.  Joy and relief that you finally have the child you have been longing for for months, yet grief for the loss and terrifying change that they are experiencing.  This photo reminded me of my favorite photo from Quinn’s gotcha day.

I can hardly believe that is the same Quinn we know today.  What a difference two years makes.

While the orphanage officer showed Shane the few items in her bag, the toys we sent in her care package and a photo album, our guide was showing Collins pics of Quinn and Owen (I’m still confused as to how she had photos of them on her phone?).

Scared, but safe.

The same gentleman brought Quinn to us on her gotcha day.  He asked to see current pictures of her and asked how she was doing.  He commented on how beautiful she is.  He also told us that he did not know we were coming for Collins.  He said had he known, he would not have moved her to the foster family.

We then found a semi-quiet corner to sit down and look at the photos in the album she was sent with.  She seemed to like looking at photos of her nannies.

Finally some eye contact!  And the first glimpses of a smile.

Peek-a-boo!  Anderson was already rocking his role as big brother.  He was able to connect with her and break through her shell better than us scary adults could.

After an hour or so she started to feel brave and climbed down from my lap.  We weren’t sure how well she could walk or how strong she would be.

All the children had arrived and paperwork signed.  It was time to head out.  Collins took my hand and led me around as if she knew exactly where we were going.

A bunch of American families standing on the sidewalk holding (mostly crying) Chinese children earns some funny looks from passers by.

Such a momentous event takes place on such an unassuming block.

That’s not our bus.

Already obsessed with feeding mama.  Tip: When you have just met your child, eat whatever slobbery nasty snack they place in your mouth and smile about it 🙂

Getting a family is tiring work.  Fast asleep on the way back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel it was time to play and get to know each other.

Pretty girl.  I have had several people ask we if we had to pack clothes for her or if she came with clothes.  This outfit she was wearing and her photo album are the only items that came with her.

Testing out a headband.  Not sure she was a fan.

By dinner time we were all hungry so I sent Anderson and Shane out to find some dinner.  They came back with takeout from this restaurant and it was delicious.

This was when we discovered her love for fried rice.  See that giant bowl?  That little 15 pound peanut ate her way through most of it.

It had been a long and emotional day for us all, so when Anderson asked it he could go swimming we felt like he had deserved some fun.

Hanging on the deck of the pool while Anderson swam.

Her first bath with us.  She loved it!  This was such a difference from Quinn who was terrified of the bath tub the entire time we were in China.

All clean and jammied up.

Noodle soup.  The perfect bedtime snack.

All snuggled up in her crib next to our bed.  This is another big difference from her sister.  Quinn would not get any where near her crib and slept with us for the first 3 months.  When Collins got sleepy she walked over and pointed to the crib.

She fell right to sleep and slept most of the night, only waking a couple of times to see if we were still there.  She had slept her last night without a family in a room full of cribs.  She was now a dearly loved daughter and sister.  Welcome to the family Collins Violet Elsbury.



Linking up for Tuesday Talk

Adoption Trip: Beijing Part 2

I’m back to continue the recap of our adoption trip to bring Collins home.  On our final full day in Beijing we loaded up the bus, once again sat in horrific traffic (do we sense a theme here?), and headed to The Great Wall of China.

Seeing the masterpiece that is The Great Wall truly is a once (or twice 😉 ) in a lifetime experience.

Anderson’s take on it? “This is awesome!”  Not many first graders in Indiana can say they have walked on the wall.

This shot shows how steep most of the steps are.  Straight up and a lot of the steps are tall.  Like above my knee tall.  Anderson was determined to be the first in our group to the top.

Meanwhile…Climbing these steps is hard work!  (Notice him trekking along without us behind me.  He did not want to get beat.)

First to the top!  Mission accomplished!

When we adopted Quinn in 2015 our travel group sweet talked our guide into taking us to the Mutinayu portion of the great wall where we were able to take a ski lift up and a toboggan down.  Unfortunately, this time we weren’t so lucky.  Our agency typically takes groups to the Juyongguan area and that is where we went this time around.  While it was nice to visit a different area, we MUCH preferred the Mutinayu portion from our previous trip.  The highway literally ran right through this area of the wall which took away some of the charm, plus the views were not as vast.  Our biggest disappointment with this portion of the trip was that Anderson didn’t get to experience the toboggan ride down the wall.  That being said, it was still an adventure of a lifetime.

Why yes, I did bring my selfie stick.  When in China…

Surveying his kingdom.  The mountains are beautiful.

If you would have asked me in 2015, I NEVER would have guessed I would be standing on the Great Wall again with this guy.

Visitors had been using these little lookout towers as a restroom and the maintenance guy was not happy about it.

I’m pretty sure if I were stuck on the wall during a thunderstorm I would be more worried about all of the umbrellas and selfie sticks acting as lightning rods than the cell phone in my pocket.

He worked up an appetite climbing all of those stairs.  Thankfully mama came prepared with an Oreo treat.

Shane is an excellent model of safe behavior.

Anderson wanted in on the selfie stick action.

What an amazing experience.

Once the group was loaded back onto the bus we made our way to a jade factory owned by the Chinese government.  First we enjoyed a lunch served family style.

Lots of beautiful jade pieces plus an entire showroom of jewelry and souvenirs for sale.

Due to the, guess what???, traffic, we left the jade factory and headed straight to the acrobat show.  Last time we opted out of this activity because we had heard mixed reviews.  We figured it was something Anderson would enjoy, so this time we said yes.  The show was in an old movie theater and was packed with people.  Prior to the acrobat show there was some sort of charity auction where a gentleman wrote these huge scrolls then people bid/volunteered to go up on stage.  All I know is that it was all in Mandarin and we had absolutely no idea what was going on.  At that moment it hit me.  This is what we will sound like to our new children.  Someone speaking a million miles an hour in a different language and you have zero idea what they are talking about.  It was a sobering moment.

The acrobat show turned out to be a lot of fun.  Our favorite act was these two guys spinning around in two giant spinning hamster wheel type things.  They had no fear!  Another highlight was the motorcycles in the sphere.  Anderson definitely loved that part.

After the show our guide handed each of us these awesome panda hats.  Because nothing says “acrobat souvenir” like a winter panda hat.  These silly hats turned out to be Quinn’s favorite thing we brought home.

Back at the hotel we headed out on our own for a bit more exploring.  I know just reading that we were wandering around Beijing at night on our own is giving my mom hives.  Sorry, mom!  We found a delicious pizza place for dinner and Anderson fell asleep at the table.  I wish I had snapped a pic!

All over China we encountered groups of people dancing, exercising, or other fun group activities.  These folks were doing a beautiful dance with scarves.

The next morning we were fortunate to meet up with some friends from our previous travel group when we adopted Quinn.  They live in Beijing and were kind enough to take us out for the morning (even though it was a rainy day).  Anderson made quick friends with their little guy who insisted on holding his hand everywhere we went.

We had a delicious breakfast that included some of the best oatmeal I have ever had.  Due to the nasty weather we just sat in the cafe and talked for a couple of hours while the boys ran around the table.

Channeling our inner Mary Poppins.

We absolutely LOVE this family!  We are so grateful we were able to connect with them.

We said our goodbyes and it was time to head to the train station to make our way to Collins’ city of Zhengzhou.  We got completely drenched on our way inside.  All of those ponchos and umbrellas were doing us a lot of good inside our suitcases.  Ha!

We made it inside!  Time to find our train.  The station was super busy but we stuck together as a giant group of American families and pushed our way to our gate.

We had about 10 minutes before our train boarded so we grabbed some golden arches for the ride.

When the train stops you only have a couple of minutes to disembark with all of your luggage before the doors close and the train departs for its next destination.  We were a HUGE group with more luggage than you can even imagine.  But we made it!

Hello, Zhengzhou.  We meet again.  Fun fact: both of our girls are from here.

After meeting our guides and depositing our luggage at the hotel, we headed to Carrefour.  We were sad to learn that the Walmart across the street from our hotel had closed since our last trip.  Thankfully the Carrefour is within walking distance.  Our guides took us around and showed us where to find items like formula, diapers, and popular children’s snacks.

The day you arrive in your child’s province you are given a paper listing their daily schedule, sleep habits, favorite foods, and other bits of information.  The information we received about Collins stated she was primarily formula fed and supplemented with rice and noodles.  Her favorite foods were listed as apples and peaches.  (Remember this tidbit of information because it comes into play later.)  We also learned that she had recently been moved from the Show Hope unit in the orphanage to a foster family on site.  It said “she cry every day since moving to foster family”.  The thought that she had recently been moved from the only place she knew absolutely broke my heart for this little girl.  Her world was about to be turned upside down again.

Finally, we headed out for a quick dinner and landed on these “Chinese hamburgers”.  The best way I can describe it is a sloppy joe inside a flaky biscuit.  At only about a dollar each, they were surprisingly tasty.

After dinner we settled in for our last night before meeting our girl.  Up next is Gotcha Day!  I can’t wait to share about the day we met our newest girl.


Back to Life, Back to Reality


Well hello there!!!!  After taking a long break as we found our legs as new family of six, I’m back to my little space here on the blog.  During my adoption-leave hiatus we have, traveled to China, brought home our little peanuty Collins, fought jet lag, navigated sibling rivalry and trauma, bought a car, sold a car, been on a hastily planned last minute family vacation, had a broken leg with toes to hip cast, had four cases of the flu, had therapies, and sports, and parties.  It’s been a whirlwind of a few months and I feel like we are still trying to find our new normal, but I’m ready to be back to sharing and documenting it all.  Thank you for your patience as we took this family time.  I thought what better way to jump back in than with a What’s Up Wednesday to catch up on all the happenings in Casa de Elsbury…

What we’re eating this week…

A delicious Italian sammy inspired by a recipe in Jen Hatmaker’s new book Of Mess and Moxie.  She mentions making this easy crowd pleaser after a day of grocery shopping when you are completely over thinking about food.  And that is exactly what I planned it for.

Vegetable soup – We like it spicy.  Must use Spicy V8 and creole seasoning

Black bean sweet potato tacos – my favorite

Sweet and sour tempura chicken (thank you, Trader Joe’s) and fried rice

Chili – a staple for this time of year.  I am loyal to this chili spice blend.

Pork chops, potatoes and veggies

What I’m reminiscing about…

China.  Posts and way too many photos of our trip coming up in the next few weeks!

Image may contain: 1 person

And our first little trip as a six pack was the perfect way to spend fall break.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

What I’m loving…

Well guys, like everything in life, I’m the last to jump on to every bandwagon.  I convince myself I will not get sucked into the vortex of whatever the current social craze or obsession is.  After years of convincing myself I was not one of those pumpkin crazy gals I gave in.  I ordered my first pumpkin spice latte.  My first in my entire 37 years of existence.  And y’all.  It was life changing.  Now I get what all of the hype is about.  It is flipping delicious.  Plus I am embarrassed to say that pumpkin is now permeating its way throughout the rest of my life as well.  Pumpkin O’s cereal from TJ?  Yes, please!  Pumpkin bread mix?  Why not!  Pumpkin creamer with my k-cup.  Abso-freakin-lutely.  Guys, It’s a problem.  I am now one of “those pumpkin people”.

What we’ve been up to…

See the first paragraph above 🙂  Life over the past couple months has been full to the max.

What I’m dreading…

My adoption leave from work is quickly coming to an end.  While I’m ready to get back to normal routine and time spent with people that don’t constantly ask for snacks sounds appealing, I’m anxious about transitioning back to work (even if it is only part time) and what that will look like.

What I’m working on…

Organizing pictures from our China trip so I can get a recap up before I forget all the details.

What I’m excited about…

We are thick in the heart of all things Halloween.  While Christmas is my ultimate favorite holiday, kids in costume just make my day.  I am excited to tour the neighborhood with my little band of trick-or-treaters this year.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, hat and outdoor

What I’m watching/reading…

I will have my What’s On My Bookshelf post up for the month on Thursday, but my current read, Reading People, paired perfectly with an aforementioned PSL on our road trip.

As for watching, fall TV is back so we are back to our favorites like Scandal, Big Bang Theory, etc.  Plus I just discovered the show Younger.  Have you watched it?  I just love Sutton Foster.  I am currently making my way through the first three seasons (I believe it’s on Hulu) and I believe it is currently on season 4.

Image result for younger

What I’m listening to…

Currently the quiet.  I am expecting to hear two little gals wake up from their naps at any moment.

What I’m wearing…

The past couple of weeks you never know if it’s going to be 80 degrees or 40 degrees.  So my wardrobe has been a bit of a everything.

One of my favorite things in the fall is choosing outfits for our fall family photos.  I wrote a bit about my process here.

Here’s a sneak peak of what we will be wearing this year…

Shane-grey vest/plaid button down, Me-necklace/cranberry top/booties, Collins-chambray top/floral leggings/boots, Quinn-chambray dress/faux fur vest (similar)/boots, Anderson-shirt/pants/boots, Owen-button up/pants/shoes

What I’m doing this weekend…

Image may contain: one or more people, shoes and outdoor

Following this little flamingo around to all the Halloween things. Trunk or treats, fall parties, soccer tournaments, and pumpkins, oh my! It’s going to be a busy weekend.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

My goal is always to have my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving every year.  Given that I haven’t bought one single gift yet, I better get to shopping!

Bonus question: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish…

Well just the thought of Thanksgiving is giving me hives (see shopping goal above).  I’m not generally big on traditional “holiday food”.  Turkey, ham, dressing, etc.  No thank you.  But my favorite side dish at Thanksgiving has always been noodles.  We are talking simple egg noodles cooked in chicken or turkey broth.  They are in no way fancy but I love them and the holidays are the only time I eat them.

So there is a little of what has been going on around here.  Come back tomorrow for the largest What’s On My Bookshelf post ever.  I have a lot of books to catch up on and, spoiler alert, several of my favorites of the year are included.

It’s good to be back with you, friends!

Linking up with Mix and Match Mama, Sheaffer Told Me To and The Larson Lingo for What’s up Wednesday and What I Wore.

Standing on the precipice of chaos and change

In twelve hours I will be on a plane headed to China to meet our Peanut.  Over the past week countless people have asked how I am feeling.  Excited? Nervous? Anxious?  Ready? Scared?  My answer…yes.  I currently have all the feelings.

In some ways the second time around is easier.  We know what to expect.  We are familiar with the process.  And some ways it is much harder.  We know what to expect.  We know how truly hard adoption is.

I am a safe person.  I like the known.  I like to be in control.  Bringing Collins home is none of those things.  But she is worth it.

Life as we know it is about to be turned upside down.  Chaos and change are inevitable.

On Sunday I looked up and saw Quinn standing on the front of the boat trying to sum up the courage to jump.  In that moment she perfectly represented how I currently feel.  Peering over the edge trying to anticipate what it feels like on the other side.  Knowing there will be an initial shock, but the water will gradually feel warmer.  Butterflies in my stomach, fists clinched in anxiety.  But knowing that being brave is what I am called to be.

The time is here.  It’s time to jump.

Collins, we are coming for you!

What’s Up Wednesday

Why hello there Wednesday.  Thank you for all the kind notes and messages about my home tour peek yesterday.  I may have the ideas, but I give Shane all the credit for executing those ideas on my limited budget.  People seem to love the wood plank wall in the boys room.  Can you believe it was less than $50 for the wood?  We had the different stain colors left over from other projects and tools on hand so he was able to pull it off for less than I would have spent for something to hang above each bed.

What we’re eating this week…

Keeping it simple with the dinner menu this week:

Grilled pizzas (brush some tortillas with a little olive oil, spread on some pizza sauce, top with your favorite toppings and cheese and toss on the grill.  Easy peasy!)

Hamburgers with grilled corn on the cob

Pesto pasta (penne with chicken, grape tomatoes from the garden, fresh mozzarella and pesto)

Grilled chicken with grilled zucchini and squash from the garden


What I’m reminiscing about…

This month we celebrated TWO YEARS with Quinn.  I can’t believe we will be back in China meeting Collins later this summer.

What I’m loving…

All things summer.

Neighborhood pool…

Lake weekends…


What we’ve been up to…

The great bedroom switch of 2017 is currently a work in progress.

Combining the boys’ room…

Preparing a room for Collins to come home to…

What I’m dreading…

Combining Owen and Anderson’s clothes into their new room.  Still on the to-do list.  Ugh.

What I’m working on…

Getting ready to place our first round of adoption fundraiser T-shirt orders.  Looking forward to friends and family showing their love and helping to bring our Peanut home.  There’s still time to order!  Don’t forget to snap a pic wearing your shirt with #hurryhomecollins

What I’m excited about…

Meeting this little lady.  Folks, it’s getting real.  I’m getting excited and also getting so nervous.  We are going to have FOUR kids!

What I’m watching/reading…

Coming up on Thursday I will be sharing what I have read this month.

I haven’t been watching much, but I’m loving my weekly girl time to watch Bachelorette and catch up with my girlfriends.

What I’m listening to…

Currently the boys are hanging out in my bed next to me watching Monster Jam.  Why do they find monster trucks so fascinating??

What I’m wearing…

Swimsuits, cover ups, t-shirts and shorts.  Summer clothes!

What I’m doing this weekend…

Fourth of July weekend.  The busiest boating weekend of the year.  Looking forward to fireworks over the lake.  Last year we had so much fun.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

Girls day to Cincinnati to hit up IKEA, the Ballard outlet, and whatever else our kid-free hearts desire.  I cannot wait!

What I’m not looking forward to?  School starting.  Yep, we start back up on July 27th.  Time to cram in the summer fun!

Thanks for reading along.  Happy Wednesday!

P.S. If you are interested in supporting our adoption and helping us bring Peanut home, feel free to do your Amazon shopping through our blog affiliate link. It costs you no additional charge and we will earn a small portion of your purchase in commission. All earnings will go into our adoption fund to bring Peanut home. Thank you for supporting our family!

To start your Amazon shopping, click here.

Linking up with Mix and Match Mama, Sheaffer Told Me To.

Show and Tell Tuesday: The Struggle Is Real

The struggle is real.  We’ve all said it.  From the little things to the big, we are all struggling with something.  Here are a few of the not so serious (and one serious) thing I’ve found myself struggling with lately.

Funny story, I originally wrote and scheduled this post for last Tuesday.  Apparently I was a complete week off on my dates.  Clearly if I don’t even know what day it is…the struggle is real 🙂

A swimsuit for Q’s teeny tiny toosh

Quinn has a problem I have never struggled with.  She is long and thin.  I’m talking she is almost 4 and can easily wear 24 month shorts.  Her waist is tiny.  Her booty is tiny.  Her legs are toothpicks.  But she also has a fairly long torso.  This has made finding a swimsuit for her this year near impossible.  All of her suits gape obscenely at the leg openings.  She prefers a tankini for ease of using the bathroom but will not tolerate any smidge of belly showing between a too short top and bottoms.  One pieces that are long enough are huge in the rear.  Last week as we were walking back from the pool she walked half way down the block before I looked back and realized her bottoms were around her ankles.  Where do you get a swimsuit for a skinny legged 4 year old?  The struggle is real.

House projects

I constantly have a long list of house projects on my to-do list.  Lately, I just can’t seem to get any of them done.  We need to combine the boys into one room.  Change Anderson’s current room into a room fit for Collins.  Finish a half-completed basement refresh.  The list goes on.  Shane scored this vintage Jenny Lind bed on Craigslist for me to paint for Collins.

Clearly I haven’t even started on it yet.  Before I know it we will be in China and the little gal will need a room to come home to. The struggle is real.

Finger nails

Am I the only mom that will glance down and be horrified to realize her kid’s toenails look like they haven’t been cut in weeks?  Just me?  Between fingers and toes there are a lot of nails to keep up with in this house.  The struggle is real.

TBR pile

My “to be read” list is ever growing.  We are getting ready to head out of town to visit friends and I’m struggling with choosing what to read on the trip.

My current top contenders are:

At Home in the World

The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard

The Mother’s Promise

Daughters of the Bride

The struggle is real.

Vehicle for a family of SIX

It’s no secret that I LOVE my minivan.  I think every family should have one (or two).  When Collins joins our family later this year we will become a family of six and officially will no longer fit in Shane’s beloved little blue car.

As much as it saddens him, I’m pretty sure he considers that car a member of our family, it will be time for it to find a new home.  I vote for getting another van, but Shane has exerted his veto power with a strong NO.  So we we are looking for an SUV with a third row that easily fits the 6 of us and frequently 8 with Mimi and DudDud.  It also must fit in the garage, be easy to access the third row, and satisfy my “car guy” hubby.  The struggle is real.  Suggestions???


Here’s where I get real for a moment.  While over the past two years we have watched Quinn blossom and bloom, parenting a child with a background of loss and trauma is not without difficulties.  Lately we have recognized some struggles with Quinn, her attachment, and how she copes with stress and anxiety.  It has taken me a while to admit it, but I finally acknowledged that it was time to see a therapist well versed in attachment and parenting children from hard places.  We felt this was especially important to do before we add Collins to the mix and turn Q’s world upside down once again.  We have only been once and I will admit that I was very skeptical.  But she made me feel at ease, assured us that the techniques we were currently using to diffuse her tantrums were appropriate, and felt confident that we can get Quinn to a place that is healthy for both her and the rest of our family through theraplay.  I’m a pretty open book so I don’t mind sharing these struggles.  Parenting any child is tough and adding adoption is an extra layer to wade through.  The struggle is real…but worth it.

Linking up with Andrea for Show and Tell Tuesday.  In case you missed it, make sure you check out the adorable shirts we are selling for our current adoption fundraiser.

BE THE LIGHT and help bring Collins home.  Until next time!


“Be The Light” adoption fundraiser t-shirts

We are excited to announce our final adoption fundraiser…T-shirts!

I love supporting my friends’ adoptions and have a drawer of cute adoption tees.  So when we decided to do a t-shirt fundraiser to help bring Collins home I knew I wanted super soft shirts (think your favorite sleeping tee) with a simple design.

The phrase “be the light” came to me almost immediately.  Obviously I blog over here at “letting in the light” and one of my favorite passages in the bible is Matthew 5:1-17 and begins “You are the light of the world…”.  In a world full of darkness, BE THE LIGHT.  It felt like the perfect text to represent our family and this adoption.

The light just shines out of this guy.

Designs available:

Sizes S-XL in charcoal heathered grey
Script font with white text

Block font with light grey text

Sizes XS-L in light heathered grey
Black, dark pink or dark grey text
Script or block font

$18 each
Shipping add $5 for 1-3 shirts and $8 for 4 or more shirts.

How to order:

email your order to

Please include:


Shipping address

Please specify: Type (adult or youth), Size,  and Font (script or block) desired.

For youth sizes only: please specify black, dark pink, or dark gray text.

Your e-mail address

How you would like to pay (in person, by mail, or PayPal)

Note: All orders are pre-orders. We will collect orders thru June then place a bulk order. We expect them to arrive in mid July.

Thank you for cheering us on and helping to support our family!

*feel free to share!!!*

Adoption Update: the paper chase, a new pic, and HER NAME!!!

I thought I would pop in for a quick adoption update post.  Things have been fairly quiet here lately on the ole bloggity blog due to our lives being completely overwhelmed with preparation for our HUGE adoption fundraiser yard sale coming up this weekend.  Hopefully next week I will be back to posting more regularly.

First up, I thought I would update everyone on where we currently are in our process to bring Peanut home.  Our dossier, which includes our home study, many different letters, forms and approvals, has been approved through the local, state, and embassy levels and has been signed, sealed, and delivered to the Chinese government and logged into their system.  We are currently awaiting China’s approval, called an LOA, and then the process will come back to the US immigration side.  Our best guess is that we will travel early fall (September?) to bring her home.

We recently received a short update with a couple of pictures, a short video of her WALKING! and updated measurements.  Our 21 month old Peanut is still living up to her nickname weighing in at a whopping 15 pounds.  So Tiny!

Now, on to her name…

There have been hours and hours of discussions, hundreds of names considered and I was STRUGGLING to chose a name.  With some reflection, I realized that I was putting so much pressure on choosing the perfect name for Peanut because it’s the only part of this process I can control.

As a refresher, we had some self-imposed naming rules.  Did we follow these rules?  Let’s see…

  • Must be a surname/last name that can be used as a first name (i.e. Owen, Anderson, Quinn)…Check!
  • Must begin with a letter other than M, S, O, A, Q (no repeat initials in this family)…Check!
  • Must end in and “n” sound (i.e. Shane, Megan, Owen, Anderson, and Quinn all end in that sound)…Um, sort of???? ish???

So, two and and half out of three isn’t bad.  After all (self imposed) rules are made to be broken.

So without further adieu, let me introduce you to…

Collins Violet Elsbury

(a.k.a. Peanut forever)

Thanks to all that weighed in on the name game.  We think it fits her perfectly.  Collins, we can’t wait to bring you home!

P.S. If you are interested in supporting our adoption and helping us bring Peanut home, feel free to do your Amazon shopping through our blog affiliate link. It costs you no additional charge and we will earn a small portion of your purchase in commission. All earnings will go into our adoption fund to bring Peanut home. Thank you for supporting our family!

To start your Amazon shopping, click here.

One Year, 10 months, 17 days

Well, we’ve made it.  We’ve hit the tipping point.  The point in which Quinn has officially been with us longer than she was without us.

For one year, 10 months, and 16 days, she lived across the world.

But on the one year, 10 months, and 17th day the clock started over and she was placed into our eager arms.  Forever an Elsbury.

While my heart is sad that I missed her first cries, her first birthday, her first steps,  I am so delighted that I get a front row seat for all of the firsts yet to come.  Here’s to forever…