Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas ~ 2012

We’re enjoying the holiday season living closer to family and friends.  Pamela and the girls kicked off the season with their tradition of attending the Nutcracker for Pamela’s birthday. The girls also attended their first musical, Annie.

Christmas break started with parties at school for both girls. The girls then headed downtown to spend the weekend with our “Xuzhou Family”. Five families from Atlanta, Charlotte and Cookeville gathered our Xuzhou born (and other adopted children) in downtown Chattanooga to enjoy the holiday festivities. We kicked off the weekend with a train trip to the North Pole. Santa was on board to great all the kids and elves handed out cookies and milk. Back at the hotel, the kids enjoyed swimming while the parents caught up on each other’s live. On Saturday, we headed to the discovery museum for the afternoon. All the kids played so well together and fun was had by all.
Nana, Jeff, Danielle and Lillian spent Christmas with us and the cousins stayed up late playing with all their new toys.
Happy Holidays!
Girls day out at the Nutcracker Ballet
Lily's School Holiday Party
Trena and Lila Lee
Xuzhou Family Christmas ~ Riding the train with Santa

Group Photo ~ Christmas 2012
Where's the mistletoe?? Anna and Jaike

Lila Lee writing a story at the Children's Museum
Anna and April ~ Best Friends
Lily and Bennett love to dance together!

Having fun in the pool!
Opening Presents

Our new doll Furniture!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life on Signal Mountain

Our lives are becoming more routine now that we have settled into our new community.  The girls are very much enjoying their new school, Pam is getting to know other Moms in the neighborhood and networking with the non-profit community, and John is adjusting to working from home again after 10 years in an office setting.  Misha was a bit nervous for the first few weeks, not quite understanding that this was now her new home.  But she is much more relaxed now and especially likes sleeping next to John's desk each day as he works.  And she loves getting many more walks now that we are in a much less rainy place!

Anna turned 7 recently and was excited that Nana Barbara spent the weekend here for her birthday.  We celebrated her birthday by visiting the Tennessee Aquarium and taking a boat ride down the Tennessee River to see the beautiful fall leaves.

Halloween was a fun time as the girls dressed up in very cute dresses and joined their friends trick or treating in their new neighborhood.  At their school's Halloween Family Party, Anna was awarded the best costume.

We've started spending time each weekend getting to know and see our new home.  In addition to the Aquarium, we've spent time taking long drives and visiting places including the Children's Museum, the downtown riverfront (including the world's longest pedestrian bridge), Lookout Mountain, and, of course, the famous Rock City.

Halloween beauties
Lily's teacher at the Halloween Party
Anna's teacher at the Halloween Party

Petting stingrays at the Aquarium

Anna turns 7
Riding bikes on the pedestrian bridge

On the downtown riverfront

At Rock City

High above Chattanooga at Rock City on Lookout Mountain

Cruising down the Tennessee River

Friday, September 21, 2012

Our Move to Signal Mountain, TN

What an adventure we have been on!  Having decided a year ago to take a huge leap of faith, here we are finally in our new home city.  The "leap" was to leave our beautiful home in an incredible part of the world, Seattle, for a very different part of the world-- Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The reaction we've heard over and over is... "Huh?  Why would you do that?!"

Our search for a new home was the result of wanting to leave some things behind-- long commutes, high cost of living, constant grey and rainy weather, and the multiple stresses caused by living in a major metropolitan area.  And the need to welcome new things into our lives-- more simplicity, less stress, more time together as a family, a community, sunshine, and the ability to spend time with our extended families.

Chattanooga?  Several reasons that include-- a medium-size city that is on the rise, a much more reasonable cost of living (especially in housing), great year-round weather, beautiful mountains, lakes, and rivers, and a location that will enable us to spend lots of time with our extended families.

Signal Mountain is a small community that sits atop a mountain, 1,700 feet above Chattanooga.  A very curvey road connects it to downtown Chattanooga, but takes only about 20 minutes to get from one to the other. 

Pamela is enjoying a respite from her work schedule to get us settled and to spend more time with Anna and Lily.  John brought his job with him and works from an office at home.  Misha is still a bit confused, but seems to be accepting her new surroundings.

The girls adjusted so easily to their new school.  New friends were made quickly which was such a relief to Mom and Dad.

A note about Anna and Lily.  These girls have come so far since their trips home from China.  Their joyous embrace of their daily lives, their incredible creativity, sense of humor, expressions of love, and great friendship with each other.  We are amazed on a daily basis at how incredible these girls are.  Our home is constantly abuzz with their energy and enthusiasm.  How does such a thing happen?  How can two little beings bring so much light to our world?

In front of the girl's school

First day of school

Our new home

Yep, it's old! But only a rental for now.

A view from Signal Mountain

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anna Is Re-Adopted

This week Anna was re-adopted, meaning she now has a birth certificate from the State of Washington.  The re-adoption took place in the historic Jefferson County Courthouse in beautiful Port Townsend, WA.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chloe Visits Us

Chloe took some time between Spring Quarter and her summer classes to visit with us.  It was fun to go out on the boat with her.  The girls love to spend time with their older sister.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anna's Recital

Anna has been so excited about her music recital.  She was so anxious to show her family that she could perform as well as her sister Lily has done.  And she did.  She made us so proud.  In a bit less than two years, it's so amazing that Anna could achieve what she has since emeging from sitting in a chair in the orphanage.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lily is 5 years old

Lily joyfully celebrated her fifth birthday this week.  She invited some of her friends to a party where they had fun playing on the Tumble Bus.  But her favorite time seemed to be her birthday dinner with family.

Ladybug cake and sister Anna

Blowing out five candles

Sharing her birthday with her friends

The Tumble Bus

With sister Chloe

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun at Disneyland

We surprised Anna and Lily with a trip to Disneyland this week.  We kept it a surprise until we checked into the Disneyland Hotel.  It had been a long time since we'd gotten away as a family.  This vacation was focused on the girls having a special time, but it turned out to be a special time for us all.  Lily was enamored with the princesses and Anna enjoyed the rides-- totally aligned with their different personalities.  Pamela and John had a wonderful time watching the girls have fun adventures and special experiences.

The Castle at night

Mickey's ferris wheel at night

Lily and Anna with the most beautiful princes of all

Meeting Sulley

Lily rides a merry-go-round

Meeting Snow White


Minni Anna

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon started this week.  Anna and Lily wore traditional Chinese dresses to school on Monday, the Chinese New Year.

Today we celebrated in our traditional way by watching the dragon parade and then enjoying lunch in our favorite Chinese restaurant.  The girls loved the dragons and were even able to deal with the loud firecrackers.

Two beautiful girls in their Chinese dresses

Two scary dragons

Waiting for the dragon parade with Dad

Seattle's Chinese gate

The dragons dancing around the firecrackers