Monday, June 29, 2015

Huntsville Botanical Gardens

Between a busy week in Huntsville last week, receiving the Travel Approval Call on Thursday, getting a confirmed Consulate Appointment on Friday, booking flights, tours, etc, I am just now getting around to editing and posting pictures from our trip to the Botanical Gardens in Huntsville.
Last Tuesday, Bob, Ann, the boys, and I went to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens to check out the Lego exhibit.  There were several giant Lego creations throughout the gardens and we had a great time exploring all over!

We had such a great time!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Article 5 Pick Up, Travel Approval, and Consulate Appointment Confirmation

Wow!  I'm still in shock!  This week has been an amazing week in our White House Adoption!
On Tuesday, June 23rd, our Article 5 was picked up at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou and couriered to the CCCWA in Beijing.  This step started us on the Travel Approval wait. 
We expected to wait anywhere from one week to three weeks to receive Travel Approval.  A couple of months ago I had seen a few people receive Travel Approval within 2-3 days of Article 5 pick up (on the Facebook group for China adoptions that I'm in), but I haven't seen any that fast lately.  The average has been 7 days, but I have definitely seen some people waiting three weeks.  I figured I would hope for a fast travel approval (thinking fast would be one week) and would not start panicking until late next week.  For weeks, we have hoped for a July 20th Gotcha Day/Family Day, so a week or more wait for TA would still be okay.  Over 7-10 days, I worried that our Gotcha Day would be a week later or more.  I figured that the July 20th Gotcha Day would get us back around July 31st, which would give Connor a few days to get over jet lag before he would start school during the middle of the next week.  Of course, I loved the idea of an earlier Gotcha Day, but I have not gotten my hopes up that it would be possible based on the averages.
Well, our Article 5 was picked up on Tuesday.  On Wednesday late afternoon, I sent our agency's travel coordinator, Logan, an email asking her what is the latest date was that we could receive Travel Approval and travel for a July 13th Gotcha Day.  I knew that July 20th was most likely, but I wanted to know what was possible.  Since it was late Wednesday, I did not receive a response that day.
On Thursday, the boys and I left Huntsville to head home by way of Birmingham to meet up with my new online friend, Courtney (aka Anne Marie's mom from Paxton's birthday party).  She was waiting for Travel Approval, too, but she was a few days ahead of me because her Article 5 was picked up on July 18th.  I figured that I would not start really waiting on TA until she received it.
As I drove into Birmingham, I received a phone call from Logan.  She said the reason she had not responded to my email was because she wanted to let me know that we had TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!  After only two days since Article 5 pick up, we had received Travel Approval and she expected that we would get Paxton on July 13th!!!!
I met Courtney at Chick-fil-a in B'ham and she had just gotten the call from Logan, too.  We both had Travel Approval!
Before we could book anything, we had to wait for Logan to get our Consulate Appointment set.  The Consulate Appointment is during the second week in China.  Once it is scheduled, you can book flights that work around that specific date and picking up your child's visa the next day.
This morning, we received our email from Logan that our Consulate Appointment is scheduled for July 22nd, which confirms our Gotcha Day as July 13th!  We will be a family of five on July 13th!!!
We booked our flights today.  We leave on July 9th and return on July 24th.  God has been so good to us! 
Please pray for Paxton as he will leave everything he has ever known in just over two weeks.  Please pray that he will attach to us easily and us to him.  Please pray for safe travels and please pray that we do not have any unexpected delays. 
Thank you for all of your prayers during the past year of adoption!  We are so excited to be so close to our son.  Thank you for your prayers, your donations,  and your encouragement.  We are so close!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Farm

Last Friday, the boys and I drove to Huntsville to visit Mimi and Bobbles.  We spent Friday night at their house and then headed to Lee's parent's farm to spend the night at their cabin with Kevin, Lee, and the girls on Saturday.  We got to the farm before lunch on Saturday and stayed until about dinner time one Sunday.  We explored, fished, played in the creek, rode the four wheeler and the Club Car, slept in a tent (well, one of us did!), found worms, and so much more!  It was even more fun than we ever imagined it would be!  The boys spent almost every waking moment outside and filthy!  Lee's parent's bought Harper, Evie, and Millie an inflatable water slide for their birthday, so the boys had a great time on it, too.  Lee's cousins came for Saturday to celebrate the girls' birthdays.  Bob and Kevin camped out with the kids, but the little two (Millie and Kyle) ended up in the house.  Connor had such a great time sleeping under the stars!  All three of us had such a great time at the farm.  The Harper's cabin was just perfect!  There was plenty of room for everyone and so much fun stuff to do at the farm.  I hope that we can go back next year with Paxton and Daddy!

Lee's parents have an "outdoor kitchen" for the kids made of tree stumps.  They've equipped it with pots and pans and plates and spoons and all sorts of kitchen stuff.  The kids had a blast pretending to make food and serve food.  

Millie's is pouting because we did not bring the fishing poles with us the first time we visited the pond!

Kyle had to dump his boots a lot!  A few minutes after this, he fell completely in the creek!







Thank you, Lee, Kevin, Mrs. Sandra, and Mr. Russell for a wonderful time at the farm!  We truly enjoyed every single minute of it!