Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

This has been a somewhat unusual Easter season for us because we have only been home from China for one week.
So, we have not really had much build up to the celebration of Easter.
I also would not have chosen for myself to have Easter Sunday be the first day we take our new boys to church here, and if it weren't Easter, I might be tempted to keep them home for worship one more week before tackling our large church and all the attention that they will receive.
But, it IS Easter and I just love Easter, so I don't want to miss worship.
The night before, we gathered the boys around and Tom and Colin alternated back and forth reading the story of Christ's crucifiction from the book of Mark.
Tom would read a few verses in English and Colin would read the verses in Chinese so that we all could hear the story.

It was interesting to hear Connor correcting some of Colin's reading as he followed along in Cameron's Chinese Bible.
Once getting all the boys' teeth brushed and tucking them into bed, I came downstairs to see Tom getting their Easter "Buckets" ready.
That's right!  While I was in China, Tom went shopping for Easter supplies
 (all on his own!)
 and being the practical man that he is,
decided that beach buckets would be way more functional than traditional baskets, and could be used at the beach this summer, so....

Easter morning, Tom was up early and off to church to play in the Orchestra so the boys and I were left to our Easter "buckets"!

Tommy, age 8

Cooper, age 9

Cameron, age 11

Connor, age 13

Colin, age 15
Even though it was sprinkling this morning, I was not about to let a little rain shower rob me of Easter morning photos!

So, here we go...

Colin is our oldest.
What a story he has to share!
I just know God is going to use this boy to impact the Kingdom one day!
Connor is my newest teen and he is not a fan of photos! 
Clearly, God has called him into MY family so that he can overcome this! :-)

Cameron was my translator while in China this time.
He took on a lot of responsibility for such a young boy.
Happy Easter, my sweet child!

Cooper is our littlest one, but not the youngest.
He is 19 months older than Tommy, but an inch or so shorter
and will likely always be our shortest.

Oh my little heart!
Tommy is our youngest (and first born!) son.
He is 8 going on 25!
We call him our little old man!
Best cuddler on the planet!

Seems like this photo would never happen, but God was faithful!
Love each and every one of these young men!
Can't wait to see what God has planned for them!

Silliness abounds! 

We finally headed off to church after attempting to prepare the new boys for what this would be like.

After church, we got Dad into the fun!
I think this photo may remain my favorite forever!
What a picture of a Father's Love!

At 70 years old, his heart is bigger than ever!

I am amazed at the work God has done in his heart over the past 12 years!

Our boys may not fully grasp yet what it means to have such a committed Father in their lives, but one day they will know just how blessed they are!

I hope that each of you will spend this day pondering the Victory that is yours through the Resurrection of our Savior!

All those who believe are adopted into the family of God himself and the inheritance that is ours is beyond our imaginations!

Praise the Lord, He is Risen!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two more precious boys are HOME!

We are HOME!
So, I need to beg forgiveness for not posting very much while in China.
I have lots of excuses, so I thought I would list them for you... :-)
Skyping Home.
Scheduled appointments.
Meeting new (or old, online) friends.
Occasionally assisting my great travel team from Lifeline.
 (Yes, I confess. I worked.  Not nearly as much as my wonderful new assistant and the team that backed me up while I was away, but none the less, I worked.)
You see, when God allows you to work in a ministry about which you are deeply and personally passionate, you just do it. It becomes a part of you.  As I was in China, living the early days with two amazing young boys, a part of my heart was with the Hong Kong and SC families that I serve. Their needs were never far from my thoughts, so as I was able, I did my best to coordinate things from afar! 
And last but not least...
(my own personal photo album and excuse for not blogging...)
So, if you are NOT one of my many facebook friends, and want to be, send a friend request so you can see all the photos I posted over the past couple weeks.
All that said, I know that some of you here are NOT on facebook and one or two maybe even really DO live under the proverbial rock, so...
Here is a glimpse of our two newest sons home for the first time!
Cooper starting out on the long (L-O-N-G) flight home!

So grateful for the distraction of technology on a flight like this!
Here we are at the Charleston airport!



Showing the boys their new rooms...
Tom even had the beds turned down and ready for the boys to arrive.

 After a full night's sleep, the boys promptly went through the piles on the table and found the new Yo-yos and other small toys/books we brought home.  It was like Christmas morning around here!

We must take a break in the story here to represent the 5 hour "nap" I took this afternoon!
Once I woke up...correction...was woken up, it was almost time for dinner!
Colin grabbed the camera and starting clicking away.
Our first family dinner as a family of 7!

After dinner, we continued with the one goal of the day...LAUNDRY!
*Why exactly did I think it was a good idea to teach my new children to wear clean clothes everyday?????? #times5!
Cameron, my best clothes folder, was on "teacher duty" after dinner and showed Cooper how to fold the clothes.

For those of you who just gasped...and thought, "What?  Chores?  They just got home!" 
It's all good and I plan to blog on adoptive parenting and raising boys over the coming months, so stay tuned!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Random Food Highlights

So I realize that this is random, but it has come to my attention that there are many "soon to travel" families that frequent the Rylands family blog, so I thought I would address the food.
Some people have a tad bit of anxiety about food while traveling abroad.
(Can you imagine?)
So, here are some random food shots from our trip.
From Hong Kong we have....
Cameron ordered a traditional beef noodle bowl from the restaurant atop the Peak.
Note: Way more meat in this bowl than I ever saw in China.

Mom's entree was noodles (fried?) with nice sized shrimp.
Verdict?  Very good and she doesn't especially like "Chinese" food.

My entree was a pork sandwich and fries.
Note: Way too much "sauce" for my liking, but overall good.

From the Sky City Marriott restaurant we have this mini cup made of chocolate
 with a tirimisu style custard inside garnished with a chocolate covered coffee bean.
Not sure the photo does it justice. It could sit easily in the palm of your hand.
Very small and delicate.

Super yummy and the presentation was fantastic!

Also a mini dessert available at the dinner buffet-
Mini Creme Brulee'

That no-name chocolate thing.
Something a friend ordered.
Not sure, but I think it was Indian food.
He seemed to enjoy it.  There were quite a few Indian choices on the buffet.
4 cheese pizza at the Marriott Hotel- ordered from menu.
Not bad at all. Couldn't eat it all, but it was tasty.

Once we arrived in China, the fare changed a bit.
These "goodies" were purchased by my Mother from the
bakery inside the JW Marriott in Chongqing, China.

In celebration of Connor's "Gotcha Day".

Our crew eating the celebratory baked goods!
At lunch, there was a myriad of pastries and breads which can be, at times,
 the only "normal" thing you see. 
Fortunately, in this hotel, we also had eggs and pancakes, etc.
Photo of the restaurant at the JW Marriott in Chongqing.
 Now we are in Changsha where we met Cooper.
We stayed at the Dolton Hotel
All but me and Cooper at breakfast.  I am sure he was getting more food.

Precious "milk tea"!
For those who love coffee but would rather not need a knife to "drink" it,
Milk Tea may be a nice alternative for you.
I liken it to a vanilla (y) hot chocolate or cappaccino.
Super yummy and warm.
Later we went to visit the orphanage and had a real feast.  I blogged specifically about that here.
The food below as prepared for us
(and much more that came later)
 to celebrate Cooper.
Of the items pictured here, the one at the top (prok & green peppers) was my favorite.
 The seasoning was outstanding and it was one of those dishes where you could eat a lot. (Not too spicy)
 The following two dishes were from lunch on the second floor of the JW Marriott (Food Street)
Beef and onions with something that looked like cherry tomatoes, but was a hot pepper of some kind.

We loved the pork adn green peppers so much from the orphanage
 visit that we ordered it again the next day at the hotel!
Now we move on to Guangzhou where things are a little more... normal.
Waffles, pastries, omlets and the traditional soups, porridge, meats, cheeses and fresh fruit.

For those who are on facebook and have not sent me a friend request, please feel free to do so.  I have been much better about posting pics on there this trip than I have been about blogging.

Can't wait to get home!  We leave tomorrow morning around 10:15 for the airport. (10:15 PM Friday night, Eastern US time).  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Halleluia Chorus! Guangzhou at last!

We are so very grateful to be in our last city for this trip.
Guangzhou, China is the city where all American adoptive families process their child's US Visa and get permission to leave the country with their newly adopted child.
By comparison to most provinces and cities, Guangzhou is much more "comfortable". 
By comparison to our most recent province experience, it is..well- heavenly!
I could have sworn that as I walked into the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou
I heard someone singing the
Halleluia Chorus!
All the adoptive families who have been on this journey before know exactly what I mean.
It's a much more "western-friendly" city and cleaner and quieter than any province I've been in yet.
The staff is amazing and our in country Lifeline team is just outstanding!
The boys continue to do well together and are getting along very well. 
Here they are "representing" in the lobby:
For those who haven't been to the Garden before and may be traveling soon, it will not disappoint.
The rooms are well appointed
 (except there are no drawers???)
 and very clean.
We have what they call a "small suite" with one bedroom (2 twin beds) and a separate living room/work station.  It is quite nice and plenty of room for an extra cot which we have.
It is also so nice to be here with such nice families, including our great friends from down the street.
Today, we went to the new Medical building in GZ and the boys had their check ups for the US Visa.
They have changed the TB test procedures since our last visit and now all the children must have blood drawn.  What makes that worse for most parents is that they are not allowed in the room, so their kiddos are being stuck and they can't hold their hands.  I saw many a toddler come out of there screaming today.
My boys did ok, but certainly weren't thrilled.
It was so crowded and crazy in there that I really didn't take too many pictures.
Connor was the only child that had to get vaccinations because he is over 10.  Cooper made the cut by just a couple months, so other than the TB blood draw, he was left alone, but Connor had 3 shots and one oral vaccine to take.
Right before bed tonight he was rubbing his left arm and telling me that it hurt (with charades, of course, he doesn't have the words yet.) I am sure his arm will be sore for a day or two.  They were not particularly gentle in the administration of these shots.
This is how my boys passed the time while we waited...
Gotta love electronic babysitters on a trip like this!
Tomorrow, it is off to church and then our first day to wander and shop in the afternoon.  I am looking forward to hanging out a bit with the gang of families here this week.
Hoping to blog more this week, but keeping up with three boys everywhere we go has really worn me out! 
Please keep praying for safety, health and bonding!