Many, many photos....

...have been posted on our travel blog!
Just a reminder for those of you who haven't visited there yet.
Go to www.babyjellybeans.com
and type in Flynn Larkin in the "search for child's name" boxes.
Oh, the places we are going!!!!
Pure bliss.


Hi from Beijing!!

M. wanted me to see if I could log on to this blog, so while I'm here, I thought I'd just say hi.
We did not have a bad time with jetlag - got a full night of sleep last night even after much sleeping on the plane, and were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for our first full day of touring. By pure luck, we are the only adopters here right now and have a guide and a driver all to ourselves....so we're having a stupendous time. Pure magic!
Today we saw the forbidden city and did a Hutong tour by rickshaw. We had tea in the home of a Hutong family....just gorgeous...a huge courtyard full of pomegranante and date trees. The owner of the house gave us a paper cutout of a Chinese ceremonial mask which she'd been working on, and which we admired.
Then we went to a local market and smelled spices, and M bought me a fan (it's paralyzingly hot and all the locals - even the men, are carrying paper fans. It really does help.)
Our guide Leo is terrific and has given us an amazing amount of history, education and local lore. After the Hutong tour, he took us to a tea house to sample five or six teas in a traditional ceremony. Let me just say, INCREDIBLE! The tea we get in the US doesn't even begin to compare to Chinese teas.
After that we went to the acrobat show...also, just incredible! We've never been to see Cirque du Soleil, so this made us feel much better about having missed out. The Chinese acrobats start training at about 3 years old, and are so incredibly casual about the astounding feats they perform, it;'s really breathtaking!
For dinner our guide took us to the other end of town to a restaurant called the Beijing Duck. Theres a big, whacky statue of a duck that looks vaguely like Donald out front, but inside it is serious business. THe duck is carved tableside and served with pancackes and vegetables. The restaurant has been around for 500 years, we were told.
Now we're back in the hotel and finally were able to plug in and recharge all our electronics. We took so many pictures today that it's a little ludicrous, and we just haven't had time to download and sort, so I'm afraid this will remain pictureless for now.
Oh, the things I could show you! But it's hard to find time to blog when the days are this chock-full. Tomorrow morning we head to the great wall and the cloisonne factory. I can hardly wait!!
Anon.... M&M (falling quickly in love with China)


Leaving on a jet plane

Since we haven't exactly been in picture-taking mode for the past couple of days, I'll leave you with this image of me trying to figure out the Baby Bjorn at the last minute. Fortunately, it's much easier to learn than the wrap. We have both with us, and we'll just have to hope that she likes one of them!
Our bags are packed, we're more or less organized, and our plane leaves Denver for San Francisco at 10:10 tomorrow morning. The 22nd is a big date for us: it's the date of Mike's birthday, my birthday, Flynn QiuQiu's birthday, and now the date of our departure for China. Something auspicious about that date for our family, I guess! (Oh, it's also my cousin's birthday!)
I am going for one last run to shake of my last-minute packing nerves (I have to admit I'm less than comfortable handling that much cash, that many prescription meds and that many legal documents on an international flight...it does put me on edge a bit!).
This will be my last post on this blog until we return....hope to be posting on the Babyjellybeans blog within the next day or two!


Pre-travel shennanigans

It's different for everyone, but our time leading up to travel has been very serene. There have been no big snafus, no major panic attacks. It has been a lovely time, actually.

Part of what has kept us calm is our evening bike rides, which we've made a point of taking no matter how busy the day.

How can you feel stressed when it's summer and the birds are singing and the skies look like this?


Another random illustration

Girl with Peacock, one of my larger illustrations, which was sold recently at a benefit auction.

More gifts for travel

Elizabeth, a fellow writer, sent me this wonderful adoption travel journal, along with the children's book she wrote, Lovebug. The journal went immediately in my suitcase, solving my journaling dilemma. I'm going to journal on the laptop in the evenings, of course, but as every writer knows, if you don't scribble notes during the course of a day (especially on a trip as distracting and action-packed as this one!) you have no hope of remembering all the details. I'll carry this one in my shoulder bag to write notes on-site. Mike also pointed out that we can paste memorabilia in it as we go. So it will be a sort of impromptu scrapbook of our trip.
Thanks, Elizabeth!

Lovely Zoey

Zoey's watercolor for Flynn.

These are pictures that my friend Stacie sent me of her beautiful daughter Zoey. I love her expression in this first one...to me, it looks like she's saying "Awwww, yeah! I know I look good!"

Stacie takes wonderful series of pictures of Zoey, and her multitude of expressions always make me smile. What a character! Not to mention the obvious beauty, and that amazing skin.


A gift of golden pigs

Today, a box came from Vivian in Canada, full of a shower of golden pigs for our golden pig girl! There were a set of gorgeous Canadian stamps from the year of the Golden Pig, a pig ornament, and several cute onesies...but my absolute favorite (so much so that I had to take it to dinner with me. At a restaurant.) was the Starbucks bearista disguised as a Chinese pig. The little pig nose is attached with a string, and comes off to reveal the bear face! He's even carrying a little Chinese lantern. Could anything be cuter? Flynn is going to LOVE it...if Mommy ever lets her have it!
Thank you Vivian, once again, for your unflagging generosity. OX

This is Vivian's adorable daughter Kerri, with a book I sent her. Vivian, this is my favorite picture yet of Kerri - really shows off her intelligent and animated face. She's such a vivid personality! I might have to paint another picture from this image (when I have time to paint again...haha!)

Photos taken by LaoLao

Not a whole lot of time to post these days, but I thought I'd put up some pictures my mom took while she was here. She gave me her old laptop to take to China with us, and her idea was to take some photos from home and make a slideshow on the laptop for us to show Flynn while we're in China. Might give her some idea of what she'll see when we get home!
This one is me working at my computer.

Dad playing with Max.

Mommy and her Sam.

A beautiful shot my mom got of he crib...I don't know how she does the light and color this way, but I love it! Very storybook-y.

Toys on the windowsill.
Not much else to tell - pictures of our packing progress are on our travel blog at:


Thank you, Hayley, Piper & Paisley!!!!

So, today the our post lady came waddling up the walk hauling a package so big and heavy that she barely got it up the three steps the our door! It was a box from Hayley full of wonderful hand-me-downs from her well-dressed snowflowers, Piper and Paisley! Hayley and I have known eachother for quite some time now, and have similar tastes, and it was absolutely amazing of her to send such a plethora of goodies for QiuQiu (many of them even organic!)

But the thing that put the huge grin on my face was the drawing that was lying on top - welcoming Flynn home from Piper and Paisley!! Nothing could have been better or more heartwarming than that! It's getting framed and put in her room to welcome her when she arrives.

Among the clothing that Hayley sent was this incredible jacket, and I had to show the picture of Piper wearing it back in the day, because it's just the cutest thing ever.

Here's Piper again modeling the snowsuit that will keep Flynn warm through the sometimes-harsh Colorado winters. Flynn's wardrobe (while vast) is thin on winter things, so these were things of which we were in dire need.
Thanks guys! You warm my heart!!

LaoLao and son-in-law

New website for our trip!

We have set up a new website with Babyjellybeans in order to post pictures, videos and journals during our trip! I sent out e-invitations, but I'm not sure I did it right ;) so if you'd like to follow along, here's the link:

Our Journey to Flynn QiuQiu

Or you can just go to www.babyjellybeans.com and type Flynn Larkin in the search boxes, and it will find our page. No password required.

I'll still be posting here as well until we leave, but the other site has a nice layout that gives all her referral info, our timeline, etc within easy reach.

Hope you'll join us!


What a day!!

What a wonderful orphanage group we have! This is the second family that has been so generous as to take a photo of our QiuQiu for us during their orphanage visit!! The father of QiuQiu's crib neighbor, Katie, took this amazing picture! I'm just bursting with pride, and so thrilled that he held her hand and she seems to be smiling up at him!! Many, many thanks to the Pearsons for this wonderful gift!

Portrait of a young lady

A few days ago I sent my friend Maryellen's daughter Sophie an Etsy hat. Today, Maryellen sent me these two photos of Sophie wearing the hat.

I had to post them because they're so very beautiful - both the girl and the photography! Thanks for letting me show her off, Maryellen!
Note: For all those who have asked, the Etsy store is called SavannahLaneDesigns.

Travel Itinerary!!!!

We received our itinerary today!!
Very exciting.
Here it is, in brief:

7/22 - leave US for Beijing
7/23 - arrive Beijing, check in to Holiday Inn Downtown. Free time.
7/24 - Beijing tours
7/25 - 7/26 - free time in Beijing
7/27 - leave Beijing for Nanjing, check into Mandarin Garden Hotel
7/28 - MEET OUR DAUGHTER at the registration office, 2:00 pm!!!!!
7/29 - adoption registration and notarization. Our adoption is finalized!!
7/30 - 7/31 - tour Nanjing with our daughter!
8/01 - receive our daughter's passport, leave Nanjing for Guangzhou,
check in to White Swan Hotel
8/02 - QiuQiu's physical exam and visa photo
8/03 - free day in Guangzhou - rest, shop, tour
8/04 - consulate appointment,
8/05 - take oath and receive Visa packet for QiuQiu
8/06 - begin our trip back to the US


Mother-daughter time

We have had some spectacular sunset skies this summer. This is one that my mom snapped from the car window as we were heading home from mini-golf.

Happy mum! I love doing things with her because we enjoy all the same things. We have always worked as a good team, whether we're traveling together, playing mini golf, or building a toy chest. It's easy for us, and I know I'm lucky. Not everyone has the kind of relationship we have. I treasure it.


Made by hand, with love

Yesterday, a box came from my friend G. in North Carolina. Inside was this lovely hand-knitted fish, along with a sweet wish for Flynn which will go in her lifebook. You pull the cord, and a tiny music box inside plays a lullaby. I think I'll hang it with a ribbon over the crib.

I love all things handmade, and G is a master knitter and seamstress (she also sewed my gorgeous red and white diaper bag, the one I'm carrying in our LOA picture!) right now the fish is accompanying my handmade stuffed animals in the crib. In this picture, it's occupying the toy bench that my mum and I put together by hand the other day. I like to think of all these loving hands putting together Flynn's world for her, piece by piece.

Things about to happen

Yesterday was M's day off. We love having early-week days off because we kind of have the city to ourselves. It rained all morning, which is a rare and lovely thing in this climate. We ran some errands, worked on the garden a bit, and took the dogs for a long walk. In the evening, we decided to hit our favorite Thai restaurant up for dinner and then go to see Mongol at the Aztec Theater, our local indie film house. I always get the same dish at this restaurant, spicy basil shrimp. It's SO good that I've never been able to change my order. In recent days, the intensity of our excitement over Flynn has been multiplying exponentially, and sitting down to dinner we were practically giddy with it. We shared a hot sake to celebrate our immanent trip. After stuffing ourselves as full as we could stand, we paid the check and opened our ubiquitous fortune cookies. I always eat my before reading the fortune, since my friend Carol always insisted that the fortune doesn't count otherwise. When I finally unfolded my fortune, a shiver ran up my back:


Treasure what you have.

In the afternoon, we'd put Sam in the crib, just to see someone in it. Sam was nonplussed, but game, since after all that sheepskin that Yoli sent is marvelously soft to sit on! I have to admit that every night before we go to bed, I lean over and lay my face against the crib bedding, and look up to see what it is QiuQiu will see as she's falling asleep or waking up. The poster of Barbar and his family taking flight over Egypt, the Tintin adventure in the mountains of Tibet, the map of China that I took from the French version of National Geo's China issue...

This is Sam's "Mommy, can I be done now?" look. He probaby would've stayed longer if he didn't know he was going to climb under the covers in our bed. Spoiled rotten, I'm afraid, our little pound dog.

Note: Just to reassure - we will lower the crib before QiuQiu comes home!! It is up high for the photos, because most of the bedding was gifted by various loving friends, and we wanted to show it off! Sorry for alarming anyone!


Because it's hard to think about anything else...

...I had to share the last few gratuitous pictures of our Flynn QiuQiu! We have received so many that I have not posted the entire lot with each update. So here are the last of the ones that I have yet to put up. I do try to remember how lucky we are to get so many pictures of her during the wait. I know that this is a rare and wonderful thing. She will be very glad of these in later years, as she grows up. It's also a wonderful thing that she looks so happy in so many of these pictures.

Just look at that smile!...

...I can't get enough of it!
I love how open and relaxed she looks - not self-protective or guarded. No one should have to be in an orphanage in these early months of their life. But it looks to me that she has had it better than many, and for that I am infinitely grateful.

A night picture. She looks sleepy in this one. I can't wait to put some weight on that little body!...count those toes, watch her clutch our fingers, kiss her on the nose and on the top of that little head. This little girl has so, so much love waiting for her.

In love with my new lens

A day at the Denver Botanical Gardens.