Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mei Mei Meets More Family/Lisää perhettä Mei Meille




From Maine it was time to head south. Southwest, that is! Little Miss, Mei Mei and mama traveled to San Diego for Mei Mei to meet more of her family. The Captain returned to Florida, where our teens were waiting with my mom (from Finland).




Cousin L seeing Little Miss after nine months (last time we saw my sister's family).




Mei Mei has had so much fun with her cousins! Little Miss, too, but she has been so busy and out of sight I haven't caught many photos of her ;-) Little Miss plays with her cousins B and N, and bunch of the neighborhood kids, too.

Mei Mei's cousin C is only about seven months older than her, and these two instantly became best buddies (when they aren't fighting for the same toy:)




On Friday my mom flew here, too! She met both Mei Mei and cousin L for the first time! It had been three years since our mom's last visit....
 


And this sweetie turned one! If you've followed our blog you know Little Miss and I were at my sister's when L was born a year ago (link here to the story of L's fast home birth).




Here's a picture of all the cousins together. Never a quiet dull moment here!
 

While in San Diego, we got to celebrate meeting Mei Mei in China six months ago! It is hard to believe it has only been six months, it feels like she has been a part of our family forever...

*********************************************************************************

Terveisiä San Diegosta! Mainestä lensimme tänne Kaliforniaan siskon luokse. Mei Mei tapasi siskoni perheen ensimmäistä kertaa, ja kyllä serkuilla on ollut ihanaa! Varsinkin 3-vuotiaalla C:llä ja 2.5-vuotiaalla Mei Meillä (silloin kun eivät tappele leluista, heh).

Perjantaina äitini lensi Floridasta tänne myös, ja tapasi ensimmäistä kertaa Mei Mein ja pikkuisen L:n. Olemme viettäneet L:n ensimmäistä syntymäpäivää, ja kuusi kuukautta Mei Mein tapaamisesta Kiinassa!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 Hyvää uutta vuotta!





It's not too late to wish a Happy New Year, is it?

While the blog has been quiet, our Maine camp has not.




We celebrated the New Year with the Captain's Uncle B, Aunt P and cousin A.

And enjoyed the new snow. So much.




When family left, it was soon time to go to the airport, and pick up our Australian guests, who had been having all kinds of adventures already from LA, Caribbean cruises, Florida, New York City to Washington DC, and then to the backwoods of Maine. (Culture shock, anyone?)

Sadly we had to take our teens to airport three days later, as they needed to get back to their school in Florida. A kind friend picked them up in Orlando, and also picked up my mom, who flew from Finland to Florida the same day. The little girls and I stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's for lunch, and cousins came over to meet Mei Mei, too.

On our way back to our camp we encountered heavy rains, flooding, high winds, fog and zero visibility. I wish I was kidding. There were times I couldn't see the lines on the road. And then our trip stopped. A tree(s?) was down, blocking the road. We were so thankful for God's watch over us: on the other side of the felled tree we saw the lights of our camp... And the Captain was able to come rescue us:)

Little Miss and Mei Mei stayed back with mama and daddy to keep our visitors busy. We did have to keep up with school also, but our guests were able to go sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, shopping and shooting. There was a lot of cooking and baking, a yummy meal at a local restaurant, and lots of movies and hanging out.

Swimming was planned, but the lake froze. Sadly.

Our adventures are almost over in Maine (for now), the Captain is returning to Florida, and the little girls and I head to California. It's time for some of my side of the family to meet Mei Mei, too ;-)




We do wish everyone a wonderful year of 2016 with words from our Heavenly Father (what better way to start a new year than to turn to the Creator of heavens and earth?):

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  Lamentations 3: 22-24

 “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”  Psalm 96: 1-3


*********************************************************************************


Blogi on ollut hiljaisuudessa, mutta Mainessä ei todellakaan ole ollut hiljaista. Uutta vuotta vietimme Kapteenin sedän, tädin ja serkun kanssa, ja pian saapuivat vieraamme Australiasta. Kolme päivää myöhemmin vein teinit lentokentälle pikkutyttöjen kanssa. Teinit lensivät Floridaan, ja äitini Suomesta samana päivänä myös, ja ystävä haki heidät kentältä. Teineillä alkoi koulu taas.

Pikkutyttöjen kanssa pysähdyimme Kapteenin vanhempien luona lounaalla, ennen kuin ajoimme takaisin pohjoiseen, oikein kunnon myrskyssä. Hiljaa ja varovasti ajoin kovassa sateessa ja tuulessa, sumussa ja pimeydessä. Kunnes vastaan tuli este: tien päälle oli kaatunut kaksi isoa puuta. Taivaan Isä näin varjeli meitä ja piti meistä hyvää huolta: kodin valot näkyivät puiden toiselta puolelta, ja Kapteeni tuli meidät pelastamaan:)


Viimeiset pari viikkoa mökki on ollut vilkas, vieraamme olivat oikein aktiivisia, ja kävivät pulkkamäessä, laskettelemassa, moottorikelkkailemassa, shoppailemassa ja ampumaradalla. Pikkuneidin kanssa pyöritimme tätä vipinää kotikoulun ohessa.

Toivottavasti ei ole liian myöhäistä toivottaa jokaiselle lukijalle hyvää uutta vuotta! Ja maailman parhaan kirjan sanojen mukaan:
Turvaa Herraan kaikesta sydämestäsi äläkä nojaudu omaan ymmärrykseesi. Tunne hänet kaikilla teilläsi, niin hän sinun polkusi tasoittaa. Sananlaskut 3:5-6

Herran armoa on, ettemme ole aivan hävinneet, sillä hänen laupeutensa ei ole loppunut: se on joka aamu uusi, ja suuri on hänen uskollisuutensa. Minun osani on Herra, sanoo minun sieluni; sentähden minä panen toivoni häneen. Valitusvirret 3:22-24

Veisatkaa Herralle uusi virsi, veisatkaa Herralle, kaikki maa. Veisatkaa Herralle, ylistäkää hänen nimeänsä. Julistakaa päivästä päivään hänen pelastustekojansa, ilmoittakaa pakanain seassa hänen kunniaansa, hänen ihmeitänsä kaikkien kansojen seassa. Psalmi 96:1-3

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year 2015 Recap

Do I start this post every year with "Wow, what a year it has been!"? Because, really, what a year it has been... :)

(Years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Did anyone catch a line in the January part of 2014 Recap post? I wasn't ready to blog about it, but it did reveal something very big already... Sometimes all you can do is hint about things to come... ;-)

And then I ended the 2014 Recap with these words: "What a year. Full of adventures, full of changes. Full of God's grace, full of many stories of His provision and protection. We look forward to 2015 to see what God has in store for our family!"

I loved what God had for us in 2015! Thank You, Jesus, for a wonderful, full year of many blessings!

*****************************************************************************

JANUARY




We started our year at our camp in Maine. First we celebrated the New Year with friends from our local church, who came over to our camp for the evening. Then Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt C, Uncle P and cousins H, M and M came over for a fun visit. We also had friends from New Hampshire visit us.

We watched the lake freeze over (again - it had frozen over in December once already), and while we did enjoy the snow somewhat, we mainly played a lot of games indoors. No winter sports, yet.

Then it was time to pack up and head south. We stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's house, then in Virginia at my sister's. We had a short visit there, then the Captain continued in the Mothership to Florida with Missy, Mr D and Mr A. I stayed at my sister's for a couple of weeks with Mr T and Little Miss, helping as we all waited for Baby #5 to arrive. And she did! On the Captain's birthday:)


FEBRUARY



Little Miss and I got to enjoy Baby L for about a week, then it was time for us to drive south, too. Mr T wanted to stay in Virginia for a couple of months, and so we left him behind at my sister's (sniff).

We first drove to Daytona, where the Captain and three kids were hanging out at our friends, taking flight lessons, and passing their various exams. From there we all continued to our next Florida stop, staying at a campground for a couple of weeks.

We quickly decided we LOVE traveling in the Mothership, but not so much staying stationary in it. Even without Mr T, it was so tight. And cold! February was cold in Florida!! So, at the end of February we parked the Mothership and were in a house again:)


MARCH



Too busy to blog much (this post has most pics). My nephew A from Finland arrived. Little Miss turned nine, and Grandma and Grandpa were with us to celebrate it! Missy got braces. Mama was taking a new photography class, and learning photoshop. Homeschooling, too, of course! The boys and the Captain were busy with their own special project, and learning all kinds of new skills.


APRIL



In April we got to see more friends and family. My blog and real life friend Ina came over for Easter Sunday with her family. We had such a fun day! Then after Easter my sister's family drove down from Virginia for a few days, and brought Mr T back to us! Yay:)

Also, while we couldn't announce it on the blog yet, we saw Mei Mei's sweet little face for the first time, and got the paperwork started to bring her home!


MAY



In May we were able to make our Big Announcement about Mei Mei!

Mama was also busy with photography, which usually meant fun trips to the beach, or library, or sailing, or baking at home.

We reluctantly said goodbyes to my nephew, who flew back to Finland.

We also took a trip to the FPEA Homeschool Convention at Gaylord Palms, and met up with some favorite people. And then, at the end of the month it was time to get back into the Mothership, and back on the road.


JUNE



Mr D got his for-real-driver's-license, and did most of the driving in our Yukon, following the Mothership.

The first part of June we were on the road. My sister and her family moved to California, and we had hoped to meet them on the road, but missed them by a day. We had something going on with the tires or wheels of the Mothership, and stayed at Sebastian Inlet Park for a couple of days. What a beautiful place! (We got eaten by no-see-ums, however.)

Since we didn't have a pitstop in Virginia anymore, we stopped in Pennsylvania at the M family's place. We had not seen our dear friends for two years. We also stopped for coffee at friends in Massachusetts and stayed a night at Grandma and Grandpa's, and worked the next day there. (Except Mr D and Mr T had taken a different route to Maine from Pennsylvania, and visited friends in Vermont. We have almost adult big kids, peeps!)

And finally made it to our camp. For about two weeks of deep cleaning, before renters arrive. Always such fun:) So glad to have our team helping!

When our work weeks were done, we packed up the Mothership again, and headed south. Maine was so beautiful it hurt to leave, but at least we got some beautiful photos before our departure. Two boys left to go to a camp in Virginia, and Mr A flew to Florida to go on a mission's trip to Guatemala with our church youth group. The Captain, the girls and I headed to Nantucket island.


JULY



Such big things were in store for July. Oh my.

Celebrating the fourth (for the first time as a US citizen!) on Nantucket Island with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt C, Uncle P and cousins. Then packing and moving out of the dear old island house. A lot of goodbyes, very bittersweet. The boys had come back from their travels, and had had a great time at camp, and at the mission's trip.

And then... first driving back to Grandma and Grandpa's in southern Maine, then Mr A, Little Miss and I flew to Beijing! (See Summer Palace and Great Wall, also.) And then Wuhan, Hubei, where we met Mei Mei. We were able to visit Mei Mei's orphanage, and see where she was found. (Also pictures from Wuhan here and here.) From there we traveled to Guangzhou, where we spent the rest of the month.

A huge thank you to all who filled a suitcase with me for the New Day Beijing foster home for children! We were privileged to hand deliver our gifts, but couldn't post any photos of the children from there online.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the Captain, and our three other children had traveled back to Florida to look for a new rental home for us. Our three teens took college entrance tests, and passed, and Mr A had passed his before returning to New England earlier in the month.


AUGUST



We were getting to know Mei Mei in Guangzhou, and she was getting to know Mr A, Little Miss and Sennie. Her funny, spunky personality started to show as she got more comfortable with us, and we couldn't wait for the rest of the family to meet her.

Before leaving the Guangdong Province, we saw the Chen Clan Academy and explored a park nearby, and even rented a paddle boat. We started to have some tummy trouble at the end of our stay, but by God's grace we were fine to travel back. The Captain, Mr D, Mr T and Missy met us at the airport, and a photographer friend Julie, too, who gave us a priceless gift of fantastic homecoming photos.

Since our camp was still rented, and we knew how rough the jet lag/transition time is, we stayed at a cottage in New Hampshire for a week, which ended up being just what was needed. Mei Mei had to learn how to sleep in a portacrib, which meant no sleep (for anyone) for several nights. Yet, being all together was still so beautiful and imperfectly perfect as we were all figuring out our new family.

We had hoped to spend a good part of August at our camp, but realized soon that wasn't going to happen. We were there for about three days. The Captain had to go to Nantucket a day after arriving at the camp, and the rest of us packed up our gear and left the camp in a hurry, and met him at his parents house in Southern Maine. We packed up a trailer, and started driving to Florida, where a new rental home was waiting for us.

The day after our Florida arrival our quadruplets started a dual enrollment program at a local college. Little Miss and I were busy making our house a home, and also still waiting on her school curriculum.


SEPTEMBER



In September we were learning new routines. We had a lot to do to make our new house a home.
We were a stationary (!) family of eight now, and our teenagers were attending a real school - a college, no less! Little Miss started homeschool too, once her school curriculum arrived. The dual enrollment program has been great for our teens, but it was not a smooth transition for all. We had some really, really rough months weeks days (and nights).

We finally took Mei Mei to the beach for the first time ever (her orphanage was not near the ocean), and she loved it! She wasn't so sure about the sand on her bare toes, but eventually she got used to it.


OCTOBER




October was still very warm in Florida. We visited the beach and parks often, as well as walked to the library often. We went on a little homeschool field trip to a pumpkin patch, and attended a harvest party, too.

Some days we'd meet up with our Maine friends, who came to live in our area for a little while (we loved it!!!). Little Miss was busy with various science projects, and school, too. We learned we had to have a very flexible school schedule, as mama needed to give Mr T rides to and from college at various times.

Missy attended her second Rubik's Cubing Competition, in Orlando. She loved every second of it!

The Captain took a quick trip to New England, and brought back the Mothership!

We finally had our first cleft clinic with Mei Mei, and started getting ready for her cleft palate surgery. Missy had oral surgery to help bring down a stubborn tooth, and Little Miss got braces!

At the end of the month Mr T and Mr D were in Kentucky with a homeschool group, and the rest of us walked at our friends' neighborhood for a little while on October 31st. Mei Mei loved calling out "trick or treat" and getting candy:)


NOVEMBER



November was all about Mei Mei and her cleft palate surgery. We had various appointments before and after, and the Big Day was a week before Thanksgiving. We stayed in the Mothership (first time for Mei Mei!) before (and during) the surgery, and were very happy to go home. Thank you all so much for praying for Mei Mei and her recovery. We are amazed at well she did. Glory to God!

Before and after Mei Mei's surgery we pretty much kept her home. We didn't want her to catch any colds, and afterward it was important she wouldn't get hurt. The first Sunday we brought her to church (as she really missed her friends!) she took a tumble down stairs, and we were so glad her mouth had healed well enough by then there was no damage.


DECEMBER



In the beginning of the month Mr T had a chance to go to a debate tournament with friends, and he loved it! He has been interested in it for a while, and looks like he is going to get serious about debating.

In the middle of the month we had serious crunch time as the college term was coming to an end. No one got a whole lot of sleep, but the teens had work paid off: everyone got fantastic grades. We are very proud of our quadruplets!

Mr A and Missy attended a Star Wars costume party at youth group, and both won best costume awards! What fun! We had a little half birthday celebration for Mei Mei, too. She loved it.

And then it was time to head to Maine. We wanted to spend Christmas at our camp, and drove up (a few very painful days). No snow at first, but we are ending the year with fresh snow, and a very thin layer of ice covering a part of the lake.

We celebrated birthdays, adoption day, and Christmas. So much fun experiencing all these firsts with Mei Mei. Grandma and Grandpa arrived right before Christmas, and more family is coming tomorrow, too.

Our year ended with a dip in the lake - on the 30th when the lake started freezing over.

 
***********************************************************************************

Thank you for joining our family on this grand adventure! And Welcome 2016! Have a Happy New Year!


"The things that are impossible with people are possible with God." Luke 18:27