Friday, July 18, 2008

The Breakfast Club...

Our months-in-the-making Guangdong Girls Reunion trip kicked off bright and early Sunday morning, the 6th of July. We headed out around 7 am, already more than 30 minutes behind schedule, thanks to my son....who couldn't find ONE of his good tennis shoes. Seriously, our ENTIRE family spent at least half an hour searching for the shoe...we finally gave up and threw his old, yucky shoes in the car. Thankfully, we made good time from Indy to Dayton, and pulled into the Cracker Barrel for our rendezvous breakfast with the Millers, one of our Guangdong families.

Back in the planning stages of this trip, we discovered that the Millers would be heading to Dayton from North Carolina for a 4th of July family celebration prior to attending the reunion. A few emails later, Kristi and I had cooked up our plan to vacation in Washington, DC, on our way to the reunion. The plan was to meet up in Dayton and head east together. Just a few days before we left, Kristi discovered that another one of our China travel group families would also be in Dayton. Now this might just sound like a lovely little coincidence, but it was actually a really sweet God-sized coincidence. The Wheelis family happens to be the family that we spent time with in Hong Kong at the end of our trip to China. They were in our travel group of 42 families, but they adopted their daughter Jadyn from another province. We made fast friends and spent a fast two days having a blast exploring a new city together! They also happen to live in ALBANIA! It just so HAPPENS that they were home on furlough from their missionary assignment and were also visiting family in the Dayton area! We just couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit, so we made arrangements to meet for breakfast!

Just as with any true friendships, within minutes, it seemed as if no time had passed. We compared notes on the girls, reminesced about our adoption experience, laughed about our adventures in China, and watched as our girls sized each other up. Caroline and Kylie seemed comfortable with each other fairly quickly...they've seen each other a couple of times since China...and after a few minutes, Jadyn opened up to show us the little character she's become! The big kids melted into a group at the other end of the table, and before you know it, Mickey was teaching the Wheelis boys all about blowing spitwads through straws. Oh, yes, I am SO proud. We thoroughly enjoyed our fellowship over breakfast and then headed out for some serious photo shooting.

Does this fall into the category of spiritual gifts?

Here's where it gets funny. If you know anything at all about our adoption story and our youngest daughter, you would put serious odds on the chance that she would be the one to act up. HEE! My sassy little spitfire was ever so cooperative for the pictures, and Kylie and Jadyn gave their mamas a little run for their money! They were funny and wiggly and TWO. It was hilarious. We got some great ones, especially when Jenny pulled out the big guns and gave the girls push pops. Now, why didn't I think of that? I applaud bribery in almost any parenting situation.

Oh, they are REALLY into this photo shoot, eh?

Sweet, funny girls!

"Helloooooo...the camera's over here, girls!"

Gotta love the reflection of the "Parent Paparazzi"...




Sizing each other up...

It was tough to say was such a short visit...and I know it will be a while before we get to visit with the Wheelis family again. They are such a neat family, and I am in awe of their willingness to serve their God in such a selfless way. I am so thankful, though, for the chance to see them and properly say goodbye this time...we never got the chance in Hong Kong, after Jon got so sick.

Check out Jenny's blog, Grace for Today,

and Robert's blog, Journey to Albania...

Jenny with the girls...July, 2008

Jenny with the girls...Hong Kong...February, 2007

Caroline in Hong Kong...February, 2007

Jadyn in Hong Kong...February, 2007
How is it that our girls grew so much in just over a year??

Then it was time to hit the road for Washington, DC. We had some time to make up, so we tried to stay focused on driving. Between potty breaks, fill-ups, driver switching, traffic jams and a picnic lunch, we managed to make an obscene amount of stops and pretty much lost all focus...but we had a great time being together! At one point, Kristi and I were taking our turns at driving, and we had been weaving through the mountains of West Virginia for some time. My apologies to any West Virginians...but GOOD. GRIEF. I've never seen so many trees and hills in my life. I started to lose my mind. It was almost as monotonous as Kansas. I know, lots of states have trees and hills, but it all just started to look the same after a while. So as I'm getting into that zone of trying to convince myself that I am not sleepy, despite the snores from the back seat, I notice some movement up ahead on the right side of the road. As the object came into focus, we realized it was a HUGE black bear! In the span of what couldn't have been more than five or ten seconds, we watched in seemingly slow motion as it jumped the guard rail, barreled onto the highway and headed straight for the Millers' car! We didn't even have time to speak as we watched Kristi slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. I know she didn't miss that bear by more than a few inches! And on he went, blazing a path across the median and the other side of the highway. He must have crossed at least six lanes, and, thank the LORD, he made it without a scratch and disappeared into the woods on the other side. And comes the age-old question, with a twist..."WHY DID THE BEAR CROSS THE ROAD?!"

Okay,'s a LITTLE funny...right?

We were all awake now! The ones in my car that were asleep awoke to..."LOOK, IT'S A BEA...WHOA, IT'S HEADED FOR...YIKES...I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE MISSED...OH, THERE IT GOES ACROSS THE...I HOPE IT DOESN'T GET...AND THERE IT GOES!" Not one complete sentence, and yet ever so descriptive of the scene of the crime. Wouldn't you know it, my phone was on ROAMING, so I couldn't call and check on Kristi. I sped up, and we exchanged looks that really needed no words. And a few miles later, we crossed into Maryland and beheld this sign.

Yeah, thanks for the warning, West Virginia!

Click here for Kristi's account of our day...

"Get back in the car????"

We rolled into the outskirts of Washington, DC, around 9:00 or so. We stopped for a quick dinner and then parted ways for the night. Ian's dad lives right outside DC, so they stayed with him while we crashed at the Embassy Suites. I have to say, I love the sideshow we must create when arriving at a hotel with all our kids, especially after a road trip. Things that were neatly packed in tote bags and organized in coolers have managed to fling themselves all over the van in the course of the day. And my troupe of road warriors happily drag blankets, pillows and the like through the lobby while I hope and pray they at least have both shoes on.

I think I've seen this look before...

Tons of outtakes in the slide show below...

click "View All Images" to view individually...


Kristi said...

That was perhaps the best time I've ever had at a Cracker Barrel! I love (note my sarcasm!) that in the group photo I am the only mom not holding her girlie. Wish you lived closer so Abby could watch Kylie for me some, it would be helpful as we prepare for the move and Kylie ADORES her!
I'm astounded at how much all the girls have grown since last Feb, but perhaps the most amazed at the transformation of Mindy and Abby into more mature looking young women. SLOW DOWN on the maturing thing girls!
I went back and revisited my post about that day ~ you covered it much better ~ and was amazed that my mom and sister simply said that they wished I had my camera out when I met the bear. I guess they missed the part about slamming on brakes and swerving to avoid having a new hood ornament...
I look forward to your upcoming posts about the rest of the trip ~ I LOVE your photography!

Donna said...

Had a cup of tea and enjoyed your first installment! Can't wait for the rest!
BTW - the gang as a whole wasn't at IU (Colin was performing there), if we had been, we MOST CERTAINLY would have darkened your door!! :) Maybe next year!!