Saturday, April 28, 2007

As the Light of Springtime Emerges Gradually .....

......It's time for
The EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.
Although gardening is not really our thing, we are aware that we may have to develop some green thumbs for the benefit of Joanna, whenever she arrives at our home.
The yearly event is one of our favorite activities with the Flower Power Concert Series. Personalities, from major stars to one hit wonders, from the 60s & 70s perform their ‘geeser rock’ to the best of their abilities and make light of their AARP statuses. Over the past 2 weeks, we rocked out – well Be did, Don is STILL mending the broken ribs – to several groups. Don’t think we have even one of their albums, but the event was a hoot all the same.

The Flower Power Concert Series

Paul Revere & The Raiders
Paul Revere & the Raiders has to be the zaniest group out there. Keyboardist, Paul Revere (many claim that original lead singer Mark Lindsey is the Paul Revere figure in the band but it’s actually the legal name of the keyboardist –---- and in the end ------ it just doesn’t matter) just celebrated his 69th birthday with surgery on his right rotator cuff (my life was enriched with that knowledge) and was quite subdued compared to last year’s performance. Still, he and bandmates had a great time with their corny banter, wild props and hits like “Indian Reservation”, "Good Thing" & “Kicks Just Keep Gettin’ Harder to Find” complete with their standard kick line. At their ages, it looked more like “Kicks Just Keep Getting’ Harder to Do”. PR&R is one of our favorite entries in the Flower Power lineup.

Tony Orlando
Brooklyn boy, Tony Orlando, was a man on a mission. He just wanted his audience to enjoy themselves. He was apparently aware that his own material was not particularly exciting. At one of his shows (we saw 3) he came out on stage, without fanfare, and announced “Alright. We’re going to do 3 of my songs first ….. and then we’ll do some good stuff.” Orlando featured his kickin’ band for the most part and played ‘party meister’ for most of the 30 minute shows doing sing alongs, background vocals and encouraging dancing in the aisles. Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Earth Wind & Fire were all a part of the song menu accompanied by a hot, energetic and musically tight backup band.

Carl Giammarse - Lead singer for The Buckinghams

The Buckinghams surprised me – I had forgotten that they recorded “Susan” and “Don't You Care” in addition to “Kind of A Drag” (a song which reminds Be of taking the cat for a walk). Their show was a bit more reserved than the 2 previous groups with the exception of a rendition of “Mercy, Mercy” by their wild looking ponytailed, body builder bass player (an original member) who took the song and made it his own.

Flo & Eddie of "The Turtles"
The Turtles (Flo & Eddie) were the princes of Bubblegum Rock in the 60s, and performed all 6 or so of their hits during their set when we saw them last week. The group, arch-rivals to The Archies, performed "Eleanor", "She'd Rather Be With Me", "Let Me Be", "You Showed Me" and of course "Happy Together"? The 2 front men for The Turtles did their best to duplicate the sound on their original recordings ("You Showed Me" sounded as sweet as 40 years ago) and a nostalgic time was had by all.

Future shows include The Guess Who (blew us away last year), BJ Thomas, Davy Jones, Peter & Gordon, Herman's Hermits,The Tokens, Petula Clark & Jose Feliciano ...... more later as we merrily skip through the adoption waiting room .......

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pets on Planes

I receive dog tips periodically from Purina - with summer vacation around the corner, the following info should be useful when for planning ahead .......

Pets on Planes

Thinking about taking your dog on your next vacation, but feeling anxious about flying to your destination? Here are a few pointers that may make the journey easier on both of you:

Pack well. Choose a travel crate that's well ventilated and the right size for your dog. She should be able to sit, stand, and move around comfortably. And give her a chance to get used to the crate before the flight; it may help reduce in-flight anxiety.

Minimize travel time. Book the most direct flight possible. If nonstop simply isn't an option, avoid layovers in cities with extreme temperatures that could endanger your dog.

Do your homework. Check with the airline ahead of time to get the current pet regulations, and ask your veterinarian for specific advice on traveling with your dog.
And now, for some advice from a 21 year airline cunstomer service veteran:
Don't get to the airport with your pet -----
-----to be informed that your airline doesn't carry pets.
-----to be shocked that it costs $100.00 one-way to carry your pet.
-----to find out that your pet is too big to fit under the seat in front of you.
Carry-on pets include dogs, cats and domestic birds. (Ferrets,oscelots, sand crabs, spiders, weasles, snakes, frogs, and chickens do not fall into any of those categories.)
-----without having made a reservation in advance for your pet - there are limitations on
the number of pets permitted per cabin.
And the best advice is ........
..... if you must bring your pet with you ....... drive
...... if you must fly ..... leave your pet with a pet friendly friend and enjoy your vacation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Surprize! Surprize! I Liked It!

One of Daddy-O's favorites is Andre Rieu. The violinist/orchestra leader is kind of a cross between Lawrence Welk & Yanni only instead of polkas or trippy new age music, Rieu's specialties include Strauss waltzes & light classics.

So I ordered tickets for the 3 of us and you would have thought it was the most important event in the life of my 94 year old father! He reminded me daily to remember to pick him up.

So, I best not forget ...... the ribs are still healing and since I still cannot transfer Daddy-O from the wheelchair to the car, I rented a van configured for wheelchair accessability for the evneing. When we arrived at about 6:30 PM (8 PM show), he was sitting there in his jockey shorts. "Daddy-O, this outfit may be OK for a Brittany Spears concert, but Andre Rieu?......." At least it wasn't me who forgot. Two of his caregivers at his assisted living residence had him dressed and ready for action in no time. The evening went flawlessly from that time on ..... leaving 75 minutes before curtain (venue is about 5 miles away) to allow for all the festivities associated with transporting a wheelchair & it's occupant, we arrived in plenty of time to purchase a $6.00 latte, a plastic cup of Inglenook @ $7.50, and a $20.00 souvenir program for Daddy-O.

I had the surprize of my concert going life at this show. It was great! The orchestra had every note nailed (there was no sequential enhancement of instrumentation), the singers had each word and pitch prepared long before the tones ever came out of their mouths and the video production heightened the excitement for those of us seated in the nose bleed seats, the only handicapped seating offered at the Amway Arena in Orlando.

Daddy-O didn't fall asleep once, a testimony to the incredible talent on the stage of this fine touring ensemble. When "The Blue Danube" waltz was introduced, the audience was invited to dance along, and Be & myself did our best amongst the 25 or so daring couples (of the 5,000+ audience) to approximate waltz steps....... We probably would not have the opportunity to dance to the "Blue Danube" with live music of quality this extraordinary again --- so we took advantage of the next 3 minutes in time ..... Made us think ......... do we still have time for ballroom dancing lessons before Joanna arrives? ........ and so we skip merrily through the adoption waiting room ........

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Looking Her Sunday Best - Skitt Gets a Buzz Job

Diva, Misty, Brownie, Be & Max (does not like cameras)
Well, we had planned on giving Skitt, our cat, her summer haircut this past Saturday, but our friends, Scott & Jean, were headed out of town, so we got their dogs, Max & Misty for the day. No sooner had they arrived - Brownie came by for a visit, so we ended up with 4 really big dogs in the house. We envisioned a totally freaked out cat with all the canine company, so we thought not a good day to give the cat a buzz job. So, after church, Skitt got her new doo on Sunday.

Skitt's Story
Shortly after we adopted Diva from the humane society, we observed a beautiful charcoal gray domestic longhair cat hanging around our house. She was quite wild and would not let us get near her when we approached. We discovered that she was living in the storm drains in our neighborhood, existing on scraps from trash cans and whatever small creatures she could catch. We bought some cans of cat food and started leaving portions in the pipe closest our home. We began moving the food closer to the house and after months of this procedure, she would come up onto our open side porch and eat. Winter was here and she still would not come in the house, so we left a heating pad inside a cardboard box and she was content to spend the night there, but would always retreat back to the drain pipes during the day and still would run away at our approach. Eventually, she began eating on our back porch, so we would close the door, not allowing her outside at night (still sleeping in the box with the heating pad) and open it in the morning, allowing her to come and go as she pleased during the day.
After months of feedings outside, she finally ventured inside, but still would not warm up to us. We would remark at how skittish she was, so she became known as 'Skitt". Then, after several more months of staying in the house (we really took our chances here, not knowing anything about her toileting - she adapted to a litter box easily) she allowed us to pick her up - it took her more than a year before we were granted permission to touch her - and we got a tremendous surprize - she was declawed! She had fended for herself for many months developing quite th survival instinct and sense of independence - no wonder she had no interest in us! We later heard that some woman in the neighborhood had moved out and left 5 or so cats behind and Skitt was one of them.
Now, 3 years later, Skitt is an official house cat. She is still deficient in the area of social graces and looks at cat toys like they're entirely offensive, spends the whole day under our bed and comes out at night and jumps up on one of our laps for her evening scratch & pet. She will stay there and purr and when she's done, she's done - she takes up her post at the front window on the back of the couch and stays there for the night. Although it is not easy to bond with Skitt, we're happy she's off the streets and we're glad that we exercised the patience needed to bring her to this point.
We are exercising the same patience for the arrival of Joanna, now about 5 months overdue according to the wait times in place when we began our adoption journey.
In the pics below.....
Skitt seems to know what's comin'. We do the 'lion cut' on her - her head, legs and tail remain uncut. The rest of the body gets buzzed - it's really the same color as her head, it just has not fully grown in since her last cut.

.....and here she is after the buzz job. Her undercoat is almost white and we left a line of her charcoal gray fur down her back for the reverse skunk look, a popular style among felines.
We remarked that it looks like Leno's hair, somewhat and
we have invented a new cat breed - Mohawkus Domesticata.

Next event ------ the bath.

White Swan WIll Close from December 2007 - October 2008 - or - Can We Still Get a Red Couch Picture?

White Swan Hotel Will Close For Renovation

The White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou will embark upon a 10-month renovation this December, after recent approval from the Guangdong Provincial Government.
The five-star hotel plans to close its business entirely during the large-scale renovation, which will cost RMB530 million. The facade, rooms, lobby, air-conditioning systems, power supplies and parking lots will all be renovated. A new 1,000-square-meter convention center and a multi-floor underground parking lot will be built. Following the re-development, rooms will be larger, but somewhat fewer than the present 843.
The hotel is the fourth five-star hotel in the city to undergo significant renovations in recent years, following the Dong Fang, Garden and China hotels and increasingly severe competition in the top-end hotel business.
The White Swan Hotel opened to the public and began operation on February 6, 1983. Three years later, it was accepted as the member of the "Leading Hotels of the World" for its excellent management and service. The hotel was awarded one of the first five-star hotels in China in 1990 and was selected as one of "A Hundred First-Class and Fifty Best Star Hotels of China" by National Tourism Administration of China in 1996. It has received over 40 heads of states and governments including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and President Bush of the United States.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Everyone Prays!!! - Prayer for Adoption

I received an invite from the America World Agency to join them & their families in praying for adoption - anyone else?
Dear America World Families,
In recent years, our agency has asked our community to fast and pray on certain occasions - in hope and expectation that God would change the hearts of adoption officials for the best interest of orphans. We are writing to ask you to join us again as we fast and pray from April 23 - 25, 2007; if you cannot join us on these dates, please see if another time works with your schedule. In the past we have seen God work mightily as we have fasted, prayed, and sought His direction and guidance.
We greatly appreciate your prayers for our staff, prospective adoptive parents, adoption officials in the U.S. and abroad, and, most importantly, for the many waiting children in need of a family. Just as Esther and the Jewish people prayed and fasted and had a ruling overturned, our prayer is that the policies preventing orphans from entering families will be changed (Esther 8:5-8). Another passage that has been an encouragement to our agency is from the prophet Isaiah—showing us the hope that God can do new things—and providing a way through terrain that seems impossible:"This is what the LORD says—He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters… See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." -Isaiah 43:16 & 19
Specific Issues in Need of Prayer:
*To decrease the wait time for referrals from China and El Salvador;
*To allow more orphans in China to be listed and available foradoption;
*For paper chasing China adoptive parents who need to reach theirMay 1st deadline;
*For adoption agencies to be accredited in Russia;
*For the hearts of leaders in the field of adoption to make decisions in the best interest of children - and not to be motivated by personal greed, ambition, or national pride.
We are praying boldly and in faith—as Jesus taught us in Mark Chapter 11: "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." -Mark 11:22-24
This would also be a great time to ask your church community, fellowship groups and bible studies to pray together for orphans waiting to be adopted. For those who can join us in prayer and fasting from April 23 - 25, we appreciate your support, prayers and faithfulness.
America World Staff

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Family FotoFun Friday - Pets

I'm going to try participation in a photo blog called Family FotoFun Friday. It is for those who are in the China Adoption Comminity amd topics for photos vary. This week's topic is pets - so of course, here's Diva smiling big outside Madison House, the residence where Daddy-O lives.
Here's the link to "Double Happiness" .....
.......and for more pics (and bio) of Diva.......

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Check the Passport Date

We recently met with our adoption case worker (to update our Home Study and renew our Orphan Petition & fingerprints) who reminded us of an important item re: passports. Passport validity period must include the 6 months following return from China.
With that in mind, we have sent off our old passports for renewal. Effective January, 2007, a passport is now required for entry back into the United States from both Mexico and Canada.
Agencies are now buried in passport applications due to the many requests since the more restrictive procedure.
Passport renewal applications are available online at

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Big 2

Wow! A big 2 days of referrals! Wowie-zowie!
I have to say that I have a rather odd way of expressing the pain I'm in at the news of the small number of placements. I needed a day or 2 after the announcement to process everything before posting (like one of those letters you write, leave in the desk drawer & then decide it's better off left unmailed.) It also allowed me to get over my initial disappointment at the news. Blogging is theraputic for me as we are our own cyber community in the China Adoption Waiting Room.
See my friend Ford's item titled "Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking" at
Ford says it all.........
Now for my theory - I'm thinking that someone with a log-in date of October 27, 2005 requires further information for document updating prior to placement. The Agency does not clear specific dates until all dossiers for a particular time slot are current. In waiting for the info for the Oct 27 items, case workers could be working on individual referrals into November. OK - say it - "Just because you live in Orlando doesn't mean you live in Fantasyland!" I just figure that we gotta grab at whatever hope there is, real or imaginary, and carry on. When Joanna is with us, it will have been well worth the wait.
Any other theories out there in blogatopia?
.....Please congratulate Brian & Dawn, my blogger buddies from North Carolina, on the referral of their new daughter, Courtney Mei ........

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday Date Night - "Grease" - In the Gardens

Friday night kicked off the monthly Date Night at Leu Gardens in Winter Park Florida with "Grease". We had a hoot getting together with our good friends, The Spackmans, having a picnic dinner on the lawn, and singin' along with the Bopbopshoobopayippydipboomdeeboom songs from the movie. During the showing, temps went down to the upper 50s, but just about everyone made it to the end.

It was the second time I saw the classic 50s movie - the other time was in 1978, the year of the release. I grew old in the meantime - I don't remember having a second thought as Travolta sang "You know that ain't no s#*t, I'll be getting lots of t!t" in the song "Greased Lightning" or raising an eyebrow as two teens in the back of a car bemoan the fact that the only condom available was broken. Smoking, drinking and the 'ya gotta put out if you're going to get the guy' mentality were portrayed as acceptable behaviors for teens. It was too dark to determine if the people around me with children gave the references any bother, but as a prospective first time parent, it raised a red flag for me.

Now ....... let's see if we can pull this one off ....... "Joanna, that thing that looks like a TV is a screen that only plays your videos." .........


An hour before the screening, the movie goers began claiming their parcels of the lawn for "Grease"

Most were content to enjoy the company of good friends.

Kathy & Jeff Spackman, Be & Don Schafhauser

... but some went -all out-

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"So ... How's It Going With the Adoption?"

How often I hear "What's happening with the China doll?" from well intentioned acquaintances or co-workers. I can see it coming - forehead crinkled, wide eyes, big smile. When I respond "Still waiting." Of course the follow-up question (with total change of expression) is "Why is it taking so long?" Of course, they mean it as innocent conversation and I realize that.

There's no good way to explain that the extended wait is a painful item in the adoption process. Each time I have to explain it, I am brought down lower. Joanna was expected in our household last year according to the standard procedure in place at the time that we initiated the process. What was a 9 month wait at log-in is now an 18 month wait .... words escape me as I have to explain the process and I usually respond "God had the time of Joanna's arrival planned long before China knew that we wanted to adopt. We're just trying to stay on His time schedule." That can close the discussion, even if I'm speaking to an athiest. The soverignty of God in the whole scheme of things gives me peace. I lifts me from whatever funk in which I put myself and gives me focus.

I have printed out some business sized cards with our blog information. I keep a supply with me at all times and when someone pops the question, I follow up my mini-homily with "We have a blog with our entire story. Take a look at it and thank you for your interest. The blog tells you a lot more than I can now." I hand them a card and I've given them quite a bit of information without getting too technical about the process.

I am reminded that God has this eternity thing which doesn't necessarily mesh with my own self imposed calendar of events. I actually listened to what He was telling me this morning and He reminded me that He gives us patience for these times .... and people who care enough to inquire "So .... How's it going with the adoption?"