Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Last Week - Wrap-Up

"Joy to the World" excerpt - only part of the mass choir shown in video selection.....

….busier than a puppy in a room full of rubber balls, last week ….. and just wanted to share the events ….. they were WAY cool.

Started out last Sunday leading worship at my church …… the adrenaline kicked in and I did something that I had not done in 4 or so years. It was an honor to lead our congregation in worship for 2 services in front of a really kickin’ band and a 40 voice choir that nailed their music and made it their own. I felt God was lifted up and the people joined in genuine worship.

Then, on Wednesday night, I find out that Voices of Liberty (sang with them in the mid-80s and recently auditioned to sing the Christmas Candlelight @ Disney with the 8 voice ensemble – didn’t make the final cut) were having a 25th reunion concert on Friday. Apparently, the coordinators did not have my e-mail address – no surprise – e-mail did not exist in the mid-80s. Got my hands on the music and crammed for 2 days to learn it to the point where I could sing it reasonably well in concert. And here’s the kicker …… I had dreamed of being able to sing the lush arrangements of the Christmas music once again …… and I had the opportunity to do several of the numbers …… this time with 90 or so alumni of the group. These singers are the best of the best from around the country and it jazzed me that I had the opportunity to make some of the most wonderful music I’ve ever heard. It was a (partial) dream come true. About 800 showed up for the event. It was an evening of excellence in vocal music and reminiscing with old acquaintances.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Call Me "Tagged"

Be here.

I've been tagged by my friend Alyson over at Imagine Alyzabeth An for a blog game.

Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name.If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had. When you are tagged, you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts.At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged & to read your blog! So, here goes ........

A - Asia - birthplace of my daughter, Joanna Mei.

N - Ni Hou - if I answer a phone in China, I will most likely say this.

N - Nurse - my profession - now working in computer informatics management - supervising a team of clinical professionals re: implementation of computerized charting system.

And now ........ let's see who gets tagged ........ we'll start with.....

A - 3Ds Adoption Journey (Blogster friend from Canada, Doris ) - we feel a friendship across the miles with her and husband, Dan. They are very much like Don & myself (a few years younger) doing a lot of things we would do and our LIDs are similar - check out their Halloween costumes - what a hoot!

N - Nancy in France. We have been friends for around 12 - 15 years and have visited their wonderful family about 30 miles outside of Paris. She & husband, Mark, were ministry partners here in Orlando when Don & I were on the founding team for a church plant. She says "I have one terribly handsome husband, two terribly cool teenage boys and one lovely, funny princess. (oh, and a dumb dog and stupid cat)." Nancy made us a family quilt which will be a treasured family heirloom. Click to see a few pics of her love for our family - although the pics don't do justice to her beautiful work.

N - Renee from North Carolina (OK - it's a stretch) but I wanted to include this courageous lady for her faith and strength during her cancer treatment. I, also, am a cancer survivor (Praise God! 4 years cancer free!) I feel a special bond with Renee and I'm sure that she would want you to go to The Breast Cancer Site and click for credits for mamograms, bringing deserving women without insurance one step closer to combatting breast cancer. Renee, you are an inspiration to many women in blogland - and so is your wonderful family.

That's the end of my post - now, click on over and be a part in wiping out breast cancer. Go ahead ....... click on it ....... only 2 days left!

Blessings Y'all,


Courtney Mei sends out a 'thank you' for
the "Nice Matters Award"

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I600-A --- Approved --- for the 2nd dang time

... so, when I hear the term USCIS, why does the term USELESS come to mind? ... I mean, this division of Homeland Security has just charged us about 800 bucks to inform us that we did not commit any crimes worthy of the attention of the FBI. Whew! - Am I ever relieved! Thank you, thank you - I couldn't be sure if I had pulled off a heist or sold secure government info during the last 18 months! America - you can breathe easier now. These prospective adoptive parents are clean!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Weather Has Finally Broken!

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. " Matthew 5:14-16

The windows & doors are open and the a/c is off - Fall has finally arrived in Central Florida.
Jackets & sweaters were the attire last night as we went out and enjoyed the break in the weather. It is about time ....... come to think of it ......
it's about time someone arrived from China.
Click on the pic and enlarge it - it's a GREAT shot!
It's an Internet image, so I can't take credit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


This magic star is composed of the numbers 1 to 19. It adds to 64 along every line. Each circle+ the center also=64.
By the time our daughter arrives, each line will add up to my age.
Our wait for Joanna Mei since our LID adds up to 19 months today.
Each month adds up to another test of patience.
I'm really stretching it in the 'creative' category with these LIDiversary posts,
don't ya think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fingerprints ..... still on the ends of the fingers ..... 3rd Time Around

Well, it only took about 23 minutes from the time we entered the dingy USCIS Fingerprint Facility on October 13 'till we walked out (for the third time) - with the same fingerprints. I'm beginning to KNOW these people!
This is our first positive experience (if you can call being fingerprinted a positive experience) in our encounters with government agencies.
Click here for our post about our first fingerprinting experience .......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yo! Blogsters .... Help Me Out Here!

If you've been following our adoption blog, you know that my wife, Be, is a breast cancer survivor. This was only possible because our insurance provided for regular mamogram screening. But, millions of women DO NOT have the luxury of having their ... well, you know what I'm talkin' about. So, there's a site (The Breast Cancer Site)which will provide a screening for a free mamogram to a deserving woman free of charge. You need only click on the link above and credit will be applied. PPLLEEAASSE .... just click .....DAILY..... I still have my wonderful wife around because we we were fortunate enough to have the insurance at our disposal to make it happen. Go ahead ..... click NOW!!!!!!
Bless y'all for taking part.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

..and the "Nice" Award Goes To........

The vote is in! We have been bestowed “The Nice Award” by our good friends Ford & Alyson. So guys, how is the weather in Nice? Are you coming along? Are you going to check bags or try to carry-on? What kind of bathing suits do they wear there? How is your French? How can you guys afford a trip like this with Alyzabethan on the way?

OK, so I’m living in Fantasyland, you say. Well Ford & Alyson, thank you. You are fine friends & nice blogsters yourselves. Now……to pass the award along. I’ve seen where several of those whom I deem worthy of the award ("This award is for bloggers who are nice people, good blog friends, and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also, for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.") have already received it, so I’m passing it on to some others. Fanfare please………….

In alphabetical order……

Angie & Mike – “Winemiller Red Thread” - from our Orlando Families Waiting Group - after having just returned from China with daughter Madison, Angie asked me if I would like to hold her (their daughter, not Angie). Tears came to my eyes as I embraced their precious little girl. 'Nice' goes out to you, Angie ..... and Mike, you're OK as well.

Brian & Dawn – “Courtney Mei” –We have followed each other through the adoption process for quite some time & daughter Courtney Mei is just the light of their lives.

Esther – “Never Move Again” – I sense that we have the same sense of humor. Esther is a tough lady who had 2 failed adoptions from Russia (shady agency items), began the China journey and just recently adopted 2 little girls domestically so her 3 boys now have sisters to watch out for. Perhaps one day she’ll do a “Cliff Notes” version of her story ….. like she has time!

Glo’s Blog – “Elia’s Journey to Go Home” – Glo is grammie to Elia, adopted from Mexico. What a story she has! She has followed our journey from the start and has been a constant prayer partner for adoption. Hit her profile to see her other blogs – she’s quite a gal!

Renee Moore – “The Moore Family” – Renee & I met when I came across her blog during one of my bouts with insomnia. Both she and my wife, Be, are cancer survivors. Renee has been a prayer partner during our adoption ups & downs.

Nancy in France – “The Village Quilter” – Our dear friend who made Joanna Mei her beautiful family quilt. We have known Nancy & her wonderful family for about 15 years and we miss them terribly. We’ll just have to take a jaunt to France – Hey! Are you anywhere near Nice?

So, those are the winners, although anyone who has the heart for adoption must have a high 'nice' quota. All of the blogs I've hit have been prepared by folks whose intentions are where they should be. Let's all be nice to each other in the meantime while we sit in the waiting room together.


Whadda ya know? --- I finally tried to use the hyper-link feature --- Never knew it was that easy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Attention All Dogs!!!!!

Instructions for properly hugging a baby.

1. First, spy a baby.

2. Second, be sure that the object you spied was indeed a baby by employing classic sniffing techniques. If you smell baby powder and the wonderful aroma of wet diapers this is indeed a baby.

3. Next you will need to flatten the baby before actually beginning the hugging process.

**Note: The added slobber should help in future steps by making the "paw slide" easier.

4. The "paw slide"Simply slide paws around baby and prepare for possible close-up.

5. Finally, if a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult and patented "hug, smile, and lean" so as to achieve the best photo quality

Dogs, if this is properly done, it will secure you a warm, dry, climate-controlled environment for the rest ofyour life.!


If you don't pass this along, a dog will come out and pee on your computer!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Part One - On the Road - Sept 17 - Oct 4

All of our posts for the latter part of September were either prepared in advance and added from our 'drafts' folder or posted from cyber cafes along the journey during our 17 day absence from Orlando.
We left the Magic Kingdom on September 14 and returned October 4.
Here's what we did while we were gone....
You can click on any photo for a larger version
First Stop - Vegas!
The strip - what a hole ---- but it holds some of the finest entertainment anywhere.
We are not gamblers - we did not stuff one nickel into a slot machine
nor play any other game during our 4 day stay.
But we did see some of the finest shows and we did some great hikes @ Red Rock Canyon
while there.

Our first night ----- on a lark, we called the box office at The Venetian and inquired about availability of seats for "Phantom of the Opera" - a lavish extravaganza far exceeding the Broadway and London versions of the show - we both know the score note for note and landed some fine seats on last minute notice.

On day 2, we sat through a laborious 'time share presentation' for the sole purpose of being gifted with free tickets to the Lance Burton illusion show and free dinner at the MGM Grand. We made it through the presentation unscathed and loved the Lance Burton presentation. Later in our stay, we will enjoy a great dinner before the Cirque du Soleil show 'Ka".

Second & Third Days - Red Rock Canyon
Several great hikes and wonderful scenery.

Don't see many of these signs in O-Town.

Springs in the desert provide a lush green oasis.

"I Am the Walrus"

Desert Blooms

On one of our hikes, we stopped at this point, took out a pocket Bible, thanked God for His creation before us and prayed for the swift arrival of our daughter, Joanna.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Part 2 - On the Road ---- September 17 - October 4

Part Deux
of what could be
"The Longest Blog Post of All Time"
The ceiling in the check-in desk area @ the Bellagio.
The glass, suspended above the seating area is by artist Dale Chihuly.


Well, we made it through a 2 hour 'time share' sales presentation for which
we were given dinner vouchers for a nice restaurant in the MGM Grand.
Perfect! We had tickets for the Cirque du Soleil show 'Ka' at the same venue,
so we took advantage of the offering and enjoyed a fine meal before the show.
We are Cirque du Soleil junkies and this show ended them all!
Skilled athletes and acrobats combined with technical precision made 'Ka'
one of our favorites.

The Wheel of Death in 'Ka'

Did I ever mention that we are 'Cirque du Soleil' junkies?
Oh, yeah.
On the last night of our 4 days in Vegas, we saw 'Love'
a Cirque show built around the music of the Beatles.
Don is quite the Beatles freak and has been looking forward to this
show for quite a while.
The same day as the show, we had those difficult decisions to make regarding the
adoption of several SN children (whose needs were beyond our ablity to provide for
care considering our ages). So, the show was a great diversion from the day spent
in a cyber cafe & on the phone with our SW.
Most of the other Cirque shows rely on raw acrobatics as the main thrust of their shows.
This one was somewhat lighter and could appropriately be called
"A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles in Dance and Pagentry".
We got to the theatre early and had some fun with a display for the show.
The pics are below....

"Baby, You Can Drive My Car"
One of the numbers from the show.


Clearlake in Northern California - Our 2nd Stop

Wineries, mountains and lakes surrounded us as we visited
Be's sister, Joanne, and BIL Bob for a week.

Moonrise on Clearlake

Cattails along one of the trails at Cache Creek Recreation Area.

Jake and brother-in-law, Bob, on a hike at Cache Creek.

Be's sister, Joanne, sings on the praise team at
Clearlake United Methodist Church.
Jake the LoverDog

Get out your Birkenstocks, windchimes and your Chakra guides, folks -
we're heading to Mendocino.
It's a very beautiful town in Northern California which has become a haven for
aging hippies and 60s thought. When we first drove up, we parked next to a fence
outside an organic foods market (where we made several purchases) which had all sorts of flyers advertising meetings
The Disciples of Deepak Chopra
Finding the Primal Man Within.

The second offering was interesting, as I had seen a TV magazine article on the
weekend seminar. It seems that men get together in the woods outside the town and
release their inhabitions (something Don does without the big bucks of a weekend seminar) by dancing around a fire, beating on drums and yellingat the moon.
Heck, at our house, we do THAT before .... dinner!
Hhhhmmmmm - wonder what the women's version looks like.

Anyway, we had a lovely afternoon cruising the alleys & shops, drinking organic coffee
and hiking around the rugged coastline. We had the digital camera working overtime.

Enjoy the pics......

A seagull waits patiently for the scraps from a sea sea otter's dinner
of abalone.


Last Stop - San Fran

We both love San Francisco ----- and we were fortunate that
family business took us to one of our favorite cities as the last stop on our 17 day excursion. It was one of the first stops on our honeymoon WWAAYY back in 1981.
Our time as 'tourists' would be limited but we still managed to get 'out on the town' when we could.

One especially memorable evening, we went down to Fisherman's Warf. It was one of those "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" kind of nights - the place was uncrowded,
breezy - but not windy
and you could actually hear the sound of the bells on the cable cars.
Our table at Neptune's
at the end of Pier 58
complete with a view of Alcatraz
(not to mention the wonderful meal) was the topper of the evening.

Here are some scenes from the other places we visited in this remarkable city.

City view - from the Golden Gate .

Our travels in San Francisco took us past
the University of Southern California Cancer Center at Mt Zion Hospital.
Some poor chap rode to work on his bicycle that morning
and locked it up to a bicycle parking rack outside the facility
- and will return to find a mere shadow of what was once a complete bicycle.
Welcome to the big city.

The lure of authentic Asian food drew us to Chinatown for lunch.
We sought out our favorite Dim Sum take out vendor and were entertained by
this gentleman who played a 1 stringed instrument which
(at the risk of being culturally insensitive)
let out with the most gastly sound I've heard since
Sigourney Weaver first encountered the 'Alien'.
I gave him a dollar and the
cacaphony was interrupted (only momentarily) when he
thanked me.
"Hey, Be! Got another dollar?"

Chinese Lantern Flower in Chinatown

Machete need here.

On our last day, we had a few hours to play 'tourist'.
I had never walked across the length of the Golden Gate Bridge and had wanted to do it for ..... well ..... a REAL long time.
Deciding to live in the moment,
we donned our walking shoes and brought along the camera.

I actually took this pic of the Golden Gate back in 2004.
It was about 7:30 AM and the light was just right.
I 'photoshopped' it to black & white and added the antique look.

All other pics in this set were taken during our walk across the famous bridge
on October 3, the afternoon prior to our 'redeye' back to Orlando.

The 'Customs House' below the GGB.

Looking west from the GGB toward Sausilito

Alcatraz - in the distance framed by cables on the GGB.

Here's a sign you don't see when you're driving by.
A walk across the Golden Gate Bridge allows time to read the text.

Don at the half-way point.


On our last day in San Francisco, we were able to break away to San Jose to visit Cousin Lyn and hubby, Ed. We spent a relaxing evening with them having snacks under the stars. That night, we retired to the 'guest cottage' - their 24' RV. Our first night - ever - in those accommodations. It was a great way to end our 17 day trip.

Cousins Lyn & Ed