Monday, February 25

Spring Break 08

This spring break was one of the best! I had a "date" with one of the cutest guys around, rocked out with some friends, and had some fun splashing in the water.... no, I wasn't in Cancun, Daytona, or South Padre... those days are waaaayyyyy behind me. Here is my new version of a crazy fun spring break.....

I had a day out with my sweet Adrian. I just love love love getting to spend some alone time with him. He and I both read the Spiderwick Chronicles and decided to see the movie. It was playing at the IMAX and it was really intense. Next, Adrian picked where he would like to go for lunch and decided on Boston Market. I think that is so funny. What kid loves to go to Boston Market??? We then made a stop at a sporting goods store and picked up some hockey net target thingies that he flipped for. He is just such a great kid. I wish we could do it more often.


Wednesday night Ron and I joined my sister and brother in law for the Bon Jovi concert. We surprised them with a Slippery When Wet sign which I expect to see hanging on their mantle next time I am over. ;) The concert was a blast. I have never been to a concert with the level of crowd involvement as Bon Jovi. The entire crowd stood the entire concert and sang every word to every song.






We also spent a few days at The Great Wolf Lodge.... or as Luca would say... The Gray Wolf Flodge. The boys loved it... of course. Luca went on everything without fear. They enjoyed the game room and the night time "show" as well. Adrian was such a great big brother while we were there, walking Luca to the top of the slides. The boys got along so well, which was refreshing. Anytime Luca gets to put on his "babing soup" to go "fffwimmin" it's a good day. I don't think the smile could have been any bigger on Luca's face as he came down the water slides. I could hear him saying, "Weeee" as he went down. Unfortunately, our digital camera broke while we were there so I didn't get a whole lot of pictures. We brought our video camera though so I was able to capture some of the trip.


Luca doing his Buzz Lightyear pose.

Saturday, February 16

DOUBLE DIGITS BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Glitter Text custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more - ImageChef.com

Hurray! Today marks our tenth month in our wait for Eden.

Monday, February 11

Chinese New Year Party




Last night we had our third annual Chinese New Year party. My mom and dad go all out with the decorations and food. It is so neat to walk down into their basement and see it filled with bright reds and golds. This year we had a chicken stir fry with Chinese vegetables and wanton soup. The boys brought over oranges and an eight candy tray. The boys had a blast and especially got a kick out of the red envelopes and fortune cookies.

The highlight of my night.... My mom had a black wig and we were all trying it on and laughing at each other. When my mom put the wig on Luca said... "you look just like Eden." Wow. My mom has darker features and does look a little bit asian to begin with. What I thought was so cool was that Luca has a mental picture of what our Eden looks like. He is only 3 and although we try to explain as much as we can about where Eden is and how he will be getting a sister... I am unsure as to how much he understands. At that moment I knew that his sister is real to him and he has formulated some kind of image as to what she will look like.

Tuesday, February 5

Update from Half The Sky on China Storms

Below is an update from an organization reaching out to help orphanages hit with the storms in China. This information and more can be found on the Half the Sky website. I have a link on the right side of my blog.



Here’s an update on conditions and needs at the institutions we've been in contact with. We’ll provide further information regarding these and other orphanages needing help just as soon as we have it. In general the needs are for fuel, food, disposable diapers, warm clothing and bedding. Prices are soaring because no goods can be shipped and cold weather has destroyed all winter crops. Half the Sky is responding to the emergency by getting funds directly to the institutions in a variety of ways.

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION:
We are entering new information as we receive it and realize that sometines the details can be confusing. In almost every instance, we are pre-approving funds and then institutions are purchasing goods locally. In some cases they are using personal funds to pay but in every instance, THE GOODS ARE AVAILABLE LOCALLY. Therefore, if you want to help, please donate funds. We will guarantee that each of the institutions listed below as well as those we continue to talk with will receive the funds to purchase what they need to get through this winter. It is not useful for us to try to ship blankets, diapers, etc. at this time. The country is struggling to provide transportation for people to get home for the holiday. As long as goods are available locally, our best means of providing assistance is to guarantee funding. In the few cases where emergency funds or supplies are not available, we are using other means. Thank you so much for your help!

UPDATE - 5 FEBRUARY
As the holiday nears, it is getting more and more difficult to reach out to the welfare institutions who need help. We will continue trying through the coming days and updating this list whenever we have news. However, we have decided that, despite difficuties making contact with orphanage directors, we must make a commitment to address the urgent needs of every children's welfare institution in the most affected areas. Therefore, if you wish to specify, you may make a donation to ANY orphanage in these six provinces: Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Anhui, Hubei and Guangxi.

If you’ve already given a donation and now wish you’d specified a particular orphanage, please don’t worry. What we are saying is that, with the help of this tremendous community, we are making a commitment to provide relief to all orphanages in those six provinces that are struggling through this crisis.

We will continue to help orphanages in less-critically affected provinces as the need arises.

ORPHANAGES:
Beihai CWI, Guangxi – Although ill-prepared for the bitter cold, the institution has so far managed to keep the children warm and fed.

Changzhou CWI, Jiangsu – suffered the largest snowfall in Jiangsu Province.
Several buildings have collapsed. But the institution rushed to prepare for the cold and the children are fine. UPDATE: The orphanage now reports they are running out of diapers and need 750 diapers per day for an estimated 10 days. They request 15,000 yuan.

Changyu SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, heaters, washing machine and a disinfecting cabinet. Estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total child population: 33.

Chenzhou CWI, Hunan – still facing the most difficulties of the orphanages we’ve reached. They’ve had no electricity or running water for 8 days and there is almost no possibility that power will be restored before New Year’s Eve (the 6th of February.) Because of the blackout, the hospital is closed. 20 children are ill and being cared for by institution staff as well as they can. The banks are closed so staff is contributing personal funds to buy food, coal and diapers. Prices are skyrocketing as all roads to Chenzhou remain impassable. UPDATE: The largest hotel in Chenzhou is running on one emergency generator and townsfolk who’ve been without power for days have filled all rooms and lobbies. There are very few places in town with even emergency power now. Hopes are to get some electricity by next weekend. UPDATE: The 20 sick children are being cared for by doctors from the local hospital (which is closed.) They are receiving IV's and medicine. Shi assures us that the children will be fine and that they will recover. They will feed the children and keep them warm no matter what. There is still no power. Families in Chenzhou are now rationed and can only buy 4 packages of noodles per family. The Civil Affairs Bureau delivered 3 sacks of rice to the institution. The are using candles but the cost per candle has gone from 20 cents to 5 yuan per candle. They are using coal to keep warm but the price of coal is skyrocketing. Two old people at the institution died. There are 800,000 migrant workers trapped in town that can't get out to see their families for Spring Festival. They expect another heavy snow tomorrow. We are in daily touch with the orphanage. They know that everyone is thinking of them and determined to get them the help they need. UPDATE: HTS has a team on its way to Chenzhou with supplies and money. Total funds requested to date: 150,000 yuan; total child population: 186.

Chongqing CWI – warm and well, despite the terrible cold. UPDATE: Temperatures continue to drop - request warm blankets and floor mats.

Chuzhou SWI, Anhui - has both water and power. Only public transportation has failed. HTS nannies and teachers are walking to work. They are leaving home extra early to be there for the children. UPDATE: Reports that their industrial clothes dryer broke down two days ago. They've tried to repair but it is still not working and they have no way to dry clothes and diapers in the cold. They ask for 28,000 yuan for purchase of a new industrial dryer and for a 10 day supply of disposable diapers.

Daoxian SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts disposable diapers, heaters, a dryer and medical assistance. Estimated cost: 80000 yuan; total child population: 32 (social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Desheng SWI, Guangxi - needs winter clothes, quilts, disposable diapers and room heaters. Funds requested: 25,400 yuan

Fuzhou CWI, Jiangxi - lost power for a few days but now it is back to normal.
The snow stopped a couple of days ago but now is falling again. The directors and HTS staff have gathered all the children into one big room to keep them warm. They’ve bought New Years clothes for the children and will have a party no matter how bad the weather. This year, however, the foster parents will stay home to keep the children safe. The institution has enough food and water. They want us to focus on those in more serious trouble and ask us please not to worry.

Gaoyou SWI, Jiangsu – Despite incredibly heavy snow, the children are warm and well. UPDATE: Some of the children in the Family Village have caught cold. The Family Village supervisors is working with the families to care for the children. HTS is sending extra funds for heating the family village apartments for the next month - 513 yuan per family = 3078 yuan as well as 1800 yuan to cover the costs of New Year food for each of the Family Village apartments.

Guangzhou SWI, Guangdong – This city is truly unaccustomed to cold and it is getting more difficult to find necessities to keep children warm. They ask for 30 space heaters and warm bedding.

Guilin SWI, Guangxi - has two broken HTS heater/air conditioners in the Infant Nurture rooms and they’ve asked us to replace. The rooms are very, very cold. They ask for more soft matting for the floors and also snow boots for our HTS nannies who’ve been slipping and falling in the ice and snow as they come to work. They are so ill-equipped to handle severe weather. UPDATE: Also need disposable diapers, coal and winter quilts. Funds requested: 24000 yuan. UPDATE: The icy rain continues for more than one month. They are having problems with electricity and can't keep their dryer working. They ask for 1/2 the cost of a generator in additon to the items above. Total request is 37,000 yuan.

Guiyang CWI, Guizhou – has seen ice, snow and now sleety rain. They need disposable diapers and some help buying food. UPDATE: Power is intermittant. They repeat the request for diapers and now understand that HTS has okayed the purchase. UPDATE: Further request for electric heaters. Total funds requested: 19200 yuan.

Haikou CWI, Haikou – Even sunny Hainan Island is experiencing a chill. The orphanage request a clothes dryer to keep the children in clean warm clothes, 20 heating lamps, 120 sets of winter clothing for 60 children, and a 10 day supply of disposable diapers. Estimated cost 28,000 yuan.

Hangzhou CWI, Zhejiang - Because of snow, they've been unable to get vegetables for several days. They request a subsidy to purchase food at higher prices and also ask for disposable diapers. UPDATE: Additional request for space heaters and winter clothes. Total funds requested: 26,000 yuan

Hefei CWI, Anhui – reports that they have everything under control and the children are warm and well-fed. UPDATE: The orphanage now realizes they will soon run out of disposable diapers. They ask for 10,000 yuan to purchase 7,500 diapers.

Hengyang SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, disposable diapers, heaters and medical assistance. Estimated cost: 80,000 yuan; total child population: 185

Hengyang County SWI, Hunan - need heaters, medical assistance. Estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total child population 38 (social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Hengshang County CWI, Hunan - need heaters, washing machine, medical assistance. Estimated cost: 40,000 yuan; total child population 9

Huaihua SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, heaters and a washing machine. Estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total child population: 20. (social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Huaihua HeChen District SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, diapers, heaters, medical assistance. Estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total child population: 35 (social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Huangshi CWI, Hubei – is in desperate need of disposable diapers. They ask for funds to purchase since goods can’t be sent to them right now. All heater/air conditioners have stopped functioning. They need quilts and warm clothes for the children. Several HTS nannies have fallen on the ice on their way to work and they need medicine to treat cuts and bruises.

Jiujiang SWI, Jiangxi – had another heavy snow storm last night. Pipes have burst and the five boilers are broken. They are unable to bathe the children and are having trouble keeping them warm. They need quilts, bedding, warm shoes and space heaters. They need medicine for infant coughs and colds. UPDATE: Jiujiang requests a total of 52,000 yuan to purchase a heater, 100 sets of winter clothing (for 50 children) and 5 heater/ air conditioners.

Lianyungang CWI, Jiangsu – is doing the best they can despite the lowest temperatures in history. While they still insist we help others first, they do request winter jackets for the children, warm mats to cover the floor and bottles for babies with cleft lip/palate. The last item we’ll have to ship from Beijing as soon as we are able. UPDATE: Lianyungang bought a covered cargo tricycle for each of the Family Village families to keep the children protected on their way to school. They also bought winter quilts and jackets for the Family Village. UPDATE: HTS is sending extra funds for heating the family village apartments for the next month - 495 yuan per family = 3960 yuan along with 36,600 yuan to purchase 100 sets of winter clothing, 100 quilts, 100 blankets and two heater/air conditioners.

Loudi SWI, Hunan - need winter shoes, emergency lighting, heaters and a disinfecting cabinet. Estimated cost: 100,000 yuan; total child population: 86

Liuzhou CWI, Guangxi - requests disposable diapers, winter clothes, quilts and electric heaters. Total funds requested: 18,480 yuan.

Maoming CWI, Guangdong - This is the coldest, wettest winter in memory, but they have warm clothing and electricity. They ask for warm floor mats, 12 space heaters, warm blankets and some help purchasing food. UPDATE: They request 43,680 yuan to purchase 200 Army-grade quilts, 38 space heaters, warm matting for floors, 130 sets of winter clothes, 300 pairs wool socks, 300 pairs gloves and 17 hair dryers.

Maonan District CWI, Maoming, Guangdong – In the sunny south, they have never seen this kind of cold and damp weather before. It’s been a month with another month in the forecast. They need space heaters. Local citizens have donated warm clothes and blankets for the children.

Nanchang CWI, Jiangxi – asks for warm floor mats and disposable diapers. They need a working room heater. Their electrical supply has been sporadic and with only a small generator, they’re not confident they can continue to provide heat to keep the children warm. UPDATE: Their boiler for hot water supply has broken down. They ask for funds to purchase a new solar water heater. They also ask for 10,000 disposable diapers, 130 quilts and wool blankets, as well as 150 sets of winter clothing, shoes and wool socks. Total funds requested: 44,000 yuan.

Nanjing CWI, Jiangsu – continues to manage, despite the heavy snows. They would like 200 children’s blankets but insist that we look after others with greater needs first. UPDATE: HTS is sending extra funds for heating the family village apartments for the next month - 513 yuan per family = 3078 yuan as well as 12,000 yuan to purchase 90 quilts and 6 heaters for the Family Village apartments. They also request 20,000 yuan to purchase 100 blankets for the children in the institution.

Nanning SWI, Guangxi – is experiencing its worst winter in 48 years. They are doing their best to weather the storm but could use 6 large space heaters,
86 warm quilts for our Family Village and disposable diapers. Like many places, they are having trouble finding affordable food right now and would appreciate a subsidy to help through this difficult time.

PiangJiang County SWI, Hunan - requests winter clothing, quilts, diapers, heaters and medicine. Estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total child population 22 (county level social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Qingyuan SWI, Guangdong – Again, the lowest winter in history. Constant rain. The children all have colds and sniffles, no matter how many padded layers they wear. They ask for 7 space heaters and 55 padded jackets. UPDATE: With HTS funds, they have purchased 110 sets of quilts and padded jackets but have been unable to find heaters anywhere in Qingyuan. They are going to try to send someone south to Guangzhou to find heaters. UPDATE: They request 2500 yuan to purchase 8 heaters and 17,600 yuan to purchase 110 sets of winter bedding.

Shaodian, Henan - HTS supports a Family Village here for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Due to the heavy snow and bitter cold, the children suffer from chilblains on their hands and feet. Water pipes have frozen and they are now able to get water only a few hours a day. Food costs are rising. Power supply is intermittant. They request heaters and cream for chilblains as well as a subsidy for food.

Shaoguan CWI, Guangdong – needs disposable diapers for 27 babies. They need 3 large room heaters and warm mats for the floors. UPDATE: They request 21,500 yuan to purchase 2 large room heater/air conditioners, 25 winter quilts and enough disposable diapers to last 2 weeks.

Shaoyang CWI, Hunan -has seen heavy snow every day for 20 days.There is sufficient water and, for the moment, there is power, so the children are warm despite daytime temperatures of -3C.However, 5 of 6 power poles have been downed by weather.Only one stands and the institution fears it will fall as well, leaving them without electricity.Much of the rest of the city is already dark. Children and caregivers continue to work and play together.High school students are cramming for exams and trying to ignore the cold.Everyone prays that the power pole will continue to stand. They request space heaters, warm clothing for 60 children and shoes.for the big kids. UPDATE: They request 23,575 yuan to purchase 15 sets of winter clothing, 65 pairs of winter shoes, 20 heaters and 1500 disposable diapers. Estimated cost: 23,575; total child population: 68. UPDATE: All purchases made and looking forward to a warm and Happy New Year!

Wuhan CWI, Hubei – is having a very hard time finding affordable food, “even cabbage.” They ask for food subsidies for the Family Village, 20 space heaters and 50 warm quilts. Heaters are working but there is no water for bathing. The local community has offered to take children in for the Chinese New Year and the institution feels this may be the best decision to keep them safe, so their requests are only for the Family Village. UPDATE: With HTS funds, they purchased heavy comforters, space heaters and food for the Family Village. The institution director personally visited each family to ensure that everyone is all right. UPDATE: HTS is sending extra funds for heating the family village apartments for the next month - 513 yuan per family = 5130 yuan. Total funds requested: 134,130 yuan.

Wuzhou SWI, Guangxi – is enduring bitter cold. They need warm mats for the floors, disposable diapers, warm clothes and shoes for the children. UPDATE: They have received some assistance from the local government to buy winter clothes but need a food subsidy for the Family Village families and a 10 day supply of disposable diapers. Estimated needs: 12,500 yuan

Xiangtan SWI, Hunan - has had snow for the past 10 days. The main water pipe is “broken again.” There is no water for cooking right now but they do have electricity, coal and blankets. They are still able to buy food but prices have gone way up. Not all of the HTS nannies can get to work every day. They are keeping the programs going as well as they can and make sure that at least five nurturing nannies are there with the babies every day, along with the institution’s caregivers. UPDATE: Snow has stopped but it's very cold and wet. They need 3000 diapers and 80 boxes of infant formula and rice powder. Request 8000 yuan.

Xinhua County SWI, Hunan - needs winer clothing, quilts, disposable diapers, heaters, a washing machine and medical assistance. Estimated funds: 60,000; total child population: 32 (social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Xinyang SWI, Henan – is accustomed to the cold and all is well. UPDATE: It seems first information on Xinyang did not come from director of institution. Today's news is not so favorable. It has been snowing since January 10 and temperatures are the lowest in history. Some heaters are broken. The institution has gathered all of the children together in the largest HTS activity room to keep them warm. Due to the weight of ice, the roof has cracked and there are leaks into some of the HTS activity rooms as well as the nurseries. They are installing a "temporary toilet' on the same floor as the big activity room so children and caregivers don't slip on the icy corridors and stairs. They ask for disposable diapers, winter clothes, cream for chilblains for the children's hands and feet. HTS staff continues to walk to work through the snow and ice; there is no public transportation. UPDATE: They request 66,500 yuan to purchase 150 pairs of winter shoes (the children all have wet feet!), 12,000 disposable diapers and to repair the leaking roof.

Yangchun SWI, Guangdong - reports a need for space heaters and hot water bottles for 88 babies at two sites. UPDATE:reports that they are making do with what they have and that, because others are worse off, to not make their request high priority. Will keep in touch.

Yibin SWI, Sichuan – It’s a snowy day but it feels like the weather may be getting better. They’re not sure. They feel the county-level institutions are worse off than they are so the ask us to consider helping others before them. They keep the children warm in the bright rooms that HTS created and they say everyone is well so far.

Yiyang, Hunan – still has electricity but the water has been shutting off and on. They have stockpiled food for the children. The greatest challenge is for the nannies to get to work. Because the buses are down, they must walk on icy roads. UPDATE: They request 31,760 yuan to purchase 70 sets of winter clothing and shotes, 65 winter quilts, 20 space heaters, 3 boilers and enough disposable diapers to last 10 days. UPDATE: Yiyang SWC estimated cost 50,000 yuan; total child population: 19. Yiyang CWI estimated cost: 50,000 yuan; total chlid population: 65

Yongzhou SWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, disposable diapers, heaters and medicine. Estimated cost: 40,000 yuan; total child population: 9.(social welfare institutions house elderly also)

Yueyang CWI, Hunan - has no electricity. The one functioning power generator is being used in the children’s dormitory. They are relying on coal heat but the price has tripled in recent days. They are running out of food and have applied to the local Bureau of Civil Affairs for funds to buy more. Our HTS nannies have been walking for hours to get to work, often slipping on the ice, “even though they try to be cautious.” UPDATE: Request for quilts, 4 large room heaters, disposable diapers, winter clothing and medical assistance. Estimated cost: 30-50,000 yuan; total child population: 192

Zhuzhou CWI, Hunan - need winter clothing, quilts, school supplies and medical assistance. Estimated cost: 100,000 yuan; total child population: 325

Sunday, February 3

Referrals, Storms, and Half The Sky

Referrals are arriving. CCAA has completed 8 days this month... so we believe. The CCAA website that all waiting parents could view stopped posting the cut off dates for referrals and dates stating which LIDs made it through review. All waiting families are now relying on agencies to stay informed. My agency has not officially announced the 8 days but other agencies have.

I am not going to comment on the size of the batch this month because there are bigger issues at hand. Some parts of China are seeing the worst weather in 50 years. There are areas without power or incoming food. Many of these cities include orphanages. There is a very well known charity that is keeping people up to date on the situation of these orphanages as well as donating as much as possible.

I can't imagine receiving a referral and knowing/not knowing if my child is at one of these orphanages... without heat, without food, without diapers, without hot water.

If you would like to read more or MAKE A DONATION to help these children please visit

http://www.halfthesky.org