It's A Great Day for the Chirish!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oh! Ohio!

Well, we're in Chicago. I can't believe our visit to Ohio is over, but it was really great. On Thursday, we went to the Ohio State Fair. It was excellent as always, but verrrrry hot. Sheesh! We drank about 45 gallons of Crystal Light. Kiera enjoyed her first taste of fried cheese on a stick and she got to see the butter cow for the first time. We saw the lumberjack show, baby lambs, baby ducks, baby chicks, ate some ice cream, the kids rode some rides. We stopped by Donato's on the way home so Bobby could get his yearly fix. We saw Jeff Green, Bobby and Shannon's Tae Kwon Do teacher while we were over at Tamarack Circle. He didn't even recognize them at first - they've grown up a lot since he saw them last.

The next day, we went to the North Market and browsed in some short north stores. I sure miss those places. When we got back to the Wallin's, we got to visit with all of our Ohio friends who came over for a cook-out and a birthday party for Shannon! Carol Strick introduced the new birthday custom of spraying whipped cream into the birthday person's mouth while the crowd counts out loud, the number of years old the person is. This is a tradition to keep and cherish!! Of course, everyone wanted whipped cream sprayed in their mouth after the birthday girl, and Carol was all too happy to serve it up. It was great to see everyone, but I hated to see them leave.

On Saturday, we visited our old neighborhood and our neighbors. It was great to see them! The kids have all grown up so much. They got to play a little kick-the-can in the cul-de-sac just like the old days. But it was very hard to be there. It makes my heart hurt. I wish so much we could stay for good.

After the long ride to Chicago and the emotional drain of the annual Ohio trip, it's time for some sleep - I'm fried. Enjoy the pictures of our first leg of the journey. Good Night!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

We're on our God's Country

Hey y'all. I am always posting pictures on here of my youngest, beautiful daughter. But I have an older, soon-to-be teenaged daughter (Oh Lord, help me) and she is also beautiful so I thought I would post this especially lovely picture of her. Her birthday is August 11th. Thirteen years ago today, I was great with child, walking around the Ohio State Fair. And the rest, as they say, is history.

When I was not a whole lot older than Shannon, the song that you're hearing was popular on the radio. No fair doing the math! Anyway, I knew that I would someday have a daughter and that I would name her Shannon after that song. And I did, but when I was young, I could never imagine what an utter joy and blessing Shannon would turn out to be every single day of her life.

Soooo, only two more days till we make our epic journey (no not China, our next epic journey.) On Wednesday, the critters (two and four-legged) and I will pile in the car and set out for Columbus. I have called the pharmacy and ordered the convenient economy-sized Vailum for the trip, so I should be fine. We are only staying for a couple of days, but it takes such an emotional toll on me. I love to see our Buckeye friends, but I hate to leave them. And I hate to leave a place where it's pleasant to be outside in the summertime, where they have all the stores I like, and they have the North Market, and downtown Worthington, and food I like (Graeters, Skyline) that you can't get anywhere else, and of course the best state fair anywhere. I really don't like to be a visitor to Ohio.

But after that, we are heading to Chicago for a couple of days and while we are there, Shannon, my mom, my sister-in-law, Sue, my niece, Ann Marie, and I are going to go downtown to see "Wicked". I am really looking forward to that. I haven't seen a Broadway show for a long time. In Chicago, a show stays in town for a year or more. One of the advantages of big-city living.

After all that "big city" we are heading up to the "little cottage in the woods", up in Minocqua, Wisconsin. I love it there and I can't wait to show it to Kiera! I know she will love the lake. I have been waiting for this for two years! We are hoping to stay for two weeks. It's great. We hang out in the boat all day, cook something on the grill for dinner, then we play cards or Yahtzee, or watch old horror movies. It's a good life. Sometimes we head into town to see the water-ski show or to shop. Hopefully we will have internet while we're gone, so I can keep blogging. That's all for now. Peace.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kiera has been a busy girl!

I'm going to try to start posting on a more regular basis again. Sheesh, we have been so busy! First of all, Kiera got baptized early in June so she is officially a Catholic. This doesn't, however, mean that she knows how to behave in church - that's gonna take a whole lot more Holy Spirit!

We have already been on two vacations. Our Ohio friends came for a visit in June and we spent a week at a house right here at Lake Norman. The kids went skiing and all that good stuff. It was so good to see our friends (without the gut-wrenching emotional trauma that visiting Columbus causes me). We just returned from an O'Brien family reunion at Sunset Beach and that was a blast! Kiera met almost all of her O'Brien aunts, uncles and cousins and got to experience the ocean for the first time. She loved it all!

Kiera's band is off and her head looks better. Hopefully it will round out the rest of the way on its own. She is walking all over the place, chasing the dog, dropping shoes in the toilet, dropping telephones down the air conditioning vent, dumping the dogs food and water out, going swimming at the pool, dancing, singing, saying "doggie" and "uh-oh!". She can drink from a sippy cup, she can climb stairs, throw things and cause a disturbance at church. Now I know why I'm tired all the time.

In two weeks, we will be going to Ohio to see the state fair and visit some friends. Then we will drive up to Chicago, pick up Grandma and drive up to her cottage in Wisconsin for a couple of weeks. When we get back, it will lmost be time to start the "s" word. I have to get everything ready before we leave - ordering books, etc. That's it for now. Time to rest up for another day of chasing Kiera around the house!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back to Normal (Normal?)

Hi everybody! We are back and trying to adjust to life with an infant while homeschooling! Whew! It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. For example, we might be working on something and the baby a) wants to be held b) has a blow-out and needs an emergency bath c) wants a bottle d) has gas ... you get the idea. For the most part, she sits in the classroom with us and plays while we work.

Bobby and Shannon love the baby and help out with her a lot! I don't know how I did this when they were small and there was no one to help me. Well for one thing, I was much younger - it's certainly more challenging now. But anyway, the kids are so pleased to have a new, living plaything to entertain them. They enjoy putting her in various costumes and taking her picture. For example, they recently put a book cover on her head to use as a do-rag. They call her "extreme baby". One day, I put Kiera in some pants that Shannon said were too high-waisted and made her look like a nerd. So they put my reading glasses on her and gave her a calculator. I give you "nerd baby".

And finally, when Kiera gerts really excited, she starts screeching (I hear it's a girl thing) and she makes this face that makes her resemble the little boy in "The Grudge". Here is Kiera as "Grudge baby".
We do actually do school work some of the time...really.

Kiera is getting a band around her head to help correct her flattened skull that resulted from constantly lying on her back in her crib in the orphanage. This week her head will get casted, which we are not looking forward to. It's not painful, but the babies hate it and we will all be glad when it's over. She will weear the band for 4 months. I am just glad that we are able to give her any medical attention that she needs.

She is doing beautifully in her new home. She is very happy all the time, sleeping through the night, and almost crawling (she is scooting backward on her hands and knees) which is great considering that she couldn't even sit up alone when we first met her. She is trying a wide variety of food - I just put whatever we are eating in the "ultimate chopper" and she can join us for dinner. She is definately the right baby for us - she fits right in our family. We just can't love her enough. That's all for now. Have to go - Kiera is dialing the phone - I hope she's not calling China!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Comin' home!!!

Just wanted to let y'all know that we are in the Hong Kong airport waiting to board our plane to Newark. I am sooo excited to be coming home. I'll post some pics of HK when we get home in case anyone is interested - it was beautiful. We get in Charlotte at 5:45 PM Sunday on Continental from Newark. See ya in about 20 hours :( ......Oy!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Last Day in Guangzhou

It is Friday morning here in China. We just came from breakfast and Kiera is taking a little snooze before a big afternoon of power-shopping. Kiera's visa should arrive (via our guide, Grace) at the hotel by 5:00. We leave for Hong Kong Saturday AM our time, one night in Hong Kong (wasn't that a song in the 80's??- just kidding, it was Bangkok for those of you too young to remember) then back to the US of A on Sunday. I am really looking forward to getting home, hugging my kids (the big ones) , going to Mass, drinking diet Pepsi and having the right of way as a pedestrian.

But China has been a blast - I couldn't even imagine what it would be like. So very different from home. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I thank God that we were able to come here and bring back the best souvenir ever!!! Can't wait to see y'all and have you meet little Kiera!

This is called a be-be (bay-bay). I don't know how to spell it, but it is what all the fashionable Yunnan
moms wear to carry their babies. Isn't it cool? I look just like a local wearing this. :)

We went shopping in the Qingping market in Guangzhou. The have stuff so scary here, it makes
the market in Kunming look like CVS.

Like all the O'Brien women, Kiera enjoys fine dining.

White trash comes to the White Swan.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Greetings From the White Swan

Hi Everyone,

We made it to Guangzhou and had Kiera’s medical exam done this morning. Tomorrow we go to the American Consulate to apply for Kiera’s visa. To answer your question, Jayna, yes, that should be our last step as far as paper work is concerned. At least in China. Once we get to the US there will be some more stuff to do. But by then she will be a US citizen.

We are at the famous (at least in Chinese adoption circles) White Swan Hotel. There are lots of Americans with Chinese children here, all doing the same thing that we are doing. This is everybody's last stop if you are American and adopting, no matter where your daughter is from, as the American consulate is here in Guangzhou. I must say, I have been looking forward to this leg of the journey.

You can tell that we’re not in Kunming anymore because the prices have shot up to take advantage of all the Americans. But the hotel is spectacular - there is a gorgeous waterfall in the lobby and a fantastic view of the Pearl River. I'm sure Will will take pictures! We rarely get to stay in a place so beautiful. I wish that Kiera would be able to remember it. At least we have lots of pictures and videos to show her as she grows up.

She behaves a lot like Shannon did as a baby. This morning she grabbed an open bag of rice cereal and flung it around the room sprinkling cereal everywhere. Kinda reminds you of the Rice Chex incident, doesn’t it Shannon?

A lady just came to the room with a special Barbie that they give you at the White Swan when you are here with your adopted Chinese daughter. You can’t get them anywhere else. I had heard about the Barbie and I was frantically looking around the room when we got here yesterday. Will kept saying, “They’ll bring it, they’ll bring it.” And sure enough they did. Barbie and I are both blue-eyed blondes and are holding Chinese babies, but the resemblance between Barbie and me ends there. Still, it’s very cool – we’ll keep it for Kiera until she’s old enough to appreciate it.

There are stores every few feet outside the hotel called “Sherry’s Place”, “Jessica’s Place”, “Amy’s Place”, etc. They all advertise laundry and strollers and sell Chinese baby clothes. Guess we’ll be shopping this afternoon! There is a market not far from here that we are going to hit this afternoon. We are sure to have some more interesting pictures later on. Stay tuned!!!

For some reason I'm not always able to post pictures again, so keep checking on I will upload some more pictures there.