Friday, December 26, 2008


Still learning the collage process....give me a week and I'll have some pics that include the boys too.
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Mayhem at Nana's

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Christmas 2008

Mia had just as much fun wrapping the presents and playing with the rolls of paper as she did unwrapping them.  Almost.   One present she refuses to play with is an Asian doll.  When she opened it her face went solumn and she quickly threw it to the side.  Normally she loves dolls but she's quick to tell us, "I don't like Ling".  Oh well.  

This year I determined not to carry out the Santa Clause routine.  Also, I broke with the traditional hanging of the Stockings.  Why?  It for me was just more "stuff" to stuff inside.  We have plenty.  They didn't miss them one bit.  Santa will be a bit more difficult to ignore because nearly everyone wants to know what he's brought them.  People will probably think I'm destroying the "magic" for them.  I just want them to have faith not magic.  

Michaela taking her Nana's presents to her on Christmas Eve.  She was beside herself in anticipation of a few surprises, though she had placed her orders weeks ago.  There were a few things she didn't know about.  She was thrilled.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008


After 2 days with a raging fever, Mia finally emerged again today. Silliness still intact.
I'm thinking its probably 5th disease or Roseolla - who knows but she's no longer the little pile of pitifulness and the spark is back in her eyes. She brings so much joy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mia Melt Downs

She's becoming quite the drama queen.  It's over the little stuff.  She hates the sprinkler.  Michaela touched her stuff.    Abbie, the dog, ate her snack.  OMG!  The world is ending!  The tears just pop out of her eyes.  I can check all her molars for cavities because the loud, never-ending, piercing, blood-curdling screams  continue for minutes that seem like hours.  We love her to pieces even as she's falling apart.  Just look at that face!  (click to enlarge :-))
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a way to end a Summer

A Saturday at the beach now a night waiting for a hurricane. Beauty and the beast all in a long weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Icing Hitler

The birthday girl just couldn't stop celebrating yesterday so we just let her keep eating and eating and blowing out candle after candle. She probably sang happy birthday to herself at least 20 times. Today she was a bit pieved that I wouldn't let her have her cake and eat it too!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mia's Third Birthday

We celebrated Mia's third birthday today. The magic of the day still lingers in the house. She's knee deep in goodies and sky high on sugar.

I did not tell Mia of the event to come until late yesterday evening when I picked her up from preschool. Immediately she perked up and seemed to know her "special day" was coming soon. It just seemed to cruel to call August 20th her birthday and then have to wait till Saturday to celebrate.

She got up this morning more excited than I've ever seen her and sang "happy birthday" over and over. I was surprised that she consented to a nap but she settled right down when I told her if she took a nap everyone would be here when she woke up. And it happened just like that. You should have seen her face when she walked into the room full of family and her cake, presents and decorations where all in place.

As we sang the song she looked a little embarrased at all the attention but she was glowing. All morning she'd wanted to "blow the fire" and when she saw the candle she was so proud. Everyone watched in awe of how she gingerly opened each gift and said thank you. The icing on the day when as everyone was packing up she came back into the room and she "Mia's special day!" It took a few moments for the words to fall on our ears, but she repeated herself and our hearts just melted. It truly was a special time for her and for all of us.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Freedom Day!

Since the boys have taken both my cameras with them to Spain to see Sergio (yes that's him to the left and yes he's spanish and wearing a mexican sombrero :-)) I've decided to load a few random shots. At top is Mia loving her guacamole (spicy too!) and the other shots are of her brother Elliott and lake time with sister (a daily occurance). She's been told the brothers are at Sergio'a house, but she will never understand why they have just dissappeared. We're knowing they're having lots of fun with Sergio on his home turf. They became great friends while he was an exchange student here in Lucedale for this past school year. It'll be a weird 4th of July without them, but Ethan shot enough fireworks before he left to satisfy me for a while.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Chairman Mao appears on the Mia Show

Mia appears nightly on her stage beginning around 8 p.m. and the show will go on for as long as we allow.

Readoption Day

The last step of Mia's adoption is final. She appeared before a local Chancery Court Judge on Friday with another mountain of paperwork stating that yes, she was a true orphan and that we are fit parents (ha!). She put on her usual little Mia show for him and he scooped her up into his arms declaring he'd take her "if" we ever decided not to....She showed him her pretty dress and shoes and her charm was flowing. We told him we wanted her to be like everyone else but one day she'd realize she doesn't look like everyone else here in Mississippi. He said, "she looks the same to me."
The first 16 months of her life she lived in China, now 16 more months have passed (her adoption day was 2-5-07) and we know more than ever how blessed we are to have her in our family. Now she's been officially declared a Mississippi girl! She will be issued a Mississippi birth certificate. Mia already speaks with a twang and loves grits - oh my! What are we doing to her?!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Letter from Half the Sky

It's been a month or more since we've heard from the earthquake in China. That reminds me of when Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, after a few months life for others goes on, but for the victims it is just a beginning of a new reality. Here's a letter I recieved to remind us of the pain these people are enduring, yet also a reminder of how many people devote their lives committed to relieve suffering. If only I were 10% as committed as they.

Hello Friends, A little over a month after Sichuan’s May 12th earthquake, we opened Halfthe Sky’s first BigTop children’s activity center (with preschool, artclasses and counseling) in a refugee camp in Dujiangyan, near the quake’sepicenter. In a town that has experienced so much sadness, the opening wasa happy, festive occasion to welcome a new oasis for fun and support forthe children and the community. On hand for the opening were city andministry officials, child trauma experts Marleen Wong and Suh Hsiao Chenof National Center for School Trauma and Bereavement, and psychologistsrepresenting our newest partners in this important effort, the MentalHealth Centre of West China Hospital at Sichuan University. The experts offered some training for assembled volunteers and, as atevery celebration worth its salt in China, a group of adorable childrensang and danced for the crowd. For a brief moment, the earthquake seemeda world away. Even before the opening the BigTop had become a magnet for children, aplace where they can play and share even their most troubling earthquakeexperiences. A few days earlier, when the furniture was being painted,curious children arrived again at the tent and were disappointed not to beallowed in because of the paint fumes. Half the Sky staffers couldn’t bearto send the children away so they set up a table outside the tent, on theconcrete platform (above the mud) where the children played with bubblesand toys. Three little girls made themselves comfortable and the oldest, anine-year-old, immediately put a plastic doll face down under a toy tableto protect the doll from an earthquake. She told her friends and a Halfthe Sky staffer about the day of the quake, when her teacher ran out ofthe classroom, expecting the class to follow. Instead, the children sat attheir desks until they heard their teacher yelling that they should getout as fast as they could. All three girls then started cooking with toy utensils, chopping up leaveswith a toy cleaver to make soup. When asked why they were only makingvegetables, one girl said solemnly: “Because we are very poor. This is allwe have.” Another girl, around 10, took advantage of the ample art supplies in thetent to draw a girl with pigtails and a rainbow. She solemnly explainedthat she wants to be a mathematician and the drawing was not a selfportrait. It was a drawing of her best friend, who after the earthquakeleft the area and now there is no way to contact her: “I am afraid I’llnever see her again.” While the volunteers and staff at the tent will provide “psychologicalfirst aid” for the children, they will also refer children toprofessionals at the Mental Health Centre of West China Hospital atSichuan University when first aid is not enough. Children like aterrified 6 year old girl who, after 50 hours, was the only survivorrescued from her primary school. Protected by the body of her teacher, shesurvived with minimal physical injuries. But no one could protect her fromthe emotional trauma of waiting for help for so many hours in the schoolwhere her friends and her teacher died and - after all that - learningthat her father did not survive. Of the many volunteers who helped in the tent or attended our trainingsnone is more impressive than a group of eight survivors from the collapsedJuyuan Middle School, where perhaps 900 children died. Whether pitching into sweep rainwater from the BigTop before its drainage problems werefixed, or helping to set up toys on newly painted shelves, or playing withchildren, these impressive, hardworking teenagers have all decided thatthey want to focus on helping others rather than on what they lost on theday their school collapsed around them: “We received a lot of help fromothers. Now we can help. When we help people it helps us,” says one of thestudents, who gathered in a circle in Half the Sky’s BigTop. One smiling boy bears the most obvious scar of that day—a gash that tookfourteen stitches to close. It runs alongside his eye down to his mouth.Like all of the children who survived, he is mindful of friends who didnot: “At first I felt guilty that I survived. Now because I amvolunteering I feel more comfortable.” The students from Juyuan also provide an example of what was perhapsNCSTB’s Dr. Marleen Wong’s most surprising message to the caregivers shetrained in Sichuan. In the midst of the all-too-obvious devastation andpain wrought by the earthquake, Wong introduced new research about aphenomenon called “post-traumatic growth.” A small percentage of children,says Wong, will make positive life changes that are a direct result of atrauma or a disaster. These are the children, says Wong who become “wisebeyond their years, more mature, have a deeper appreciation of life,” inthe wake of a tragedy. “They have new values and life priorities.” One Juyuan student explains that not only has he resolved to volunteer inthe wake of the earthquake, he has also resolved to change his life:“Before the earthquake I was not into studying. Now I think it is the mostimportant thing I can do so I can help my country. I can bring hope to thepeople in Sichuan.” The day after BigTop #1 opened, I had the great honor of carrying theOlympic Torch on behalf of China’s orphaned children, especially thosenewly orphaned in Sichuan and Chongqing. Fifty preschoolers from our Halfthe Sky programs in Chengdu and Chongqing joined me on a rainy Sunday inWanzhou, Chongqing. It was an exhilarating and wacky time. And we didmanage to tell the children’s story – at least to the Chinese media (inthe end, no foreign media was allowed.) We were on the front page of theChina Daily and featured on national TV news. We didn’t quite go global,but it has been wonderful to hear from so many Chinese citizens who wantto help orphaned children. Children in their own communities that theydidn’t even know existed. Half the Sky supporter Anne Chambers has found another innovative way tohelp young earthquake victims. Her company, RED212, has launched anannual Bill and Warren Day (to commemorate the day Warren Buffett pledgedhis fortune to the Gates Foundation) to celebrate business people, big andsmall, as a force for social change. HTS’ Children’s Earthquake Fund is tobe the first beneficiary, by auction of a Monopoly game signed by WarrenBuffett himself! If you or some other mogul you know would like a shot atthis treasure, I’m told there is only one day left! Slowly but steadily, Half the Sky is beginning to find ways to recoverfrom the disaster too. Although we are now firmly committed to helpingthe newly orphaned and displaced children of Sichuan heal and hopefullyfind their own “post-traumatic growth,” we are ever-mindful of the manythousands of children to whom we’ve already made a long-term commitment. Right now, our first Blue Sky provincial training is underway in HubeiProvince. Over 100 caregivers from welfare institutions where Half theSky has no programs are at our model center in Wuhan learning about HTS’approach to providing family-like nurturing care to orphaned children. Weare now offering Blue Sky training sponsorships – a great way to help usreach our goal to put a caring adult in the life of every orphaned child This fall, funds permitting, Half the Sky will open new Blue Sky ModelCenters in Xian, Harbin, Shenyang and Qingdao. We are no longer acceptingapplications for this year’s volunteer build but we dearly hope that youwill consider sponsoring a child or supporting the new model centers inother ways. You have been so tremendously generous during these awful weeks. Now, asthe Sichuan story fades from the news, we are even more grateful that youcontinue to remember the children whose struggle is just beginning. Idon’t know how we can ever thank you enough for all you have done andcontinue to do. I hope that watching our progress as we work to rebuildyoung lives – in Sichuan and all over China – will be thanks enough. Youknow we will always keep you informed! This should be the last of our emergency updates. I’ll now return towriting you every month or two. Of course, if you don’t wish to receivefurther updates from Half the Sky, please unsubscribe by sending a blankemail to If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fundyou can do so by calling Half the Sky (+1-510-525-3377) or visit ourwebsite:'s+Earthquake+Fund If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate at If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call Half the Sky – Asia(+852-2520-5266) or donate online at If you’d like to view previous earthquake journal entries: Thank you! with love,Jenny Ps – For our many new friends - Half the Sky is a global NGO thatestablishes and operates programs that provide emotional and educationalsupport for orphaned children living in government-run welfareinstitutions in China. Half the Sky does not operate orphanages. It is not an adoption agency.We exist for China’s children. Jenny BowenExecutive DirectorHalf the Sky Half the Sky was created in order to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for orphaned children in China. We establish and operate infant nurture and preschool programs, provide personalized learning for older children and establish loving permanent family care and guidance for children with disabilities. It is our goal to ensure that every orphaned child has a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future. Want to receive our free Half the Sky newsletter, full of stories and photos, via regular mail? Just go to our website and click on "Join our Mailing List."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

4 Kunming Kuties Reunite

My how they have grown! One day I hope they will desire to seek each other out on their own. Their paths were intertwined for a time in an orphanage in Kunming China beginning in June '06. Mia was moved for a while to a foster care village about 100 miles away but was returned to Kunming just before we adopted her. Now as they grow and mature I wonder if they will be curious to know about the other girls with whom they shared such intense beginnings. Will they want to stare into each others eyes and feel this connection? Will they want to know that they are not alone in this world because they were abandoned as infants? Will they be curious to know what circumstances brought 9 beautiful Yunnan blessings to grateful American families?

They are truly gifts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pishin' with Daddy

Every day Mike takes Mia fishing. She loves the outdoors, her Daddy, and feeding the ducks almost as much as she does reeling in the inevitable catch. I am hoping to join her more this next week as school's on Spring Break. I need a little color on my white legs and Michaela and I have a lot of relaxin' to do before the final push for summer.

This year is clicking along so fast. Mia speaks in sentences now. It's amazing how much she's learned in one year. Now we're focusing on her self control. Do we ever get through working on self? She's still quite headstrong and many a screaming fit this girl can throw. Her potty training is going slowly but surely.

We've almost fininished the final steps of the paperwork. Our final homestudy report has just been sent to Beijing so this means that the social worker will not have to visit again. Yeah! We are almost done with her "re-adoption" paperwork, which means that we'll petition our local court here for her to obtain a Mississippi Birth Certificate. Our little girl from China is growing up a southern girl "fur sure!"

Monday, March 24, 2008

How Beautiful....How Beautiful!

How much can we cram into one weekend......? I was exhausted from all the frock and shoe shopping (how fast they, ALL FOUR, do grow!) cooking (World's Best Carrott Cake), basket memorizing for our church's adult choir....children's department filled to the brim....balloon release (and Mia freaking because she wants to keep her balloon) rushing after church to the family gathering and FINALLY...egg hunting late in the evening at home in the freezing (well it was sweater worthy) temps. But how marvelous the time to celebrate. I wouldn't have it any other way. Spring break is 2 weeks away. I've got my books bought and I'm gonna sit...sit...sit...alot! What about you? How was your weekend?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Slurping My Blog

Why would I want to do that? Well, I've found a way to publish my blog to a book format. So far, I've not gotten past the technical details and have spent about 4 hours trying to figure out how to slurp. Nothing's easy. Any ideas on why blurb won't access my blog? Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, doesn't it. :-)

UPDATE! I finally figured it out and am in the process of editing the past 2 1/2 years of stuff. I am thinking of deleting this site since I am blogging less and less.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Celebrating Our First Year Together

This time last year we were meeting our babies in Kunming, China for the first time. It was chaotic and surreal. This was the day Mia was born into our family and we will celebrate February 5th (well it's already the 5th in China!) as a special day forever. How blessed we were to share this day with another family that recieved twins. All three were placed with the Kunming Childrens Welfard Institute and share the same last surname, Guan, given to them by their orphanage director (because of the area of town they were found.) They will hopefully grow up knowing they are not alone in the world and that this life is full of hope, mercy and grace, if we search for it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Do It!

Notice the shirt is backwards as well as the shoes, but Mia is SO PROUD and insistant that she does everything herself. It makes for a real struggle when we're in a hurry. She's a very independent little girl, but a joy!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sukiyaki and Sushi

Last year we were at Mary's eating our Japanese feast with our cell phone close by...waiting for "the call". This year Mia is gobbling the delights and enjoying herself like she's lived here all her life. She's made so many friends and "adopted" so many family members in the past 11 months.