Monday, December 12, 2005

Daddy... Man... Daddy... Man

Flirting with Daddy
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
This is Bella's current obesession. She converses quite effectively when we are really interacting, but sitting in her carseat or before going to sleep or just toddling around the house she babbles a lot, seeming to work things out for herself. Currently she seems to be working on gender. She repeats the words: "Daddy... Man... Daddy...Man" over and over. Sometimes she talks about Mama being a woman, too, and about other people but mostly it is Daddy. (Actually she was saying "Mama... Man" for awhile yesterday and we went back and forth about this for awhile! I think "man" is just a lot easier to say than "woman"--at least I hope that's it!)

I'm working on introducing the concept of "grownup," so I don't automatically attach a gender to everyone--and heck, with some of our magazines it is pretty much impossible to say for sure! We already are using "kid" and "baby."

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Okay, finally getting around to posting Halloween photos. I was happy to find this puppy costume for Isabella, since she likes doggies sooooo much. This picture is from the day before Halloween in Capitola, where they hold an annual costume parade down to the beach. I took several pictures of Bella running around on the beach--where I'm pretty sure dogs are not allowed!

Bella and her friend Liang

At the parade we ran into Bella's friend Liang, who is also adopted from China and is 2 days older. She was a lobster. Still, despite the species conflict, they seemed to get along very well for 20 month olds.

Click on either of the photo for LOTS more costume pictures and more photos with Liang.

With Natalie (and parents)

With Natalie - sliding
Originally uploaded by Andrea.
Bella and Natalie had a playdate a few weeks back--and the parents got to play, too! We all had fun sliding, eating strawberries, and petting a pekinese in a little red wagon at a local park. Afterwards Natalie, Dana and Lester came over for dinner and a food fight (just kidding! it only seemed like that, but not for long with our lab mix around)

Here, you take the sunscreen

Natalie and Bella also had fun playing at the Accept picnic back in September. They found the best toy--a box!

Bella and Natalie are from the same county: Tonggu, Jiangxi Province, China.

Click on the picture for a link to LOTS more pictures of the two girls playing--and a few of the parents as well!

In Mama's sailor suit!

In Mama's sailor suit!
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
This sailor suit belonged to me when I was a baby! I'm completely amazed my Aunt Jan kept it all these years--Thanks Aunt Jan! Click on the photo for more cute shots of Bella in this sailor suit.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Peekaboo with Daddy

Peekaboo 1
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
The title pretty much sums it up. Bella had so much fun playing peekaboo behind the chair at Grandma Lorrie and Grandpa Ron's house.
Click on the photo for more pictures of the peekaboo game

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Talking and more Talking!

Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Bella is talking so much now! We lost track of how many words she knows sometime in September, at over 50. She has started speaking many of her signs as well. (I mean besides MORE, which she's been both signing and saying since May!) Some favorites are airplane, stars, bubbles, arm, knee, Uh-oh, bye-bye, up and eye.

Some words are a little hard to understand, at least without context. The dogs, known to us as Zima and Iris, are called Mimi and Aiiii (eye). And her good friends Ch'aska (age 6 1/2) and Callum (4 1/2) are Dada and Mum! (hmm, I thought that was us?).
Our current favorite, though (and the reason I chose this photo to illustrate the blog) is her word for Hug, which sounds just like Oak! She likes this word so much now that she is forever going around asking for an Oak! So cute we have a hard time not laughing. We have even tossed around the idea of faking her out and pretending that really is the way to pronounce it, so that she won't change, but figured that would mark us as "bad parents," so we won't (probably).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Vacation at Silver Lake

Okay, very far behind in blogging. I put up this bunch of pictures, though, from our vacation (in early August!) to Silver Lake, by Carson Pass and Kirkwood, in the Sierra. Click on the picture at right to see more.

Isabella had sooo much fun on this vacation! We had a housekeeping cabin right by the lake, and Jeff's parents and brother had another a few hundred meters away. So the day consisted of walking over to Grandma's and eating, then walking home and changing and going to the beach and playing in the water, then changing again and walking back to Grandma's and eating, then a hike or maybe more beach, and then walking back (she was having great fun practicing walking at this point, since it had only been about 2 or 3 weeks) for an extended eating period in the evening, and then early bed. And parents focused just on her, with no pesky phones or computers. And lots of birds and squirrels to watch. The only thing missing was her doggies, but otherwise this was heaven!

We really had a good time too! Jeff's family first rented one of these cabins 42 years ago (see photo in the album by clicking on the picture above) and have come most years since then. This year was pretty different from previous years--not nearly as much hiking or long paddles, but we got some very nice hikes in and had so much fun watching Bella having fun! And the sunsets were beautiful, and there was a really cool sun dog that we had to take lots of pictures of as well. Click on the photo to see all of the above and more.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Red Egg and Ginger Party!

Red Ginger Plant
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
A Red Egg and Ginger party is held to celebrate a child’s turning 100 days old. Since Bella’s 100 days with us corresponds with her 18 month “birthday,” we thought it was a good time for a party!

Saturday, August 27th, 3pm to 8pm
Potluck—bring whatever you like! (Bella says to bring fruit!) (and you know there will be wine)
Bring wishes for Isabella for her scrapbook – there will be paper to write them on here, or you can use your own.
Bring kids—Bella loves older kids! (and of course younger ones are also welcome)

Need directions? Other questions? Email or call us.
Can’t make it, but want to meet her? Give us a call!

Best wishes, love and hugs to all of you, and we hope to see you there!
Andrea, Jeff and Isabella Youlan the MaoMaoChong

Red Egg and Ginger links:

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Look at her Walking!

Look at her Walking!
Originally uploaded by Bella's mama.
Okay, she really is walking now, as of July 22nd. She played "fetch for about half an hour! Jeff joked that since we'd learned our parenting skills with dogs, it made sense that she'd be learning to walk by playing fetch. (Actually she's better at it than the dogs. Zima, especially just wonders why anyone would do something so boring and call it a game.)
Oh, and the ball she's using was given to her by Janus Blume, and was on the altar to celebrate Solstice, so maybe it had some magic in it!
(click on the photo for more walking shots, including one great one where she seems to be invoking her superpowers--more magic!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

At the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival

The last weekend in June, we went up to Laytonville, California (150 miles north of San Francisco) to the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival. Isabella really seemed to have a great time! She just loves music, and notices when the music is winding down and starts to clap! Even before everyone else! Plus there were a lot of attentive campmates around to dote on her and especially to FEED her!
We weren't sure how to handle sleeping arrangements, and even considered renting an RV till we saw how much that would cost. We ended up putting all our stuff in the tent and sleeping in our station wagon, with us in the back and MaoMaoChong in a special nest of pillows in the passenger seat. Everyone slept well, but the first morning after Bella woke up she cried for about 20 minutes. We imagined her thinking: "Is this my new house? It seems awfully small. I liked the last one better!" She cheered up after that, though. The howling pictures from the photo album are taken in the car the second morning.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What a smile!

Okay, this was already in there in the present opening section of the "album," but oh my, what a smile she's got!

In her Bear Towel

In her Bear Towel
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
On the other hand, maybe >this< is the cutest! She's just so adorable in her bear towel from Jenny and Mike and Alicia.

Just the cutest!

Just the cutest!
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Okay, just blogging this because it is sooo cute! And you can tell she's really thinking as well. I think this was the second weekend home from China. She's gotten a lot bigger, I can see just from the face. And she's a LOT heavier, too!

Bella in "her" hat and glasses

She likes so much to imitate us, especially mama! Doesn't like to wear her own hats, though, and especially not the sunglasses.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bella loves presents!

Bella has gotten quite a few presents since she returned. As usual at her age, she really loves to open the packages, and doesn't usually care as much about what is inside them. Mama and Daddy like the stuff inside, though!
Click on the photo for more present opening pictures. Most of these were from one big session of present opening where we had a camera ready. So many adorable moments don't get captured, but it's hard to play with her and photograph too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fun with Isabella!!!

Walking around the house
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.

Walking!!! (okay, with a little help…)
Bella’s kooky auntie Carolyn was sooo much fun and so encouraging that she got Bella very excited to walk!! She is now asking constantly to go walking (when she isn’t eating, that is!). She still needs to hold onto Andrea’s hands, though, and it does HAVE to be Andrea’s hands, so mama is getting a bit of a backache, but it will be well worth it to build up Bella’s legs so she can walk on her own. We keep pointing out to her all the fun things she can do (and the mischief she can get into) once she can walk by herself—what are we thinking?!?!?!?!

Andrea is trying to get her to crawl more as well, by showing her how much fun it is and saying it is walking like a doggie. Bella thinks this is fun, because she wants to be like a doggie. She enjoys howling as well! (see photo album for pictures, sooo cute!)

She really loves to dance, either sitting, or especially standing. At Danny and Elizabeth’s they put on some rock music and she got very excited and made a special dancing face, with her lower jaw jutted out, seeming very serious and cool. She will wave her arms or bang on the crossbar on her carseat when there is music in the car. She seems to have a real sense of rhythm, too, and react to different types of music differently, but she seems to like all of it, especially tunes with some rhythm.

Isabella is learning lots of words!! Her first English word was while we were still in China, and was “More!” which she pronounces, Mah! It seems to mean, basically, “Gimmee that food!” We were trying to teach her the sign, but kept saying the word as well, so she just learned the word. Now she also has a few more words, including: Dog, Uh-Oh, Yum, Mama and Daddy, Iris (one of the dogs, and flowers (she likes to smell them). Andrea also taught her the Chinese word for Elephant – Da Xiang, but at first Andrea got it wrong and so she changed it, so now poor Bella is confused and looks at her funny. She tries to say lots of other words when we say them, but I’m not counting them unless she repeats them on several occasions, or on her own.

She also now signs “Finished” or “All Done/Gone,” “Milk,” “Up” and, somewhat surprisingly, “More.” She didn’t want to use “More” at first, and got frustrated when I showed it to her, because she already said the word and we clearly understood her. After a few weeks, however, I guess she realized that she could sign “More” while she still had her mouth full! Today she signed “More Milk” (after a little questioning from mom). She also does the baby sign (not ASL) for dog, which is panting. She made this one up herself, but it is apparently pretty standard baby sign.

She also loves baby games like Peekaboo, Pattycake, “How big is the baby?” “Soooo Big!!!” and Got your Nose! Especially Got your Nose! Our noses both have a few scratches from having been so frequently gotten. Darn those fingernails grow fast!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Meeting Ch’aska! (and Calum, Elizabeth, Danny, Pony, sheep, chickens, etc.)

Bella, Mama, and Ch'aska
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
We went over to visit Danny, Elizabeth, Calum, and especially Ch’aska on our 2nd day back. Ch’aska was SOOO excited to meet Isabella and calls her “Mei Mei” (little sister). For her part, Isabella was a bit quiet at first, but warmed up fairly quickly and was very interested in Ch’aska and the pony, sheep and chickens. We have now visited 5 or 6 times and Isabella is really comfortable there and she and Ch’aska are becoming good friends. Of course, this was also the place with the sweet potatoes!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

She eats EVERYTHING!!!!

Oh Boy! Messy!
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
One member of the group we traveled with to China posted a recipe for Chinese egg custard for babies, like they made for us in Nanchang, but we’re not sure we will use it since Bella seems to be turning up her nose at “baby” food. We think she is already used to having a little more flavor, and she likes texture, too. We don’t think she was self-feeding in her foster home, but she sure loves it now, and is getting the hang of using a spoon as well. She still loves watermelon, as in China, and Cheerios are still the best way (other than the dogs) to bring her back from the edge when she is melting down (though once you start it is very hard to stop the constant flow of Cheerios.) The first time she had shrimp she threw it across the room (and in a restaurant, too, but it was a Chinese restaurant, so they cut her a lot of slack), but the second and subsequent times she liked it. She usually seems to especially like new foods, unlike many babies. She will love something one day and then snub it for the new food the next day or even the next meal, but then the next day she will love it again. She wants whatever mama and daddy are having, usually.

Her very favorite food so far seems to be Sweet Potatoes!!! We ate over at Danny and Elizabeth and Ch’aska and Callum’s house, and whenever her supplies of Sweet Potatoes seemed to be dwindling and someone else appeared to have more (or any!) she would scream and reach for them. Ch’aska carefully scraped out the bowl to get every last bit, and finally after we had demonstrated that there was no more orange substance on the table she stopped screaming for it. I swear she ate a pint, though!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Aunt Carolyn!!!!

Andrea’s sister Carolyn visited for a weekend, too, though she is incredibly busy still doing her medical internship.
She is so kooky and Bella just loved her! She crawled around on the floor being extremely animated and silly and made Isabella just love to practice walking! She fed Bella Cheerios out of her belly button. She, ahem, taught Isabella how to fake a cough by making fun of her. She managed to get Bella to sleep on her chest also, giving Andrea and her back a break.
We can hardly wait to see her again!!!


Jeff’s parents Ron and Lorrie picked us up at the airport, but Bella was sort of out of it then (not to mention her parents). They have visited several times since then and Bella is warming up to them more every time! Last weekend they met Andrea and Isabella at the Japanese Cultural Fair. Isabella liked the Taiko drumming.

Andrea’s parents Dick and Ellie came to visit for 2 weeks from Kansas City, and rented a cabin by the river. Since they were away from their “real” lives while here, they spent a lot of time with Isabella. Grandma Ellie likes to play baby games a lot, and Granddad Dick played “Got your Nose!” They also went on several nature walks, which Isabella really seemed to like, after the initial screaming at leaving her mama. Granddad took tons of pictures, which is why he’s not in so many. Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

First Gay Pride Parade!

Gay Pride Parade
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
On June 5th Isabella marched in her first Gay Pride Parade, with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Santa Cruz County. Well, okay, technically she didn’t march, she was strapped onto mama, but she did wave a lot. Okay, that was also mostly assisted by mama, but ever since then she’s been waving to people quite a bit, and using the “Queen’s wave” instead of the usual baby handcurl.
There were many fabulously dressed people at the parade, but Isabella’s favorite was The guy in the Cheerios t-shirt!

First Art Exhibit

Later that afternoon, Bella went to her first Art Exhibit, and she really liked looking at the paintings and book and wax arts. She seemed to have particular paintings she really liked, one with a wolf or coyote in it, but another I couldn’t tell why. She really wanted to play with the folding books, but I didn’t let her.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

She LOVES the Dogs!!!

From the first she thought they were the funniest things, and they are sure to get a giggle out of her and often distract her out of an incipient tantrum. We are very relieved and happy about this, because Zima and Iris (60 lb Samoyed/Husky and Lab/Samoyed) are solid members of our family pack, so it would have been awful if she'd been terrified, but right from the beginning she thought they were funny. Iris (the Lab) managed to lick her in the face despite our best efforts within a couple hours, and I laughed and so Isabella laughed, too, and so everything seems to be great! The dogs love her too. They wonder why we didn't get a baby before! These things throw food everywhere!!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First days home

Sleeping with her dolly
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
The first few days back were hard because all 3 of us had colds and were suffering from Jet Lag. Sleeping was the major issue of that first week. After some trial and error and discussion we tried Isabella in the crib we had set up for her in our room, because the double bed is just too small with an athletic sleeper like her! She did cry, but she does that every time she catches on that we want her to sleep (for instance Andrea's singing lullabies usually backfires because she thinks I'm trying to trick her into sleeping--cruel mother that I am), so that didn't seem unusual, and actually she seemed to calm and drift off more easily and quickly in the crib. She also goes to sleep a lot more easily with Jeff putting her to bed, because if Andrea does it, Isabella keeps reaching for her and won't settle, but with Jeff she has her usual struggle with sleeping but less trauma.

Since the end of the first week she has been sleeping pretty much through the night, with a couple self-soothing awakenings and maybe one or two where Jeff goes to comfort her. She currently goes to sleep to Christine Kane (the last few, quieter songs of >Rain and Mud and Wild and Green<), Kate Rusby, Dee Carstensen, and Gregorian Chants! Any suggestions would be welcome.

She struggles against naps as well, so often we resort to driving around with her, which usually does the trick, but leaves us trapped in the car. Yesterday she fell asleep in her highchair and mama got her into the crib to nap--Hooray!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We came home to our Rhododendron blooming!

"Look! There's Daddy!"
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
We were welcomed home by our neglected Rhododendron, blooming for us anyway!


Friday, May 20, 2005

Coming Home...

The Flight Home was thankfully uneventful! We had a nonstop from Hong Kong to San Francisco on Singapore Air, a wonderful airline. And the winds were with us as the flight only took 11 hours instead of the scheduled 12 (it was 15 going to China). Isabella was given a special baby meal with egg and mashed potatoes and vegetables, which she liked (as always for this girl!) and then she fell asleep and slept pretty much straight through, thanks in large part to Nora’s suggestion and lending of a down pillow to make her a bed. (Thanks, Nora!)

Jeff’s parents picked us up at the airport in our station wagon (so we had our carseat and space for all our luggage), and on the way through the airport we saw our plane and had to take a picture. We obviously weren't as together after the flight as some of our other friends who posed themselves in the picture. (click on the photo for our photo album)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

From Guangzhou

From Guangzhou
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Just a quick note to say we are still here and still having a good time. We are in Guangzhou now, have been since Saturday. It is very hot and humid here, sort of like Kansas City in July, but Andrea's not used to that anymore and Jeff and the little caterpillar girl never were. There is a thunderstorm most days, which helps some. The hotel is very fancy, but not in nearly as convenient or scenic an area as in Nanchang. Also the internet has been giving us a lot of problems here, and unlike in Beijing and Nanchang we have to pay for it, which is aggravating when it doesn't work. So you may not hear much more from us before we get home. Once we are home at the end of this week we will be posting more detailed accounts of what we have done, so check back for updates. We have all had colds. Isabella, we think, came to us with hers, and kindly shared it, so she is doing great now. Andrea is feeling mostly better also, with the help of medicines both ancient and modern. Jeff is still suffering a bit. We have been lying low today, catching up on sleep and watching Isabella play. She is completely adorable most of the time, her sweet and mischievious nature is really coming out now that she is feeling well and getting to know us.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Isabella Youlan (Maomaochong)

We found out that our daughter has been called Maomaochong by her foster family. It means "furry caterpillar", perhaps like the wooly bear caterpillars in the U.S. The way to this girl's heart is definitely through her stomach! (Just like her Dad). The minute we got her we offered her some crackers and she started right in on them. She even fed one to Andrea which was just too cute. After our big meeting we went back up to our room where she drank a bottle of formula and rice flakes, then it was time for our dinner where she ate the entire time too. We were worried that she would be resisting us as we look and smell nothing like her foster family. But she immediately turned to Andrea for comfort and would not tolerate being put down or held by anyone else. Andrea was worried that she had just acquired a new permant appendage that eats a lot, but as we write this she is now sleeping soundly after what had to be a huge and confusing day for her.

The Big Day!!

Happy parents
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Today, May 9, 2005 was the day we first met our daughter Isabella. We left Guangzhou very early for a short flight to Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province. We checked in to our hotel then had the whole middle part of the day to kill (and be nervous) before meeting our babies. The bus bringing them was delayed due to traffic, but finally around 3:30 they arrived. The staff had things really organized and we each had our daughters brought to us one by one. We were second in line out of seven couples. They walked up to us, checked our passports to make sure we were the right parents for the right child, then handed us our baby. She wasn't so sure about it at first and cried a little, but soon settled down. We were able to ask the orphange director some questions about our daughter's history, and he gave us a disposable camera we had sent ahead some weeks ago. He indicated there would be pictures of important sites in Tonggu and we think there will be a picture of the foster mom too. We are lucky enough to have her name and we are encouraged to write to her via the orphanage and send photos of Isabella once a year or so.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Preparing for the big day

We flew to Guangzhou from Beijing Saturday afternoon. We were picked up by the "China Team" from our agency and taken to the China Hotel in Guangzhou. Today, Sunday May 8th (Mother's day!) we had the first meeting of everyone in our group. Our group consists of 22 couples, a small group for this agency. We'll be getting children from 7 different Social Welfare Institutes in four different provinces. We all met for an orientation meeting in the late morning over a wonderful dim sum meal. We were introduced to the staff who will be working with us and given a summary of how everything will work.

We are in a group of seven couples going to Jiangxi Province, and we'll all recieve our girls at our hotel in the capital city of Nanchang tomorrow. Tomorrow!!

Hutong in Beijing

Hutong in Beijing
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
In the evening of our last day in Beijing we went for a tour of a Hutong, which means alley. Much of Beijing was laid out this way for centuries. With the modernization of Beijing many of these neighborhoods have been leveled to make way for major high-rise apartments without the charm and community of the old hutongs.
We took a rickshaw ride through a hutong area then had dinner in a private home. It was a great meal served by a very gracious hostess.

Last day in Beijing

Summer Palace, Beijing
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Our last day in Beijing was incredibly clear and sunny - even our guide was taking pictures all day as he said you almost never see such a clear day in Beijing. A storm the day before had cleared out all of the dust and smog that clogs the air over Beijing. We spent the morning at the Summer Palace, situated on a beautiful lake north of the City.

In the afternoon we went to the Lama Temple, the most renowned Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. It has a 55 foot high statue of Buddha carved out of a single sandalwood tree trunk and many interesting smaller temples in the complex.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Forbidden City and more pictures

This post is just to point out that if you haven't already discovered it, you can click on any of the photos in this blog and from there get to many more photos in our photo album on a photo hosting page.

Hello from Beijing

We've had a busy couple of days seeing the sights of Beijing and the surrounding area. Wednesday we went out to The Great Wall and hiked a really nice two hour loop. There was a portion of the wall that was very crowded, absolutely packed with people because of the May Day week holiday - a huge one in China. We chose to go a different way on the wall and didn't have to fight the crowds. We are both feeling it in our legs today though, as some of the portions of the wall are incredibly steep. That night we saw a very impressive performance of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troup. The men and boys did very impressive feats and some of the women/girls did things with their bodies that were clearly impossible.

Today we spent the day seeing Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The scale of these places is impossible to comprehend until you walk through them. We finished off the day with a dinner of traditional Peking duck, which was quite wonderful.

We've had a very good local guide who calls himself Jason (for the Chinese speaking impared). He knows a lot about Chinese history and presents a surprsingly balanced view of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Travel Plans

The last week or so has been devoted to figuring out all the logistics for getting to and around China. Here's what we are doing, with websites for our hotels, for any of you who want to follow along.

We’ll be flying out of SFO 1:30 am Monday, May 2nd, returning to SFO the night of May 20th. Direct, non-stop to and from Hong Kong. We arrive May 3rd in Beijing (via Hong Kong) in the afternoon. We'll be sight-seeing in Beijing as a pre-trip before the adoption.

May 7th in the late afternoon we fly to Guangzhou and meet the rest of our group of 22 adopting couples. We stay in The China Marriott Hotel that night and the next.

May 9th we split up into smaller groups to go to individual provinces and/or orphanages. We go to Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province. We’ll be staying here May 9th through May 13th, at the Gloria Hotel.

May 9th we receive our babies!!

We spend the rest of the week doing local, provincial paperwork for the adoption. We are holding out some hope that we can get to visit the actual town our daughter is from, Tonggu, 3 to 4 hours away from Nanchang in the mountains.

May 14th we return to Guangzhou to do more paperwork, mostly with the American Embassy there. We’ll be back in the China Marriott Hotel through May 19th.

We fly home the evening of May 20th, and arrive a few hours before we left due to crossing the date-line.

Jiangxi map: Tonggu & Nanchang marked
Jiangxi: Tonggu in red, Nanchang in blue

Saturday, April 09, 2005


The name given to our daughter by the social welfare institute is Tong Min Mao.

All the children from one orphanage have the same surname, in this case Tong, for the city they are in. In this case the town is Tonggu, and Tong means “copper” because the area is rich in copper mines. All the children from this orphanage also share a generational name of “Min” (which means “of the people”), then a given name, in this case Mao. Because Chinese is a mulit-tonal language we had to wait until we saw the character of her name to know the meaning, as there can be many meanings of Mao. Turns out the meaning of our Mao is “furry” or more commonly, “fluffy”, which in Chinese is a commonly used term for “cute”. So, our daughter’s orphanage name could mean “people (or person) of the fur” (!), which fits us well with our two very hairy dogs and rather furry house. The character Min, “of the People”, or “The People’s” is the same character as in “The People’s Republic of China”, . The character for Mao is the same character as in Chairman Mao, though in his case it is a sur-name; . So another interpretation of her name is that the orphanage director is very patriotic!

Her new name will be Isabella Youlan Minmao Emery Webster.

Isabella Webster was Andrea's Great Grandmother. She was born on the 4th of July and lived to 101 years old--so it is a very auspiscious name in our family!
Youlan means mountain orchid, or secluded orchid, and is written
. Youlan is also the name of a Chinese song that is by far the world's oldest surviving substantial melody, dating from at least the 6th century CE. At the risk of a rather long name, we decided to keep her orphanage name of Minmao too. If she ever wants it legally tied to her as part of her past then it is there for her to use.

(The Chinese characters in the above posting may not show on all browsers. If you are finding funny characters or question marks, they are really supposed to be Chinese characters.)

Isabella referral picture

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Today was the day we received our pictures of our little girl waiting for us in China. Andrea left for work at the Cabrillo College Library around 10:30. She wasn’t gone 10 minutes when there was a knock at the door from a woman from FedEx with our much anticipated package. She knew what was in the package and said she loves delivering these packages with Chinese adoption referrals, and she has delivered many of them to very excited people.

I wasn’t about to open the package by myself, so I jumped in the car to take it to Andrea so we could open it together. After having to get gas (!), after dealing with horrible traffic due to pouring rain (!), after dealing with absurd parking machines at the college (!), I finally slogged through the downpour to the library where we opened our package together. We found pictures of a very cute little girl with quite an impressive head of hair. In one of the pictures she is sitting in a dog bed! That’s our girl!

Isabella's referral picture

Monday, March 21, 2005

First information, Tong Min Mao!

Today, March 21st, 2005, we came home in the afternoon to a message on our phone machine saying we could call back for the first information about our daughter waiting for us in China. We called back and were told some basic information. Our daughter comes from the town of Tonggu in Jiangxi Province in south-eastern China. Her birthday is February 25, 2004 and she was given the name of Tong Min Mao. She is said to be a deep sleeper, is active, impatient sometimes, and is fond of listening to music. We also were told that she has been in foster care rather than in an orphanage which is really terrific. We were told we will be getting pictures and more information tomorrow! We can hardly wait!