Monday, February 28, 2011

Conversations with Madi

"Is Charlie going to make it?"  she says to me out of nowhere on Saturday as I'm popping a DVD in for her.

She stopped me in my tracks.

"What do you mean by that, Madi? Are you asking me if Charlie's going to live?" I demanded, stunned at hearing those words come out of a five-year old mouth.

"Daniel didn't make it," she states both softly and seriously at the same time.

I sat down on the bed next to her, my eyes signaling for more information to pour out of her little soul.

"Charlie has a hole in his heart just like Daniel did," she continues with certainty.

"Oh, Madi," I sighed with reassurance and collected my thoughts. "Yes, Charlie is going to make it. Daniel had a much more serious heart condition than Charlie does. Although God gives us no guarantees, our agency was really careful to match us with the perfect little brother for you. One who will be with you for a long, long time."

Once an expression of understanding came over her face, I kissed that delicious milk-chocolate forehead and started her movie. 

I swear she's wise beyond her years...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Still no Travel Approval

I waited until I could no longer stand it and emailed Holt for an update on travel approval at around 7:00 our time last night.

Since there were no new TA's floating around the office, they sent an email to Holt's Beijing staff and they were advised that a batch of TA's were sent to the agency on Friday (Thursday here) by the CCAA, so, they are now hopeful that our TA will arrive in the office next week.  Having said that, they do not know whether our TA is among the group, but they all say "it should be!" based on the timing.

Crazy as it sounds, there is still a possibility that we may travel to arrive in China on March 18th. The next travel date after that will be April 8th. 

I am so glad that I emailed them. Jimmy and I were on pins and needles all day in anticipation of travel approval. We should know better than to "expect" such things. Once again, we swallow a dose of reality that this is not about our timing.

Please pray for TA!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Looking for Charlie

Earlier this week, I was turned on to a Yahoo group for families who've adopted from Shanghai and families who have received referrals from Shanghai.  I sent an introduction to the group, and we received a warm welcome from several families. One of them mentioned that we should look through the photo albums to see if we find Charlie in any of the pictures.

I have spent the week maniacally combing through each album, searching for Charlie. After a couple of days, and claiming that several boys were him, I stumbled on this picture and realized that I've seen that expression before--that familiar little turtle face had appeared in one of our update photos from Holt.

Could this be Charlie?

It is so hard to say for sure. The update photos we received in the fall were taken probably in October when he was about 13 months old. This picture that I found online was taken in mid-December, which would put him at about 15 months. This child certainly looks much older and his accomplishment of building a tower of blocks at 15 months seems unlikely, so maybe it isn't him, but the face sure looks right.

I have seen many photos of what looks to be an amazing orphanage caring for Charlie. It looks clean and well supplied. They have a preschool and a sea of cribs all with warm fluffy blankets. The kids all look happy, and they aren't even bundled in the middle of winter, which is unusual for China!  It seems that Charlie is getting the care that we've been praying for.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Wheelin'

Madi ditched her training wheels a couple weeks back. Let's just say she was "competitively motivated" by one of her preschool besties that mastered the task a week before. Madi was determined not to be outdone for long!  Her competitive spirit cracks us up.

Her success did not come without a few bumps and bruises. She careened into the bumper of Jimmy's truck, sailed into the bushes a few times, and was stopped short by a tree trunk or two.  But she succeeded. 

Last weekend, Jimmy took her to an empty parking lot to hone her skills. They worked on figure eights and turning in circles.  She is really proud of her major accomplishment and is sure to announce to everyone she sees that she's riding her two-wheeler now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Still waiting...

Okay, so this is one of the most excruciating parts of the journey, for sure. We've been waiting for travel approval for about 3 weeks, yet it seems like 3 months. We are so close. 

The most difficult part, for me, is wondering if Charlie is being cared for and fed properly. Wondering if he's being hugged and loved. Hoping and praying that he's healthy and safe. Sometimes it seems almost easier trying not to think about it at all. Thank goodness we are so busy with the trappings of everyday life.

The past two nights, I've woken up at 3 a.m. thinking about him. It would be 4 p.m. the next day in China. I've been tossing and turning, wondering what Charlie is doing at that very moment. In the middle of the night, I've found myself willing my love across the world to him, just hoping that he can feel it and know that we are coming for him soon.

We are told that travel approval is (hopefully) expected this week and that maybe travel will take place around March 18th. We pray that this plan sticks. It certainly sticks for us...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I - I - S - S - Y - N - G

The other day, Madi came from school reciting a new little song. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.  The song went like this:

"Larry and Odelia sittin' in a tree

It didn't take us long to figure out where she was headed with her tune (we're not that old).  Luckily, she had no earthly idea what she was saying (or trying to say).

Clearly, she is of the age where correcting this major spelling mistake is not necessary!

One can only wonder what Kindergarten brings...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Everything O'Donnell

Yesterday, we enjoyed the tremendous honor of being invited to the West Palm Beach airport to welcome home Neil O'Donnell, soldier and friend. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Shortly after Daniel passed away last year, I was having lunch with friends Bridget and Tabitha when Bridget announced to us, "I'm pregnant." In the next breath, she followed up this fabulous surprise with news that her husband, Neil, had just been deployed to Iraq for one year and would be leaving within the month. Our hearts jumped for joy and sank at the same time. Imagining Bridget and her two children going through this pregnancy alone and knowing that Neil wouldn't be present to see his child come into this world was heartbreaking, to say the least.  We vowed that we would take Bridget under our wings and keep her very busy. Our job turned out to be fairly easy as the family traveled during the Fall and relatives seemed to always be flowing in and out of town to visit them.

They had planned for Neil to take his two-week hiatus and come home to visit in February playing the odds that both Lauren (5) and Jack (3) had been born prematurely. They figured that Bridget would be home from the hospital by now and that Neil would have some time to settle in with his family and new addition.

This is when the story gets really good. Bridget was due last Friday and that baby hadn't budged one bit. He was so perfectly content in her belly that he must have decided to hold out for his Daddy to come home. And so, we all fought back the tears yesterday watching such a tender and heartwarming reunion between Neil and his children and his very pregnant wife, Bridget, knowing that he will be present for his son's birth. Upon orders of the doctor, they are inducing Bridget today. What a beautiful Valentine's Day to remember for the O'Donnell family.

Only by the Grace of God...

Madi loved and embraced her first "hero's welcome". So did we.  We are thankful that we were included in such a blessed and meaningful event.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winning the Lottery

It all began several weeks back when Daddy gave Madi a ride to school one day. He started telling Madi all about the lottery, and the two began to dream their dreams.  Ahhh, the endless possibilities.  Madi's little head started filling up with all sorts of fantasies. She could just imagine having that house with stairs that she's always longed for (this is the long-term goal of her lemonade stand earnings). They talked of house renovations, long trips, and then Madi came up with her prize idea.

"Daddy!  We can buy a hotel!" (pronounced ho-tull in Madi speak)

Her eyes were as big as saucers as she contemplated our future. The fifteen minute drive was packed full of dreams, and then Jimmy handed her a big dose of reality. "Ya know, Madi...winning the lottery is not that easy.  The chances aren't really that good actually."  And he watched her deflate like a balloon poked with scissors.

Madi wasn't about to let her dream end. That night, we had dinner at Bubba and Grandpa's and listened to Madi sort out every detail of her new property. We would thankfully receive free room and board--that is, in exchange for the list of duties we were to be accountable for. Bubba and Grandpa would get free rooms. They would also receive complimentary wine, but Grandpa would be billed $1.00 for his daily fix of blueberries.  The hotel restaurant would be small with just a top-notch sushi bar in place. After all, we don't want to be too busy cooking when we can shuttle guests to and from all of the great dining spots in Delray Beach.  Bubba's the shuttle driver, I forgot that detail.

Madi took many mental notes that evening and woke up the next morning having not forgotten a single detail (typical). She had us so sold on this wacky idea that she actually convinced us to go on the internet searching for bed and breakfast properties for sale in Delray Beach at 9:00 am!  Maybe she should be an attorney?  She's very persuasive...

And then we checked the winning lottery numbers. Our numbers were not included among the winners.  Oh well, it is fun to dream.

As for the lottery, we've had to nip that whole thing in the bud. Madi quickly became addicted to the whole process and started begging me to take her over to that big, bad, black vending machine at Publix where she could get her little paws on some scratch-off tickets! It felt like all eyes were upon me as I had to pry my little junkie away from the machine and coax her over to the bakery for a free cookie.  We explained to Madi that it would be very difficult for us to go get Charlie in China if Mommy and Daddy are locked up for allowing their five-year old to gamble!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Everything Murphy

Time for a new name. It's a new year. We will have a new family member. It just seems appropriate. "Everything Madi" served its purpose for several years, and then Daniel came into the picture. The blog was then renamed "Everything Madi (and Daniel)" by my brother, Andrew.

There are several flaws now:
1. I can't fit Charlie's name into the title.
2. The blog has clearly evolved into being about our whole family.

So, we are now officially "Everything Murphy". That works, right?? If anyone has any spectacular alternatives, please feel free to post.

The URL link, of course, remains the same.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Buddy

I couldn't even wait until tomorrow to write this post. I've been walking around all day on the verge of exploding. Jimmy too.

Tomorrow is Daniel's birthday. Tomorrow he would be 3 years old. Instead of celebrating that milestone with us, he will celebrate his first birthday in Heaven. It's difficult not to think about the things we'd be doing together and wondering about all of his accomplishments.

It's going to be an emotional day.

Last year at this time, we were thrilled beyond belief to be celebrating Daniel's 2nd birthday in China together. We took him to the zoo, where he experienced seeing so many animals up close. We might have been more excited than he-I think he was more focused on beginning to experience a family and receiving lots of one on one attention.

There is only one thing that can fill this emptiness. And so, we head off to St. Vincent's tomorrow at 5 pm for a Mass in Daniel's name dedicated by our friends Jennifer and Lee Levenson. In the Mass card was a string of red thread and a note quoting this ancient Chinese belief:

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."

We continue to hold onto that red thread and that belief. Daniel's thread is surely weaved through our hearts, and we are forever changed because of him. Happy Birthday Buddy. We miss you:(