Maddie Rae Gotcha Day

Monday, March 31, 2008

Flight KA991

Jon's notes on flight KA991 on 3/30/08, DragonAir Airbus 330 from Beijing to Hong Kong yesterday..

- Retta, Jack, Jonah, Maddie Rae, Mammy and Granddude (Retta's parents) and I took off at 1:30p. We heard a loud grinding noise and vibration about 45min into the flight. Smoke filled the cabin with a burning smell, the loudspeaker told us to duck our heads down to avoid inhaling the fumes. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. After about 20 minutes of wondering what was going on, bumping through the air, and breathing through the oxygen masks, the pilot finally announced a left engine 'stall' and loss of all oil in engine. He said that we would head back to Beijing on only the right engine. Long tense descent. Lots of talk about preparation for the 'Happier Place' and that we were glad 'we were together.' Turbulent and twisting on hard right rudder. Jack was very scared, crying, confused. Jonah put oxygen mask on and fell asleep after asking for a lollipop. Retta and I both trying to calm Jack and not lose it ourselves. I went back and forth in my mind about 5 times trying to decide if this was actually going to be it or not.

- The pilot landed the plane safely. Everyone very relieved to get out. We saw the damaged engine on way out (photo). But were then crammed into buses for trip back to airport. Buses pulled next to gates but would not let us out. Lady faints next to us. Others were very nervous and banging on glass. Security/airport workers made eye contact then passed by and ignored us. DragonAir bus driver would not answer repeated calls/knocks/bangs to let us out and help sick woman. So I started tearing down the bus door. After a total of 45min standing on the bus, the doors opened and passengers exited into airport. Originally two rumored options, one to take late flight at 10pm, the other was to cancel and stay in Beijing. Mass chaos. No info. Soon DragonAir reps disappear with no guarantee of anything. Finally after several hours the airplane meals were handed out. Then another few hours and we had instructions from Cathay Pacific rep. The flight back to HKG took off just before 10p and were home at 3:00am.

- All thanked God for how it ended


Click here to see Chinese news report. It's all in Chinese, but you can see the inside of the plane after it landed and Retta's feet, Nala's tail, and a brief glimpse of Maddie Rae as they descended onto solid ground after landing.

Inside cabin after we landed - smoke gone

View of left engine damage

View after landing - Buses being packed with people on right

Relief after getting out of plane and bus, however still not sure how to get to HK

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Images's what's for breakfast.

The hunt is on.

Outside church lookin' good.
Just the girls.Thanks for the dress, Olivia!
I love my daddy!
I know the boys are noticably absent in these photos. That's because despite my attempts to get a decent picture of the three kids, the boys ran off with their friends the second we got to church. When we got home, they promptly went into the sugar induced coma that only Easter can produce, and in between that time, they were bouncing off the walls from their ravaged Easter baskets. I asked Jonah (after he had consumed all his Peeps and half his weight in chocolate eggs) if he would like some eggs for breakfast. He quickly responded, "NO!" Then he thought for a minute...."Wait, do you mean REAL eggs? I can't eat anymore chocolate eggs."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More from the office window: Safety First

Jon says this is how you play Plinko in Shenzhen.

"In the Barn"

"In the Barn" is the title of this photograph by one of my new favorite photograpers, Jen Gotch. She is a prop stylist in California and has a cool polaroid blog with the most captivating vintage photos. I love the title of this one because, like this photo, we are "in the barn." Today our coming home counter moved into the double digits.

There's a funny phenomenon happening in our "barn." Jon and I seem to have unlocked our other selves. Living abroad for three years has opened us to parts of ourselves that we never knew existed. I now have a love affair with coffee. Jon has become a wine and cheese kind of guy. We no longer gasp at the thought of running off to Thailand for the weekend, shopping in Hanoi, or trekking through Guilin. These things have become normal, expected. But those parts of ourselves that we had to suppress in order to make it here, those parts are starting to emerge again. Jon's inner redneck is finding its way out as he pours over hunting magazines. My inner decorator is finally being allowed out as I start to dream of finally having a home. I haven't allowed this part of myself out for so long because when I did, I found contentment impossible. But now we are in the barn. Now I can let it out, and I'm finding it delightful!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Look who stopped by...

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Spring from China

The "view" from Jon's office. And no, that's not fog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Phone Call with Jonah

jonah: what does it look like at work?
daddy: i'm in a building.
jonah: oh.
daddy: what did you think it looked like?
jonah: i thought you worked outside. digging.
daddy: ha ha, no.
jonah: what does it look like in the building?
daddy: like an office.
jonah: like a hotel?
daddy: sortof but not really.
jonah: like a home?
daddy: sortof but not really.
jonah: oh. want to talk to jack?

Monday, March 17, 2008

ENT: Play by Play

There are some things that I don't want to forget about HK life. With our impending move back to midsize city America, I have a running list of blog entries I want to do so that I can remember this crazy urban life we've been living for the past three years. One of them occured tonight: taking Maddie Rae to a doctor's appointment. This doesn't sound that exciting or noteworthy, but in a city of 7 million, it's a stark contrast from throwing her in her car seat, driving five minutes, and walking 10 steps into a doctor's office. So here goes the play by play.

9:30 am Call ENT office to schedule a morning appt that won't interfere with naptime.
9:31 am (indecipherable Chinese) "Hello? Do you speak English?"
9:35 am After several lost in translation run arounds, we finally establish that I must bring her in this afternoon when the audiologist is there. Ok. 5:30 it is.
4:00 pm Pack diaper bag with lots of snacks, drinks, and wipes (got caught once on the MTR with Jonah, a blow out, and one lonely wipe. Won't make that mistake again.)
4:20 pm Tell the boys to be good, leave them with the helper, put Maddie Rae in the stroller and walk to the ferry pier to catch the 4:30 ferry.
4:30 pm On the ferry. Maddie Rae is surprisingly calm and sits on my lap most of the time. Make a few phone calls.
4:55 pm Put her back in the stroller, load up the bag, and wait in the line to disembark the ferry.
5:00 pm Lift the stroller up several sets of stairs and get on escalator number 1
5:03 pm Dodge my way through the throngs of people on the walk way and into IFC mall.
5:05 pm Pass Mango (no time to look), Dolce and Gabana, Armani Exchange, and McD's. Exit mall onto walkway.
5:10 pm Haul stroller down another flight of stairs and dodge more people on my way to the Landmark building.
5:15 pm Walk through the Landmark, past Armani, Armani Underwear (wonder: how much would a pair of those would set you back?), Tod's, Louis Vuitton, Harvey Nichols, and Tiffany. Go down 3 more escalators to ground floor.
5:20 pm Exit Landmark onto street level. Surrounded by huge buildings, honking cars, double decker buses, and lots of Chinese people in black designer labels. I'm in JCrew pants, an American Eagle sweatshirt, and sporting my new blond highlights with my Chinese baby. Ya think I stand out?
5:21 pm Cross Pedder Street and walk up one block to Shanghai Tang/Pedder Building. Again...dodging people.
5:22 pm Reach Pedder Building. Haul stroller up one flight of stairs and get in the lift to the 7th floor clinic.
5:25 pm Arrive at the doctor's office.
5:30 pm Secretary tells me there are several patients ahead of me, so I should go to the 5th floor and shop. Can do. Back down the lift.
6:13 pm Phone rings. It's the doctor ready to see me.
6:15 pm Meet with the ENT.
6:20 pm Audiologist does middle ear test
6:25 pm ENT breaks the news that she does have fluid in both middle ears and will need tubes put in at her next palate surgery. Not such a big deal except that she can't get ANY water in her ears for the next year. And she's the only one of my kids who actually likes water at this age. Figures.
6:30 pm Pay the bill
6:35 pm Catch the lift down to street level. Haul stroller down flight of steps and repeat process back to ferry pier.
7:00 pm Get on ferry. Maddie Rae is not calm. She is a wild woman wanting to run throughout the ferry.
7:25 pm Get off ferry. Walk home.
7:30 pm Haul stroller up steps to our building and down steps to our flat.
7:31 pm Open door. We're home!

Stay tuned for my upcoming "Park n Shop" post (where there are 5 checkout lanes to 16,000 people) and my "Shopping in the City" post (where Carol and I spend an entire day searching through several grocery stores for elusive items that were "just there" but are never there when we actually need them).

Maddie Rae Madness

Our friend and resident photographer extraordinaire, Lorne, was armed with his camera and super strength lens at church yesterday. He took a bunch of great pictures of Maddie Rae and I had to post them all because I can't ever get pictures of this little moving target that are this good! She's wearing Mallaney's adorable bunny rabbit dress in anticipation of the big day next Sunday, and her bow was lovingly and craftily made by my good friend, Marte.

This is my partner in crime, Carol. Maddie Rae loves her Auntie Carol and her girls, Ellen and Zoe (and they love her!). There was a new family at church yesterday with a little girl the same age as Maddie Rae. The mom looked at Maddie Rae and said, "Oh, I wish our daughter could have that much thick hair!" I had to laugh. I guess the orphanage shave is almost a memory.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This one's for you, Carol

My Hong Kong sista, Carol, has been on me to post pictures of our soon to be home. Let me give you a bit of background on my elusive phantom house, as I have started calling it over the last few years. When Jon and I bought our first house, it was the typical "starter home." We lived in it for 3 years, and then when Jonah was 2 weeks old (yes. You read that right), we sold it and moved into a McMansion. A colleague of Jon's had taken a two year overseas position and asked us to move into his house and take care of it for them while they were gone. Seeing as he was graciously offering to let us live in his home and only pay utilities, it seemed like a no brainer and we went for it. What's two years, right? After the first year, we found a great deal on a house in the neighborhood I had always dreamed of living in: old homes with tons of character, good school district, and close to local university sporting events. We loved it and bought it with plans to rent it out for the remaining year and then move in. The day after we closed on it, we found out we too would likely be moving overseas. So here I am: a woman who can border on being obsessed with decorating, a nester who loved my home, and a certified homebody who has not had a "home" in nearly 6 llllooooonnnngggg years. Jon and I have moved every 2 years (with the exception being our "starter home" which lasted 3 years), and I have basically decorated, renovated, and lived in every corner of my phantom house in my head for 5 years now. Not to mention the fact that Jon has toyed around with the idea of continuing to rent my phantom house while we buy another house. He finally decided that his marriage was more valuable than any kind of financial gain, and I am starting to think that it may just happen. My phantom house may become a reality. Be still my heart. So, if any of you are still reading my housing diatribe, I will now take you on a "tour."

Here it is...with it's new paint job. And it's not pink (or yellow, as Jon claimed it was when he saw it last week). Note: blue, smog free sky.
It was built in 1935, and one of the reasons I love it so absolutely is that it still has most of the original fixtures. I can't stand it when people renovate old houses to make them look new, and I love that so much of its vintage character is still intact.
This is the living room. Those built-ins around the fireplace (circa 1995) are the first things to go. They are built over two windows, and they are getting ripped right out. Notice the original light fixture though. Oh yeah, the red paint. Gotta go.
The kitchen. Love the floor, but the kitchen needs reno. I'm going to live in it for a while and try to decide the best way to go about it. Take out a wall...leave the wall in...reconfigure? I don't know yet. Love the french door to the back mudroom, pantry, and utility room.
Ah, the sunroom. Can't wait to have morning coffee in here. Lino on the floor is going, going, gone.

The boys are the most excited about the attic. In fact, they call the house "The Attic House." This is the third floor, and the steps go down to what will be the boy's room. We are going to finish the third floor and it will be a playroom/extra bedroom/fun space.

I fell in love with the glass door knobs on every single door in the house. Ah, love that charm.

Upstairs landing looking into what will be the master and a renovated bath. I will keep the original tub, toilet, and herringbone tile in the bath. Glass doors are going, pedastal sink is coming, and I'm not sure about the original tile yet. Gotta see what kind of condition it's in. All paint is changing in July. There is a really cool vintage chandelier hanging right above out of sight in this photo.

View from the living room into the dining room. I LOVE that front door. Love, love, love it.

Hallway looking from the breakfast area in the kitchen down to the sunroom. Basement door is on the left and there's a half bath next to it which we call the "airplane bathroom" because it's teeny tiny.

So that's the phantom attic house. It presents a lot of work and a few glitches. It is after all, an old house. But it's an old house with the school right down the street, friends a block away (yes, Nancy...we really are moving in this July!), and everything within walking distance. Our season tickets to a certain football team which plays three blocks away are finally going to see our bums in them, and I'm finally going to throw my first tailgating party. I finally will not be 24 hours away from my family, and I will get to have my niece sleep over and welcome home my new niece or nephew in September. I could go on and on. Bottom line: We're coming HOME!

Friday, March 14, 2008

John Piper

"Adoption is Greater than the Universe"
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth listening to.

Easter Holiday...a little early

The boys are off school for two and a half weeks for Easter holidays. It was supposed to only be a week and a half, but the HK government closed all primary schools yesterday due to an outbreak of influenza. They are extra cautious and vigilant since the SARS ordeal, and while I appreciate that, I do now have to find things to do to occupy my three. This morning the boys wanted to take pictures to document their "fun." The above is the back view of our house. Credit goes to Jack for this one.
Another one by Jack.
An absolute favorite activity...why do we bother making the beds around here? Got me because this happens daily.
A favorite pastime of Jonah. Give him a color by number or dot to dot and he's happy. Let the good times roll....

Baseball on the Beach

This is the beach right behind our house. Our back garden opens up onto the beach, and Jon and Jack were taking advantage with a little coaching and father/son baseball (with a tennis ball and miniature bat). The kids love playing out here. There is a playground at one end, and every Sunday we play beach volleyball all afternoon with our friends.

Behind Jon, to the right you can see the ferry. We take this ferry to Central. We live on Lantau Island, and it is about a 25 minute ride to Hong Kong Island.
The two buildings in the background are the two Disney hotels. We can see the Disney fireworks every night from our back garden and we can see Space Mountain and the two hotels from the beach.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Anhui Cleft Healing Home

Introducing Baby Wren! Everyone take a deep breath....we're not adopting her (although I picked her because she reminded me of Maddie Rae). I'm excited to be her monthly sponsor. She is currently living in the new Love Without Boundaries Anhui Cleft Healing Home. LWB is an awesome volunteer organization that has a huge heart for the orphans of China. They have just recently opened up this home for cleft affected babies in Anhui province. My sponsorship of Wren will allow her to get the special care and nutrition she needs from specially trained nannies, and I will get monthly updates on her. Below is a picture of all the adorable babies at the home. You can check in on what these babies are up to at There are other babies that still need sponsors (each baby needs two sponsors), and soon they will all need families. Check them out...maybe you'll see your future daughter or son ;)

Guangzhou Specials

While Maddie Rae and I were sequestered in Guangzhou for what felt like 2 years, we made the best of our time by investing in lots of adorable shoes. I don't think I'll have to buy this girl shoes until she's close to 10. I tried to buy as many colors in as many sizes as I could. You can see why when you look at how cute these shoes are. And the best part is that I didn't pay more than 3 or 4 US dollars for any of them. Bargain! They have really annoying squeakers in them, but they are easily removable. We just got these brown sandals out of the bag of goodies last night now that it is hot in HK again. She picked them out today, and I must say they looked quite good with her little jean jumper (also purchased in Guangzhou). Have I mentioned how much fun it is to have a little GIRL?! The pink ones below are one of my absolute favorite pairs. They get a lot of use and a lot of compliments. I always refer to them as the "Guangzhou Specials."
In other news, Jon made it home from the US last night. The boys were so excited to have daddy home that they were up almost all night. You'd have thought they were the ones with the jetlag when they came bounding in wide awake and ready to play with daddy at 4:30am this morning (argh). Jon had a great trip and came back with pictures and video of our "new" house that we will move into in July. I'll do a post about that soon. I had the exterior painted this fall, and I hadn't seen it yet. I kept having dreams that I hated it and it was painted pink. Thankfully, I still love it and I can't wait to get my hands on this 1930's Dutch Colonial charmer. Daddy had to visit the dentist while home and he brought back some new toothbrushes for the kids. Maddie Rae thought they were the best and spent quite a while brushing Nala's teeth. She was also so excited to see her daddy that she did some major showing off. She gave him lots of hugs and kisses, kept doing "funny" things like falling down laughing to make him laugh, and wanted him to swing her. From a kid that would scream her head off when he walked in the room 4 months ago to a kid who is becoming her daddy's new buddy. Gotta love that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I love my....

BOTTLE! I can throw a ball or a fit with it in my mouth.