Boone's first day of 1st grade in the USA!


As far as I know Pryor has been good ever since our little "talk."

Stafan asked why everyone thinks Boone is so cool. We can't help it-we like him. : - )
Notice Stafan is doing the "Will you please stop taking pictures?"

Boomerang Boone is in the house.


No longer an orphan.

Our 2013 China Trip - Part 5 - Our Sweet Li Mei and a Mexican Pool Party

I last wrote about our dinner with our friend Cordelia and her daughter Tong Tong.  Over the weekend we had a chance to spend time with another very special person, our wonderful, sweet Li Mei.  Li Mei lived with our daughter Arden in the Guangzhou orphanage.  She was Arden's protector.  She tried to make sure Arden had enough to eat and protect her from getting harmed in the orphanage.  Despite Li Mei's best efforts, Arden didn't get enough to eat and did suffer some harms before we were able to bring her home in 2006.  But that is another story, and it isn't my place to tell it.  The point is that some people just don't or aren't willing to understand what life is like for  the hundreds of thousands of children living in institutions.  Mike and I often get the question, "do you have enough room in your house for all those kids?"  Children living in orphanages often share rooms with dozens of other kids.  And like many orphans, most of my kids have experienced trauma in their short lives that Mike, I or certainly the people that ask us that question will never have to face.  So, no, we are not perfect parents and, yes, we would like to have a bigger house.  But, like the birds of the air, God takes care of our needs and we are happy to have each other as a family.

Back to China and Li Mei....  Li Mei aged out (under Chinese law, children age 14 and older cannot be adopted) and was never adopted.  But we love her and through a network of relationships God orchestrated, I was able to introduce her to a wonderful family living in China who have made Li Mei their daughter, even if they can't legally adopt her.  They take very good care of her, and it has been fun to see how she has matured and blossomed under their care.

We did a lot of running around Guangzhou Friday, Saturday and Sunday (some pictures below), and Li Mei came to our hotel Sunday afternoon to spend the night with us.  We had found out the hotel was having a Mexican fiesta at the pool Sunday evening, so we took Pryor, Boone and Li Mei to the pool to eat Mexican and swim.  It was kind of pricey, but very much worth it.  The China Hotel has employees from all over the world, including a chef from Mexico, so the food was excellent.  He had prepared all sorts of Mexican dishes and it was fun watching the kids and Li Mei living so large.  But Pryor wanted to live a little too large.  There also was an open bar at the party and when Pryor went to go get something to drink, he asked if he could have some alcohol.  We were later told it is not uncommon for children to drink in China and that Pryor had probably drank alcohol when he was in foster care.  So Mike went and got himself and Pryor a Corona and father and son had their first beer together--JUST KIDDING!!!

This is Li Me with Arden in 2006 when we traveled to get Arden.  The orphanage had helped us arrange a "going away" party for Arden, so we took some of her friends from the orphanage and her school to McDonald's.  That was the first time we met Li Mei.  We knew immediately she was a special girl with a big heart.  On the bus ride from the orphanage to McDonald's, several of the kids got car sick and were throwing up everywhere.  Li Mei was running around the bus, mothering all the sick kids and cleaning up their puke.  The picture above was taken when the party was ending.  I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but Li Mei had been crying very hard.  She thought this was the last time she would ever see her precious Huang Shan (Arden's Chinese name).  What Li Mei didn't know is that God had a different plan, and I suspect Arden and Li Mei will stay in touch for the rest of their lives.

Here are some pictures we took running around Guangzhou over the weekend and during our time with Li Mei.

Our guide John was really good to us.

This is Alex, one of the international employees at the China Hotel I mentioned.  Alex is a very nice young man and is all about customer service. He lived in the U.S. until age eight and then moved all over the world with his parents. Now his Mom is living in the U.S., but he still moves around a lot working for the Marriott. I can't recall all the places he has lived, but I remember him talking about Israel and Switzerland. Quite a life for such a young man. This picture doesn't do him justice. My girls would have flipped over his good looks!


Tell me Alex doesn't look like my nephew Eliot.

One morning, I waited and waited on the French Toast.  I don't think the Chinese really understand how to cook some western dishes.  The cook just kept playing with it, but it was never going to get done.  Finally after about 30 minutes, I whined to Alex and Voila!, he brought me this!



I love this picture of what I assume is a Mom and her daughter out shopping.


In case you're wondering about the umbrellas and what was a very nice day, the Chinese (especially women) are very protective of their skin and do not like to get tanned.

Our lovely Li Mei.


Li Mei enjoyed the Mexican party.  She enjoyed breakfast the next morning too.  She told me at breakfast that she had never had a "fancy meal" like that.


No Pryor, this is not for you.


Mike enjoyed the Mexican party too.  Maybe a little too much.


What a difference a day can make.

How's it going with the two new ones?   Great!! Well OK, we had a little glitch with Pryor. We got home from China Thursday evening. Over the weekend, Pryor said he wanted to go to school on Monday.  Arden and Remi are still fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese so they are doing a lot of translating. Remi is enjoying it--Arden not so much. Pryor had his first day of school on Tuesday.

As you can see from the pictures he was nervous. He came home from school happy though-maybe a little too happy. That morning he had taken his lunch in a sack so that evening when I gave him his new lunch box I got a big "Thank you Momma." The next morning he was even happier. I went into their room and turned on the lights and said "Good morning" and he said "Good morning Momma!!!" He hopped out of bed, brushed his teeth and put on the outfit I gave him. Isn't that nice? He loves school?!  It was nice till I got the teacher's note (this is the glitch part).  The note went something like this:

At lunch Pryor was taking food from the other kids'trays and hitting them. In the restroom he was pretending to pee on the other boys.

Do I think it is funny? Yeah... kind of. Why? Because I don't think he'll do it again or at least this won't last long. Today I emailed his teacher and wrote this:

I thought I would email. I was afraid since he figured out we had notes in his agenda he might not give them to me. Is he doing better today? We really gave him the riot act last night. I'm hoping that works. The good news he admitted to the pee pretending and the food so I don't think he is a liar.

This is what she emailed back:

Aww... :) he has been very good so far today. Some students were doing math on the computer and he stepped in to play.... His computation is great! He knows multiplication fluently and can add and subtract with regrouping ! We will work in as many math skills as we can without the language needed. 
Later in the day I talked to his teacher and she pretty much said he was kicking butt in math and even doing better than some of the students know speak English. So, when he came home from school, Mike and I gave him lots of praise on how well he did in Math and behaving. I think he and I might have come to an understanding that works for both of us. : - )

I have a friend who has adopted from China and this is what she said: 

ahhh...well....I'm afraid to tell you....I kinda laughed a little....please don't be mad at don't smack me or pretend to pee on me...but well...he's kinda cute, in that he has no idea how kids act...he was just doing what he's done for 8ish years....and what all the other kids he's been around did too....soooooooooooooo he probably thought the kids at school would do the same!

And, if you think I'm completely crazy just last week I got two notes--much better notes than Pryor's first one. : - ))

The first note was from one of Bret's teachers and read.

Just a quick note to say I really appreciate having Bret in class. She participates and is always on task. You should be very proud. 

Mr. W

The other one was from a teacher who has both Cokie and Stafan.  It read:

 Mr. and Mrs. Allen,
Hello! I want to let you both know what a pleasure it is to have Cokie in my regular classroom and Stafan for math. They are two of the most polite and hardworking kids I have ever met in my life. They both constantly have their hands up, show kindness to everyone and are always in a good mood. You two should be very proud of them… they are fabulous! Cokie told me that you are both in China right now and when you get home, she will have two new brothers. That is wonderful for your family. I hope you have a safe trip.

This week I'm keeping Boone home with me--mainly for selfish reasons. I'm enjoying this little guy that Mike has named "Typhoon Boone."

The dentist said they are both loaded up with cavities.
It takes awhile for a lot of the kids to get used to American food. Pryor did not want to eat the spaghetti, but since he hadn't eaten hardly any the day before I told him he had to eat it. He started "to make himself" puke, and we said "Don't you do it!" He stopped the "I'm going to puke" thing and ate it all.

Hopefully, I'll get back to our China trip tomorrow. In the meantime, here are a few more pics from the trip. DSC00343

Wednesday Morning Lights

This picture demanded a break from the posts recapping our recent trip to China.  I'll return to that next post.

For any high school football fans who love the thrill of "Friday Night Lights," I hope you'll find this photo of our kids' high school football field taken this morning exciting.  I know I did.  A bunch of students, including our daughters Arden and Bret and our niece Payton, gathered around the flag pole this morning at 7 a.m. to join hands and pray together.  I am thankful and proud to have daughters like Arden and Bret and a niece like Payton who are willing to share their faith and the love of God with their classmates and the rest of the world.



Arden, Remi and Bret





Our 2013 China Trip - Part 4 - Dinner with a sweet friend


Cordelia and I have been friends for a long, long time.  She has even come to the U.S. and stayed with us.  She and Bret have a special bond too.  I knew Cordelia way before she got married,  so it has been fun to watch her get married, then pregnant and now see her daughter Tong Tong several times as she grows up.  I think someday Tong Tong may stay with us and go to school here for a little while.


Cordelia picked out a really nice restaurant to take us to--the Macau Street Restaurant.  It is in the Garden Hotel, which is right next door to the China Hotel where we were staying.  The key to eating good in China (and we did!!) is to have someone order that knows how we Americans eat - or actually what we won't.  Cordelia ordered tons of wonderful dishes and then she tried to pay for it all!  She and Mike had a big fight over who would pay the bill, but he finally won.  Actually, Cordelia had already paid for all our meals and had instructed the waitress not to tell us how much the bill was so we wouldn't know how much to pay her back.  Mike finally got the manager to tell him and he and Teri's Mike paid her back.  So Cordelia wasn't allowed to pay any, but she was sweet to try.  



Tong Tong kept pretending the fish head was swimming.












We went to the Coffee Club after dinner.


Cordelia eats healthy.  I don't.  I don't think she really wanted me to buy Tong Tong this ice cream, but I had to let Tong Tong know that her American friend is really nice. : - )


Cordelia brings gifts from China, and I always bring Tong Tong clothes that you cannot buy in China.  Tong Tong is a girly girl and I was really happy she seemed to like them.  When it was time to leave she ran over and grabbed her bags.