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I already thought of things I forgot…

Like the Tegu blocks pocket set is a great travel toy. Has its own pouch. Magnetic blocks with a variety of ideas online for different things to build with a set. My boys especially liked them. 

Here’s a picture of some building ideas with the Tegu blocks:

  
A cheap pack of glow sticks were a big hit one night in China. The kids passed them out to several kids along the way. Neat intercultural interactions. 🙂

Also-if you are traveling to a place (like China) that has different style bathrooms than we do-make sure you pack the lil travel toilet paper!!! You’ll be SO glad you did!

If you are traveling with children that will be drinking from bottles or sippy cups…one product that I used daily (not on the flight days-the days we were staying in hotels) was a travel dish drainer with bottle brush made by Oxo. (I also packed a tiny bottle of dish soap) So all folded up it looks like this:

 
And unfolded:

  

And with the brush twisted together:

  

It worked really great for us!

I forgot to mention that also in the kids’ backpacks were their travel journals. Only Will & Clara had them as Fritz isn’t quite to the stage of being able to write. They were pretty cool lil journals. The kids wrote an entry for everyday (sometimes lengthy & exuberant & sometimes short & to the point)… 😉 There were also places for them to write at the beginning a little bit about where they were going & how they were getting there, etc. 

   
 So the kids’ only carry on was their backpack. Nick & I each had a rolling carry on bag & our personal item bag (computer bag for N & big purse for me). On the way home we also had the diaper bag as our airline allowed that for a lap ticket. In my rolling carry on I packed one change of clothes, 2 pair clean unders & a pair of pj’s for everyone. I also had a small pack of about every kind of wipe you can imagine-make up remover wipes, baby wipes, flushable wipes, Clorox wipes & antibacterial wipes for hands. Good grief-overkill! 

For the trip through security….Nick was in charge of electronics. For the U.S. flights we didn’t have to remove the iPad’s from the kids’ bags, but we did have to for the in-China flights. I had all the liquids for the kids & I which barely half-filled a quart bag. We also tried to keep things simple in wearing comfy, easily removable shoes, layers, no belts & minimal to no jewelry. I don’t believe we actually ever had to take our shoes off. 

I brought a chapter book to read to Fritz but we didn’t get very far into it. I must’ve not picked very well because he quickly lost interest. 

Nick’s tip is to at some point skip while holding hands with your child through the airport. 🙂 We really enjoyed our kids. Most of it was really awesome…they are fun & cool people to hang out with. I bet yours are too. Go ahead-take them with you. Watch them grow & learn. And enjoy every minute of it. 🙂

The then-5 Hagemeiers boarded a plane bound for China to get our 6th member. 🙂 Seems so long ago now. I prepared and prepared for that day for our kiddos as none of them had flown before and it was such a long series of flights & airports. With the help of a few friends & sister who had flown with kids before, I compiled our things to help our trip be the most successful & fun as I hoped it could be. I thought I’d share and reflect on some of those “traveling with kids” things we learned…

  
**Each child had a backpack of their own….to carry THEMSELVES. 

*this means it can’t be too heavy to carry

  
In each backpack we packed:

1-snacks for trip (1 quart Baggie with a granola bar, an applesauce pouch {we had NO issues or problems with security with these} some assorted candy based on each kid’s faves, & a couple all-fruit leather strips

2-Each child was given a quart sized Baggie to put into it any/all toys to be packed & played with. This of course means they had to be SMALL. And no toys outside that bag were taken. {besides the “surprises” that will be listed below}

3-an iPad {our kids don’t own their own tablets but we had or borrowed enough to tailor one per kid based on their interests} Each iPad was loaded with several downloaded books-we used the Overdrive App to download books checked out from our library for FREE, as well as game apps, music & a couple movies each downloaded from previously purchased movies via the Disney Anywhere App. 

4-Headphones in a lil cloth pouch to keep the cord from getting crazy in the backpack. {Headphones are a MUST on the planes as no sound can be on due to bothering other passengers}

5-A doodle/coloring/puzzle book along with a small pack of twist up crayons (no sharpeners needed or breaking, several colors, etc) & a couple mechanical pencils

6-a pair of earplugs (which we didn’t end up needing & I probably wouldn’t pack for my crew again…but then again there was that poor screaming child a few rows back on the flight on the way home that surely had a super hoarse voice the next day…)

7-a pack of Kleenex 

8-SURPRISES!!! This was super fun! I spent a lot of time in the months ahead of our trip shopping for fun tiny surprise gifts for the kids. Something fun & new to occupy their time when you are about half way through a 15 hour flight that feels like it may never end… Examples: a void Rubik’s cube for Will, lil angry birds transformers for Fritz & tiny Lalaloopsy sisters dolls for Clara. I had a tiny surprise for them on the long flights to & from China & one for midway through the trip. 

8-a neck pillow. With a snap at the front! This way it can snap onto a place on the outside of the backpack & not have to fit inside. 

9-a small special blankie. Helps with sleeping on the plane. (If they have one/sleep with one)

10-their stuffed animal. Our stipulation for this was it had to fit in an outside (drink) pocket of their backpack safely without worrying about it falling out. 

11-an EMPTY Tervis tumbler with lid that went in the other outside “drink” pocket on their backpack. This is especially important for littler ones who are prone to spilling. A little turbulence and a filled to the brim drink from the stewardess can be a mess really quick. So the Tervis is handy to just dump the drink into, put lid on & a much more secure beverage can be enjoyed. 

I had a small zippy makeup bag that I put all our toothbrushes & toothpaste into (I moved the toothpaste to it after we got on the planes) to make it easier to take kids to brush teeth when we “prepared” for bedtime on the long flights. Going through a lil bedtime regimen helped signal to them that it was time for sleep. 

I also had a few extra snacks in my carry on bag as the plane food is sometimes not the greatest-especially to kids. I packed one cleaned & washed apple each in its own sandwich Baggie to keep it clean in my bag & to have a place to stash the core afterwards. I’m also glad we picked up a couple extra bottles of water before getting on the plane as it’s just so dry & it’s nice to not have to ask or go hunting for drinks constantly. I also was glad I had my Chapstick & extra packs of Kleenex as the dry air caused both our boys to have more than one nose bleed either on the plane or when it was NOT convenient when we were getting our luggage, etc. 

We also took a friend’s advice and had a fast from all “screens” one whole week prior to leaving. This made all the iPad things like-new again & gave a healthy break before so much screen time was sure to occur. 

We spent time explaining to the kids about security & airport procedures & courtesy on planes. We showed them how they could scoot themselves up in their chair by strategically placing their feet where the arm rests were on the seat in front of them or using their arms to push on their own arm rests in order to avoid “kicking” the seat in front of them. 

They were super excited about the whole thing- the plane rides, the destination & the goal-to bring home their sweet sister!

  

I am in awe of how The Lord works. Where to start…

About 10 years ago, I started physical therapy school. There were about 35 people in our class then at Indiana University’s PT program on the IUPUI campus. There were only a few of us that were married or got married while in PT school. Since those of us that were married were in a sort of different stage of life than others, we tended to hang together, study together. One of those people was a guy named Andrew Bauermeister. We would often see his wife, Lisa, as she was a nurse & would sometimes be able to stop & see him or have lunch. (Medical campus…) So we survived PT school (I was the girl that passed out on the first day of cadaver lab. There has to be at least one & it was me.), graduated & scattered off to work.

I know a lot of people dislike Facebook & I agree completely that you can allow it to become something evil, but if tempered with wisdom, it can also be a blessed place to connect with friends far away-other states, other countries. So I was able to see pictures of the Bauermeister clan as they added children & updates via Facebook, but otherwise we haven’t had opportunity to really connect.

As The Lord weaves a beautiful tapestry of our lives together-all of us…let me tell you a story. I’m going to copy & paste some segments from Lisa’s writings and her note to us that we received a couple days ago.

“Four years ago, my husband Andy could barely run one mile without being totally out of breath. Since then he’s ran multiple 5K’s, 10K’s, 15K’s, 50K’s, half marathons, the Chicago marathon, Bourbon Chase Relay, the Peace, Love and 50 miles trail marathon in Hell, Michigan, as well as his first 100 mile trail marathon at the Indiana Trail 100 in Albion, Indiana. When Andy first started talking about wanting to run 100 mile trail marathons, he had a strong desire to simply finish the race in the 30 hour time limit. He ran the Indiana Trail 100 in 27 hours and 30 minutes under some of the absolute worst weather conditions for Indiana in April. When he talked of wanting to run more 100 mile races, he discovered a passion to start running for a cause. We talked and prayed about it and decided his next race in Leadville, Colorado on August 17 would be a great opportunity to accomplish that goal and help bring a sweet two year old boy named Tucker home to Ryan and Amy Abell; however, God clearly wanted us to do more, so we set a goal to raise twice the amount of money that they still needed to fully fund their adoption in hopes of helping other families, as well.

On August 17th and 18th, Andy completed 100 miles in 28 hours and 44 minutes. Our friend Matt Limeberry ran 50 miles with Andy and I ran the last 5 with him. We were even able to talk with Amy on speaker phone the last half mile while we crossed the finish line. Andy wouldn’t have finished the race without the help of family, friends, many prayers, but mostly the motivation to help bring these sweet ones home to their forever families. God rocked our world when we found out we had raised all $10,000 of our goal almost right after crossing the finish line.

Read Andy’s race report for a more detailed description of the race:
http://bauies-run.blogspot.com/

Since then, we have raised a total of over $11,300 for the Abell family and five other families who are choosing to be obedient to God’s desire for their families to adopt a child. We have prayed over this money, as well as the families we feel God is leading us to bless with these funds. So many people were involved in getting us past our $10,000 goal! Over 100 #runningtuckerhome t-shirts were sold, a 12 year old girl held a China themed babysitting night for our community, doctors, nurses, children, Andy’s patients, family and friends donated to help bring Tucker and other sweet ones home to their forever families.

God put a desire in so many individuals to donate to #runningtuckerhome. Most of them have never met and will never meet the Abell family or yours. We know that adoption, whether international or domestic, is incredibly expensive, but we are so excited to help and be able to pass along these donations to your family and continue seeing your adoption process. We have written and will be mailing you a check for $1,000.”

Woe. Speechless. These people I haven’t seen in probably 8 years are sending US a check for $1000 for OUR adoption?????!!!!!! What?! How?! We are so undeserving. And yet isn’t that just how The Lord cares for us?

And I can’t wait for the day to reconnect with them, to let them meet my little girl whom God predestined for our family & to sit together basking in the joy of his peace, his plan, his purpose & reminisce how he wove our stories together.

Here is a picture of the Bauermeister family:

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If you’d like to learn more about the Bauermeister’s friends’ adoption that inspired Andrew’s 100 mile trail run you can read Amy’s blog here.

We are blessed to live in a pretty cool neighborhood. We enjoy it very much. It’s pretty “diverse.” Although sometimes it might be comforting, we aren’t necessarily surrounded by people who share the same backgrounds or viewpoints that we do, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t friends. We love where God has placed us at this time & that he gives us opportunities to act out what it means when he calls us to be salt & light. (And we REALLY love our neighbors!!) One of the cool things our neighborhood does is have a community-wide yard sale event every year. We had not had the opportunity to participate or experience it before. This year there were approximately 250 houses that had yard sales & its estimated that about 15,000 people come to the event. We had our first yard sale this weekend as part of the event. We hoped to raise a lil lump to start us off on our adoption fund. I honestly prayed (selfishly, but boldly) that we would be able to make $1000. I thought that seemed like a pretty impossible amount for a yard sale. I mean most people I talk to make a couple hundred bucks. $500 would be a great yard sale. When we added up at the end of the day the total was $1000.95. I laughed out loud. Thank you Lord! Thank you for your provision, thank you for your encouragement, & thank you for sustaining us.

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So that lump plus what we can squeak out of the budget this month plus some extra from some extra work Nick did gets us almost there for that first $2500 fee. I’m filling out paperwork to begin a lil work as soon as possible, but regardless I think by next month we’ll have that covered & get to move on to the “home study.” Hooray! Praise The Lord with us!

Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Part 3…Meet the Wickershams. A pretty incredible family. Miss Megan & I grew up in the same church. She was just enough older than me that she got to be a “chaperone” as a college student for our high school youth trip. God used Megan to show me how “real” as in “relationship” he was & wanted to be with me. I remember her telling me that God must surely smile when he looks down on me. That was really impactful to a young girl, especially coming from such a cool young woman.

Fast forward a few years. Megan graduated from college & began teaching English to college students in China. I believe she initially planned to only go for a year or two, but God had other plans. She has lived there since! (And visited “home” several times along the way.)

A few more years & Megan marries Mark. A soccer player/coach & teacher from Megan’s home state-Indiana. Then they go back to China. While there, they have added three beautiful children to their family through adoption over the past ~9 years.

First came Grace who is very close in age to our Will. Then came Rose who is a couple years older than Grace. And most recently came little Josiah towards the beginning of this year. Each one beautiful, special, & loved.

After Rose came there was a point in time where Megan had some health issues that needed to be addressed in the states. This meant an extra long stay for she & the girls. Since Megan’s parents live in the town that we lived in (before we moved to TN), we got to see them a lot. We loved that. Especially Clara. They would come over for play dates & Clara would call Grace & Rose her sisters. Even when they left, she’d call them her sisters. What a sweet time. Love grew. The girls would play & Megan would so patiently, so sweetly, so lovingly answer my questions about adoption as God began to stir this in my heart.

Slowly I began to ask God. How am I called to care for “the orphan” as it commands in his book? I know he doesn’t call everyone to adopt. But whatever he calls me to, I want him to find me obeying.

There’s more I could say about adoption & the term “special needs” & the Wickershams… But maybe we’ll save that for another time. They inspire us to love others as Christ & to be obedient to his call-whether halfway around the globe or in your own house. You can follow Megan’s blog to learn more about their family & enjoy photos & snippets of their life in China here

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Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Another story. Part 2:
Meet the Hart family. When you picture a sweet southern family, the Harts are what you see in your mind. When we moved to our new city, they were some of the most welcoming. We nearly immediately realized that both our families had started the adoption process (when we started the first time) for international adoptions. Their application was to Africa & ours to China, but I definitely felt that our paths crossed as part of God’s plan-stirring each other, encouraging one another. They have been so helpful to us in explaining different parts of the process, the “how” of details like where papers get signed, sharing their own experiences.

The timeline for the Harts has been long. They had a move that caused delay in paperwork, usual (but long) waiting through different steps of the process, then a change in country (though still in Africa) due to circumstances out of their control. But as Mary Craig has shared with me, God has sustained them through it. Even when they were matched with one little guy who was later claimed by a family member in his country. This was a very hard experience to become attached to a child, call him your own & have your other children call him their brother and when that was lost…it was such a deep loss that it felt like a death. However, they trusted in God’s plan, knowing that it was a great thing for that child to be with their birth family. Knowing God loved that child and knowing God loves them. And now they are so close! They were matched again. The country they are adopting from requires two visits to complete the process. They have just returned from their first trip where momma & daddy got to meet & love on their new son! Soon they’ll return to him & bring him home to his forever family. What a picture. A living example & experience of Jesus’ love for us. Though we are/were alone, orphaned, cast out…he comes & invites us into his family. To love us. To teach us. To guide us.

John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
(ESV)

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Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Inspiration. Let me tell you some stories about some families that have adopted and been a part of the holy spirit’s stirring in our hearts.

Part one: The Palm Family
A sweet friend from high school went to college & met a sweet man & soon they were married. Both loved The Lord & sought after him. They purposefully & intentionally sought his will in their lives-through work, through marriage, through increasing their family by children. Theirs is not a perfect story (for no such human story exists), it is not without trial or trouble. But it is filled with the love of Jesus & they have made themselves vulnerable for his sake to share their lives & his love with others.

By God’s grace, he has increased their children to nine. And as a family of 11, they have advocated for the orphan, pleaded the cause of the weak & lavishly loved the unloved in the parts of the world that The Lord has sent them.

I would do an injustice by trying to re-tell their adoption stories. My friend Lovelyn (aptly named), has a blog where she has shared their family’s adoption journeys & I’d like to share that site with you. You can learn more about their family & adoption experiences there.

http://www.momentswithlove.blogspot.com

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It has been on our hearts for some time that we’d like to adopt a child into our family. We actually had begun the process before we found out about my benign tumor last year. I think I started the application in September of 2011. (Almost 2 years ago!) Then we were led through, by God’s grace, the diagnosis, surgical removal & recovery from an acoustic neuroma. A little more than a year after completion of a series of three surgeries, I am fully recovered & we began to whisper around the house about the possibility of adoption again.

After some research & prayer, we decided to apply again, but this time through a different agency. Honestly, the first time the application took a long time to complete & a while to hear about its status. I really thought this would be similar. There are different processes, but we completed our application in 3 days. Then some additional paperwork was needed to confirm my health status due to the surgeries a year ago-again…I thought it would take a few days & miraculously it was completed in a few hours. So today the agency called me & officially approved our application! We are very excited & wanted to share this news with you! What this means is that we qualify to adopt from China & can move onto the next steps of “home study” (a social work lengthy document about our family) & the “dossier” (the formal paperwork that is submitted to the Chinese authorities.) We are thrilled & a little surprised about the swiftness. However, we thought that it would take more time & thus we’d have more time for saving… If The Lord wills it, it will be. This we are certain is true. Please be in prayer for us as we seek his best. I am seriously considering finding a job for the hours when Fritz will be in preschool soon. Please pray that I would find something that is flexible to our family’s needs.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

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