Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Glimpse

Here is just a glimpse of Christmas morning...We were expecting Ryan to be overwhelmed with the whole thing, but he jumped right in! If a present was left out in the open, he was right there ready to rip into it - whether it was his or not. We look like a toy shop with both girl and boy toys everywhere!! Barbie made her appearance into our home this year as well as big Tonka trucks of every kind. As always, there is lots of sports memorabilia and equipment and Little People (I think we almost have enough to make a small city)! You may wonder from the look of shock and awe on Morgan's face what is so exciting about the baseball in his hand...A certain family member bought him an authentic Cole Hamels autographed baseball (#22 of 100) from his first win in 2006. Needless to say, he is speechless!! It was a truly an awesome Christmas and although the day was great and it was so wonderful to see the joy and wonder in our children's faces, nothing could match the joy we all felt having Ryan finally home and the peace of feeling of having our family complete!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

From our House to Yours...

May you have a WILD & CRAZY Christmas
or should I say...
May you have the joy of an 8 year old,
the wonder of a 2 year old,
and the attitude of a 3 year old!!!

So much for trying to take pictures this year - Have I told you it is like a 3 ring circus??? Well, here is the proof! Take your pick of pictures - They were all so telling, I couldn't decide which one to post!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Outing

Well, we ventured out on Friday and made our annual trek to visit Santa. Okay, we still need some work in logistics - what to bring, who gets who, who takes who to the restroom, who gets what stroller, how many strollers do we need, who is pushing who, who is going to give Morgan driving lessons in the stroller department, who is going to get the meals, etc, etc, etc. Hey, we saw Santa, did a little shopping, ate lunch, and made it home with all 3 children - All during the Christmas rush. We Reagles dive right in!

Sleep is still an issue with 2 out of the 3 Muskateers...the biggest and the smallest. Rylee has taken on the night shift - she has crawled into his bed several times in an attempt to comfort Ryan.

This was the day Rylee has been talking about for months...The day she would get to take Ryan for a ride in the Gator. Luckily, yesterday was beautiful and we were able to take the crew outside to play for awhile and Rylee's long awaited day finally came!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Okay...boy, you all are restless!! Ha! Sorry for not posting sooner -

The journey has left Mike speechless (okay, he is just exhausted) so, I am taking the blog back over! Yesterday, the boys arrived into Lexington safely and thankfully 15 minutes early. I do not think I could have lasted those extra 15 minutes! Rylee was waiting anxiously for the boys with her 3 bars of 3 Muskateers and all of her pent up energy. Ryan immediately took to Rylee and began to imitate everything that she did! Before you knew it, they were skipping and wandering around the airport together. It did not take long for Ryan to warm up to me and before we left the airport I had gotten a quick hug and he even let me hold him for a minute. The ride home was pretty uneventful. Ryan had never sat in a car seat before and just took it all in... We arrived home and were greeted with a few signs and a scrumptious birthday cake - Yes, yesterday was well... let's just say a "milestone" birthday for me...Thanks, Tammy!! We got home and began unloading the car while Rylee showed her little brother "her" room (they are actually sharing a room). We had to tear them away from the toys to eat the much anticipated home cooking that was requested...Not pizza, not a juicy burger, but macaroni and cheese! All 3 kids went to sleep immediately, but the night got a little rocky at about 1:30 in the morning...Rylee was sitting up in her bed "shushing" Ryan and Ryan was in his bed crying... Finally, around 3:30 or so, we went to Plan F...Mike crawled into bed with Ryan and Rylee who had been downstairs with Mike at Plan D came upstairs and slept with me...We have never been ones to sleep with our kids, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do...We will make some changes once everyone is on Eastern Standard Time!

Today was great! Ryan and Rylee played and had their first fight (over a train)...Ryan ate everything we cooked him and I only had 2 pretzels thrown back at me :o) He is now my buddy and is constantly following me wherever I go. I was able to fill the "mommy" shoes.

Ryan is quite the character and has a great spirit about him. It is amazing to see how "perfect" he is for our family and how much joy he has brought us already! When you pull out the camera, he will smile for you and give you the "peace" sign... he sleeps with all over his covers over his head and body... he loves to watch the cars go down our street and will shrill whenever he sees one..he does not like food on his hands...And even though we can not understand a word he says, he can melt your heart with his smile!!

We can't thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers throughout this journey. We still have a long way to go, but could not have gotten this far without such wonderful family and friends!! Thank you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Oath

So here we are at the end of our journey. Tomorrow we board a flight (OK so we board 3 different flights but who's counting at this point) to come home and we are very excited. In the background as I type this there are giggles in two different octaves coming from two different little mouths that had never met each other just 10 days ago. Now they are giggling and touching feet as if they've known each other for years. God is Good. We took "The Oath" this afternoon at the United States Consulate Office in downtown Guangzhou. Basically all this is is a formality whereby you swear that everything you have said or done, verbally or in writing, throughout this entire process has been truthful to the best of your knowledge. While it is a formality in this case, I can't help but wonder though (as I too often do) what is the lesson to be learned by this. What if each of us had an oath that we were required to take at the end of each day, swearing that all that we had said and all that we had done was truthful and honorable? If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I'd never pass this oath on most days, and they certainly would not trust me to influence the life of a young child, let alone multiple. But the truth is, each day we start over anew. Each day we get a clean slate, and lots of new opportunities to either support or reject that which we claim on the outside to be. I'm reminded of the lyrics of a song by Casting Crowns. It goes like this:

Lord I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

I hope that over the course of this journey (which began long before we stepped on an airplane) our Lifesong has been pleasing to God. My guess is that some days have been more so than others. But tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow marks the ending of a long journey, and the beginning of another. It represents an opportunity to seek and to follow where He will lead us next. As we begin this next chapter in our lives as a family of 5, my hope and my prayer is this: May the words we say, And the things we do, Make our lifesong sing, Bring a smile to You. We want to sign Your name to the end of each day Knowing that our hearts were true. Lord, Let our lifesong sing to You.

The 3 Muskateers signing off from China one last time

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Eve

I know, I know it's not Christmas eve. Despite the fact that we are on opposite sides of the sun, it's still not Christmas eve here either. Yet somehow it is. As I sit here wide awake and unable to sleep I am like a child on Christmas eve. Waiting with eager anticipation of what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow we will descend the staircase (albeit at an airport) like Christmas morning, having waited for this moment for so long. Just like that first Christmas morning, God has the gift of a son to present to a mother. While this child unlike that first Christmas morning is not perfect (you'll have to trust me on this one! : ) ) it is a divine appointment just the same. God has chosen to place this imperfect son into our imperfect family in His most perfect way. And THAT is what makes it special. Like that first Christmas, tomorrow is the fulfillment of that promise of a son. While I cannot speak for Mary, I can speak for the mom in Kentucky, and Ryan QuiWen (insert last name here) I tell you this: God could not have placed you with a more loving, kind, and compassionate mommy. She has been a gift to us, and she will be a gift to you. God is Good.

But I am reminded of a lesson that God continues to teach me, and that is this: Beware of allowing your tomorrow to steal your today. Many of us have fond memories of Christmas. The family, the dinner, the packages, etc. But fewer of us have significant memories of Christmas eve. Why? Because we allowed the anticipation of tomorrow to overshadow the gift of today. Today is our last day in China. We have no reason to believe that we will ever walk this way again (but we have learned to never say never to God! : ) ). We are determined to spend our last day for what it is. A single gift from God to be enjoyed and lived out. Not in anticipation of tomorrow, but simply for what it is; Today. We will head off to the zoo this morning and to our consulate appointment in the afternoon. We received the call yesterday that all of our paperwork has cleared so we are on schedule to leave tomorrow. But while our hearts are ready to leave, we are committed to being here, and moving forward with what God has planned for us today. Perhaps God led us to the other side of the world simply to teach us this lesson of taking one day at a time. Open it up and see what's inside. It's a gift from a loving Father how could it be anything less than amazing. Here's to living in the moment.

The 3 Muskateers

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monday Morning is All About Your Perspective

Monday morning. A typical Monday morning is just that; Monday morning. It typically has a somewhat negative connotation to it as it brings with it all those things we dread.....the beginning of a new work week, the stack of things on your desk that could "wait til next week", new deadlines and emergencies some created by you some by others, and then of course the realization that the weekend is now OFFICIALLY over. Well I for one this Monday morning am glad to see it come! This means that we have rounded the last corner and are headed down the straightaway of Survivor China Season II.

Yesterday we went to church as expected......well, sort of, but not really. We didn't realize what "church" meant. When we arrived in the lobby at 9am for 9:30 church our guide explained that he would be dropping us off at a catholic church down the street. This was interesting to me as I was surprised that there even was such a thing as I know how the Chinese feel about Christians. Apparently though the Catholic Church is OK in China as they are better able to regulate the activities of the Catholic Church than they are the more protestant denominations. ( I learned something here). At any rate, he then proceeds to tell us that the service is all in Chinese. Well, needless to say that didn't seem like it was going to be a very good experience for us so we decided to bail out on that so we returned to the Hotel and Morgan and I did our own little bible study back in the room.

The other thing we did yesterday was walked through some of the local shops. Morgan had decided he wanted to get a set of the Olympic mascots (in stuffed animal format). We had only seen them in one place so we had gone back in the morning to see how much we could get them down to (bartering is such a huge thing here.....any of you who know me know how much I HATE to buy a car, and thus everything you buy here is like buying a car!). Anyway, we walked away at one point and figured we'd return later and pay their bottom price (which we now knew since they let us walk away at that point). An hour later we returned and you guessed it, they were sold out. (Please submit all Father of the Year nominations to Ms. Darcy *e***l* as she'll be handling the balloting this year).... long story short the shopkeeper could get some more in, but we'd have to go back last night to get them. Well, we go there and started talking to the lady and next thing I know Morgan says "I think I'm going to get sick". Now let me translate that for you: That means "I've already decided to get sick and I'm just looking for a place to do so and you have approximately 2.1 seconds to respond....Go." Needless to say my response rate is substantially more than 2.1 seconds and BAM. Gets sick EVERYWHERE. I won't bore you with the details but trust me it was both a site and an experience we will remember for sometime to come. (and remember, we now even have souvenirs to commemorate the occasion.)

But today is Monday and we are grateful. It's a new day, a new week, and the countdown is 3. God is good. We need to wait in the room this morning for a call from the consulate if there is any last minute snags in our paperwork. We then have a boat ride we are going on this evening (they call it a "cruise," I'm calling it a "ride" until we get on it and get back. If there is a distribution of paddles as we enter the boat we may again rethink our participation.) Anyway, that's catching you up on where we are and where we're headed. Have a good night sleep!

The 3 Muskateers

p.s. The pic of Morgan and his souvenirs the morning after.....ah the memories they will hold! : )

Note from Darcy: I am glad Mike left out the graphic details...It was really, really bad!! All the while, Ryan was playing with breakable items on a shelf in the store...I will gladly take nominations for "Dad of Year!" Mike is quite the trooper!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Medical Exam - He Passed!

We really had no concerns about his health with the obvious exception of his hearing. Because we knew about that prior to coming, that would not have been a deal breaker for us or the Chinese government. But get this, he passed the hearing exam! Now before you get too excited, please remember that the hearing exam is primitive to say the least. Here it is (I kid you not)..... the nurse/physician plays a few notes on a fisher price piano. At the same time, she secretly raises a squeaky toy with her other hand. If the child is distracted by the squeaky toy and looks over at it, he/she passes. Well Ryan passed with no problems. It doesn't mean by any stretch that his hearing is perfect, but it certainly "medically" (can I use that term for this kind of test?! they WERE dressed in medical clothes you know... : ) ) confirms what we have believed; that being that he has more hearing than we had initially thought. God is Good.

We are off to church this morning. Not exactly sure what this will entail but I suppose we'll see. Last time we were in China it was a pretty moving experience. The first church we went to on the first Sunday was only for "foreigners". There was something about being in a Christian church worshipping Jesus, in the middle of a communist/Buddhist nation that wants nothing to do with Him, that was very moving. The following Sunday we worshipped just with our travel group but had the opportunity to worship with our two Chinese guides (both of whom are Christians). Neither of them could get through the song they were singing without breaking into tears. Being a Christian in China is VERY different then being a Christian in America. May we strive to have the boldness with our faith that these individuals have with theirs.

Finally, here's an explanation of the pix below....several are at the medical exam, one is a picture of the park that we walked each afternoon in Fuzhou, and one is with our guide prior to leaving the hotel in Fuzhou (and notice the background.....yes that is a CHRISTMAS tree. Funny how a communist country has no problems putting up a CHRISTMAS tree, yet we fight about it in America and have to be politically correct and call it a "Holiday" tree. Sorry, couldn't resist the irony in this....)

Alright, we're off to start our Sunday. 4 days and counting.

The Three Muskateers

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Reason We are Here

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday. Between getting back to our room late and a VERY unreliable internet connection we unfortunately weren't able to post last night. So my apologies to those of you who have been so faithful in following our little journey here. At any rate, yesterdays schedule was quite different from the days before. The last several days we have gone out in the morning, come back about lunchtime, napped the little one (Ryan not me) and then gone and walked around/played in the park next door. That has given Morgan and I time in the afternoon to post. Yesterday, since we had our orphanage appointment at 2 pm we hung out in the morning and were out in the afternoon. We went to the orphanage at 2 pm and fortunately or unfortunately (I suppose that it's all about your perspective) it was exactly as we had envisioned it. Room after cold sterile room of metal cribs lined up with babies laying in them. Some disfigured in some way, others seemingly healthy yet motionless and emotionless. While it was a difficult place to visit, it was important to help us reflect back to why we are here. We have had some fun and seen some sites but the real reason we are here is because God called us back one more time to one of these little ones. I have told many of you this story before, but I can't help think back to it frequently when I think of the millions of orphans in this country and many others, and our feeling of what can we do as just one person.....the story goes like this:

Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf's edge and and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was stuck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the person he said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, "It sure made a difference to that one."

Needless to say it was a touching experience for us, with images that won't too soon be forgotten. We are grateful that God has called us on this journey with Ryan and pray that he will continue to use simple ordinary families like ours to make a difference, one little life at a time. Thank you to each of you who have stood beside us as we have walked each step of this journey the last 18 months or so. It has not been easy, and as many of you know, we have struggled with this calling at MANY points during this time. Thank you for your faithfulness to pray with us and encourage us as we sought to follow where God was leading. He has called each of us to do extra ordinary things, we simply need to be faithful and willing to take the next step even when it seems to make no sense at all. There have been many times throughout this process that things didn't make any sense at all, at least to us. Yet we knew God was in it. He calls us to be "starfish tossers" whether we see the purpose in it at the time or not. May we all be faithful to that calling. I never thought growing up that what I'd long for more than anything else was to be a faithful starfish tosser. But here I stand, starfish in hand. God is faithful and God is good.

Alright, on a lighter note, we weren't able to get any pix inside the orphanage but we did take a few outside. The others are of a little bubble blowing party we had with another family that is in the hotel with us this week. We fly to Guangzhou tonight so likely will not post again until sometime Friday night your time. Until then, the 3 muskateers signing off for the last time from Fuzhou. BYE!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Exclusive Panda Facts for Mrs. Bugg's Class

Thanks for writing me back.....Below are the answers to the questions you posted....

How much food does a panda eat in a day? They eat up to 18 kg (40lbs) of bamboo leaves and stems or 39kg (86lbs) of shoots. They usually spend 14 hours a day eating!

Did you have fun seeing the pandas? Yes because I got to see them up close and see them eat .

Do you know how long a panda's life span is? Pandas can live for about 20 years in the wild.

Did you find out the average weight? The average weight is 220 pounds or 100 kg.

Do panda bears hibernate? The panda does not hibernate because it cannot store enough fat from a bamboo diet.

Some other interesting Panda facts are:
1) There are only about 1600 Pandas living in the wild
2) Pandas are good at climbing trees. They can also swim.

Are you ready to come back home and to school? A little bit .

Peace out ya'll!

It was Wednesday so we went to “Church”…..Sort of….

Today was an interesting day. Our guide took us to the largest Buddhist Temple here in the Fujian Province (I'm sure I butchered the spelling of that huh?). It was a very interesting morning. We were actually able to go inside the temple where the praying and the incense and the sacrifice things happen. Very, very interesting. Unfortunately we were not able to take pix on the inside, but we did take some from the outside. After the temple, she took us to a “tea tasting” of sorts. Apparently Fuzhou is known for it’s teas, so we got to go sample some of the tea grown here (I may have finally learned why my mom would use the phrase “for all the tea in China”!). Anyway, it was an interesting cultural experience for us today as we sampled the culture of the province.

One of the more interesting things of the day though was that we also drove past the largest state run orphanage in the province and since Ryan’s orphanage is 4-5 hours a way and we won’t get to see it, I just asked if maybe we could see that one. Our guide made some calls and was able to get us an appointment for tomorrow at 2 pm. While it won’t be either of our kids orphanage, it will hopefully give us at least a glimpse into what they experienced prior to being placed with us. I’m not sure what to expect, or how we’ll respond, but I think it’s important to go just to try and understand just a little bit better.

Finally, as you can tell by the pictures, the boys are getting along great. The ball playing and the wrestling has officially commenced. Both seem to be taking to the idea of having a brother VERY well.
: ) God is good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Special Post for Mrs. Bugg's Class

Hi Mrs Bugg and her class! Thanks for posting a comment on our Blog! It's great to hear from people at home....I miss you all! Here are the answers to the questions you asked:

How big is the Great wall? not sure exactly how big it is, but it sure took us a long time to climb to the top! It took us about an hour and a half to climb all the way to the top. Lots and lots and lots of steps. We were so high up we thought we might see Kentucky from there! (just kidding!)

How long is the great wall? It is 4,163 miles from East to West. It is over 2,000 years old.

How is Ryan acting around you? He is doing great. He is very tired right now as it's lunchtime on Tuesday and he's getting ready for his nap. Otherwise he and I are having a great time getting to know one another. I can't wait til he's old enough to play sports!

Did you eat any sushi? No, but they did serve some sort of squid or octopus yesterday for it looked nasty! I think we may get KFC for dinner....I can't wait!

We have to go and post our pictures now from Panda World. Thanks again for writing!


A Day At Panda World

Happy Tuesday! We spent the morning at Panda World. It was a bit smaller then we had expected, but fun none-the-less. We had a great opportunity to see some panda bears, and it saved us a trip to the zoo (since that's really all Morgan wanted to see at the zoo anyway!). So for those of you who know the story behind our last trip (not going to the zoo when we had the chance, then having to drive to Atlanta to fulfill the promise....long story you'll have to ask us at some point) consider this checked off our list of things to do in China. (which really completes our list 1. Adopt child, 2. See panda can we come home now?) : ) At any rate we saw Panda World, a butterfly place, and walked a park. It was a good outing and we're getting ready for nap time. Later this afternoon we'll probably walk to the park next door again, and then have either KFC or Chinese food for dinner. Not sure when we'll be back so for all of you first thing in the morning readers (Darcy) : ) Here is your good morning post. Bye for now!

The 3 Muskateers

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whew! The Tough Part is Over

Well we made it, almost without incident. We completed all of the necessary paperwork and paid all of the fees necessary and now by all of the laws governing the People's Republic of China, Ming Qui Wen is now Ryan Qui Wen Reagle and officially part of our family. Whooooah! : ) We did all this this morning and then our guide took us to Wal-Mart to get some supplies, food, shoes, etc. We then had the rest of the day to just relax take a nap (one took at good nap, one dozed off a while, and one took no nap at decide which was which!) : ) This afternoon we walked next door to a nice little park. We were able to hook up with another American family and spend some time with them. you're still wondering....what did I mean by "almost without incident" in the first line? Let me first tell you the things I did right: All children were clothed, fed and on time to meet our guide. I remembered to bring all of the orphanage fees. I remembered to bring all adoption fees and notary fees. I remembered to bring all necessary paperwork related to the power of attorney, passports etc. I remembered to bring all the necessary gifts to give the important people we would be seeing. So have you figured out what I forgot yet? If not, quit looking down on me because you obviously forgot it too! : ) Yes, I indeed forgot our camera on this most important of days. : ( But fear not, God was smiling down on us (some might say laughing at my thinking I had everything under control, yet as often is the case, my woeful inadequacies) : ) At any rate, He saw fit to provide another family that just happened to have an extra camera that they could loan us for a few hours (they are adopting too, and actually staying at the same hotel). At any rate, alls well that ends well and below are some pix from our day....please excuse the formatting....pix are of: orphanage staff, view out our window and several of Ryan/Morgan.