Monday, December 18, 2023
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Things returned to some semblance of normal in 2022. Pandemic fatigue was in full-swing, and we threw caution (and our masks) to the wind as we socialized freely, went to movie theaters, and traveled internationally.
We held off on travel for the first half of the year as Jake was ramping up at his new job, and we were still in limbo with our adoption. But it wasn't too long before the travel bug got the better of us.
The whole family visited Ontario and Quebec in Canada on the 4th of July weekend with a group of friends. We saw Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City.
Jake and Kyla did a quick trip to Panama over the long Columbus Day weekend. We saw the Panama Canal and lots of ruins. We rented a car like we did in Costa Rica, but driving there was much more difficult than anywhere else Jake had driven. But we drove all over the country unscathed!
Finally, the whole family took a 2-week trip to the Hawaiian islands over the Thanksgiving break. We visited the Big Island and saw Kilauea volcano near the end of its eruption. We were at the summit of Mauna Loa 6 days before it started erupting. Next we went to Maui, where we drove the Road to Hana and saw lots of waterfalls. Oahu was next, where we snorkeled and saw Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We ended our trip on Kauai, where we did a helicopter ride around the island and into the crater of the dormant volcano that created the island. Overall, it was an absolutely incredible trip!
Sunday, December 12, 2021
If 2020 was the year that time forgot, 2021 is the year we made up for it. We have personal and professional updates galore! We said goodbye to a long-serving family pet and Jake's COVID beard (RIP). We said hello to new family pets and professional opportunities. Just like last year, even the pandemic can't keep us from traveling.
In May we lost Daphne, our beloved black lab. She lived to a ripe old age of 14. We filled the void in July with the arrival of a new black lab puppy, Dahlia. We also adopted Frosty, a Siamese ragdoll kitten and littermate of our niece Bryn's new kitten.
(Mostly Domestic) Travel
Monday, December 7, 2020
2020 has been a weird year. We feel like we're frozen in time. We'd just as soon forget it ever happened. We're in roughly the same place as we anxiously await permission to travel to China to pick up Jesslyn and bring her home. It's maddening to think about how we've missed out on a year of her life due to the global pandemic.
But in a way, an otherwise uneventful year is a blessing in itself. We know that so many have been impacted by the pandemic and ensuing economic downturn. We've had to endure only a modest loss in income, which has been largely offset by decreased vacation travel costs. Nonetheless, we've been able to travel domestically with minimal risk. We stayed in a mountain house in Aspen, a beach house at the Gulf Coast, flew over to Everglades National Park, and drove to Big Bend National Park.
Jaedyn is attending 2nd grade in person. The schools is taking reasonable precautions, and while there have been several positive COVID cases this year, they've been able to contain them and carry on. Many of her friends have opted for virtual instruction, and we know that it's hard on her to not be able to do many of the fun things she's used to, including dance and soccer. She attends Chinese class virtually.
Kaleb is getting bigger so fast. He's starting to learn the alphabet and knows how to spell his name. He still goes to daycare on days that both Kyla and I are working. Sometimes we wonder whether it's worth it to have him struggle through virtual Chinese classes, but then he'll unexpectedly know some random Chinese word and what it means — like 海豚 (dolphin) — and we're reminded that he must be absorbing some of it.Kyla volunteered to work at her company's COVID clinic where she's a pediatric nurse practitioner on the frontlines of testing and diagnosing potential COVID patients. She was just recently able to get the vaccine well ahead of the rest of us, which we're hoping may enable her to travel to China to get Jesslyn sooner than she otherwise would be allowed.
Jake is still working as a product manager for Administrate, a training management platform. In all the additional spare time that the pandemic has afforded him, he's finally made good on a side project that's been on his list for over a decade: an online event sequencing game called Chrologony. It's also available as an app for iOS and Android.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Jaedyn has taken to 1st grade well. In particular, her reading skills have improved drastically, and we're continually amazed at the way she can sound out multisyllabic words. But then she gets tripped up by some simple word that we take for granted is, by all accounts, just weird – and we remember that she is still just in 1st grade. She continues to attend Chinese classes and is improving on that front, perhaps in part due to our disingenuous insistence that otherwise she won't be able to communicate with her new baby sister at all. She's also started a more serious (read: expensive) soccer program, and seems to like it fairly well.
Kaleb is doing well. He loves Paw Patrol and PJ Masks. He's learned to spell his name. He's still in soccer, and we've started him in a Chinese program as well. He got a new bike with training wheels, and we're trying to get him transitioned from his balance bike to that.
Kyla has recently become certified as a lactation consultant after after 3 years of hard work. She continues to work part-time at a pediatric clinic, and her new credential has opened up opportunities to work with breast-feeding mothers.
Jake has switched jobs as his entire division was let go from Oracle due to dwindling revenue. He's now working as a product manager for Administrate, a training management platform. He's enjoying making a big impact in a smaller company again and has quickly taken a leadership role.
Friday, November 29, 2019
Flash forward nearly 19 years. We had two beautiful children of our own, but that nagging feeling just wouldn't go away. It kept coming up again and again. We almost decided not to have Kaleb in favor of adoption, but we all know there can only be one winner when a mother sees her first child growing up. After Kaleb was born, we resolved to make good on the promise we made to each other so long ago as high school sweethearts. We started the process to adopt a little girl from China about a year ago.
As China's middle class has grown, so has demand for domestic adoptions. As a result, China no longer allows foreigners to adopt young infants under two years old with a clean bill of health as those are reserved for its citizens. Filling out an application specifying which ages and ailments one is willing to consider in an adoptee is an emotional but necessary process. After all, we had our existing children and our own life goals to consider. That being said, we knew that there were plenty of adoptable children that had relatively minor and/or correctable issues -- so we dove in head first and hoped for the best.
Adopting internationally is a complicated, expensive, emotional, and lengthy process. I would never have guessed it would be so hard to give a child in need a home. We took the required adoption training early this year. Our home study was completed this past spring. We've filled out reams of forms and have submitted fingerprints to various agencies like a million times (ok, four times, but still). We finally got officially approved to match with a child at the end of this past summer after a few false starts. After that, it wasn't very long before we found the one.
There have been lots of hurdles to clear, but we're almost there. We have received an official invitation from the orphanage in Tianjin to adopt. We're now waiting on the U.S. government to approve our immigration application for Jia Chen. Once that's done, we'll only have a bit more paperwork to do before we can plan our travel to China to go get our baby girl. We were hopeful that it could happen before Christmas for a variety of reasons, but that's almost certainly not in the cards for us at the current pace the U.S. government is taking to approve us. But we're still clinging to hope that we can get it done in early January in time for her to be home with us before her second birthday. Our kids can't wait to get their new baby sister and speak of it almost daily.
Our immigration application for Jia Chen required that we provide a given name under which she will become a U.S. citizen. Those of you that know us or have been following along know that we can get a bit intense with how we name our children. We wanted to keep the tradition going while simultaneously incorporating elements of her Chinese name. We wanted her new name to sound similar to her Chinese name and somehow incorporate some of the meaning of it too. Jia Chen (佳晨) can be roughly translated as "beautiful dawn."
If all goes well, we will be bringing Jesslyn Zora back with us to her forever home in January 2020. Jesslyn is another form of Jessica, which means "God sees" or "God beholds" in Hebrew. Zora is a name used in Greece (though not of Greek origin) that means "dawn." Taken together the name means "God sees the dawn." If "dawn" is used as shorthand for Jia Chen, the implication is that she, though abandoned by her biological parents, has not been forgotten. "Seeing the dawn" is also a metaphor for hoping for a new beginning, which is what adoption is all about.
We've already invested the bulk of the money needed to complete our adoption. But as we get closer to actually traveling to China and making the mandatory $5k donation to the orphanage now hosting Jesslyn, we're reaching out to friends and family to help get us over the line. No pressure, but we would very much appreciate any and all contributions you feel compelled to add to our adoption cause via PayPal or Venmo. We look forward to sharing Jesslyn's new beginning with you all in the coming months!
Friday, November 23, 2018
In February, we welcomed a new pet into our home: a black cat named Lila. She and Daphne get along well, and all accounts she's well-adjusted and happy.
As for travel, we spent 2 weeks in the Yucatan as we attended a destination wedding of some of our best friends, then toured 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites before spending a week in Belize with Kyla's family. The kids took their first trip to Disney Land, and we spent a weekend in the Colorado Rockies.
We would also like to announce that we are pursuing international adoption of a little girl from China. We've just started the application process with a reputable agency. Kaleb must be 3 years old before we can start getting matched, which will be this coming June — so we don't anticipate it happening until late 2019 or 2020. We'd appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we navigate the process.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
The rest of the family is happy and healthy. Jaedyn and Kaleb still get along well and are learning new things every day. Jaedyn is looking forward to resuming her dance and gymnastics lessons next year. Kaleb is astoundingly coordinated for his age; we think he is destined to be quite the athlete. He got tubes put in his ear due to frequent ear infections.
There are no changes in employment for Kyla and I to report. Kyla still works part-time at a pediatric clinic, and I still work on social media products at Oracle. I got certified as a project manager (PMP), and Oracle paid for most of it. Kyla got certified as a breastfeeding / lactation specialist, most of which was also paid by her employer. We both continue to play on our coed soccer team.
2017 was the year of travel. We'll have to cut back in 2018 with Kaleb getting old enough to have to cost money for airfare.
FebruaryMissouri - St. Louis, Cahokia Mounds
Louisiana - New Orleans (Family Gras), Poverty Point
MayGeorgia - Atlanta, Great Smoky Mountains
Kentucky - Mammoth Cave
Tennessee - Nashville, Chattanooga
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Kaleb is now 6 months old, happy and healthy. He does baby stuff.
Jaedyn is enjoying being a big sister. We love watching her learn and grow every day. She is involved in gymnastics, dance, soccer, and Mandarin classes. She attends a curriculum-based daycare on weekday afternoons.
Kyla still enjoys working weekday afternoons at a pediatric clinic and being home with the kids in the morning. She is on her way to becoming certified as a lactation consultant, which has been a goal of hers for a long time. I left my job a startup to be a software development manager for a social media web application at Oracle, a well-known software giant. I'm gaining valuable management experience while helping to solve new and challenging problems. This past year I also got more serious about my health and lost over 100 pounds. Let's hope I can keep the weight off this coming year!