Ethan on a Harley

This child is CRAZY! My mom and dad ride Harley's...so of course, they had to show them to Ethan. He didn't want to see them...he wanted to RIDE them! (Don't stress out...my mom is OLD - just kidding mom- so she gave up her Fatboy for a Harley Trike). Ready to spoil him immediately, they said yes! He rode around the block and said "One more time". It was totally unplanned to stop by, so I didn't have my camera. Today, all he could say was "Gwama...motrcwycle"...SO cute! I called Grandma and Papa and (shocking) they said come on by. I told Ethan we had to go home and get the camera first...when we pulled in the driveway, he said "NOOOO". I said "Ethan, I'm just getting the camera." He said "OK". We pulled up at my mom's and he saw the motorcycle sitting there and he started saying "Where Gwama?" She put a do-rag (since I don't actually own a do-rag, I'm not exactly sure how to spell do-rag) on his head, sunglasses and a helmut that probably weighed as much as he did. She told him to hold on to the handles and not let go...then off they went.

The Cool DoRag

Sitting on Papa's Bike

God Bless America...or Ethan!

Ready to ride with Gwama
He is fearless! The cute thing to me is...with all the people he's met, he KNOWS his Grandma and Papa...because of the "motrcwycle"! They live a mile from our house...GREAT...as soon as he learns which way it is, I'm sure he'll just walk over there on his own!


Home With Ethan

What a trip home...30 hours of traveling with a 3 year old...save me Tom Cruise! Just kidding...he was actually wonderful, considering he slept about 9 of those 30 hours.
When I saw the Statue of Liberty, I started crying...1. because I was SO thankful to be in the United States, and 2. because my son just became an American citizen!
We actually saw some familiar faces in the airport in Newark. One lady from Milwaukee (after watching Ethan be disciplined with the "one, two...", commented "That's not the child you just adopted is it?" I was like um..yea! She couldn't believe his English and that he actually listened to me. Remember a few blogs ago that Baba don't play. Well Mama don't play either!
He slept the entire the entire way to Jacksonville, so he was completely wired when we arrived at 10:35 PM. Maloy & Cameron were both there to greet us and played with him for awhile. At 2 AM, he was still singing. I was like "Ethan...GOOD NIGHT!"
His first and second meal in the United States were...you guessed it...McDonald's! Dinner and breakfast. Yummy! We got home at 9 AM Saturday morning. Michael and Madeline were waiting on us! All the kids just adore him and Ethan couldn't stop hugging and kissing them!
I'm pretty sure we had 4000 visitors Saturay. Ok, I'm exaggerating. We had 3000! Everything I read said not to overwhelm the child. This child overwhelms me! Ethan is so outgoing and friendly to everyone he meets! He shakes their hand, or hugs them and says Hello. The girl's friends were loving playing with him...dancing, took him on a walk, brought him gifts...he was definately the little Emperor!
After very little sleep, and go go go all day, we thought he would crash last night. No such luck! I think he was still on China time. At 4 AM, he was screaming "Mama...I love you!" I walked in his room and said "Ethan, I love you too, but it is night night time!" He finally went to sleep at 5...Mike & I got up and had coffee. Did we adopt a 4 year old, or a 4 month old?
Today we took him to church for the first time. I just can't do the cry room, so we sat where we always sit. He was SO good. Talked a lot, but not to loud, wanted to know where his communion was, and gave Father Kaz high five! Everyone was so thrilled to meet him!
It 's 9:00 PM and he's sleeping...PRAY that he stays that way!
He is truly a gift from God and just TOO funny! I told you he was always bargaining with me. At dinner last night, I said 5 more bites and was like 1, I said 5, he said 1, I said 5, he said 1...so I pulled out the "One...Two..." and he said, "OK...two!" No one at the table could keep a straight face for that one.
One more thing...my friend Erin Powers, was the Angel who posted EVERY SINGLE BLOG for me! I attempted to give her credit and she wouldn't post it. So I am giving her the kudos she deserves! Thank you thank you thank you Erin...for finding Ethan for us, being such a wealth of information on adoption, and for bringing my story to everyone back home. You are truly amazing and I love you!
Thank you all for your comments...I promise I'll start answering them soon! Going to bed now! Love you all! Tonya
I've taken video of our trip home, seeing his house for the first time and meeting his brothers and sisters, his grandmas and papas, and some aunts and uncles. As soon as I figure out how to up load it, I will.

Waiting to board in Beijing!

Our last flight...to Jacksonville, FLorida
Meeting Cameron and Maloy in the airport for the first time
First car ride home to Gainesville with Mr. Monkey
Michael and Madeline waiting to meet Ethan at home


Goodbye China...

What a 17 day whirlwind this has been! I can hardly believe it's over! I thank God for watching over us and watching over those we left behind. I trust in him everyday and cannot wait to see what his plans are for us!
View of the Lake

Outside of Lucys

Ethan and our guide, Aron
We have loved the entire experience of seeing Ethan's birth country and visiting the many landmarks they have here.
Owner of Paddy's
It is truly a beautiful country! The Chinese aren't that different from us...they are proud of their homeland, they love their children, they work very hard and enjoy their life.

The bonding we have been able to do with Ethan over the past 10 days has been priceless. Our son is amazing...he has his dad's kind heart and long eyelashes (quite unfair) and his mama's outgoing personality and sunny smile! (I think he got his Aunt Bonne's stubborness!) He is so inquisitive about so many things!

One thing that he has learned this week that totally cracks me up is to bargain. We'll say "Ethan 5 minutes." and he'll say "Two". We'll say "Ethan, 3 chips." and he'll say "One." He gets the concept, he's just so going in the wrong direction. We're always like..."OK, that's fine." And he just smiles.

I also love that reading time at night is with Baba.
Mikeworks long days, so I know that will be a special time for him and Ethan. He doesn't even bring me the book...just goes right to Mike and sits next to him and helps him read the story...so cute!

Seeing our faith passed on to him in such a short time amazes me. He knows we pray before we eat and he's the first to kneel at the bed when it's night night time. I cannot wait to bring him to Queen of Peace Catholic Community...just hope Father Jeff is ready for him!

Ethan goes to bed happy and he wakes up happy! We kiss him and hug him and say night night, turn off the light and he goes to sleep. First thing in the morning, he says "Mama" and opens his arms with a huge smile.

Watching Ethan see so much of the world for the first time is a joy! There is so much love for this child in our hearts...and even more waiting on him back home.

There are so many children, not only in this country, but also in ours, who need love and attention. Even if adoption isn't for you...find a way to make a difference in the life of a child! For our family and for Ethan...it's the quote from The Blind Side...
"Yes, we're changing this little boy's life....but he is FOREVER changing ours!"

Thank you for sharing this journey with Mike & I! We hope you enjoyed our blogs and our videos.
Stay tuned for many more updates in the life of the Meyer and Walsh families!


Our Last Day in China

We enjoyed our last breakfast buffet this morning! Usually I eat cereal for breakfast...but these buffets have so many options and it all looks so good...I'm eating omelets, bacon, toast, cereal and donuts. Sometimes I throw in something Chinese that looks yummy. When I first got here, I thought...YES! I am gonna be so skinny when I get home! That plan didn't work out so well. For anyone coming to China...
you definitely won't starve!

We met Aron and left for the Liuhua Lake Park. The parks that we have seen are so peaceful and beautiful. What amazes me though, is that they are mainly used by the older generation. I think that's awesome...they exercise, sing, walk, chat with their friends, play games....all things that I'm sure keep them young and active. Very few children are seen running around the parks. Both that we visited had children's areas with rides, however you had to pay for them. Every activity for the adults was free.

Ethan loved the park and rode a few rides. He had to try everything. Sometimes he's very cautious and sometimes, he's a daredevil. It's always a toss up who he will choose for a ride with him...mama or baba. I got the bumper cars and baba got the flying umbrellas!
There were so many huge trees and Ethan was concerned that they may fall on him.
Aron dropped us off at the Island again. Ethan was concerned how we'd get home. Can you see he is concerned about many things. When I see him bite his nails, I wonder what is going through that little mind.

We found out that there are actually 2 Victory Hotels...the old one and the new one. I videotaped the lobby of the new one (Victory East) this morning, so if any of you are staying there you can see it.
We went back to our favorite little store for a couple more gifts, then lunch at Lucy's. Ethan finally got sweet and sour chicken...he LOVES it! I find it funny that you can find it on any menu in the states, but in China...I haven't seen it.

After his nap, I just couldn't face the playroom one more time...for this hotel being so beautiful, the playroom makes me feel (to quote my son) "yucky!" So we played in the room. We have a "time out" corner in our room (yes, Ethan has visited it)and Baba got put in it. No idea what he did!

Our last dinner is at our little Irish Pub we found...The Paddy Field! We are such creatures of habit when we find some place we like! The owner is SO sweet! He's been here 7 years with his wife and they have a little boy and little girl. YUMMY food!
Everything is packed and we are READY to go! Aron is picking us up at 5:45 AM to head to the airport. Our flight leaves at 8 AM for our 3 hour flight to Beijing. Then we leave at 4:35 PM for our 13 1/2 hour flight to Newark. We arrive in Newark the same day at 5:10 PM and leave for Jacksonville, Florida at 8 PM.
Praise God we are almost home!
The con's...LONG day, 3 year old with us. The pro's...business class (we have beds), they serve FREE wine (and a lot of it), and we are traveling at technically our night time. OK...I'm not stupid, the pro's are definitely outweighing the con's.

We ask God to watch over us on our journey home and to grant us patience when we need it most. Can't wait to get to Jacksonville and see our kid's smiling faces!
Love you all!
Mike, Tonya & Ethan

To see a video of our last day in China, click here


The Zoo and Ethan's Visa

The waiters and waitresses finally know Ethan Walsh.

He arrives and they all say good morning with a big smile. They show us to our table and bring him the high chair he requests. And then they (not us) start clearing everything in his reach...AWAY!
It is too funny!

This morning we went to the Guangzhou Zoo. It wasn't crowded at all and it was a cool breezy morning...perfect for walking around outside! We saw tigers, bears, giraffes, hippos, monkeys...you name it, we saw it. Ethan loved everything and of course, asked tons of questions. Like when he saw 3 fake bears (and I'm talking obviously fake)...he asked "What are they doing out of their cage and can they move?" When he saw men working down below on an outdoor tiger moat, he asked "How did they get down there? Did someone throw them down?" And when he saw a man walking out of a no admittance area, he asked "Why did he get to go in there?" Such a curious mind! There was a kids play area with rides that he wanted to go in, but we told him it was closed. A few minutes later he had an actual meltdown. Well, it wasn't because of the rides...it was because Baba ran over his feet (that were completely hanging off the stroller). Baba said sorry. Ethan got a lollipop.
All is well in the world. Ethan's taking his nap and I'm cracking up at "The Guide for Fire Evacuation in Hotels" booklet in our room. When we were packing for our trip, Mike walked in with a flashlight and said "I'm bringing this to China." Not top priority on my packing list, but ok...I'll bite..."Why?" "In case of a fire", he said, "So we can find our way out." It cracked me up because the last thing I think of when traveling is a fire in the hotel. I'm usually praying there's a good mall close by. Well it seems as if the Chinese are quite concerned with fire in the hotels too. There's a cartoon with "Water Dragon Bangbang" (the character - a drago that resembles a frog - used for fire safety publicity and education). It has 4 captions...1. Catches Fire. 2. Wu Wa? (Frog running) 3. How to do?! How to do?! I must jump. and 4. When the fire occurs, stay calm, learn self-help means of escape, can not choose imprudently to jump down. We're on the 15th floor with a flashlight (that has dead batteries)...
we are so screwed if there's a fire!

Our last time eating fried rice for I think...EVER! We just keep saying "One more day...one more day!" We got Ethan's visa this afternoon so we are free to leave the country...Praise God!
Ethan enjoys his approximately 2 hour bath nightly...the real world will set in Saturday night when we explain to him that now WE have to pay for the water! Oh well...let him live it up while he can!
We pray for so many of our friends right now...The Robinson family who lost their mom and their dad this week, The Meister family who's daughter Reagan is at New Day undergoing heart surgery today, the family we met from Idaho who are struggling with an older child who didn't want to leave her foster family, my sister & her family who are leaving for Colorado tomorrow morning, as always, the safety of our children...those are just a few of the prayers we have right now. We also pray for all of your intentions.
We love you!
Mike, Tonya & Ethan

To see a video of our time at the Zoo, click here


Hollywood can really mislead you about the real world. When I think of an "American Consulate"...I think of a huge building surrounded by gates and guards and people running toward them screaming "I'm an American!". Don't you? Well let me assure you...if I'd been running for the consulate, I'd have run right past it and never known.

We arrived downtown at an average looking building. The consulate is on the 5th floor. Normally, the guides go for you and bring your packet of information, then you go later in the afternoon for your swearing ceremony. Effective March 1st, you do it (not the guide) and it's all at the same time. (For families waiting to come...this is good news because it will save you a day). For us...we're stuck here! Once all 12 families are checked in, we proceed through security and go into a room that resembles a drivers license or tag office, only the stations are behind windows. There's a bunch of chairs that all the parents sit in and a small play area for the children. I saw 2 people that looked American working there...which I guess surprised me. The lady who is in charge of adoptions came out and gave us the oath (basically stating that everything we have supplied to the immigration is true). I did get a little teary eyed at that...raising our hands and swearing before our country...just made me emotional! I thought this was when he became an American citizen, but that actually happens when he arrives in the US. We sat down and they called you up, one family at a time, to do the "face check"...making sure your passport matched your face and your child's. Then 1 parent went back to play with the kids and the other signed the form. That's it. Less than 20 minutes once we got in there. Our guide will go back tomorrow to pick up Ethan's visa and we can go home...YAHOO!

Since we aren't staying on the island, we decided to take a taxi over there and check it out. It is truly a beautiful area! We have video of
The Victory
The White Swan

(The White Swan Waterfall below)

For any of you that decide to stay there. They are both very nice and close to so many things. The shopping on the island is much more geared towards "tourists". We found a lovely little shop and Jennifer (who worked there) gave us very good prices on our last remaining gifts we wanted to buy.

Our guide told us about a restaurant...Lucy's Bar & Cafe. It ROCKS! We sat outside and it reminded me of places on the beach. Tons of other families we knew (even a family from Jacksonville, Florida and our Gator friends from Atlanta), people playing games and the water right across from them. We had a yummy lunch and we highly recommend it! Ethan had a hamburger and french fries. He didn't want to finish his burger, but he wanted his lollipop. I pointed at the burger and said "If you finish that, you get this ". He did! Such a smart little boy! He chats with everyone and they all say how handsome he is and how polite and how sweet! It's all true!

Walked around a little bit more and then took a taxi home...Ethan was starting to fade!

While he napped, I went to get a pedicure and manicure. Can you tell that I'm a girl who takes care of mama? 90 yuan...that's less than $20. Mike gave me 200 yuan. I walked around the shops and when I came back I told him I'd found some cute things, but only had 100 yuan left. He said that wasn't by accident! Gotta love that man!

We decided to get Ethan's haircut at the hotel because it was getting long and I have to say, the cut was very uneven. After about 45 minutes with stylist Ben Tam...I know why. Ben spoke no English, but the lady at the front translated that I wanted something "cool"! When he finished I was like "Do you have gel?" He looked so darn cute! Even Mike, who would have gone for the buzz cut, loved it!

We went to Paddy's Irish Pub for dinner and it was yummy! I had very traditional Irish food...hummus & pita bread and Caesar salad! Mike had Shepherd's Pie...how original?! Haha! Ethan agreed to finish his entire dinner as long as he gets ice cream at the end...we're ok with that for now!

He's getting so good at praying...check out my video to see him! We told him that Sister Nancy and Sister Franziska were gonna break him down...but they'll be very impressed with his sign of the cross!

God is good...all the time!
We love you all and cannot wait for 8 AM Friday morning when our flight leaves!

Mike, Tonya & Ethan

To see video of our day, click here