Friday, December 25, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas...

As the wrapping paper and bows begin to settle to the ground,
the fire in the fireplace is stoked to warm the house, you walk outside
to silence as the snow falls on this Christmas day.
We would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
- The Belz

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Year Home!

Today is another special day for our family. It was one year ago this afternoon at 4:55pm United 5361 landed in St. Louis completing the final curve of the circle that joined us as a family. WE ARRIVED HOME! It was a long fight to get home before Christmas last year after delayed flights, snow storms and flight cancellations but we overcame everything and were able to spend Christmas home with Sophie. So, we say Happy Home Day!
It is also kind of sad too, as I sit in a hotel lobby in Kansas City for work knwoing that I won't be able to see or hug and kiss my girls today either, but I know that when I get home I will be able to see their smiles and hug them! I love you T and S! Poppa will see you all tomorrow night!

Check back on the 12/22/08 posting HERE

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jingle "Belz" Returns!

We were glad to have Jingle Belz BACK again this year! We had a really small version last year on Christmas Eve, but it was nice having friends back along with family. Everyone enjoyed the festivities and even Santa stopped by! Sophie was attached to him at the hip kissing him and holding on to him, it was really cute! The kids made Christmas cookies while the parents laughed and just enjoyed being a group again. We also celebrated our Family Day as well with everyone watching the video we had made!  It was really special to have everyone back and a wonderful night was had by all! Thanks everyone for making it!

Santa makes his entrance.

"Do you have my purple kitchen? I've been nice!"

Gift time!


Family time with SC


The Walkers


The Schapers


Jack making cookies


Mason working on his

Sophie's masterpiece

Olivia loves the sprinkles

Opening their "matching jammies"

Sophie's idea of hiding in hid-n-seek with Jack and Mason ;-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Husbands of Ha Noi

Rich and I seriously thinking of moving to Ha Noi and starting a new reality series called the "Husbands of Ha Noi". With all the trash reality shows on TV these days I think we could make this one work. Just look below and you be the judge!

We have fashion skills...

We have fame...just look at all the fans!

We have class....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where to eat in Ha Noi?

Let Rich and I show you around. We found all the little nooks and crannies around town. Our fav?

Ready to serve...walk right in. Open? Well no hours, but just knock!


We give the owners and cooks praises!

Our review!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy First Family Day Sophie!!

One year ago today at 9:46am Viet Nam time, we became a family of THREE with our beautiful daughter who was born Hang Thanh Nguyen. She is know known to all as Sophie Lee-Nguyen Belz. What a day filled with every emotion possible and the most awesome day of our lives that we will NEVER forget!

Below is a video that we created over the past few months that celebrates our first year as a family. We love you so very much Sophie and we thank God everyday that you are our daughter! Take a 30 minute break today turn on the sound and enjoy the videos and photos.


Revisit the day's blog from December 9, 2008 HERE which is our blog early that morning,
and HERE which we were not able to blog until we arrived in Ha Noi.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remembering The Day We Met

Today is the day we met Sophie for the first time at the Binh Duong Holt Child Wellness Center. A VERY special day for us. About this time we were actually at dinner with the Duckers at Lemongrass, revisting the thrill of meeting our daughters for the first time! So below are some pix we never posted and a video!

The view rom our room.

At Highlands after breakfast waiting to leave to meet Sophie

Sophie and Mya. The lady in the middle was Sophie's primary care giver when she was here for 9 months. 

The heart of Saigon.

Getting ready to cross the street. It was a blast learning how....It took guts but you just....go and keep looking at the oncoming traffic.

Ben Thanh Market

Lunch at one of the stalls at Ben Thanh.

Photo op with the Duckers after dinner.

One of our fav vids

Revist this day HERE

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday & Viet Nam Revisted 12/7/08

Recorded last year, but hey it works! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Photo Flashbacks.....

Nope, not PetSmart :-) Benh Thanh Market

Crusin' Saigon in the cyclo

All our gifts for the children and staff at the child wellness center,
plus special items for Sophie' foster family.

Re-visit our first day in Viet Nam HERE

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday with Santa

Hurdle #1 overcome! Sophie has not wanted ANYTHING to do with any freaky man in a red suit and hat or similar related dressed up sporting mascots. But today we went to see Santa. Sophie was great and actually carried on a conversation with him, asking for a "purple kitchen, care bears". She even gave him a "rock" too! Nice work Sophie!
The "man" himself will also make a stop at our house for our joint Family Day & Jingle Belz party on Saturday.

St. Nicholas Day!

We celebrated St. Nicholas Day today. A European tradition, and one celebrated in many cities with strong German heritage like St. Louis! In many places St. Nicholas is the main gift giver. His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, which falls early in the Advent season. Some places in the world he arrives in the middle of November and moves about the countryside, visiting schools and homes to find out if children have been good. Other places he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with children's wish lists. Small treats are left in shoes or stockings so the children will know he has come.

Where St. Nicholas is prominent, his day, not Christmas, is the primary gift giving day. Shoes or stockings left for St. Nicholas to fill during the night. Children will find treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special Nicholas candies and cookies. St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded for oneself.

So we shared this tradition with Sophie today! She was kind of confused as to where he "purple kitchen" was that she is hoping that Santa brings her. We just told her that St. Nick is one of Santa's helpers and that we are going to visit Santa today!

He packed the stockings extra tight!

A special note from St. Nicholas

Eager to dig in and see what he brought.

Sticks and coal...Think these were misplaced and supposed to be in Poppa's stocking :-)

Last year, St. Nick somehow managed to find us over the Pacific too!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Time Last Year

We began the most amazing journey that we could have ever imagined. We left Lambert early in the morning on 12/5/08 for our 10,000 mile flight halfway around the world to Viet Nam to be united with our daughter. A journey where we would meet some new wonderful lifelong friends in the Duckers, and share two special weeks that can never be duplicated. While we are so happy to be home with Sophie, we both so want to be on a plane headed back to that wonderful country and the beautiful people, and to re-visit those special places. Our fellow Holt Viet Nam familes are the only ones that can really understand that feeling we have inside of us for the love of that country that gave us the most wonderful gifts we have, our children.
It seems just like yesterday. Wow, how the time has flown by.Wow, how Sophie has grown in such a short period of time. She is still our little Binh Duong princess, but has evolved into a special little American girl. She knows.....she knows when she looks at the pictures and says "Poppa, Mommy, Vietnam pictures!" She remembers when she looks at the videos, as do we. So this day, we look back and remember this special journey of a lifetime that started oh so long ago with a pen and paper. An application. But not just an application. An application to find a family for one little girl half way across the globe who, was waiting. Waiting for her forever family to come and love her. To bring her home forever. Miss ya Duckers! Miss ya Viet Nam! Wishing we could be on a plane again back to do it all over again!


A photo fav of ours! We took a picture before and after each of the legs we had (four total STL-DEN-SFO-ICN-SGN). This is after we landed in Seoul from our 13:44 gate-to-gate flight from SFO. Trish was beat! It was really weird as we TOTALLY missed one night! We NEVER saw night on 12/5/09! When we left SFO it was noon on 12/5. Landed in Seoul the night of 12/6!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Changing Holidays

Like the changing of the guard, we did the ol' switch-a-roo of holidays on Saturday and Sunday. Since we came home really two days before Christmas last year Sophie had never decorated a tree, or learned about Santa and his helpers. So we took some time to decorate the house and teach her. She has caught on quick to the Santa thing, but screams bloody murder when she sees him, even a ornament that has Santa on it. So we are trying to get her comfortable before he makes his appearance at our "Jingle Belz" party on the 12th.
Below are some pix and a video from the weekend.

Meet Purple our Scout Elf. Thanks to YaYa for the sweet idea.

Giving Purple his name.....

Hanging her first ornament on the tree.

Hanging the ornamnet we got in Viet Nam...

Angel tops it off...

Hanging the stockings for St. Nick.

Christmas cheer is here.....

Finding our new Scout Elf "Purple"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful Thanksgiving

It was a special day as we celebrated our first Thanksgiving with Sophie as a family. We had a wonderful day laughing, eating, eating and more eating. Sophie enjoyed playing with cousins Jack and Mason and spending time with Bear and Belle. We are so thankful to have this little girl in our lives. She is truly a gift from God and each day never ceases to amaze us. We love you Sophie!

 Getting ready to host the cousins in her new dress! Thanks Bear and Belle!

 Happy face (thanks Emma) with Mommy

 Happy little family unit.
 Sitting with Bear, Belle, Jack and Mason.

 Tricia's spread. She cooked one heck on a dinner.

 FINALLY we have a KIDS table!!!!

 And the beautiful and awesome bird! Next year's cover of Southern Living!