China 2016: Days 8 & 9

Hello! Hello!

Good morning to you from China (it’s afternoon here…but I’m thinking for many of you, it’s morning).

We’ve had an eventful couple of days…we celebrated our sweet Kensington turning EIGHT!  She was quick to point out that her birthday this year was two days because when we woke up this morning (on the 16th), it was still the 15th back home with her friends and family…so she’s still celebrating.  Side note: Smith would now like to be in China on his next birthday. #goals

Okay, days 8 and 9…


At 7:00, we woke up the birthday girl with a fabulous rendition of Happy Birthday.  After that, we headed down to breakfast where she requested chocolate pancakes for her birthday breakfast.


Cuddles all around on this birthday morning.


After breakfast, we played outside for about an hour by the hotel’s waterfall and pond.  My kids LOVE this little area.




Madeley was pointing to herself in our selfie :).


My beautiful birthday girl.  We already celebrated her birthday at home, but we told her we would do whatever we wanted on this day in China.  She requested playing, burgers by the pool (and swimming), a trip to the spa and a fun dinner.


He’s smitten with another little girl.


That face kills me.  We already love her so much!

While the kids played, I headed up to the gym for some treadmill time.  I was pumped because each treadmill had one live station for a variety of countries.  It was morning here which means primetime TV back in the States.  Would I get to watch  good show?  Maybe a drama?  Or a comedy?  The news perhaps?  Or reality TV?  No…


…it was the Texas Rangers game.  Oh heaven help me.  I’d rather watch a blank screen. How ironic is THAT?!  Out of all of the TV going on in the United States, it was on the Rangers/Astros game…two Texas baseball teams I despise.


My pretty view from the treadmill.  Obviously, I wasn’t watching the TV…so I looked outside at pretty Guangzhou.

I went back to our room and while the kids played, I opened my Pinterest and laughed out loud…


…’tis the season, no?  #pumpkineverything


Sweet Ashby loves playing blocks with Madeley.


The sun came out and we headed outside to swim!  The birthday girl was PUMPED!  There wasn’t really anyone up there (rooftop pool), so we got cabanas all to ourselves.


A pool with a view.


Little missy wasn’t sure what to think about all of this swimming.

And then she started watching Smith jump off the side and was all smiles…





Living the life.


We visited the kiddie pool for a bit and then headed back to the big pool.


After our burgers, the kiddos had milkshakes.


At 3:00, we headed in to the spa for Kensington’s birthday appointment.  We had visited the day before to pick out our treatments and she selected a kids’ strawberry facial.  She was so excited for her very first little spa appointment.

After the spa, we headed out to walk Guangzhou and head to dinner…


This one :).

 Kensington wanted something fun for her birthday dinner, so Andrew found us this great German restaurant online.  I know, weird, right?  We’ve been eating authentic Chinese food for a week, so we thought German food would be a fun change and…oh my goodness!  It was!  I have said it before 7 billion times on this blog, but German food IS MY VERY FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WORLD and this German restaurant right in the heart of Guangzhou was PHENOMENAL!  It’s called 1920 and it’s decorated like a German brewery, the wait staff was all dressed up in costume and the food was incredible.  It was the perfect place for us to celebrate Kensington’s birthday…because just like her mama, her heart beats for schnitzel.

Unfortunately though…we had an injury on the way there that left one of us not so happy…


…obviously, it wasn’t Andrew’s injury :).  Smith was fine but when he first sat down he was still irritated over his cut (hidden by the wet wipe there).  On our way there, we were crossing the street and I was holding Smith’s hand.  Well, we walked behind a guy pulling a crate of shrimp out of the back of a mini van when he turned around and bumped Smith with his crate.  There was no lid on the crate, so shrimp water went all over Smith and his arm was bleeding (he has like 10 scratches but nothing deep).  I mean…he was more irritated that his clothes were covered with shrimp water than the blood…but it took him about 10 minutes to snap out of it.  Pretzel bread works wonders to snap you out of a funk.


The girls on the other side of the table were so excited to be eating German food!!!!


The birthday girl.


Oh MJ, I love you.


And you too.

When we checked into our hotel, we had to show our passports and they noted that Kensington had a birthday during our stay, so they brought us this cake…


It was a chocolate box with a pineapple cake inside.  We didn’t have candles, so we decorated it with Shopkins and sang happy birthday.


Here she is pretending to blow out her candles :).

When I got out of the shower, I found two sleeping girls in my bed…


The end of her Chinese birthday.

The next day (which is today), we woke up, ate breakfast and then went for a walk outside in Guangzhou.


Three Shull girls.


After our walk, we came back and visited the fish around the hotel some more.



After our walk, we cleaned up, did our schoolwork and then headed back out.


These two girls waiting.  They are so sweet together.


At lunch today, we had BIG smiles!

After lunch, we headed outside and walked, looked and took in Guangzhou.


Madeley was in my lap and these two were playing peekaboo with her.  They’re being so sweet!

It was hot outside, so we popped into Starbucks for a snack and something cold to drink.

And that takes us to now.  Ashby and Madeley are napping and I’m doing this.

So, a few things to note:

Yesterday, today, tomorrow and the next day are considered our “vacation days”.  These four days in a row, we don’t have any adoption appointments.  Our consulate appointment is Monday, so we’re just waiting around for that.  After the consulate appointment (where Madeley gets her US Visa), we’re required to stay in China another 24 hours and then we can go home.  So, yesterday, we celebrated Kensington’s birthday, today, we’ve been out and about in Guangzhou, tomorrow, we’re planning on visiting a museum and then on Sunday, the zoo.

I have had so many people ask me specifics about this adoption process, why we changed agencies, what this time was like, etc, and I promise to address all of that when we’re home.  I’m so excited to see so many people interested in adoption!  God worked a lot of stuff out this time that surprised me.  This experience has most certainly been different…and so I’m always so happy to share because I hope many of you will answer the call to adopt too.

Alright…gotta go.

If you missed my first post on our trip to China, click HERE.  If you missed my second post, click HERE.


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  • Amber September 16, 2016 at 3:00 am

    So thankful everything is going smoothly for yall!!! Enjoy these vacation days with your sweet family!!!

  • Tiffany September 16, 2016 at 3:08 am

    That smile though!!!!! MJ looks like she is smitten with y’all already!

  • Crissy Young September 16, 2016 at 3:16 am

    So exciting! Happy Birthday Miss. K! I love MJ’s smile! So presh!

  • Margaret Mellon September 16, 2016 at 3:29 am

    The Chimelong Safari park in Guangzhou is amazing! Hopefully that’s where you are headed! Happy birthday to K! All your kids are absolutely adorable! It warms my heart reading your blog!

    • Josephine Dy-Liacco September 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

      I agree!! I’ve stayed there and having the view of white tigers roam around freely while having breakfast was a wonderful treat!

      May God continue to bless your generous hearts, Shulls!

  • Regine Karpel September 16, 2016 at 4:42 am


  • Erika Slaughter September 16, 2016 at 4:43 am

    AHHHHHHH!!!! Madeley’s big smile at breakfast is adorable! What a way to make Kensington’s birthday special in China! Great job! It looks like she had an awesome day! And I’m proud of you for even getting on that treadmill-I probably would have napped during my alone time!

  • bella September 16, 2016 at 4:49 am

    I love Madeley’s smile! She looks soo sweet.

  • Grace September 16, 2016 at 4:55 am

    What a fun birthday for Kensington! And YAY for Madeley smiles???? So sweet! Praying for y’all!

  • Elisabeth September 16, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your adoption process with us! You are a true inspiration! And I am sure your story will inspire others to answer God’s call to adopt.
    Wishing you a lot of blessing as you are settling in as a family of six.

  • barbarann September 16, 2016 at 5:09 am

    Looks amazing–congratulations on your new little one she is adorable! We were in Guangzhou the whole time on our adoption trip–your hotel looks lovely–I heard the white swan was renovated–is this the newly renovated White swan?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 16, 2016 at 6:54 am

      It’s The Garden :).

  • Nicole September 16, 2016 at 5:14 am

    I LOVE these posts. So great! What love! Congrats mama! You are blessed. 🙂 You have absolutely planted seeds of adopting in my heart and I look forward to watching your family grow and just do life together. Enjoy your last vacation days!

  • Rebecca Gilkinson September 16, 2016 at 5:30 am

    YAY! SO excited to see smiles coming from Miss Madeley. You guys are just amazing… only a few days in and she’s grinning ear to ear already. I also can’t help but notice how similar Smith and Andrew look! The first picture of them by the pond, Smith is like a mini-version of his dad! So cute. Have a wonderful few days in China. X

  • Kelly September 16, 2016 at 5:31 am

    Oh Shay! Again I’m so excited reading about your new baby!! dhes precious! I just love your ‘big’ family! ! Happy Bday to lovely K. Her eyelashes are incredibly thick. Lucky duck ; ) thank you for your wonderful updates!

  • Lindsay September 16, 2016 at 5:33 am

    What an awesome few days in China!! Happy Birthday Kensington! Madeley’s big smiles are precious and I can’t wait to see more! I know I share this with a few of my girlfriends… we are practically stalking your blog and IG for Madeley updates! You totally made my morning! Have a great few vacation days!

  • Narci Dreffs September 16, 2016 at 5:35 am

    Oh my heavens! Looks like the perfect way to celebrate Kensington’s birthday! And the pictures of Madeley by the pool are precious!! Love!

  • emily @ a little bit of emily September 16, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Love the big smiles on Madeley in that last picture! So sweet!

  • Sheaffer September 16, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Yeah! I was so excited to see you had a post today! And so pumped to see Madeley relaxing a bit into you family and starting to smile! Her smile is absolutely precious! Happy Birthday, Kensington!!!! NOW GET BACK HOME, Y’ALL! 🙂

  • Jenny September 16, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Oh my, that smile just really gives me all the heart emoji’s! I’ve been lifting you and your family up in my prayers. My parents have adopted three children (and will 2 more!) through fostering here in Kentucky so I know firsthand the blessing that comes through adoption. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip, so excited for you guys!

    (I’ve been reading your blog for years but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but please know I LOVE your blog and enjoy reading)

  • Betty September 16, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Congratulations on your beautiful daughter. I know you must be so anxious to bring her home!

    Side note..and I am not sure why you would hate your home baseball teams so much, but if the Red Sox were on, you would just see them losing to the Orioles. #goO’s

    • Shara September 16, 2016 at 10:45 am

      I was also surprised that you despise the teams from a state you grew up in. Go Rangers!
      Madeley is adorable and seeing her smile is awesome. Congratulations!

  • Kristen W. September 16, 2016 at 6:10 am

    We adopted our oldest 2 kiddos, we used the same agency, same town etc but their adoptions just like my kiddos are totally different- night/day! I loved how our adoptions were so different, not easy by any stretch of the imagination but so worth it in the end! I’m praying for you all. Love seeing all the pictures and updates. Oh how I would love to adopt again, if only we could win the lottery- lol!! My son soooo wants a brother, just like y’all we have 3 girls and 1 boy???? safe travels and blessings

  • Angie Sharp September 16, 2016 at 6:52 am

    I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because you are in China, but your pics are not loading and your blog freezes up from time to time. It was like this on your last post too. Nothing to do with how excited and happy I am for you and your family, and oh sweet Madeley James…just thought you’d want to know. 🙂

  • Toni :0) September 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

    What an incredible journey you all are on. MJ is an absolute doll baby and I’m so excited for you all. What huge hearts you have and such a blessing to provide a loving home for an orphan. Enjoy the rest of your trip and praying for a smooth travel home. God bless.

  • Mary Rosene September 16, 2016 at 7:02 am

    It is so great to see your beautiful family so happy together. Happy Birthday Kensington! I was wondering how is Smith adjusting to having 3 sisters? Does he bond with his sisters playing any particular activity ?

  • Holly Hopkins September 16, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Wow, it sounds like you are all doing great and that kensington got a birthday to remember. Still praying! Hope you have wonderful “vacation” days and get home safely.

  • Paula September 16, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I love the “vacation days” to chill & bond. I am sure that helps before the trek home!
    Happy Birthday, sweet Kensington!
    Oh German Food! Oh happy days! I bet you eat there again! I would!
    Smith, he’s so cute & funny!
    Madeley, that serious face KILLS ME! I love it!

  • Kate C. September 16, 2016 at 7:43 am

    These posts about Madeley becoming a Shull have just been touching my heart in ways I can’t explain. Her smile is so heartwarming. I am excited for your post about the adoption process this time! Congratulations on baby #4!!! Have a great time in China! Prayers for a smooth transition and a safe flight back home. 🙂

  • janelle September 16, 2016 at 8:01 am

    So much good. I LOVE reading your adoption posts. your family is beautiful!

  • Lisa N September 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Loving these posts and look forward to seeing this sweet family in your normal routines!

    I laughed out loud too….my daughter just called and asked me if I had sent you a pin…she saw her parent’s picture next to your pumpkin board!

  • Karen September 16, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Beautiful kids! I had a question specifically about the older school age kids! How are they able to take off from school for so long? Do you withdraw and then register them again when you come back?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 16, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Their school has been wonderful about this! Their teachers just sent us with the work they would be missing. We just love their school so much!

  • Mother Henn September 16, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Just a heads up: Keep a close eye on Smith’s arm…..that shrimp water might have bacteria in it and with open cuts/ abrasions, I’d watch for signs of infection. Not to scare you, but doesn’t hurt to be aware of any changes.
    Best wishes on your beautiful journey!

  • Kristen September 16, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Madeley looks like she’s already realizing she’s hit the jackpot becoming a Shull and I’m sure you all have realized that you have hit the jackpot with her as well! She is such a peanut! Our baby (third girl, fourth born) is Tenley James and we call her TJ sometimes….I just love that you have a Madeley James and referred to her as MJ!

  • Jenny September 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I love that you are keeping us posted all the way from China! Thank you! It’s so good to see that big smile of hers. Can’t wait to see many more.

  • Amanda N. September 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Can’t wait to meet Miss Madeley! That smile is getting bigger each day!! And happy birthday to Kensington!! So happy for y’all!!

  • Megan September 16, 2016 at 9:14 am

    MJ’s big smile!!!!!!!! Love it. And looks like miss K had the best birthday!!

  • Angela Ellingson September 16, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Love following along on this amazing adventure! Thanks for including all of us! Your family is just the sweetest!

  • Melody September 16, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I’m just wondering if Madely is like “What is this big bow thing and why do they keep putting it on my head?” Haha.
    Thanks for these blog posts. They are so amazing to read. It’s incredible what you are doing! I only have a 2 yr old and a 5 yr old and I’m completely exhausted at the end of the day. 🙂 I know it must take a lot of patience, strength and Jesus to do what you do. You have been very blessed! And your kiddos are definitely blessed too having you and Andrew as parents. Congrats on the new little one. She’s precious!

  • Danielle Holler September 16, 2016 at 9:21 am

    I’ve been following and reading since you adopted your precious Ashby, and now sweet Madeley. I’ve always wanted a big family and God put adoption on my heart at a young age. My husband and I just got married a few months ago and have already discussed adoption. Your journey has inspired me more than you’ll ever know. I can’t wait to hear the details when you return home. Safe travels to your beautiful family to bring that baby home to the States!

  • Jeanie September 16, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Happy birthday, Kensington! What a beautiful hotel you’re staying at. So glad to see Madeley’s smiles.

  • Erin McGuire September 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I absolutely love these updates, they make me smile. And so did Madeley’s big smile, so sweet!!!

  • jamie cunningham September 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your adoption journey. We have been thinking about adopting for a long time now and this helps us make the decision that it is definitely for us! Thanks!

  • Debbie Dunbar September 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I love the smile in that last picture! I knew it would show up soon! She’s adorable!

  • Michele September 16, 2016 at 10:49 am

    So very happy for your family! MJ is just the cutest…as are ALL the children! I think MJ is saying in some pictures, “thank goodness these people rescued me, but….I’m not too sure about these bows!LOL Enjoy your trip and beautiful family!

  • Elise Welch September 16, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Looks like a lot of fun! I love that picture of Madeley smiling!

  • Maureen Chen September 16, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Totally following all your adoption posts! Love seeing your family. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Kourtney September 16, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Happy Birthday sweet Kensington! I love how she extended her celebration, my kind of girl! It’s been so amazing reading all of your posts about Miss MJ! Our family is so very excited for you, and can’t wait to see how you continue to settle into being a family of SIX oh so well!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World September 16, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Madeley looks like she’s warming up really well. She is going to be feeling like a Shull in no time! I hope that you guys enjoy your last few days in China, and I hope you have safe travels home next week! I know you are dying to get her home and settled in so you guys can start the rest of your lives together. :o)

  • Nerine September 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Congratulations to the Shull family on your new addition! Madeley is so precious! 🙂 I have loved reading all of your posts!

    This is random but, I think I have been to that German restaurant in Guangzhou!! 10 years ago I visited China with my husband (we had only been married 1 month at the time!) and after being in various cities in China for nearly 2 weeks, we were dying for some “western” food! We landed in Guangzhou and set out to find ANY western restaurant, and walked right into that German restaurant! So funny!

  • Samantha September 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    You should do a post on all of the hair bows! You must need an extra suitcase just for the bow collection! The pictures of Madeley with a bow bigger than her head are priceless! You are a good mom since your girls are always “photo ready”

  • Ruth September 16, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Happy birthday to your sweet Kensington, it sounds likes a great day for your girl! It is so heartwarming to see how Kensington and Smith have welcomed their little sisters with such enthusiasm and love. Ashby and Madeley sure are lucky little girls to have them for a sister and brother. Really though, I think it is wonderful they all have each other now. 🙂 Speaking of Madeley, she is just adorable, but I just love her eyes they look like they just have a way of drawing people in. And, yay for her smiles!

  • Deena September 16, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I’ve been waiting to see the smile. I knew it was coming. You have the cutest family and Madeley is a great addition. Enjoy your days with all of your kids.

  • Beth C September 16, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Congratulations Shay! Do you mind to share where you got Madeley’s bow headbands (is that what they’re called????) from?

    • Mix and Match Mama September 16, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      Ruby Blue on Etsy 🙂

  • Megan September 16, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I second the recommendation for the Chimelong Safari Park! Such a cool place (think Disney’s Animal Kingdom meets a zoo). I would recommend it over the zoo in Guangzhou if you have an entire day.

  • Gretchen Smith September 16, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I just love your precious family!! God Bless!

  • Dianna September 17, 2016 at 7:52 am

    The most important question I have is – why do you despise the Rangers? Purely bc you love the Red Sox or something else?

  • haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine September 17, 2016 at 9:58 am

    so sweet!! Loving it!! love your stories and daily recaps!! 🙂 Madeley is just precious!!!!

  • Jessy September 17, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Love reading these updates! My husband and I are planning to adopt from China in a few years! Thanks for sharing your journey.
    xo, Jessy |

  • Lindsay September 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    It must be hard to squeeze in blogging time, but I’m so glad that you do! Love hearing all about your wonderful journey!

  • Mylinh September 18, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Love your stores! About died laughing when you said the Astros and Rangers were playing and Smiths accident with the shrimp cart! I kinda don’t blame him for being grumpy, I meant you’re covered in stinkiness all night ????????????????!

    When and how did you tell K and S about adoption a sibling?

  • Sharon Sykes September 18, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Wow! I can’t believe you adopted again. I had heard whisperings that you might be, but never saw any hint of it until now! So excited for y’all. We brought our daughter home from China last year at this time (got home Oct 30, 2015). You are making me think maybe we should add another… We have two bio boys (6 & 4) and our little girl (just turned 4). I am overwhelmed with three though! I don’t know how y’all do it! But she has been the most amazing blessing in our life. Her little best friend got home last Thursday, so they just missed seeing you in Guangzhou. We posted a video of their reunion and it went all over the internet. So fun! Best wishes for your sweet family :-).

  • درب اتوماتيک شيشه اي... ) September 19, 2016 at 5:53 am

    I just love your precious family!! God Bless!

  • paul September 19, 2016 at 5:54 am

    I just love your precious family!! God Bless!

  • Aubrey September 19, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Happy birthday, K! Sorry about the shrimp water, S! You’re too cute for words, A! Love your sweet smile, M! 🙂

  • Lynn Chapman September 19, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    What a beautiful story I just read all of you posts on Medely they are so precious & I’m so happy for your family. I believe I started following you about the time you adopted Ashby because I knew you were Sean sister from the bachelor. You are blessed & thanks for sharing!! Your family is amazing & so is our God!!

  • list of emoticons October 6, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you very much! Your blog is always full of great idea. They are really helpful