Saturday, May 31, 2008

What a Day!

We went to sleep last night hearing the caws of some strange bird. This morning we located the source. Across the courtyard from us, on the top floor, is an aviary. There are peacocks, peahens, assorted exotic birds, and I think an ostrich. I might be wrong about the ostrich.

This morning we met Michael downstairs and we took Lucy over to get her picture taken for her medical report. We returned to the hotel, had breakfast, then went to the clinic where doctors examined Lucy. She was outraged, of course. She weighs a whopping 16.6 pounds. Yep, she's kind of petite. She is also 66 cm long. After the trauma of the medical exam we took her for a shopping trip of girly girl things. We picked up some lovely little dresses for her. She's looking awfully cute!


We did some more shopping and picked up some Christmas gifts souvenirs for our family members. We went for lunch at a restaurant called Lucy's. It was nice and they had a good variety of American and Mexican food.

We walked down to a little park and let Max play for awhile. It's been fairly rainy here today, but it was still nice for him to get out and play.



Later in the afternoon Michael took us to the pearl market. Wow! What fun was that! It was still rainy, so we decided to do some more shopping at the mall. Max got some cool Chinese superhero clothes and some cool toys. In fact, Daddy and Max are putting them together right now. Lucy is also helping. I haven't heard any swearing yet, so the assembly must be going well.

We walked outside the mall and saw a traditional outdoor shopping area. It seemed to go on for miles and was just crammed full of people.

After Daddy, Max and Lucy finish assembling the toys, we are going to walk down to a Thai restaurant. I'm looking forward to that! Tomorrow we will be taking the kids to the zoo. I hear it is a super place and I'm sure the kids will love it. So until then, catch you later!

Greetings from Guangzhou

We arrived in Guangzhou late last night. It was one heck of a trip, let me tell you. Our flight had to be delayed because of bad weather. Max and Lucy were great travelers, so no problem there. But, it was an interesting trip. First of all there were around 1,000 babies on the flight. Okay, that's an exaggeration, there were about 22. Apparently it's not safe to take a flight with so many babies on board, I think it has to do with oxygen masks, if needed. Marc and I prefer to believe that the flight attendants would go nuts with more than 20 screaming babies on board, so that's why they have the limit. Regardless, the airport shared that 2 babies had to de-plane, but their parents got to go with them. Then after the 2 babies and parents de-planed, the flight attendants had to rearrange everyone's seats. That's when it got ugly. The Chinese are very passionate people so many of them started arguing. Then they began arguing with the flight attendants. It was very interesting, to say the least. After an hour or so, the plane pulled away from the loading dock, then just sat. Bad weather again, so we had to sit for another hour. The flight attendants passed our food and beverages, so it was alright. At 8:30 our flight finally departed for Guangzhou. Max and Lucy promptly fell asleep. We arrived in Guangzhou at 10:00 and Michael was there to pick us up. Awesome guy! He told us it is not uncommon for the Chinese to argue during a flight and do so often with flight attendants and pilots.

We are now staying at the Victory Hotel on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. After Nanchang, the island feels like a tranquil oasis. It has a feel of European Colonialism with old buildings and wonderful parks, and trees. We don't fear getting run over by cars or buses like in Nanchang. It is simply beautiful. Most of the people on the island speak English and there is plenty of shopping to do. Hurray! Some retail therapy!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Last Day in Nanchang




Today is our last day in Nanchang. We will leave our friends at the Gloria Plaza Hotel today at 3:00 p.m. and will fly to Guangzhou. I believe there will be many families on our flight, and I expect it will be a loud flight with alot of rowdy babies!

Yesterday our wonderful guide, Linda, had a special day planned for Max. She took us all to the Nanchang Zoo. It wasn't very croweded, so we got to spend alot of time looking at all the animals. Max and I rode on a couple of rides, and because the zoo wasn't very busy, the ride attendants kept the rides going and going and going. At one point on the Merry Go 'Round, Max looked at me and said, "I'm getting dizzy." Whew! No kidding!

Lucy enjoyed her first zoo experience. We all received alot of curious stares from the zoo patrons. They were undoubtedly trying to figure out the family dynamics! Max made another friend. He and another little boy were chosen to participate in the baby elephant show. He had to be carried across a moat by a zoo employee (the employee seemed pretty shocked by Max's weight!)and then he had to stand perfectly still while the baby elephant tried to put a hat on Max's head. The elephant tried, unsuccessfully, to put the hat on Max's head, but you know, Max has always had a large noggin, so it really wasn't the elephant's fault that it wouldn't stay on!




After the elephant show. Max and his new friend went to feed the koi. That was a lot of fun, and we decided that boys will be boys, not matter where they are from!



We went back to our hotel after the zoo and planned to get ready for another dinner, at what we affectionately refer to as the Stomach and Guts Restaurant. Linda came up with the gentleman from the tailor shop with our clothing. Max loved his new suit of clothes and was very disappointed when he found he could not wear it to the restaurant. We gave in a bit and allowed him to wear his beautiful Chinese dragon hat. Here is a sneak preview of what we will be wearing in this year's Christmas card!



Dinner was exciting as usual. Linda had brought some extra fish food from the zoo and took Max up to the fish tanks at the restaurant. Nope, those fish in the tanks aren't for looking at, they are for eating! Max and Linda came back to the table with an eight inch catfish! The manager of the restaurant had presented Max with a gift of a live fish. We all had a good long laugh, but then we had to decide what to do with this fish. We couldn't return the fish to the manager, because that would not have been polite. Linda suggested buying a seat on the plane for it! We thought about taking him to the Yangtze River, but decided that would be too dangerous. Linda decided we should take it back to the hotel and put it in one of the koi ponds, and that is just what we did! Sleepy Head the catfish has had his life extended and is now enjoying a peaceful and pleasant life in the lobby of the Gloria Plaza Hotel.





Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tengwang Pavillion



I haven't mastered placing photos on the blog yet, so I apologize. Max is holding a gas mask in this photo. It is one of two that is in our closet right now. Ah, what a feeling of security we have, knowing we have them in our room.







Yesterday we visited the Tengwang Pavilion in Nanchang. This picture is of the male lion just outside the pavilion. It was just a short walk from our hotel and well worth the walk in the rain to get to it. The Pavilion was originally built as a place where learned men gathered. It is 6 stories tall and sits on the bank of the Yangtze river. The Yangtze, by the way, is the longest river in China and flows from Tibet to Shanghai.

The original pavilion was built in 654 during the Tang Dynasty. It has been rebuilt many times because of fire, wars, etc. While we were there, we watched a traditional music and dance performance. It was beautiful. Max was so enthralled with the beautiful dancers.

After our tour we walked down to a shop and were measured for traditional Chinese clothing. Lucy is having a traditional hat, dress and shoes made for her, Max is getting a traditional shirt, pants, boots, and hat made out of a beautiful silk of blue dragons. I'm getting a black silk dress and Marc is getting 2 silk ties. We also bought 2 traditional silver baby bracelets for Lucy, a seal with her Chinese name, a pair of shoes for me, what am I missing? Oh yes, the best part is all of this cost about $150 and is being hand made. Yes, hand made. The owner of the shop told us to come back today to pick up the garments. Amazing!



Today Marc, Max, Lucy and I took a walk around the neighborhood. We walked to a grocery where no one spoke English. We were able to communicate fairly well with the ladies in the shop. They wanted to know if Lucy was mine. Oh yes, I nodded. They wanted to know if Max was mine, nodded again. They wanted to know if Marc was mine, well I hesitated, hmmmm, but then nodded. They wanted to know if Max was a boy or girl (the hair keeps them guessing!) and I said boy, then I told them he was four. They gave us samples of yummy dried fruits and they all fussed over Lucy. That was nice. She deserves some fussing. The above picture is of a woman who came out of her shop to see Lucy. She couldn't believe the size of her eyes and pantomimed how large they were. We smiled and agreed with her.

Later today we will do some sightseeing and then relax. We leave for Guangzhou tomorrow evening. I can't believe we've been in China for a week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First Smiles




Here is the first Lucy smile captured on camera. After a traumatic bath, Lucy relaxed on the floor and played with big bro, Max. She really loves him and he is a super big brother. You can tell se is getting more relaxed around us. She isn't as somber as the first day we received her.
She's a fairly good sleeper. She likes to be rocked to sleep, then sleeps in her crib the whole night. She ate a huge breakfast this morning. She ate congee, steamed eggs, and rice. She also had a piece of toast. She's already taken 3 bottles and it isn't even noon.
The above picture is a view outside our hotel window. Nanchang is a busy city and it's been raining the last day and a half. Last night we received some very heavy rains but we braved the elements, and went to a traditional Jiangxi Province restaurant last evening. It was a huge restaurant with an even bigger menu. Some of the meals we could have ordered were fish lips, goose stomach and guts, and duck stomach. There were even more entrees to choose from, but we played it safe and ordered green beans in garlic, dumplings, fried rice noodles and pork. Again, it was really yummy, but I am really looking forward to ordering a Big Wally from Penguin Point back home!



Monday, May 26, 2008

Noticings

I love being in China. It is the most awesome place I have ever been. These are some of the noticings we've made in the short time we've been here
  • The local food is fantastic. Today for lunch I ate sauteed water lily root. It was awesome!
  • Southeast China is very hot and humid this time of year. Miss Lucy has a horribly case of prickly heat that we are trying to cure, but it's a tough thing to do at this time of year. Our guide shared that the orphanages typically do not have air conditioning, and the Chinese believe that a warm baby makes for a healthy baby.
  • The outpouring of support by the Chinese for the quake victims is awe inspiring. The T.V. stations have constant telethons to raise money for the quake victims.
  • Chinese children learn English in primary school. Yesterday we went to a supermarket to` pick up diapers. We met many children in the store who absolutely loved practicing their English on us. Their English was impeccable and their manners were astonishing. I have never met such polite young children before.
  • Chinese school children start their school day at 8:00 a.m. then go home for lunch at 11:30. They return to school after lunch and continue their studies until 4:00 or 4:30.
  • Max is enjoying his role as big brother. He loves making Lucy laugh and takes very good care of her.

Superstar!

Apparently we have a celebrity in the family. Max is making his debut in China. The Chinese love foreign kids and Max is no exception. He has been kissed by Chinese women in elevators, he has received gifts from shop keepers, his cheeks have been pinched and squeezed a dozen times. He had many photo ops with the Chinese at the Great Wall. It was a scream to watch! At the great wall women flocked to him to have their pictures taken with him, then kiss him. It is pretty funny. He has his own personal wait staff at the restaurant at the Gloria Hotel here in Nanchang. The girls try to take turns feeding him and they bring him treats. It is truly amazing to watch. Marc is feeling fairly jealous that he is not getting the attention, but he'll get over it! I spoke to a Chinese women yesterday and told her that most Americans find Chinese children adorable. We're all the same, aren't we?

It's Official! She's Ours






Yesterday we became a forever family. It was an exciting and crazy day! At 8:30 we left the hotel with our guide Linda and traveled to the Governmental Adoption Office and finalized the adoption. We met with many officials and they all asked the same question, is this the child you wish to have? Well, yeah! Of course we said yes. We had to promise not to abandon her, not to abuse her, and treat her like our own child. Again, not a difficult decision. After that, we had two more govermental offices to visit. We had an opportunity to meet with the director of her orphanage.
Last night we went out to celebrate and bought her some girly girl clothes. How fun was that! Max didn't complain, but you could tell he wanted to do other things.

Nanchang is an amazing city. There are between 4-5 million people here, and no traffic signals or stop signs. The streets are filled with cars, buses, motor scooter, bikes, and pedestrians, and not a sing fender bender. The four of us walked around town last night with our guide and it was amazing. We all made it back to the hotel last night in one piece.

The food here is amazing! Our hotel has a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet and it is awesome. The local food is is spicy and flavorful and unlike anything I've ever tasted. Really yummy!

Today was the first day we saw our little girl laugh and smile spontaneously. Pretty incredible and lots of fun!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

We Have Our Girl!


Wow! So we fly into Nanchang yesterday and our guide Linda picked us up at the airport. She told us that we would be receiving Lucy that day, Sunday, at 4:00. We weren't expecting to get her until Monday morning. We had an hour to pull our act together before Mr. Zhou, the director of the Fuzhou SWI came to our room with Lucy and two other employees of the orphange.


It was very surreal, to say the least, as to how we received her. They didn't have alot to say about what Lucy likes and doesn't like. Mr. Zhou gave us a magazine which contained her finding ad. Our guide took the magazine in order to translate the ad. We should have the translation today. Later I will blog a bit to let you know what a finding ad is.


Lucy is very small and very serious. She was just released from hospital because of diarrhea. She hasn't eaten much or taken any formula since she came to us. She's taken some water. She is a very frightened little girl.


She did sleep last night for a few hours in her crib, but woke up when the rest of us did (at 3:30 a.m.) Our bodies have not adjusted to the time change yet!


Lucy prefers Baba (Daddy) to Mama. Marc is in 7th heaven and is loving his little girl. She is absolutely adorable. Max likes her as well, and has been showing her all his toys. Today (Monday) we meet with the officials to make it official. After that, we hope to go to the market to get some formula that she likes and will drink.
Sorry about the picture. It's a cute one even if it is on its side!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Max Gets His Wish!















What a great day! We got up early--way early, but who's looking at the clock? We are on vacation. Our guide Jenny picked us up at 8:30 a.m. and we went to the Ming Dynasty. Very neat! Max had a great time, but all he could talk about was the Great Wall, about 5 times per minute. After the Ming Tombs we stopped at a Jade Museum. The pieces were out of this world. The first photo is of Max getting friendly with a large jade cat. The museum guide told us that this year the medals for the olympics will contain jade, jadite, being the hardest of the jades, will be in the gold medal. We saw a preview of the medals, and they look lovely. We went to lunch afterwards and had a wonderful family style meal. Max had to go to the restroom and he came back so excited. He had seen his first squatty potty! And had even used it, successfully. I wanted the opportunity to capture a sqatty potty on film, but unfortunately (or fortunately) the women's washroom had a standard potty. I'm sure I'll be able to get a photo of a squatty potty in the near future.

After lunch we toured a cloisonne factory. The work was exquisite, as it was with the jade. The people of Beijing are so talented. It defies explanation.

After the factory tour, Max got his wish. We were able to go to a part of the Great Wall. He was so excited! Believe it or not, we got to the top of this particular section. The Great wall was begun the year of 656 B.C. Work continued on different parts of the wall, and this particular section that we scaled was completed during the Ming Dynasty, or 1368-1644 A.D. It was a wonderful site. Max was disappointed that we couldn't travel all parts of the wall, but when you conider it is over 21,000 km long, we wacked off a good chunk.

Max fell asleep on our way back to the hotel, and so did Marc. I'm ready to follow but it is only 6:00 p.m. We want to be well rested, because tomorrow we travel to Nanchang.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Greetings from Beijing!


Good morning everyone! We are in Beijing! Wow! It's been a great journey so far! We left Chicago Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. Max was a real trooper and slept for most of the flight to San Francisco. From San Francisco we boarded a 747 to Beijing. Max was awesome, there is no other word to describe how well be behaved on the 12 hour trip. He met a nice little boy, Alex, who sat in the row ahead of us. Alex is 5 years old. Max was pretty excited because he has a cousin named Alex. Alex and Max shared toys and coloring books and generally acted like 4 and 5 year old boys. Pretty silly!

We arrived in Beijing at 4:00 in the afternoon. The Beijing airport is absolutely beautiful and very efficient. It was so quiet and serene, you certainly didn't feel like you were in the largest airport in Asia.

Our guide and driver picked us up and brought us to our hotel. Beijing is beautiful and huge and our hotel is lovely. We didn't sleep too much, unfortunately. Max was up at midnight (noon our time) and was ready to go. Marc and I were able to doze a little bit while Max watched a movie and played with his star wars guys--Glad we brought them!

We are hoping to head down to breakfast in an hour our so, then our guide, Jeannie, will be taking us to the Great Wall. Max is pretty excited, we're just hoping he can stay awake long enough to see it! I think when he goes down today it will be fast and hard!

Tomorrow we leave for Nanchang and Monday we get to meet our little girl. We are all pretty excited.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Family of 3, Soon to Get Bigger

Last night was the last night to stay in our home as a family of 3.  When we come back, we will be a family of 4.  Pretty Awesome!
 
We had a nice dinner last night with my mom, sister, and niece.  It was a fun time as they sent us off in style.  Yesterday was also the first anniversary of my dad's passing.  I can't believe he's been gone this long.  We sure do miss miss him.  I know he would have loved to have met his new granddaughter. 
 
Thank you to Aunt Sandy and Uncle Charlie!  Lucy received two wonderful presents from her aunt and uncle, two beautiful asian baby dolls.  They are sooo sweet.  I was having fun looking at all the pretty clothes we can buy for them.  Max thinks they are gross, but he's a boy.  Go figure!  I am so psyched we can start getting some girly girl things!  Also, Happy Birthday Uncle Charlie!  Hope you have a great birthday season!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last Night!

We are packed and ready to go! And as a friend said today, whatever you forget, you can buy in China and cheaper! So, we are packed. I laughed when I told Marc that I packed less for a two week trip to china than I did for a 5 day trip to Florida!

I'm looking forward to this trip. One more meeting at school, and then we are off to Chicago. After that, Beijing.

Best wishes to our friends who will be traveling during the next couple of weeks to get your precious daughters and sons. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

So Much to Do!

We are down to the wire here, and I'm starting to feel the stress. The clock is reading 3:45 a.m. and I'm tired, but just can't sleep. I keep thinking of what I need to take to China. I have a packing list, and that helps alot, but what would really help is to actually pack. We have two showings of our house tomorrow, so I'm trying to keep everything neat. One of the showings is at 7:30 tomorrow night. Ugh! That's okay! I'll start putting our gear in the suitcases tomorrow afternoon.

Many friends and acquaintances have been receiving updated information and photos of their little ones. They are all adorable! This is such an exciting time!

I have less than 2 day left of school. I am going to miss my students and our awesome staff. I have all my substitute plans written and they are on my desk, ready to go. I just have a few more parent conferences, paperwork to finalize (ugh!), and I'm ready to go.

We haven't received our passports from our agency yet. I thought they would arrive today, but no such luck. Just a minor detail!

Well, that's all for now! Sleep tight everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Only 4 More Sleeps?!?!

Next Sunday at this time, we will be preparing to meet Lucy for the first time. How exciting! We have been so busy lately it's unbelievable! This last week we have spent hours choosing flooring, tile, toilet flush handles, and a fireplace for our new house. Technically, we haven't chosen the flush handles and I'm feeling that is going to be a no brainer--I hope!

Today we are having an open house from 1-4. During the open house we plan to go to Wal-Mart to buy, buy, buy! Wow! This should be an exciting time because we are finally preparing to go to China. The list doesn't look too bad, or long. We plan to get many of the necessities (diapers, formula, etc) while we are there. In fact, friends of ours who traveled to China to adopt their daughter shared that there are Wal-Marts there and they are ginormous! Wow! I've pretty much sworn off Wal-Marts since Max got out of diapers, but I'm practically salivating at thought of visiting a 4-story Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Only 8 More Sleeps and Earthquake

We are getting more and more excited about our trip to China and Lucy. Lucy was at least 600 miles away from the catastophic earthquake that struck the Sichuan Province. It is hard to fathom the magnitude of such an earthquake and the destruction it caused. Today after school, I picked up Max from daycare. We were listening to NPR on the way home, as is our custom, and Melissa Block, who is in the Sichuan Province, was reporting on a family who lost their 2 year old son and his grandparents. You can follow her heartbreaking report at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90447603. Max sat in his booster seat listening to the report. What first caught his ear was the word "soldiers." Max is truly nutty over anything military, and I explained that the soldiers in China were helping to rescue people who were hurt or trapped. He listened to the story of the couple who were searching for their child in the rubble and listened to the anguished cries of the parents. He said at the end of the segment, "That is so sad." I agree completely.

I know I have so many mixed emotions right now, and the earthquake and the aftermath only compounds those feelings. It all just seems so surreal right now. However, in the next few days we will begin our packing in earnest as we prepare to get our little girl. In the meantime, we keep the victims of the earthquake in our hearts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We Leave in 15 Days!

It is official! We have our Travel Approval from China, we have our Consulate Appointment, and we have our plane tickets! Wow! It has all happened so quickly! Marc tried making our travel arrangements, but it was out of control. Our agency suggested a few travel agents and Marc called one, and in no time, we had a dizzying itinerary. So, here's the scoop...
On May 21st we will travel to Chicago, we will leave Chicago at 7:00 a.m. on the 22nd. We will fly to San Francisco. From San Francisco we will travel a mere 12 hours and 8 minutes to Beijing. We arrive at 2:55 in the afternoon. We hang out in Beijing for a day or two and then on the 25 we will fly to Nanchang. On the 26th we will receive our little Na Liu Fu, who will be called Lucy. We stay in Nanchang until the 30th, then we will fly to Guangzhou. We will stay in Guangzho until the paperwork on our little girl is complete. We leave Guangzhou, fly to Hong Kong, back to San Francisco, then back to Chicago. Wow, huh? Now we can take the time to pack and get all of our paperwork in order. I'll tackle the paperwork issue tomorrow, right now I am too exhausted to mess with it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

We Have Travel Approval!

Our agency called us this afternoon and China has extended travel approval. What does that mean? It means that we can go pick up our little girl! Our tentative date is that we (the three of us) will fly to China on May 22nd. We will fly into Beijing, see the Great Wall and various other sights. We will then fly to Nanchang on the 28th. Our agency believes that Lucy will be brought to us in a few days. After that, we travel east to Guangzhou. Our agency is trying to secure a consulate appointment for us on June 2nd. So, it is quite possible that we will have Lucy home for her first birthday! Hurray! The downside is, I'm sure we'll all be suffering from jet lag and we might fall asleep in the cake. But no matter! Wow! So we have only three weeks and lots of stuff to do. I hope we can get some shopping done for some girly girl things this weekend. We will also be picking out siding, shingles, stone, and plumbing fixtures. This is good. Being so busy will make the time fly by!