Monday, March 30, 2009

Chen Family Temple

Our itinerary for Guangzhou was completely wrong too. We were supposed to go to the Chen Family Temple on Sunday but we went today, Wednesday. Our itinerary also said we had an appointment with the US Consulate. We didn't. Our guide did though. She took all of our paperwork with fees and handled all of the processing. The only thing we have to show up for here is the swearing in which is tomorrow, right before we leave.

This morning we visited the Chen Family Temple. It was a nice structure to look at but I've started to feel like once you've seen one ancient Asian structure, you've seen them all. The girls bored very quickly. Luckily we only there for about 1.5 hours.

After this we went to a park with a famous statue of 5 goats at the top of a hill. We climbed up and took a few pictures. Then the girls were bored again. We thought we'd walk around some but Kaiden was not happy and the girls didn't want to walk much so we headed back to the base of the park to wait for the group to be ready to leave.

We had our usual group of tourists staring at us and wanting to take pictures of the girls. They are good sports about it for the most part and smile for the cameras. After 10 minutes of this, they tired of it so we went to sit on the bus to wait. Keirstyn is getting a taste of what being a 'rockstar' would be like. I think she doesn't like it much and may change her mind about her career aspirations.

Back to the hotel for more free time. We walked around looking for a new place to try for lunch. We heard the German restaurant was good. We walked there and took a look at the menu before sitting down. It was a bit expensive to just try out and it didn't appear that there was much that Pete could eat. I didn't want to waste more money like we did on the Italian restaurant the day before so we went back to Lucy's for a third time. At least we knew what was there and it was our cheapest option outside of fast food.

4 pm was picture time. It is a Chinese adoption tradion that all adopted children from the same agency being adopted at the same time sit on the famous 'red couch' (and there's actually like 8 of them in the same area) and have their picture taken as a group in traditional Chinese outifits. Kaiden fell asleep JUST before they started to do this. Amazingly, he slept right through it! He was the only baby/toddler of the group. I think most of the kids were in the 3 - 6 year old range and Kaiden's only 17 months. The girls dressed up in their Chinese dresses too for a family picture. I wanted to get some shots of them alone but since Kaiden's nap was interrupted and we were all getting hungry, I skipped it. Next time : )

Time for dinner. K's family had visited a Brazilian restuarant on their first trip that they said was wonderful. But we'd have to take taxis. More money. No one really wanted to spend more money and some families still have another full day here. Back to Lucy's. Four times is a charm. Dinner was not so great but the company was fabulous. I wish we had had more time to get to know J & K's families. But, we probably would have killed each other had we had to spend 2 full weeks in a hotel in Beijing. Plus it was fabulous to be able to stay with the M family.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Physical Day

We all woke up this morning feeling well! YEAH! The hotel has a wonderful breakfast bar so we'll be eating breakfast in the hotel everyday, it's also included in our room rate so why not eat here.

This seems to be THE place where everyone that is doing an adoption stays. The only people I see here are those that are adopting and business men. It is a very beautiful hotel. The restaurant where we eat breakfast is next to an indoor waterfall and little river with coy fish so the girls really enjoy the scenery while we all eat.

Today Pete took Kaiden for his physical. We are now with 6 other families instead of 2 so everything will take even longer. Only 5 families had to get their physicals done since 2 are from this province and had theirs done earlier in the week. It was a basic simple physical. Think high school sports physical simple. Weight, height, push around on his belly type of thing. They were surprised that he couldn't hold his head up. We've been told that is common. After-all, he probably spent most of his time laying in a crib. They asked if we thought he was mentally OK. They thought his eyes were fine. Really? Like do see him crossing them??? They tried to get him to turn his head to the right by making noises. Pete pointed out to him that his head was flat on the left from always looking that way so it was extra hard to turn it. That was it. Physical over.

Thanks to directions from K's family, we found the Italian restaurant for lunch. We'd have been better off not finding it. It was not horrible. Just not worth the money. The 3 girls shared a pizza that was big enough to feed 8 of them. Reasonably prices at 56 RMB (that's about $8) but 60 RMB for TWO cokes!! Ridiculous. Salmon was 108 RMB and I had spaghetti with mean sauce for 70 RMB. Total bill of $300 RMB ($43) Just too expensive for lunch.

Next on the agenda was the park. The girls have been asking for time at the park since we got here. Pete took a lot of pictures of the girls playing. They all had a good time. They needed the time to run around and play. I'll add the pictures later once Pete gets them loaded. Sorry for not having many pictures up lately. We had battery issues. Now we have batteries but limited internet time. I'll update the posts with pictures later.

For dinner we had a group dinner. Cantonese. It was YUM-O! For Asian style food anyway. I've been very adventurous eating, well for me anyways, on this trip. There wasn't much Pete could eat. Gluten/wheat do not translate well so we haven't been able to ask what is in food so we are just guessing based on what it looks like. We knew it was going to be like this which is just one more reason why we were so blessed to be able to spend so much time at the M home, where we knew exactly what was in the food that he was eating. He had green peas and garlic broccoli at the restaurant. That's it. I felt bad as we sat there enjoying rolls, chicken, beef, etc. We sat with K's family. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Shopping

Today was a better day. I woke up feeling better but not great yet. I got all the kids ready and took them down for the breakfast buffet while Pete slept. We got back after breakfast and Pete got up and got ready to go out with us for the morning. He felt better, but he too wasn't quite well.

Today was a shopping day. Didn't we do enough shopping in Beijing? But, we needed a suitcase so we went. The first stop was a jade store. Just another over-priced tourist trap. We didn't buy anything except a few pops across the street from it. We went to the bus to wait. K and his Dad were on it too so we had sometime to chat. Funny thing is that we are all so busy with our own stuff, that we barely have time to talk to the other families. I've learned more about how their trip is going by reading their blog than by talking to them in person.

Next stop was the pearl market. And a pearl market it was. Like 5 floors of nothing but pearls. It was more like a mall to me. I preferred the pearl market in Beijing. Not necessarily because of the pearls, but because it had a variety of other stuff. Again, we didn't plan to buy anything but I did want a suitcase. Yes all of our stuff did fit in our suitcases to get here, but we had a 'group weigh' to get here. That meant that our suitcases were't noticed as being over-weight. Going home, we are alone, so I needed another suitcase to spread the extra 40 pounds out. Paying $20 for a suitcase was way cheaper than paying $150 per bag for being over-weight if we get a cranky airline worker. So we left the mall and ventured down the street to find a suitcase store. Sure enough, just a block down, and we found one. I told the salesgirl I was only paying 175 yuan and to show me what she'd sell me for that price. It's an ugly brown color but it'll be easier to find on the luggage rack than all of our black ones. I sure wish I had kept all of my lavendar luggage that Pete convinced me to get rid of a few years back : ) Time to head back to the hotel now.

We were told of a restaurant just down the street, Lucy's, that had decent food and was reasonably priced, so we went there for lunch. Pricing was OK. Food was OK. Nothing to write home about but it at least wasn't fast food. We were able to sit outside and had a view of the river so that was nice.

I stayed in the room while Pete went to meet with our guide to complete our paperwork. I really think this step could have been done in the US ahead of time with our GWCA Rep, but that's OK. We were told that we needed our original homestudy. This is the second time this has been an issue on this trip. It is quite aggravating because I wanted to bring it just in case. BUT, our paperwork check-list from GWCA very specifically said to leave all of our orignal documents at home. I even showed that part to Pete to make sure. Twice. Three times. But I did as it said and left them home. Now our guide says that we need it. I don't understand why because the US has an original already. They have it have it in order for us to get our I-171 H. Our guide said she will call the Embassy tomorrow to verify.

Time for dinner. We thought we'd try the Italian restuarant that we were told about that was supposed to be decent and have reasonable pricing. I love my Man but God sure didn't give hime the gift of direction. Once we started out looking for it, we couldn't find it. Of course I wasn't going to walk far either. We'll look for it tomorrow. Back to Lucy's we went. We all ordered single items (like corn on the cob, baked potato, rolls, etc.) We thought that would be cheaper and more edible. We were wrong. How can you screw up a baked potato? Sour cream had a weird texture and the potato's color was weird. Oh well. Anyone that knows me, knows how ridiculously picky of an eater I am. That's why I have a case of granola bars with me : )

We walked home along the river and the girls admired the lights from all of the buildings. And as per our normal routine now, stopped for a photograph. K2 sure is getting a taste of the 'famous' life. I know I'd never want to be famous. I'm still amazed at all the people that want to take their picture.

Now what to do with the rest of the evening? Well, K1 bought Ratatoullie, the movie, for 10 yuan. That's about $1.30 US. Sadly, it's the only entertainment we have here for the evenings. It's cheaper to buy a movie off the street corner than to rent them at home! But what else are you going to do...

First Day in Guangzhou

Today was our first day in Guangzhou. Our first flight here was cancelled so we ended up leaving 2 hours later than originally planned. That worked out well so I didn't have to get up early and rush to get ready to leave. I was feeling anxious, there was the whole flying thing that I still don't like, and leaving the comforts of the M home, and going through customs, and all that, so I took half a Zanax to ease the anxiety. It didn't seem to be working as my stomach was getting really upset so I took a full Zanax. We were all spread out on the plane. We were able to switch a few seats around so Pete and K1 were next to each other and I was 3 rows behind them with K1 & K2 with K4 on my lap. My stomach was still upset and I was getting the chills. Once I got the chills I realized it wasn't anxiety but the stomach flu. Great. Pete took K4 for the rest of the flight and I just did the best that I could without throwing up. It made for a very long flight.

We finally arrived at the hotel, the famed White Swan and got all checked in around 5 pm. I immediately got into my jammies. Pete went with the guide for what was supposed to be a 20 minute ground tour around the hotel so we'd know where things were. He didn't return until almost 2 hours later. The kids did great though. They helped play with K4 while I lay on the the couch not being able to get warm, even after taking some Pepto and Tylenol. I headed to bed once Pete returned and he took care of the kids until bedtime. Finally about 8:30 pm I woke up vomitting. Man, did that make me feel so much better! Not perfect but much better.

Pete woke me up around 2 am with his upset stomach. Great. This is just the beginning to this leg of the trip that we wanted! The best part is that K4 was in bed sleeping between the both of us. Please pray that he doesn't get it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Day In Beijing

Today was our last full day in Beijing. It was a free day with our group as well. Mrs. M had a driver today so we were able to spend the day getting last minute things done. Nothing too exciting. K3 and AM5 both came with Mrs. M and myself. The rest of the kids stayed home with Pete and Ayi.

We started the day off by visiting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Park. Very cool to see in person. I just took a few pictures of the Water Cube and Birds Nests. We were, of course, stopped by others to take pictures of the girls. I don't think I'll ever get used to that here. It just seems so odd to me although I do understand their interest.

From there we went back to the market. I had a few things that I still hadn't bought over the past 2 days of shopping that I wanted to get for others back home. We spent 3 hours at the market that we had already spent 3 hours at on Wednesday! I hope family/friends enjoy the things that we picked out. We also needed a couple more carry-on suitcases since we only had 2 for a family of 6, so this worked out perfectly to pick up 2 more so that we are able to bring everything back home.

The girls were being so patient while shopping and were getting hungry so picked up some McDonald's for them to heat on the way to the next stop. That was the first time that we had to buy fast food in the 2 weeks that we've been here now. It tasted pretty close to the same as home. The sauces were different for the chicken nuggets and they had pineapple and red bean pies. I didn't try any of those things. Stuck with what I know.

From there we had to go back to The Shard Box that I visited on Tuesday with Mrs. M. I had a small cross shaped necklace made with every one's birthstone. It came out really cute. I'm very happy with it.

Then we were finally ready to head home. Once home and unloaded, we walked up to the Euro Market to treat everyone to Cold Stone Creamery. And you wouldn't believe it this, but we had a bit more shopping still to do! Quick stop into LeYou for diapers and another bottle. Jenny Lou's for snacks on the airplane tomorrow. Mrs. M had to pick up a present for Mr. M. Then finally headed home to start to pack.

We had another authentic Chinese dinner made by Ayi. Pete didn't get to try them but we had pork Chinese dumplings. They were YUM-O! The girls didn't like them but I'm not surprised. Ayi has been wonderful cooking special things for Pete over the past 11 days. We have all eaten way better than we had anticipated. I'll never get over the amazement of the hospitality of the M family and their Ayi.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pearl Market

Well K1 didn't escape the stomach bug that K2 had yesterday. She was clingy last night so I knew it was coming. We put her to bed with a bucket just in case. Sure enough, just after we tucked the girls in, K3 came out to let us know K1 was getting sick. Luckily she is old enough now that she can pretty much make it into the bucket so we don't have as much to clean up. After a good nights rest, she didn't want to stay home today. Mrs. M's girls are on Spring Break today and tomorrow so she had arranged to have her mini-van and driver today so we could all go out without having to get multiple taxis.

After a few re-arranging of appointments and getting a few errands done, we made it to the Pearl Market around 11 am. Imagine 4 adults and 6 kiddos in one mini-van! AM5 had a play date at a water park so we dropped her off for that first. That left us with only 5 kiddos for the shopping. We are such a spectacle everywhere we go. All of the Chinese are just amazed that we have 4 kids. Often people ask if K2 & K3 are twins or assumed all 5 ids were ours. After awhile, I just stopped correcting them, letting them know LM7 was not ours. I mean, once you get past 3 kids, what's a few more?

I was very proud of my Man. He was quite the bargain shopper. He set a price and that was it. He never budged. We bought many gifts to have to give to Kaiden as he gets older (like jade cuff links, tea set, Olympic pen, etc.) as well as a few gifts for people back home. After our purging last year, I was very selective in the things that I bought not only for us, but for others as well. The girls even spent their own money that they have been saving for 3 years on things that they wanted. Of course K2 wanted everything and K3 wanted everything that K2 wanted. We helped her be selective though. Lots of jewelry was purchase. K1 was very selective on her. She wasn't wasting her money on anything that she didn't really want. I was proud of her for not just buying any old thing.

No pictures for today. My camera battery is dead and we didn't want to haul Pete's around.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Llama Temple

More pictures of Kaiden here:

And here:

K2 had another bout of vomitting last night. LM1 had it the day before we so are guessing it is just another bug. K2 and Pete were up until 2 am with it. So far today she seems to be doing better. She stayed home to rest. She's just laid on the couch all morning watching movies. One of her favorite things to do anyways. And since she was sick, she was able to watch all of those Barbie movies that Mommy normally won't let her do.

I had planned to stay home anyways with Kaiden. He doesn't do so well with long days out, with all that activity. He's miserable and makes sure everyone around him knows it. I don't mind missing some of these things and I'd rather do what's best for him and the girls.

Today our group went to visit the Llama Temple. Pete took Kaeterina and Kenadie. They saw the largest Buddha in the world, it was 18 meters high, which is about 60 feet tall. It was so big, that they had to build the building around it after it was built. They enjoyed it. It was a short trip though. They were home by lunch time.

After they got home, Pete fed them all lunch and put them down for naps. Mrs. C had an appointment in town so I went with her. I hung out at Starbucks while she had her appointment. Then we went to a store called The Shard Box. Very cool store. They've taken old broken pieces of ancient vases and such and made things out of them like necklaces and boxes. I was able to get all of the kids (hard habit to break, I wrote girls are first and then remembered that we have a boy now!) a fwe surprise presents, plus one for myself : )

They also went to see a tea ceremony that was close by. Kaeterina really enjoyed that part. I would have like to go to that but that's OK.

The Forbidden City



Today we had an early morning to visit The Forbidden City. It is the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival today in China. That means there are more people than normal in the city so more traffic than normal. It typically takes us about 30 minutes to get back downtown but since we had to leave during 'rush hour' and we didn't know what to expect, we left at 7:30 am. It still only ended up taking us 40 minutes to get back to the hotel but I'm glad we left early just in case.



I've figured out that Kaiden has a morning naptime of 9 am. He only naps well if he is left alone, preferably in his playpen with no one else in the room to bother him. This means he didn't nap well in the bus on our way to The Forbidden City. I've also figured out that he only likes warm bottles. It's been so long since I've given Kenadie a bottle that I had forgotten that they are normally warm since my girls took cold bottles towards the end of bottle feeding. This meant he woulldn't take a bottle while we were there. It made for a long visit.



I'm glad I went, so that I could say I've been there, but I don't ever need to go visit it again. It just a bunch of old buildings spaced far apart to look at. 80% of the relics (vases, figurines, etc.) were removed and taken to a Forbidden City Museum in Taiwan. Go figure that sense out.



After this, we went for a traditional Chinese noodle lunch. It was actually good, for my picky standards. We were finally able to warm Kaiden's bottle up, but then he wanted to go to sleep. He refuses to sleep while being held. Pete took him to the bus to lay down and he was instantly fine. This meant both Pete & I missed most of lunch. Pete shouldn't have eaten most of what was served anyways. The girls didn't like most of it, which is normal for them. At least it was cheap, only $20 for all 5 of us. Just another reminder that we need to avoid restaurants.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

1 Week Update on Kaiden







How is Kaiden doing now that we have had him for one full week? Pretty well I think. As well as can be expected. We are all of course still adjusting. I'm sure that process will take quite sometime.

Everyone is always doting on him and the girls are always wanting to hold him. I think we wear him out quite quickly. He's generally a happy baby although I do think he is teething. He seems to fuss and then calm down when I give him orajel on his gums. He has many teeth already. It looks like another one is coming in on top.

He still does not eat well. He absolutely refuses anything solid, even 1st foods baby food. He's supposedly ate congee in the orphanage but he refuses even that. We can get some baby grain cereal in him if we really push it. I think I have found a bottle that he'll take. Absolutely no to a sippy cup. He will drink Pediasure cold and Enfagrow formula warm. He only averages about 2 ounces per feed and the most we've ever gotten into him at one time is 4 ounces. I think he's eating a little more each day. I'm not worried about him dehydrating yet because he does still have tears and a few wet diapers a day. Just not enough.

He's a GREAT sleeper! He sleeps through the night for about 10 hours. He takes a morning and an afternoon nap still. The orphanage told us he only naps once per day from 11 - 1:30 pm but those times don't seem to work with him. He did wake up once during the night that I heard him (he's sleeping in our bedroom in a pack n play) but he put himself back to sleep. He doesn't cry when he wakes up, only when he's hungry and tired. I now know that I need to buy a pack n play for him to sleep in just as soon as we get home. He's not ready for a bed yet. I think he sleeps a lot because he's used to being bored and we are quite a lot for him to take.

He also needs his alone time. I've noticed that when we hold him too much or have him out and about too much, he gets very fussy. Once I lay him down and leave him alone, he settles right down. He'll need time to get used to all of us.




Quiet Day





Today was a quiet day in Shunyi (that is the area of Beijing that we are staying in with the M family). It was more typical of what our normal life is like back home. I didn't take any pictures today either except for a few of the kids hanging out at home playing.

We started the day off slowly with breakfast and then church at 10:15 am. The M's attend a Community Church that is just a few minute drive from their home. It is a special church that only ex-pats can attend. You have to have your foreign passport in order to be able to attend. It reminded me of a New Community service back home. They had a choir visiting from Mobile that sang for the first 15 minutes or so. When this is over, the children head downstairs for Children's Church. Then Pastor that is not their usual did the sermon on Worship. Accoustics were bad but from what we could hear, it was good. Pete came in late because Kaiden didn't want to be in the stroller and was fussing. Then the Pastor ended with more worship and the choir circled around the congreation and sang a few more songs. It was very moving. At this point, what we are going through hit me and I cried for the first time since we've gotten here. I'm just in awe of what God is doing in our lives right now. We are so blessed in so many different ways that it is over-whelming.

Then we headed to a local restaurant for lunch called Smallville. The restaurant was donated to this couple that has a orphanage for special needs children. All profits go towards their orphanage. Older children in the orphanage work in the restaurant to learn life skills as well.

Off to buy some lunch meat at the local meat shop and a movie for movie night. Movies around here only cost around $1 - 2. That's pretty darn cheap. It's the only form of entertainment that they get besides HBO.

We took the kids up to the clubhouse to play a bit but Kaiden was again fussy so I brought him home and got him ready for bed. The rest of the kids arrived back shortly after I was done with Kaiden so they could all get ready for bed early.

Dominoes cheese pizza and cheesey dots were for dinner. Pete and Kaeterina had left-over gluten- free pancakes : ) It tasted pretty darn close to home.

All in all, not a very exciting day. But it was nice to have alittle normal for the day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sony ExploraScience

Today was another scheduled free day with our group. I was bummed because we were supposed to go to The Forbidden City. Now that is bumped to Monday. Tomorrow the group is going shopping to the Pearl Market. We are going to skip that as well and go shopping one day later in the week with Mrs. M.

Pete and the girls went with the M family this morning to the girls school, ISB, for a 'trunk' fundraiser sale. They were able to play on the school playground for about an hour while Mr. & Mrs. M did some shopping. I stayed home with Kaiden so that he could get a good morning nap in.

After lunch, we all headed out to the Sony ExploraScience center. The M family has a mini-van and a driver so we were able to use that today to get around. Imagine 4 adults and 6 kids in a mini van : 0 Sony is located inside Chaoyang Park. I'm impressed with the size and number of parks in Beijing. I never would have expected so many. That aspect reminds me of NYC. It was only about $15 for all 9 of us to get in. It was a cloudy over - cast day so it was a good day to be inside. The Park looks like it would be a fun place to hang out during better weather. It had an amusement park in it as well but we didn't do any of the rides.

After this we did a little bit of shoping. I was able to get a few Chinese books, some even with pin-yin. Pete also got Kaiden an Olympic medal since he did live here during that time period.

Then it was home for our normal bed time routine. Just anothe relaxing day here in Beijing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finding Place






Today all 3 girls went to school with the M girls. That left Pete, Kaiden, and I with the morning free. We thought this would be a good time to find Kaiden's "finding place". This is the place where Kaiden was abandoned. It's part of his police record so we had the exact address. It was only a 40 minute ride from where we are staying so we called a taxi and were off.

Here are a few pictures. He was found outside of a hotel room door. That seemed kind of odd to me. Normally children are abandoned in a very busy place like in front of the police station or at the orphanage gates so that they are found very quickly. It was a very strange feeling to be there. I had a hard time imagining all of the feelings that must have gone through his birth mother's mind. I'm thankful that he has become apart of our family but at the same time, I have a deep sadness for his mother.

When we returned home from there, I took Pete and Kaiden for a walk to show them around where Mrs. M had taken me yesterday afternoon. We did a bit of grocery shopping just to see how the locals have to do it here. There aren't not any major chains like Kroger or Meijer that we are used to. Just two small markets within walking distance that have to cater to roughly 50+ different nationalities that live around here. It was nice quiet time for just the 3 of us. We did a little bit of shopping and headed home just in time to greet the girls at the bus. They all had a wonderful day. K3 even said she wants to go to school. Of course she'll changer her tune once we get home and back to our normal homeschooling schedule.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Only in China

Only in China do I find myself doing things that I would never do in the USA. Take taxi rides as an example. Here in China, the only seat belt law is for the driver, and that law is rarely followed. We have been putting 6 people in a sedan size taxi with Pete up front (wearing his seat belt) and the 4 kids and I in the backseat, Kaiden rides on my lap. Can you imagine that? I'd NEVER ride like this in the USA. The drivers have never said we had too many people. They just let us pile in. We couldn't put our seat belts on in the back seat if we wanted to anyways, nor use a car seat, because the seats all have covers on them so you can't get to the belts. Today, I ventured out home on my own with Kaiden, and he laid across the backseat napping with me holding on to him with my hand. Funny thing is, accidents are very rare here. We've seen only 1 in the week that we've been here. We're told that everyone drives defensively. I can see that. I don't see how accidents don't happen but they don't. So in a very strange way, I've felt safe driving this way. Never in the USA though.

Beijing Zoo














We had a bit of another hiccup today. I'm so very grateful that the Lord prepared me for this trip. I went into this knowing that I had to go outside of my comfort zone and expect the unexpected. Most things have not gone according to plan. Our itinerary has changed everyday since our first day that we got here. Sometimes it changes in the middle of the day.

One of the laws in China is that when you visit, you must register with the local police if you are staying anywhere other than a hotel. Since we are not being hosted by the M family, that meant we had to register. The clubhouse where the M's reside will do the registering for you, but they need your passports to do it. We had to go to the local police station to apply for Kaiden's passport and visa as well this morning. We were told that they would need our passports, bothe parents, and baby. We were supposed to go straight to the Zoo from the police station. We needed to be back to the clubhouse by 1 pm with our passports.

Rather than risk being in violation of the law and have to go to the local police station ourselves, we split up. We all went to the police station to apply for the passport and visa. We needed to get Kaiden's photo done for the passport. This happened to be at his morning naptime so he was less than cooperative. Plus the orphanage director wanted to hold him for the photo and if he had ever known her, he had forgotten her, so his crying was even worse. They decided his photo from his file was recent enough that they could scan that and use it. So we didn't need Kaiden there afterall. Then they didn't need our passports. We ended up not being needed at all. Oh-well. We're getting used to this by now.

After this, I took Kaiden and headed to the M's house. Pete took all 3 girls to the Zoo. They had a nice time but it didn't even compare to the Detroit Zoo. I think we don't appreciate all that we have with our Detroit Zoo. They were only there for about an hour and headed home as well. I did want to see the Pandas but I was happy to miss the rest. The Beijing Zoo normally only has 2 pandas but through next week, they had 8 other pandas on loan.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great Wall




Today we visited the Great Wall. At the point that we visited, there was the difficult side and the more difficult side. Our guide suggested we go up the more difficult side because that is the side where most native Chinese visit. This was the first time that we tried to put Kaiden in the backpack carrier. I was worried that he wouldn't like it because he doesn't have neck control. Sure enough, he HATED it. I did get this picture of him with Pete before he started fussing. K's Mom had a front pack carrier that she had brought to carry her daughter around it. She was so NICE to let me borrow it to carry Kaiden in. He liked that much better. But once we got up one flight of stairs and I saw how hard it would be to not only come down, but come down without



being able to see my feet in front of me, I decided to sit it out. Kenadie joined Kaiden and I. We sat at the bottom and watched everyone else go up. They made it just past the first tower that you see in the background. I was very impressed with the girls. We were only at the Wall for 1.5 hours. Everyone was done in less than 1 hour but we had to wait for our guide to come back for us.

After the Wall, we went to an 'authentic Chinese restaurant' for lunch. I use that term very loosely. It was really a tourist trap. The parking lot was full of tourist vans. Yes, it was an authentic Chinese lunch, but it was not an authentic Chinese restaurant. It was attached to this very large warehouse type sotre full of typical Chinese wares like dresses and tea sets. We didn't buy anything though because we knew the prices would be MUCH better at the local markets.

While we were at the Wall, our guide got a phone call from the government office that our Chinese adoption was finalized and we could come pick up the last document so we did that. It made for a very long day but it was nice to be able to get more paperwork out of the way. He's officially officially ours for the third and final time. We received his adoption certificate in a red envelope.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Traveling Day (St. Patrick's Day)

Up around 2 am again. UGH! At least I've had a total of 6 hours of sleep over the past 24 hours. The girls staggered up again starting at 2:30 am. I'm praying for better sleep tonight.

Today is St. Patrick's Day in the USA. That is not a holiday celebrated in China. Actually, none of the US holidays are celebrated here for the most part. But the Leprechauns still managed to stop by our hotel room anyways. Our room was too much of a mess to bother to party in and leave a mess so they just left a few books for the girls and took off before they wouldn't be able to find their way out of our room.

Today is a shopping for the children day with our agency. Since I don't need too much for Kaiden, we are going to skip that and head out to the M's right after breakfast. We thought about visiting the Blue Zoo since it is only 15 minutes away but I really just wanted to get there. We've been very blessed by being invited by the More family to stay with them in their home while we are in China. That is a blessing beyond what I can write about. They have a beautiful house with plenty of room, a kitchen where we can cook and eat normal meals in, plus 2 beautiful daughters close in age to our girls.

We are now about a 30 minute $15 dollar taxi ride from the hotel. We are saving $274 per night on the hotel suite so it's well worth the money and time spent in the taxi. We thought that we were going to have to take 2 taxis but as it turns out, we don't. More on that later. It did however take us 2 taxis to get out here because of all of our luggage. Remember that traveling light we were going to do???

Once we got to the Ms', we were able to unpack, have some lunch with Mrs. M, and relax. Mrs. also took me for a short bike ride to a shopping plaze that had a small baby shop in it where I was able to buy a few things that I needed for Kaiden. I'm sure I'll be back there over the next 1.5 weeks. I'm heading to bed early again but hoping to get back to a normal schedule this week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kaiden Shaking His Head No

Kaiden is showing signs of being a perfect fit for our family already. He snorts just like most of the Pfeiffers. He also does this head shaking thing. Had I not seen my sister in law doing it, it might have freaked me out. She used to do it to help her fall asleep. Kaiden does it for that reason and also when he's mad. He doesn't like to be on his tummy. As soon as you lay him on his tummy, he immediately rolls over. I kept doing it to him yesterday and he finally had enough of it and did the head shake thing. Then he would laugh at us. I think he's pretty cute doing it. It's his way of say "NO" to us. He did it when I had him sitting up to and was trying to feed him goldfish crackers. He liked them enough on Sunday but yesterday he didn't want any of them.


video

Ramblings

Nothing interested has happened since my last blog post. All of us except Pete (who slept something like 10 hours last night) took a nap on Monday until around 5ish. I had a really hard time waking up but did finally and was able to stay up until 930 pm. I couldn't last any longer than that. So, I was up at 2 am today. I tried to lay in bed but K2 got up at 230 am said she couldn't sleep any longer either. 3 am and K3 was up. K1 woke up at 330 am. It's 6 am and the boys are still sleeping. I've started to pack and clean up our suite but I can't do anything else now until they wake up. The girls and I are showered and dressed and ready to go. After breakfast today, we are going to head out to the More's place. They have very generously invited us to stay the next 11 days at their international compound where their home is. I can't wait! I can't wait cook and eat some normal food. I've only lost 2 pounds. I'm hoping for a 10 pound loss on this trip : ) I know that's not healthy but I've been preparing myself for the food for months now. That is why I brought 4 Costo size boxes of granola bars.

Misc. Ramblings:

* My girls will watch Chinese cartoons that they don't understand for hours on end just for something to do at 3 am

* Pete is for the first time in a very long time sleeping more than any of us

* Pete is not starving here. He's found enough to eat to keep him going

* I'm going to risk it and try drinking a coffee today to stop me from taking a nap. I sure hope I don't get sick. I have antibiotics though in case I do

* Kaiden is a GREAT sleeper! What a blessing!

* The heat and AC in the hotel is not controllable in the rooms for the most part. UGH! We've been hot here

Something more interesting to come later in the day

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gotcha Day

Today was "Gotcha Day". This is where we went to the Civil Affairs office to start the adoption paperwork process. It's not finalized for 5 business days or so while they process it but he is officially ours now. It was supposed to only take an hour but the office had just moved and they were very unorganized. It took us almost 2 hours. It was a long time for all 4 of the kids to sit still. Kaiden did sleep for most of it though and now his schedule is off. Oh well.

Pete had to go back to the orphanage with the guide because the bank was not open yesterday for us to exchange money for the orphanage 'donation'. I love how they call it a donation. A mandatory donation of $5000 for your child. It is a beautiful orphanage though. From the little bit that we were able to see, it is well kept up. We were only allowed to see the entrance and the conference room though. No children were in sight.

I'm going to attempt to get all 4 kids down for a nap and then take one myself. I'm at least going to try. They've been up since about 3:30 am so I'm hoping they can go to sleep. I can't have them falling asleep at 5 pm again today.

I need to find something good to eat as well. Granola bars are not cutting it.

Tomorrow we head over to the M's place for the next 11 days.

Harmonious Period

Pete signing the harmonious agreement & fingerprinting it

The front of the Orphanage

When we received Kaiden yesterday, we agreed to a 'harmonious period'. This is roughly 24 hours to make sure we really want to follow through with it once we've met him. It's very rare that anyone does not move forward. In those rare cases, I believe the parents were not completely prepared for what an institutionalized child would be like.

Kaiden's Health

Kaiden won't get his medical examination until we go to Guangzhou which is not for another week. At best, that is just to make sure there is nothing major wrong with him. He has an appointment with our pediatrician for the first Wednesday after we return. We'll have to take him to a pediatric ophthalmologist for his eye condition. From what I can tell, his eyes appear fine. I would never have expected anything was wrong with them. Pete says he can tell. He doesn't appear to be death nor blind nor have anything major or unexpected wrong with him. He does have some health concerns. Those are all normal for orphanage children and I was prepared for them. One on hand, he is healthier than I expected. On the other hand, he is worse off than I expected. We were well prepared to expect to worst and hope for the best. That has truly turned out to be case.

He has an incredible laugh. He laughed constantly for the first few hours that we had him. If you watched the video I posted yesterday, then you got a glimpse of it.

He is 17 months old. I knew he would developmentally be around a 10 month old child. I knew he probably wouldn't talk nor walk and he does not. I did for some reason expect him to be able to sit up. I don't know why. It makes perfect sense that he can't and doesn't. He also seems to have poor head/neck control. He can control it but when you hold him, he often lays his head backwards, like to look up at the sky. His head is also flat on the back. I hadn't thought about this ahead of time but it makes perfect sense. It's why in the USA, we are constantly told the importance of tummy time. It's flat though, more on the side/slash back of his head. Our theory is that he spent most of his day in a crib and his caregiver was probably on his left hand side. So, he'd always lay on his back and look left at her. And for his neck, he probably craned that backwards to watch her as she walked away from him. Nothing that PT won't be able to help him over-come.

At 17 months old, I did think that he'd be off of bottles and formula. But I did know that he probably wouldn't be. But I still kind of thought he would be. Does that make sense? I did all of the reading to prepare myself ahead of time of what he would be like. But even reading as much as I did, it doesn't completely prepare you. I still, in the back of my head, thought that maybe he would not be like what I read he would probably be like. We were told that he feeds himself. There is no way that he can do that. He can't hold a bottle nor a spoon. I brought a bottle, just in case, but he doesn't like it. I brought sippy cups too but he doesn't like those either. We'll have to go shopping today to find a bottle that he likes. We'll work on weaning him off of it once we have him home. We tried to feed him a baby jar of carrots and rice cereal. He didn't like either one of those. We tried goldfish crackers and those he was getting used to eating. It takes him awhile to bit it and suck on it. I don't think he's had any solid food, only formula and congee. Congee is a type of Chinese hot cereal. We'll be able to get him congee today at the breakfast bar. I also brought him some honey graham cracker sticks. Those he'll really loved! His orphanage told us that he likes all sweet things. I was surprised that they give babies sweet foods but they do.

Even knowing all of this ahead of time, it's still sad. It's sad to think that all of his pain could have been avoided. I'm thankful God has given him us to care for and love and protect for the rest of his life.

The Girls

The girls are all doing well. Both Kenadie and Kierstyn have their appetites back and neither has had any vomiting issues since we arrived at the hotel. Kaeterina is improving as well. She is still drinking most of the required Pediasure but we are getting glimpses of her wanting to eat. We had a breakfast buffet to go to in the hotel this morning. She had a total of 5 tiny bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios. I think they equaled 2 of her regular sized bowls at home. We maybe turning a corner with her. That is amazing to me. I didn't think any of them would eat much at all here even before all of the illness started. I haven't eaten much but a few granola bars. I'm still trying to get used to the smells. They are very over-whelming.

First Pictures

Too tired to photoshop these but I wanted to get them up right away. Kaiden is as big as I thought he was. Bigger though than what all that I read said he should be. Chinese children are on average smaller than American children. Orphanage children are on average smaller than the average child. Kaiden is the exception. He is wearing size 2T jammies here. I'm glad I only bought a few size 12 months clothes for him.

OK - none of them would upload. It gave me an internal error which I have no idea what that means, especially since I am using Pete's laptop. I'll post them on Facebook here:

Meeting Kaiden

This is a video of when we met Kaiden for the very first time. It's just over 3 minutes long. Nothing exciting but if you start watching at about 1 min 29 sec, you'll see him laughing. He did a lot of that in the beginning. We had to get a family photo taken for our adoption certificate so our guide took us to do that immediately after returning back to the hotel from meeting the children. By this time, it was time for Kaiden to eat. I hadn't brought anything for him to eat because I didn't realize we would be gone at his normal meal time. To say the least, he has quite a set of lungs on him. He cried for at least half an hour because I had to go to the store to buy him formula. I really though at almost 18 months, that he'd be off of formula but he's not.

Here is the video:


video

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Weather Update

Today and tomorrow are expected to reach a high of 63 and Wednesday is supposed to get to 73! YEAH! I'm so glad we left the winter coats and boots home.

2 Hours To Go

I finally fell asleep around 2 am. I wouldn't really call it sleep though. I was partially awake the whole time. I don't sleep well in hotels to begin with. I really don't sleep well on slate boards. I'm not exaggerating on this one either. While our hotel is a 4 start hotel and I've been very happy with everything so far, the mattress is has hard as a rock. The tiny sofa in the living room is rock hard as well. It's not even large enough for K2 to lay on and stretch out her legs. I'm happy that we have this little suite though. It gives us a little room to spread out.

I was back up at 5 am. I thought for sure Pete's clock was wrong so I spent 20 minutes channel surfing trying to find a TV station that would show a digital clock on it. I thought we should have a digital alarm clock/radio in our room somewhere. Then when Pete woke up, he told me that there is a large clock on the bedroom wall. At least now I'll know for tomorrow.

I tried to relax and spend some quiet time alone but that only lasted until 6 am. By then I was done trying to waste time and was ready to get on with the day. I got everyone's things ready to go for the day, packed Kaiden's diaper bag, and packed a snack bag for the girls. We had a few things that we needed to get done this morning before we met our guide at 11:10 am in the lobby so I thought we should get started on them so we weren't rushed and didn't miss anything.

The girls were up and ready to go by 7 am. A breakfast buffet is included with our hotel so we headed down to the restaurant for that. Pete's had them before and he said that we'd be able to find things to eat. We did. But I'm still hungry. And so is Pete. It was an interesting combination of foods. I think it's going to take me awhile to get used to some of the funny ways things get translated. For instance, what looked liked chocolate rice krispies on the cereal bar, had a sign that read 'popcorn'. Somethings just looked too odd for me to even think about for breakfast. I had a few tiny croissants and a piece of what I think was nut bread. The girls were all happy and full with their breakfasts. Good thing I brought 5 cases of granola bars.

After breakfast, we headed outside. We were told that there was a supermarket just one block over that sold large bottles of water. It was only 7:30 am but the clerk thought that they might be open. I thought we found it but it was closed. Pete said that was not the right place anyways so we kept walking. It was interesting people watching. I wanted to get fresh air after being stuck on an airplane for so long but fresh air it is not! it looks over-cast and cloudy but it's really just the smog.

A few more blocks and I was ready to turn around and so were the girls so we did. By the time we got back to what I thought was the market, it was open so we went in. Of course everything on the products was written in Chinese but you could tell by the packaging what many things were. I recognized a lot of brands like Nestle, Coke, Safeguard, etc. just by the color and design of the packaging. I had to leave after we went by the meat/seafood area. All of the meat is just sitting out in open cases. Nothing is wrapped. Imagine your local butcher shop but without the glass covering all of it. It didn't look like it was cooled either. If it was, it wasn't kept very cold because the smell was awful!

We also had not exchanged any of our money yet. I thought for sure that a supermarket would take credit. Nope. Our guide told us not to expect many places at all to accept credit. Good for them I guess. But I'm not used to carrying cash around. So back to the hotel we went.

Pete exchanged money while I went to the business center. We needed to take care of a few things that we weren't told about ahead of time. We needed part of our home study for the orphanages records so luckily I had all of that archived in my email account and could print it out. We also needed copies of our Visa pages with the stamp on them. I copied those before we left but they obviously weren't stamped and we weren't told that they needed to be. Easy enough to take care of here. Pete then went back to the market (which is conveniently located just next door practically) to get us some bottled water and pop.

We should get back from the Orphanage around 3:30 pm today. Pete asked me what are we going to do for the rest of the day. I said I think we'll put Kaiden in his playpen in the living room in front of us and throw goldfish crackers at him like you do to the animals at the zoo. The girls thought that would be a lot of fun. We all laughed but seriously, don't freak out. We're not going to do that. That just tells you how deprived of sleep I am.

Pete is now napping and the girls are working on their travel journals. They are also watching some Chinese cartoon I found on the TV. They can't understand a word of it but they like it anyways.

We're Here

It's 1:03 am on Sunday morning, 3/15/09. Since we were flying westward, we flew in sunshine almost the entire trip, except for the last 3 hours from Japan to Beijing, China. I tried doing the math to figure out exactly how many hours we were traveling but my brain can't do that right now. I know it was over 24 hours from door to door. It took us less than 15 minutes to completely trash the hotel suite with our 6 suitcases and 6 backpacks. So much for traveling light!

Pete and the 2 younger girls are in bed. Kaeterina and I can't fall asleep so she's watching gymnastics and I'm going to blog until Pete's laptop runs out of battery. Pete, Kaeterina and I each got around 2 hours of sleep total. K2 & K3 got at least 5 hours, possible a bit more.

I fully intended on posting an update during what I thought was going to be a long 2 hour lay-over but it turned out to almost not be long enough. By the time we got off the plane, through customs, and over to our gate, we only had 20 minutes until boarding began, just enough time for a potty break while on land.

Both flights were uneventful with good weather and very minimal turbulence. That was a blessing!

Flying with the girls went MUCH better than I anticipated. I had a few surprised packed for each of them to keep them occupied. So between a little reading, a little game playing, some eating, and napping, they were occupied almost the entire time. Lots of waiting between every check-point you have to go through each time, but not long enough for them to whine too much.

We thought K2 was over her stomach bug but about 8 hours into our 14.5 hour flight to Japan and she caught us off guard with vomiting. She was begging to eat so I let her have pretzels. That was a bad idea. Vomit all over her clothes, shoes, and blanket. Luckily I brought a carry-on with one full change of clothing for each of us in case our luggage was lost so we were able to clean her up and change her on the plane.

God was surely with us the entire time. We never had any difficulties at any check-points through the entire trip. Only one of our checked suitcase was inspected by TSA (at least only 1 had a tag in it stating that) That one had Pete's pocket knife in it so I'm not surprised at all that it was inspected. Being that both Pete and Kaeterina are on gluten free diets, the girls aren't well, and I am a picky eater beyond anything reasonable, I packed a 18 can coolers of snack foods. I also had a separate bag with 2 pedialytes for Kierstyn and a 6 pack of pediasure for Kaeterina. I knew these were off limits but on NWA's website, it does say baby and children's formula is allowed so I thought I'd give it a try. Pete said I was nuts for even trying and that all that money was going to get wasted when it was tossed because it didn't meet requirements. Well, we got through both check-points without one single thing thrown away. I just told them I had sick kids that needed this food and that could they please just hand inspect it and let us bring it through. No problems. We were able to have it all. They were very understanding and considerate. I just know that was God reminding me that He had everything handled.

I should try to get some sleep. I told Pete that I think I'm too excited and just can't sleep. It'll probably happen tomorrow afternoon after we get back to the hotel with Kaiden and he's too upset to do much else but cry.

I took some pictures already but Pete's asleep so I can't ask him how to put them on his laptop to post them. They'll have to come tomorrow.

Friday, March 13, 2009

4 Hours To Go

Here I am at 6 am with only 4 hours of sleep. We leave for the airport in 4 hours. I should be sleeping. I guess I'm too excited or anxious. Either way, it's surreal that the time has almost come.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

12 Hours and Counting

Well I should be sleeping through this count-down but I'm just too nervous/excited/anxious to go to bed yet. We are as packed as we can be until the morning when I can add the last minute medicines and pack the snack cooler. Two weeks ago we were completely packed except for the one carry - on. We had 3 suitcases. We now have 6 suitcases, a stroller, and 6 back-packs. What happened to traveling light??? To say the least, Pete is not happy. I'm not either but I accepted this fact 3 days ago when I placed the order for Kaeterina's Pediasure and Duocal. With weight limits of 50 pounds, I had to spread that stuff out. So our suitcases are not full but 4 of them are at the weight limit. And, I'm not even taking all of the Pediasure. We found out that we can buy it in Beijing so I'm only taking half of what I ordered. Oh well. What are you going to do. Nothing but get over it. Coming home will be much lighter! I hope anyways. I don't plan to buy much while we are there.

On a sad note, K2 got sick today with the vomitting. She ate a TON for lunch in the car. I thought maybe it was because she ate so much and we were in the car for so long but she had a fever of 101 and that was with the Tylenol. She had a few crackers before she went to bed tonight. I'm praying that that stays down. It took K3 a full 24 hours before she could keep anything down.

On a more happy note, K1 ate crackers tonight. It was the first solid food she's had in over 2 weeks. I'm hoping that she's turned the corner. Maybe she's getting tired of the all you can eat frozen yogurt and applesauce. I'm praying that this is the turn that we've been waiting for.

K3 has some remenants left over from her illness earlier in the week. Pete just made a midnight run to CVS to get some gas drops to hopefully cure that. I can't imagine being stuck in a plane with her for 24 hours with that smell! YUCK!

At this time tomorrow, we'll be checking into our hotel! I'll try to blog an update Sunday morning. We meet Kaiden Sunday aftern at 2:30 pm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

10 Day Weather Forecast

Well it's definitely not Spring in Beijing but I think we'll see glimpses of it here and there over the next 2 weeks.

Mar 15
Sunny
58°

Mar 16
Mostly Sunny
58°

Mar 17
Mostly Sunny
60°

Mar 18
Sunny
54°

Mar 19
Sunny
57°

Mar 20
Mostly Sunny
56°

Mar 21
Mostly Cloudy
55°

Monday, March 2, 2009

Guangzhou Intinerary

Then we spend our last 4 days in Guangzhou China where the American side of our adoption is finalized and we get Kaiden's Visa to bring him home. We barely have any time here to go sight-seeing. We will be staying on beautiful Shamian Island.

Guangzhou

Name: Kelly

Accommodations:

White Swan Hotel

Phone: 0086-20-81886968

Date Time Events
03.28 1:10pm Pick up families with CZ3162, and then send to WS hotel.
03.29 9:30am Sightseeing tour to Chen family’s Temple
03.30 10:00am Doing Medical Checkup and taking child’s visa picture.
03.31 9:00am Guide goes to American Consulate to hand in family’s document.
04.01 3:00pm Family goes to American Consulate for interview and get visas.
6:45pm Send family #1 away with HU7802. (need half-day)
9:00pm Send family #2 away with CZ327.(need half-day)
04.02 8:00am Send family #3 away with CZ3101, and then arrive into Beijing at 10:55am.

Our fly in and out of Beijing so we have to leave Guangzhou Wednesday night to spend the night in Beijing so we can catch an early flight home on Thursday but we don't arrive back in the USA until Friday afternoon.

Beijing Intinerary

We just received our itineraries for China. We won't follow the Beijing one exactly since we plan to fit some 'down time' into it and time to visit with our friends living there. We are family #1 so we get there second out of the 3 families that we will be traveling with. We are also only staying at the hotel for the first 3 nights. Then we are going to stay with friends for the duration of the trip. But here is what it is supposed to look like:

Beijing

Guide Information:

Name: Michelle

Accommodations:

Poly Plaza

Phone: 0086-10-65001188

Date Time Events
03.14 2:00pm Pick up family #3 with CO89, and send to hotel.
9:50pm Pick up family #1 with NW29,and send to hotel .
03.15 11:45am Pick up family #2 with CZ3105, and send to hotel .
2:30pm Families go to Beijing CWI to meet children.
03.16 9:00am Do relevant paperwork.
03.17 10:00am Shopping for children.
03.18 9:00am Sightseeing Tour to the Great Wall
03.19 9:00am Sightseeing tour to the Zoo.
03.20 9:00am Get the adoption certificate, and then go to police office to do passport.
03.21 9:00am Sightseeing Tour to the Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square
03.22 9:00am Sightseeing tour to the Lama temple.
03.23 9:00am Sightseeing tour to the Summer Palace.
03.24 9:00am Go to Hongqiao market .
03.25 10:00am Get adoption certificate, and then do some paper work for passport.
03.26 9:00am Sightseeing tour to the Jingshan Park.
03.27 2:30pm Get passport.
03.28 10:15am Send families to Guangzhou with CZ3162.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

All Packed

I can hardly believe that we are packed and ready to leave for China! 6 people traveling for 21 days with only 3 suitcases. We leave in 12 days. Time is really starting to fly by now. I still have to pack the girls carry-on back-packs with new games and books but that can wait until next week. I'm just happy to have the big stuff done. I still have to wash a few outfits for Kaiden to toss in there but it's pretty much done. Now we just have to wait.