Friday, August 27, 2010

We're Home!

Thank goodness!  After such a wonderful trip the last few days have been a blur!  We left Guangzhou at 10:40 pm Wednesday night China time (12 hrs ahead of us), got to Hong Kong at 11:40 and took the hotel shuttle to the Marriott at the airport.  We got in bed about 1 am and had a wake up call at 5 am - so even though it was our first soft bed since we had left home we didn't get to enjoy it long. 

Our flight left the next morning at 8 so we had to get to the airport early.  Keep in mind all of this is with an 18 month old, 3 check-in bags, and 2 carry-ons.  Every step was an ordeal!

From Hong Kong we flew to Tokyo - had enough time to get to our gate, eat lunch and rest a short time and then board for our longest flight to Minneapolis.  We were not lucky enough to get an extra seat, so we had two seats in a set of three and Sophie climbed from Amy to me at least 5,000 times over the course of the next 10 hours.  She really did well for the circumstances.  I'm writing the airline though - sometimes you  have to fly with babies and they could help a little - they could at least have a baby changing station and some special seats for families with babies.  Ever try to change a poopy diaper on a plane, or eat a meal with a toddler sitting in your lap and the tray table down where they can grab everything on the tray? Fun times!

At Minneapolis we had to retrieve our bags, go through customs (where Sophie became an American Citizen!), recheck our bags, go through security again, and then wait about 3 hours for our flight to Atlanta.  In Atlanta we had almost no time to change planes, but luckily two other ladies on our flight had to catch the same plane, so they helped find the gate and lead the way there.  All along we encountered such nice people who were great to help us out!  The poor lady who sat by us from Tokyo to Minneapolis was wonderful.  She was from Thailand, going to visit a friend in North Dakota. (Couldn't have made that up!).  We barely could communicate, but she helped us several times on the trip.

Here are a few pictures of our last few days in Guangzhou.  We had a wonderful time in China and will always remember this trip.  We met some great people and hope to keep in touch.  Some are in these pictures.

Amy & Sophie in the Mattel playroom at the White Swan Hotel.

Sophie and her friend Lily.

It is a tradition to dress up all the adopted children in a group and make their picture on the famous red couches in the hotel.  This was hilarious!  It was chaotic, crazy and loud.  Some kids (like Sophie) were having none of it and some just looked around at the screaming ones in wonderment. 

Sophie has good lung power!

Look at Lily and Grace in the front turning around to look at Sophie and Lia (next to Sophie) to see what all the fuss is about!

She was fine if Amy held her.

Our whole group.

Sophie and Grace our last morning at breakfast!

Amy's friend Tracy and her daughter, Charlotte met us at the airport in Minneapolis.  Don't Charlotte and Sophie both look cute in yellow? 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guangzhou Trips

Yesterday we went on the bus to the 6 Banyan Buddhist Temple, the Old Chen House and the Provincial Art crafts shopping center.  It was terribly hot and miserable, but the things we saw were beautiful.  The Buddhist temple is one of the oldest here, named after the Banyan trees on the property.  The Old Chen house is a large home was ancestral home of the Chen family but now owned and maintained by the government as a historical place. So interesting to see what we have only seen in movies.  The Provincial Art shopping center had authentic Chinese crafts that the guides could guarantee were real and good quality.  In other shops you take a chance at what you get.  We did a little shopping here.

Even though we enjoyed the morning we were worn out and so glad to get back to the room for Sophie to nap and us to cool off and regroup.  There was a group outing for dinner but we chose not to go and ordered pizza in the room.  We were glad because a huge rainstorm came while they were out.  Tonight we are planning to go out with the group to a Cantonese dinner.

Today we went to the pearl market, a huge 5-story mall with hundreds of pearl and jewelry wholesale shops.  Most of the families bought their girls some sort of pearls to give them when they are older.

I'm going to try to post some pictures. (crossing fingers)

Sophie learned quickly how to point the remote at the TV!

Our hotel is right on the Pearl River.  We watched this boat with big screen last night.

Lucy's restaurant - American food (somewhat)

Six Banyan Temple

One of the Buddhas representing past, present or future.

A street shop next to the temple.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Sophie's first plane ride.  As long as she has a cracker she's good.

First breakfast at White Swan hotel.

Breakfast buffet.

Fish pond by our table.

Waterfall in hotel.

Sculptures like this are all over the island.  Notice the soldiers in the background doing something we couldn't figure out.

It is very slow uploading pictures so I can only do a few at a time.  Amy seems to have an easier time on her blog so check there for more.

We're in Guanzhou!

Just a quick post to let everyone know we made it to Guanzhou last night.  Sophie did great on her first plane ride, but decided to be more active than she's been all week.  She was a real wiggle worm, but happy the whole time.  Our flight was delayed on the runway an hour but they fed us supper during that time which made it go faster.

The White Swan Hotel is beautiful, although our room is much smaller than our room in Chongqing.  We have to stay a little more organized here.  This morning we had our first experience of the famous White Swan breakfast buffet and it was all we had heard.  It was so good to have regular breakfast food again.  In Chongqing there were a few familiar things, but many unfamiliar too!  We caught back up with our group after breakfast and met the others in the group who had been to Beijing. It was so good to see everyone again and their beautiful girls.  One family has a set of twins.

 Our guides Maggie and Grace walked with us to the photo shop to get pictures for the girl's passports (Sophie's is so cute), then to the clinic for their physicals.  We heard Sophie really cry for the first time today.  She did not like what they were doing to her!  It is so hot out that afterwards we shopped just a little then came back to the room to cool off and let Sophie nap.  Amy has to go to a group meeting in a little while to fill out paperwork.

I've tried and tried to download pictures, but it just won't work - I'll try again later - just wanted everyone know we are okay.  We're over halfway now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chongqing Old Town

We had a nice outing this morning, going with our guide and a driver to Old Town, the very beginning of Chongqing.  The stone streets are 800 years old, but the buildings were rebuilt about 100 years ago.  It is on a tributary of the Yangtze River where most of the travel and commerce was done years ago. 

Sophie is officially the easiest baby on the planet.  She traveled great for only the second car ride of her life. (better than me - you just can't believe the traffic and crazy driving here)  It was very hot, but for the most part of the morning we were in the shade so it wasn't too bad.  We saw some of the Canadian families there that we saw at the Registrar's office on Monday.  It isn't hard to spot any of us!
Sophie seems to be fine today.  She still won't take formula, but as long as she drinks other things and eats well we aren't going to worry about it.  Most 18 months old at home wouldn't be on formula anyway and she is a pretty big girl.  She can wear some 12 months, but has long legs and a long torso so anything that snaps or needs length has to be 18 months.

Here are some pictures of Sophie and our trip to Old Town.

 She gets herself to sleep like this - holding her favorite green stacking cup, her doll, her blanket, and thumb in mouth.  She just lies here and talks quietly and plays until she falls asleep - every time! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sick Baby

 We have canceled our trip to the zoo today as we have a sick little girl. Just tummy issues so I hope they won't last long. She slept all night but early this morning got very agitated in her bed. Amy picked her up to put her in bed with her and she vomited all over her. No food, just phlegm, but she vomited every few minutes. We called Anita, our guide, to cancel the outing and she came to the hotel. She and Amy gave Sophie a suppository and had results right away. We think that was part of the problem as she hadn't had a BM since we have had her. She may be congested some too and all of that, plus stomach acid just didn't have anywhere to go. She totally refuses formula. She will drink water or juice from a bottle, but clamps her lips shut when she sees a bottle with milk. Anita went and got her some dumplings and she ate those. They also gave her some medication for congestion and she went to sleep. She is taking a good nap so hopefully she will feel better when she wakes up. Except for a possible trip to the store for a few more things today we will probably stay close to the room

I am going to try to catch up with some of the pictures from the last few days. These are from Hong Kong.
 Our hotel room - the Regal Riverside

 View from our room - notice the swimming complex.

 Hotel Lobby

 Also in hotel lobby

 Huge skyscrapers everywhere - many are condominiums to house the huge population.

 This is a new condo complex being built - will be 4th tallest building in the world when finished (Hope I remembered this right)

 Our wonderful Hong Kong guide Matthew.  CCAI has excellent guides helping us out.  When we went to the airport to fly to Chongqing, Mathew went with each family to their check-in counter and helped with everything.  Anita, our guide here in Chongqing has gone above & beyond to do for us.  She has Amy's notary and will do all the running around to finish our paperwork so that we only have a minimum of trips to make.

More construction - notice the beautiful blue skies and mountains in the background.  Hong Kong was really picturesque .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Catching Up

We have Sophie!  She came right to Amy, grabbed onto her and nestled her head on Amy's shoulder and stayed there for the next two hours.  We walked back to our hotel and she sat in Amy's lap and watched everything but didn't make a peep.  She fell asleep and Amy held her while she slept.  When she woke up she took a bottle of juice then played on the bed with her toys (as long as Amy was nearby).  We ordered room service and she loved my noodles and Amy's rice but hasn't taken a bottle of formula yet.  She went right to sleep about 8 pm and is still asleep (11 hrs so far).  We still haven't seen her stand or walk, but we are just giving that time.  Poor little thing has been through a lot.

The guide told us we would either get a crying baby, smiley baby, or serious baby.  Amy just knew it would be a crying baby, but so far seems more like a serious baby - you can see her mind just clicking away as she watches us.  Amy is so blessed!

Enjoy these few pictures and I will try to catch up on the trip so far later.....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Made it to Hong Kong

We're here and it's been great so far.  The plane trip was loooong!  The first plane from Greensboro to Detroit was the narrowest plane I've ever been on - it can't have been 10 ft. wide.  There were 2 seats on each side of the narrowest aisle possible.  If there had been any possibility of it even flying to China (which it wouldn't) I would have gotten off right then!  We were a little late getting to Detroit and of course our next plane was in a different concourse 50 miles away, so by the time we got there they were already boarding, so no waiting time there.  

Before the plane took off a fight attendant came by and offered Amy & me a section of 3 seats in the front, which was wonderful.  We had an extra seat for our things, plus much more leg room.  That was uncomfortable enough for 15 hours, the other would have been pretty bad!  Uneventful flight thankfully, and we arrived about 7:30 last night Hong Kong time.  A guide from Amy's agency, CCAI, met us and another family at the airport and brought us to our hotel, the Regal Riverside.  It's right on a river and we have a spectacular view.  My camera is charging now so I will load pictures later, but Amy did load some on her blog if you want to check now.

After a big buffet breakfast here in the hotel where we met the other four families in our group, we met our guide for the day, Matthew, who took us on a tour of Hong Kong.  We went to the top of Victoria Peak where the views of the harbor and city were beautiful, to Aberdeen fishing village and harbor where we took a Sampan ride, then to Stanley Market which is a big group of shops.  On our way we went through downtown Hong Kong and stopped at a jewelry factory and showroom.  There were beautiful things, but no on in our group bought anything.  There will be other opportunities and we've all heard that mainland China will be less expensive. Hong Kong is amazing.  Very mountainous roads with tons of traffic and driving anywhere here would be a nightmare.  Very beautiful city though.

This afternoon Amy & I walked around the area where the hotel is and bought some water and drinks in a local convenience store.  We hope to get a good night's sleep tonight - last night we were so tired and went to sleep easily but we both woke up really early this morning. 

Tomorrow is a free day until 3:00 pm when Matthew will pick us all up again and head back to the airport where the families split up to go to three different provinces and then we'll all meet back up in Guanzhou at the end of the week.  There will also be some other families who flew into Beijing first and will meet our group then also.

Will post again as soon as possible - internet is fairly expensive here and we don't know how it will be in Chongqing.

Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Our plane to China leaves at 12:30 tomorrow!  I just can't believe the time has come.

I am all packed .  If you can tell there is one little spot left for one last small bag that goes in tomorrow morning and pray that my scales are accurate.  We are allowed 44 lbs and my scale reads 42!  Since Amy has to pack for herself and Sophie she was a little over - so I have a few of her things too.  The bag on the left has 20 knitted hats for the orphanage from my Monday night knitting buddies.  Thanks everyone!

These are the bags I plan to keep with me.  I'm hoping not to have to put anything in the overhead if at all possible.  I've tried to abide by all the packing rules so hope we get through security with no problems.  Last time I traveled my ticket was randomly marked and I was searched at every stop so I'm hoping that won't happen this time.

Who would  have ever thought I would be going to China?  It is a once in a lifetime trip so I plan to enjoy every minute and especially seeing that beautiful little face for the first time and getting to know her.  I'm so glad I have the opportunity to do this with Amy.

On another note - do you have lots of butterflies this year?  They are everywhere and so big this year.  My butterfly bush is beside the driveway and every afternoon when I drive up the bush is covered.  Enjoy this beauty.

I will post as soon as possible - hopefully from Hong Kong.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our China Itenerary

Amy posted this itenerary on her blog, and kindly let me copy and paste and save myself a little typing.

All times are the local time. China is 12 hours ahead of the US Eastern Time Zone:

8/12: Leave US for Hong Kong

8/13: Arrive in Hong Kong late that night.

8/14: Free day in Hong Kong

8/15: Leave Hong Kong for Chongqing around 6:30 that night (by airplane). Arrive around 8:30pm.

8/16: Free time in the morning. Go get Sophie that afternoon.

8/17: Free time in the morning. Go complete the adoption registration and notarization in early afternoon.

8/18: Morning: optional half day tour of Chongqing Zoo. Afternoon: free time.

8/19: Morning: optional tour of CiQiKou (old town Chongqing). Afternoon: free time.

8/20: Receive Sophie’s finalized paperwork in the morning. Leave Chongqing by plane for Guangzhou at 6:45pm. Arrive in Guangzhou at about 8:30pm.

8/21: Get Sophie’s medical exam and visa photo taken in the morning. Prepare paperwork in the afternoon for the American consulate.

8/22: Free day.

8/23: Consulate appointment.

8/24: Go back to the Consulate to take the oath.

8/25: Go back to the Consulate again to receive Sophie’s visa packet in the morning. Leave Guangzhou by plane to go to Hong Kong at 8:05pm.

8/26: Leave Hong Kong early in the morning and make the excruciatingly long flight back to the US.

This still seems surreal to me.  Going to China?  Can't be real, can't be me!

However, this afternoon I started getting clothes and toiletries organized to pack and it hit home.  I'm not too nervous a flyer, but just the whole process is a little scary - getting to and from the right places at the right time, finding our way around when we don't speak the language, etc. And, the most important part - praying that what is a happy, wonderful time for Amy isn't too hard an experience on little Sophie.  She is coming to a loving home and will have a great life but all she will know at the moment is that we look different, sound different, probably smell different than anybody she has ever known. It will be natural for her to grieve, but we just hope she is able to work through it without it being too hard on her (and us!).

Monday, August 2, 2010

So Much Going On

It has been a busy, crazy last couple of weeks.  DIL and granddaughters came down for one of Amy's showers and were able to stay for several days.  We love having them here but they have busy lives back home too with church and drama practice and orthodontist appointments, etc. so they've gone back home.  We hope they will be able to come back for another visit before school starts.

Nikki brought her horse to the shower!


This past Friday her co-workers gave her another shower and I was invited.  Again, everyone was so nice and generous and happy for Amy and Sophie.

The cake was beautiful and delicious!

Now, we have 8 days before we leave and I have got to start thinking about packing!