Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Welcome to my adoption travel blog!

Hi there.

You probably found this blog via a search on China adoption travel. Welcome! I am glad you stopped by. I have a lot of great information for you in this blog and numerous details about our experience.

This blog was written in June/July of 2007 when we traveled to meet our 8 month old daughter.

Our wait time was exactly two years.

During that time we went on maternity hold for six months.

After going off hold, our referral came one week later.

We traveled to Hong Kong, Nanchang, and then finally to Guangzhou, China.

Our experience in China was incredible. We fell in love with our daughter and her birth country.

The blog ends with me talking about our experiences once we came home and becoming a family of two babies two months apart and a three year old.

Due to people's interest in our story, I stopped blogging here because I want this to JUST be a travel blog, and moved my daily rambling to a new site.

If you like this blog and want to follow our story, please visit my blog. Link.

I also do a video show for moms and I have a vlog. AND THREE KIDS. Yes, I am tired. Links to everything I do online are on my blog page.

Make sure you leave a comment and let me know if this blog helped you or inspired you in any way!

Thanks for coming by and good luck in your own adoption travel adventures!!

Mama

Juna said Mama.

I sat her down on the floor and she wasn't happy about that. She looked up at me and said, "MA!" (pause) "Ma."

And it's been non stop Mama ever since.

My heart has officially melted.

I also placed ads looking for a Mother's Helper. I can't go this alone, folks. I need to drag an 11 year old down along with me.

Still deciding how to work out the blogs. I'll let you know what I am going to do or where I am going to go. In case you want to come along?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Babysitting

I knew our family would attract attention. I was all prepared for the comments. We in the international adoption community (oooh how I loved writing that) have heard them or have been briefed on what we will hear. Bottom line- people who haven't BTDT, don't know the lingo. They don't know how to delicately phrase a question so as not to come off as an insensitive arse. Or maybe they are insensitive arses and therefore, all is lost on them anyway.

Example- (as they point to the children) "Which ones are yours?"
(Or, as they point to the baby from China) "How much did she cost?"

I wasn't prepared for this one:

"Are you babysitting?"

I took the girls out for a walk in the stroller on Friday and heard the above question twice in ten minutes. And one person knew we were adopting from China. When I reminded her, she smacked her forehead and said, "DOH!" The DOH made up for any annoyance I felt at her forgetting our situation.

We took All My Children out to lunch today. Juna hates the car seat. The entire trip to and fro any destination has the soundtrack of a baby wailing in anger. Sounds familiar. Miss Boo did that her entire first year of life. She stopped when we could finally turn her around to face forward. I predict similar results with June Bug.

Lunch was a success! Av lounged in her car seat, J Bug sat in a high chair and ate piles of food, Boo was a good girl, and Mom and Dad ate too much, too.

Seriously, do all China babes eat THAT much food? She can eat adult sized portions of food. Our Ped said to let her. She's underweight and needs to gain. But seriously- WOW that girl can eat.

Speaking of... I've not been dieting. Eating now is simply for survival purposes. I don't care if it's high fat/low fat/loaded with high fructose corn syrup/10 days past the expiration date. Can I throw it into my mouth while rushing off to calm a screaming baby? Can it be cooked/eaten/cleaned up in five mins or less? I'm eatin it!

Have I gained or lost weight? I don't know and I don't want to know. Seriously, don't tell me. Yesterday I ate half a container of blue crab dip from Costco. There's 32 servings in that little container. Must not think of all the calories and fat I consumed. LA LA LA LA LA happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

My generous friends kept us in food for two weeks. Now we must cook for ourselves again. I predict many frozen meals in our future. Hopefully cooked before eaten.

Speaking of generous friends- my invitation for Juna's shower arrived yesterday. My friend hand made all the invites. She has a three month old baby, people. I don't know how she does it. When Boo was three months old, I was still in my sweats and Tshirts, no makeup, hair everywhere, and curled up fetal style while sobbing, "When will I ever sleep again!"

No one has ever thrown a shower for me. I've been married twice. I've had three children. Not one single shower thrown in my honor. Wow, I must be a raging bitch or something. Tee hee. So you can tell how honored/awkward I feel about this. Especially when I heard that people actually wanted to attend. I'm really touched by this. But also a bit freaked out. What if they have a bad time? What if I say something completely out of place and they go, "WHY did I even bother showing up for you?" Then I'll always be known as, "now I understand why no one ever threw a party for her before" girl.

And now we see why no one throws parties for me. I'm socially awkward. Gee, what gave it away?

I love the weekends. Parenting is so much easier when Daddy's around. How come Saturday and Sunday always fly by?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Upward and onward

Juna said her first word.

Up.

It sums her UP completely.

Juna is a very determined child. She does not sit back and wait for something to happen. She makes it happen. She will not stand for being second in line. She must be first, front and center. It's her way or the highway. Already the leader at 9 months old. Already the leader after only 2 weeks home. And she's smart, this kid. Show her something once, no need to show again. She's got it.

Oh we're SO in trouble.

In China, I pulled her up to a standing position while saying, "Up up up." She mimicked me by saying, "Puh puh puh." We play that game every day, numerous times per day. Now she has reversed the puh to up. "Up. Up. UP!" And I don't have to pull her up anymore. She will climb anything that gets in her way. Including the other baby.

Up is whispered, so does that really count as saying her first word?

It's so cute. It has to count.

She can stand while holding onto something with one hand. She will let go, balance a few moments, then fall on her behind. Then get right back up again. "Up up up up up."

Daddy will take her hands and walk her across the room. She giggles the whole time. She giggles because she knows that she's going to skip crawling and go straight to walking. So funny, Mom and Dad. Get ready!

At the same time this happened, Av learned to sit and crawl backwards. Today, Av got up on her hands and her feet and tried so desperately to stand up.

It's time to find a looooong baby gate for the living room.

I'll post an appropriate pic tonight or over the weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Going Home Barbie- another comment

Katie made a comment in the last post about how she was laughing over the Going Home Barbie. To refresh your memory, it's a Barbie given to adoption families who stay at White Swan. Maybe other hotels, not sure. I had written a snarky post about this particular Barbie. Me? Write a snarky post? Are you SURE?

Check out a link with picture to see what the current version looks like.

While thankful Mattel does something so nice for adoption families (and gets a little publicity at the same time) I think Barbie and her supposedly Asian (Guatemalan) baby need a slight re-design. Ok, ok, I think she needs a complete overhaul. It's in the archives, if you're interested.

Anyway, I forgot to mention what my Chinese friend said when he saw the Barbie. I showed him 20 year old Barbie (too young to adopt from China- or perhaps she's been had some Botox) and her Asian (Guatemalan) baby in her hoochie baby outfit and my Chinese friend said, "Why is she holding a Hawaiian baby?"

I said, "Just to clarify, for the record. You're Chinese. If you saw this in the stores, would you assume Barbie was holding a Chinese baby?"

He replied, "No, I would think Barbie has been to Hawaii."

And there you have it.

All I can think of is that Barbie is the hot nanny you stupidly hired to take care of your... Chinese.... baby. And you wonder why your husband is now coming home early from work to eagerly offer her a ride home?

A reminder to me to hide the Going Home Barbie before Miss Boo finds her, strips her and the origins unknown baby down, and wraps them in toilet paper. Because that is just what Miss Boo does to Barbie Dolls. Of unknown and known origins. Well, Barbie is CLEARLY the girlfriend-on-the-side of a studio chief in Hollywood. But that baby... the debate rages on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Babies babies babies


Here's J Bug, modeling a Y2k band aid. It didn't show up well in the pic, but it says "Year 2000! Y2K!" You'd think with as many times as I slice my finger while cooking, I'd have more current band aids in the house.


Marge In Charge is truly enjoying these babies. Aw, look at the Way Cool Red Couch. It's seen better days. Here's what you shouldn't do. You shouldn't run out and furnish your entire home in brand new, lovely furnishings and THEN have kids. We were thinking with the same brain that bought this stupid house in the first place. Then again, it's kind of cool. I have baby drool and who knows what else all over the Way Cool Couch. Does that make it even cooler?


I can't wait until the first Nosy Nelly at the grocery store makes a stupid comment about these two being sisters. Unless of course, it's Nelly the rap star. I will ask him to autograph Juna's rather large forehead. I'm kidding! Humor, har har. Look, Avie has a large forehead, too. It's supposed to be a sign of intelligence. Or perhaps it just means my kids will need bangs once they have hair.


Yes, they are wearing matching dresses. I've read up on artificial twinning (all the experts are dead set against it) and they say please do not dress your artificial twins alike. This is why they are wearing matching dresses. It's my way of saying thanks, experts. Come up with something better than the term artificial twin, will you? Just look at that smile on Avie!

Don't want to forget ...

When Matt comes home from work. All three girls are playing in the same room. I hear him come in, yell, "Daddy's home!" He comes into the room and all three girls light up in smiles. The babies reach up their arms for him. Boo hugs him tightly. The babies smile and smile and giggle and are so happy to see Daddy. Boo dances around him while singing, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, my daddy!" Mommy is also happy because that means two people for three children, hah.

Matt must feel like such a rock star when he comes home from work. Perhaps less Mick Jagger and more a member of The Wiggles.

Must also remember....

When I stand Juna up and then say, "Boom!" She will fall forward against my chest. Anytime I am holding her and say, "boom," she will fall onto me and laugh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Juna 9 months

Juna is 9 months old today.

I thought I'd do a little update on her progress so far- almost two weeks home.

I still monitor the China adoption boards and love reading referral information, especially from Juna's orphanage (Suichuan SWI.) I love how parents are now celebrating the fact that the baby is from Suichuan, since there has been so many happy adoption stories from that province lately. Add ours to the list.

Even with coming from a "good" orphanage, it's still an orphanage. Juna still has issues when it comes to security and confidence. She worries we will never feed her again. She hates going to sleep. She doesn't like it when we leave the room. Hmmm. These issues are not unlike issues I have had with my bio kids. Which sounds funny to say- like they are science superheros. Bio Kids, to the rescue!

I have learned that it's good to be educated about attachment/bonding/issues that come with children adopted from Chinese orphanages. But I have also learned you can get too wrapped up in the worry over attachment/bonding. You can get too many case studies in your head and start looking for issues that aren't even there. Your child can be crying because her teeth hurt and you instantly think, "She's grieving for her nanny." No, a razor sharp tooth is breaking through her gums. Sometimes the worry over attachment/bonding is blamed on basic baby-related problems. It's good to be educated, it's good to know the signs, but it's also good to just relax and let your child just be a child- not just an orphanage baby.

I use my mother as an example. She has no clue about attachment/bonding. She treats Juna like Juna's been with us forever. At first I was like, "Oh, don't do that, it might scare her.. bonding/attachment/blah blah." Juna and my mother get on famously. They have a great time together. After watching them interact, I learned to just let go a little bit. Let Juna be Juna and not Juna from the Orphanage. It's like Jenny from the Block, but with a lot less bling.

Example? Mom had the three year old in the tub and was holding Juna in her arms while seated in the bathroom. I had sliced my finger open on a knife while making lunch. Again. I do this often. I need Jenny from the Block money I can hire someone to cook for me because obviously I am dangerous in the kitchen. So Mom was wrangling the children, Av was asleep, and I was bleeding everywhere.

Once I realized I didn't need to rush to the ER- again- I peeked into the bathroom. My mother had Juna in the tub with Miss Boo. I said, "No, this is a bad idea, Juna's not used to water and this might scare her off baths forever!"

Puh-leaze. Juna was having the time of her life. Splashing and giggling! It's now a routine. Juna bathes with her big sister for a few minutes out of each bath. They both have a great time and I have cleaner children as a result. And hey- it's BONDING TIME for both of them. Something I wouldn't have realized because I was too worried about Juna's "special issues." So worried about bonding that I didn't give her a chance to bond. Hmmm...

Other things I want to remember:
Juna's boil is almost completely healed thanks to antibiotics. Again- so happy I joined the online group for parents adopting from her orphanage. I expected a boil, I got a boil, I knew how to treat a boil. Thanks, Internet.

I also learned the girls from Suichuan like to sleep with lovies/wubbies/little blankies cuddled to their faces. Juna is using one from when Miss Boo was a baby. We started giving one to Av. The problem is that when Av has on a bib and I'm feeding her, she will rub the bib against her face, stick her thumb in her mouth, and pass out.

Juna is both fascinated and frightened of her older sister. If you know Miss Boo, it's easy to figure out. Miss Boo is... everywhere at once. And not in a subtle way. Juna is also protective of her little sister. She is now rubbing her head against Av to show her love. When I bring Av into the room from a nap, Juna lights up with a big smile. If Av is crying, Juna will pat my leg and go, "Mmm! Mmmm!" As if to say, "Take care of her, Mom!" Not sure if I've written about this yet, but hey- it's not the first time I've repeated myself. Today.

And because the other blog isn't up yet, I have to make a note that Av started babbling today. She looked at me, opened her mouth, and said, "Da da." Then didn't stop saying it. "Da da da da. Ba ba ba ba. Da da ba ba." Then she moved her mouth like she was talking, but no sound came out. And that was it. Nothing more since. Except when I make high pitched noises at her and Juna. Both babies will make high pitched noises back.

I spend most of my days on the floor playing with the babies and Boo. The house is "sanitary, but not clean," to use my friend Britney's famous quote. We're eating meals that friend's have prepared and will continue until the weekend when they run out and I have to start cooking again. Ugh, hate that idea. Not because I hate cooking so much ( I do) but I also I hate tearing myself away from these kids. Even to work- ahhh work. It's REALLY slowed down. But so have I, so I guess it's ok. Right now, the kids are the top priority. There will always be work, but I can't get these young years back again. Some day they will be in school and I can take over the entertainment world. Until then, it's Baby Time!

Yes, it's exhausting. No, I have not done my fabulous Chinese hair-cut hair since we got back. I wear nothing but old Tshirts and sweats. Most get covered in baby snot and cereal. Looks WONDERFUL with the Louis Vuitton I bought in China, let me tell ya. When I can carry my Vuitton, on the rare occasion I do get out of the house. Oh and it's soooo pretty. But I'm not. And that's ok. THIS is what I wanted. THIS is what we worked so hard for all those years. It's happening. And I want to enjoy every single exhausting and amazing moment.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oriental Marketing

We had our first outing with All My Children today.

We went to the "Asian" section of town. Laughable because it's about one block with some random shops here and there.

By the time we got to that section of town, which was tricky due to highway construction, June Bug had HAD IT with the car seat. It's only her second time in one and the first time was only a five minute drive.

Would it be correct of me to say the market had a "wet section" dedicated to live creatures swimming in tanks? Miss Boo was fascinated with the blue crabs, alive and frantically clicking their claws.

I did not manage to find any of the goodies we fell in love with in China. Items we found in the grocery section of Walmart. I fell in love with a baked good from Taiwan. It came two to a wrapped pack. It was round, about the size of a moon pie, light in color and a bit dry. I was told by my Chinese friend it was a milk cake, made of milk and honey and to be eaten at breakfast with tea. Oh it's soooo good. I cannot find it anywhere around here. I also cannot find Juna's beloved Mo Bao cakes, also from Taiwan.

Matt and I browsed the market and breathed in the smells- the good smells we remembered from China. We both said, "I miss China!" Our biggest regret is not extending our visit AND spending more time in Hong Kong. If he had a job offer in HK (that paid for housing) we'd be gone in a flash.

We did baffle a Chinese man in the market. He stared at me holding Juna, then looked at our basket filled with our other children. Back and forth, back and forth. He stood there and really tried to figure us out.

We did not encounter any Caucasians. In fact, since that was our first outing, we have not encountered any Caucasians. I cannot wait for our first Target trip. I can just imagine the stares. I will post when I get my first question inquiring as to how we became this particular family. Especially since the youngest is so fair haired with blue eyes. We are an odd family. In so many ways.

So many people go to China on their adoption trips and dislike it greatly. We totally fell in love. Most evenings I sit here and long to be back again.

And that was our first outing. Other than Juna freaking out in the car and us not being able to find our favorite goodies, it went fairly well.

Friday, July 13, 2007

How it's going

I've been fighting with this. Do I blog or not?

I made a pledge to be honest and honest I shall be.

It's hard. It's really really hard. It's wonderful and it sucks all at the same time.

The wonderful parts are obvious. Three amazing girls. The sucky parts are also obvious. The fatigue, the worry, the guilt, not enough hours or energy for one day. Blah blah.

Being on the go 24 hours a day is difficult, I cannot lie. It would help if I was in excellent shape. There's a lot of getting onto the floor. Getting up from the floor. Bending. Stooping. Racing around. I'm 36 years old. I'm a bit old for this. I will be in shape shortly, I will have you know. There's no way a person can race around this much and eat this little without shedding a pound or two. Knowing me, I won't. And we can have a little chuckle over that someday. Ahhh someday. Why aren't you now?

My children haven't gotten used to that fact that there's three of them yet. They have those huge soulful eyes and when they well up with tears because they've been made to wait for two minutes for something, it just kills me. In time, they will get used to one another and learn how to handle life with two other siblings. And I do think about that a lot. THe future. When they can talk to each other and tackle each other and drive each other crazy instead of me.

We've gotten taking care of their basic needs down pretty quickly. Everything in our house is organized to take care of the babies. There is never a wet wipe far out of reach. The bottle station is all set up with different sets and different formula for each girl's needs. The Big Girl now has a doll posse that goes everywhere she goes. They sleep at one end of the bed, she sleeps at the other.

Oh- for those of you who watch Between the Lions, you will get a chuckle out of this. Boo has a Cinderella doll. She hangs her by her hands from a shelf. Then she calls for Cliff Hanger to come rescue her. Because Cinderella and Cliff Hanger are getting married!

For the most part, everything is running quite smoothly. Our house now resembles the orphanage Juna came from. All cribs and toys and bottle station and children everywhere. My super sleek red couches are now covered in.. what IS that? Ahhh home sweet hell.

I joke. I joke because if I don't, I will tear out all my hair and run naked through the streets of Downtown. I joke so I'm not tomorrow's top news story.

The struggle I'm having is with my emotions. I have constant Mom Guilt that I'm not doing enough for each child. That each one isn't getting enough individualized attention. That we did Juna a disservice by adopting her. Oh yes, my mind has gone so far as to wonder if she was better off in the orphanage! I know, it's crazy. I just lack confidence right now. I feel like Juna thinks she went from one orphanage to another. Would she have had a better life with a family with no other children? The amount of times I've had to say, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" to her is unreal.

Just what am I sorry for? We gave her a small, but comfortable home. There are toys everywhere, I swear, the toys! We gave her an endless supply of food, love, comfort, and SISTERS. Why do I feel so badly for her?

I can't help the emotions and the questions and the doubt.

Am I mom enough for all these girls?

The sleep issue, for all of us, is not good. Avie must be cutting every single tooth at once. And she's a screamer. Man can that little preemie let out a wail. June Bug is still scared to fall asleep at night. And who can blame her, with a wailing banshee in the next crib? Pats on the back seem to work. But mom and dad have to sleep SOMETIME.

When I get the chance to sleep, I can't. I cannot shut off my brain. Typical.

I also have not left the house with the babies yet. We are going to try this weekend. I am not confident enough to do it alone. Yet I have to get Juna used to her car seat and being on the go from time to time.

In time, right?

The rewards? Today June Bug pulled at my hair. I made a mock, "AHHH" sound. She reached forward and hugged me. Hugged me. Oh it was precious. She is also starting to say Mama. And when Matt comes home from work, she reaches for him with a big smile. She is also starting to say Ba ba.

Also today, Avie got up on all fours and rocked back and forth. She's trying so hard so crawl. She'll be seven months old in a few weeks, five months adjusted for prematurity. She watches Juna and copies her sounds and movements.

And Miss Boo? She makes me laugh so hard, my sides ache. My comic relief, that girl. She really helps me get through the day with a smile on my face.

When I get down, I think of three special friends of mine who are currently in fertility treatment/domestic adopting. They are my strength right now to quit whining and be strong and look at the good, not obsess on the fatigue and the worry and Mama Guilt.

Two months from now, I want to look back on this post and just laugh because we conquered this phase and lived to laugh about it.

I hope you understand where I'm coming from. I hope I have gotten it across clearly in this post. I'm so thrilled we did this. But I'm not so far gone that I think it's a cake walk. Mmmm cake.... I also know that this adjustment phase, while trying, will end eventually. I just wanted to get it out there so I can remember this time. Since I can barely remember my own name. It's so good to have it documented. And I wanted people reading this to know what it's really like in our unique situation.

This is the Adjustment Phase. We're adjusting.

Shower the people

My friend, the ultimate shower-er (she's so clean) is throwing a diaper shower for Juna.

August 4th
4ish, I think...
Ladies only, no children except the guest of honor
Asian themed, of course

If you are a local friend and this interests you, please email me or leave a comment with a way to contact you.

Some of you will be contacted via email by my friend anyway.

But if you think we will forget you because I'm in a fog, remind me, ok?

Who does this kind of stuff? Who posts on their blog saying, "Hey, are you my friend? Do you want to come to my party? Pwetty pwease? PS Who are you again?"

I do. And that's why you find me oh so charming.

Heh

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A routine is getting established


It's a little easier. A little. Slowly. Bit by bit.

The babies are getting on a schedule. I know, some of you roll your eyes at my schedule. Talk to me when you have multiples. Then you won't be able to roll your eyes. Your eyes will be too tired to even blink.

Avie is cutting her first tooth and spends most of her time gnawing on teethers. When a teether isn't in her mouth, she's wailing. Keeping Av comfortable has been my biggest challenge.

J Bug plays happily her toys. When I sing to her, she pounds out the beat on the floor with a rattle. The orphanage had said, "The baby loves the music." They were right. Each day she learns to trust us and her new environment even more. She's learning that her big sister is loud and crazy and her little sister hates getting teeth. She will reach over and pat Avie when she cries. When Avie goes on too long, Juna will pinch her.

Part of the schedule is to feed the babies their solids around 4pm. I put Avie in her car seat and sit Juna next to her. I feed one, then the other. Two birds with their mouths open, ready for more. Today I set up Avie, grabbed the bowls and Juna crawled over and sat next to her sister. After just one day, she knew what was coming and what to do. She catches on so quickly. Which is why the routine is good for her. She feels comforted by knowing what the day holds for her.

Miss Boo has a special big girl day today. My mom watched the babies while I picked up Miss Boo from camp. She raced into my arms and when I said we'd be going out to lunch, she screamed for joy. Screamed. SOOO happy to get alone time with mommy. We had lunch, then I took her shopping for a new doll. She wanted a King Triton doll from Little Mermaid but he doesn't exist at Target. She got Sleeping Beauty AND Belle. Hooray for clearance. ANd when I got home, the babies were napping right on schedule and my mom wasn't completely bald from pulling out her hair in frustration. She actually had a good time with the girls. Who knew my mother could handle "twins."

It might have just been Mr Goodcents and Target with a three year old, but I was out of the house and MAN did that feel GREAT!

The only time my new life is difficult is when I seriously lack in sleep. Say five hours or less a night. I cry a lot on those days. I don't handle sleep deprivation very well. On the days I get at least 7 hours, I am Super Mama!

I had much to discuss with you, but I can only blog in the evenings. Around 730pm, I start to zone out. Perhaps in the future I will have more energy for my old hobbies again. Too tired to blog, imagine that! I have more to discuss about China.

Which reminds me of something... ok, I will leave you with this last story.

You know how most people are really scared of the toilets in China? The Squatty Potties? Well I had a toilet experience today in the good ol USA that I just have to share.

Miss Boo had to poop. Of course she had to poop in a public toilet. She did her thing, I got her all cleaned up and happy. I told her not to flush. I like to use a piece of toilet paper to touch the handle. I leaned over, flushed, and the super powerful USA toilet was so powerful, it sent sprays of toilet water all over my face. Miss Boo poopy toilet water.

That would never happen on a Chinese Squatty Potty.

So there you go. Score one for the Chinese toilet. And the Neutrogena company. I probably used an entire container of face wash to get rid of that experience.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Friends are asking what they can do to help. You know what would be so appreciated? Food. A small dish of something I can quickly heat up and serve. Just during this adjustment period when there's little to no time to cook and we are both too tired to even function. That would be wonderful! Thank you!

Sunday was rough, I won't even try to make it sound any other way. It was just plain awful. The reason? Mom and Dad were running on no sleep. It is impossible to get anything accomplished or just enjoy being alive when one is that tired. We took turns during the day taking mini naps, as there was so much that needed to be done. I had to work. Car seats needed to be installed. Items for babies needed to be purchased. And the babies were on different schedules. There wasn't one single break yesterday between babies, chores, and trying to sleep. I don't consider a nap a break. It's a chore. When I lay down and HAVE to sleep, I can't. "Come on, come on, FALL ASLEEP ALREADY!" The pressure makes me anxious and I cannot drift off.

But we made it through the day. And now it's Monday and we both got some sleep and the world is a much nicer place.

Today I had to take June Bug in for a series of blood tests. I first went to a lab close to the house. No one was at the front desk, but I could hear the lady talking in the back room. I knocked on the window. I called out. Nothing. The lady kept talking and talking. So I took Juna's rattle and shook it as hard as I could. The lady came flying out to the front desk. "Oh, I didn't know someone was here!" Then she told me that she couldn't help me. She couldn't give a baby a blood test on her own, she needed two people. Go to the lab down the street. Ok fine. Loaded up the baby and guess what the gal wants to do? Ask me ALL about adoptions. The baby is screaming, I'm rushing, and this chick is asking me how much the adoption cost! Second time it's happened since landing in the good ol USA. The first was by the flight attendant from Chicago to STL. The nerve.

I'm usually pretty polite but today I just turned around and left while she was still talking. Totally unlike me, but come on. I've got a screaming baby!

We went to the next lab. No other customers, good. Told them what happened. They said, "What it the lab on (BLAH BLAH) street?" I nodded and they rolled their eyes. "You don't need two people, she's just lazy."

One problem. They couldn't find a good vein. The baby is so upset and crying so loudly and they keep moving the band from arm to arm and she's being pinched and is so scared. They took THREE STICKS and still did not get blood from her. I finally said, "ENOUGH," and was told to come back another day. Juna buried her head on my shoulder and I rocked her to sleep. Tucked her into her car seat, and went to the door of the lab. 12 customers in that lab and not one person offered to get the door for me. There was a lady standing there with a very bad Louis Vuitton fake purse, I might add, and she just looked at me. She watched as I struggled to open the door. Didn't even reach forward to hold the door for me.

Then I get to the front door of the main medical building. Again, I am having trouble with the door. I've got two people behind me and one on the other side of the door. Did any of them get the door for me? Of course not. They made the lady holding the carseat in BOTH hands get the door for all of them.

Honestly, what is wrong with people???

I miss China. I miss how polite people are. I miss good service.

Oh, and how odd is this- there was a ladybug crawling on the box of gloves in the lab. Ladybugs are a big sign for those of us in the China adoption community. Usually it's a good sign. This ladybug was slightly yellow. Maybe THAT's a sign of it's own.

Alright, it's baby time. Back later.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The girls, the story


A hilarious picture. Poor Avie looks like she wants to flee back to my mother's house. Juna looks like she wants to reach up and back hand her older sister. And Miss Boo? Looks like Miss Boo always does- amusing! And Matt? Fast forward 12 years and I betcha that brown hair has turned white.

There's a lot of people reading this blog who don't know our full story. I'd like to share a brief version, because I know some of you are curious. You said so in your emails!

Miss Boo was born after years of infertility treatment. Textbook pregnancy and delivery.

When she was 14 months, we went back for more treatment. I got pregnant, and had a miscarriage with a D and C.

We decided to adopt several months later.

During the long wait, I became pregnant. It's interesting how it happened. I mean, beyond the obvious, heh.

We were at our agency's adoption education seminar. (NO, not there!!) We were seated at a table with other couples. I mentioned out loud that since we weren't going to CHina anytime soon, we'd love a vacation. No, we NEEDED a vacation or I was going to go crazy. A Disney cruise sounded great, didn't it?

The lady across from me got out a card. Her sister was a Disney vacation planner. Give her a call, see what she could do.

Three weeks later and we were sailing!

Two weeks after getting home and two lines appeared on a pregnancy test.

The pregnancy was rough. We almost lost her several times. I was in and out of the hospital and on bed rest and going in for test after test. It was a nightmare. At 32 weeks pregnant, on Christmas to be exact, I wasn't feeling well. I felt so awful, I should have gone straight to the hospital. I didn't. I didn't want to ruin anyone's Christmas. STUPID STUPID STUPID!! Me, someone who isn't a big Christmas person to begin with!

My 3 pound baby was born by emergency C section the next day. It was such an emergency, the doctor warned my husband in private that it, "might not end well." There was a concern both of us wouldn't make it.

After only 23 days in the NICU, my 4 pound sweetheart came home. We put all of our energy into her care and making sure she was going to be ok. Oh, she's such a sweet baby. When she smiles, her entire body curls into a ball, she's that happy. She's the kind of person you want to hang out with, if that makes sense.

After numerous talks with our agency, we all agreed to continue with the adoption. It was planned so that the baby would be just about a year old when the adoption went through.

I think we have all learned that the matching process in China is a magical one. Yes, things happened a bit quicker than expected. But could anyone argue that she isn't the perfect child for our family?

Watching the girls together, I am reminded of how well she was matched with us. She is outgoing, she loves music, she is playful, and she adapts so well to new situations. She picks up on new things so quickly. Show her something once and she's got it for life. She's early with her motor skills (as are the other two girls.) Where Miss Boo is dramatic and crazy, Avie is so laid back and happy, and Juna is very serious and more reserved but also a lot of fun and can be quite silly. The sisters balance each other out perfectly- already! I cannot wait to watch them grow up together.

No, this isn't easy. I have a whole new respect for moms of multiples. Everyone has that fantasy of twins, but the reality? Yeah, it's a lot of work. And that's an understatement.

When I get overwhelmed, I remind myself of everything I've been through in life to this point. I think about the time when Miss Boo was rushed to the hospital for an emergency and I was suddenly surrounded by a team of doctors giving me bad news and I felt the world spin out of control. It's the first time in my life I realized why people who get bad news suddenly lose their footing. And everything we went through to get Avie into the world. That loss of footing happened numerous times while pregnant and after. And the miscarriage- do you ever truly recover from that? That kind of pain is something that you never forget. It smacks you upside the head and keeps smacking you when you get all, "Woe is me."

After all I've been through to get these kids into my life and keep them there, I think I can handle two babies at once.

I'm a warrior. Yet I'm still an emotional softie. I picture myself covered in armor, but if you remove that armor, you see the Pilsbury Dough Girl. I'm the Pilsbury Dough Warrior.

I'm a strong woman, but I'm an emotional woman. I vent. I cry. I get it all out. I don't keep any emotions inside. Maybe I'm healthier as a result? I know people think I'm nuts for blogging it for the world to read, but others also thank me for being honest and sharing the reality of this situation.

It's bad. And it's amazing. It's draining. And it's uplifting.

Tonight, I had my girls in their cribs. I was singing them to sleep. My singing was making them both laugh. Avie laughed so hard she curled into a little ball. June Bug peeked through the crib and grinned and grinned and said, "Ahhhhh!" I got choked up. My girls! My beautiful babies.

There is no doubt I love my children. I'm going to be tired and frazzled and emotional and crazy, but wow do I love my children.

Thanks to my mother and Kat for coming over. Thank you, Kat, for going to the Asian market and the grocery store. I could get used to three adults to three children. Don't spoil me, please!

I will have more information coming about our trip through customs and immigration- might be helpful for families traveling soon. I'm also thrilled to hear from the other Suichuan Mamas. I will have more tips for you, too, just as soon as I get more time to blog.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Solo Flight

You know it's going to be a bad day when the first thing you do is bend over and rip your pants.

It didn't get any better when seconds later, both babies woke up at once and one was poopy while the other was screaming to be held.

And that's when the doorbell rang.

My day went downhill from there. Jet lag? They're not kidding about that jet lag thing. It's horrendous. Example? I'm an insomniac. I can barely sleep when it's night and I'm in my cozy bed. Today? I was falling asleep while changing diapers. It scared the hell out of me because it felt like I had been drugged. Jet lag literally took over my body and made me completely unable to take care of my children.

It's been three years since I've called my husband at work, sobbing, and pleading, "Please, please come home."

This is when a girl needs her mother. And again, this is when a girl's mother is not available due to the new boyfriend.

Britney came over this morning. Britney, who has young children, yet she's right there. She took Av while I gathered up Juna and took her to her first American DR appointment.

She's 50 percent for height, 20 percent for weight. She's ahead when it comes to motor skills development. Behind when it comes to vocalization. Way ahead when it comes to eating and appetite. She has the croup, which is why the Chinese antibiotics did not work. Her ears looked great. Her boil is of some concern. She's back on oral antibiotics to help clear it up. If not, then she has to see a surgeon. Our Ped doesn't lance boils on a baby. Then Juna got five shots- starting over with the shots, poor thing, and sent off to do a ton of blood work in the coming days.

I came home and Britney left and that's when things fell apart. Alone. With three kids. And me so out of it I kept passing out. I'd put the babies on the floor and literally fall asleep. I'd wake up in a panic, wondering how long I'd been asleep. It was just seconds, but it was enough to scare me. I'd get up and jump around and eat some chocolate, but nothing worked. When I fell asleep and woke up with Juna half way across the room and Av screaming and Miss Boo nowhere to be found, I lost it. A sobbing mess. That's when I picked up the phone and begged my husband to please come home.

He did. I fell into bed and fell asleep in one second. Again, not like me. It can take me hours to fall asleep on a good night. Boo came in and bounced on me. The cats jumped on me. I didn't even flinch.

After an hour, I woke up and was a new person. I immediately took action and put our evening plan into place. And guess what? It worked perfectly. We had our dinner. Then the babies had their dinners. They were changed and put to bed and are sound asleep and it's 730pm.

Lesson of the story- Moms need sleep.

Actually, a mom returning from China needs help. She should not be thrust into this type of situation all by herself. Even an experienced mom such as myself was in a panic all day.

I'm a schedule mommy. My children and I all feel very secure when we have a schedule. We wake up at the same time each day, eat at the same time each day, go to bed at the same time each night. This house is run by the clock and it works perfectly for us? Now? Oh, we need that clock set to American time.

What's really funny is how the babies instantly got in tune with one another. ONe would rub her eyes, then the other would rub her eyes. I'd put them both down and they'd nap. Then I'd peek in and one pop open her eyes, look at the other, and the other would pop open her eyes. They didn't make a sound, just POP! Eyes open, we're awake.

They took all their daily naps at the same time, woke at the same time, and ate at the same time. Well, the bottles were slightly staggered, but the cereal was fed side by side at the same time.

I really did have my moments of doubt today. I really did think I had done something horribly wrong for Juna. How could I bring her into this mess when she deserved to be the only child, getting all the attention? But when I see her reach over and pat Av's head or giggle with Miss Boo, I know we made the right choice. Juna will adapt. We will all adapt. She will grow up with two crazy sisters. We are a happy family who is still keeping a sense of humor. It will all be ok.

I did want to be honest about this part. I didn't want anyone to think this is an easy route to take. Getting children into our lives has always been such a struggle. Each path has brought much pain and heartache. There was a time I thought we'd never have children. And here we are, with three, and we're so appreciative. We're also honest in that it's extremely difficult to adapt to our new lives, only days off a plane from China.

Until then, yeah, I could use some help. If you're offering, email me. We'll set something up. Poor Matt has to work all weekend. I have to work this weekend. It's going to be tough for the next few weeks. Once we all adapt, things will be fine again.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Photos

Oops, slightly out of order, sorry. Av is not happy. June Bug is about to comfort her little sister.
Juna's "American Baby" outfit that she wore from Chicago to St. Louis. She became an American Girl on the 4th of July, our wedding anniversary. How cool is that? Oh, and on the flight from Hong Kong to Chicago, we had FOUR SEATS in a ROW! The family next to us decided to get bumped, get 1500 bucks, and take a flight five hours later. Tempting as it was, we wanted to get home ASAP. It was wonderful to have all that space and only have to pay for two seats.
Here's the American Girl in her fourth of July firecracker nightie. First night home.
Juna is cruising the couch just as Zappa walked by. She is amused by the cats, but more amused by me saying, "Kitty kitty kitty!"
Juna meets her unhappy little sister and tries to comfort her. Later, Juna was banging stacking cups on the floor. Av watched her a moment, then joined in.

Miss Boo, dressed in her favorite princess dress, yells, "I LOVE YOU!" at Juna.


Miss Boo, in her red Chinese dress, waves her arms in the air. Juna copies her. I got the pic just as Juna's arms were coming down.

The Sisters Meet

Ok, let's hope I can type this because my hands are shaking. The reality presented itself to me today in the form of three children, all at once.

I'm a little scared.

Nope. I lied. I'm terrified.

The day started with me waking up and my husband going back to bed. My other two girls, the baby and the three year old, were still at my mothers and due to come over this afternoon. June Bug and I played while I tried to unpack. Each time I left the room, she wailed. Now at the hotel, she had stopped doing that. She was comfortable there and knew we'd always walk back in from the bathroom. In this "big" house? Not so comfortable.

I walked her around and showed her each room. She loves ceiling fans. I hold my hand up and say, "breeze, breeze!" She giggles and then holds her hand up, too.

I knew I had to unpack and most importantly, wrap the gifts before Miss Boo, my three year old, came home. It was just impossible to do. So I took Britney up on her offer to come over and help if I needed her. I did!

She came over and we took turns entertaining Juna and unpacking at the same time. We had a lot of opened medication and I didn't want it laying around. Plus, I didn't want my three year old tearing into her presents. I wanted them wrapped!

Then Juna had her bottle and fell asleep. Britney left and I continued to unpack.

June Buggy woke up, had another bottle and was in high spirits. I called my mother, asking if she could please bring my girls over. Her reply? No, not now. Later. There's laundry in the dryer. Ok, how much later? Not sure, we'll call you.

I hung up and gave them a half of an hour. Juna and I were having fun in the TV room. What one item did she want to play with? A room filled with toys and she wanted the remote, of course.

Then I called back my mom. It was 4pm. She had just put the baby down for her nap. At 4pm! AHHH. I said nope, wake her up. I've been without my girls for two weeks, I cannot go another second. Plus, the baby's bedtime is 7pm, (what were you thinking?) but of course I did not say that. The woman did me a huge favor by watching my children for two weeks. But I'm home now and things are gonna change.

They arrived and of course the batteries were dead on the camera. I couldn't find new ones and didn't want to wake up my husband. So no reunion pics. We'll stage one tomorrow, how's that?

I went into the driveway and saw my three year old. She was so excited. Not to see me, but to see Juna. She hugged her and kissed her and told her she loved her a million times.

Then I went around to the other side to see the baby. Little Av took one look at me and burst into angry tears. Then for the rest of the evening, she wouldn't look at me. She wouldn't let me hold her. She became completely withdrawn, which is not like her bubbly self. She acted like an orphanage baby is supposed to act. Except she's my 6 month old biological baby. I was heartbroken. I held back tears, but I was just so so upset.

My orphanage baby? Happy as could be. She was thrilled with Miss Boo. Laughing and crawling to reach her. I stood her on her toes and Boo waved her arms around and Juna copied her every movement. It is true love between those two.

Little Av was also teething. Did mom give her Tylenol? No. No nap, no Tylenol. No wonder Av was not herself. And she's angry with us, that baby. You wouldn't think a six month old could have those feelings, but they do.

Plus, she looks so thin to me. Maybe it's from two weeks of staring at my robust 8 month old. But Av doesn't look healthy to me. My mother didn't give her any solids for two weeks for fear of upsetting her stomach. Like I said, I'm back, thank goodness. It's my way now.

My mom was anxious to leave and she handed me an angry Av. I sat on the floor with a baby who wanted nothing to do with me, a baby who was happily crawling onto me, and a three year old who was singing and dancing around the room. It hit me. They outnumber me. I've got this newly adopted baby, a teething and tired six month old, and a three year old who is bouncing off the walls. Each one going in a different direction or wailing, or laughing- depending on the kid. At that moment, I felt very very frightened. How was I supposed to DO THIS? The baby can't sit up on her own. The new baby can cruise the furniture. The three year old is doing cartwheels too close to their heads. I'm still jet lagged and exhausted. And that's when, slowly, each baby started breaking down, wanting a bottle. And my mother wants to bail while telling me, "I told you this wasn't going to be easy."

ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod.

That's when my husband woke up. "I need a shower and haven't eaten in 24 hours."

help meeeeeeeeee!

And with that, Juna pooped.


As much as my heart was breaking over Av's unhappiness with me, and as overwhelmed and scared as I felt, I had to take action. I had to make a plan and make it work. I'm now the mom of "twins" and a three year old. But most importantly, I'M IN CHARGE NOW!!

1. Got on the phone and ordered a pizza and told husband to shower
2. Changed the babies and got them into their nighties
3. Got the big girl a brand new toy to play with- a present. A Chinese baby doll.
4. Made two bowls of cereal with applesauce and bananas
5. Made two bottles on stand by
6. Put the babies in the bouncie seats.
7. Husband fed one baby while I fed the other
8. Husband gave one bottle while I gave the other
9. Husband ate dinner while I got one baby to bed.
10. I ate while husband got the other baby to bed.
11. We both got the three year old ready for bed.

8pm
Everyone is asleep.

For now.

What a thrill to peek into the nursery to see two cribs and two sleeping babies. Two very different looking babies. One blonde American with blue eyes and the other Chinese with black hair and black eyes. Sisters. My girls!

As exhausted and scared as I feel, this is the job I signed up for. I might break down and cry each day, but I WILL DO THIS. I need a schedule. I need organization. I need wine. I need friends to call and say, "What was I thinking?" And knowing they won't judge me or think less of me.

This isn't going to be easy.

But I can do this.

What a long strange trip it's been

We're home. We're safe.

That trip home? It shows you what you're made of. That is one.... wow. Difficult. Difficult, trying, demanding, exhausting, trip.

26 hours into the journey, I turned to Matt and said in an unsteady voice, "We're warriors." Then I swayed slightly to the side. He took the baby from me and replied, "We're warriors who need to sleep."

We went through the entire journey, that started at 530am in GZ the day before, with the Hogan family. It was comforting to have them next to us. Everything we felt, they felt. When we thought we couldn't take another step, we knew we weren't just being wimps. They were as pale and shaky and unsteady and ready to wave the white flag, too.

I'll give more details in another post. I just wanted to let you know I am blogging this from home. HOME! Oh home. How I love my home now.

There's so much yet to tell you. But it might have to wait just a bit.

We were met at the airport by Britney, who has been this family's rock away from home. She has held my family together, what a woman. We stood in the parking garage of the airport, watching fireworks, with her physically holding me up while I babbled incoherently and swayed side to side. Honestly, that's a trip that needs to be broken into two days. The Hogans and we kept saying, "We are not safe to be holding this baby right now."

Britney got us home. She played with the baby while I got into my night clothes, brushed my teeth, popped a sleeping pill (the plan was for me to crash for 8 hours, then take over for Matt) and make sure Matt got settled with everything he needed. Matt slept more on the plane and was more steady than I was. Britney showed Juna the house. They laughed and played. I ran into walls. I waved goodbye at 10pm.

The sleeping pill worked. The next thing I knew it was 11 am. The baby and Matt are passed out together on the couch. I am going to wash everything on HOT water. Get the gifts organized. And see my GIRLS in a few hours! My babies, how I've missed them so much.

I'm still swaying from the motion from the plane. Hence the sleeping pill last night. You lay down and you're still rocking back and forth from 30 hours of travel. I feel like I'm not really here. But I'm home. I'm HOME.

I'll update soon, including pics of us along the journey. I will also have lots of hints and tips for those traveling soon.

We're home. We didn't die in a plane crash. Nothing went horribly wrong in China. We have a beautiful baby girl. I'm stronger than I ever thought possible. I'm a new person. This trip has changed my entire life.

But most importantly, our family is now complete.

I'll be back soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I appreciate you taking the time to "take the journey with me."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

White Swan pics

White Swan may be the adoption tradition, but the rooms have certainly seen better days. It makes sense to me why they are closing down the hotel to redo all the rooms. Here is Juna's crib. I will be anxious to see what the Westin's "Heavenly Cribs" look like and hope future families post pics when they come to GZ. As you can see, this crib wouldn't even be taken in by Goodwill in the States!

The room. The best part being the view. Certainly not those horrendous beds.


The bathrooms. I bet they will renovate these to look more like the high-end style "W" hotel bathrooms which feature Asian inspired high end luxury. These are very 80s. I do like the sound system! Classical music to go with your intestinal distress? Sure!

Another room pic. The rooms do not match the luxury of the rest of the hotel.

What families will miss is the fantastic light show at the end of the day. As Steve told me today, "The Chinese realize you need to unwind at the end of the day. This is why they have the light show."

Unwind I shall before our big travel day in the morning. Goodnight!

Last night in China

Ahhh my last post from China.

It is now 6pm. Daddy is on the bed entertaining Juna with a business card and has been doing so for a half an hour.

No pics from today. We couldn't take pics in the purse mall and the shoe mall. Yes, a shoe mall. What kind do you want? Stories and stories of just shoes, everywhere! However, very hard to find a size 8.5 They have to run to a warehouse to fetch that size and we didn't have the time. I found some brand new Nikes, real ones, for 20 bucks. Not even released in the US yet Nikes. AHHHH do you feel my frustration???

Then, we did something just for Mike Blecha, a man that Matt works with. We went to Mcdonalds. Mike, our intestines suffered for you.

Let me just say it was some of the best service we have ever received in a restaurant, period. A manager saw that we were Americans and came running. She brought a menu with pictures and a hand held order taking device. Mcdonalds in China is a bit different. Every sandwich comes with lettuce and cucumbers and a spicy sauce. The menu is much much smaller than in America (at least this one was) and they serve ice cream in many unusual flavors, like melon, green tea, and pink peach. Hello Kitty was the kid's meal toy. Hello Kitty is so very popular here.

The food was awful, of course. Mcdonalds in the US is awful and it's even worse here. That spicy sauce was a killer on our stomachs. We were racing for the bathroom as soon as we walked in the door.

HOWEVER, we did so not really for Mike, but because we were on such a tight schedule. Isn't that why people always hit up Mickey Ds? I am vowing to make China Mcdonalds my last Mcdonalds trip EVER.

We did attract a lot of attention, of course, as we were Downtown and the only Americans anywhere. Mostly the workers who came up and wanted to know more about the baby. None spoke English or limited English so I tried so hard to communicate by miming. We were with my pal Steve, who is Chinese. One woman assumed she was our baby and Steve was my husband. I pointed to Matt and said, "Ba Ba." She smiled and said, "Lucky baby."

Then we had our swearing ceremony at the US Consulate.

Ok, let me just talk to the families who are coming to GZ in the coming months. White Swan is closing for renovations. You will probably be booked in the Westin. Lucky families!! It is next door to the Consulate, which is located in a gorgeous area of GZ. It's a downtown area, very modern, very clean and appears very safe. It is across from a park area that has a HUGE waterfall. I wanted to get out and take pics, but there was no time. Again with the no time thing. AND the Westin is down the street from a huge indoor fashion shopping plaza. There are limited restaurants in the area, but I did see a pizza joint and some Chinese souvenir shops. Once White Swan closes, more will move in, if they can afford the rent. It is a pretty swanky area.

The US Consulate office is in a modern building. No cameras or electronics of any kind were allowed. You go through security and have to check your electronics if you bring them. No water, no liquids of any kind. You can bring a bottle and formula and one diaper but that is all. No big bags of any kind.

You enter a large room and take a seat. Then your coordinator gives you some paper work. You take it to a window and a nice lady looks at your child's visa page, then at your child. Ours was asleep, so we had to wake her up. They are very serious about this part and must take a close look at baby.

After that, you sit down again. Once all families go through, and it's really a fast process, a woman comes out with a mic. She reminds you of everything you've been through to this point. Then she has you stand up, raise your right hand, and take an oath to take care of baby and swear all info provided is correct. Then everyone cheers and you are handed a folder and told not to open it until you get to immigration. Done!

We got back to the hotel. The group is going to a farewell dinner. We and our travel mates from our city opted to eat peanut butter sandwiches in our rooms and go to bed super early. With the stomach distress we've had here, we cannot risk a repeat on the plane. It appears every single family has had stomach issues of one kind or another. Even with the daily Pepto tabs. Matt ran to the local grocery and got some bread and chips. We brought the peanut butter over. And we are going to have a picnic, watch the 8pm laser show and go to sleep.

We leave at 530 am for the airport. GZ to Hong Kong. Hong Kong flight at 1245pm and arrive in Chicago at 2pm the next day. Go through customs and have a FIVE HOUR freakin layover. Get into our city around 9pm. Let's hope.

Our travel mates from our city hate flying as much as we do. We're all dreading this. But we keep repeating it brings us one step closer to our families. We'll get through this. We have a laptop loaded with TV shows we never watched here in China.

And that is that.

I want to thank you for reading ALL my entries. I know there's been many and I've been all talk talk talk talk talk. I've had a lot to say! This has been the trip of a lifetime. I know the point was to get June Buggy , but it was also to experience CHina so one day we can tell her about her country. Experience China we did. I cannot believe it's been two weeks. It's FLOWN by. Seriously, we just got here!! Aside from a few stomach issues, it's been amazing.

I'll post once I catch up on sleep. And I will also let you know how the adjustment period goes at home. I hate how people abandon their adoption blogs once they get home. I promise not to do that to you. Children do nap, so there's always a few mins to blog.

Alright, time for my peanut butter picnic.

Goodnight for the last time from China.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Last day in GZ continued- bag lady

Sorry I cannot reply to your Yahoo mail. I can receive, not send, for some reason.

Purse lovers? Are you listening? Are you prepared to be green with envy. You will be so green, Kermit the frog will look at your and go, "Wow, I guess it IS easy, being green."

Today I went to .... wait for it... wait for it...

A FIVE STORY PURSE MALL.

An entire mall. Just. For. Purses.

Otherwise known as Mae Heaven.

Each floor, each store, around every single corner. Purses. Purses. PURSES!! Gucci, Chanel, LV, Coach, Dooney and more more more more more.

And we were the only ones in there.

I almost fainted.

I don't think I've ever been that happy IN MY LIFE.

We were short on time. Can you believe it? SHORT ON TIME IN A FIVE STORY PURSE MALL. Short on time in a five story purse mall!!! Oh the humanity!

I ended up with only two. Two lousy purses from the five story purse mall. Because we were short on time. SHORT ON TIME IN A FIVE STORY PURSE MALL.

No, I'm not over it yet.

I doubt I ever will be.

Ok, that's all I wanted to say. Five story purse mall. Oh how I love you, five story purse mall.

Last day in GZ

Bittersweet. While I cannot wait to get back and start our family, I am also sad to leave China. To be honest, Nanchang was my favorite part of the journey. Take our view here in Guangzhou and then put it in Nanchang, and I would be crying right now because I wouldn't want to leave. Nanchang memories will be the best from this trip. It's where we met Juna and fell in love with the older style of China.

Last night we took a river cruise. It was just ok for me. The food was awful- served buffet style, Chinese, and the only thing edible was the pot stickers and they ran out within minutes. Most of us just skipped the food and took in the view.

The top deck did not have seating. The top deck was very uneven and difficult to navigate, especially with a baby. Of course it started to rain when we got to the best part of the view- the White Swan and the surrounding bars and hotels. On the lower decks, the AC did not work properly and the rain covered windows covered the view. We were very sweaty and miserable so I just bounced Junie on my lap and sang to her. Fortunately it was not a long cruise, nor did it cost that much.

Our guides did warn us to not buy flowers from the little children who swam the boat docks. It's a scam to distract you and pickpocket you. The other agency present did not warn their clients and I saw much chaos and uncomfortable people trying to get away from the mobs of children.

I would inquire about the more private, newer cruise boats. There is a green one with lovely white seating that travels around and looks lovely. I am sure it is pricey, but might be worth it to have a private dinner cruise just for your family. Future families might want to look into that, if you have some bucks to spare. Or perhaps some of the nicer cruise boats. I felt ours was very touristy and not very nice at all.

Breakfast this morning was quite amusing. There's a large group of American high schoolers here for a sports tournament. The coaches were heard saying, "Don't buy anything. You give them money, and they give you their money back, but it's worthless in the United States. It's just paper, it doesn't have any value. It's not real money."

We are now all on antibiotics as our colds have turned into sinus infections. Fear not, Hawk Family, we will not infect you on Weds and Friday!

Today is our last day to shop. Then we will go to the US Consulate for our swearing ceremony. That's what our guide calls it and when she does, I giggle. I picture all of us standing around and using some choice words. I think many in this travel group has some choice words to say right about now. Eh, not worth getting into. Let's just say some of us had fun on our trip and others didn't. Others forgot what the point of the trip was truly about. There. Very PC of me.

I am now almost completely Chinese! You should see me, butting into the buffet lines and pushing my way into elevators and almost knocking people over to get where I want to go. That's not being rude, it's being Chinese in a city packed with people. Our guides explained that to us on the first day and it's so true. It's every man for himself here. Oh, people are polite. But they are not like Americans to be overly polite. There are no lines. There is no real order. You just get where you want to go. And if you want to stop in the middle of the street to chat, people/cars/whatever will go around you. It took me a few days, but I got the hang of things here. But yeah, got some looks this morning when I cut into the buffet line. I just needed one thing and I didn't want to stand and wait. But in, get my bacon, but back out. mmmmm Bacon.....The Chinese man next to me didn't even bat an eye. The American lady behind me seemed miffed. Tee hee. Took me two seconds and I was on my way. that is the Chinese way.

If you are genteel and polite, get over it. Being nice is fine. But it's a different kind of nice here.

Anyway, I'm off to shop. A goodbye letter later today!

Monday in GZ Continues- Red Couch!


Today we had to stay in our rooms until Noon, in case there were any questions about our paperwork from the US Consulate. If so, then we'd be called from our coordinators, who were at the Consulate's office.

There is one unhappy person in our travel group. Things went badly for her in Nanchang in terms of smoking people being put in non smoking rooms. They smoked in their rooms, and the smoke drifted into t everyone's rooms. It's shared ventilation at Gloria Plaza, so if someone next door is smoking, you might as well be smoking. She is worse than I am about smoke, so she's angry and things are going badly for her.

We saw our coordinator coming off the elevator. We said, "How are you?" She said, "I'll be happy when you guys go home."

Ouch!

Our other guide, Jesse, is new to the job. We called her this morning when we didn't know where to take Juna. She's been following up with us ever since. She came by to see the baby, make sure we were ok. See, Jesse has not been driven nuts yet, as this is her first week. I am sure the frantic Americans can wear a poor Chinese coordinator down. Again, it's cultural. Americans rant and rave and want things done NOW. That is not the Chinese way.

We have learned things run on Chinese time. Like the sit down restaurants. Don't go if you are in a hurry. Things move very slowly. And if you inquire about something- like one time Juna's congee was very late. Everyone had been served and halfway through their meal and she still hadn't gotten her congee. I asked very nicely and the waitress snapped my head off. Ok! That is not the Chinese way. The thing to do is alert a manager. They roam the restaurants. Tell them the problem and it's fixed immediately. You don't tip a waitress at a Chinese restaurant, did you know? I did not know that.

So after 12 Noon, we met our friend Aler Young in the lobby. He was going to take us to see his university, but we only had 2 hours and it was a long subway ride away. I was looking forward to seeing a Chinese University! Oh well. Instead, we walked around the Island. Aler had found a must dine restaurant from his guide book. He's never been to this Island, even tho he lives in GZ. The guide book had must eat dishes, so we ordered the ones listed.

It was a cute place. Very small, nicely decorated. The staff spoke a little bit of English. The food arrived very quickly and was quite good. The Drunken Chicken was a dish served in a pot of cold rice wine. That threw me off. Cold chicken, still on the bone. But good. Another dish was pork served in a glob of brown fatty material. The waitress cut it open and the pork inside was so delish. I have learned you serve your food into a bowl and eat it from the bowl. The plate you are given is for the bone yard. You are not given napkins, just sealed wet cloth. Today's smelled like fresh tea. They also give you a a packet of tissues if you want to wipe your hands on something. I keep those packs for the toilets. It's so hit and miss. Will you have TP or won't you? Oh, this restaurant had WESTERN TOILETS! ANd lots of them. Honestly, I've used about five Chinese toilets now and STILL cannot get the hang of the right "aim." HAHHA.

Please note I witnessed another young and tiny Chinese woman purge her lunch in order to stay slim. It appears to be a big problem here. Which proves that even size zero women love to eat. "I'm just never hungry" is pure BS.



Aler Young, a university student from GZ.

The lunch specials page. Note the prices are in RMB. Click on the pic to enlarge. And yes, they did have pigeon here, too. Most of the menus here are in English, too.
Myself and Aler Young, posing at.....
STARBUCKS! From the hotel, walk down the Jennifer's/Lucy's/Name Your Shopkeeper street. Go to the end of the block. Make a right. It's the second store on the corner. And it has this lovely outdoor eating area. It is located near a little park. A lovely area where the Americans stroll around. The staff in Starbucks speak English.

We did not go to Cow and Bridge because it is Thai and we are not crazy about Thai food.

Walking back to the hotel with Aler, we witnessed a photo shoot outside of Lucy's shop. Two very good looking men, shirts off, and modeling jeans? Shoes? Who cares. Probably the best looking men I've ever seen in person in my life. Italian, maybe? Longish hair. Smoldering eyes. Young Chinese girls were gathered around, oohing and ahhing. The fashion director was smoking and looking bored. "She's French, I can tell," said Aler.

Then the girls followed us to try to get into the White Swan but the doorman would not let them go in. I can in and out of White Swan with ease. Even looking as grungy as I do. A white gloved uniformed man helps me out of the taxi and says, "Welcome to White Swan." Another uniformed man opens the door for me. Another man gets the elevator for me. A girl could get used to five star living real quick!!

Ok, now I take you to a special tradition at the White Swan Hotel. The babies get dressed up in traditional Chinese dresses and pose on the Famous Red Couch. How did this start? No one at White Swan even knows. They think we are nuts for doing this. Especially because the red couch in question has faded to a dull pinkish color.

There are about 6 or more red couches in the White Swan. No one knows exactly which is the famous one. We only knew because another adoption group were being photographed there. But there's two across from one another in this lounge and both have seen better days. So which is the famous one? The group chose the one by the birds. Whereas I think the one in front of the river view would have been more stunning.

The couch is located on the 2nd floor, beyond the lobby. There is a small open air lounge that overlooks the river. It's hotel guests only and there is a bar area. There is also a large bird cage filled with love birds. today one of the birds was out of his cage. There are other brand new, deep red couches near the bird cage. But the FAMOUS red couch is the most beat up one of them all. Gee, wonder why!
Miss Thang smiles on the couch before the other families arrive. She is wearing a pink dress we bought in Hong Kong.
The mommies frantically assemble the babies on the red couch. The following pics are the progression from assembling to breakdown. Juna is the second baby from your left, seated on the couch.




Juna is trying to comfort the baby in yellow next to her. she keeps patting the baby's head, which is pushing the baby over.
Juna is now attempting to comfort both babies next to her. She completely knocked over the baby in red. We think she was sick of sharing the spotlight. She did not cry once. She was more interested in consoling her couch mates.

Here is our entire group, assembled on the level between the second and first floor, overlooking the water fall.

More later.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday/Monday GZ pics

Monday morning, after her bottle. That's when she's the happiest baby!
Still so happy and pretty, even with bronchitis, as we'd soon find out.
A view from our window at night to the river below. Those are the cruise ships decked out in neon.
Pink Floyd has nothin on GZ. That is the Jiang Feng Hotel and the light show that happens on the hotel. The lights around the trees below is from a bar district. See the green laser that is projecting from the top of the building? The suspension bridge is to the right of the pic. It also has a laser. They spread out and dance around and hit the water. It's pretty cool.
Mommy, where is my congee? Stop giving me the sign for "more" and just feed me already!
The White Swan breakfast buffet taken from the bread/pastries table.
More river views at night. Not sure which one we will be on tonight, but we are going on a dinner cruise. We will get to see the light show from the water. WOOO!

Katie- where the HELL is that Starbucks??? I've found one so far in GZ and it's in a NINE STORY shopping mall. Oh yeah. Nine stories. One of several downtown. Like to shop? China is your country. This is shoppers paradise. It's insane how many bags I have NOT purchased. I'm running out of money!! I guess I will go ask the concierge. Mama needs a Starbucks fix. But seriously, GZ is fantastic for shopping.

The White Swan's walls are paper thin. I can hear the man coughing next door. I can hear the man above opening his shower curtain. I am lucky to have a quiet baby and no babies next door. Oh those beds, so so so rock hard. I discovered padding in the drawer under the TV. Even with two bed bads, one down comforter, and one blanket under my body, it's still too hard. And I'm so padded! I cannot wait for my comfy bed at home.

Wait, here's Matt. He wants to tell you what he did on his birthday night. He was just running out to the market to get some water and some wipes. This is what happened.

I went to the concierge and said I needed to go to the supermarket. 7-11 didn't have the wipes we needed, nor did they have any sort of dishwashing detergent (which is how we clean the bottles and nipples). She wrote down a bunch of Chinese on the back of a business card and said "Give this to the driver." I looked at the card and thought "Hmmm. I could go to 7-11 and do without some things that we really sort of need, or I could go on an adventure. So adventure it is." I hopped in a taxi out front, the doorman looked at the card and said something to the driver. He drove me off to the Carrefour about 12-14 minutes away (an 11 yuan ride, or $1.40 US).

The place is amazing. It's the biggest grocery store I've ever seen in my life. It makes the Super Wal-Mart look like a corner convenience store. It's underground, so you go down an escalator to the B1 floor where you get your cart. Then you travel across that entire floor past tons of kiosks that are not part of the store but have leased space from them (this is pretty common, Wal-Mart in Nanchang had the same sort of setup). Down to the B2 level where you will find furniture, hardware, cosmetics, electronics, fashion, household items, cleaning supplies, etc etc. This floor is the size of a very large Wal-Mart or Target. Then you go down to the B3 level where you find the actual grocery store. This floor is also the size of a very large Wal-Mart. And it's just groceries. The place was jam packed, as is everything here. Fighting through the aisles is quite an experience. I of course got lots of looks as I was one of three Westerners in the entire store. I was able to find everything I needed very quickly and get into a checkout line with no hassles. In the next lane were two young kids, probably 6 or 7, with their mom. They kept looking up at me and whispering to each other. The next time they looked up I smiled and said "Ni hao" and they laughed and hid behind their mom. 8 1.5L bottles of water, a twelve pack of Duracell batteries*, two packs of Pampers wipes, 70 yuan. Or about nine dollars U.S.

*Batteries in china apparently have less acid in them, they don't last nearly as long as U.S. batteries. I was warned about this by Vince.

The cab ride home was as curious an experience as the shopping. There are LCD TV's in a lot of the taxis and they run main video content with a crawler across the bottom and three boxes of ads down the right side. It's one step closer to the TV in Idiocracy. The music videos here are as goofy, creative, and outlandish as the best of the 80's in the U.S. where there were no rules.


Thanks, Matt. Great update. Now back to Mei.

Helloooo. Ok, so Chinese bottles? LOVE them. I have stopped using my drop ins and am using the Chinese bottles exclusively now. They are the Betty Bottle brand. They come with a long rubber straw with a ball thingie on the end. That keeps the bottle mixed up and acts as a straw so the baby sucks the formula into the nipple. I don't use that part. But it's cool to see how it works.

Chinese wipes? Too thin. Don't like.

Chinese baby and children's clothing? The regular clothes are like boutique clothing in the US. It's SOOOO cute and SOOOO cheap. About 3 USD per outfit and we're talking really elaborate little outfits. Pirated licensed characters, I'm sure. I've got tons of Hello Kitty and Disney outfits for the girls in designs and styles I've never seen before.

People always comment about the smells in China. It's true, they can be brutal. Nanchang smelled like exhaust fumes. Guangzhou can downright stink. There's a vegetable that's used in all the cooking here that rots very quickly in the trash cans and WOW, it knocks you over when you encounter the odor. It smells like garbage/sewage at the same time. You can be walking along, la la la, then AAAACK! GAGG! Then la la la everything smells fine again. You will look around- where is this coming from? No clue. But now that I have had enough Cantonese cooking, I know the smell.

Do I like the food here? I am sorry to say I liked the food in Nanchang so much better. There is a spice here that is used on everything that does not agree with me. It does not taste appealing and it does not digest AT ALL. Bahhhhh. Lucy's, the cafe across the street, sells American food. They use that spice on everything. We had a club last night that I couldn't eat. I literally took one bite and threw it away. I will scan the Lucy's menu for future travelers, but please... don't expect Western food to taste Western. Not with that spice on everything.

Today we have agency stuff to do, then we are going to visit a Chinese University with our local friend. Then it's time for the famous Red Couch picture at 330. Then the dinner cruise tonight. A fun packed day with a family who has plenty of sleep. The Chinese medicine? Baby is out cold AND she can breathe! Hurrah!

Talk to you later-

Oh someone update Marge for me? Tell her about our latest adventures and although we love China, we cannot wait to get home and see everyone.

Katie- how do I get to Cow and Bridge? Cantonese food? How are prices?.

Monday in GZ- Good morning doctor

Another unique experience in China for us!

Last night, Juna woke up screaming and crying. She could barely breathe. So congested and miserable. We finally got her to sleep and we all managed about 8 hours, WOW! That is a record for our stay so far in China. THe baby slept until 7am and boy were we grateful.

I got her out of her crib and noticed her cough had gotten even more congested. She was also tugging at her ears. Oh oh! Bad sign.

We got everyone ready for breakfast. Which means heat up the hot pot. Oh, for those about to travel- do you know what a hot pot is? I didn't. It's a plastic kettle on a hot plate. You fill with water, press a button, and it heats up boiling hot within minutes. You pour about 2 oz of the hot water to 3 oz of bottled water. At least that is what Juna likes and might be a good place to start for you. Daddy feeds while I shower and get ready. Then I play with Buggie while Dad gets ready. Then we head downstairs.

At White Swan, there is a room attendant on every floor. He will rush out to push the elevator button for you, then direct you into the elevator. He or she is there for your every need. It may not happen quickly- the Chinese are not people who rush or like to be rushed. Let them lead by their pace. I often find myself acting in American mode and rushing them along- and I'm a nice person! I just forget to SLOW DOWN and let them lead.

After getting downstairs, we had another fabulous buffet breakfast. We stuff our faces because we don't know what the day will bring, food wise. SOme good, some horrible. Best to stock up while you can.

I just had a bad feeling at breakfast. I went up to the table of our travel group and asked for advice. I was told there is a medical clinic here on the 3rd floor. They will not give antibiotics, only Chinese medicine. But someone from our group offered medicine.

Now, let this be a lesson about rumors and info you read online. I was grateful for the offer for medicine, but I wanted a professional's opinion on Juna's condition. So we headed to the 3rd floor. Sure enough, there was a doctor's office right here in the White Swan. My thinking is that she could tell me what was wrong, then I could get antibiotics from my travel mates. Yeah, like I'm a doctor and know what I'm doing....

It's tiny. One waiting room, one exam room. It's clean. A bit worn down, but nothing extreme. There was a nurse/interpreter and the doctor who only spoke Cantonese. The doctor was a lovely older lady grandmotherly type.

They started with the routine questions. What was wrong and is she peeing and pooping? The doctor looked in her ears- infected. Listened to her chest- bronchitis. We were told it is a very minor infection, but will get worse without treatment. So this is when I braced myself- what kind of treatment?

Antibiotics! See! Find these things out first hand. Or just trust what I am telling you on this blog. And, after talking to another daddy, you can get antibiotics in Nanchang as well.

So then the nurse got out the ear drops and showed us how to put them in Juna's ears. She told us the doctor said she does not want Juna eating any more eggs, as eggs give the ears energy. Tee hee. I am sure that got WAY lost in translation. Then the nurse went behind a counter and we watched her mix the medicine. She took pills and crushed them and put them into little paper sleeves. Then she filled four bottles with various liquids. The crushed pills are vitamins C and B "to help absorb the antibiotics." We are to take a cup and mix the liquid antibiotics with the vitamins, then spoon feed them to Juna three times per day. The ear drops are for one week. We are to see our doctor when we get home and show her all the paper information on what Juna has been taking. We read the info- it's all stuff we've given Boo back home. THe only difference being the vitamins.

The doctor praised us for getting her in early. In a few more days, it would have turned for the worse. Well, in a few more days, we'll be on an airplane. That was my thinking- get a doctor now so our flight home isn't worse than expected.

There is another family with us who had a hospital experience. Their baby had a stomach bug and became too weak to drink her bottle. She was a baby who was weak to begin with. They went to three different hospitals- not sure why? Maybe they were sent there. They said the conditions were horrible. Kids just peeing in the hallways. Dirty gloves. Really unsanitary conditions in comparison to the US. However, their baby is now 100 percent better after two rounds of IVs and medications.

So there you go- if your little one gets sick, see a doctor. Even if you have antibiotics with you, it's nice to know just what is infected in there. If your doctor was like mine, and did not want to give you antibiotics to take over- no worries. They have them here- same kind as in the USA. My doctor just felt that it is not right to give a baby medication if you don't truly know what's wrong and don't know if the baby needs it or not.

Oh, and if the baby appears sick before coming home- go to a doctor. Don't have a sick baby on the flight home. The total cost for the visit and medicine was 40 USD.

Well worth it!

Alright, pics coming in the next post.