Friday, January 30, 2009

A Shout Out!

Let me give (another) shout out to Miss Tiffany, June's mom, who updated the blog for me! Thanks Tiff! I am digging the new look. Secondly, I need to give a shout out to my bloggy buds, who I have neglected terribly lately. I will find time to visit and check-in this weekend. (Perhaps during the Super Bowl...not a football fan.)
Flora is doing quite well. She is teething a bit. We all experienced interupted sllep last night. WE have decided that she really does sleep better in her own space (i.e. crib or pack-n-play). She is a thrasher!
We has our first Ped appt last week. She is 16 lbs and 11 oz, naked! When we were in Guangzhou, they weighed her at 17.6 lbs. That included her coat and shoes!
Our Ped so proudly pulled out a height and weight chart for Asian girls. He then looked at Flora. She was on the Asian chart at the 75th to 80th percentile for weight. He then threw away the unnecessary smaller growth chart. She is on the Big American Girl chart! At the 50th percentile for weight I might add! She is at the 40th percentile for height!
I truly believe that my Budda bellied Princess has gained 1.5 pounds since gotcha day! She eats everything and a lot of everything.
With the goings on around my house, I feel that my plate is full. It is by no means overwhleming, but it is full. So I promise that as our routine continues to settle I will be better about communication, on all fronts!
One more thing, FJ started crawling, finally, on Wednesday!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More, more, more

Here are a few more pics!

My three daughters! I love the three of them together. FYI, this was taken at the White Swan. I was shocked to see that the WS is much smaller than I expected. This is a "platform" of sorts that over looks the waterfall.

Flora LOVES to ride on her dad's shoulders. Every time we put her up there she laughs and laughs!

The hat...well she was sportin' that look when she was hanging with her foster mom (who, for the record, is amazing in my book!) It looks like the Fresh Prince was about to drop by for a visit!

Well, Flora has adjusted amazingly well. We have all been on east coast time since Saturday. She is sleeping through the night with two naps (morning and afternoon). She is eating very well. She has yet to refuse a meal! I can't wait to see what our Ped says tomorrow when we go.
We are glad to be home, but I do sincerely miss China. There is so much more I wanted to do. I guess we should start saving for a return trip.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The trip home

Our trip home had an issue at every airport! First of all, I booked the tickets through travelocity. I did a multi-city ticket. I was not able to put Flora in a as lap baby. So I called Air China to let them know about Flora (lap baby), order a basinet, and order infant meals. No problem Until....Michael, the guide for the other group traveling with us, took us to the airport. First, we were in the wrong line. We were with our travelmates in the domestic line. We should have been in the international line (b/c I booked the tickets through to ORF). We switched lines. We waited there for a very long time, then the agent informed us that we did not have a ticket for Flora. Michael worked magic, and we threw down some cash to purchase a ticket for Flora to Beijing. And we were off...almost. Apparently, when they pulled our tickets to add Flora as a lap baby They gave away (resold) my ticket, Emily's ticket, and Claire's ticket. Uh oh! We really didn't "get it." We ran through the short security line. Michael guided us that way. We were seated in different rows. Side note here...we passed some of our travelmates in the security line (sorry guys). We get on the plane, barely. I look for row 13 and low and behold...I am in FIRST CLASS!! More accurately, Emily, Claire, Flora, and I are in first class. Joe, on the other hand, was at the back of the bus! He didn't realize it because we were in such a rush. But once he did, he was not impressed.
The ticket counter in Guangzhou did not book Flora's ticket all the way through, because they said that they were unable to do it. We found out in Beijing that information was incorrect. When we landed in Beijing we had to rush because our flight to NYC was due to leave in 1 1/2 hours (boarding in an hour). We went to the Air China counter. He told us that we needed to buy a lap seat ,and we had to hurry. My brilliant plan was to let Joe go to the ticket counter with nothing but Flora's passport, his passport, his boarding pass, and a credit card. I would keep all the girls with me and we would meet at the gate. Because we were in the secure section, not having Flora's boarding pass did not appear to be an issue. Surprise! It was! Two lovely, young Chinese women stopped me within minutes to see our boarding passes. I proudly provided them with everything I had. It wasn't enough. I broke out into tears, semi acting, playing the damsel in distress role and semi emotionally exhausted. Don't bother trying doesn't work in China. So I get on the elevator to find Joe, having no other option. The elevator was broken. So I have to walk back by Mr. Helpful at the Air China counter (we begged for assistance to move along in order to make the flight and he shrugged his shoulders absolving himself of any responsibility to us). Where upon he told me that we should have never separated. Thanks! Damn, I should have thought of that, especially since now we are in a serious pickle.
Basically, Joe and I connected after 35 minutes of us wandering the airport, where suddenly no one spoke English. Wait there was the nicest Chinese women (janitor). She started speaking Chinese. Although my Chinese was still limited to hello and thank you. With only 15 minutes until take off, one of the men at the Air China counter escorted us through the airport. When I say escorted, I mean he ran and we followed at the fastest speed possible. We left a bottle at the security check line. You know the whole liquid thing! He flagged down a cart to get us there even faster. Side note, we passed our travelmates up once again as they were leisurely walking through the airport as we were looking like crazy loons once again! We made the flight. Emily, Claire, Flora, and I were once again seated together (however, not in first class this time) and Joe was several rows back. The flight itself was uneventful. Flora did amazingly well. She had a short period of crying out of frustration of being restrained. She, quite frankly, was over it! Honestly, we all were. We landed in NYC at 1:30. Plane congestion prevented us from disembarking until nearly 2:00. The lines through the non-resident customs lines were horrendous. There were two agents checking people in. We waited for nearly an hour. With a 4:30 flight we started to get very nervous. Someone spotted our US passports in the line and moved us to the front. We met a very nice but ill informed agent. He went on and on about Flora's green card. How it should arrive within the year. How we could travel for the next year on her Chinese passport. Blah, Blah, Blah. He was very pleasant, but honestly I simply wanted him to stamp our paperwork and move us on through. He did. We checked our flight info and our plane home was delayed 2 hours (take off at 6:40). Argh! We stopped to have a little something to eat at the airport restaurant, just to kill time. During our dinner, we heard about the "Miracle on the Hudson." At the end of our meal (4:45ish) Flora went wu-wu (what her foster mother referred to as pooping). I happily picked her up and headed to the bathroom. While waiting for the woman ahead of me to finish up, I hear an announcement. "Last boarding call for flight #6227 to Norfolk. At this time everyone should be on the flight." I went tearing out of the bathroom. (Too bad, Flora, no clean nappy for you!) I went RUNNING into the restaurant screaming, "Joe, Joe, JOE! They just called our flight. Last call for our flight. We need to go NOW!" We through $$ at Rodney, the waiter. We abandoned the desserts that were just ordered. Someone sitting next to us asked what flight I was talking about. Apparently, it was their flight as well. Money flew from their wallets as well. Belongings were packed up at warp speed. We headed to gate #23. We were then redirected to gate #25. We run down the ramp. As we board the plane, I turn to Joe and say, "you realize we are going to be sitting on the plane for a while." This comment thereby sealed our fate. We sat on the tarmac for 1.5 hours. Finally, we were airborne and headed for home.
We arrived at 8:45ish. We were exhausted. But we were happily met by Fin and Finsup and Grandma and Duane. We were so glad to be done with the flying.
Our return trip was met with lots of airport drama, but we made every flight. Yippee!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I can't believe she lives here!

First of all, a shout out to all of my travel friends....we miss you already. Thanks for making a special time even better! Now, flights were long, and we had trouble at every airport. We almost missed all three planes, but we didn't thanks to extremely helpful people and Flora's fake wu-wu!!! More later. We are settling in to our home. Things are great, but I still can't believe that she now lives in this house!!!!!! All the thoughts and images I had of her toddling around pre travel, and they are now a reality! Life is good!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Appointments, Oaths, and Planes

My apologies for not posting sooner. Things have been hairy with all the things we are tying up to get home. We had our paperwork interview the other day. All systems were a go. We celebrated the birthday of Megan. She was one! Yesterday we visited the American Consulate to take the oath that all of our paperwork was true to the best of our knowledge. We had a great dinner out for Cantonese. This morning we leave, headed for home. We are excited to come home, but I am sad to leave China. There are so many things we wanted to do, but did not get the opportunity. We must come back for a tourist visit with Flora. We should arrive Thursday at 6:25 from JFK via Delta. We look forward to seeing everyone when we get home. We will be dead dog tired, but if you would like glimpse of the newest addition to our family, feel free to be at the airport. See everyone soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Medical Exam, Couch, and Pearls

This morning Flora had her medical exam. She is 17.6 pounds and 28 inches. She is healthy and there are no problems.

On the walk back we finally stopped at Starbucks. I had my first coffee in nearly two weeks. I also made my souvenir purchases. I hope I got it right (T and R). FYI, the Starbucks which was located at the Forbidden City is not longer there. Apparently, while gearing up for the Olympics, it closed where the Chinese government opted for a more traditional caffeine stop, a tea house.

We then returned to the hotel where Flora napped. We had to wake her to dress her in her traditional Chinese attire for the obligatory red couch photo. Unfortunately, not all children were represented. With 13 babies (including 1 toddler) it is very hard to coordinate the photo. Michael, the other group's guide, instructed us to count to 3, put the babies on the couch and RUN! We did it. Flora never cried. She did look for me behind her so most pictures were of her looking behind the couch. She also took a nose dive onto another baby only a few ounces bigger than her.

Several other parents talked the guides into taking us to a real pearl market. It was great! I was shocked at the prices! I was also shocked that they string the pearls for you right there!!!! I bought a few things, most specifically for Flora when she is older!
Dinner was at a local Cantonese restaurant. We enjoyed it tremendously as it was the first time we have eaten Chinese food in several days.


We are enjoying Guangzhou. We arrived Saturday morning. We have a beautiful suite on the 27th floor at the White Swan. Where the Wharton tried to be a nice hotel the White Swan is a nice hotel. Flora had a phenomenal first flight. She was awake then right at take off she crashed. I am starting to think that if she "gets overwhelmed" she shuts down. Who wouldn't with all the changes she has experienced. I have noticed that she will become shy in large groups. However, I don't think that is an alarming behavior. We see more of her personality everyday. Anytime Joe or the girls take her picture, she does a cheesy smile for the camera. It is hysterical! Our days seem to be busier here. We started with lunch at Lucy's(typical Western food). We then had dinner with the group at the Cow and Bridge (Thai). We purchased some coin necklaces and silk blankets on day one. Yesterday, we strated with breakfast at he White Swan (it is all that and a bag of chips!). Then, we went jade and pearl shopping. The store was nice. We visited a Buddhist temple, where there was a ceremony blessing the babies. It was very nice, however the smell of the incense was strong. We then visited the Chen Academy. It was a sprawling museum. But the most striking thing about this place was the roof on each building. I have never seen anything like it. For lunch we had "sandwiches" from the deli outside the White Swan. Dinner was with new friends at La Dolce Vita. The food was very good. We enjoyed a bottle of wine. Flora and the other two girls did an amazing job sitting through a longer meal. The juice at LDV was FRESH!! They used a juicer. It was incredible! Joe and I are feeling a bit stuffy, as if a cold is coming on. We are trying to ward off any illnesses!
~ she is almost crawling, knees get tucked up under body and then she falls back down.
~ she can slurp noodles (all of the girls can)
~ she leans in to you to give you a kiss, and now she makes a sound (Emily was the first to receive a kiss)
~ she has yet to turn away any morsel of food offered to her!
~ she loves everyone, but is starting to prefer me (just a bit)
~ she is a bit of a ham
~ she had a foster brother and a foster sister
~ she had the dirtiest belly button I have ever seen, but the rest of her was extremely clean and trimmed
~ she has already brought us so much joy. We are all totally in love with her and we look forward to having her in our family forever!!!
Now for some pics......

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shoeless Joe

We are in Guangzhou. But the trip here was funny. Because we are traveling with a large group and with our agency, they ask that our luggage be placed outside our door the night before. So at 9:30 Friday night our luggage was placed outside our door and someone came around to collect it. Joe had noticed that night that his bag was a bit larger than he had expected, but he didn't give it much thought. We went to bed. The next morning we were up bright and early. We had to meet everyone in the lobby at 6 am. When Joe was getting dressed, all of a sudden I hear, "Explicative!!! I packed both pairs of my shoes!!!" With that I started laughing hysterically. There was no sympathy on my part whatsoever!! So I, thinking I am being helpful, toss him a pair of the hotel slippers. Then I respectfully continued my hyena style laughing. I know I am oh so sensitive! The slippers were a bit small for Joe, but luckily there is an opening where your big toe is to allow for extra room. Then my oh so bright husband (Joe, you know I love you!) puts his "shoes" on. He then walks over to me to "show" me how the toe gap doesn't really give you the extra room he needed. Of course, his toe gap was for his pinky toes. Joe had put his slippers on the wrong feet!!!! He had a blond moment. I then proceeded to upgrade my hyena laughing to the ugly pig snort, as I rolled on the floor! He realized that he had made a gross error and it was going to cost him dearly, as I would be blogging about it and laughing at him for years to come.
We headed for the lobby. Joe was styling in his white terry cloth, Wharton Hotel slippers. Unfortunately, this story has a happy ending. Joe was reunited with his bag in the lobby and the remainder of the trip in his real shoes. For those fans of "The Amazing Race"-Claire started calling him a "Frat Boy!"
Truly it was comic relief. I hope it transpires in this post. More later on Guangzhou!
PS As I was editing this post, I read it aloud to Joe. We both started laughing again so hysterically that I could not read the post through my tears and Joe spilled his tea.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Great Last Day in Nanning

Today we spent our last day in Nanning. Although this is not Flora's birth city, it is where we first met her. It will forever be special for us. Flora was off of her schedule this morning. She was up earlier than usual. She took two morning naps and one very short, poor quality afternoon nap. We started the morning with US paperwork. Tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou to complete the US end of the adoption process. So this morning our great guide, Michelle, filled out what she could and then held our hands through the remaining paperwork. We have Flora's passport, which is a Chinese passport. We had the remainder of the day to kill. I did a wee bit of research online and found a botanical garden and trail to visit, Qingxiu Mountain. I told everyone in our travel group about it and suggested that if they were interested we could meet at 2:30 for the outing. Nineteen people, including our babies, showed up. We had a great time. First of all, the park was far bigger than we expected and far more beautiful than I expected. We encountered a covered bamboo walkway. Once we reached the end of the walkway, which was 525m long, there was a nice water stand. We stopped and bought some water. Joanne located a map, which much to our surprise, said that we had not even walked one quarter of the way to the top of the mountain and pagoda. With that arrived a nice yellow tram with 9 seats. We had 17 people. Our thinking...sure we can fit 17 people in here! So we did. We rode the tram until he stopped it. Remember, there is a language barrier...... When we got off the tram we were at this beautiful huge green space with great flowers. In the distance we spotted a lake and a tall tower. As we started walking in that direction, we saw zip lines. As we neared the lake we saw the gigantic clear spheres that you stand in and then float on the water! For 15 yuan, Emily and Claire rode the zip line over the man-mad lake. I was interested in trying it, but wasn't propelled enough until another mom, Kathy, double dog dared me to try it with her. That was it! I was in! It was documented via photographs. We had a fantastic time at the Mountain. The evening was filled with room service and packing. At 6 am tomorrow we head to the airport. We are all excited to visit Guangzhou. I hear there is much more to do there.......we can't wait!

Did I forget to post?

My apologies, folks!
Wednesday's outing consisted of a trip to Wal-Mart. It was three story building. The 5 of us started at the top floor, which was not really Wal-mart, but more of a home furnishing department store. There were various mini stores of housewares, furniture, art, dishes, and home decorations. We really enjoyed walking around. We found a beautiful picture for Flora's room. It was a day cat sleeping on a branch and a mirror image of a night cat sleeping on a branch. We tried to buy it, but unfortunately, the shop keeper was not around and the other shop keeper spoke only Chinese, and we couldn't understand them, nor they us. The beautiful picture will remain in China, too bad.
We then ventured downstairs to ?shop? at Wal-Mart. We bought a few necessities, not because we truly needed them, just because they were there. The Wal-Mart meat department was a bit different. There were caracases of suckling pigs that were dried and flattened, and hanging. A huge fish tank that was self serve. Women would catch a fish, throw it on the floor watch it flip around (apparently searching for the "stronger" fish), and club it. This I missed. But as I leisurely strolled through the toy aisle I was shocked to see white, blond haired barbies and baby dolls. There were no Asian dolls. Also all the packaging for the most part had photos of white people. I really figured that in China you would see more appropriate packaging. I was truly surprised.
We topped our day of white trash shopping by eating a KFC. Yes, in China there are KFC's. I was not overly excited by the meal except you can drink the sodas with ice. That was huge.
We headed back for the bus and returned to the hotel. FJ settled in for a nice nap. We hung out. Our laundry returned. I wonder if I can also take home someone to do my laundry. The laundry came back so nicely folded and clean. I really liked that service TREMENDOUSLY!!
Dinner was another meal at the hotel restaurant, which is very good. Honestly, I am a bit tired of it, simply because we eat there once a day. Joe and I spoke to our guide requesting another restaurant. We told him we were adventurous, but he said everything is far away. THe Wharton is a nice hotel, but it is a newer hotel in a newer section of Nanning. Thus, there are not at many eateries around. Truth be told were are feeling a bit room bound. I wish that GW had scheduled some outing everyday, even small ones.
Which brings me to yesterday, Thursday. We left the hotel at 9:30 am to visit the Guangxi Museum. It was a rather inconspicuous building, except for the enormous green medallion and pot at the entrance. I was excited to visit it as I want to know more about Nanning. The museum had no heat and each gallery had a woman standing in it, acting as a security guard. The museum was full of artifacts dating back to the 1500's. Everything was written in Chinese, except dates. After a brief walk through each gallery, we walked the grounds. The grounds were beautiful. The were several minority groups represented in traditional garb for the 50th anniversary celebration of autonomy. I have lots of photos. We returned back to the hotel for lunch at the hotel restaurant.
Last night we had a great time hanging out with most of the other families and the babies for Pizza Hut in the 14th floor lobby by the elevators. It was great getting out of the room and just relaxing with other people. I feel like I have connected with so many people here. We shared wine, beer, pizza, candy, and birthday cake. One new dad celebrated his birthday with cake. We all liked the Chinese birthday cake. Flora especially enjoyed the icing!!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mother of the year...

I am NOT! Yesterday, as you may remember we returned to the Civil Affairs office to complete the adoption. We loaded everything up and headed on out. What was supposed to be an hour or so appointment turned out to be close to three hours long. Luckily, I had my trusty diaper bag full of a day's necessities...or did I? As I thought to myself, Flora is probably in need of a diaper change not due to a bomb but due to a "comfort" issue.....I should change her diaper. As I looked in ye old diaper bag, I had put everything in, but that damn diaper! Okay, we return back to the hotel. She is fine, a pound or two heavier, but not sending away masses of people due to a smell. Check! Lesson learned. Next time I will be better prepared and have all the necessities on hand in ye old diaper bag. I even returned back to the hotel to put in several diapers and "organize" said bag.
Today, as you might recall was the big Wal-mart outing. I strapped on ye old diaper bag, the new kid and I was ready for the outing. As we are tooling around Wal-mart, I think to myself.....Flora is probably getting hungry. I should prepare a bottle. Good for me as I am schlepping around a metal thermos full of boiling hot water, a bottle of spring water, room temperature, to offset the hot. This will lighten my load! I like it! Crap! Who was in charge of putting that bottle with liner into ye old diaper bag??? Oh, yes, it twas me and like the diaper from yesterday it was left behind. Needless to say, Wal-mart sells everything. I can buy a bottle, albeit not the same one, but an emergency bottle nonetheless. Wash it? Sterilize it? Ah, she's number three. Germs will only increase her immune system! Mother of the year I am not......but hey I have yet to "forget" one of my kids, for any significant length of time that is.......Shhhhhhh don't tell DSS!

Her first great laughs...

We took this video a few hours after gotcha. I love to hear those laughs, and we are still hearing them!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Harmonious Period-successful!!

In China when you adoption, you receive your baby on day one. She or he stays with the family for the night, a sleep over if you will. This time allows you, as the potential parents. to decided whether or not you want to complete the adoption. This period is called the harmonious period. Our harmonious period was extremely successful, so successful that we adopted her today! In the eyes of the Chinese government, we are now Lin Zi Fan's parents. Her name is now Flora Josephine ZiFan Bondi. We were interviewed twice. We signed multiple pages of multiple documents, sealing each one with our red thumb print. We were then presented with the official Chinese adoption decree. The orphanage director came to see ZiFan once more. He touched her head, kissed her hand, and looked longingly at her. Through my tears, all I could do was tell him thank you and promise him that we will love her forever. It was such a sweet moment that I will never forget. He then gave each one of his former wards a gift bag. In the bag was a red folder expressing thanks for the monetary gift donation we made to the nannies, a beautiful silver bracelet, engraved with many Chinese characters, including her name, and a CD of 59 digital photos of Flora while she was in the orphanage and in her foster home. It was truly a gracious and appreciated gift.
Saturday we head to Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is located, to complete the US end of the adoption.
But first, tomorrow we head to Wal-mart to do some shopping for baby, aka drop some coin in this province.
Flora's firsts today:
1. She ate watermelon and enjoyed it!
2. She spent 2 hours in her baby hawk carrier and was completely content.
3. She attempted to hold her bottle.
4. She waved to her grandmother over ichat.
5. She enjoyed a walk in the park with her dad and her sisters.
6. She ate meat congee and loved it (she had eaten it before with us, but seemed less than enthusiastic about it).
7. She started looking for me, if I left a room, but not to the point she was crying. (She was more bitching than crying about my leaving.)
8. She ate rice cereal and bananas. She LOVES bananas!
9. She continues to smile and seems to be happy.
10. First bath with us~not quiet the happy experience!
11. First Bowel movement! That is a HUGE hurdle, she's comfortable and her plumbing is working!

We ALL continue to fall in love with her daily. She has most definately captured our hearts. Emily and Claire are engaging her, caring for her, and generally just loving her! They are so great, and I am so thankful that they traveled here for this most amazing trip and experience.

Here are some photos Joe took shortly after her bath!

Monday, January 05, 2009

More photos!

I messed up loading the photos scroll down first and then scroll up!

Our hearts have grown bigger today!

She has finally arrived!!!! I'll give you the details after many photographs!

First, let me say that she is adorable, amazing, and beautiful and absolutely perfect!
We left for the Civil Affairs building (shared with a hotel) at 2:35. We were due there at 3:00. We arrived at 2:50, got off the bus and headed to an empty room with a stage, podium, and various flags. Across the hall were the babies. I spotted them and saw some of their beautiful faces and started to cry. It was 10 minutes (aka an eternity) before the CCAA officials started a quick speech and introduced the orphanage directors. There were three orphanages represented. They then started bringing babies in one by one and announcing the parent's first names. The first girl to be brought in was 3 years old. I must say it was heart wrenching to hear her cries. One of the guides was talking to her, but she screamed bloody murder. The officials brought out each of the thirteen babies one at a time. Flora was the second to the last. I did not see her in the room across the hall while we were waiting. Several girls were trying to escape their room to our room. I watched as Kim, Ruby's mama, went all paparazzi on a family when they received their daughter. It was a highly emotional moment. I was glad to be there with all of those families.
Flora was held by the orphanage director, while they verified Joe's and my identity. Once we were cleared she was placed in my arms. I handed her off to Joe, who then handed her off to Emily, who then handed her off to Claire. She was stoned faced, not crying, not sure, but okay. Then she started to cry after 5 minutes. We walked her, we switched off. But what satisfied her was the huge red ball in the room across the hall, where she had waited for us.
We learned a lot about Flora in the first few hours:
1. She sucks her left thumb and cups her right hand around her thumb.
2. She quiets quickly and gets upset quickly.
3. She laughs out loud a hearty laugh (I had her laughing within the first 45 minutes).
4. She will eat the formula we brought for her. We offered her a bottle exactly at 4:00 on the nose, 4 o,z and she drank it all.
5. She is entertained, to say the least, by her sisters. They had her howling!
6. Her dad got her to fall asleep first, in a football hold in the hallway hanging out with Clare and Ruby.
7. She seems to be a fairly sound sleeper as she is asleep next to us and we are talking with soft voices.
8. She loves her cheerios, especially when we feed them to her.
9. We love her more than we ever thought we could!
10. Her toes are goods, she stretches them out in a funky way when she is excited or her foot is stroked.
11. We found that walking her around soothes her.
12. The orphanage director cares about her because he patted her on the head and said good-bye to her.
13. She has two bottom teeth and two teeth emerging on the top.
14. She pead her first pea as soon as we opened her diaper, and it went on the bed spread. Oops!
We left the Civil Affairs office at 4:30 to head back to the hotel. We are awaiting to finish our paperwork for the night and eat pizza!
Holy crap! Our family is finally complete!!

Sorry to disappoint you....

that this post is not of Flora. But truth be told this has been a long day, and it is only 1:00. We are anxiously waiting for 2:00 as that is when the ball starts rolling. But I do have to share what happened today, and if I don't do it now, then it will never happen. We had breakfast and video chatted with a few people this morning. We then had a quick meeting regarding paperwork. We walked to the people's park where some of our families were playing football. We and some other families decided to head back to the market Joe hit yesterday. It is quite a far distance, and the weather is beautiful but warm, so we took a cab. We needed two cabs due to all the people. Our cab arrived before theirs so we agreed on a meeting place, the McDonald's. Claire was SO excited! She ate two (yes, tiny Claire ate two) cheeseburgers. Joe, Emily, and I enjoyed cokes with ICE! We waited and waited for the others to arrive, but they never did. Apparently there are two McDonald's near the market. We started walking to the market and encountered an older Chinese gentleman with his granddaughter (14 months). He started to ask questions in Chinese like how old our daughters are. I was able to sign their ages. He then asked for a pen, reached in his bag and pulled out a scrap piece of paper and started to write. This was perplexing, since we can't speak Chinese then how were we able to read it? But he kept talking to us. Many people walked by and stared at us, finally a young man stopped. He spoke English and started to translate for us. The old man asked the girls ages. He asked where we were from. What I did for a living. What Joe did for a living. Why we were in China. Why weren't Emily and Claire in school. Do we know Yao Ming? (Basketball is HUGELY popular here!) They asked if we were here for the Olympics. Did we know "One world, one dream." Then the older man reached in his bag and handed Claire 5 clementines. We summized that he had just come from the store we were heading to. His granddaughter was absolutely stunning. She was entertained by all four of us waving at her and the special treat she had in her hand. The young man said, "I have something to do. Thank you. Good-bye." We then bid ado to the older gentleman and his granddaughter. But before we parted, he reached in that bag once again and broke off a piece of that sweet sesame pastry and handed it to Claire. It was an amazing encounter. I have found, as many people have, said the Chinese people are genuinely kind and interested in us. I have had only one or two encounters where that wasn't quite the case, but they were far from rude, just not as truly pleasant as the majority of the people.
Okay, I promise next post F-L-O-R-A!!!

T minus 11 and counting

Now it is 4:33 am (not that I am paying attention), and I am W-I-D-E awake! Joe is too for that matter!
I can't figure out am I awake because:
1.) I am still adjusting to time change?
2.) I am back on my typical "gym" schedule, like at home?
3.) Flora's arriving in 11 hours and 25 minutes........naw that COULDN"T be it!!!!!

I will probably get dressed soon. Breakfast starts at 7:30. Then we are heading to the people's park, next to our hotel! The retired people practice their tai chi every morning. Next, we are heading to the "supermarket" that Joe hit yesterday. He says "Wal-Mart" is small compared to this multi level "super market" that has everything. We will kill and hour or so there, return to the hotel have lunch and start pacing.........
At 2:00, we meet up with Michelle our guide. We have to give her some paperwork. Then we leave for the Civil Affairs office at 2:30, where the babies are due to arrive at 3:00!
Next post.....Flora and her forever family!

Oh, I had a request for a photo of a squatty potty. This is not THE squatty potty, but A squatty potty!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I forgot to mention! and today!

Additions to yesterday:
Joe reminded me to mention some of the amenities at our hotel in Beijing. In our bathroom, there was a lovely assortment of personal items, including vibrating condoms and special private parts lotion and special private parts cleansing towels. Boy, did I have some explaining to do to E and C.
We did do a little shopping. First at the hotel, "Sweet" waited on us at the hotel gift shop. Her name was aptly chosen. She was kind and attempted English at every turn. It was my first time spending Chinese money. The jade pieces were 100 yuan each. I was concerned about the amount we were spending. I bought 3 pieces, one for each of my girls, to return to the room to discover that I had spent a hopping $45! Next, at the Friendship store I continued the shopping spree. I did buy 4 pieces of cloisonne, all christmas ornaments. I purchased a scarf, and many calligraphy cards for the girls friends' names. At the friendship store we ate lunch. It was amazing how much food was placed on our lazy susan. Claire was happy to partake in lunch, just to get and opportunity to spin the wheel! Lunch was great. Joe and I tried absolutely everything. Only one thing "put-off" some people, the sweet and sour fish. It was basically a whole fish sectioned into pieces and fried. It was served standing up on a plate. We really enjoyed it, and only one other person tried it. We are feeling no residual effects from the Great Wall. What I didn't get in the previous blogs was how steep the steps are! So far it was my favorite moment of the trip (quickly to be replaced tomorrow). Last night we converted our American dollars to yuan for the upcoming adoption fees. We discovered that the largest denomination of yuan is 100. We are now toting around a five inch stack of bills. I feel like some kind of drug dealer!

Good evening from Nanning. We left Beijing at "0" dark hundred for the airport. The hotel was nice enough to send us off with a box breakfast (hard boiled egg, turkey and cheese sandwich (no crust), cookies, salad, and a banana). It was nice for them to do it, even if it was more like lunch. Our flight out of Beijing was easy. The guides are great, and we really do not have to worry about much, thankfully! Interesting as the airport scanner personnel are a bit more bold than American airport scanners. Joe and I were both "felt-up" by the same woman. Also they seem to not worry so much about men scanning men and women scanning women. We had a bit of a laugh. After a three hour flight, we arrived in Nanning. the Nanning airport brought on my first encounter with squatty potties. Needless to say it wasn't as bad as I suspected, but I wasn't too thrilled about the unusually "wet" floor. Our bus was 20 minutes late (translate to about an hour). I did notice a difference in the pollution here versus Beijing. Surprisingly, it is worse here. Apparently, today was the 90th Anniversary of Nanning's autonomy, and the there was horrendous traffic due to the celebration. The wait was no big deal really. I enjoyed talking to all of our families. We have really great people in our group (13 families, in all). We headed to the hotel We came into our hotel room, all of the families are on the same floor.....imagine that, the hotel doesn't want to disturb other guests with crying babies!!!!! Our hotel room hadn't been clean yet, so we left to give housekeeping the opportunity to finish. We wandered downstairs to xerox our visas at the business center, I some how missed that on the millions of checklists! It was about 2:00 and the girls were hungry. We searched for a quick restaurant nearby. We asked the front desk and they recommended the restaurant downstairs. It was a nice little place with 200 pictures on the wall with the prices. We were all brave and pointed and ordered our food. Claire had fried rice, Emily and I had rice noodles with meat, and Joe had some spicy beef, dumplings, and steamed buns. We were one of two tables in there. The wait staff was so very kind, as they all have been so far. We all liked our food and Joe was so impressed by the final price 89 yuan! That is about $13.84. He kept saying it must be wrong! Those numbers could not have been prices, perhaps they were order numbers. Joe could just not fathom the total bill. Of course, he was further impressed by massage prices of 45 yuan for 45 minutes. (about $7). He is proclaiming that he should get a massage everyday! Joe headed to the supermarket to buy water while I unpacked. He said that he feels like a giant among all the people. He is just so much bigger than the people here (wide and tall).
So the word is tomorrow at 2:00 we leave for the Civil Affairs office which in located inside a hotel. The babies should be arriving around 3:00. Flora has her last night in the orphanage tonight, and about a 2.5 hour train ride from the Yulin orphanage tomorrow. I am guessing that she left her foster home a week or so ago to return to the orphanage.
Dinner is still up for grabs tonight. We are still feeling the effects of the time change. We drag around 5:00pm.
Everything is unpacked, the clothes are laid out, and the crib is in our room. We have less than 20 hours! Not that we are counting or even paying attention!
Here are a few photos of our trip. I will post more later!!!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Beijing Highlights in 30 seconds or less....

First stop this am was Tiannamen Square. We then headed underground (via a tunnel) to the Forbidden City. It was amazing, the grandiosity of the property. We walked in very cold temperatures for what seemed like forever, but in actuality was about 1-2 hours. I was sad to see how dilapidated the structures were. One building, the Emperor's office had been restored, and it was stunning. We got back on the tour bus and headed to the friendship store where we learned how cloisonné is made. I had no idea how intricate the process is. Then we ate in the back of the restaurant. I was surprised that 1.) the food was so good, and 2.) the meal was included in our travel package. We then were off to the Great Wall. I was so impressed by the magnitude of this amazing landmark. We went to the Bodaling section- it was far from packed. Out of four towers, I walked to tower two. I received my "Hero" card. In fact, we all did. As many of you know I am not so fond of heights, so the down part worried me. I really wanted to go to the third tower, but fear grounded me.
On the bus ride back, I was reminded of our real purpose.....Flora! (As a side note: When I have followed the blogs for the last few years, I have always wondered how in the world the parents made it through the "sightseeing days" when the reality is you simply want to hold your child. I found out that really, it is not a big deal at all. I have truly enjoyed seeing the sights and meeting the people of China). So, our guide, Michelle, gave us the run down on the next few days, but she focused on gotcha day and the babies, and we received some more paperwork.
We did drive by the Birdsnest and the water cube. The Birdsnest was truly one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen. The cube was difficult to see. I think it may have more pizazz at night or at least on a sunnier day!
We leave Beijing tomorrow at 7:40 am! We have to be ready to depart at 5:00 am! Our bags must be packed and sitting outside our door by 9:30 pm. Whew another crazy day ahead......
I'll check in tomorrow!

It is 3 am!

Update: the sleep on the plane was great, but it is 3:00 am and three out of four of us are awake. Shortly, we will probably start getting dressed to go down to breakfast. We have a fantastic, yet long day ahead. Truth be told....I don't think it is a bad thing because tomorrow we have to leave the hotel at 5:00, so we will need to be getting up around this time anyway. We don't want to get too comfortable!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Greetings from Beijing

Our travel was seamless. Norfolk to New York-no problems. However, in New York we had to leave our terminal and go through security again. I was a bit stressed, just due the cash and the fact it is New York. But, it went well. We boarded our flight and luckily we all sat together. The flight was very long, but, the No-Jet-Lag and melatonin made for a somewhat comfortable and long sleep. All in all, the girls and I probably slept 10 out of 13 hours. Joe probably spent the most time awake.
Arriving in Beijing at night was disappointing only because we could not see much of the city. however, the airport, new for the olympics was beautiful!
Tomorrow is a day chalk full of activities; Great Wall, Tiannamen, Forbidden City, exchanging cash, lunch, all in the 30 degree weather and before 5 pm. Breakfast starts at 6:30 and we leave at 9.
So that is it so far. It is 9:15 pm. No one is tired yet. Probably a good thing, but we shall see tomorrow!
Just FYI for those of you preparing to travel here. I can access blogger directly (at least in Beijing).
More tomorrow with photos!