Saturday, November 24, 2007



(1) We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving at my mom's new home in our neighborhood. Friday, we took J and a friend to a local amusement park for the Holiday Lights Extravaganza. The boys rode the largest wooden roller coaster east of the Mississippi River in 32 degree weather, going 65 mph IN THE DARK!

(2) My 4 kids like to play together.

(3) Sarah was playing with the dust in the sunbeam. Guess I ought to clean.... She is taking a few steps here and there.

(4) Our dog has found a new lap to occupy. She's still shell-shocked from the critter we brought home. She literally shakes with fear sometimes. I hate that we've ruined her life. I hope she recovers because she's the best dog in the world.

Monday, November 19, 2007


We all went to church Sunday. It was interesting trying to get tights onto a moving target. I think with this experience under my belt I might be a shoe-in for a greased pig contest! There was a baby celebration where we parade those children recently born or adopted in front of the congregation and they bless the children. Sarah was asleep. Sean had to hold her and his arms almost fell off.

Today we had to take her to get blood drawn for routine tests. It was immediately apparent that she had had this done before because she began to scream and flail as soon as we laid her down. It took 3 adults to hold her down while the nurse drew the blood. The first stick was unsuccessful. Boo. So she got stuck a second time. She was so worn out that she fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Night

It's hard to believe we've been home a week. We've found the living room floor which was a feat. J is back at school and his extra curricular activities. He had his final flag football game this morning. Then we raced across town, eating lunch on the way, to his taekwondo testing. He advanced to senior red belt. We're so proud of him. That was a difficult testing considering he missed 3 weeks of class.

We took Sarah to the doctor on Friday. Our pediatrician was pleased with her development. She had to get shots and will have blood drawn Monday for some routine tests.

She's standing on her own for longer periods of time, working her way up to walking by herself. She will cease formula soon (once the can I bought is empty!) and is experimenting with eating with a fork and spoon. Tonight she fell in love with hotdogs and macaroni and cheese.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

12 hours of sleep!

Sarah slept 12 hours last night!! She missed her afternoon nap. By 5:30 p.m. she was fried. We rushed to get dinner ready. She was nodding off to sleep in the high chair eating spaghetti (which she loves!) So at 6:15 p.m. she killed an 8 oz bottle and headed to bed. She woke up around 6:45 this morning. Yay! We're going to try to move toward one long nap mid-day so that she can sleep well through the evening. J also was in bed very early last night. K was in bed by 8:00. We all hit the wall yesterday mid-afternoon. Each day will get a little better.

The first photo is of our wonderful small group that met us at the airport. Then Nana is holding her new granddaughter.

Sarah found the dog's house today. Brandi was less than thrilled. She's a nervous wreck. She's barely eaten.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Simple Pleasures

After a cumulative loss of 18 lbs for our family, but gaining 18 pounds in our luggage, 12 hours on a plane and two hours to clear customs in Los Angeles, we had the best sleep ever. It was wonderful to be able to brush our teeth with tap water again. What we take for granted! The breakfast buffet was the best food I've ever had.

We think it was wise to stop over night in Los Angeles. It gave us a chance to get our bearings and move our bodies back toward Central Time. We arrived to a large welcoming party in Nashville. (I'll try to post pictures from someone's camera.) I was so excited to get off the plane I left my wallet in the seat back pocket. It flew on to Baltimore. I noticed it while Sarah was sleeping on me but I didn't want to move and wake her. Southwest will Fed Ex it to me this week.

Our small group (Bible study group) that met us also filled our refrigerator with food which came in handy at midnight when S wanted a barbeque sandwich! Sarah slept from 10 p.m to around 5:15 a.m. She awoke happy and played for most of the day. She took one short nap around 10:30 a.m. and a long nap at 3:00. We woke her up so she could eat and go back to sleep for the evening.

We unpacked today - that means that things were taken out of suitcases. It in no way means they are put away. We did about 5 loads of laundry and have about 3 to do. We all bounded out of bed and felt great in the morning but were dragging by afternoon. I've heard it takes one day for every time zone you cross to recover from jet lag. Hopefully it won't be that long.

I'll send more pictures soon.

Our trip ended the same way it started. The morning we left, one of our new TSA approved locks wouldn't unlock....and it was on our suitcase. So S had to saw it off. When we went to unlock our bags that were locked with our new TSA approved locks that we bought at the airport, we realized that the keys are in my wallet in Baltimore.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Which song should it be?

S awoke singing, "I'm leavin' on a jet plane".....while K was singing Daughtry's song, "I'm goin' home, back to the place where I belong." Both are appropriate as excitement fills the air. We have managed to fit everything into our original baggage. We thought we would have to buy another suitcase but we've done it! yay!

We check out at 1:00 p.m. and catch the bus for the airport at 5:00 p.m. Our plane leaves at 9:00 p.m. and arrives the same day in L.A. at 6:00 p.m. Thanks to the International Date Line we get to live Friday twice.

Can't wait to see everyone! Thanks for traveling with us.

Reason for Celebration

I don't think it's quite hit me that Sarah is really ours. Somehow it seems like a really long babysitting job for a pretty and smart little girl that is very happy when she wakes in the morning but very grouchy when she's ready for bed. When you go into stores here, the merchants ask where she is from. When we say, "Chongqing", they all comment, "Oh, spicy girl!" because the Sichuan region is known for spicy foods. They don't know how true that comment is!

We had a pizza party/playdate with Emma and family last night.

We sent disposable cameras to the orphanage and they were returned when we adopted her. We had the photos developed and it appears to be her foster family. Sarah got really excited when she saw the photos. It's nice to have a little something of her past.

We shopped most of the day, buying the items we had our eye on all week. We have some very nice mementos of Sarah's birth country. Jack even showed a local salesman how WEbkinz works.

What a fun party we had tonight! All of our provincial travel group together one last time. I got a picture with my friend Cindy who taught me to be to polite in China by saying, "Shay Shay" or thank you. What would I do without her?
Leah and Sarah enjoyed destroying their pieces of cake.
In about 24 hrs we will be taking off for home!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


1st photo: Chinese perception of Americans.

2nd photo: Chinese perception of themselves.

Red Towel goes to China

Stand up and cheer! Stand up and Cheer for dear old Western!!!

Pearl shopping and fellowship with fellow toppers on Tuesday. Wednesday we went to the US Consulate for the swearing in ceremony and picked up her passport and visa to get into the USA.

Today we will go purchase all the items we've carefully shopped for. Tonight a birthday party for Sarah and Leah who are one day apart. More pictures of that tonight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday - Medical exam

At 9am on Monday S and Sarah went to the official "Medical" exam with the rest of our travel group. We took a very nice 15 minute walk through several parks on our way from the White Swan hotel to the Medical Exam Office. On the way, we past a Catholic church and what appeared to be an elementary school where the kids were eager to use their English speaking skills.

Our first stop of the morning was the passport photo office which is conveniently located next door to the Medical Exam Office. 5 minutes later and all 6 families in our travel group were done with the photo's.

The Medical Exam was another "check" the block and deposit another $100 to the Chinese government. They sure know the meaning of capitalism. The "adoption" exam area consisted of 3 rooms - "ENT", "Medical" and "Other". The "ENT" exam was nothing more than a "doctor" squeaking a toy and hitting a toy piano to see how Sarah would respond - the "doctor" also checked her throat and ears but didn't look in her nose. I had to acknowledge that Sarah didn't have fever (which she did last week), was "normal" (which she is) and hadn't been hospitalized (which she hasn't been since we pick her up last week) - yet, again another "check" the block to finalize the adoption.

The "Medical" portion of the exam consisted of a "doctor" checking her feet, measuring her head and touching her stomach area and pulling off her diaper for a split second to check her bellybutton. we were given the "all ok" from the "medical doctor".

The "other" exam consisted of temp, weight and height again, performed by another "doctor". The temp was taken under her arm and I never heard the device beep to indicate a proper reading.... No longer than it took for me to sit down this portion of the exam was over. Our in country coordinate "Mr. Peter" got us to the exam just in time as a large travel group of almost 15 families arrived shorlty after us. We (all 6 families) completed the medical exams within 45 minutes then it was off to Starbucks! S

Sunday, November 4, 2007

1st day in GZ

First item of business: I didn't get any email today. Some of you readers need to send me a message from the outside world so I can maintain sanity.

Greetings from Guangzhou. Things are more laid back here on Shaimin Island. So many Americans and everyone speaks excellent English...of course that's how they get you to buy their wares.

We took a van tour today. They packed 5 families, a driver and guide into the van. First we visited the Temple of 6 Trees, a buddist temple where we saw lots of people worshipping. Our coordinator, Peter, did a good job of telling us all about it. As soon as our van stopped, we were mobbed by beggars with no hands, on crutches and crippled. It was so sad.

Next we went to a porcelain factory/showroom. There we bought tea sets. They had jade, pearls and embroidery. Our coordinator was shocked at the amount of time and money we could spend there. :) We wanted to buy the plate in the picture but we couldn't figure out how to get it home safely.

Then we went to the jade market where the retailers come and buy their wares wholesale. We didn't find too much there, but they were willing to bargain...if you knew the real stuff from resin. Folks just stared at J's blonde hair.

After the tour Sarah took a nap in the room with dad. J and I ventured out to drop off laundry and explore. After one failed attempt to find the grocery, we found Starbucks and stopped for cocoa and a cinnamon roll. No matter where the Starbucks is located world wide, it's always staffed with hip yuppies.

BIG NEWS! Sarah slept in the crib last night and again for her nap today! We're so proud of her. She can already wave hello and good by to people and she claps.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Arrived Guangzhou!

Arrived Guangzhou just fine. The sun is shining, there are Americans everywhere and we had spaghetti, burgers, grilled cheese for dinner. Our whole travel group went out last night - walked to a local place called Lucy's.

We are on Shaimin Island. It is much more expensive here and the hotel room is 1/3 the size of our room in Chongqing.

We're taking a tour today to go to the Jade market. Priorities first.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday night party

Our group was invited to a birthday party for little Haley. Her actual birthday was September 2 but we weren't here then so we celebrated November 2. We all met downstairs in the buffet restaurant where we eat breakfast every morning. It was so nice to get everyone together. We ate shrimp, chicken wings, fried and steamed rice, lots of desserts. We did not eat fish tongues or fish throats which are on the buffet. There were also lots of other dishes which we avoided so we would not get sick - although they looked okay.

The breakfast buffet is interesting each morning. The french toast has a layer of green in the middle. The ham is spam. The yogurt is thin enough to drink with a straw (but is a great choice for protein in the a.m.) There is rice soup, various chinese noodles and vegetables....and baked beans and corn on the cob. Go figure. After a week, we've figured out that you have to ask for hot water to mix in with your coffee so it's not so strong.

We got the biggest compliment after dinner tonight. We wanted a family photo with Xiulan. She said "I want to get next to this boy. He is good behavior. He is gentleman." J HAS been so good on this trip. It has been very stressful and he has handled himself well. Sarah is blessed with a great big brother and we are blessed with a wonderful son.

Tomorrow morning our group heads to Guangzhou where we will complete the requirements to get Sarah a visa to enter the US. She has a Chinese passport (with the prettiest picture! Why can't my passport picture be that pretty?) In Guangzhou we will be on Shaimin Island where lots of other American adopting families will be staying. We won't be such a "side show" there. Xiulan won't be going with us. We were all sad to hear that. Peter will be helping us there. My next post might be a day or two until we get settled in GZ. We're all ready to get out of this place and see some new scenery. One step closer to home!


An AMAZING thing happened today. The SUN came out!!!! We all went outside for some photo-therapy. We had heard about these banyan leaf paintings that are only done in Chongqing. S and our friend V were tenacious about finding them. S surfed the internet until he found some phone numbers to call. In his best pigeon-Chinese, S called around. He mentioned to our guide, Xiulan, that he and V were going to the place to buy the leaf paintings and she said they should not go alone. She rearranged her schedule to go along with them. Xiulan helped get a taxi cab because the taxis would not stop for S and V because they were too tall - ha!. The paintings are amazing. We were glad the guys made the effort to find them.

V's wife JB and I went shopping at an area very close to the hotel - it's like a flea market. There were LOTS of folks out in the courtyard because of the beautiful weather. We created quite a stir. People would stop and stare or come talk to the babies. In the flea market area, I stopped to look at an item. I turned around to see a lady trying to take Sarah out of her stroller. We high-tailed it out of there quick! We saw several kids peeing and pooing in the landscaping around the courtyard.


Thursday was a dreary day with lots of rain. we still managed to venture out for lunch with another family to an Italian restaurant adventure. They were out of what I wanted. So I got some sort of funky chicken with lots of ginger. S was nice enough to eat it and give me his spaghetti which was somewhat normal. We hit Haagen Daz and Starbucks afterwards.

We had a LONG supper at the Japanese steakhouse (think Kobe's) located in the "Underground Town" below our hotel. At 7:30, our group boarded a bus to see the sights of Chongqing. We had a harrowing ride up a narrow, winding road, across two rivers/several bridges to the top of a mountain. We got some beautiful night light shots.

Two drunk guys came up to J and started hugging and rubbing his face. S had to push them away. They laughed at me when I said "no" in Chinese. All of us were tired and ready to head back to the hotel for sleep. J fell asleep on his new friend Hannah on the bus.