Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back in Beijing

Yesterday was our swearing in ceremony at the US Consulate and then we left for Beijing. We have our envelope with all of Lily's immigration paperwork and once we are in Chicago the envelope is opened and Lily is a US citizen!! Our 3 hour plane ride to Beijing went a lot better than before and Lily slept most of the time. We have Megan (Pat's sister) visiting us from Tongliao, she took a 13 hour train ride to see us for 5 hours!! We were so excited to see her and so glad she was able to see Lily!! We leave for Chicago at 4:00 today (Wednesday China time) and hopefully we will be in Boston at 9:30 Wednesday night. am really looking foreword to being back home with my boys!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Red Couch Photo

Today was the infamous red couch photo. All the babies in the group get dressed up in traditional Chinese outfits and are placed on a red couch at the White Swan and have their picture taken. You can imagine what it is like getting 11 babies to sit on a couch for a picture; pure chaos! I have read about this tradition for a long time on adoption blogs and it was almost surreal when we were doing it. We know finally have our "Red Couch" photo. Lily is the 3rd from the right in pink in the top row.

We also visited a Buddhist temple and has the babies blessed and then went to the Jade store. It is a Chinese tradition for a mother to wear a jade bracelet and then give it to her daughter when she gets married. Guess who has a jade bracelet? It is beautiful and I love it!

We have also discovered that Lily loves Ramen Noodles. It is so cute watching her eat them! We have 2 more days here and then we head back to Beijing and then we fly home Wednesday. I am ready to go home to be a family of 5! To say I miss the boys is an understatement! I love China and the trip has been amazing but I can't wait to introduce Lily to the rest of her forever family!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hello Guangzhou

It was not easy getting here but we are now really enjoying ourselves! After a day in Nanchang at the Porcelain Store and the Teng Wang Pavilion we headed to the airport. It was an emotional bus ride for me as I knew we were leaving Nanchang, felt like we were leaving a piece of Lily behind. We also had to say good bye to our local Guide, Evelyn, who we really enjoyed. Lily seemed to be feeling better yesterday so I was optimistic about the plane ride. Unfortunately, the 1 hour and 20 minute flight felt like 14 hours! As soon as she finished her Pedialyte bottle after take off it ended up all over Patrick and myself. She then became inconsolable, to be expected for a child who has gone through so much but we had not seen this until we were on the plane next to a very nice business man. She ended the flight with a diaper blowout! Even for us seasoned parents this was enough to throw me into a little meltdown. We all regrouped and once Lily was cleaned up and in her PJ's she fell asleep in the front carrier at the airport. We finally arrived at the hotel at 10:00 and Lily went on to have a real rough night. We have come to the conclusion that she is having a hard time adjusting to the formula. We talked with a doctor today and because her diarrhea has slowed down and she has only thrown up once in 48 hours it does not make sense to change it again. I am hoping we have really turned the corner this time!!

Teng Wang Pavilion

So, we awoke this morning and cute, happy Lily was back! We had her physical exam for her visa this morning. Lily weighed in at 17 lbs and 26 inched long. She's short and chubby! She did great at the appointment and only cried when her ears were checked.

After the exam we hit the streets of Guangzhou for a little shopping. I still have a lot more to do but we were able to do some damage in a short amount of time. Our group headed over to Lucy's for lunch for some good old American food. Lily will only eat food she can put into her own mouth so she is not into the Congee that every other Chinese baby seems to like. Lily had herself a chicken quesadilla for lunch which is a riot because has no teeth!!! We LOVE Guangzhou, it is very warm and has a touristy feel to it. We are looking foreword to a few days of down time before our Consulate appointment and hopefully we can keep Lily healthy.
Lunch at Lucy's with Dave, Sandy and Wren

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yesterday we visited a local village. It was not as rural as the farming villages we passed on our way to the orphanage but more like a small neighborhood. Some of the house were actually pretty large but then they would be next to a very small primitive home. The younger generation will leave the village to go work in the city and then send money home. As they earn the money they build their homes, so it can take a long time. We had the opportunity to go into one of the homes and although it was spacious there were very few furnishings. They leave their front doors open so the house was infested with flys. We brought candy with us to pass to the kids and as word spread that the foreigners arrived more children would come out to see. In the afternoon we took a walk around the hotel without the guide and we caused quite a scene. People could not figure out what we were doing with these babies! Lily was all about daddy yesterday and giving us lots of smiles and giggles. We are still trying to figure out her stomach issue and I am wondering if its the formula. We gave her a bottle in the middle of the night and so far she has kept it down. I will try again after breakfast. We leave Nanchang tonight for Guanzghou and although I am ready for a more "western" city it is sad that we are leaving Lily's home. We have had an amazing time here and we have enjoyed the people and experiencing the culture. I am also really missing the boys and I can't wait to see them with their baby sister!
Home in local village

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Orphanage Visit

Yesterday we were able to visit the orphanage. This was something I thought would not be bale to happen so I was very excited to learn we could spend time at the place Lily called home for her first 8 months. It was a long day full of lots of emotions and some things I will wait and share with only Lily when she is older. It took us over 2 hours to get there and the drive is a memorable one. As we left the city of Nanchang we drove through the countryside and it was a lot to take in. Water Buffalo were in the fields and chickens roamed freely. The house were 2 story brick structures that looked half finished. Some had no doors or windows. We entered Yugan City and that is a small city but not as built up as Nanchang. When we arrived at the orphanage we were fed lunch and although I was unable to eat most of it I tried to be as polite as possible. We were then shown the floor with the babies rooms. I has seen a video of the orphanage so I was prepared and that defiantly helped. Lily's room was the last room at the end of the hall but her nanny had gone home for a few days and took the 2 other babies with her. I was disappointed I was unable to meet and thank the nanny but we did get pictures of Lily's crib and the room. Lily was held by the the assistant director and other nannies and she seemed happy to see them but was happy when she would come back to Patrick and myself. It was very difficult to see the other babies still there and to know this was where my baby spent her first 8 months. Although it was nice my orphanage standards and is not where I would want to spend one night. There is no doubt Lily was loved and well cared for and she is healthy (other than fighting a stomach thing) so I guess it shows you how little we really need to survive in life. She had the most important things; love, shelter and food.
Lily is still sick and can not keep anything down. She will drink the ceralyte so she is hydrated. Even is spite of this her personality is really shining through and she is really a happy baby!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting to Know Each Other

Yesterday was a busy morning and we started our day at Walmart. Walmart in China is a whole new experience! We picked up some essentials, like snacks and a few diapers. We visited a local park and took a nice walk. After the park we went to a local restaurant for lunch. The food was amazing! Fried lotus and steamed pumpkin were my favorites!
Unfortunately, Lily is a little sick. She is fighting a cold and has something going on with her stomach. She has only had diarrhea diapers and threw up yesterday. She is so brave and only whimpers a little and I know she is having stomach pain. We have given her some Ceralyte and hoping she can work whatever she has threw her system. We were still able to get laughs and smiles from her and they are priceless. She smiles just like her referral picture!
Today we are off for a visit to the orphanage. I can't believe we get to go and I know it will be an emotional day.
Oh, I am getting all emails and I appreciate them! For some reason I can not send them, I am getting an error message. Sorry!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Officially a Devine

I just have to say that Lily is perfect! Yesterday was so smooth. We arrived at the office before the babies and were brought into a big room. All the families sat down and prepared for the babies. We made bottles, took out toys and of course had the cameras ready! We waited about 20 minutes and they they started calling the babies names. A baby would enter the room with a nanny and then each family would be called. We were the third family called and I just remember trying to hold back the tears so I wouldn't scare Lily. The nanny told Lily I was her mamma and then placed her in my arms. She came right to me and never cried. I just held her close and couldn't believe that after all this time we were together. She fit perfectly in my arms and was exactly the size I expected. Pat was so patient and it was a few minutes before I realized he still had not held his daughter. She went easily to her daddy and they had some bonding time together. We stayed at the office for about another 30 minutes while the nannies gave us some things back that we had sent including the 2 disposable cameras and a book of questions I had sent there were all answered! We also receives another photo album and a necklace as a gift from the orphanage. The caretakers are truly amazing and we are so thankful for pictures from right when she was found. We got on the bus and she guzzled her extra warm 4 oz. bottle right down! Once back in the room she had another 4 oz. bottle and we just stared at her in amazement! We spent the rest of the day filling out paperwork and getting everything ready for her Chinese passport. We went back to the Provincial office to take our oath and to make everything final.
She has not cried and has just been soaking everything in. We think she is probably internalizing everything. After a nap yesterday she was defiantly scared and sad but we took things slow and brought out the Cheerios. Cheerios are our friend!! She had a great dinner and she LOVES to eat! She ate tofu and noodle soup and could not get enough! During dinner she even had her first poop which is a big deal because sometimes babies hold back when stressed. After dinner she seemed more relaxed so we decided to try the bath, she really needed it! She LOVED her bath and though splashing was very fun. She had another bottle and went to bed at 8:00, woke up at 3:30 for a bottle and is still sleeping at 7:00!
She is very strong and can sit completely independently and can crawl!! We have a mover!! We are hoping for a few more smiles today and hopefully we can get some pictures and video of smiles today. Here are a few more pictures to hold you all over. Her nannies told us she was "good and perfect" and we couldn't agree more!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We have Lily!

Here are the pictures. She is in shock and has not cried but doing well. Took a bottle great! We are in LOVE!! I'll post more later but here is what you want!

Arrived in Nanchang

After another looong day we are now in Nanchang, hours away from having Lily placed in our arms! Our day started today at the Forbidden Palace. The only words I can use to describe that is magnificent and massive! It was very cool to be in a place that is 500 years old! While there I received a few extra looks and one couple wanted their picture with me. It was very funny!! They do not see to many blondes over here! After the Forbidden Palace we went to "Old Beijing" that was very cool! Each couple had a rickshaw ride and we saw the oldest part of Beijing that is the original downtown area. The roads were very narrow with courtyard style housing. It was close to a river lined with quaint shops and restaurants. We had the opportunity to visit a family's home. The area was very cool and there were even quite a few pubs and bars. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time there so no time for a beer. I will let you all know that Pat is liking the Tsing Sao beer and is having plenty of opportunity to drink a few glasses at each meal! We headed to the airport for our 5:30 flight and arrived at the hotel around 8:45. All sorts of emotions ran through me as we walked into our room and saw the crib. We quickly got busy and unpacked our things and so we know have a diaper station, bottle station and clothing station all set up in our room! We hosted a little pre baby gathering in our room to go over diapering and bottle instructions with all the first time parents. Our group has a whole lot of nervous energy going on right now. We are scheduled to leave the hotel tomorrow morning at 10:00 for the provincial offices and should have the babies around 10:30. We have lots of paperwork to fill out tomorrow so I am not sure when I will get a chance to post. We are very excited right now and hopefully we will get some sleep tonight! Please pray that Lily handles the transition as best as possible and that we can comfort her.

Forbidden City

This man and his wife wanted to pose with me! It was very funny and I think it's a riot that I am so much bigger than him!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beijing at Night

The fun just continues! We had our first Peking Duck Dinner and it was delicious and then we strolled through the food vendors. It was a strip of food vendors that sell everything and I mean everything!! Enjoy the pictures of the fried starfish and all the other delicious offerings! I tried fried pumpkin and it was good but unfortunately the smell of the street prevented me from eating anything! We saw so many new and amazing things today that it is difficult for me to capture it all with words. The stroll through the park gave us a glimpse into the life of "older" Beijing residents. I got the feeling that they were at the park for exercise as much as for socialization. We saw lots of group stretching, dancing, ping pong and a game like hackey sack. The Summer Palace, where the Emperor would spend his summer, was full of beautiful courtyards and a man made lake. Climbing the Great Wall was more challenging than I ever expected! The steps are so steep and there are just so many of them! The lower part of the wall was very crowded and it was amazing to see people carrying babies, smoking cigarettes and talking on cell phones while trying to climb the wall. The views kept getting better the higher we went and imagine my surprise to see a toilet and souvenir vendors past the 4th tower! That is quite a hike to work!! I will never forget climbing the "Great Wall Of China"!! On our way back to the hotel we were able to drive past the Olympic cube and birds nest. The traffic was unbelievable and a 45 minute drive took us 2 hours! A couple of thing I saw or just think are interesting: Children go to the bathroom anywhere, like right in front of you on a sidewalk! Traffic is just like they say and I am very glad we are in a huge bus, that mean we usually win the traffic war! I can't believe I can function on so little sleep.. I guess it is preparing me for whats to come! I have become very good at bartering my prices down.. even if I only save a buck its a thrill! Even though kids pee everywhere the streets are pretty clean of litter. I am impressed with how many signs are in English. Tonight was when the realization set in that we are less than 48 hours away from Lily. Having this time in Beijing to truly experience the Chinese culture is such a gift and I tried to soak everything up. I can only hope thay one day we are able to return with all our children. Tomorow we visit the Forbidden City and taking a tour of "old" Beijing. At the end of the day we are on a plane to Nanchang. We are so close to what we have been waiting for for 3 years!!

Peking Duck

Amazing Sights!!

We had an amazing full day in Beijing today and it's not over yet! We are off to a Peking Duck Dinner and to walk around the street of vendors. We started our day at an outside park at 6:30AM. The park was beautiful and is where the locals get in their exercise. After the park we ate breakfast and met a very nice German couple and then off to the Summer Palace. After the Summer Palace we hit the Pearl Factory where I did a little bit of shopping! Lunch was at a local restaurant and then off to the Great Wall. I am proud to say Pat and I both climbed to the 6th tower (the highest we could go)! I have so much to write about but running out of time. I want to post a few pictures for the boys and then when I am awake at 4AM I will write again. China is amazing!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

We Arrived!!

Hello Beijing!! After a very LONG day we are at our hotel in getting ready for sleep. We left our house Thursday AM at 4:30 and now it is 8:15 Friday night China time. I finally know what it means to lose a day! The flight was fine and I am so glad we had the extra seat. Now a whole lot of slep happened but Patrick and I survived. We had dinner with the group tonight and now we are off to bed! We have a big day of touring tomorrow. Oh, I can't believe how smoggy it is! Here are a fes pictures.

Shea and Bryce, we love you!! I took a picture of us flying over the North Pole!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ready to go!!

After 3.5 years from when we started the adoption process we are on our way to CHINA in less than 24 hours!!! We are bringing our baby girl home and we will be a family of 5! Everything is packed and when the boys come home from school we will carve pumpkins and have a pizza dinner. I think they are ready for us to go! We had a great weekend and think we all are ready for the change that is about to happen to our family. A wonderful, beautiful change!! We arrive in China at 1:55 pm Friday afternoon China time so I hope to post once we get to the hotel. Say a few prayers that our long flight goes smoothly!! See you in China!!

A day at Battleship Cove. The boys loved the WWII ships!

Shea and Bryce at the farm. We picked our pumpkins and took a walk through the corn field maze.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

7 Days!!!!

One week from right now I will be sitting on an United plane heading to Beijing. Unbelievable. People keep asking me how I feel. I feel excited. I am not nervous about going to China, although I have only been to the Caribbean, I do feel comfortable traveling to China. I know our agency will take care of everything while we are in China. I have had 3 years to read about other's adoption trips to China and I feel like I am very prepared and know what to expect. I will miss the boys; I will miss the hugs and kisses, the smell of their sweaty heads after they play, the smell of them freshly bathed. I will miss the "I love yous", the "hey mamma, guess what?". I may even miss the 5:00 o'clock whining... Ok, that's a lie I will not miss that! I am truly blessed because I know my boys will be well cared for by their grandparents. I could never leave for 2 weeks without the love support of my mom and mother in law!

Although I am not nervous I am worried. I am worried because Lily may have been fed tainted formula in her first few weeks of life. Some children in China who have had this formula have been diagnosed with kidney stones. I know for a fact Lily's orphanage received donated formula (the main brand that was recalled) last February. It makes me sick to think Lily was given this formula in her first weeks of life. There is nothing we can do until we get home and visit her pediatrician and the IA pediatrician. I do however do not underestimate the power of prayer. This is a bit of a rambling post but I guess that's what happens when I am 7 days away from traveling to China to get our daughter!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Countdown Begins!!

10 more sleeps until we are on that plane to China. On October 16th our flight leaves Boston at 8:31 Am and lands at Dulles at 10:12 AM. We leave for China at 12:12 and land in Beijing on Friday afternoon at 1:55 (1:55 Friday AM our time). For some reason being only 10 days away has changed things for me and I am finally realizing this is going to happen. I have a lot done but still a lot more to do! I really want to be done with everything by this weekend we can enjoy our last weekend as a family of 4. We have some special things planned for the boys and I just want to have a fun stress free weekend. I can't help but think that in 2 weeks our baby girl will be placed in our arms forever. I feel sad that Lily has no idea her life is about to change, everything she knows will be different. There is no way to prepare a 8 month old for what is about to happen and I only pray that somehow when she is held by her mommy and daddy she feels the love that we have for her!