Thursday, November 24, 2011

Travel to Guangzhou Day

It's another day in paradise. This morning we awoke to smoke pouring under the door from errant smokers who I believe were blowing smoke at our room. Sofie still has a cough. I am all stuffy and her Dad says his lungs/throat hurt like he is getting sick. I really hope Guangzhou has a true non-smoking room and is less polluted than here. Also, I am hoping all our symptoms are caused by pollution and not a bug.
We will be meeting up with the other 4 families who adopted children in Guangzhou, and it should be nice to potentially have some distractions for Sofie. I am hoping the flight will be smooth. She keeps holding her ears and really really hope they are ok.
This morning I made up a song "mama ai ni" which means mama loves you. When we turned on the Chinese kiddie tv, they were singing a very similar song. It made me smile.
Sofie loves her jammies. There are little monkey feet on the bottom, and she spends a few minutes each hour staring at them or touching them. Also, I don't think they have polar fleece here and she loves stroking it.
What else? She is saying mama a lot. She is definitely potty trained during the day. She isn't sure about kisses from us still although she LOVES her bear. We are working on packing, but it is challenging because every time she sees something she likes she takes it out and plays with it. Our room looks like a disaster. I think we need to leave a huge tip.
That's all I can think of now. Happy Black Friday!
After lunch.
I love my Sofie and the way she looks at me while she drinks her bottle. I love her weight and warmth. I love the way she holds my hand and strokes my leg. I love the way she is fighting sleep and succumbs nevertheless. I love her lower lip, ripe, protruding, perfect. She uses it frequently. I love her happy dance. She does it when she is eating something she likes and we are eating too. She dances in her chair and bobs her head from side to side and laughs. I love that her head looks like Stewie's from family guy. I know. I know. I shouldnt say it, but it really does.
I love the way her eyes crinkle up when she smiles. I love the sound of her laugh. I love the way her voice sounds, a little raspy considering she is only 2. I love that she carries around her shoes and winter coat, always wanting to go outside. I love that she smells everything new first, before she feels it, plays with it, or accepts it. I love that she calls me mama and that she will snuggle with me. I love kissing her tummy and giving her zerberts. She giggles all along. I love that every time she touches her bear, Sofie kisses its nose and makes kissing sounds for the bear before hugging it fiercely. I love that when she is having fun, that she collapses on the ground giggling. It is pretty dirty, but I love it that she is happy.
I am still at the point where I find it almost charming that she is a path of destruction wherever she goes. I do admit, we are rethinking Christmas decorations this year because the few things that the cats haven't destroyed are precious and she can take them out in one go in less than 30 seconds. And, it is embarrassing what a huge mess we make at just about any place. But, she is experiencing the world at her fullest, right? And we still don't speak the same language... Though, he says that she understands my tone. I love it that I can get her to calm down by speaking softly and making eye contact.
I am falling in love with this little girl.
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Day ... I lost count due to sleep deprivation

Sofie is a nut. I have been sleeping with her because her foster mommy slept with her. Somehow through the night we went from parallel to her perpendicular across the top of the bed, head to head. Her dad got the biggest laugh this morning when we woke up.
Also, our Sofie is a big mimic, and she utilized my low tech technique of opening foil sealed bottles by stabbing them with a pen or spoon this afternoon. She is a clever girl. He blames me. She also discovered chocolate today because her dad shared, and she immediately confiscated every bar in the room and tried to put them in here backpack to indicate to us that they were hers from now on. She is so funny.
We had been told that she liked noodles, and we tried and tried to get her to eat them but she wouldn't touch them. Then today, we went to a noodle place outside the hotel and she ate them with gusto. The hotel's food sucks. Might have to eat it tonight again though.
Her energy is AMAZING. I have no idea how we will subdue her for 26 hours to get home. She has temper tantrums when we try to calm her down for 5 minutes. We will do a dry run tomorrow on the flight to Guangzhou.
It will be wonderful to get out of Taiyuan. Today the visibility was less than 20 yards. When I breathe in, I have pain in my lungs. I am not sure what the altitude is, but wow. Bad news. I am so glad we are rescuing this little girl from this environment.
Anyway, I should probably get the room cleaned up for when her dad comes back. Happy turkey day.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 3 - rocky road

The day started off so good. Sofie woke up at 7:30, she was a bit befuddled and watched us for awhile. Her teddy bear got some serious LOVE (.. Bum chicka bow wow... Lots of kisses) and giggles.
She did her business, we gave her some milk, we got her dressed, we remembered to take a bottle with us, we put the blasted pink backpack on her, we got her breakfast, and she lost patience after she had consumed 2 oranges, a sausage, a steamed dumpling, and the rest of her milk. We ran around, she was wild and wanted to ride the luggage carts real bad. They spelled danger to me, so I redirected her to breakfast where she started the "I want my grandma" (foster grandma) wail. Nothing would distract her. I took her upstairs and she had a beautiful, full on temper tantrum. It probably didn't help that I laughed at her.
Her dad came up 20 minutes later and she was still really putting her heart into it. We came downstairs to go shopping, and as soon as we approached the doors, she turned it off. We had a lovely time at Walmart shopping. She loved riding around on the cart, and we let her pick a few items. Her favorite is chocolate Oreos. She got a triple pack and was dying to eat them. She repeated "bless you" after I said it when she sneezed. She also was calling us mama and papain front of the guide. It was amazing.
In the car back, she sang a little song and was real happy, munching on her oreos. The guide was impressed that she knew all the words and said she did a nice job. We forgot to buy a stroller at Walmart and went to a really fun market to fix it. Sofie was so happy there, and when we left with her in the stroll, she was singing at the top of here lungs. All the locals were laughing at her and twittering a bit as we merrily went down the street.
We headed back to the hotel and stopped in the room before we went to lunch. She sure hates our room and started crying again. We were more clever today and brought her lunch with us. There was like at least half the mess as there was yesterday (had 2 spilled glasses yesterday plus about 40 napkins worth of the mess)... I feel like this is progress. Though, I still cringe when she wipes her face and neck and then tosses the napkin behind her on the floor ... Though, napkins are better than berry pits, saucers, spoons, chewed oranges, etc...
We have turned into "those people"... LOL
So, we went back to the room and she started crying again. I rocked her to sleep and escaped for a bit. We we headed to the park after the nap. I probably should go back. Yes. Really should go back... ;)
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Day 2 - it's official! We are now Sofie's parents

Sofie slept fitfully throughout the night. She woke up early and. Wanted her bottle immediately. We thought she would have a little patience for breakfast once she drank her milk, but she wanted oranges and gooseberries immediately. She ate so much I thought there would be no room for breakfast! However, she was able to chow down some steamed dumplings, cantaloupe, and sausages. Sausages are her favorite, apparently. Sofie is really into throwing things when she is finished with them and although it is a terrible habit, it is hysterically funny to see her daintily wipe her mouth and neck and then toss the napkin behind her.
After breakfast, we went back to the room to get cleaned up for our adoption appointment. Sofie is still hoping that we will take here home and insisted on carrying her fully loaded pink backpack, teddy bear, and dolly. We headed down the elevators on time (!). This time in the car was much more pleasant with no crying. We went back to the building where we were on Monday and completed all the final paperwork.
When we came back to the hotel, the guide mentioned that here foster parents wanted to meet us very much. We took turns meeting them in the afternoon so that Sofie wouldn't get false hope that she was going home. They were very nice, and heartbroken that she had left. They really wanted a better life for her. Our little girl is a lucky girl to be loved by so many people.
We went to the park yesterday as well, and Sofie and her Dad did some much needed bonding, chasing one another around. Sofie caught him every time, and the laughter was fantastic.
Well, it's time to get her up and head to breakfast where I will get to post this. Hope you are having a wonderful day.
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The handoff was pretty traumatic for Sofie. She was at her foster family's house until this morning, and we picked her up at 9:45. She was waiting in the lobby of a sky rise office building. I saw her in the window from the car, and my heart skipped a beat. As soon as she saw us, she started to cry. With their equivalent of the child protective services, we went up to a room in the building where they did the paperwork. She was subdued for a moment, and I gave her the play cell phone we brought her. She handled it for a second and when we relaxed, she made a run for an open door to freedom. We caught her and she started screaming.

We signed paperwork and brought her down to the lobby again. She continued to kick and scream while we took a family photo for CCCWA. She bawled in the car on the way back to the hotel. She roared through the lobby, up the elevator, and into our room. She was nuclear for about 2 hours. Eventually I had the bright idea of giving her a bottle of milk. We found silence and it was golden, but temporary. After the bottle, she started weeping again, eventually, she fell asleep and we got her down for a 35 min nap. Unfortunately we had to wake her to go to the bank with the guide.

She cried all the way to the bank, calling for her grandma. At the bank, we got her to calm down for awhile. When we got back to the room again, she cried some more. Eventually, I gave her another bottle of milk. She lay down awhile, didn't sleep and suddenly recovered. It was like her brain reset. We fed her some oranges and gooseberry like things and she had a few good hours. We played. She laughed. It was beautiful.

Eventually, we gave her the last bottle of milk and she crashed to sleep.

Overall, things are a-changing.
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today is the day!

Oh, how I have longed to say those words for the last few years. The day is finally here!
I slept fitfully last night, waking up, and thinking of all the things I want to do with our Sofie and wondering how today and this week was going to go.
I finally gave up at 6 am. My hubby was more determined and managed to stay in bed until 7...
I know that whatever happens, it will work out. We will have sunny days and cloudy days, wind rain and shine. Welcome to the family, Baby.
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The day before Sofie

The day started at 4:36 am.  It was early. We slept walked through the motions to get our stuff together, get checked out, and get on the bus by 5:30. Upon successful checkout, we received a bag lunch with white bread, mayo, cheese and white lunch, meat, cookies, a banana and water.  I choked down the sandwich and a banana. My hubby ventured only to the banana,

We were the first to be dropped off, and our guide Michael took us all the way through security.  It was good he did because there was a problem with our reservations and we almost didn't make the plane.  Once inside the airport proper, we picked up a coke zero and 2 little cafe lattes to feed our caffeine addiction and wake up.

We arrived in Taiyuan, and it was like a scene from a post-apocalyptic war movie.  The pollution here is extreme. As the plane descended from the sky, the smell of chemicals filtered through the plane.  A haze of smoke is everywhere,  the view from the plane was power plants smoke plumes and chemical plumes churning out of smokestacks every block or two.  The first breath of air as we debarked burned my lungs and made my eyes water.  It didn't improve within the airport, in the car ride with ac, or at the hotel.  The city seems to be filled with smokers which masks the chemicals but adds a whole new dimension to them pollution.

We arrived at the hotel and the air is the same here. We had lunch at the hotel restaurant and the smoke was thick like a nightclub in the early 90's - or the Ace for you Coloradoans.  

I am relieved we are saving this one little girl. I wish we could save more.

I finally got an Internet connection so was able to post more info.  Hopefully it will work tomorrow too.

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The day of being tourists - Nov 19

We woke up at 7 after a fitful night.  We crashed last night at nine, and mad the requisite wake ups at midnight and three.  For awhile, it looked like we wouldnt make it back to sleep after the 3am wake up, but eventually we dozed ... Falling into good sleep after 6.

I had a particularly successful session with dr. Neilmed this morning, and yes, China is much more polluted than Texas. We went down for a delicious buffet breakfast this morning and it surpassed expectations. They had steamed bread, steamed dumplings, smoked fish, eggs, bacon, salads, dragon fruit, and the list goes on and on.  The coffee was good. The tea was good.  We left full and satisfied.

Our bus tour kicked off at 8:30 and we headed to Tianamen square. It was a clear, cold, windy day.  We were completely unprepared for the heavy gusts of wind but enjoyed the deep, blue cloudless sky.

Then we went to the forbidden city which had layer upon layer of defenses to shield the emperor. The artwork was spectacular at every turn. It reminded me of the kind of work done in Egypt. There was also a crush of people like I never imagined. I fancied myself to be a bit of a tourist attraction. Groups of people stood near me to take a picture.

We went to lunch at a jade factory and learned all about how they make jade objects. We also purchased a necklace for me and my hubby showed his negotiation prowess. 

Last, we headed to the great wall. It was incredibly tall, and the steps were quite steep. I chickened out about halfway up to the first guardhouse because I was afraid my knee would give out. My hubby kept going but wished he had turned around earlier once he got back down - but he did go high enough to get a "all I got was a great wall tshirt"...

On the ride back to the hotel, we received our official travel approval from the Chinese government. It made me teary and the magnitude of what we are doing hit for a moment,

We came back to the hotel around six, and took a break, warming up briefly before we went to dinner with Carla and Ryan, a couple from Michigan who are adopting their second child from china -a seven year old little boy.

Another adventurous day. We have to wake up at 4:30 for a 5:30 departure... Eek!

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Finally arrived in China - Nov 18

We arrived in China finally after 19 hours.The flight was really long. My hubby was still real uncomfortable in spite of being in 1st/business class. We watched dumb movies and had ok food.
China has a lot of pollution. As we approached Beijing, there was a ring of black as far as the eye could see. On the ground, there is a haze of smog,. everywhere, the smell of smoke is in the air. people say that Houston or the US is polluted, and it is a joke. We don't have pollution .
Traffic was heavy. It took about 90 minutes to get for the airport to the Poly Plaza hotel. The hotel is basic and we have twin beds.
We are sitting in a tea room, with me drinking ginger milk tea & my hubby having earl grey. A piano is playing Auld Lang Syne even though it isn't the new year. He is pretty tired. He didn't get to sleep on the plane like I did. I am real glad I packed because he has been saying some funny stuff - asking about conserving energy because of no converters, power cords, etc. I guess he forgot his brush (I brought mine plus a comb and purse brush/comb combo). Who knows what else is missing. It makes me giggle a little.
The magnitude of what we are doing hit me hard on the plane. lots of anxiety is floating around in my brain, but I have to believe we will be great parents and make it work. It could be a really long flight in coach on the way home (all 26.5 hours of flying goodness). We will be making 2 stops instead of 1... Maybe the extra stop will let Sofie get some of her energy out before we confine her to a seat.
Ah, the piano players is playing "moon river" now. Feels old school.
Went to dinner down the street, past the recommendations our guide Michaal gave us. We found the busiest restaurant we could find. From the outside, it looked like a cafeteria. The place was hopping. No one spoke a word of English, but luckily they had a visual menu. We ended up ordering dumplings, a beautiful salad with rice noodles, peanuts, chilies, cabbage, and rice vinegar, and a hot pot with beef, potatoes and chilies. It tasted fantastic, and the service was fast. He was complaining about the prices during the meal, but when all was said and done, it cost a whopping ten bucks and was a phenomenal meal.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here we go!

All the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed. We are sitting on the plane and waiting to go.

The contentment and joy I am feeling supercede the lack of sleep.

Took some fun pictures for posterity of us in bus class looking sleepy and happy.

We head to New York and the Beijing. 19 hours of traveling goodness. It will be cosmic.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


This week is going to be an exciting one.  We spent our last weekend at home as "single" people ...
We had a Thanksgiving celebration last night since we are traveling on the big day.  It was wonderful.  E has been watching football and loving every minute today.  I downloaded some books for the trip and have been reading up on Chinese culture to help make sure I don't make any big faux pas while I am there.

Since we got the update about Sofie's size, I have been shopping like crazy, and her mural is completed.  We have a car seat, booster seat, step stool, mattress set, clothes in 3T, headbands with bows, books, toys for the trip, medicine, shampoo, little tooth brushes & baby toothpaste.  It is wonderful.  Also, my mom has been sending baby showers in a box every couple of weeks and it helps to supplement the booty.

I sent her updated stats (Height: 35.8 inches   Weight: 26.5 lbs   Head size: 18.1 inches   Chest size: 20.1 inches   Foot length:  5.5 inches   Teeth number: 14) to my doctor when we got the updates, and the doctor was really impressed with her development & how healthy she looks.  In one of the pictures, it looks like she might have a prosthetic in her mouth that is helping with her development.  Maybe her cleft palate isn't going to be as bad as I feared.  I can't wait to welcome this little person into our lives.  We got a bunch of new pictures, and she is so beautiful.  And her smile is amazing.  I had worried a little in my heart that she didn't smile in any of the pictures (hoped she could smile), and of course they just hadn't captured her in a magic moment.  Apparently, her passion at the moment is balls & she will fit right in with E.  Soccer could be in her future, and it makes me happy to think about it.  I know it could change at any time, but it warms my heart to know they they having something in common already.  :)

Work is wrapping up for awhile.  It is weird to be handing over my duties and going through the motions while waiting for the travel date to come.

I am glad we will have some time with Sofie in China before we fly home.  Our schedule calls for us to be away for 2 weeks.  Luckily, a good friend recently moved to Houston and will be available to housesit for us & help take care of the cats.  I also have the best neighbor ever who is acting as a backup plan for cat-care as well as an assembler for a bunch of furniture that was going to take forever to get here.  We have the best friends.

Our trip will have us visit to Beijing, Taiyuan (Shanxi Province), and Guangzhou.  We spend about 2 days in Beijing,  5 days in Taiyuan, and 6 days in Guangzhou.  We get her on the 21st and she will be a US citizen on the 29th.

I ordered some Chinese language CDs and I am finding them hard to get into.  They claimed I could be doing something else while listening & still learning, so I tried to make my pies yesterday & clean while doing the language lesson.  It needed my full attention for sure.  I don't know if my motivation is lower since I know Sofie doesn't speak Mandarin anyway.  It could be.

So, somehow I will need to get through the next week of adventure before the next one starts.  I will take one day at a time and keep on going. :)

Happy Days.