Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Soup anyone?

Today was an adventure!  We took a walk over the bridge and wow! what a difference.  There is an open air market, the only 'traditional' one in Guangzhou, selling many interesting items.  There were fish, mushrooms, lots of roots and herbs for traditional Chinese medicine and....snakes, seahorses, starfish, turtles on a stick, (all dried) and....SCORPIONS...live scorpions.  Our guide explained that traditional Chinese medicine believes that if there is a pain or problem one place in the body, the root of the problem is not in that place.  It is because of a problem somewhere else, so usually the treatment is for the whole body.  Most of the items we saw today are for general well being--to keep  you healthy and strong and to build your immune system and natural health.  Apparently, a pair of scorpions in your soup is very good for you!  :)
After this adventure, we had an appointment at the US Consulate.  We had to take a bus ride for about 30-45 minutes to get there.  We have ridden on shuttle buses several times and Cynthia did fine.  But, today--ugh..it was a big charter type bus full of families adopting.  I don't know if she has a bad memory from a bus ride or something, but she was not happy.  She kept crying, thrashing around, not letting me hold her...it was very difficult.  When we got to the Consulate, we had to go through security--worse than the airport--and no cameras were allowed, so the only picture we got was outside next to the American flag on the sign.
The 'appointment' was to complete the visa application--this is the last step for her to become an American citizen.  She won't actually be a citizen until she lands on US soil (will be in Newark, NJ) and they stamp her passport.  For such a momentous occasion, it was not very impressive.  All of these families were sitting in a big waiting area.  When they called our name and hers, we had to go up to a window, show our passports, sign a paper and they gave us some papers.  Then came the 'oath'--I thought this would be an emotional event, but the oath was simply that we had filled out the paperwork related to her visa application 'correctly to the best of our knowledge....'  Then, that was it...No fanfare, no flag waving, no Star Spangled Banner...just another ugly bus ride back to the hotel...
We did have our own little flag with us which she was quite happy with before we got back on the dreaded bus!
 
It is hard to believe we are about to come home.  Only one more day here in China to enjoy the country of her birth--I hope we are able to return someday...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Couch Pictures...maybe

Today we (tried) to take some pictures on the infamous 'red couch'.  This is a tradition for families who stay in the White Swan Hotel here in Guangzhou.  Contrary to my expectation, there are actually a LOT of red couches here in the hotel, not just THE red couch.  We started with a few of our family, which went OK as long as I was holding Cynthia, but after that it was all downhill....see for yourself...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Our Day-Monday

We did some sightseeing around Guangzhou.  The hotel we are staying in is on Shamian Island--a small island where the American Consulate is also located.  Many of the buildings and sidewalks and streets are being repaired in preparation for the Asian Games that will be here in November.  I can tell this is normally a very beautiful place, but at the moment it is even difficult to walk around with all of the construction.  I am sure it will beautiful when they are finished!
We went off of the island today to a Buddhist temple and the Chen family folk art museum.  Both were intricately decorated and beautiful.  There were many pieces of amazing art at the museum.  There was a service in progress at the temple with the beating of the drums and chanting of Buddhist scriptures by the monks. 
 
Cynthia is doing better and better with our family.  She is  learning new things every day--today was 'give me 5'...and she claps for herself afterward--so cute!  Thomas taught her, so he is proud, too.  She is also helping feed herself more, wanting to use a fork--we put the food on it and then she takes it from us to put the food in her mouth.  She is pointing to what she wants the next bite to be.  She has shown a little jealousy when Molly sits on my lap, but when I sat her there, too, she was giggly and happy again.  She is also giving some hugs and coming to sit on my lap.  She will not go to another person if they hold their hands out to her, so I think she is understanding that she belongs with us!  It has been really fun to watch her personality unfold--she is more and more delightful every day!
 
Here are some pics--
  The temple, the museum (there was another 'celebrity' moment when some girls wanted to take their picture with the 'beautiful girl'...Molly ate it up!), then when we were in the room doing some homework (that detail was for Mrs. Joiner & Mrs. Moccia!) we were greeted by some unexpected entertainment just outside our window!  All 4 children found it quite entertaining...which in turn entertained Jeff and I.  This evening, we had dinner at a restaurant just across the street.  Our guide ordered for us and it was delicious, there was no fish on our table, but we could have had our selection if we so desired...in the lobby of the restaurant were tanks and tanks of fish, crabs, snakes, water beetles, silk worms, oysters to choose from....maybe another day!
(oops--late update--I fell asleep waiting for the pictures to upload!)

If you were born in China

Wanted to tell the kids about the children here--this is for our classmates and friends...
 
If you were born in China..
 
You would very likely be an only child...no brothers or sisters.  You would play alone most of the time.  You would likely be taken care of by your grandparents while both of your parents worked.  You would be the only grandchild to all 4 of your grandparents.
 
You would be potty trained very early.  While you were learning, you would wear 'split' pants, so you could practice easily without having to take all of your clothes off.
 
You would live in an apartment in a large apartment building--2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room, kitchen.  You would probably walk or ride a bike (or be carried on your parent's bike) most places you went.
 
When you started school, you would go from 8:00-4:45.  School would be THE most important activity and likely the only activity you participated in.  No sports, no music, no playing for free time.  All of your after school time would be used for homework and study.  You would probably take extra classes on Saturdays to get ahead further.
School would be free through Junior High School.  Then you would have to take an exam to qualify to go to High School.  If you do well, you are admitted.  After High School, you must take a college entrance exam.  If you do very well, you are allowed to go to college.  If you score in the mid-range, you would go to a vocational school to learn a trade such as electrician or silk weaving.  If you do poorly, you would not go on to school, but would enter the society as a member of the labor force.
 
You would likely grow up learning to practice Buddhism.
 
You would learn to eat with chopsticks at about 6 or 7 years old.
 
You might eat things such as frogs, turtles, scorpions, snakes....yum!

You would grow up in a country with amazing culture, traditions, history, and people.  The history of China is thousands of years old...America is a 'newborn' compared to China!

Hooray!

Answered prayer!  Cynthia's TB test was negative--no further medical procedures/exams/anything here in China!!


 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spice Girl--confirmed!

As we were on the bus yesterday, our guide was telling us about the rivers in China.  Here in Guangzhou, we are near the Pearl River--the 4th largest in China.  The Yangtze River goes through the center of China and there are 3 provinces along the river including Cynthia's--Jiangxi--where the food is the spiciest in China.  Then she told us that women from those 3 provinces are called--you guessed it--SPICE GIRLS!!!  She said it is not only because of the food, but also because of their 'spicey' tempers!  We had this aspect confirmed last night when she decided for the first time that she did NOT want to go to bed....she didn't give it up for about an hour!!  She finally went to sleep with me standing next to the crib where she could see me...then we got some sleep and she is up with smiles and giggles this morning. :)


 

Brothers & Sisters

Today was kind of laid back.  We had a shopping outing to a couple of places--a provincial store and the 'pearl market'.  No cameras were allowed, but the number of pearls was astounding...bags and bags of groups of strands--millions of pearls.  Then back for a little rest and dinner at an Italian restaurant that was very yummy.
 
Here are a few pics--you can learn some Chinese, too:
Ge Ge Big brother
Di Di Little brother
Jie Jie Big sister
Mei Mei Little sister
 


 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hilarious

OK, had to share this....hope this link works this time.  Someone from the hotel staff knocked on our door and presented us with this gift for our new daughter.  Isn't the resemblance striking?!?! :)

3rd time a charm???

I'm not sure what is going on...one more try from scratch.
 

Try again? Link

Got a couple of messages that the picture link didn't work....I'll try again. 
 

Hilarious!!

I had to add this for today...someone from the hotel knocked on the door earlier and presented this to us as a gift for our new daughter.  Isn't the resemblance striking? :)
China2010.jpg


 

So glad that is over!!

What a morning!  I was really dreading the medical exam today.  I think I just want everything done at home by those I trust with equipment and vaccines that I trust...so it was really difficult for me to let go and just be a mom. (Although, I think you can tell by the look on my face in one of the pictures that I wanted out of there as badly as she did!)   We arrived at the clinic with a LOT of other families and the only word I can use to describe the atmosphere was chaos.  There was one main room with people talking, babies crying and to top it off someone had some really loud squeaky toys!!  We were told there were 3 'stations' we had to visit--no certain order, no names would be called, just whenever you wanted--our guide handed us our paperwork before most other people, so we jumped to get started--and hopefully finished--quickly.  First there was the weight, height and temperature--she didn't like that already.  Then came the general exam--the doctor asked lots of questions about her back, her walking, etc and then filled out some papers.  Then there was the ENT room with the same squeaky toys to check her hearing....none of this was to her approval.  Then came the shot area.  It was Samuel's turn to be super sweet today.  He was so worried about her getting shots and kept asking why she had to and did she really have to and did he have to watch.  He seemed OK once I told him he didn't have to watch her.  We were first told 4 shots plus the TB test.  However, when we got in there, they suddenly said 2 because she had gotten a live vaccine a couple of weeks ago, so couldn't get the other 2 yet!  (I was having trouble interpreting her vaccine record, so really wasn't sure what was going to happen going in.)  Hooray--not as bad--although you would never know by how she cried.  She was MAD!
I have never been a mom to give 'treat' after shots.  I guess I have just always treated it like a matter of fact thing and then it is over.  But, there is something different when we have just been making strides at bonding and getting to know her and getting her to trust us--so I had candy and suckers ready!!  She was not happy until we were well away from the building.  Luckily, there was a playground on the way back to the hotel, so we stayed there a while.  The slide brought the smiles back! 
China2010 051.jpg
 
Whew--the worst part is over!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pictures

Here are some pics from yesterday--scenes around Nanchang, tower, airport.  Look at all of the apartments, people, traffic--the number of people here is amazing.

Spice Girl

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Yesterday was a travel day, so I am getting my update done later than usual.  We didn't have an organized outing for the morning as our guide was waiting for Cynthia's passport at the issuing office, so we made a short excursion to the Shengjin Tower near the hotel.  This was our first outing without her--we did fine, but we seem to gather quite a crowd wherever we go.  It is so funny to hear the exclamations of people as they look at our family..1, 2, 3, ...4! children!  As we were just about to enter the tower area, people were literally gathering and just watching us! 
The tower was built in 900 BC--it has not had recent repairs, so cannot be climbed, but there is a Buddhist temple on the grounds and a small museum.  We explored for a little while and then headed back to the hotel.  When our guide returned with the passport, she told us our flight time had been changed to an hour earlier, so we ate a quick lunch and then went back to pack up.
As we were headed to the airport, I felt a little strange about taking Cynthia away from her birthplace.  I know we can come back to visit, and I know she is definitely going to be better off than as an orphan, but there is still something a little bittersweet in my heart for her--losing some of her own culture.
Interestingly, we rode on a 'government bus' with a government official driving.  The bell boy from the hotel went along because it is improper to ask a government official to move luggage.  There is definitely a respect for those who work for the state here.
 
In the airport, as we were going through security, a lady took her from me to go through the metal detector.  Everyone walks through and then also gets the 'wand'.  They did her as I was waiting and then as they were checking me, she began to get upset--and reached for me!!!  Bonding!  (After we went through, Molly asked, "Did they brush her off, too?"  The metal detector wand.)
 
We all wondered how Cynthia would do on the airplane--luckily, this was a 1 hour flight, so we had a good test.  Thomas was so sweet--as we were taxiing before takeoff, he said, "I have an empty feeling in my stomach...for her."  What a great big brother.  Other than some protest over the seatbelt, she did GREAT! 
 
They served us a small meal during the flight and she seemed hungry, so I started to feed her first.  There was rice, vegetables and a couple of shrimp.  She took a couple bites of the rice, grabbed the shrimp on her own and then seemed to love the vegetables, so I gave her several bites as she kept grabbing for them.  As she was eating a little, I took a bite of mine....suddenly my eyes were watering, my cheeks sweating and I am sure there was smoke coming out of my ears--it was one of the spiciest things I have ever tasted--delicious, but wow!!  I looked back at her and she was still just eating away--her eyes were a little watery, but she loved it! 
 
We made it to Guangzhou--all smiles and got settled in her and headed to bed.  This morning, we have to go have her medical exam--like a mom, not a doctor, I am dreading it...hoping she doesn't need many shots!  More later.
 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Park

It is a beautiful day today in Nanchang, China.  The sun is shining, the temperature is nice and the sky and view are clear.  After some time in the room when Cynthia was taking off, we strolled a street with a lot of shops next to the hotel.  Many people were on the street selling their goods or services--including a dentist ready to pull any painful teeth you may have--right there on the sidewalk! 
Then, we headed to a park for our outing today.  In China, people retire earlier than usual for Americans--women at 55, men at 60.  Therefore, there are a lot of people who care for their grandchild and they have time to pursue their interests and hobbies such as exercise, music, art, games.  We saw many people in the park doing these activities.  First, we came across several men practicing their Chinese calligraphy using water on the pavment.  One of them smiled at us and then began writing--our guide interpreted his writing for us--'Chinese people welcome you.' 
Then we headed to the exercising area--many people were using the equipment to exercise and the kids tried it out as well.  Molly was our ambassador, passing out some candy that we brought with us.  There were some men practicing music in an ampitheater as well.  Then, we headed across the lake and got to ride in a paddle boat and play on an obstacle course type of playground and ride some rides.  A fun day!

Risible

When we got an update about Cynthia, the description included this word as part of her personality.  I may show my ignorance here, but I hadn't heard that word before and thought something had been translated incorrectly.  My (smart) dad thought to look it up and found this: 

ris·i·ble

[riz-uh-buhl] Show IPA
–adjective
1.
causing or capable of causing laughter; laughable; ludicrous.
2.
having the ability, disposition, or readiness to laugh.
3.
pertaining to or connected with laughing.
 
I think we are getting to her real personality....
 
China2010 002.jpg
And it is SO cute--it is tiny, just like everything else about her, but so sweet sounding.  Her whole face lights up and it is definitely contagious.  Last night it was like a switch turned on and she just laughed and laughed...It started with her pushing on Jeff and him acting like he was falling back onto the pillow...she was cracking up!  Then it was just everything in general.  We have seen more today when she is comfortable, but when we go out in an unknown place, the quiet serious face returns. 
 
She also walked!!!  And walked and walked and....well, let's just say we have to keep an eye on her more closely now.  She followed the kids to the playroom and was playing all around, throwing balls, kicking balls, putting cups in and out of the basket.  Being a kid--so great to see her comfortable.  She is still definitely a 2 year old, though...a little tantrum today when we wouldn't let her walk around the room with food and play with toys at the same time...tough, I know!  She got over it pretty quickly.    She is a delight.
 
 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 3-CMD

We have seen more smiles and heard some laughs today.  She is slowly coming out of her shell, though still has the concreted feet!  She walked about 5 feet by her own choosing last night to pick up a cup, other than that it is still with direction--and even will stop if you are walking and let go of her hand! 
We have seen some 2 year old behaviors emerging as well-- a little stubborn, definitely not keen on sharing--guess we have some lessons to learn!
She is a very good sleeper, but slow to warm up when she wakes up, is very content and quiet most of the time, grumpy when hungry, and is very close to being potty trained!!!!  Although, the language barrier is somewhat of an issue--the words for 'Daddy' and 'poo-poo' are the same, with only a little different accent and intonation!
We are enjoying getting to know her...step by step.

Celebrities

We had heard that we would get lots of questions and looks here.  Some simply because we are American, some because we are Americans with a Chinese baby and some because of our family in general.
 
You see, many young Chinese couples in the cities today do not desire any children...it is so expensive to live already, that they don't feel they can handle the extra needs.  So, if any children--1 is the rule, 2 the exception and 3 unheard of. 
4--as we are quickly learning is worthy of taking a picture of to show your friends later!! 
 
We visitied the Teng Wang Pavilion today.  It was built by the brother of an emperor for his own amusement.  He was jealous that he could not be emperor.  He loved the arts--music, dancing, so he built a pavilion to house these entertainments.  It has been rebuilt many times with the latest in 1989.  It is very beautiful with many displays to honor this province including a beautiful mural of the mountain regions around Puyang Lake, which is where Cynthia is from.  It is difficult to wrap our minds around how old this civilization is and how much history they have--we are looking at, walking on things built before the U.S. was even a country!!!
On the top floor of the pavilion, there was a short show with dancers and traditional Chinese instruments.  This is where we became celebrities--as we were waiting a few minutes for the show to start a gentlman in front of us was watching and asked,
"3 children?" 
Molly was sitting with some other girls in a row in front of us, so when we pointed to her and said "4"...
*Gasp* "you are very 'productive'!  
He and his wife began asking lots of questions through our interpreter about why we would come to China to adopt a child.  International adoption is apparently not widely known about here.  We answered the best we could and then they said that she was going to live in 'paradise'. 
Then he asked if it was OK to take our picture....
 
Our guide had explained that most Chinese have an image of America from the media.  They think every American is rich.  I wish I could tell him that we are rich--not in wealth or material goods, but in our savior.  What a difference that would make in this country!
 
A few floors below, there was a balcony with a great view of the city.  It is raining today, which actually cleared some of the dust/sand/smog, so we had a pretty good view.
 
 
After the pavilion, we had lunch at a very delicious Chinese restaurant around the corner--and EVERYONE enjoyed the meal--even our picky eaters!!  It was delicious!
 
Then, we came back to the hotel to meet the notary from Duchang County to notarize our papers.  She traveled the 3 hours from there to meet us here.  Our guide said the papers have to be perfect for the US embassy and consulate, so we went over them with a fine tooth comb--there were several capitalization errors in some names and Jeff was Thomas Tefferson--so they corrected them.  Check out the correction method in the last 2 pictures--a razor blade and pencil eraser!  She did put an official stamp over each correction, so I guess they will work. (I sure hope!)
 
We are passing the rest of this rainy day away in the playroom with some other families here--the girls playing restaurant and our boys having a soccer tournament (Thomas beat me, so I came to blog!)
 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not your ordinary trip to WalMart!!

We had a 'shopping' outing this morning to WalMart--we needed some diapers, cups, plates, got a few toys and just explored a little.  Take a look at some of the selections:
 
Explanations
1-Outside
2-candy section (we are bringing some samples back for classmates!!)
3-An apple--they put a sticker with a word on it--4 apples makes a sentence that says something such as "Congratulations, you will be wealthy."  Many people visit friends and neighbors and give a gift of apples on holidays.
4-6 fresh seafood
7-9 fresher seafood
10 maybe you prefer dried
11-12 not in the mood for fish?  How about these?
13 store
14-16 smiles
17 KFC in WalMart
18 The August 1st square (across the street)--the city center with the statue in honor of an uprising that began in this city--it led to the formation of the current Chinese Army and is still celebrated today in this province
19 the building WalMart is in
20 Despite the yummy options available, we opted for something else :)
 
 

A good morning

China2010 404.jpg
 
We had a good morning today--she fell asleep without fussing at all last night and slept all night.  When she woke up this morning, she was upset, confused I think, for a little while, but once she calmed down, we saw some smiles emerge again.  We went to breakfast at the hotel buffet--she had congee, a boiled egg, some sausage (they call it fried intestines!!) and some melon.  She fed herself a little, but seems like her foster parents may have been feeding her most of the time because she doesn't seem very independent.  We are fine with that--good way to bond!  She still seems a little unsure about all of this in that she stays completely put.  Wherever we put her down, she is cemented to the spot until someone picks her up or takes her hand to guide her.  She smiles when we walk into her sight, but doesn't seek us out yet--all in time.
 
After breakfast we had a little time to play and then had an outing...check the next post for that!
 
Here are some pics from last night and this morning.
 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pictures!!

OK--here they are--unedited, may be out of order, lots taken by Thomas & Samuel--we just kept clicking.....

 
(She was holding the lamb we sent her when they brought her to us...they said it was her favorite toy, but it looks so clean and new, I don't know if she has actually ever seen it before today!)

She's here!

She is really here!  At 11:00, we were waiting in the 'playroom' and we heard the elevator around the corner--and then a cry.  Our guide walked in with the orphanage director and assistant carrying Xinti.  She was not very happy at the moment.  They handed her to me and she got a little louder, arched her back, but then calmed down a little and just kept up a quiet cry--more of a fuss.  They started telling us all of this stuff--which I was having trouble absorbing--her schedule, she drinks milk, not formula, she likes adult food, etc....After all of the formalities, she was quiet and just watching the kids--taking it all in.  At some point, I stood her up and she put her back against a cabinet and continued to watch.  She had a few 'honey bun' crackers with her, so we were giving her those.  We offered her a Cheerio and she finally tried one--and promptly handed the crakers back and wanted more Cheerios--she has barely put down the cup since.  She got much more animated and we even got some smiles and giggles while playing with a ball.  We stayed there for a while, did a few papers and then started to head back to the room.  I started to slowly walk to see if she would follow us, but she stayed put right there.  So, I picked her up--she did not like that, so a little more crying, but stopped when I put her down in the room.  She immediately backed up to a cabinet there, but played some, too.  We just stayed here for a little while and then had to go to our Civil Affairs appointment--some more crying when she was picked up, but less each time.  We had to fill out several papers, take pictures, sign and put our thumb prints on some papers and have a quick 'interview'.  Then, they handed us an official paper that said we are her parents!  She kept falling asleep during the appointment, so we came back and put her down--she cried a minute and went right to sleep. 
 
All in all -- very successful transition!  What a blessing and answer to prayer!!
Here is one pic--the others are uploading and I will send a link ASAP.

 
China2010 298.jpg

 

Gotcha

We have her!  She is perfect....more later.
J

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mollyisms

Molly has been the most vocal about the jet lag issue.  Expressing wanting to go to bed, then wanting to get up early....this morning we all made it to about 5am, when she rolled over, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I ran out of dreams to think of."

Nanchang

China2010 259.jpg


Well, we made it to Nanchang.  We are close now!!
We started our day off early, but not as early as prior days--I still woke up at 2am, but was able to fall back asleep until 4--I felt like I slept in!!  We had to leave the hotel at 5:45 to go to the airport, so they gave us a 'to go' breakfast to eat on the bus.  So, after shuffling some items from bag to bag, we checked 5 bags that were all right at 20kg--the limit allowed.  Not sure how that worked, but we got all 1003 pairs of socks here without a hitch--no one even asked us anything about them.  We will present them to the director in the morning when they bring Cynthia here.  There is a 'play area' just down the hall from our room used for adopting families and we will meet her there.
 
We were told by our guide, Jenny, who seems GREAT, that they will bring her here at 11:00, not 9:00 as on our schedule.  She said they usually put 9, but the road from Duchang County is so bad it takes them longer to get here from there, so it will be a little later.  I guess after all this time, 2 more hours is not that big of a deal, but I know we will be waiting anxiously!! 
 
We have a down day today, so we are settling in to the hotel here, we checked out the swimming pool and the kids took a dip.  We are planning on a low key afternoon and evening.
 
Look for a post tomorrow!
Jennifer

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 3--Beijing

Wow--what a day!  We are worn out, but in a good way.  We started our day (after some time in the room hanging out) with another breakfast buffet--the choices today included corn on the cob, steamed cabbage and squid salad!!  (in addition to the usual fare--everyone enjoyed!)  Then, we boarded a bus with several other families from our adoption agency and went to Tian An Men Square.  It was fun talking with them and seeing pictures of their new children.  None have kids here with them, so our 3 were the only ones, but they did so great--got compliments from all of the adults--I was very proud of them!  From the square, we crossed the street and entered the Forbidden City--the former home of the Chinese Emperor.  It was an enormous complex of courts, rooms, halls--9,999 rooms in all.  Needless to say, we didn't see it all--we had the 'fast forward' tour as Jeff said--it drove him crazy.  But we saw enough to see how impressive it is--an amazing place, really--built 600 years ago!  From there we toured a jade factory and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant (we actually think they took us to an Americanized one--it seemed pretty much like the food we can get at home.  Our guide did say that in Guangzhou, there is a restaurant near the hotel we can order snakes and worms...or not!).  Then, on to the long awaited Great Wall--what an amazing privelege to get to walk (climb) on the wall.    Another truly impressive site--we read in a book before we came that the entire wall is the distance from the tip of the Great Lakes to Miami!!!  We didn't make it quite that far, but we did go a good distance.  The section we went to was at Juyong Pass and goes up the side of a mountain, so it was quite a challenge to climb.  On the way down multiple people saw Molly coming back down and said, "If she can do it, so can I!"  And they kept going!  The boys climbed higher than us girls, but we all enjoyed it very much.  On the ride home, we passed by the water cube and the bird's nest.  All 3 kids fell asleep on that ride.  After regrouping for a short time in the hotel, we had a dinner of authentic Chinese McDonalds!  We have to catch a really early flight in the morning to go to Nanchang--getting up shouldn't be a problem if the last few days are any indication!  We have really enjoyed Beijing--but are ready to get on that plane--only 1 more plane ride between us and Cynthia!  So close!!!
Jennifer
 
 
Here are the pics for today
You may need some explanations:
1-My phone--I turned it on to check how warmly we should dress and saw a forecast I had never seen--Dreary--Hmmm.  Check out the next few pics and you will agree as we did that about sums it up!
2 of Tian An Men Square --there is nothing wrong with the camera--that is ACTUALLY what it looked like--the smog/pollution was incredible--quite dreary, I agree!
2 of Forbidden City
4 of Jade Factory/Store
1 of Lunch
2 of Great Wall
2 of Jet Lag (the one of Molly was last night--pretty much the same sentiment tonight for a while!!  :)  "But, I want to go to bed!"  She woke up smiling and bubbly this morning!!)
1 last one of a paper--our actual Travel Approval--our guide handed it to us on the bus today and said we needed it for the paperwork days--hooray!


 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pictures Day 2--Beijing

Here are some pictures from our day of exploring in Beijing.
 
We started with passing a little time watching traffic and people out the window...not sure why, but it is actually entertaining.
Then, the zoo.  The pandas are the big attraction and they had some kind of panda painting contest...we think.
The bird is a stork...coming to us????
Then, the Buddhist temple--look at the detail!  The enormous statue is in the Guiness Book of World Records because it is all carved from ONE piece of wood.  It really does take your breath away.
 
 

Pictures Day 1--Travel

OK, although not ideal, here is a link to some pictures from Day 1.  I think we have a really slow connection here and I can't even upload pictures to email them one at a time to anyone...so for now.

These are...waiting to board the 1st leg, 2nd leg--here comes 13 hours!
Somewhere near the north pole.
Arrival, hotel and 6:30pm....
Jennifer

Jet Lag!?!?!

Good morning....ugh.
Well, despite the valiant attempt to stay awake later, we still have some early risers this morning.  It is a strange thing...feeling tired, but unable to will yourself back to sleep at 3am!  A few have managed to fall back asleep, but I am not among them.  After staring at the ceiling for over an hour, I decided to go ahead and get up for a while.  I am looking for advice....any thoughts?  Stay up later?  Nap?  Should we even try to adjust completely, considering we will be returning about the time we are getting used to this time zone? 
For now.....Jennifer....zzzzzzzzzzzz

Day 2--Beijing

Hello!  We are having some internet/computer issues, so can't upload pictures at the moment...we are working on figuring it out, so keep checking!
 
We had a fun day exploring some of Beijing.  Our day started pretty early, as we were all awake about 3am!!  We are fighting off sleep now to try to stay awake a little later than our 6:30 bedtime last night so we can hopefully sleep a little better hours tonight.
 
After hanging out in our room for a while, we had a yummy breakfast at the hotel which included some familiar and some new items...sausage, bacon, omelette, mushrooms in oyster sauce, noodles with vegetables, steamed buns and congee were all choices on the buffet.  We all tried the rice congee since it is Cynthia's daily breakfast...none of us were impressed...maybe it will grow on us!
 
After breakfast, we headed to the Beijing zoo to see the pandas--really cute to watch.  We also got to see a beautiful Buddhist temple.  The architecture and statues were very impressive.  It was interesting and sad to watch those who had come to worship and burn incense before these Buddhas...a very impressive and lasting impression for our kids.  Then, we just walked around some nearby streets peeking in shops and watching the people.  Then, back to the room for a little R&R. 
 
We have a busy sightseeing day tomorrow with a group from our adoption agency.  We are looking forward to meeting some other families and seeing the 'big' sites--Great Wall, Forbidden City. 
 
We are enjoying our time in Beijing, but are all anxious to get to Monday---only a few days left until Gotcha Day!!
 
Jennifer
 
 
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Long Day

We made it!!! And despite the title of this post, all went really smoothly.  Flights on time, kids were great and we even had a great Wheaton grad by the boys on the plane.  The 'long day' is because the sun never set!  The time and direction we flew (over the north pole) allowed for the sun to be visible the entire time.  We had a brief dusk, immediately followed by dawn.  We have gotten into the hotel, grabbed a quick bite and are now headed to bed....to the sounds of honking outside.  I don't think it will bother us tonight...it has been kind of a long day!  More soon....good night.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First leg



Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Our Way!!!!!

Well, somehow we did it---we managed to get clothing for 6 people, enough snacks for an army AND 1003 pairs of socks in 5 checked bags and a few carry-ons. Whew!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Randomness

I am cleaning up the camera/pictures, so here are some shots from the last few days....

Sweet Friends--Molly came home with this from our sweet friends' house last week.
Recognize this?
How about now?

If you guessed 'Olympic Curling--Hall style', you would be correct! The boys came up with their own version of this sport and I must say, we had a pretty fun time! HARD!!!!! :)


I was going to not get out the Easter Decorations this year, but Molly saw these eggs in the closet and wanted to make our Easter Tree....I am glad she did. I love the image of the eggs (new life) hanging on the dead sticks---New life from death--a great visual picture for the kids.


And last, but not least, what do little girls with 2 big brothers do? Sometimes they play football, sometimes the wrestle and sometimes their prince and princess go for a ride in a monster truck!!



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Itinerary

Several people have asked where we will be when....

3/17 Atlanta--Newark, NJ--Beijing (arrive 2pm 3/18)
3/18 To hotel, rest, dinner, bed!
3/19 Explore Beijing
3/20 Tours with agency to Great Wall, Forbidden City & Tian An Men Square
3/21 Fly to Nanchang

*********Gotcha Day*********
3/22 9am Meet CYNTHIA!!!!!!! (This will be 9pm on Sunday 3/21 in Augusta)
3:30 pm paperwork
****************************
3/23 Shopping for Child
3/24 Sightseeing to XiangHu Park
3/25 Sightseeing to Teng Wang Ge
3/26 Get CMD's passport and fly to Guangzhou
3/27 Visa photo, medical exam, TB test
3/28 Sightseeing to Chen Family Temple
3/29 TB test result (rest day)
3/30 Paperwork/rest day
3/31 To American Consulate for oath-taking ceremony
4/1 Pick up visa
4/2 Fly Guangzhou--Shanghai--Newark--Atlanta

That is a 3...artsy, but still a 3!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mollyisms

This girl cracks me up!

We got some blueberry bushes that we planted a few weeks ago. Today we saw some birds nosing around them. I said, "Hmmm, we may need to make another scarecrow so the birds won't eat our berries."

"Yeah! That is a good idea, Mommy. But, if the birds see us making it, will they know it isn't real?"

Good question.... :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love, Mommy

Dear Cynthia,
This letter is from your mommy. The funny thing is that you don't know I am your mommy, yet. You see, we are getting ready to take a really big trip--a very important and exciting trip--a trip to China! This trip is for one reason--to bring you home! We have been getting ready for this trip for a long time. You see, you were born in a place very far away from us. But, God knew that you were suppose to be a part of our family--all the way on the other side of the world. So, he told us--a long time ago--that we needed to go and find you. When you were only a tiny baby, we started looking for our little girl. It was kind of like a treasure hunt. We had to write letters and talk to people and mail papers--all like clues on our hunt, each one getting us a little closer to the treasure. One day, we finally finished all of the clues and sent a big package to China where you were waiting. Then, we had to wait. This was probably the hardest part, waiting to find out who you were, waiting to see our treasure. Then, one day, when you were 19 months old, we saw your picture for the first time. You were so beautiful! We knew that you were our daughter and that God picked you especially to be in our family.

Now we are almost there--in 11 days, we will meet you for the first time. We have looked at your picture SO many times and wondered what you are like--what does your voice sound like, what makes you laugh, what do you like to play, what is your favorite food? We can't wait to get to know you. We are so excited!!

But, I am also a little sad, too. I am sad because I know you are probably going to be sad. Some nice people in China are taking good care of you right now. You have a bed to sleeep in and food to eat and clothes to wear. I bet you even have a favorite toy there that you like to play with. And I think you will be sad to leave the people taking care of you and the place you are happy. I think you also might be scared of us when we meet. We will probably look very different to you. Our hair is not shiny and black like you are used to seeing, you will not understand the words we are saying to you, and our eyes are more round than those you look into. My eyes will even have tears in them, I am sure. They will be tears of sadness for you if you are sad, but mostly they will be tears of joy because I will be so happy! So happy to hold you for the first time, to hug you and to make you part of our family. We will have our treasure!!!!

I pray that very quickly you will understand how much we love you and that you will be able to trust us, to know that we will take care of you, that we will feed you when you are hungry, hold you when you are scared, laugh with you when you are happy.

We will never leave you.

I am sure that some day you are going to ask me questions to which I will not know the answers. Questions about your China mom and the orphanage, questions about when you were a baby and the people who took care of you before you came home. I wish I knew all of those answers, but I don't.

But I can teach you what I DO know.

I know that God made you. He made you very special and if you hadn't been born in China, you wouldn't be you.

I know that God made you to be a part of our family. He is the one who told us it was time to come find you and the most important part of our treasure hunt was praying for you. We prayed that God would show us who you were. Out of all of the children in the whole world, he showed us ONE little girl. One very special, beautiful, bright-eyed, smiling little girl who he already loved and who he wanted us to love, too.

And, the most important thing I know is that God loves you. He will give you everything you ever need--he will fill your heart, he will give you the answers that your daddy and I can't, and he will give you himself.

You are his daughter, too.

So, as we pack our last bags and get on an airplane to fly to the other side of the world to come get you--our beautiful treasure, I am praying that God is making a place in your sweet 2 year old heart for your new family. I will see you very soon.

All my love,

Your mommy

S is for Samuel

Samuel wanted to decorate the 6 since he is 6.......

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dear Cynthia

I have a lot to catch up on! I want to have this whole story/adventure recorded in one place so that we remember and so that we can show Cynthia. I have a lot of parts of this story in my head that are not down on 'paper' yet, so look for some posts in the next few days!

Here is something I wanted to remember forever:
Just before Christmas when we were still waiting on our Travel Approval, I asked the kids to write a letter to Cynthia for her stocking. They set to work all on their own. I will keep them forever for her, but want to 'keep' them here, too. Here they are, unedited.
Molly drew her a picture and explained that one flower was Cynthia and one was Molly--and now they are together.
Dear Cynthia, I can't wait for you to come home. You get to sleep with your soon to be new sister Molly! We don't eat very much rice, though. But if you like it alot we will. I wish you were here this Christmas, but you will be next time! Love, Thomas
Dear Cynthia, I hope the thing on yuor back gose away sone (soon) and I hope you well never leve and I now (know) you like rice so we are goin to feed you a lot of rice and vegtaboles. You well have a fun faily (family) to play with annd a big sister molly to play with to and two big brothers to play with to! I am so exited to see you! LOVE, Samuel
Precious.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kiyaaa!!!...again

Today was Samuel's 2nd 'try it' Karate lesson. He got to break a board!!!





Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to...

Step 1. Collect rocks.

Step2. You need some 'sugar'

Step 3. Put the sugar on the rock
Step 4. Rub gently with your hands....
While looking really cute



Step 5. Make a fire....be sure to surround with rocks to be safe.


Step 6. (?) Do a little twirly dance...

And.......

Ta-da!!! You have "ROCK SUGAR!"