Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The long journey HOME!!!!! Day 13

Whew!  This was a long day.  It is almost 10:00pm which means I have been up for... well, a really long time.  I am not sure how much of this post will get done tonight and whatever I post will be filled with errors, but I wanted to let everyone know that we made it safely home.

God's presence was very real to us during our entire journey home.  He heard your prayers and ours.  I can't tell you how valuable your prayers have been to us on this journey.

We woke up at 4:30 and laid in bed until 5:30.  We got ready, went down for breakfast, finished packing and were off hotel property before 7:30.  When we arrived at the airport we learned that the line to check in was long... really really long.  This was supposed to be the only relaxed and guaranteed part of the journey.  We finally made it to the front of the line and through security with just enough time for a new diaper and quick bathroom stop.  A cool little God moment happened when a man came up to us in line and talked to us about Jesus.  He had been traveling locally to encourage brothers and sisters.

T did great on the first flight.  She had a bottle and then we both slept.  We woke just before landing to realize that our flight was a bit behind schedule.  We could also smell a perfectly timed stinky diaper from Miss T. The flight attendants seemed certain that we would make it.  We were in the first non business class row so we were off the plane pretty quickly.  We dashed down the hallway and saw a woman with a sign for the Chicago flight.  She looked at our boarding passes, put stickers on all three of us and told us to quickly follow her.  She cruised through the airport and I followed her like a little chick following its momma.  Seriously if she would have stopped quickly we would have tackled her for sure.  She led us to a security point that flight crew use so there was no line.  She then led us through many parts of an airport that most travelers never go.  Brandon and I felt like royalty and we were grinning and weeping and running. We went straight to the gate and had our luggage checked again and then the scanned our boarding passes and allowed us to go down the walkway to the plane.  The whole thing took less than 10 minutes.  As we walked down the gateway (whatever it is called) I was just crying and praising God. The people walking with us were missionaries in the Philippines and she was trying to have normal conversation with me as I am blubbering away.

When we got on to the plane we learned that we made it with enough time to change T's sticky diaper before take off.  Yahoo!  Brandon was in a bulk head seat (with a bassinet) and I was right behind him.  The man next to Brandon offered to trade with me so we could sit together.  What a great blessing! I asked for water for a bottle for T and for me to take my motion sickness meds, but they said not until take off (the confiscated all of our water at the security check point.)  I was really feeling the motions and I don't think T was too excited about going up without a bottle, but we both made it. The long flight was... well... LONG... but T was a great traveler.  She received many compliments.  One man said she was the quietest baby he has ever seen on a flight.  Way to go T!  About an hour into the flight Brandon said he could smell something.  I looked over at him and he had poo on his leg and arm.  T leaked through both.  Poor guy.  I guess that is why we dressed in layers.  I slept the most, T slept about five hours and Brandon slept just three.  The bassinet was amazing!  So thankful for a cozy place for T to sleep.

As we were approaching Chicago we started to do some math and got a little nervous about making our next connection.  Our flight was over 20 minutes late landing in Chicago.  It was very rainy outside and I actually began praying that the rain would delay our final flight so we could make it to the gate. T of course had another perfectly timed present as we were about to deplane.  We booked it off the plane.  If there were stairs we ran down them.  We got through customs/immigration VERY quickly!  Thank you Jesus!  Then we raced to the next terminal and found our gate.  Once again we had enough time to change the stinky diaper, make a bottle, go to the bathroom, fill water bottles and get to our flight.  Once on the plane we felt a huge relief.  We had prayed so hard to make our flights.  Knowing that we made them was AWESOME.  Then.. we waiting for over an hour on the plane before take off.  Apparently someone somehow got on the plane without having their boarding pass scanned.  Opps.  It took a long time to sort out and involved someone going to each person on the plane to verify who was there.  Finally it was all worked out, but the weather had turned from rain to snow and they needed to deice the plane.  About the time they were done T had an AWFUL stinky diaper... I pushed the call button, but the flight attendant said there wasn't time to change it and it would be too bumpy during the flight.  We put a changing pad under Brandon in case she leaked and then endured the smell the journey home.  Once at the airport we went into the family bathroom to change T's clothes and freshen up.

I was so excited to see M.  We ran to each other to hug.  He is so big and heavy.  Wow, my baby is growing up.  We had some sweet times with the grandparents in  the airport.  M wanted to hold T and he did a great job.  T was not very sure about any of the grand parents holding her, but this is actually a great sign.

We headed home and ate and hang out and showered.  M gave T a tour of the house.  He jumped on the beds in each room.  So cute.  I could tell he was a bit sad and very whiney, but he was so good with T and happy that we were home.  I really think they are going to have a blast together.

M didn't fall asleep until 9:30.  He was hungry so we needed to have some late night pancakes.  Such a sweet boy.  Hopefully we will all sleep well and long tonight.  M slept so poorly his first nights home, so I am prepared for that, but hopeful it will be a bit better. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and care along our journey both before we left and while we were in China.  So many people cared for and loved on M here and helped in countless ways.  It was a blessing to share this journey with you.  I will try to keep updating at least with photos every couple of days because I know that at least the grandparents want to see them.

We will be cocooning for at least a month so that means that besides immediate family T will just see Dr's.  I know many of you are very excited to meet her so  I will try to keep blogging so you can get to know her on here.  When we begin to come out of the cocoon I will let you know more details about what to expect.
I will end with a couple of our family of 4 photos. 
Family of FOUR!!!!  T's shirt says "Daddy's favorite present" and matched our adoption shirts.
Such a sweet big brother!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shopping with Ann, the Island, and more eating Day 12

I can't believe that as I write this post it is less than 12 hours until we will be *hopefully* off our first plane and about to board our next plane.  We have truly treasured our time here.  We have learned so much about this country, its people and its culture.  We have met incredible people who we will at the very least exchange Christmas cards with one day, but hopefully get to see each other in person from time to time as well. Obviously, we are most incredibly grateful for our sweet T.  She is a beautiful addition to our family.  We are grateful that Life was chosen for our little girl.  We are so grateful that God led us to her in His perfect time.  We are so excited for our son to meet T tomorrow (sort of).  Tomorrow will be a 36 hour day for us as we gain 14 hours.  Whew, I feel tired just thinking about it.  Since it is almost 11:00pm and the alarm is set for 5:30 I should really start telling you about our day so I can get to sleep.

Before I share about today I want to mention something I forgot from last night.  Our daughter cut her first tooth yesterday 1/28/13.  We were eating dinner and I put my finger in her mouth as I do many times a day (because my fingers are chewing toys) and I felt something that wasn't a gum!  How exciting!  God's timing is perfect because her teeth will be coming in right as she will transition to good milk from her A
unt A!  Actually, if any grandparents are reading this and can pick up one small can of formula we would appreciate it.  Just get what you think looks good.  We are literally going to use every single bit up on the plane home and if I remember from M we phased into the momma milk slowly.

So on to today's post...

This morning we were able to be slow and relaxed knowing that our first commitment was not until 10:30.  We ate breakfast with our guide which was interesting and fun.  She is such a beautiful woman.
Here is T at 10:07.  She loves to fall asleep right before we need to go somewhere.

At 10:30 we were in the lobby ready to shop with Ann.  Ann is an amazing woman who sends care packages to children for families while we wait and also takes families shopping while in Ch*na.  We were able to book her with another family.  It was quite an experience.  With care packages and shopping trips combined, Ann has worked with about 10,000 adoptive families.

First we took a subway to the wholesale market.  Ann is fast and can weave in and out of people so quickly.  Our crew of four adults and two babies and one stroller was not as quick as her.  We had some close calls when the other mom almost didn't get on the subway and when it appeared an escalator was eating the stroller, but we eventually made it to our first stop, getting traditional dresses for T.  Knowing that Ann was getting us a good price motivated us to get MANY dresses.  Basically, one in every size!  We also got some other gifts and things for T there.
Not a great photo of me, but it does capture the shopping experience.

Then it was on to look for pearls and jade.  We needed to take a taxi to get these things.  Ann grabbed one for us and we got in.  Suddenly there was a police officer there and then another came and there was very loud conversation.  It was quite scary as we didn't know what was going on.  It turns out it was illegal for the man to park there and he was getting a fine and ticket.  He was also getting points on his record and he has almost used all of his points, so he was not a happy man.  We gave him a big tip.  Once at the market, we were able to get T some pearls for her wedding day.  They are VERY good quality at a very small price.  The pearl market is huge and very interesting.  Ann goes to special shops where we imagine she gets super incredible deals because she agrees to take many people to them quite frequently.
This is after the officer asked our driver to step out of the van.

Pretending to know what I was doing shopping for pearls.
The jade we got is a "family ball."  We really wanted to get one of these here and are so excited to display it next to our ET head rest.

After we wore Ann out she left us and we were on our own in GZ.  We ate lunch at KFC.  It felt good to sit for a few minutes.  Then we began navigating our way to the Island... without a guide.  I am happy to say that we made it on our own.  I am sad to report that we all stunk when it came to bargaining.  Ann would not have been impressed at our total lack of good deals. 
The picture menus worked and Brandon got just what he ordered.

The people in one direction.  There are so many people everywhere in the markets.

We were able to go to the special photo spot that all adoptive families go.  Of course Miss T was sleeping in the Ergo so Daddy and T got to pose together.  Sadly, we don't have a photo of the 10 (or more) people who were also taking a picture of Brandon and T as I was.  I guess they are pretty cute!

Classic pose
One more zoomed in. 

Hubby loves cars and this one is apparently a neat one! We have seen many unique and expensive cars here.

what can happen when you mix up ss and cc

After our shopping was done we knew we needed to get back to our hotel by 4:30 to pick up the visa... yep, that is right, we shopped from 10:30 to 4:30!  We tried and failed to get a cab so we wandered and waited.  Finally, a very very old and creepy looking van pulls up and offers us a ride.  We asked how much and then bartered the worst deal ever getting home from the Island.  The van looked worse inside than out.  Brandon videoed some of the trip.  If we would have gotten into any sort of crash we all would have flown out of there so quickly.  Luckily we made it safely back to the hotel.

Our guide was in the lobby with the visa so we officially have everything we need to get T to America!  Yahoo!!!
So thankful for Elsie.  We could not have navigated this adoption or city without her guidance.
While we were in the lobby we ran into our new friends who also live by the Lake.  We decided to go to dinner with them.  We ended up back at Tekila.  This time I ordered chips and pico.  It was super fresh with tons of cilantro and onions and I treasured every bite.  Yummy.  After dinner we returned to the hotel only to leave again for a cheaper ice cream run to McDonald's.  We were able to eat outside and enjoy beautiful weather.  We hear there is a heat wave at home right now too which will make re-entry a bit easier.  While sitting outside we were approached by a couple of people looking for food.  We purchased food for a couple of families.  We think they were in need, though we are not totally sure.  We then prayed with and said good bye to our new dear friends.  It is a joy to know we will see them again.
The crew at dinner.

Outdoor dining.
Back in the room we were gearing up to pack when we noticed that Grandpa Tom was on the computer.  We decided to Skype a bit and then packed and packed.  Our checked bags are still way under weight.  Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE our rolling duffel bags?  I wanted to show you a photo of where we stored them in the hotel.  Others had huge suitcases sitting in their room, but not us.  Ours rolled up and fit on a shelf.

The two rolling duffel bags are on the left.  The hold a ton, weigh nothing, and store easily... I think Eagle Creek should hire me to promote their no matter what collection!

PLEASE PRAY for us tomorrow as we begin our journey home.  Anytime you think of us and lift up a prayer, I am sure we will need it!  Here is our request about the flights with the times that we really want prayer.  Specifically pray for our flight home connections (times are converted to CST)
At 7:50pm on January 29th we fly from Guanghzou to Hong Kong.  We are scheduled to arrive at 8:55 in Hong Kong. We only have 55 minutes in Hong Kong to go through security and take a train to another terminal.  Please pray that we make this connection as this is our flight to Chicago and missing it will greatly mess up our travel home.  PLEASE put these times in your phone and pray for us to be on the plane for Chicago when it takes off at 9:50pm CST.   We have been told that the HK airport has free wi-fi so if we don't make our connection I will update the blog with our plan and prayer requests. Once in Chicago we have a little over 2 hours to get through customs and to another terminal to make our last connection.  Please pray that we will be in our final destination city at 3:20 on the 30th!
Also pray that we will receive a  bassinet seat so we don't have to hold T on the 14.5 hour flight.

Thank you and good night from GZ!  It is now 11:52... really time to get some sleep!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Consulate, Zoo and Scabies Day 11

This morning we actually had to set an alarm and force ourselves to get up early for our big consulate appointment.  We got all dressed up in red white and blue and headed over there with another family.  We were told there as an oath, questions and then you were done.  I had heard that it has a DMV feel, but I thought I would at least cry during the oath.  Well, talk about an underwhelming feeling.  The oath is a raise your hand and swear that our documents are accurate.  That was it.  There was no promise to care for our children, to tell them about their heritage and culture, to love them always... nope... just honesty on paperwork.  After the oath our names were called.  They looked at all the documents and we had to sign one thing.  Then we were done!  We did get our photo in the special photos spot that everyone gets photos in so that was fun.  It is crazy to think about this time 8:30am on January 28th being here and being over.  We prayed so hard for this date to be our CA and the Lord so faithfully answered our prayers. 
Seriously we look ready for a 4th of July parade!

After the consulate we came home so T could take a 7 minute nap before heading to the zoo.  It was a nice little zoo.  T slept a lot of the time, but we got to see some fun animals and even some we had never seen before, like the lesser panda :)  The photos with captions tell the story better.

We wanted to get a family photo, but T was not thrilled as she would have to look into the sun. 

We decided to quickly flip flop where we were standing, but T cranked her neck so quickly.  This photo is actually great though as you can tell we were having a good time.

An elephant in the flowers!  This zoo gets a bad rap from adoptive parents but it is a sweet little zoo, it doesn't compare with new big zoo's in the US, but it was a sweet way to spend the morning.

T was born in the year of the dragon.  Here she is with her statue.

While most of the animals were imported from somewhere, this is the one zoo I have been to where Pandas are natives so we thought that deserved a photo! 

This little guy was new to us.  He is a "Lesser Panda" according to the sign!  He looks like a cross between several animals. 

T LOVED holding on to the Lesser Pandas for this photo.  She was laughing with delight in reality, but none of the photos really captured it.

M' daddy and I thought you would have loved to watch these silly little guys.  Their tales stick straight up in the air!

Almost our entire travel group from our agency.  Such special people!

When we arrived back at the hotel we noticed that our room was being cleaned.  We headed to the area around the waterfalls to just soak up the warm sun for a few minutes.  T was sleeping away in the Ergo and I was inclined to keep her there all day.  So sweet.

When we got back to the room I was able to get in touch with a traveling mom friend who happens to also be a family doctor!  She confirmed that the rash we spotted on T is scabies. Yahoo, right?  Well, at least we have spotted it while here and not once home.  We also bought the expensive meds in the US just in case so we will all 3 treat ourselves tonight since Brandon and I have been in contact with T's skin.  Hopefully we will not get it.  Once we get home we will need to wash all the clothes we brought with us and hopefully prevent it from spreading to everything at home.  Just a part of the process I guess :)

T finally went down for an afternoon nap around 3:30.  She took a short nap and I searched like crazy on the internet to find flight times and destinations with Cathay/American for Wednesday if we miss our flight.  It looks like within a couple hours of our flight departure there are flights to both LA and San Fran.  We can then connect to Chicago and still be home with our sweet M before bedtime on Wednesday.  This is NOT plan A and we are trusting that our travel agent was honest in our chances of making the flight and we are trusting most of all in the Lord as we (and we pray others too) have faithfully been petitioning that we will make our flights!  God is faithful.  We know He has this thing covered. 

Tonight we went to Tekila for dinner. While it is spelled uniquely it is pronounced like tequila.  I am a sucker for Mexican food, so this was a meal that was hard to miss out on.  The food looked good.  I had some steamed rice.  It was a surreal experience to be in Ch*na and eating at a Mexican restaurant with a family who I have gotten to know on FB but was now communicating with in real life.
 Mexican food... and 2 sweet girls who were not interested in looking at the camera.

The aftermath of T's busy hands.  Our friend's daughter V knocked over a bottle of water shortly after that... amazingly after a broken glass and a water spill we still had to request our bill. 
T  says, "This is not my name! It is close, but not the same!"

After dinner we made a trip to the grocery store for diapers and wipes and snickers... the essentials!  We think we have enough diapers, but we felt like it was too close for comfort.  I was able to find a package with just 7 in it so that was perfect.  I had to buy 80 wipes as that is the smallest package they had, oh well. 

When we arrived at home my tummy was not feeling so good and we knew we had the big task... scabies treatments for all.  After letting T pay for a while we decided to have Brandon shower first, bathe T in the middle and then Brandon would put T to bed while I showered and and applied the cream.  In hindsight it was all much less stressful than I imagined.  The cream has little smell and feels like lotion.  Making sure it is on every single inch of you is what is challenging.  I think we were all successful.  The hard part now is that it can live off a host for 3 days so we are supposed to wear all clean clothes for the next few days... hmmm tomorrow is day 12 of our trip so clean clothes are hard to come by.  Overall we will be fine, but our jackets, the Ergo, and a few other things will be a challenge.  Please pray that we don't bring this back to our parents, M and our home! 

Island, pizza, and ice cream! Day 10

I am writing this post the afternoon of Day 11 so hopefully I will make a pretty good account of the day.  T and Brandon are playing since she took a nap in the late morning.  I am not sure how long I will have to write.

Yesterday morning after breakfast we took a bus with the other families in our group to a market where our guide said we would not need any money as we are just window shopping.  We didn't quite know what she meant.  We went to a pet market which was little shop after little shop of fish, bunnies, mice, turtles, kittens, puppies etc.  It was interesting to see so many shops all together.  Next we went to a market with herbs, spices, and unique part of thing that all have a purpose.  There were many fish stomachs (which are apparently really good with chicken, but we will just have to take our guide's word for it.
Brandon's breakfast at the Garden.  The salad with thousand island is his favorite!

After breakfast I hiked a Mt. to this waterfall... actually it was our view from breakfast and the rock wall is man made. :)

Ready for her first service and needing to kiss the super cute baby in the mirror.

The street leading to the unique market.

Pet fish anyone?

We thought these were stuffed animals until they started to move.
Hmmm... yum?
Fish tummies.
No thanks!
Next we went to (hur(h on the Island.  It still is a part of GZ but on the other side of a small river.  It was a wonderful experience.  We have a lot more to show and tell, but maybe in person is better.  I can tell you that I had tears quite a bit of the time and pinched myself here and there.  T did great in the service.  She had a huge stinky diaper in the middle of the singing, but she was great for the sermon.
Cool building.

Greeting good friend J after the service!

Our family after the service.

Next we did a super short stop at one store on the Island, Jenny's.  We got squeaky shoes, the Good Book in Ch*nese, a verse plaque, a doll from her province, a necklace.  It was a neat little shop.

We ate a very cheap lunch in the room and then battled with T to get her to nap.  Finally at 3:15 she decided that she was tired. She slept until after 5:00.  It is funny because at home I would be crazy to let her sleep that late, but here it seems we break all the rules all the time.  We are always going some where at nap time and she takes cat naps instead of full naps.  Oh well... this is a very short season.
.50 and so tasty!

We made up a fun game that T loved!

Sweet baby!

At 5:30 we met another family from our agency for dinner.  This is the family who lives near us in real life.  We went to Tomatoes, a pizza place.  It was fun to have encouraging conversation about a variety of topics. 
Dinner with friends.

I think that most thought the pizza tasted pretty good, but they all left hungry so a quest for ice cream began.  First we walked one direction to an Italian place that did indeed have fancy desserts and some might have had ice cream.  They also had a TV screen with semi-p*rn on the screen so we opted for another venue.

We had heard there was a Haagen Dazs near our hotel so we decided to find it.  Realizing that we didn't know where it was we headed back to the hotel for directions.  We then had to go underground to the subway level to cross the street and then back up the other side.  We found it and realized that Haagen Dazs and Baskin Robbins are NOT the same thing.  We were standing there to order when we were directed to a table.  Soon menus and glass glasses with lemon water came to the table.  The menus showed that one small scoop of ice cream sold for 6 USD.  Since Brandon's lunch was only .50 we decided to splurge.  It was a fun experience and a couple of the eaters said it was the best ice cream they ever had.
Ready to dig in to expensive ice cream!

After paying the bill they came with a "gift" for our family (2 families).  They brought us 3 little containers of ice cream and dry ice.  Even with the ice this is not very practical for a hotel room.  We figured that this brought the over all cost of the ice cream down quite a bit.  Since there was no way to keep it cool long term we just stayed and continued to eat.  Brandon got the great idea to put an ice cube in a cup and pour some water on it.  It started to smoke.  This caused the teenage guys in the other family to begin dropping the ice into full glasses of water.  Our table was smoking like crazy.  We were all laughing so hard.  What a special night of memories.  On the way home the boys decided to dump the rest of the ice into a puddle along the way and watch it smoke.  It sort of felt like we were on an outing with the youth group and gave us a taste of our future with teens.
Smoking drinks!

We almost rolled on the ground laughing as we read these AFTER we had broken almost every single rule!

Our hotel at night (both towers are part of the hotel)
We didn't get back to the room until late.  We crashed which is why this post is not getting up until right now.