Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just discovered the wifi in the lobby.

If you are waiting, know that this will be the trip of a lifetime. La Vida is doing an amazing job in coordinating all the events, and the faciliators -- Winnie, LIsa and Amanda and Juntao have shown us all over Changsha, not to mention allowing us to experience the best of Hunan cuisince. It's hard to sum all this up in a few minutes. Now the latest issue is our converter burned out. I can borrow one to charge with, but keep that in mind, too if you are waiting to bring along two converters. They tend to get hot. Another thing, start lifting weights! This is quite the workout. Today's itinerary: Changsha Embroidery Factory.

Last night after dinner we went on a walk with new friends Alan and Dana and their daughter Ava. We were stopped frequently -- we're terribly conspicuous. Many people want to know what in the heck are we doing with Chinese babies. They seem not to have a clue about adoption. Once in the park, we were with Lisa, our guide and a couple came up to ask how did we get the babies? We told them we adopted them and they said, "Can we adopt?" When Lisa discoverd they already had children, she told them, No they can't adopt. Now, some people are aware of the domestic adoption - as there are many underway -- but it is mind-boggling that we draw such attention and that they do not konw about Westereners adopting at all. Never heard of it.

By the way, I have uploaded close to a 1000 pics -- between my dad and I.

Phoebe Yue is doing great. She's becoming so much more comfortable, so much happier. Here are a few pics before the battery goes.

Top left, Phoebe Yue with her grandmother, Martyr Park, food and more kindergarten.

Changsha School

rice cereal with fish paste anyone?

Remember that problem we had earlier with the American consulate? Well, we're thinking about that 14 hr flight with six babies and thinking it might be a bad idea to just stay here in Changsha. Everyday, we are learning more about the country, the people and Xiao Yue is becoming more comfortable with us. She was a bit clingy yesterday. The orphanage babies are not used to such one on one time and then are anxious that it might go away. Today she woke up happier and is laughing -- either at my mispronunciations of the five words I know in Mandarin and her new fave word - Whooooppps!. Big belly laughs from that teeny little girl.

The food is amazing. Spicy and lots of it. Phoebe will eat just about anything, but a constant at the SWI was rice with fish paste, so we have been cooking that wonderful smelling stuff up for her once a day.

A bit treat today: trip to Changsha kindergarten where we were entertained by three, four and five yr old classes. The teacher asked our group -- six families -- to sing some songs in English. All we could come up with -- besides Freebird, which we decided would be just too long, was Jingle Bells, You are my Sunshine and Happy Birthday.

So, if we aren't home on the eighth, you'll know where we are.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting to know Phoebe

A short post because Xiao Yue is waking up, but I know you all want to see some new pics. She's so laid back, but curious. And, she's doing really well - woke up at 4 to see if we were still here and then went back to sleep, chatting away. I need to find a wifi connection and then I can write more!

The blurry pic I'm posting anyway, because my connection time is out in two minutes but she is in LOVE with plastic cups. So now you guys know what to get her. She napped with one yesterday. She also like plastic Tupperware containers. More later, Xiao Yue is awake.

Meet Phoebe Xiao Yue

Xiao Yue!
We can't remember what day it is or what time we met her, but she's here and she's the coolest. Where to start?
At the Civil Affairs office, we went into a quiet room where some of the nannies were there already. A man was holding Xiao Yue and I knew it immediately. When we were -- introduced? What do we call this, she came to me, but was slightly hesitant. She was intrigued by Isaac. She cried a bit, stunned -- who are these folks? She'd been in a van since 4 .m. driving up to Changsha on a five-hr trip. She was processing it all, studying us, not missing a thing. By the time we'd gotten back to the hotel, she ate lunch -- rice, congee -- oh and earlier she dove for my cup of water and drank right from the cup.

We've already been back to Civil Affairs for the finalization of the adoption -- we're lega btw -- and we've been doing paperwork and foot-stamping (the baby's not ours. Thumbs for us -- in red ink) and we're nearly delirious from jet lag. More pictures later, but all is well. Aunt Sheryl! A favor? Please call Grandma and tell her all is well?

Monday, July 28, 2008


A note: Blogger is alive and well -- so far, so good -- in China. So much for busting those rumors. I am the only one who can view the comments, though. So go figure.

Isaac's been a great sport, having lost a day (or so, but who's counting) of sleep. After a day at the Great Wall and a tour of a local jade factory in Beijing, we were herded off to the airport where we discovered our flight was delayed by three hours. Honestly, the time whizzed by as it was perfect for people watching, chatting with new Chinese friends who are waiting as well. We got to the Hua Tian around 11 pm. and went for a walk down the street (pics to come later) to our neighborhood market for Tsingtao, snacks, water and to have a look at the baby formula. Last week I stared at the formula shelves at Target, Publix and Winn Dixie and let me tell you this was triple the confusion.

Off to pack the....diaper backpack.....We're leaving in an hour to meet the babies at the civil affairs office. Needless to say, I'll be back with some amazing pictures around lunchtime here.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

another couple of photos

My mom at left, Craig, Isaac (who was starting to fade after the equivalent of being up all night long), our guide Linda and my dad.
Far left, a family photo at Tm. Square.

Hit the ground running

Forbidden City where I wanted to get lost and take photographs all day long. But our fearless guide, Yong Chen had us on a tight schedule. Would love to come back and spend days walking the city. Gold, giant red doors, marble and orange honeysuckle like the vines that hang from our palm trees. Tomorrow the Great Wall. Tuesday, we meet Yue yue

Friday, July 25, 2008

Last minute snag and let's hope this is it for snags (I'm ready to get on that plane)

We leave tomorrow morning, right? So yesterday evening as I was nearing the end of my list of packing items and errands, I heard from our agency that the American consulate in Guanghzou never received our updated fingerprint clearances. Keep in mind, I have a copy, the agency has a copy, and the agency forwarded this copy to Guanghzou to prove it. BUT there is another particular route that this paper must make -- from Jacksonville to DC to Gz and if it doesn't take that preferred road then our baby is not allowed a visa into the United States. Our agency assured me that everyone was doing everything possible, but they needed to let me know in case this paper did not reach Gz by our August 6 appointment that there was risk involved in actually traveling there -- meaning we'd be stuck in Gz and unable to get the baby home. A few days sounds fine. But it was the uncertains. Like will I be in Gz for the rest of my life waiting on a piece of paper? Your thoughts can get a little nuts at 2 a.m. I was joking with Pat in Miami who is bringing home Max in September that maybe I'd still be there and I'd have her family over for tea. But that was all the joking I was capable of. I'm a fiction writer so I came up with 101 scenarios from horrible -- they won't let us go -- to sort of interesting -- maybe we'll be there so long we'll learn Mandarin -- to just plain crazy -- I'll be in front of the consulate picketing to get my baby a visa so she can come with us to St. Augustine. So after I vented to everyone, melted down a few times, said that I was going to China to get this baby and I didn't care about any piece of paper, that I'd just call up the consulate myself, after I cleaned all the bathrooms at 4 a.m. and did some writing, I heard from the agency at 7:30 a.m. that the consulate received (found under a big stack of papers??) our prints. And, then my representative from the agency phoned and we had a great chuckle over it as it's so easy to do when you're relieved and so happy that things are going to work out after all. She apologized for having to tell us about it to begin with, but hey, it's over. Now I'm worn out and my hands smell like bleach. A lot of new gray hair involved on this one.

I'm just sorry for the roller coaster and the late panicked calls to my friends and family! So, what I originally wanted to post was this. Yue-yue is from a town south of Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province. As I have said before, it's humid and hot and known as one of the ovens of China. But, what we just discovered is the city's flower is the azaela (our yard, not to mention
St. Augustine, is full of them) and the city's tree is the camphor tree (it grows like a weed here and they're all over the fenceline). How about that for a coincidence of setting?

It has been quite a challenge to get everything together in a week, but we're nearing the end. Craig finished painting the baby's room last night. I can hear him upstairs now working on the finishing touches. Isaac's playing Freebird on the Fender. I can now officially say that the next post will be from China.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Back in Florida, Off to China

Just rolled in from Northern New Mexico and adjusting to that good-for-your skin humidity that we have to learn to appreciate here in St. Augustine. The house hadn't been completely consumed by termites and was in overall excellent shape thanks to our wonderful housesitters, Deirdre and Jackie (and Deco).

Hidden in the muck of one of the ponds was a dead opossum carcass. Craig wanted to know why he had to dispose of it and then just why is it that he always gets stuck with the dead things. Why? Because I had to fill out the visa applications, that's why -- while we were on the road, mind you. I'm still recovering from the grueling process as I don't do well with numbers. Anyway, I don't have all the details but I have some of them. It is official. We. Are. Going. To. China.

Depart Saturday (One week from today!) Arrive in Bejing. Spend -- what looks like despite the 12 hour difference and the 13.5 hour flight -- a day and a half touring the city. We'll leave Monday afternoon for Changsha, Hunan and stay in the Hua tian Hotel.

"Overlooked in the sky, the shape of the building is like a Chinese Character for water, which can implicate Huatian Hotel is like a shining bright pearl on the land of Hunan, the business life of hotel will never end, just like the large running river never and ever running out, and the services in here are responsible and perfect, like the nature of pure water."

Check this out -- what a hotel! Comfort Inn just won't be the same after this.

I think we'll meet Yue yue on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Delivery Confirmation

Dear Kim:

Xiao yue got your package on 7th, July. love, Ann

[message from Ann of Red Thread China]

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We are going to China.....

Permission to travel to China has arrived. Our agency is trying to attain one of two available consulate appointments -- either the last week of July or the other the first week of August. Either way, we have to hightail it out of New Mexico and get back to Florida so we can pack and fly back out west to California and then China. Yes, that is very insane and complicated.

In the meantime, we have appointed Isaac the official speaker of Mandarin in the family. He had out the phrase book last night studying away.

We're going to miss the Chama skies. Wow, why don't they make skies like this in Florida?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

care package to yue yue

I can't say enough good things about Ann at Red Thread If you want to send a care package, you'll
get wonderful service and make a new friend.
We ordered a basic package -- candy for the nannies, a little toy kitten (picked out by Isaac), a disposable picture (in hopes the nannies have time to take some shots of the baby with her caregivers) and a letter to the director and caregivers. Unlike some of the other services where you simply select one of the form letter, I was able to write my own letter to the nannies to tell them how much we thank them for their care of this little girl who will be our daughter. Ann translated it for us and that was included in the package cost, which is extremely reasonable.
As if all this were not enough....she also called Dao County SWI and confirmed Yue yue's new measurements -- she's up to 16 lbs now and is 26 inches long. AND she sent along the finding ad from the online version of the HuNan newspaper.
No news yet on travel, but I have a good feeling about Monday or Tuesdsay.