Monday, September 11, 2006

We are home at last!!!

Part of our welcoming committee....

The boys happy to FINALLY meet their new little sister....

Daddy with his new little girl....

Alice is settling in just fine with all the boys....

And she is already discoverying the power rangers....

Fun in the tub....

The flight home was an adventure, but we are happy to be back in AZ and with our new family. We started our day Saturday at about 4:30am. It was raining in Guangzhou as we left for the airport. We had a small boxed breakfast on the bus on the way. Once we got to the airport and got checked in and through security we only had about 20 minutes to wait to get on the plane to Tokyo. I got really lucky on that flight with an extra seat next to me. That was a dream with Alice on board. They kept us on the tarmac for about 45 minutes because of the rain, but the pilot promised us we would land by 2:20 in Tokyo. For some reason when we got to Tokyo, he kept circling and we didn't get on the ground until about 2:45 -- we all had to connect for flights at 3:30 and in Tokyo you get off the plane and have to re-enter through a small security checkpoint. We were all booking it and were the last ones to get on our plane -- it didn't look as though they were really waiting for us. If I hadn't made that flight, I might have broken down completely at that point -- just way to ready to be back home.

This leg was 8 1/2 hours and we didn't have an extra seat this time -- Alice was not very happy for the entire flight and I'm sure everyone around me wasn't very happy either. That was a true struggle of patience, but we made it!

Once in Seattle, I was so happy to be able to got through customs and immigrations where people actually spoke english, but I was greeted by the grumpiest officer ever who burst my bubble that americans are really friendlier than some of the bureaucracies of the people I had just been dealing with for the last 3 weeks.

From Seattle to Phoenix, Alice finally slept like a dream!! We got of the plane so excited to see Kurt and the boys and when we got out of security there was no one there. We had a mix up in terminals and they were anxiously waiting at terminal 3 and we were at terminal 2. We finally met up and the boys looked to me like they had grown 10 feet. Their hugs and kisses were a very welcome end to my trip!!!

So Alice is officially ours in the eyes of China. However, she is still considered a chinese citizen since only one of us travelled to get her. We will now do what they call a readoption here in the states and at the point that we receive the american birth certificate, she will officially be an american citizen. The US does not recognize dual citizenship with China so she technically will only have US citizenship. Most families do the readoption in the states whether or not they travelled together so that they can obtain an american birth certificate. This way we have documentation that can be duplicated if the originals are ever lost. If we were to lose her chinese documentation, we would not be able to replace it.

This week we are trying to get back with the program. The boys are doing great in school and are so proud to have Alice here with them. She is slowly warming up to them -- they are very different than the kids she is used to playing with.

We are struggling a bit with the time change and having her in a new bed and environment. I am up quite a bit at night right now. Hope to power through it over the next week or so along with a couple of cases of diet coke!

Looking forward to seeing everyone again and introducing you to Miss Alice!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

We are outta here!!!!

Hopefully, the next picture that I post will be of Alice with her daddy and two brothers! Things went as expected today and we ate our last supper at Lucy's. The bell boy comes by at 5:00am for our luggage and we are off to the airport at 5:45. If all goes as planned we will arrive in AZ at around 2:30 on Saturday afternoon!!!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our last day!

Alice strutting in her Chinese PJ's...

My Dinner looking back at me....

Alice and her new doll...

Alice and her wild crazy self!!!

Go figure that I would figure out the pictures the last week of our trip! We are down to our last two nights and it still seems like an eternity before I'm going to set foot back in AZ. You know it is time to go home when you start thinking with the Chinese accent -- adding r's at the end of words like "Budder" instead of "Budda"; replacing v's with w's like saying "wisit" instead of "visit"; and repeating parts of sentences twice so that the americans can understand you -- this last one is actually very helpful.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day just walking around and shopping. Today it was a nice cool rainy day. We had to stay in the hotel for most of the morning while our guides took our paperwork to the American Consulate. We went out for lunch to Lucy's and then walked around and came back inside for most of the rest of the afternoon. We waited for the other group to come back from their Consulate visit today before going to dinner again at Lucy's. Tomorrow we get to visit the Consulate and then we are officially "released" to return to the states with our new kids.

Our visit to the Consulate is another "formality" in the process -- it is called an interview. What happens though is that you show up with about another 50 families or so -- you wait your turn to go to the window with your passport and your child. Then they verify that the child you are holding is the child on the passport they are about to hand you. If it is, they hand you all your official documents. Once everyone has their paperwork, you go into another room where an american comes out and asks everyone to raise their right hand and answer a couple questions, such as, do you really want to take this child home. This is the actual "interview"!! Then we get back on our bus and come back to the hotel.

I have mostly packed my bag with all the things that we have bought. I am going to donate Alice's clothes and anything extra that I have for her to a store down here whose proceeds go to the local orphanages. They will take whatever we have and use it or give it to other families that have come and may have forgotten something. It looks like I've done a good job and won't need to purchase another suitcase to get back home. This has been a common last purchase with a lot of families and of course, all the local shops sell the lastest in fine luggage.

Tomorrow, we are also going to go down for our last foot massage. Some of my friends leave tomorrow night and the rest of us leave Saturday morning. All I can say is it has been great, but I can't wait!!!!!!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The count down begins...4 days if you are in China

Here is a picture of Alice in her. dress that Amy bought her. It is a little long for her, but I know she is going to grow and she doesn't seem to mind it one bit.

And here is the infamous "red couch" photo that each group will take prior to leaving. These are the other kids that were in Alice's group. The are from left to right Polly, Bliss, Alice, Larissa, Clara and Paige. Then this is also Bliss looking at Alice wondering what all the fuss is about!

Yes, I have begun the countdown!!! It is Tuesday here now so I leave in 4 more days -- my saturday morning and then I arrive in the AZ saturday afternoon.

It is interesting to see how accustom we have become to the daily activities. Such as how they drive. The first day here we were intimidated to even put one foot in the street because there is no evidence of traffic rules being followed and definitely no pedestrians right of way. But today we even walk down the middle of the street right along with them all and we know which cars we can walk in front of without fear of them not stopping! All the shop owners recognize us and some even know us by name. We know which shops we can get the "good" discounts in. When I look out my window down at the street and see people walking around, I can recognize at least someone that I know either from our group or one of the shops!! And we can actually count out our money ourselves now when we purchase something rather than just letting them point to what we need. I also don't try to convert everything to USD before wondering if it is a good deal or not. Another thing that you would be having a fit over in the US is when you order your dinner, they just bring out whatever is ready whenever it is ready -- this could mean that one person might get there dinner literally 10 or 15 minutes before anyone else at the table. I remember this being very noticable the very first dinner we sat down at in Beijing, but tonight I didn't get my dinner until about 15 minutes after the first person and it didn't even phase me. In the US this would be grounds for a free meal!!

I missed the tour this morning because Alice fell asleep at 9:00am and I wanted to let her sleep. I heard it was beautiful and I can't wait to see Daniela's pictures -- she is Sabrina and my personal photographer. She said she is going to put all her still photos from Guangzhou on a CD for me so I can bring them home. She has a wonderful eye for getting interesting shots.

I went to Lucy's for lunch and then walked around a bit and then came back to the room to rest before the big photo shoot. The red couch photo is just a tradition for each group from a particular agency. It does help to signify that we are on our way home, finally!!! And tomorrow we will be off on our last tour of the trip! After this, I believe the next two bus trips we will take will be to the consolate and then to the airport!!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day!!

This weekend we were pretty low key. Alice caught a little cold on Friday and so Saturday was pretty yucky for her. The not so fun part was that she was throwing up a bit -- so in the hotel room that was not a lot of fun. The good part of that though was that she managed to do it on both beds and they had to change out one of them because it went through to the mattress -- this was good because the new mattress they brought in actually has a little bit of give to it and is a little bit softer! She is doing better today, but not quite over it all. It is moving down a little so I put her on an antibiotic -- just want to get her healthy for our marathon trek home this weekend.

I can't believe that I can finally say that we are going home soon!! I thought it would never come. I think the last 3 days have been the hardest maybe because I really didn't go off the island, but also because I couldn't imagine that I have to wait for ANOTHER Saturday before I could leave. We had some more familiar faces from our message board come in this weekend -- they were in different provinces and came here for their consulate appointments. Although I love my travel buddies, the fresh new faces and stories and babies were fun to have. There should be some more arriving today or tomorrow.

I do have to say that my travel friends have been the best. The Parkers from Mesa have more than befriended me and helped me out a lot when I have felt lonely. My buddies from Florida -- Sabrina and Daniela have probably eaten more meals with me at Lucy's than they probably care to! I also have two friends, Jennifer and Kathy from Michigan. Jennifer's little girl is about 2 weeks older than Alice and is from the same orphanage as her. We are trying to figure out if they recognize each other or not. I have Carol and Russell who are both pharmacists and have done their fair share of helping us figure out antibiotic and decongestant dosages. The Weilers are a fun family -- they brought their 4 and 2 year old with them and a friend as a helper. They are very adventurous and nice -- I enjoy talking to them -- their blog is very interesting to read and look at. And of course, I can't forget our guides Rui (Ray) and Kelly. They have had a hard job keeping us entertained over the last 2 1/2 weeks and also trying to keep our moral up when we all miss our families and friends. They do a lot of the paperwork behind the scenes for all of us as well as stay on call for us 24/7. They try to tell us funny jokes on the bus in english and sing us songs in Chinese! Overall we have a great group of people from a variety of places and of course we all have the best babies you could imagine!

Last night I went with the Parkers across the bridge to "the other side" off the island to go to Mc Donald's. McD's never tasted so good! Across the bridge is basically downtown Guangzhou so it is just like the big cities with lots of traffic and people walking everywhere. We definitely got stared at a lot, but we were also doing a lot of staring to. Just such different cultures. The stores on the street we were walking on looked to be pharmacies with lots of bins of twigs and dried mushrooms and other things that they would grind up for you. We also saw a couple of street venders -- one with a couple of cute little white bunnies and some little turtles. We were guessing that he wasn't trying to sell them as pets!! There are a couple of the open markets within walking distance of the bridge, but we didn't go to them yesterday. I would like to go to one before I leave just to see it. These are the ones with all the really "fresh" things for you to buy for dinner. Once we crossed the bridge back to the island, we realized how quiet the island really is. Can't really complain about where we are staying!

Today, we went to a statue of the 5 goats -- symbolic of bringing resources to Guangzhou -- cool statue up on top of a hill. We also visited a natural history museum about Guangzhou close to that. Then we drove around another little island which is considered a rich island. I think she said the average apartment is about 700 or so sq. ft. in the city. On this little island the average was between 2000 and 3000 sq. ft. The cost I think she said was something like $3000 a cubic meter. So this is a very expensive place to live. You could definitely tell it was upscale since there was no laundry hanging from the windows and the buildings looked much more nicely maintained -- more like what we are used to seeing at home.

Tonight, we ate with everyone in the hotel downstairs -- it was an outside "western" style barbecue. You picked out your own raw meat -- they had everything you could imagine and then they cooked it on the grill for you. Then there was a buffet to go along with it all -- very yummy -- Kurt would have loved this with all the choices! Being in the hotel, it wasn't cheap even though it was all you could eat so it is a one night thing for us. So it is back to Lucy's for us tomorrow!

Tomorrow, we are going to a mountain called White clouds mountain by translation. I think we will just walk around there. And then another day will be done!

I do have to say that I'm probably getting a little bit spoiled by not having to cook and never cleaning up the kitchen and having someone make my bed every morning and turn down my bed with chocolate every night. We even have attendants on every floor that press the button for us to go up or down the elevator and one that constantly open and closes the door in and out of the hotel in the lobby. Even with all this, I am so looking forward to getting back to my 2-buck Chuck and Einstein's and Nello's and of course my 3 wonderful boys!