Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 year olds that are now feeling at home....

Abbey is doing well. She is comfortable in her new home. She has come up with the typical American words that most all 2 year olds say once they get the hang of it. That word is "no". She says it all day no matter whether she really means it or not. She also is swinging at her siblings and her parents when she doesn't get what she wants. She has entered the land of "time out".

The sibling rivalry thing is always lurking just around the corner. It can rear it's ugly head in a split second. It's mostly the girls. But the "it's not fair" line comes out whenever anyone feels the slightest bit of inequity occurring. Abbey just kind of grunts and whines to let us know that she is feeling things aren't fair. I have told the kids that "life is not fair". I know it sounds harsh, but someday they are going to go out into the real world and it's not a fair place. Inequities are everywhere. They are pretty much rampant. Now, don't get me wrong, I try to make things as equal as they can be in things that matter to the kids. Like feeling like each gets their fair share of a certain treat. But the inequity issue runs pretty rampant around here. Each of our kids are always on the lookout for any unfairness going on. I know this is normal, but it sure is annoying. I wish they could be a little less "id" centered (Freudian psychology). They love each other and help each other out too but boy can jealousy take over in a heartbeat.

On a different note, Abbey is understanding and saying lots of American words. Her palate is keeping her from pronouncing words correctly but she is doing a great job trying. The other day Sesame Street was on and they were slowly going through the alphabet. Abbey was watching and saying the alphabet letter by letter. Some letters she was saying them correctly and others were kind of muffled sounding, but she was interested and trying and that's the most important thing. We are going to see the cleft team this fall to begin whatever they suggest to facilitate her speech development and redo her lip so that she can use her upper lip better. She cannot pucker her lips. Well, she can, but not very far. The plastic surgeon wants to make her lip more functional and look better. In China they did a good job but it needs some more work. Her left nostril always looks like it's got colored mucus coming from it. It isn't runny, it's that the scar from her lip repair tore open a bit near the opening of her nose and left a darker scar there. The surgeon says that is just a matter of a touch up while she is doing other work on her lip. I would say Abbey's ability to speak so that other people can understand her is probably going to be the biggest hurdle she will have to master. With her palate being so...short it may be a long road. She is a smart girl and I would be willing to bet she will overcome this obstacle.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Comments on our blog

We set our comments posting section to moderation. This is so we can choose to publish the comments we want to have others view. We did this because the first comment we got was from a link to a Chinese (for want of a better word) escort service or maybe it's a choose a marriage partner site. Whatever it is it has pictures of pretty Chinese girls posing (clothed)and Chinese writing under each picture. We can't read Chinese so we don't know what it's all about. But it doesn't belong on our blog.

We have gotten several more comments. We would like to list them. They make little to no sense in regard to our blog and they are signed in Chinese. Here they are...

Subtlety is better than force.... (written 2 times)

Of two evils choose the least....

Many a little makes a mickle.....

Necessity is the mother of invention....

There are several other comments written in Chinese. We would appreciate if you leave a comment that you do it in English. We can't read Chinese. We will be getting someone to translate them for us. Make is easier on us and leave your comments in English.

Whoever has been viewing our blog and leaving these comments we would like you to clarify what you mean by them, if anything. This blog was created in the USA and that's one of the many fabulous things about the USA....freedom of speech. God bless the USA!!!!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

catching up......

I can't believe we have been home almost a month! The jet lag was a killer for about 2 weeks. We just could not get the girls on Virginia time. Abbey sometimes seems like she would like to slip back to China time. I have to wake her from a nap. She will marathon sleep and we all know what that means.... not going to sleep at night or not sleeping long enough at night.

Abbey has some night terrors a few times a week. But overall is sleeping and adjusting well. She clearly lets us know what she wants and needs without saying a thing. She is so smart. She says and copies many English words. We have to listen carefully to what she is saying but she is saying stuff correctly it's just kind of muffled sounding.

We took Abbey to the pediatrician the week after we got home. She told us that Abbey seems to be developmentally on target. A few days after that we met with the pediatric plastic surgeon. The surgeon said that she would like to redo Abbey's lip. She said that the scar lines are not natural looking and she thinks she can bring them together to look more like the natural lip ridge most people have. She also said that the two muscles on each side of her upper lip were not attached together when they sewed up her lip. She would also attach those muscles to make it so Abbey can use her upper lip muscles. Right now when she kisses us she just presses her lips on us. Due to not having these muscles working. The surgeon also told us that Abbey's palate is extremely short. The shortest she has ever seen. She said only time will tell what effect that will have on her speech development. Abbey seems a bit nasal sounding when she speaks. The surgeon said that we should continue to bond with Abbey for about 3 months and then get an appt with the cleft team and go from there on what to do for her. We will keep this site updated with her medical processes as they unfold.

Things have changed since we first met Abbey. As anyone remembers our report of her not liking me (Kathi) She is all over me all the time now. Abbey and Meigan now get sassy with each other over which half of my lap they are going to get. Meigan has done a bit of regressing here and there, but bounces back and is the great big sister. Abbey likes to sit on me at meal time instead of sitting in her own booster seat. Even though we have the same food (most of the time)mine apparently tastes better than hers. She loves to eat the food on my plate.

We had a couple of firsts today ( June 27). Meigan asked for a straw at lunch to suck up her soup. Abbey has to have whatever Meigan has. So I gave Abbey a straw too. She has not been able to suck through a straw at all up until today. I showed her how it works (again) by sucking the end of her finger. She immediately got it an started sucking up soup like a champ. I was so..... proud of her. Later she got frustrated with her sippy cup. She has to chew the liquid out of it. She handed it to me and indicated that it just wasn't working. I checked it out by sucking on it and showed her again the sucking technique. She tried it and was getting much more liquid out than before. She gave me a pleased smile. The second first happened after her bath. She volunteered (her idea) to sit on the baby potty sitting next to the tub and kept checking to see if she had done anything. She peed just a little bit over several minutes and wiped herself each time she checked to see if she did anything. I think we are on the way to diaper free. I wasn't going to push the issue until at least fall. It being her idea is a great thing. That's the way it was with Josh and Meigan. I waited until they showed interest to start anything and went from there.

Abbey is a sweet child! She is a joy! She has a mellowness about her. She loves to give hugs and receive them. She isn't too timid around new people, unless she is tired or hungry. She is so smart and perceptive about any and everything that is going on around her. She doesn't miss too much. She loves to help me unload the dishwasher and wants to help with laundry. She will throw stuff away for me. She is a great little helper. I don't have to ask she just does it.

When we got Abbey I mentioned in previous posts that she was in the care of Amazing Hands in Beijing from the time she was 10 months old until we adopted her. On Gotcha day David chased down Abbey's foster mother and gave her his business card. We have since then been in contact with the founder of Amazing Hands via emails. I asked her how on earth did Abbey, out of all the orphans in China, get lucky enough to go to Amazing Hands from Luoyang orphanage. Especially since they only have 12 children at a time until they are adopted. Her answer was that Luoyang called them and asked if they had any room for Abbey and they happened to have a bed open at that time. I also asked who funded Abbey surgeries. Amazing Hands said that for Abbey's first surgery they funded part of it and Christian Broadcasting Network paid in part for it (yes, that's Pat Robertson's group). For Abbey's second surgery (to repair her palate) the Smile Train paid for it. It's not written in any of the paperwork we received on referral day for Abbey but in the journal (Amazing Hands gave us on Gotcha day) of Abbey's time with Amazing Hands they state that Abbey had to have her palate repaired a second time, about 7 months after the first surgery. Her palate split open a bit after the first surgery. Christian Broadcasting Network did the second repair on her palate. CBN and Smile Train are just awesome! Amazing Hands is more than awesome. I asked if we could make a donation to Amazing Hands and they said they don't take donations. She never did answer the question as to how they are financed. But apparently they have what they need, including a doctor on staff. How wonderful is that!?

I thanked the people at Amazing Hands for loving and taking such good care of Abbey. We could never thank them enough for all they did for her. You can just tell in her personality that she was loved and given what she needed because she is adjusting so well to being with us. She still freaks out if I have my shoes on and she doesn't (thinks she is going to not get to go). But overall she is a complete joy to us every day. We are so... blessed to have her as our daughter! That 21 months we waited until we got our referral to Abbey was so.... worth it!!!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Time in Hong Kong

Once through the Hong Kong Train Station, we took a taxi to the Island Pacific hotel in Hong Kong. Taxi driver was nice and spoke good English. The hotel is beautiful! We are on the 28th floor overlooking the Victoria Harbor. The view is fabulous! We ate at McDonalds last night. It was good. Abbey had her first American meal. She ate some of it okay. Then we cooked her some instant noodles in a cup back at the room. She is a noodle or rice eating Asian girl. Gotta get her used to something else. In McDonalds we had a conversation with a family from England. When they first walked in the father asked if the food was any good. We told him that it tasted like McDonalds back in the USA. I added that the chicken sandwich that I had had was dark meat instead of white. He didn’t understand my southern American accent and looked at me in concern. Then he said “dog” meat? I had to speak slower and clarify “dark meat”. It was their first time visiting Hong Kong and they didn’t know what to expect any more than we did. McDonalds did have a few things on their menu that isn’t available in the USA, like instead of Apple Pies they offered purple yam pies. We did not eat any of those.

Here in Hong Kong there are many more American brands we recognize. It feels better to recognize and buy stuff that we know. China has much more variety of junk food this trip and we tried some stuff, it was good. They also had some American brands that we tried like Green Tea Oreos and roast Chicken flavored Lay’s potato chips. Pretty good stuff.

May 30 is cloudy again here in Hong Kong. Looks like a dreary day. We ate cereal in our hotel room in the morning and ate at the hotel restaurant for lunch. Excellent lunch buffet with a good mix of western and Asian foods (some strange choices but all very good). We played with our shrimp. Meigan was fascinated with the fact they cooked an served the shrimp with the head and antennas still attached. We played with it. Meigan wanted to see where the brains were when I tore the head off of one. I pretended that the shrimp was walking around before I took his head off. I know, sick, huh? May as well make fun out of eating something looking back at me.

Shane Lo (Deputy Fire Chief of the Hong Kong Fire Dept.) picked us up, at the hotel entrance after we finished lunch. He took us to a Hong Kong fire station and his office for a tour and discussion of fire issues in Hong Kong. He took us to his see a huge Fire Boat for a tour - very cool, although all of the boats in Victoria Bay can stir up good size waves. That boat was rocking the whole time we were on it. I was amazed that some of the items on the boat were shipped over from the USA, like the life boat and one of the toe cranks. Don’t they make everything in China? Apparently not. Shane then took us to Stanley Market and served as our personal shopper. He was great at talking with the shopkeepers and getting a good deal. He then took us to a nice Chinese restaurant and bought our dinner for us. He did the ordering for us. The food was served on a huge lazy susan in the middle of the table. The wait staff kept bringing in plate after plate of food. First off was shrimp with heads still attached. Fortunately we were already used to that from lunch. Meigan was asleep in my lap and Shane peeled some shrimp for me. That was very nice of him. We also ate fish soup. Very good! For an appetizer we were served crunchy salty fish. They were tiny little fish dehydrated in salt. Yes, with little eyes looking back at us. I was very hesitant to try them at first but I did. They were really good! Sort of like overcooked potato chip sticks. At that point I had started eating stuff I would have never dreamed of eating so why not keep going. They served fried oysters. I swore I would never eat what I have always referred to as “snot on the half shell”. I ate one, then two. They were really good! I had to try and forget what I was eating. Then they served fish with the head still on. Was steamed, a little mushy, but great tasting. I also ate goose. At least that’s what they said it was. It looked and tasted more like roast beef. Made we wonder if it was really something else, but it was really good. I trusted them that it really was goose. Who was I to argue, never saw the inside of a goose. Would have guessed it to be more like poultry, but it wasn’t. The whole meal was wonderful. Definitely different. It was a meal I won’t forget. It was so nice of Shane to take his time to show us a Hong Kong fire station, be our personal bargain shopper guide and then take us for a wonderful memorable dinner. He also gave the kids a bunch of Hong Kong fire station promotional kid toys. Meigan was fascinated with all the stuff he gave her. It was a fabulous day in Hong Kong.

We left Hong Kong at 12:00 noon on May 31st and plans were to arrive the same day at Dulles Airport at 9:00 pm if all our flights are on time. We flew from Hong Kong to Chicago (14 hours) and arrived in Chicago O’Hare airport around 2:00 pm (in time it was only two hours difference from when we left Hong Kong 14 hours earlier on the same day, still blows my mind). It took forever for us to get through all the checking lines and get to our next flight to Dulles. The flight from Chicago to Dulles was delayed by over 2 hours. There were so many people in the airport we sat on the floor waiting for our flight. Finally we got on the airplane and took off about 8:30 and arrived in Dulles about two hours later. The flight was good and smooth. David and Abbey sat behind Meigan and me. Meigan and I sat next to a nice guy from India. We had a good talk about life in India and his life in D.C. We talked about adoption and China and the differences in laws and rules for families in India versus China. He spoke pretty good English but occasionally would not understand some of my southern slang, ie. Getting Josh to do his homework I would practically have to “hog tie” him to get him to do it. He was entertained and somewhat confused about my use of words. Also when we talked about where we live and I described our 2 acres that we live on. He asked if we had 2 acres for farming. He thought that was interesting that we had 2 acres and didn’t farm it. His father farms the 120 acres they have in India and he sells sweet lemons (an item that is a luxury to buy in India). It was a very nice conversation. I offered him some gum to help keep his ears clear. He told me that if you lift your chin up and stretch your neck until it is tight and then swallow it will clear your ears. I tried it when the plane was landing and it worked. I told him that I would always remember him.
Our plane landed and the airport was pretty empty. It was fairly late on Memorial Day. By the time we got our luggage and got the shuttle to the Hyatt Hotel (where we had left our car at the beginning of our trip) it was almost 11:30 pm. When David and Abbey went to the garage to get our car the battery was dead. The good thing about being at the Hyatt with good customer service is they got us a guy to charge the battery within minutes. The car started and we put Abbey in her car seat. At first we were wondering how she might react to a car seat, assuming she had never been in one (they are not typically used in China). She was fussy as David got the car seat ready. Once she was in the seat she was okay. We think she was worried about what was going on. Whenever we would have a transition during our trip, Abbey would get a worried look on her face and she would start to pout and want David to hold her (remember I was chopped liver to her for most of our trip). I enjoyed telling David how much I was going to enjoy the movies and reading on the way home from China since he was going to have to take care of Abbey. By the time we left she was a bit more comfortable with me. When we took off from Hong Kong I sat between Abbey and Meigan and David sat across the isle. After a bit Abbey went and sat in the empty seat next to David. She stayed there the entire rest of the trip. With Abbey next to David and Meigan next to me, we had plenty of room. Next to Abbey was another empty seat. Both of the girls could stretch out when they slept. It was wonderful (for them) . Our seats were in the economy plus section. It gave us extra leg room. It was worth it! Made the trip much better. On this particular airplane the armrest between the seats raised up too to make for extra room. The first airplane (on the way to Beijing) the armrests didn’t raise up so it wasn’t as comfortable for Meigan to sleep. I think it depends on the size and style of the airplane maybe how old the plane is too. Don’t know.
Anyway we left Dulles for Powhatan at 11:30 pm and got home about 2:00 am. We were both tired but the girls slept the whole way home. We stopped and got cokes and then snacks and then coffee to stay awake to get home. We contemplated finding a place to park and sleep for awhile but never did. We played music and I kept tabs on David’s driving to make sure we made it home. We laughed and had a good time It was the most risk taking either of us had done in years. We were looking forward to getting home and going to sleep. Finally home at 2 am on Tuesday June 1, 2010.

Almost a soon as we pulled into the driveway the girls woke up. They were raring to go. How nice. They had slept on the plane and in the car and according to China time it was 2:00 in the afternoon and they had just woken up from an afternoon nap. How nice (did I say that already?) We tried to get them to go back to sleep and it didn’t work (needless to say). At 3:30 am I was fixing breakfast for Meigan and at about 4:30 am Abbey ate breakfast. We haven’t gotten over jet lag yet. I guess we haven’t tried hard enough. We have worked up to about 5 to 6 hours at night for the girls to sleep and then they are ready to go. We have tried to cut their naps short to fix them but we sleep when they do or take turns napping and we apparently need to work harder at trying to resolve this jet lag thing. It is getting better but it’s not much fun going through it.

First trip in USA (they missed most of it)

Shopping at Stanley Market

Shopping Kathi is a Happy Kathi

Fire boat command center

Fire boat decompression chamber

Fire Boat bridge level

Super station both medics out on calls

Shane & family (except Josh)

Shrimp Attack at lunch

Panoramic view from Hong Kong hotel room

Last Days in Guangzhou

May 27, 2010 Today we went to the Guangzhou Zoo. We saw many animals. Most were the typical zoo animals. Meigan got to feed the giraffes. They give you big bunches of small branches with many leaves to give the giraffes. She loved it! We (the whole group) were somewhat of an attraction. Many of the Chinese people visiting the zoo looked at us wondering why we had Chinese babies with us. After a few hours at the zoo with a bunch of our group, we had our Consulate appt. We went and took the oath. All we said was that we promise that all the stuff in our paperwork was true. Seems a bit silly, but that’s the rule. We saw our guide from last time, Grace, and got a great picture of her. We ran into her and Maggie (guide from last time) a few times. I don’t believe we ever got a pic of Maggie. We ate at the Cow and Bridge restaurant again that night with some of the people in our group that had not left yet. We were one of 5 families that our consulate appt was a day later. So we had to stay longer in Guangzhou than the other people in our group..

May 28, 2010 Last day in Guangzhou. Feels surreal. Want to leave, but want to stay. Want to soak up more of China. There will never be enough time to get enough China without moving here. Definitely not gonna do that. The food is not as good as home. Even though there are many things that are good. We miss good American cuisine. I could bore you with the things I plan on eating when we get home. I miss the taste.

Anyway, we ate too much breakfast again at the White Swan this morning. Chocolate cake and croissants in the morning is not getting old. Although I might need to lose a few pounds when I get home. We spent the rest of the day shopping and packing. We met up with the rest of our group at Lucy’s for one last dinner together. Before David could start to eat his dinner Abbey started to fuss. We think she is teething. She chewed off a bit of her bottle nipple today. We had bought the bottle because nothing I had brought with me was working. We had bought some cups with straws while in Zhengzhou (that had valves in them) and gave them to our guide, Yisha,. Abbey cannot suck. We have to take the valve out of the sippy cups we brought then she turns them over because she is two and you get the idea on the mess, Can’t wait to find a cup that works. Lara in our group had a great Nuby cup. David took Abbey back to the room to give her some Motrin (generic) and Lucy’s packed up his dinner, including the large beer (which I knew he would be wanting) and we took it to him. Abbey was feeling better and ate her dinner and David got his.

May 29, 2010 We left the White Swan about ten this morning. Jocelyn got us a shuttle to the train station. We had a porter carry our luggage and a White Swan guide at the train station to show us the way. The train ride was very nice, hardly anyone on the train. Abbey was full of herself until she fell asleep. She was giggly and happy most of the trip until she and Meigan fell asleep. Meigan had had a fever two nights before but seemed OK for the last day and a half with no fever. We think she has another sinus infection. But she is OK under the effects of Motrin (generic). We got off the train and as we worked through security, Health Dept. personnel stopped us. Meigan had a high fever. They masked her and we filled out paperwork to promise we would see a doctor when we got home. They were nice but we didn’t know what was going to happen to us. Lesson learned, Motrin before heading through temperature checks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

red couch day

May 24, 2010 In the morning we went back to the medical clinic to get Abbey's TB test read. She is fine. In the afternoon we went to the pearl market. We got a few things. I waited to hear from GG to see if she had changed her mind about us getting her some pearls. Still can't believe we were in a whole mall devoted to just jewelry. It was several stories tall. We took a bus with the group to go to the pearl market. We were supposed to get a cab back to the White Swan when we were done. Some of us got taxis back and some of us had to walk. Guess what we did. Walk. It wasn't that far but Meigan was tired. I carried her most of the way. She may be heavier than Abbey but at least she hangs on. Abbey will not hang on so it's actually harder to carry her a long distance. I wanted to go back and do some more shopping in the area that we were in but David didn't want to fight the crowds. Crowds was what was there. I don't remember it being quite so congested with people last time we shopped there. They were wall to wall, well it felt wall to wall. We have yet to eat at McDonald's or KFC. Don't think we will at this point, unless we get delivery. Both KFC and McDonald's will deliver to the White Swan. I took some pics of the delivery bikes for McDonald's and Papa Johns. Don't think we loaded them on the blog, maybe later. We tried to find a KFC in Beijing after we saw a sign out front of a mall for it. We wanted to eat there, but we never did find it. The joke between us whenever we see a KFC sign is we wonder where there really is one near wherever we see a sign.

There weather has been really good here. It was really really hot and humid the first night we were here then got better and the humidity has been building. But it has been tolerable. For those of you reading this and are coming to China soon to get your little ones, the pollution is not as bad. Particularly in Guangzhou. We have seen the blue sky most days. Something we only saw one day last time we were here. The Chinese government is cleaning up the air and it is much better. It's for the upcoming Asian Games. Shamian Island is, as everyone has been saying, all torn up. But it is okay. Lucy's restaurant is going strong. They have a Subway sandwich shop and it is good. Those coming later this year to pick up their little ones will see a beautiful Shamian Island. We ate a few times for lunch at Starbucks. Not bad, I got an iced coffee with ice and am still alive to tell about it. LOL

May 25. 2010 We had a free day. Except for the famous red couch pictures in the afternoon. All the families had separate pictures taken on the sofa, then all the babies and children that were adopted this trip got their pictures taken on the sofa with their traditional silk Chinese outfits on. They all looked so….cute ! Ours was one of the first to start crying when all the kids were set side by side on the sofa. After that we all got a group picture taken in front of the waterfall in the lobby of the White Swan. Our free time has been spent shopping around the island. There are plenty of things to buy. Some of the shops you can bargain and some don't. If you visit Jordan's store on the island he is a very nice man and he will write your child's name in Chinese for free. If you want extra names he will do them for cheap. His prices are very reasonable. I found out the hard way that he had some of the same things in his store for better price than some other stores. You don't need to really bargain with him. His prices are fair. We have also enjoyed taking some pictures of the gorgeous brides all decked out in their wedding attire. Shamian Island is the perfect setting for pictures. The landscaping along the center of the island is beautiful.

May 26th 2010 We had to wait in our room until Kathy or Jocelyn called us to tell us whether our consulate paperwork went through without any problems. About 11:30 Kathy called and advised that all paperwork sailed through. We then walked to Starbucks and ate lunch with a few other families. Dave and the girls went back to the room for a nap while I cruised a few shops and spent 100s of renmin yinhang. Ate supper at Lucy's again with Laura & Scott and their girls. A quick stop at the 7-11 for ice cream bars (the Chinese junk food is better than 3 years ago), and off to the room for a good night's sleep.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Posting From Guangzhou 5-23-10

Thursday, May 20, This is our last full day here in Zhengzhou. We are kind of tired of eating the same noodles and rice dishes all the time. There is not much variety in the foods we are willing to try at the restaurants in Zhengzhou. Although one night we did room service and got a pretty good tuna salad sandwich and some good noodles. The breakfast buffet has a wonderful variety of food in the morning.

We have tried some rather unique things for breakfast. Some good, some not so good, some awful foods. Meigan likes white rice in the morning with watermelon. She has tried a few things, but keeps going back to the rice and watermelon. On the way downstairs this morning to breakfast we passed one of our travel companions room. Our guide Yisha was consulting with them. They needed to take their new son to the hospital. He had a high fever during the night and had a seizure. We offered to take care of their two daughters while they went to the hospital. Meigan and the girls get along great. So they had a wonderful time together. Their son is fine now. He is of those kids that are sensitive to high fevers.

Friday, May 21 About 6:30 pm we left Zhengzhou for Guangzhou. We flew China Southern. Abbey still doesn't like me too much at this point. David sat between the girls on one row and played momma and I sat in a row all by myself and watched a movie. Meigan fell asleep shortly into the flight so David only had Abbey to contend with. Abbey was not very happy to have a seatbelt on. She was only unhappy when she realized she was being pinned in. A few other people played with her during the flight. She even played with me a bit, as long as I didn't get too close. It was a pretty good flight, a bit of turbulence, but overall okay.

When we arrived at Guangzhou airport and went outside the air was so humid we sweated just standing there. Our new guides Jocelyn and Kathy met us. They are very sweet and helpful. CCAI rocks. They take such good care of us. Anything we need they do whatever they can. The other people in our group are really great. Everyone helps everyone else out with whatever they need. We took a bus to the White Swan. It was good to be at the White Swan. We are on the 18th floor facing the Shamian Island and the city of Guangzhou. It is a wonderful view. We were hoping to have a room overlooking the Pearl river but being this high up gives a spectacular view of the city. We think that in the distance we can see Banyan Mountain that we climbed last time we were here (remember the smog factor makes it hard to see). It was late by the time we got here. It took a long time for them to get our luggage to the room. It was midnight before we got all our stuff. Me (Kathi) and the girls crashed in our clothes. It was too long of a wait for the luggage to worry with pajamas.

Saturday, May 22. We got up early and had the breakfast bar at the White Swan. Talk about good food and choices. It was more food than we ever need to eat a breakfast. Abbey is a great breakfast eater. Well, she is a good eater in general. But she will let you know (without words) when she doesn't want something or when she has had enough. He food utensil of choice: chopsticks. I keep telling her that the spoon is a much better utensil in its design,, but she doesn't believe me. She can manipulate a pair of chopsticks and a bowl and get the job done. It's rather amazing. She also likes to mix up any and all the different food that you give her in the same bowl for shoveling in her mouth. In her unvoiced opinion she likes her food mixed. Watermelon with rice, noodles, meat, cereal, etc.

This morning after breakfast we walked to the medical clinic on Shamian Island to get the children's medical examinations to get their visas. The people whose immigration documents were from before the new immigration Hague rules didn't have to get shots for their kids but us immigration Hague (new rules) had to get shots. Abbey had to get three shots. One of the other kids in our group had to get 7 shots! They broke them up into 2 days 48 hours apart. Still not good. We tried to talk them out of the Chicken Pox shot for Abbey because her foster mother told us that she already had the Chicken Pox but they looked her over and didn't see any pox marks so they said she had to have the shot. We tried. Abbey also had to have a TB test. They will read the results in 2 days. These new immigrations rules are rough on the kids. Especially those that are already ill, like Abbey. She is doing better with her bronchitis, but she is still congested. I sure hope they go back to just letting parents get their kids immunizations when they get back to the USA.

One of the doctors that looked in Abbey's mouth said that she still had a small hole in the front of the roof of her mouth. We also got to look at her two front teeth. Oh my, the two top center teeth look horrible. They look rotten. In the pictures we have of her before her lip surgery her two center top teeth are in and they look great. We don't know what happened to these teeth to make them look so bad. At least she has another chance with her permanent teeth, we guess. We already have an appointment with her pediatrician when we get home and a week after that we have an appointment with the pediatric plastic surgeon. We will see what they say. One of the documents for Abbey said she weighs 10 kg. That's 22 pounds. She is very little. She wears about 18 month clothing. Some stuff she can wear 24 month size.

She has an extremely little tushie like Meigan.

After the medical appointment we went to Lucy's for lunch. They have American cuisine. It was great to get a grilled cheese and French fries. We are noodled and riced out! But Abbey likes her Asian food, particularly rice and noodles.

After lunch we came back to the room to collect some laundry to take to one of the Chinese shops for them to do our laundry. David left Abbey and Meigan with me to take the laundry. As soon as he left and closed the door behind him she plastered herself up against the door and started wailing. It was rather pitiful. After a few minutes of that I tried to bribe her with some snacks. She actually took to me. It was quite surprising. We played a little bit. She let me hold her and we laughed and had a good time. The White Swan gives out a blonde Barbie holding an Asian baby in a clear box. Abbey and I were looking at the Barbie and I pointed to Barbie and said "momma" and pointed to the Asian baby and said "Wenwen". Abbey copied me and pointed to the Barbie and the baby and called them momma and Wenwen. I then pointed out that Barbie has blue eyes and momma has blue eyes. Abbey then pointed to my eyes and said her first English word "eye". I was impressed. I guess her real first English word doesn't count since "mama" is the same in English and Chinese. She seems to understand things we say in English but David will also talk to her in Chinese. My guess is that is why she feels more comfortable with him.

Sunday, May 23rd. We slept in this morning. I woke up a bit before 7 this morning. We could have gone on the tour of the Oldest Buddhist temple, Chen House, Arts and Crafts shopping center, but we did all that last time we were here. After eating way too much breakfast again, we walked around the White Swan. We went and checked out the two pools. One of them is really beautiful. The surrounding shade trees and waterfall is really nice. We met up with another family, Carmen and Dale and their three kids and decided we would meet back there to go swimming. The kids had a great time! The pool water was a little cool, but not too bad. After swimming we dried off, changed and went to Lucy's for lunch. Another good meal and Tsingtao (spelled right?) beer hit the spot. It's not too hot today. The weather is just perfect. After lunch we walked through the beautiful park on the island and then did a bit of shopping at Jordan's little shop. He remembered David from 3 years ago. He said he remembered the moustache. He is very persdonable. He will write your new child's name in Chinese calligraphy and it's meaning for no money (of course in hopes of getting you to buy something from his store). Works for me. He also doesn't hover over you like they do in some of the other stores. It's nice to have help but to have someone following you around the whole time can be somewhat annoying. Meigan and I went to another store (Abbey needed a nap so David and her went back to the hotel) after Jordan's and the lady there was nice but she hovered. But she also gave me a good deal on some merchandise, She discounted it before I could ask her .

Today, I was basically back to being chopped liver. Abbey still doesn't like me all that much. She lets me do stuff for her but doesn't really want me to pick her up. After Meigan and I got back to the room Abbey was asleep. So David took the chance and went to the gym at the hotel and worked out. Abbey woke up

and was not happy to find Daddy not there. She let me hold her for a few minutes, but it didn't make her feel any better. When she really started to wake all the way up she got off my lap and shook her head "no" when I motioned for her to come and sit with me. David went to pick up the laundry and she threw such a fit that he took her with him. But, when he got back with supper she let me pick her up and she sat in my lap to eat. But, she sat there with an extremely forlorn, flat expression on her face. When I changed her diaper later she put up a bit of a fuss that Daddy wasn't doing it. She's getting better, but I'm still chopped liver. David is dreading the 14 hour flight home. I'm not. Movies for me. Baby tending for him. Sounds like a deal to me. Well, I'd better get to bed. Hasta La Vista from China (can't spell Bye in Chinese). Tomorrow we get Abbey's TB test read and we go to the Pearl Market. GG, if you're reading this, email me, I can get you some pearls, just tell me what you want.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GOTTCHA DAY and more

Still playing catch up on our posts. Today we realized that we forgot to post our trip to the Jade Factory. We bought some jade. I got a beautiful blue jade ring, among other things. We forgot that we went to the jade factory before we climbed the Great Wall. It was amazing to see the different types of jade and learn about them.

Our guide in Beijing was George. He was great! We liked him a lot. He's got a great personality.

After the 2 days of sightseeing around Beijing it was time to fly to Zhengzhou to get Abbey. On May 16th in the morning we went to the airport. We flew Air China (or China Air) to Zhengzhou. It was a cramped ride. Fortunately it was only about 1:45 minutes long. It was a rather smooth flight.

We arrived at the airport and our group was met by our new guides Yisha and Rita. They were very helpful and we got on a bus and went to the Crown Plaza Hotel. The hotel is very beautiful. Our room is twice as big as the one at the Holiday Inn in Beijing and very nice. Although not as many English TV channels as in Beijing. Not that we have had much time to watch television. Nice to have the illusion of being in the US by hearing English on TV.

When we first got to the hotel one person from each family went with our guide, Yisha, to the bank to exchange money for all the business transactions that were upcoming. After that we ate at the Italian restaurant inside the hotel. It was pretty good. We ate with most of the rest of the group. It was fun. Good food and good company. There was excitement in the air. The next day was going to be Gotcha Day.


We got on the bus around 9:30 on Monday morning (May 17, 2010). We rode to the provincial registration office. It was a nice day. The weather was perfect. We arrived and unloaded the bus. Went into the building and some of the babies had already arrived. A few families were handed their child as they walked in the door. We had to wait a bit for Abbey. She came about 10 or so minutes after we got there. We had some time first to take pictures and video of some of the other families getting their babies.

When Abbey got there she was delivered by (surprise!) her foster mother. I had thought that maybe she was in foster care, but when I asked they would not tell me. Whenever I saw pictures of children from Luoyang, they all had shaved heads. Abbey has a major head of hair (down to her shoulder blades in the back). We met her foster mother who could not have been sweeter. She had been caring for Abbey since she was 8 months old. Her name is Tina (the lady in the picture we posted with the white shirt on, holding Abbey). Abbey had been under the care of Amazing Hands (a Christian charity) in Beijing since she was 8 months old. She may have lived at the orphanage for awhile. It's hard to tell. Our paperwork shows she was abandoned at 11 months old in Luoyang. What's the real story? Probably will never know. But it's so wonderful that she was in the care of Amazing Hands in Beijing. Sure would have been nice to know that she was living in Beijing when we were in Beijing. Maybe we could have gone to see where she was living. Abbey and her foster mother and another little boy being adopted by a family in our group took a 6 hour train ride to meet us in Zhengzhou.

I was so shocked that she was in foster care that when her foster mother asked me if I had any questions I drew a total blank. Tina told us that Abbey was not potty trained at all, diapers always. That was good to know. Fortunately our guides had given a questionnaire to each caregiver to answer about each child. They asked some good questions. We also had the opportunity to ask more questions if we had them once we reviewed the answers to the questionnaire. When the foster mother came with Abbey we found out that they were calling her "Wen Wen". She came with a bag of stuff for Abbey. The most special thing (other than Abbey) that they gave us was a book she had prepared for Abbey. It was a book with pictures about her life in Beijing. We got pictures of her with a cupcake in front of her celebrating her first birthday and her second birthday! Is that as good as it can get (in this situation) or what?! I'm so shocked and elated that we have pictures of her life there with descriptions of people and little friends. We also got pictures of her at a much younger age before her lip was repaired. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that Abbey has this little piece of her life to look back on in the future. What a wonderful gift!

Now, you are probably wondering how the gotcha thing went. It was interesting to say the least. The foster mother cut it short and took off, knowing that Abbey wasn't going to like it. She was absolutely right. Abbey was not a happy camper when she realized Tina was gone. She started crying. She started heading for the door. The doors were wide open and she walked on out. I tried to hold her back but she kept fighting me. I tried to pick her up and carry her back in but she wriggled so much that I almost dropped her. David was busy doing some paperwork, so he was not there to help me. Finally she walked outside and stood on the stoop and was very sad, crying. An older Chinese man was there with one of the other foster mothers and he picked up Abbey and sat her on his lap. She was perfectly fine with him (she may have known him). She sat in his lap for awhile and he spoke to her and she was calm. Finally he had to leave and David was there by then. David picked her up and she did not fight him. Now she is a Daddy's girl. She doesn't want anything to do with me. Today (Wednesday May 19) David was telling her (in Chinese), after she had let me put up her hair, that Momma was good, that I was a good Momma. Wen Wen shook her head "NO". How's that for putting me in my place. I know she will get over it (she might want to, LOL) but it doesn't make me feel very good about myself right now. On the upside, I'm on vacation, giving childcare tips to David as he takes care of his little girl. She is warming up to me slightly (and I mean slightly). But we have a long ways to go. David walked away from me in the Chinese equivalent of Walmart (Lotus Center) to find something and Abbey started screaming. Fortunately I didn't get arrested for being her mother. LOL May as well laugh, crying won't do me any good. Yisha told us that these children will choose one parent and not want the other one. About half of the kids in this group are daddy's girls.

After we got our kids we met later in the day to go with the group to the Lotus Center (a somewhat Walmart like store) to get things we needed for the children. It was three stories tall and had a moving ramp between floors to carry people to each floor. The grooves on the moving ramps and the grooves on the wheels on the shopping carts caught each other while on these ramps so that the shopping cart was secure going up the ramp. It was some good technology. We were impressed.

On the way to the Lotus Center we passed a bank with an armed guard outside. He was standing there guarding the bank with a big gun that looked like a machine gun. I don't believe anyone will be robbing that bank, unless they are feeling suicidal.

One thing about stores in China. Merchandise of the same type is displayed together like in the USA but other things of the same category might be somewhere else. It was very hard to find many things because there appeared to be little rhyme or reason behind where things were located.

Meigan had to go to the bathroom while we were there at the Lotus Center. She, so far, has refused to use a squatty potty (a basic toilet seat mounted on the floor). We have so far used western toilets (many of which are easily located by finding the handicap sign on the door of such potty). This only western toilet was without a seat and was filthy. There also was about an inch or two of standing water on the floor around the potty (I sure hope it was water, trying not to think about it). I told Meigan to bend like a sitting position and I would just hold her over the potty. She refused to use it. She said it was too gross. I was getting grossed out by whatever I was standing in. Meigan decided to hold it until we got back to the hotel. She held it great. I sprayed our shoes with Lysol when we got back to the hotel.

May 18, 2010

Today is the day we finalize our adoption of Abbey. The last 24 hours have been the "Harmonious Period". It hasn't been that harmonious for me, but David and Abbey are doing great. Today we went to the registration office to get our Adoption certificate and then on to the Notary office to finish up the paperwork. Everything was going well until we got to the Notary office . They informed us on the bus that we had to walk up 6 stories to get to the office (no elevator). I told Meigan that she was going to have to walk at least most of the way. She was tired that morning and was not happy to have to walk. She fussed outside of the building so I carried her up all the steps and set her down. She started to throw a fit. I really don't know what the fit was all about but it was one of her long ones. I asked her to stop and she was too into it so I took her out of the office and put her in timeout on the steps. The whole place echoed so her cries were 10 times worse sounding. We had papers to fill out and no one could hear the directions on how to do it. David tried to fill out the papers on a chair in front of him. Then he tried to move to the table after I was out in the hall with Meigan. Somehow when he went to fold up the chair to get it out of his way it fell and hit Abbey in the lip. She was okay, but not very happy for a few minutes. Meigan was still screaming in the hallway (remember the echo factor). I came back in the room because we needed to do the paperwork and Rita, one of our guides, went to close the door so everyone could hear. The chair I was sitting in was in the way of the door so I moved it. As Rita was trying to close the door and I was trying to move the chair, I got my fingers jammed between the door and the chair. Bruised two of my fingertips. It was just a case of nothing going right. But absolutely at the wrong time. Meigan eventually quieted down and we got the paperwork done. But it was not a pleasant experience.

May 19, 2010

Today is our wedding Anniversary! 20 years of wedded bliss! Okay, maybe not all the time.

Anyway, Abbey hasn't been feeling very good. She had a runny nose when we got her and she started yesterday with a dry cough. Today she is more congested and doesn't feel good. Some of the other kids in our group don't feel well today either, they went to the doctor too. We asked our guide if we could see the doctor at the hotel. The doctor didn't speak English so our guide met us there this morning and translated for us. The doctor checked out Abbey and said she has bronchitis. Ironic, Meigan had bronchitis when we got her. One of the other families in our group had some antibiotics and gave them to us for Abbey. The doctor could have written us a prescription for Chinese antibiotics or something like it but we preferred good 'ol American drugs. That was so nice of Martin and Heather to give those to us!

Today we went shopping for just a little bit to try and find some clothes, shoes, and hair rubber bands to get Abbey's hair out of her face. Her hair grows towards her face and is very fine. She had some stray hairs hanging straight into her face. I trimmed up her bangs and made her more comfortable. Still no brownie points. This gal is a tough sell. Abbey got her first pair of squeaky sandal shoes. She loved them! Squeaking whenever she walked intrigued her.

Abbey's personality hasn't really come out yet. At least not for the most part. She is still rather reserved with us. David knowing some Chinese has helped her to feel more comfortable. One thing Abbey has down is whatever the phrase is in Chinese for "I want" When we have gone shopping she will find something she wants and say "I want" in Chinese. She understands us for the most part and follows commands in English and Chinese. She also feeds herself like a champ. David fed her in his lap for the first few days but last night at supper she took over. She doesn't mind David feeding her, but if he is a little slow she takes over.. She puts whatever she wants in a bowl and shovels it out with two chopsticks. She doesn't like using a spoon. She puts it aside. We have showed her how the spoon works but she takes it from us and sets it aside and goes back to the chopsticks. I just don't understand, if you clearly have a better product (a spoon) why not use it. Why struggle with two sticks to pick up something? I guess I won't get that one, ever. Oh well. Abbey is helpful with things. She will pick something up and give it to us. Or get something out of the way. She seems developmentally on target for her age. She has let us look inside her mouth. Her palate looks pretty good to us. Can't really see her top teeth very well. Her top lip is so tight over them. There are teeth there.

Today was our chance to go to the orphanage. We didn't go. We have three families with children from Luoyang. One family didn't want to go. One child was sick and ours is sick too. Our guide said that we wouldn't be able to go in the orphanage, just take pictures outside. She also said we probably would not be able to take pictures of her finding site because it's in a hospital. With all that against us, we reluctantly decided not to make the 3 hour trip (one way) and the 1,500 RMB to pay for the trip since we wouldn't be dividing the cost. In addition, Abbey probably didn't spend that much time there anyway since she was in foster care. So for all the families that I told I would try and get pictures of their children if we went, I'm sorry.

Tomorrow (May 20th) we are going to a Museum here in Zhengzhou. Don't really know what is there but we will find out. Also, tomorrow we get Abbey's passport. Friday we fly to Guangzhou and start the process to get Abbey's visa so she can come home! Hope she likes me by the time we get home! I rattled on long enough. I'll post again soon.

Abbey Snoozing & Zhengzhou guides


Girls & Dad & Girls in room


Intro to Qing Wen & China man helps us