Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kiddie Pool

I've been told that spending time in the sunlight helps re-set your body clock, and so Drew and I got the kiddie pool out for Lydia. After the first bath, Lydia decided she LOVES being in the water. Today was no exception - she had a great time!

Friday, August 17, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

And if you're going to China, you might want to click your ruby slippers together while clicking your heels while saying, "There's no place like home," because the flying home can be grueling punishment! I guess it's better than walking and swimming, though.

As always, the travel was an adventure including a lost wheel from the baby stroller, "weather", flight delays, and lost luggage that was returned the next day with wet contents. We're just happy to be home with our little Lydia! She was a trooper through out our journeys.

We had a lovely reception from friends and family at the Little Rock airport even though we were very, very delayed. Lydia went to Drew and just adores him. She thinks he's very funny, and Drew is completely smitten with his little sister.

We've had moments where we felt like we were great and moments when we wondered if we were walking in our sleep. In fact, we had a 2:20pm appointment with a pediatrician yesterday that we overslept for. They were kind enough to take us anyway.

Internationally adopted children are supposed to have tests run within the first 3 weeks of coming to America. Poor Lydia had to give them blood, and poor ME, I had to collect a stool sample this morning. Ewwwwwwww! She's on an antibiotic for a runny nose with cough, and you can imagine this was a particularly ugly and stinky stool with 8 vials to fill, stir, and shake. I felt like I was doing some horrid chemistry lab.

I'll post pictures and fill in some gaps later!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One more thing to do & then we're coming to America

The last thing to check off of the "To Do" list is go to the swearing in ceremony at the US Consulate. Our guide, XiXi, will pick up Lydia's passport, and we'll be off to the airport. Our flight leaves at about 8AM Arkansas time, and we get to LAX at 8PM Arkansas time. Again, I know you wish you could be with us on a plane full of babies for a 12 hour flight, but you'll have to settle for meeting us at the airport at 4:10 PM Arkansas time. This was at the medical exam.

Getting ready for the "Red Couch" photo shoot Lydia's friends, Mattea and Claire are on the right side of the photo. Lydia was quite happy to sit for a photo until everyone else's distress made her wonder if she shouldn't be upset, too.

Our travel group:

Kurt & Michelle's baby

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Catch up post

Friday we did paperwork - even when I'm not working, I have to do paperwork!!! There were only 2 of us who did our paperwork perfectly (a PT - me! and and OT).

Lydia hung out in the room with Dad and played and ate (and BOY, can she eat!)

Friday night/Saturday morning: I broke down and decided to eat a steak off the hotel menu since the buffet was much the same every night. At about 11:45, I began to itch and not feel so good. I took 2 Benadryl and hoped for the best. An hour or so later, I took a 3rd Bendryl. About an hour and a half after that I took a Zyrtec. At about 4:45, I got Gene up to get the epipen. I wasn't sure if I should take it. I mean, I wasn't having trouble breathing but head to toe I was bright red and had huge bumps all over except for a stark white square on my abdomen. In a last ditch effort to avoid waking our guide, delaying everyone's travel, and a trip to the hospital, I used the epipen when I started feeling dizzy. I jerked it out and wondered if I'd gotten anything in of it IN me before I was startled into pulling it out. I immediately started heaving and threw up, and then the itching finally stopped. You could see parts of the rash all the rest of the day, but I was ok.

Saturday: Travel day. I began to understand how the passengers on the Minnow felt when they set out for their 3 hour tour. We were heading to the airport for a 1 hour flight. We got there in plenty of time, and then we waited for hours because our plane had mechanical problems. There were other flights available, but they only had a few seats. Our guide didn't want to break up our group - XiXi is a SMART woman! Lydia was a total wiggle worm at the airport, but after eating an incredible number of HoneyNut O's, she fell asleep in her Daddy's lap. Then she did the cutest thing EVER: sound asleep, she clapped her hands the way she does when we say, "Good girl!" She slept the whole flight: take off, drinks, and landing.

We finally made it to Guangzhou, and it is FANTASTIC. It's humid, but it was a little cooler because a typhoon had blown through somewhere else cooling things off. Our hotel is very nice - the famous 5 star hotel for American adopters in China, the White Swan. Shopping here is sensational. Baby clothes and shoes like you can not imagine await you in just about every little shop.

Sunday: Disney Land claims to be the happiest place on earth, but I disagree. The White Swan has to be the happiest single place on earth. Go to the breakfast buffet and see all the new families - little girls and boys who've gone from being orphans to cherished family members and if your heart doesn't leap with joy, then I think you may need a heart transplant. There are older children being adopted who may have a minor special need (like, hey! you're not a tiny baby anymore) to more noticeable special needs, but they are all joining their new families. It is a beautiful and miraculous sight.

Lydia and Gene went shopping around Shaiman Island while I went to 6 Banyan Temple and climbed the stairs all the way to the top of the 9 story Pagoda. I was soooooo hot!!! Many of the girls received a Budhist monk's blessing.

Then we were off to the Pearl Market where we were able to buy fresh and salt water pearls at whole sale prices. OMGoodness! I could have spent a year's salary there, and I wish I could have bought something for everyone. Next, we crossed the street (and I said an ugly word when I came closer to getting hit by a bus than I've ever come) to the Jade Market. I found a few things I couldn't live without.

When I came back, Gene said he'd shopped until Lydia dropped in her brand new stroller. When she woke up we fed her AGAIN and went to check out more of the shops around the White Swan. Holy Cow, again, I could spend a year's salary buying shoes and clothes, but fortunately, the prices are very cheap. We ate at Lucy's which has American style food, and I can't remember a better tasting cheeseburger.

Tomorrow is the medical exam and the guys are going to the Electronics market. I'm sure I'll have to hit the local shops again.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday-the Embroidery Factory

If you've followed enough adoption blogs, you've read about the embroidery in Changsha. You may even think, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Embroidery." Well, in person, it IS so incredible. Guys, there are enormous pieces which look like photos or paintings right down to texture. There are pieces that have one picture on one side of the silk and a different picture on the other side of the same piece of silk. They don't use knots. Of all the artistry we've seen so far, this is the most amazing. I'm going to include a picture of the dalmatian just because I want my "dog" friends to appreciate how intricate this is. This particular picture is the same on the front and the back.

This picture is HUGE. I think Mao is taller than I am. We purchased one picture and a few boxes with embroidery on them. There used to be 4 different types of embroidery that were from 4 different provinces. Now, only the Hunan style remains.

On a more personal note, Lydia is really warming up to us. She really enjoys walkers, and she can scoot around with pretty impressive speed and control. After her nap, Lydia was able to check out the pool. She warmed up to the experience more than she did to her bath. Since she loves to swing her arms, she managed to do a fair amount of splashing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wednesday - Will the real Lydia please stand up?

Lydia decided that since she appears to be stuck with these two goofy people, she might as well get to know them better. As long as Gene isn't wearing a hat - she prefers Gene to me, but NOT if he's wearing a hat. Oh, and that red bouncy pony in the back? She doesn't trust him, either.

Every night after eating, Lydia get wiggly and silly. She's all smiley and bouncy. Would you believe that the moment you say "good girl!" or begin to sing, "If you're happy and you know it," that she starts to clap? What a cut up!

We tried to go walking outside the hotel yesterday to expose her to a few new things. I don't know that any of us can imagine how her life was turned upside down recently. Before Sunday, she'd hardly ever left the orphanage. If they had the doctors come to the orphanage, she may not have ever left once she arrived there until Sunday. So, a few things have been rather startling. For instance (maybe you can relate to this one) riding an escalator in a shopping cart at a 3 story WalMart was a little scary.

Some new things are really great, apparently. Having someone who will feed you on demand is pretty good. She has the potential to be quite the little empress. She can sit in a high chair and bang the tray, "FEED ME!!!" We were told she simply took what she wanted from the other girls at the orphanage. Having your own toys, toys you don't have to share, is ok with Lydia, too. One of her favorite games is to drop the toy so mom or dad will have to pick it up and give it back to her. She looks like she's saying these are all MINE. Don't touch.

Jiang Yong - Lydia's 1st Home Town

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

China says it's official

After taking a really long nap yesterday, we didn't really expect Lydia to sleep all night, but she did. She didn't wake up angry, she was kicking around in her crib, and then noticed I was watching her. We finished getting ready, then we went down to breakfast. She had rice congee and watermelon. The girl can eat when she's hungry!

Next we went back to the civil affairs office to finalize the Chinese end of the adoption. The director from Lydia's orphanage was there, and BOY was she dressed up. She was wearing a lovely black dress, strappy high heels with rhinestones, and she really looked nice. Lydia was looking very pretty, too, in her outfit that Kim gave her and the shoes Katie F. and Chris C. gave her.

Once we signed papers, put red thumbprints on the signatures and a red footprint from Lydia, we were done. We headed back to the hotel. We were oddly tired and had to nap even though it was probably before noon.

Later, we braved the wildest taxi ride (our driver had wild, spikey hair, was wearing board shorts and flip flops and drove like a wild man) to get to WalMart. I mean it. WalMart is alive and well (although a little different) in China.

Lydia finally took a bottle, and she sucked it down like there would be no tomorrow. She got her first bath, too, but since she didn't seem to be enjoying it and that was freaking Gene out, we didn't take any photos to commemorate the event. Bubbles did help soothe her feelings afterwards, though.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

She's here!

Here's Lydia with a nanny.

Our group met downstairs at 10am, we were at the civil affairs office by 10:30, and by virtue of having the last name starting with "B" we received our baby first. XiXi is soooo funny. She said we didn't pay any extra to get our baby first, it was just the order of the list, and we had the only baby from our orphanage. A lady checked our passports and then Lydia was handed over to us.

She wasn't exactly happy to meet us, but she snuggled right into my shoulder as she cried for just a minute. Any time we handed her back or forth she'd whimper a little, and then she would settle down. She was wearing an adoreable little outfit with ladybugs on it. Even in China they must believe in Cinderella. Lydia lost a shoe as they were handing her over to us. When we put it back on, the other one fell off.

It turns out that the many parents who have adopted before us know what they are talking about: she likes Cheerios and stacking cups. I think she really enjoys all sorts of toys, though, because she played with a few of the other toys we brought.

Our little angel (who may wake up to be a bit less angelic) is sleeping right now.


I forgot to mention one of the best parts of yesterday: we were reunited with our lost piece of luggage!!! There's supposed to be a picture of it posted above. I hope it was.

We're on the part of the count down where we are at hours instead of years, months, weeks, or days!!! I can't tell if my stomach is a bit upset still from the other day (I don't think I've completely recovered from that spicy Hunan food) or if it's just excitment.

Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat!!!!

One more day!!!

Li River fisherman on bamboo raft

We'll be meeting Lydia tomorrow!

Today we took a 12 hour train ride in a soft sleeper car from Guilin to Changsha. 12 hours is a long time to do just about anything, but we had good company and decent air conditioning. It's a pretty good way to see a lot of China in one day. What I don't recommend is squatty potty use on a moving train. The problem is that they lock the bathroom while stopped at a station.

Yesterday we visited Jiang Yong, the town where Lydia lives. We met the orphanage director and the assistant director of the Civil Affairs Office. We had lunch at the only local restaurant with an air conditioned room. It was nice to see where Lydia has spent most of her first year. Because we believe Lydia will want to know where she lived and what it was like when she lived there, we thought it was important to make the trip. Lydia's orphanage director said she is quite naughty and had a spicy temper. Later, the spicy food had a rather undesirable effect on my digestive system. I'll have to add pics later since Gene hasn't added them to the computer.

If you've ever wondered if the pictures of China were old or staged when you see people plowing with a water buffalo, or wearing the pointed hats, the answer is that they still do things in the traditional way. We've not seen anyone using a small tractor or much of anything mechanical except a tiller and a rice husker (dethatcher?).

Friday we floated down the Li River. The scenery was really great, but one of the best parts was meeting a speech therapist and her engineer husband who were both from England. They were interesting travel companions on the long float - great conversationalists! I hope they'll read the blog or email me to keep in touch.

We spent the night in Yang Shou. Yang Shou is FUN! It's a lot like Mexico in that there were stalls and shops with vendors everywhere. You're expected to bargain for everything, and Gene is pretty firm in what he decides he'll pay for something.

We had dinner with the Oetjen family: wood fired pizza, fairly cold coke, and later an ice cream bar. Finally, we went to the local show. You would NEVER believe the scale of what they accomplish in that little river town. The director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon helped create it (he's also doing the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics), and it is really spectacular. If you're ever in Yang Shou and it isn't raining, you should go. It's held once or twice a night.

Ok, hopefully lots more great stuff to report tomorrow! If you're from Fellowship or really anywhere and want to pray for Lydia and us, we'd appreciate your prayers. Her whole life will be changed tomorrow, and we pray that God will show us the best way to help her through those changes, that she will be healthy, and that we will be equal to the task of being good, loving parents to her.

Good night!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Guilin

Well, I'm trying to post pictures, but I have no idea whatsoever if they're going through. Fairly frustrating. If you're reading the blog and wondering whether to do Blogspot or one of those adoption websites for pay, I say pay for it. I'm now wishing I had. If someone reading the blog can email me to tell me if there is a picture with this post, I'd very much appreciate it.

We went to Elephant Hill today then to SEVEN Stars Park (I short changed them earlier). There's another hill there that looks like a camel. I used a squat pot for the first time today. Gene and I ventured off on our own to the local department store - the procedure for making purchases is quite different from buying things at walmart. Tomorrow is the Li River cruise, and then we head to Jiang Yong the next day. Sunday is the train ride to ChangSha, and Monday is the day we meet Lydia!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Made it to Guilin!

Wow! We were up so early this morning to fly to Guilin, and the flight wasn't very fun. It's all good now, though because we're in the Bravo Hotel which is really nice.
If you ever get to come to China, go to Beijing and get Joe to be your guide there. Xixi is great, too, she's a native of Guilin. Her English is very good, and she has the nicest smile.

I'll try to update again when we've been out to see Elephant Hill, Five Star Park, and the pandas and tigers. I'm hoping to avoid the cobras, though...
We can't read the comments on blogspot so email me if you have a question!

No pics for now, but here's what's happening

We've had the most incredible time, but our internet access has been pitiful in spite of the incredibly high price we're paying for it. Gene deleted all the pictures on the camera for today when I was trying to copy them. So if you want to see the Jade factory, the Great Wall, the cloisonne factory, or the Summer Palace, you'll have to go to China and see them yourself.

Yesterday was fantastic. We went to the Forbidden City, we toured a very old neighborhood and had lunch at a family's home. Then we went on a rickshaw ride that would have topped most amusement park attractions for thrills. Traffic in China is anything but boring. The food has been so fantastic! The Chinese Acrobats are phenominal. I've learned that not all tea is icky. It turns out I like hot oolong tea way more than I ever liked iced tea...

My friends I've made over the years because of the dogs will have to ask me about the cocker spaniel we saw today. It would be great if I still had the picture, but I'll tell you all about it if you call when I get home.

Hopefully, I'll have more time to post and better access tomorrow pm. We fly out to Guilin tomorrow. I've been thinking about my friends from work, play, and church. I'm praying for a dear lady who fell and broke 3 vertebrae. I hope you'll pray for her, too.

We meet Lydia in 4 days!!!