Monday, February 27, 2006
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This is our last full day in Guangzhou....
Our trip is definitely winding down and all of us are ready to go home. Hotel living is great, but I am ready for my soft bed that actually has more than just a fitted sheet and a down comforter. The good thing is we have been so tired here that the bed never stopped me from sleeping, but others were not so lucky.
The above pictures were from a few days ago. We went to what is know as the 6 Banyan Temple. It is a beautiful Budist temple just tucked into a crowded and busy street. You wouldn't know the beauty inside from the curb. The carvings and budist statues were amazing, and many locals came with incense and offerings while we were there. The last photo is when we got a blessing for Gwynn by a budist monk. Brad said that he stood as far back as possible just incase the lightning struck, hee hee. I thought it was a wonderful experience and wouldn't have missed it.
Brad got the opportunity to climb the pagoda and take pictures from the top. There was no way to carry a baby up, so I was left to watch Gwynn and the stuff. When Brad came down he was hunched over and totally red in the face. I guess it was really hot and very difficult to climb down. He said I was an easy climb up but that he had to almost squat down to get through the door ways on the way down.
Gwynn has been an amazing gal. She is still very reserved when we are out in public but is all smiles and coo's when we get her back to the hotel. Yesterday I had to take a special trip to the American Consulate with our guide Michelle. I had spelled Gwynn's Chinese name wrong on one of the papers (really, I can't spell in English so what do they expect) so I had to stand in front of the consular and sign something saying I am not totally incompetent, hee hee. On the trip I got to talk to our guide a lot about China and her life. She told me that Gwynn was her favorite out of our group, I am sure she says that to everybody but, she said that she has a very classically Chinese disposition and is the standard for beauty in China. Of course I am just gushing over this and I think that Michelle just doubled her tip, but I do totally agree with her. Not only does Gwynn look Chinese but I think she will always carry more that that with her, no matter how American she gets. She is an absolutely stunning baby. I just can't wait for you all to meet her.
Ok, I keep hearing that her stats never came through so here we go again. She is 17.3 pounds, maybe more since we got her. She totally has a buda belly and her butt just keeps on going, adorable. She fits perfectly into GYMBOREE 6-12 month clothes, hint hint. She is already bow trained, and loves shoes. Good thing because I bought just about every color and size of squeaky shoes while I was here (don't worry, you can remove the squeak) She is 69 1/2 cm long and her head is 16 1/5 inches around. Otherwise know as totally perfect. Her runny nose and cough has almost gone away completely, and the rash she developed on her face is just a few little bumps now.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Ok, I wont keep you in suspense any more..........
Caroly Kester, Jennifer Taylor and I went to a "sauna" and got massages yesterday. We left the men at the hotel with the girls and went to check out this place Jennifer had heard of from someone. I was a little leary but the prices were great, 208 rmb for a one hour massage, that is the equivalent of about $35 US dollars. Nobody there spoke English, except one of the guys that gave us a 30 minute foot massage for $5. So, it was an interesting game of charades. We were escorted to a locker room and instructed to shower and put on these lovely blue outfits along with some disposable underwear, high fashion I must say. The attendant stayed in the room with us the whole time we were undressing and of course we were laughing our butts off. We then were taken to a big room with about 100 soft chairs and given a foot massage that we didn't ask for. After they were done the one who spoke English asked if we wanted a girl or a boy to do the Body Massage. We promptly said a very ugly girl, hee hee. We were again escorted to a group massage room and three VERY PRETTY GIRLS were waiting for us. They had hot pink terry cloth dressed on that didn't cover there butts, and they were very attractive. They didn't speak a lick of English and I am sure they were talking about us just as much as we were talking about them. At this point our suspicions were confirmed that any of us could have a "happy ending" if we had the money. Boy did those girls know how to give a good massage, worth every yuen!!! We all decided that they boys were not allowed to come back here, but that we might try to squeeze a few more foot massages into our schedule before we leave.
Sorry boys, I didn't get any pictures of the ladies, but they weren't too happy about the camera in there, hee hee.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Quing Ping Market
Yesterday we ventured out and took a walk "off island". We had to walk past the Quing Ping Spice market to get back to the shopping mall are we had been one of the first days her in Guangzhou. It was incredible. They sold bags and bags of totally unidentifiable spices and dried almost everything. We saw dried sea horses, tons of mushrooms and even a few ladies who didn't want there picture taken selling what looked like tiger paws. I was just soaking it all up. The farther down the street you got the market changes into an area where they sold fish out of clear plastic boxes with aerators and every plant and fish food there was. Then we saw birds, bunnies, guinepigs and cats. Finally we got to the puppy dogs. There was the cutest Sharpei puppy with about a million wrinkles.
Life here in China is so different it would be hard for me to try to describe it. Every building that isn't brand new is desperately in need of paint and there is laundry hanging from every window. Our guide Michel told us that the newest house hold appliance is a washing machine that you hook up to your kitchen sink. I am appreciating the easy life more and more.
Sorry for the quick post and we were having some technical difficulties yesterday and couldn't get on the blog. I will try to get some more pictures from the 6 banyan temple that we went to today. But alas, my Chinese massage is calling, so I must go.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Orphanage visit today
Today was a very emotional day for me. We loaded up in a van and drove the three hours south west to get to Yang Jiang city. We pulled to the side of the road where we met up with the high heal wearing, scooter driving director of our orphanage. We had seen her at both the gotcha day and also the day after when we finalized our adoption at the civil affairs office. It was totally different seeing her in the city. When I say city, I mean it. It was a big town. Everybody was on scooters and there were a ton of tall buildings. Not at all what I expected. You could see where there were very wealthy neighborhoods and where it was downtrodden in the neighborhood where the orphanage was.
We followed the director to the Social Welfare Institute, called this because it is also a home for the elderly, not just children. We were told before we left that we wouldn’t be let into the building. We were able to walk past the building into the back. There was a set of stairs that was over hung with bougainvillea. We ended up in a big stone patio area. It had a basketball court and a cement gazebo type structure. When we walked up the stairs we could hear babies crying and see some of the older residence sitting just inside the gate. When we got to the patio, we could see a few nannies and babies from the bared windows on the forth floor. A woman I met on the yahoo group for our orphanage had asked me to get pictures for her of her daughter she is waiting to pick up. I asked the director if we could see her and a nanny brought her out. The nanny held Gywnn while we held her baby and took pictures. I ended up taking Gwynn back from the nanny and she left, only to find out that she was Gwynn’s care taker. I didn’t even get to say thank you to her, but I did get some photos of her when she was holding the other baby.
After about 15 minutes it was time to see the finding spots for all of the girls. Most of the babies were found just steps from the door of the orphanage and one was even found at the steps of the orphanage just two doors down the street. Gwynn’s finding spot was a little further away. We walked down the side road that the orphanage was on and had to cross the very busy main road that ran through town. My life flashed befor my eyes as we played the ultimate game of Frogger!!!! Horns were blasting, scooters were racing by. At one point I was stuck in the middle of the street squeezing my eyes closed praying just to see myself on the other side of the road.. They pointed out a white pole in the middle of the street right outside a beauty shop. I totally lost it. I couldn’t help myself and the director had to look away so she wouldn’t cry. I have tears welling up in my eyes just writing about it.
Some people say that they throw there babies away her in China, but it is so much more complicated than that. Gwynn’s mom wrapped her in a towel, in the early hours of the morning put her three day old baby where she knew that she would be found. I can only imagine the tears I shed today were nothing like the ones she has cried for her baby!!!
We went to the last finding place of my friend Carolyn’s baby. They had told her that her daughter was found in the Martyr’s cemetery. She was quite relieved to see that it was more of a shrine, not actually were they burry people. And they have a market in the cemetery.
We made huge scene while we were walking around. In a gate of a house two little girls came running out to see us and seemed almost scared out of there wits. Most people looked at us with confusion, and some didn’t look all that happy to see us Americans with there babies. Most they just looked at us, slacked jawed and curious. One man on a scooter actually stopped while driving by to hold Gwynn’s hand and smile at her. I don’t think many westerners come to there town.
We were treated to lunch by the Orphanage director and had a wonderful real Chinese meal. I got to sit next to the director and ask her questions through our guide. She told me Gwynn was a HUGE baby when she was brought in, almost 9 pounds at 3 days old. Also that she was very sweet and always a good baby. She knew the little things about every girl and it was obvious that she loved them all, and they were very well taken care of. She said that there were 40 babies at the orphanage and 30 nannies. Most girls had there own caretaker. It is no wonder that all these girls are so healthy and right on track developmentally. I can’t explain to you how lucky we are.
We wrapped up the day with the three hour bus ride home, along with a stop at a local store so the bus driver could buy a knife. The area is known for producing quality knives. Given the opportunity to shop, we all jumped off the bus and ran in. I grabbed what I hope to be good sewing scissors; we will see when I get home. (Don’t worry mom, I got a pair for you)
We left at 9 am this morning and returned at 6:30 pm. We are starving and I am emotionally drained. Our take out just arrived and I am ready for this day to be over. It was an amazing experience. Not at all what I thought it would be. I wouldn’t change a minute of this day, and I hope to remember them all.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Well, She's Perfect!!!!!
I didn't need need a medical exam to tell me that. And actually they only speak Chinese so I have no idea what they said, hee hee. I do know that Gwynn is pounds, with all her clothes on. Is 69 cm long and her head is " around. The medical exam day is totally chaotic!!! Everyone crowed into a medical clinic and you have to get three examinations done. So there are no lines and no order you just run around and try to squeeze yourself into see the different doctors in a huge crowd in a very small space. Totally Crazy!!!!!! We had a piece of paperwork we carried around and the doctors wrote down thre exams on it. This doctor told our guide that he had to have Brad sign it because he didn't think I was old enough to be a mother. Hee hee. He obviously saw the gray hair on Brad because he didn't have any problem believing Brad was old enough. See even in China I get carded. Eventually we got our of there and Gwynn was no worse for the wear. We are one step closer to taking our baby home.
tomorrow we take a three hour bus ride to Yang Jiang City to see the orphanage Gwynn spent the last 9 months in. We have been told that it is new and not open all the way to the public. Each group that gets to go gets a little farther in. I am planning on storming the gates, just kidding, I wouldn't want to end up in a Chinese prison, Alex is really missing me.
My mom logged onto the Blog yesterday to show Ethan and he said, Oh yea, I saw that at school. So here is a big thank to all the ladies at Timber Ridge. You have been so good to our family, I know the boys are in great hands while we are away.
Gwynn took a three hour nap this afternoon and now is trying to post to the blog herself. I have forgotten how fast these little hands can move. Oh, and by the way, I am wearing my pearls with my jeans and t shirt, hee hee. Just can't help it.
Friday, February 10, 2006
We did it, we got that smile.
Finally last night we got Gwynn’s shell to crack just ever so slightly. She has been looking at us like we are from outer space and last night after dinner we got her to smile. We have been seeing little grins for a while but this was really a smile. Brad was holding her and they were pretending to “get me” and finally we got a REAL four tooth, disappearing eyes, true grin. When we got back to the hotel I even got her to laugh. I had her on the bed and was play biting her tummy and chest and she loved it. Every day you seen one of the babies getting there personality and the shell shock look leaving there eyes. Some it just took a day and some still have it firmly in place. We are really working on it and I think today will be the day that we finally get to see the real Gwynn. I sure hope so!!!!!!!
Update on the pearl market. Lets just say Brad is very glad that we didn’t take anymore money because I cleaned us out, hee hee. Our guide took us to a six story shopping mall that was just full of rows and rows of stores no bigger than our hotel room (let me tell you right now, NOT BIG!!!!!) hundreds of shops selling beads and pearls. We passed at least 50 pearl shopps before we stopped. It was absolutely a feeding frenzy. Women shopping for pearls and the men getting these glazed looks on their eyes trying to convert the price from Yuan into USD. Personally I think most gave up. You choose a strand of pearls from a bunch of ten or twenty, and then choose a clasp. Right there the women in the shop string them and either single or double knot them for you while you wait. It was totally insane, so much so, that I forgo to take any pictures. And for those of you who know me, I scrapbook and not taking pictures is almost a mortal sin. No worries, don’t tell Brad but us girls are planning a secret trip back. I ended up getting Gwynn as set of white and a set of black fresh water pearls, oh yea, don’t tell her that either so it can be a surprise when I give it to her, hee hee. And I got myself a triple strand of black cultured pearls. I was wondering if it would be too tacky to wear them with my jeans and t-shirt today? But look out Brad we hit the Jade market next week!!!
Brad has found himself some beer drinking buddies, Kevin Kester and Chuck Presswood. They go have happy hour, which is any hour they can drink beer, in the late afternoons and then we meet up with the wives and have dinner. There isn’t really a lot going on around here. We do have a lot of time to kill while we wait between appointment days. Everybody says you are really ready to go way before they let you leave. So those of you planning your adoption trip, add days to the front not the back, you will be just dying!!!
Did I tell you how cheap food is here? We went out to a Tai restaurant and both of us ate for about $8. Two nights ago we went to the Japanese restaurant in the hotel and it was not cheep, probably $50 and we split a meal. The best part of that was the dinner guest we had. Near the end of the meal, we had a roach run across the hibachi. In America that would be enough for everyone to get there meal free and huge apologies, total embarrassment. One of the waitresses just ran over and scooped it up and that was that. I guess when you eat water beetles, what’s the fuss, huh?
Today we have the baby medical exam and visa photos. That will take about 2 hours and we have the rest of the day free. I see more beer in Brads future. Gwynn and I will probably do more shopping. You feel like you are really shopping and you get home and realize you have spent maybe 20 american dollars, just insane!
I am taking orders, so e mail me if you want anything specific.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
extreme Baby Makeover
How cute is she in the morning? I had to take a few pictures of that crazy hair. She sweats buckets at night and when she is drinking her bottle (the bottles are near boiling hot) after rolling around on the bed with daddy, her hair freaks out. But after a little sponge bath, doesn't she look like an angel!!! You can tell by the look on her face that she isn't a morning person, just like her mommy.
Here are some photo's of our shopping trip yesterday. This crazy guy with the chicken was playing some kind of Chinese clarinet type instrument. I got some video of it. He had some kind of boiled peanuts or something that he was selling.
We arrived here in China at the end of the spring festival, or the Chinese New Year Festival, I don't know if they normally have all these lanterns hung, but it was beautiful. I can't wait to get back there and shop outside of that crazy department store.
The last picture is the open square in the front of the market street. There were two McDonald's right across the square from each other.
On another note, we have a funny feeling that we keep seeing the same Chinese people around where ever we go. We have one family that the husband is in Airforce and they totally think they are being followed. I am sure Brad the mechanic isn't quite the security risk that the pilot is. I know for a fact that I saw the same women at the Forbidden city that was sitting in front of my on the plane ride from Beijing to Guangzhou. Ok, I know that I haven't been getting much sleep, I am up every morning by about 4 a.m., but I don't think I have gone totally nuts, yet. We will keep investigating and let you know, hee hee.
Wish me luck at the pearl market today. Or should I say wish Brad luck that I get out of there with any money left, ha ha ha.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
It is really long and pointy. She sticks it out when she is happy. We have seen it a lot today. Every hour has made small changes in her, she is becoming less serious and a lot more comfortable with us. I can only imagine what a crazy woman she will be by the time we get her home. We got instructions from the orphanage director to feed her formula with rice cereal four times a day and NOT to feed her any solid food. We tried to give her cheerio’s and bananas and I swear it seemed like she has never had solid food in her mouth.
We bought her the first pair of Squeaky shoes and I am so tempted to buy Kristine Chu a pair just because she told me not to, hee hee. We go out to a big shopping mall tomorrow and I know we will be doing some serious shopping!!!
Oh yea, I almost forgot. We are official today. This morning we went to the Civil Affairs Office again and filled out the paper work. We promised never to abandon or abuse her and that we were happy with her, so now in the eyes of China she is ours!!!! What a great feeling.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The first picture shows you how cold and snowy it was the day we toured Beijing. I was so happy to see Starbucks, I asked the guide if they could just bring my baby to me there.
The second picture is of the south gate of the Forbidden City. It is where Chairman Maio's picture is hung and is right off Tien an Mien Square.
The last picture is about half way up this section of the Great Wall. The stairs were so steep, about half way up I could feel my heart pounding in my kneecaps.
I am still in shock, but it is true, we have Gwynn, and she is BEAUTIFULL!!!!! We went to the civil affairs office this afternoon in Guangzhou and she was placed in our arms forever at 3 p.m. None of the babies in our group cried at all, and she hasn't shed a tear yet. She is a very sweet and serious baby. She sucks her two middle fingers and makes the cutest babbling noises. We are totally in LOVE!!! Not to mention totall exhausted. She is sleeping soundly, and of course SNORING, she wouldn't be a Jamail if she didnt. It takes so long to upload pictures, I am going to cut my post short so I can add a few and get to bed. She seems to have a cold, and a very wet cough, we are keeping an eye on it and praying that it doesn't get any worse. Let me tell you, she defiantely does not like Robitussing CF, and I just dont' have the heart to hold her down and stuff it in her mouth. Maybe tomorow.
Legend says that if you climb the great wall, you are a hero. Thank goodness it doesn’t say you have to climb the whole thing, hee hee.
Yesterday we took our whirlwind tour of Beijing. Someone said it would snow a little overnight and be clear yesterday. Well, they were a little off. It snowed on us almost all day long. We walked thought Tien an Mein Square thought the south gate into the city. We saw the Moslem that Chairman Maio is laying in state, but were unable to see him. We did stand under the big picture of him that you see in all China video. The Forbidden City was Gorgeous!!! The floors were mostly marble and very slippery; people were falling down left and right. It was snowing so hard that we were too busy looking at where we were stepping to really see the city. My favorite part (next to Starbucks) was the royal garden. I could just imagine it during the spring. They had incredible rock formations and beautiful carved art work on display. I had heard that you see very few little girls when you are out in China, but we found that not to be true. The little girls were everywhere and I just couldn’t stop staring. I want my baby!!!
After they dragged me out of Starbucks, kicking and screaming, we got on a bus and went to tour a Cloisonné (sp) factory and have a traditional Chinese meal. Witch, by the way was delicious. I have to tell you now, a couple here with us went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered a dish that was supposed to be chicken nuggets of some kind. It ended up being fried baby chicks. I am so glad that I brought the peanut butter!!!!!
After lunch we loaded up on the bus again and went to the Great Wall. It was the closest section to the city and VERY steep. The great wall was amazing. They began construction on the wall during the rein of the first emperor. It was constructed to stop the Mongolians from attacking China. The emperor would send out officials to make young men work at the wall and so many died. They said for every kilometer built two men died and were buried under it. The Wall took 2,000 years to complete. Our guide told us that the Chinese people do not like the great wall, but want to visit and climb it to honor all the men who died building it. The section we visited was a portion that was refurbished and the stone blocks had been replaced with concrete. The steps were uneven, ranging from a few inches tall to a few feet tall. Some of the steps were two to three inches warn away from use. The view from the top was breathtaking. I almost bought an “I climbed the Great Wall” T-shirt and now regret that I didn’t.
After all of that you would think that we slept well, not so. We were so excited about Gottcha day we barely slept at all. Again we were up at 4 a.m. Today is going to be a long one. But the one we have been waiting for, for a year. Wish us luck for a peaceful gottcha!!!