Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Scenes from 2 weeks home

Cereal - a typical meal ...

Meeting cousins for the first time.
Exploring the Baltimore Zoo with big bro.

A cold day at the Zoo.

Making new friends in the sandbox.

The playground near our house.

Craft time at home.

Lunch out with Mama ( - highly recommend it!)

Meeting Aunt L.
Three kids is tiring.

What A saw when he woke up this morning.

The Shaolin Temple At Mt Song And What We Saw There

Jan 22, 2013

So we have been home for a little less than two weeks.  There is so much still to report about the trip – I never described our trip to the Shaolin temple (which was amazing).  Our last few days in Beijing got short shrift including our visit to A’s orphanage which was also an amazing experience.  And I never got to share my reflections on the trip – what it brought up for me, how it felt to be traveling with children, what it was like getting to see modern, urban China for the first time. 

The balloon is about to get it.
I can’t seem to dig the pictures up and even if I could I am not sure they would be sufficient, but let me share in brief that Shaolin King Fu is FOR REAL.  When we went to visit Dengfeng outside of Zhengzhou our guide for the day told us his name was Mountain.  I took this as a good omen.  He also told us that the town had 200,000 residents, 100,000 of whom were Kung Fu students many of whom traveled from all over the world to study there.  We were all impressed.  

Photo taken from the internet,
but you get a sense of what we saw.
Despite the kitschy techno-music and flashing lights in the “official government Kung Fu theater,” the actual kung Fu demonstration by the student monks was extremely impressive.  We saw poses and moves with nunchucks and staffs banging against the floor – cool but choreographed nonetheless.  When the monk brought the 2 ft square thin sheet of plate glass out to show the crowd it piqued my interest – what is he gonna do?  Put his head through it?  The monk stood on the edge of the stage and held the glass vertically out in front of him and another monk held an inflated balloon against the glass on one side.  At this time, a third monk produced a 2” sewing needle that he showed and passed to the crowd (I guess to verify that it was real).  The monk with the needle proceeded to throw the needle at the sheet of glass.  The needle bounced off of course.  As it did after the next 3 or more attempts.  Looking discouraged, the needle-throwing monk sat down and another monk stood up, passed around the needle, and when it returned to him, proceeded to prepare himself like a baseball pitcher.  He smoothed the ground with his foot, took deep breaths, wound up and THREW.  And the BALLOON POPPED.  They then passed the plate glass around showing that it had a small dimple where the monk THREW THE NEEDLE THROUGH THE GLASS WITHOUT SHATTERING IT.  I clapped and cheered heartily and made a note to myself to Google this parlor trick as soon as I could get a good internet connection … and I found that THE WHOLE THING WAS REAL.   Some message boards say (how is that for a reference – “Some message boards say …”) it is the same principal as a high heel sinking into soft mud – if something is dense enough, with enough force it can penetrate without causing much disruption.  Of course, the monk holding the balloon could easily just be popping it with a small thumbtack, but there seems to be a general consensus among Kung Fu enthusiasts that this is for real.  And I saw it with my own two eyes and am happy to agree with them. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

A Day at the Great Wall

Once again, our caucasian sons are a hit.  Our oldest continues to be more reticent but C. loves all the attention as you can clearly see! 
Family portrait at the entrance.  We took the cable car up to this point.  It was a beautifully clear day and quite warm.  Once we got moving, we were shedding layers like crazy.
  THIS ONE IS FOR THE BOYS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!!  Westy was at the Great Wall.  He's quite small, but there he is between I. and C.  
Here he is again! 

If we have time, we will try to post more later.  Hope you enjoy the photo updates!  Yesterday we visited the foster care facility where A. has been the past three and one half years and today it's the Forbidden City and an acrobatics show.  Between activities (thankfully paperwork is DONE!) and childcare and self care, we are usually pretty tired at the end of the day. :)  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I wrote this from the Newark airport but it never got published for a number of reasons...So this would have been written on Dec. 21 as we were en route to China.  

We're finally on our way!  It's so hard to believe it's actually happening after all this time.  Oh, the emotions!  My husband said it was like the week I was due before I had the boys- so much excitement and walking around feeling giddy with anticipation.  Of course we are nervous and worried and... half a dozen other emotions, but it's hard to type it all out.  

We left Washington, D.C. this morning at 7  and are now waiting in the Newark airport for our direct flight to Beijing.  It's gonna be a long one- almost fourteen hours but I'm so glad it's direct.  So far the boys have been troopers.  They are getting along famously and entertaining themselves and being generally helpful.  Let's hope this trend continues...oh, for the next 16 days or so!  

Since we got TA earlier this week, I have hardly slept.  Not because I wasn't tired, I was/am actually exhausted!  I have been going non-stop because there is just so much to do!  Oh my.  Wednesday morning just as I was getting the boys on the bus for school and getting ready to get out the door to work, my younger son told me the floor in the foyer was wet and I thought it was just snow tracked in and told him so.  Turns out we had a plumbing leak.  Ugh!  Nothing like water coming through the ceiling when you have a million other things to do.  Then on Thursday night as I was getting ready to go to sleep around 1:30 AM, my oldest son started moaning and then moments later, vomiting.  Yep, tummy bug.  Five minutes later my other son started barfing too.   I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.  Seriously.  Barf everywhere and lots of laundry to do- just what you need when you're trying to pack everyone  up and clean the house for a long trip!  Thankfully my husband was planning to be home and run errands while I finished out the week at work so he stayed home with the kiddos and did a great job cleaning up.  Unfortunately with two sick kids at home, he couldn't do the errands he had planned (I had planned for him!).  So, it was left to me to work, prep my office and paperwork for me to be away for three weeks *and* run a dozen errands.  I got a two hour nap last night before we had to wake up to drive to the airport.  Amazingly I'm not that tired- yet.  I think it's all the adrenaline-HA!  Two more hours and then we're off-for real.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Some more photos- CA and the island

Our consulate appointment (CA) was on Jan. 2.  For those of you who are waiting to travel, the US consulate is a new building and in a new location.  It's a beautiful modern building complex.  Even if you've adopted from China before, chances are that you haven't been to this location.  We went with our guide to the medical clinic and waited in the lobby while she picked up all the necessary documents we would submit to the consulate.  Then we walked half a block to the consulate. When we got there there was a huge line of hundreds of Chinese waiting to apply for a visa.  The line snaked all around the side of the entrance.  Our guide asked people to step aside so that she could snap this picture.  No cell phones or cameras allowed inside, along with the usual liquid ban, big bags etc.  Thank goodness we didn't have to wait in the loooong line.  There is a separate entrance for US citizens affairs and another specifically for adoptions.  Thank goodness! It would not have been a fun wait trying to corral A. on a busy city street where we already stand out! 

 We were first in the adoption line and we were happy to see the CCAI group we met in our hotel in Zhengzhou!  Most of them had the same CA we did and it was nice to see how all the kids were adjusting. (Mostly pretty well :) )  After we were scanned and wanded through security we walked across the outdoor courtyard to the other building and took an elevator up to the second floor.  We got a ticket at window 7 and then waitied.  There was a little play area for the kids with a little tykes house and some IKEA kids chairs and tables and toys.  A. found a crayon in the playhouse which seemed like a supremely bad idea if you could see how much mischief our boy will get up to, so I promptly took it away!  All the families took the oath at the same time (just swearing that all the info. we had submitted up to that point in the process was true and correct to the best of our knowledge.) Then we were called up, each family in order, documents exchanged hands and then we went to the next window to have our virtual "signature" taken by fingerprint.  That was it!  Our guide picked up the visa, passport and Hague info the next day.  

We got to have breakfast with A., just the two of us.  This was nice since our other boys are always with us, also demanding attention.   It wasn't long before he was asking about his geges and turning his eyelids inside out.  I hope that's a trick he soon forgets.   Gege (Guh-guh) is big brother in Chinese, not sure if we mentioned that before.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Well, how he is he? Is he fitting in?"

Everyone wants to know about A: "Well, how he is he?  Is he fitting in?  is he bonding with your family?"  I'll tell you - here is how he is and what he does:

He steals the remote control while his brothers are watching cartoons, turns off the TV, and runs out of the room laughing hysterically.

He taps his brother on his shoulder as if to say "Check this out," puts his head down, and then looks up again laughing hysterically with his eyelids turned inside out just to see his brother freak out (gross) ... 

He eats with gusto and glee each and everything that is not nailed down. He screams at the wait staff for more like a rude dining companion.

He dances gangnam style.  He sings frere jaques.  When he is tired or hungry or in a foul humor he shrieks bloody murder, arches his back in an almost complete C shape, and kicks like Michael Phelps.

When he gets into the car, he shouts in Chinese "Let's go!"  When we leave a hotel room, he says in english "C'mon Mama!"

He loves taking a bath, brushing his teeth, washing his hands.  He folds laundry and doesn't want to go to bed if his big brothers aren't.

He is enjoying looking at pictures of his extended family and is fascinated by his paternal grandparents.  When shown pictures of and had the concept of "aunts/uncles" and "cousins" explained to him he looked thoughtful for a moment and replied in Chinese "Nonsense."

He insisted that J carry him up and down and over the thousands of steps at the Shaolin Temple home of Chinese Buddhism and birthplace of Kung Fu.  When i attempted to make him walk or pass him off to someone else, he practiced his back arch/kicking/screaming maneuver.  I decided to view it as some sort of act of penance to carry this squirming loud child on my shoulders throughout this great religious site.

In short, he plays, he eats, he laughs and cries, he roughhouses with his brothers.  He is our son and brother and cousin and nephew and grandson.  He loves and is loved.

Guangzhou and Shamian Island - waiting for the US Consulate to open after New Year's Day

We are in Guangzhou on Shamain Island - it is the old colonial capital from British Times.  Lots of parks, outdoor waterfront promenades, and beautiful old buildings.  We also found the play room in the hotel:
There is a thing here for taking wedding pictures just for fun even if you are not getting married.  The waterfront is beautiful and there are faux brides and grooms everywhere getting pictures taken.
Lots of historic statues of children that everybody gets their chidren's pictures taken in front of.
This one is for Wholly Terra in Hampden - some inspiration!
And this one is for the up and comer at Hord Copeland Macht!
Watching TV in the hotel with his bros.
At the playground on the waterfront.
The Guangzhou Zoo.
This sweet old lady talked our ear off while we ate lunch at the zoo.  We had no idea what she was saying but neither she nor we cared.  She was really nice.
A red panda!!
C  and A met these new friends at the Shamian Island playground on New Year's morning.  The little girl was excited to practice her English once she warmed up to us and told us she has a grandmother in LA.  The little boy let C ride his skateboard.  C LOVES all the attention he is getting for his cute smile and brown hair and eyes.  He commented tonight that "everybody in China loves me" which seems true so far.  Our oldest - on the other hand - is burned out on the traveling, attention for his blonde hair, and multiple marraige proposals and is spending more and more time with his hood up and face in his kindle.
The sign at a pain clinic in town.
Street vendor cooking quail eggs.
Gege surveying the fresh fish and turtles at the local grocery.
Didi playing badminton (they are wild for it here) in the park
For M + C in Cali - a set of twins!!
And another!!
The old colonial city
A Buddhist monk we happened upon in the city.