Wednesday, June 30, 2010

next stop Hong Kong, then home!

We're packed and almost ready for bed.  Got to have our bags packed and ready to go by 6 am and also ready to go to breakfast by then.  Then we'll check out and be ready to head out by 7 am.  I guess it takes about an hour to get to the train station.  I think our train leaves for Hong Kong at 9 am.  There will be at least one other family traveling with us if not two.  The train ride will be a couple of hours.  Not sure what we'll do in Hong Kong.  We may venture out or just relax in our room -- I guess we'll see when tomorrow comes.  I think we fly out of Hong Kong on Friday at around 9 am. 
The families that we are with have also expressed they are ready to go home.  Praying for a safe trip home for us all.  We came here as couples or smaller families and are leaving with new additions and changes to our lives and our little ones' lives forever.  We've made some new friendships, people we would've never met had we not come to China.  All of this has been an experience we will never forget -- the journey to our daughter Marisa, a dream finally come true. Who knows what else God has in store for us. 
Thanks to all our families and friends for all the support and prayers.  See you soon!  We love you all!   

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last day in Guangzhou

Well, today is our last day in Guangzhou.  It was a nice day again today.  Well, I guess it's sunny is what I mean by nice.  It's very humid but it was nicer to walk around the island when it's not raining.  We stopped in a few shops today but things tend to be made cheaply and in some places things are kind of dirty and you can tell they have had some of the things in their shop for a long time.  So we didn't purchase a whole lot of things.  After breakfast we walked around the island for awhile and got some lunch and then came back to the hotel.  We put Marisa down for a nap and she slept for a couple of hours.  We've had to wake her up from her naps because she sleeps so long.  I don't know how long she'd sleep if we'd let her.  We packed as much as we could while she was sleeping.  I just didn't want to be up late packing things.  I don't know how early we'll have to be ready tomorrow morning.  And I don't know how long it takes to get to the train station. 
After we got Marisa up, Ron held her for awhile and then she wanted to come to me and wanted me to hold her for awhile.  That hasn't really happened  before and was nice that she wanted that.  When we give her kisses she doesn't always pull away anymore.  She kind of acts like she doesn't like it but smiles and laughs when we do it.   Just a little bit ago Marisa and I were playing with some stickers.  I'd pull them off the sheet and she'd put them on her coloring book.  Then she found her crayons and was coloring a little.  Now she is taking her crayons out of the box and putting them back in.  I don't know how long she could do that but it seems for a while.  It's so fun to watch her.  She's also been looking at the pictures we brought of her grandpas and grandmas, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins.  There are some pictures of herself too, that she likes looking at.
So this is our last night in Guangzhou and tomorrow we'll head for Hong Kong and spend the day and night there.  We'll be leaving Hong Kong on Friday morning (Thursday night for those of you at home).  We're ready.  We hope Marisa is too.  Depending on what kind of fees the Hong Kong hotel charges for internet service we may not connect.  So if you don't hear from us tomorrow, I'll try to post soon after we get home.  I wonder how the jet lag will be.  It didn't seem that bad once we got here but don't know how it will be going back home. Please pray for a safe trip to Hong Kong and safe trip home to the States.  Also, pray for Marisa to do well on the long flight.
Thanks for following our journey and we hope to see you soon!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

finishing another day

I had posted earlier today, but since everyone else is in bed now I thought I'd post a few thoughts from the day.  It's interesting how early I feel like going to bed since I've been here.  Ron and I are both usually tired by the time we put Marisa down at about 8 pm and then we're ready to go to sleep soon after.  I guess when we're at home there's always more to do but here there's nothing so I just go to bed.
We went to the American Consulate this afternoon to take an oath on behalf of our adopted children that the information that was given to immigration was accurate and true to the best of our knowledge.  There was a room full of parents with the children they had adopted.  It didn't take very long but long enough when you have small children.
Marisa had been able to take a nap so I suppose that helped some.  After we got back to the hotel we made dinner plans.  Ron and I decided to go with a Papa John's pizza but since Marisa can't have that we had to get some rice and broccoli for her.  It's pretty sad to see your child get excited when her daddy walks into the room with a bag and she knows it's dinner!  Soon we'll be home and that will change. 
Marisa is such a little character.  She can find small things to amuse herself with.  She discovered the signs you hang on the door knob outside your door -- Do Not Disturb and Please Make Up Room.  So she was playing with those and I was showing her how she could hang it over the door knob.  She loves to tear paper and she can do that for a long time.  She will tear it into such tiny little pieces and then she wants to put them in our hand.  She was pushing her stroller around the little that she could here in the hotel room.  I put her stuffed animals in it so she could push those around.  She put a bag on top of them, I don't know if it was supposed to be like a blanket or what.  Then I was writing out our email address on small paper so we could give them to the others in our group, and she comes to me with a card I had given her and she would point to different places on the card and want me to write on it.  Later this evening she got my shoes and put them on and was trying to walk around in them.  When she takes her shoes off, she will put them by our shoes.  It's just so fun to watch her play because she can come up with things on her own so easily.  And she is just so curious about stuff that that makes it fun to watch her as well.
Tonight we had a hard time getting her to sleep.  Last night we had some trouble but tonight was the worst it's been since she's been with us.  She just cried and cried and tries to find an excuse for us to get her out of bed, like she'll say she has to go to the potty when she just went.  It's really hard to hear her cry so hard and not know what to do for her.  I did hold her for a while and her crying subsided some but when I put her back in her crib it started again.  I think she didn't want to go to sleep.  I don't know what she's thinking and if this is part of her grieving?  I just hope she can get past it soon because it is so hard to see her cry like that and not be able to comfort her.  She did finally fall asleep but she probably spent over a half hour crying.
Well, tomorrow is our last full day here.  We may go to some of the other little shops nearby.  Maybe it will be a nice day again tomorrow.  I will also need to spend some time packing so that we can be ready bright and early on Thursday morning to head to the train station. 
Good night but I guess for those of you back home it's Good Morning! 

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Marisa playing

We were in the playroom at the hotel last night and she found this doodle bug thing.  She was really concentrating on her writing and had to get a real close look.  She tends to make dots rather than scribble.  Not sure what's up with that. :) 

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some more pictures

She loves wearing daddy's hat.  Why doesn't she like wearing the hat I have for her?
Found out she likes jello!
Marisa likes to sleep in her crib.  We just got a new one because the one she had the bottom fell out twice while she was in it!  The new one is a little bit longer so she has more room to stretch out.  She doesn't want to lay in our bed, she wants to be in her own bed.

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some pictures

Marisa seems to like to be silly.  Here are pictures of her wearing her skort as a hat! 

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sunny day in Guangzhou

Finally we have a sunny day here in Guangzhou.  It's been hard to get out and walk around when it's been rainy, and everything's wet and muddy.  When I say it's hard, just hard for us to want to go out with a little one and walk around because you're trying to maneuver the stroller and umbrellas.  So it's almost easier to stay in.  So the days are kind of long. 
Yesterday was a long day without much happening.  After breakfast we had come back to the room and played with Marisa until her nap time.  We really have not been able to keep her nap time until yesterday.  So she was not very happy about having to go down for a nap.  She slept for a couple of hours and then we went shopping for a little Chinese dress for her for the picture we were going to be taking on the red couch later in the afternoon.  Our guide had a photographer come and take pictures of our group's little adopted ones sitting on the "red couch".  Actually we found out there isn't a "red couch", but there are several red couches.  We also had a photo taken of the whole group.  Those taken by the photographer are a gift from our guide.  Those will be nice to have.  Marisa kept pulling up her dress.  I really like having her in a dress but she seems to just pull it up.  I guess I need to make sure all the dresses I have, have matching bloomers!  In the evening some of the families in our group went with the guide to a Chinese restaurant within walking distance from the hotel.  I ended up not eating that much.  Marisa really liked the green beans and she ate the whole little bowl of rice that they brought for her.  She eats rice but hasn't eaten that much at one time since we've had her with us.  There was a cat walking around the restaurant.  Doesn't that kind of make you a little sick?!  Because the cat didn't necessarily look that healthy.  I was trying to take Marisa to the bathroom but she saw the kitty and wanted to go up to it.  She went up to it and put her hand out to it, and the cat didn't run away.  It just sat there and closed its eyes.  Marisa did actually take hold of it's ear and I made her let go.  I didn't want her to hurt the cat and I also didn't want her to touch the cat because we know nothing about the cat.  The reason the cat could get in was because the restaurant was open in the front and they also have outdoor seating so if people go in and out that door or leave that door open accidentally, it could get in.  Needless to say, I tried to take Marisa to the bathroom but they only had the squatty potties and she doesn't like those and I can't seem to hold her over it correctly anyway without her peeing on her clothes for some reason.  You just never know what kind of toilet you'll find when you go to the restroom.  Sometimes they have both the squatty potty and the stool and other times there is only one or the other.  And you can't count on their being toilet paper available either, so we always carry some.
Well, since I didn't eat much for dinner.  We ended up calling our guide and she ordered some McDonald's for us.  They deliver to the hotel but the hotel won't allow them to bring it inside, so you have to wait outside for it.  I can't remember if I posted before that they deliver on bikes.  So we had some McDonald's.  It tastes pretty much the same as in the states.
Yesterday was kind of a trying day.  Marisa is now testing her boundaries with us.  We have had to be more firm with her in our expectations and of course that doesn't make for a happy little girl.  Going down for a nap and going to bed have now been a little more difficult.  When she's happy she's very happy and such a sweet little girl but she can be very stubborn and want things her way in her time.  After she has her meltdown and she can stop crying she does usually comply.  I'm sure if she was with a foster family in which the foster parents were older she was probably allowed to have her own way more.  And if the nannies at the orphanage really liked her like they told us, I'm sure they let her get away with more.  So that makes our job a little more difficult but I guess that's part of parenting.  She'll learn her boundaries soon enough. I think she knows that her mommy and daddy still love her even if she can't have her way all the time.  And she can get past her stubbornness and be her sweet self. 
Today after breakfast we got out for awhile since it was nice and sunny.  It was very hot and humid but it was nice that it wasn't raining.  We went into a couple of little shops here and picked up just a couple of things.  We might go out again later to look in some other shops.  We saw some school children out with their teacher doing some exercises. I think we'd heard that kids are in school till the beginning of July.  So I think they're almost done.  Then later this afternoon we go for an oath swearing ceremony with our adopted children.  Yesterday our guide, Veronica, took all of our paperwork to the American Consulate in the morning and we should be able to pick up our child's visa tomorrow afternoon.  Well, actually I think Veronica will pick them up and hand them out to us.
Then on Thursday morning we head out on a train to Hong Kong.  I guess the train station is a fair distance from the airport hotel that we'll be staying at.  I think we have to get our own taxi to get to the hotel.  Our guide will not be going with us to Hong Kong.  I think all of the families in our group are flying out of Hong Kong but going to Hong Kong at different times from here.  I think one family leaves tomorrow afternoon.  We and another family or two will be leaving Thursday morning and the last family will be leaving here for Hong Kong on Thursday evening.  We will fly out of Hong Kong on Friday morning.  I'm not sure when the other families fly out.  I will be so ready to be home and hope and pray that the flight home will go well.  When we get to the Detroit airport we'll have to go through immigration because of Marisa.  I didn't even think about that.  
So still a few things to do and then soon we'll be on our way home.  I'm ready to get into a regular routine and help Marisa adjust to it.
The picture is of Marisa in her little traditional Chinese dress.  The other picture is of Marisa trying to put on her sandals.  She likes to try to put them on herself.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

another day comes to an end

So another day comes to an end.  It is hard to believe still, that this sweet little girl is our daughter and she will be coming home with us.  I suppose once we are home it will be very real.  This is what we have prayed about and worked on for so long and it has finally happened.  I am excited for those of you waiting for us to meet Marisa YiChen.  She is such a sweet little girl.  And you think about a 2 1/2 year old having to go through what she has gone through (being with her birth mom, being in an orphanage, then living with a foster family, and then back to the orphanage and now with her forever family), I am just amazed at her resiliency.  Would we be able to handle that many changes in 2 1/2 years? 
It seems Marisa is really adjusting well to us.  I believe she is feeling like she can trust us.  Even though she seems to be daddy's girl, she has been coming to me more lately.  She picks up on the routines we've established here in China.  She knows when we come back to the hotel room we kick of our shoes, and she's ready to take them off.  She knows when we eat she puts on her bib.  She knows when I give her a bottle at night she goes to bed afterwards.  She went to the crib tonight after I gave her her bottle.  It just amazes me how quickly she picks up on things. 
I brought a small bottle of bubbles along and got it out this afternoon.  I was blowing bubbles and she loved it!  She had such a high shrill excited squeal it hurt our ears.  And she didn't just squeal once!  It is fun to give her those new experiences.  To be a part of those fun new experiences she's having is such a joy because it is so fun for her.  She just seems to fully enjoy life and it's so fun to watch.  She's so curious and just wants to experience it all it seems.
We have felt so blessed that she will go into her crib and not fuss.  She will go to sleep on her own and sleep through the night except for waking up early and not going back to sleep the past couple of mornings.  I hope that doesn't continue.  I suppose it's fine if she can get her nap in the afternoon but if we have to be out and about it's hard if not impossible for her to get a nap unless she just falls asleep like she has a couple of times.  I know there could still be some grieving that she may experience.  We just haven't had any serious meltdowns or crying spells where she couldn't be soothed except for the first day when we met her.  I know God is with us and has really helped with this transition.  I know He'll continue to help with any grieving that Marisa may go through and will help us to know how to help her go through that.  I just wonder if she will experience any of that once we leave China and we are in a totally different country and she won't see Chinese people every day but instead American.  I just hope it won't be a difficult adjustment for her.
It's a little after 9 pm here on Sunday night and I am so tired and ready to go to bed.  For those that know me, you know that doesn't sound like me.  I haven't been much of a night owl since we've been in China.  Whether it's the emotional drain, or taking care of a toddler all day, I don't know.  I just know we've been going to bed much earlier than we did at home.  And I'm actually able to sleep pretty well on the hard bed. :)  I guess when you're tired enough you can sleep on whatever.
A funny thing here in China is that McDonald's and KFC deliver!  We were walking back to the hotel and a Papa John's delivery guy went buzzing past us to the hotel, but get this he wasn't in a car - he was on a bike!  We had seen a McDonald's delivery guy on a bike earlier when we left the hotel.  I just get a kick out of seeing that.  Who would think that McDonald's or KFC would deliver?  Do you think that would ever work in the states?
I can't wait for those of you back home to meet Marisa.  The orphanage described her as an extrovert and I'd definitely have to agree.  I'm sure you will all get to see that in time if not right away. 
Well, it's time for bed.  I'll post more tomorrow and sorry for no pictures tonight, but will try tomorrow since I should have plenty of time.

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Our Sunday in Guangzhou

This morning we were up early again.  Little Marisa went down fine last night and seemed to go to sleep quickly but then she's up at 4:30 am having to go to the bathroom.  So I get up and take her and then she doesn't go back to sleep.  She tosses and turns in the crib and it keeps me awake.  So when it is time to get up and get her ready she was a little grouchy. 
We went down to breakfast.  The wait staff are pretty much hovering and the minute you have cleaned a plate they snatch it away.  Today it was kinda of annoying me but they think they are providing a good service for us so I'll get over it.  The culture here is very different when it comes to personal space.  Chinese people stand very close to each other and they will openly stare at us.  Also they can be very aggressive and push their way to where they want to be.  It's hard to get used to.  The same is true in their driving.  It is unreal how people drive here.  They will pull out in front of someone else and make other cars wait.  Surprisingly we haven't seen any accidents.  I guess it's because everyone is used to driving this way. And car seats aren't required for children here.  I'm sure Marisa isn't going to be too happy when we put her in a car seat the first time.
Sundays are different here.  It's pretty much business as usual.  There are construction projects going on today.  I think the banks are open and all businesses are open.  Veronica said that most people here do not have or believe in any type of religion.  I had thought Buddhism was the big religion here.  But actually not a very large percentage practice Buddhism.  So I guess in China they never have a day of rest.  That would be hard to get used to.
This morning our group of families went to see the Chen's Ancestral Hall.  It was the Chen family temple.  It was interesting to walk through.  It's so incredible to see the details they carved into wooden walls and doors.  We also some some embroidery pieces that were framed that looked like pictures that were painted.  One family said they saw women working on pieces in the province they had been in.  It sounds kind of like the way we do our quilting - sitting around a frame and they embroider and then roll it up like you do when you quilt.  It's very beautiful work.  After we walked through the temple we went to a store.  I think it's called Yi Qi Ceramic.  It's very interesting to shop here in these type of stores.  If you want something they will write up a receipt for it and you continue to look around.  When you are finished you go pay for all your purchases at one place in the store and then go to another place in the store to pick up your purchases.  We picked up a few things for Marisa.  Hopefully she will appreciate once she gets older.  After the store we went to eat.  It was a Chinese restaurant.  All of our families sat at a large round table and they brought food in and set it in the middle.  The middle of the table has a turntable so if you want something you just turn the table in the middle instead of passing food.  After lunch we returned to the hotel.  
Our little one fell asleep in her stroller while we were shopping.  When we got back on the bus to go eat, she didn't wake up when I took her out of the stroller.  She seems to be able to do that - just fall asleep when she's tired.  So now we're back at the hotel and she's being a little ham.  She probably needs to sleep some more but hate to try to make her go down now or she might not sleep tonight.  She's running around without her skort and is putting it on her head and showing us and trying to get us to laugh.  She's very easily amused.  She loves paper and likes to rip it up or have me write on it for her.  She played with the bags our purchases came in for awhile.  She's quite the character.  She still wants her own way at times but is learning that mommy and daddy will not always let her have her own way.  She'll cry but usually gets over it pretty quickly.  And she is understanding what no means.  I tried to get a picture of her with the skort on her head but she's moving around so much I can't get it. 
Tonight we may try an Italian restaurant here on the island.  If we go, it will be interesting to see what an Italian restaurant is like here in China.  We may try to do some shopping before tomorrow afternoon when we're planning to do a "red couch" picture with the children.  We would like to buy her a Chinese outfit to wear for the picture.  For those who don't know, many people have their groups' babies all sit on a red couch that is in the lobby area of the White Swan hotel (where we're staying) for a picture.  
So this afternoon we're resting or trying to because when there's a little one around she goes non-stop it seems.  She's probably making sure she stays awake.
I think tomorrow Veronica, our guide, will be turning our paperwork in to the American Consulate.  Then we'll be getting a visa for Marisa too.  I'm ready to go home.  It's hard eating out all the time and trying to figure out what Marisa can and can't have to eat.  I'm also ready to be home to get on a regular schedule.  I wonder how she will be once we get home.  Marisa probably thinks we live in hotels and eat in restaurants and that's our life.  So glad it's not.  Plus it will be nice to see everyone at home too.  Thanks so much for all of you who leave comments or have sent emails.  It's nice to hear from people back home.  I'll see about posting some more pictures a little later.  

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another day in Guangzhou

Today we didn't have a lot to do.  We got up and got down to breakfast earlier than we did yesterday.  We got done to breakfast before 9 am this morning.  The other families that we started with in Beijing have now all arrived here in Guangzhou and are here at the White Swan.  It's fun to see everyone with their children now and hear about our experiences in our children's provinces.  We felt very lucky having Veronica as our guide in Hangzhou because she was there for us all the time.  It sounded like some of the other families we talked to didn't have that experience with their guide.  We appreciated all Veronica's help and how organized she was.  We are happy to have her continue to be our guide for our group while we're here in Guangzhou.  She really looks out for her families and makes sure they're taken care of and has been very helpful when we've had questions.
Today we did have to go back to the Medical Clinic to have Marisa's TB test checked.  It was fine.  We were so glad that we were able to have her medical exam done the other day instead of today because the clinic was full today and I'm sure it might have taken longer than it did a couple of days ago.
Then later this afternoon the women from the families went to Veronica's room to fill out paperwork.  So all the paperwork we brought with us that needed to be done we did this afternoon.  It took a couple of hours.  There has been so much paperwork and just seems never ending.  I'm not sure what needs to be done after we get home but I know I have some things in a file that is labeled post adoption that I will need to take a look at once we get home.  We received Marisa's passport today and tomorrow Veronica will turn in our paperwork to obtain a visa for Marisa.  I found out today that when we fly home once we get to Detroit, we'll have to go through immigration there because of Marisa and there will be paperwork to give to those officials. So hopefully that will go smoothly.  We do have several hours till we have to make our connecting flight to South Bend from there.
Tonight we went back down to Lucy's to eat dinner.  We went with another couple from our group and their little boy.  Marisa did pretty well for being as tired as she was.  That's something to get used to after being just a couple for so long, we now have our schedule dictated by a little one and her needs.
Tomorrow the plan is for our group to go do some sightseeing and a little bit of shopping plus eating lunch.  We should get back early afternoon.  It has been raining here every day.  So we're getting a lot of use out of our umbrellas.  There's a lot of construction going on around the island here so it makes it a little muddy and dirty.
The one picture I've attached you can see is a view from our hotel room.  In each of the cities we've stayed in here have been very large cities.  I think if I remember correctly Beijing has like 10 million people and Hangzhou has 6 million.  These are huge cities.  I'm not sure about here in Guangzhou but it is another large city.  The other picture I've posted is a picture of us officially a family after the adoption was registered on June 22.  So June 22, 2010 is Marisa's official adoption date.

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...and more pictures of our little one

There is a playroom in this hotel that we're staying at here in Guangzhou called the Swan Room.  We took Marisa down there last evening for a little while before bath and bedtime.  We were the only ones in the playroom at the time.  She seemed to enjoy it.
And after a long day this is what our sweet little one looks like when she sleeps.  It has been difficult to follow her normal routine and get her down for a nap with the different things we have to do during the day.  So many times we end up with a grouchy and sleepy girl by evening. She does pretty well though considering all the changes.  And thankfully Marisa can sleep with a little bit of noise and light because we put her to bed and stay up a little and it usually doesn't take her long to fall asleep.  Another interesting thing has happened.  When we first got Marisa she would hang on to the teddy bear we had sent her and she wanted it while she slept.  But the past two nights now she doesn't want it while she sleeps.  I guess that is a good sign that she must feel safe and secure and not need it. 

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More pictures of Marisa YiChen

Some more pictures of Marisa.  She has quite the personality as you can see in some of the pictures.  She's definitely her own person.  She likes to mimic us.  Marisa also likes to be the center of attention with us and likes to make us laugh at her.
While at the park in Hangzhou when we stopped to sit for a little bit, Veronica (our guide) put her sunglasses on Marisa and you can see Marisa is quite the little ham!  She loves to have her picture taken and then see herself in the picture.
The picture of her on the toilet is pretty typical.  It's like she's really concentrating or something.
She likes drinking from a straw especially since she has seen mommy and daddy do it.
Marisa very much likes to try new things especially if she sees us doing it.  She loves paper and tearing it.  She'll tear paper into little bits and then lay them on Ron or my arm or she puts them in our hand.  Anytime I get something out to read, she wants to be right there and pretend that she's reading too.  She also likes for us to write on a piece of paper that she has.

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pictures of Marisa YiChen

Here are some pictures of Marisa.  
When we went to the park on the West Lake Marisa liked chasing the pigeons. 
And she loves her bath as you can tell by the smile on her face.  She hates to get out of the tub.  
You can see here what Marisa does when she's tired or deep in thought -- sucks her thumb and first finger.

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pictures while in Beijing

Here are some pictures of the Forbidden City.  The inside of the Forbidden City looked pretty much the same all the way through.  It really was big enough to be called a city.  There was also water surrounding the city as another form of protection to keep unwanted people out.
This is part of the sightseeing we did the day we were in Beijing.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Relaxing day

We arrived in Guangzhou yesterday around 10:30 am.  We had to be up so early and poor Marisa sure didn't like to be woken up.  We couldn't believe how busy the airport was at 7 in the morning.  Lines were long and finally we got through them and to our gate.  At our gate they were boarding the flight right before our's they had a last boarding call for like half an hour.  I'm not sure that they do that in the states but I don't know for sure.  It was just interesting that people kept coming.  Finally it was our turn.  We had to get on a shuttle and that took us to our plane.  The plane ride was fairly uneventful.  Can't believe how much we've flown the past week!
After we got checked into our hotel, the White Swan, and unpacked.  Our guide, Kelly, took us and another family that is here early to the medical clinic so the girls could have their medical exams and the TB test given.  Since Marisa and Addison (the other family's daughter) are over 2 years old they need to have a TB test done before leaving the country.  So we got that done.  The other families will have that done on Saturday and we'll have to go back to have the TB test read.  We also had Marisa's visa phot taken on the way to the medical clinic.  While there we saw an umbrella stroller.  We decided to get it because it's really hard to carry a 2 1/2 year old when it's hot.  We try to have her walk when we can but she gets tired.  She didn't like the stroller at first but has done okay with it.  We were on our own for the rest of the day since our guide left.  She was basically filling in for Veronica (who was our guide in Hangzhou and will also be the guide for our group while here).  She will get here after she picks up Marisa's passport.  Normally families wait to leave their child's province till they have the passport but we had to leave early for the TB test.  So Veronica stayed behind to wait for that and will bring it to us.  She will be here along with the other families later today, I think.  So we were on our own for dinner.  We walked down to a place called Lucy's.  They have Chinese and American foods.  We had cheeseburgers and fries, and Marisa had rice and vegetables.  She loves broccoli.  Too bad her parents don't.  I will need to learn how to cook that.  It's hard because she will usually try to eat food that we have off of our plates and we have to tell her no.  Once she gets old enough we can explain why she can't have our food and has to eat just her food.  On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a 7-Eleven for some water and coke.  Yes a 7-Eleven without the gas station.
I can't remember if I blogged that we can't drink the tap water or even use it to brush our teeth.  I also don't use it to wash Marisa's bottle and other dishes.  There is a hot pot in our room that boils water very quickly.  So then I use tap water and boil it and use that to do any dishes.  So we have to try to have enough water handy.  When you don't have it, you realize how we take water for granted.  I washed out some clothes by hand last night.  Not sure how smart that was.  It's taking a while to dry.  We had decided not to send it out to have it done in order to save a little money but maybe it would've been better to take it somewhere.  Hopefully it will dry by today or tomorrow.
Our hotel is very nice.  We slept in this morning.  The first time we've been able to.  Well, we sort of slept in.  Marisa was up a little early but did lay in her bed for a while.  She actually likes to do that in the morning.  We did finally get around and made it down to the breakfast buffet that is included in our hotel package.  A very nice and large buffet, with lots of variety.  Plus it had a lot of American and felt like we had more to choose from than in Hangzhou.  After we ate, we walked around the hotel a little.  They have a nice garden area outside and two pools outside.  They have a lot of shops and several restaurants in the hotel.  Then we came up to the room and a little later put Marisa down for a nap - which we haven't been able to do since we've had her due to our schedule.  She actually slept for 3 hours.  I finally turned on some lights to help wake her up before she slept too long.  She did wake up then.  It was nice for me to take a little nap too, and get some extra rest since I've got this bad cold or some type of sinus thing.  The pollution is bad here and there is a lot of smog.  So when I talk about it being hazy it's actually probably smog.  With that and people smoke about anywhere and everywhere here, so that bothers me.  I am feeling a little better thankfully.  I sure don't want to be sick right now.
Later we will probably go out and get something to eat and walk around.  I don't know if we'll try to shop at any of the shops or not.  We've got to get our bargaining skills ready.  Our guide told us we need to talk them down 50 to 60% of the price they're asking or we'll pay too much and I guess some of the things are cheaply made, so we just have to be careful.  I know our guide will be taking us to a government owned store where the prices are set and quality is better sometime later during our time here.
Marisa seems to be doing well.  We had been calling her Yi Chen the first few days but now we've started calling her Marisa YiChen to get her used to her name Marisa.  I think she seems to be picking up different things.  We've got her to say please, and I think she tries to say potty.  Plus she says a lot of other things that we can't understand.  But we do seem to communicate with each other pretty well because she seems to understand for the most part.  We are enjoying her so much and having fun getting to know her.  I love it when I take her to the potty and I'm holding her there so our faces are close and she really studies my face. It's so cute to watch her. 
I'll try to post a little more later tonight along with some pictures. 

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last night in Hangzhou

Well, I'm not going to take the time tonight to upload any pictures since it takes so long.  Hopefully when we get to Guangzhou I'll have better luck with a faster connection but who knows.  I may have a little more time though.
We had a very full but nice day today.  Our guide picked us up this morning around 9 am and took us to West Lake which is a very pretty lake here in Hangzhou.  I think I may have posted that we were able to see it from our hotel yesterday since it was less hazy.  It is a very pretty lake and it's very nice all around it.  We walked around part of it.  And then went to another park that is also on West Lake.  We saw a couple of peacocks there and the one actually spread it's tail.  Marisa was fascinated with the pigeons.  There were a lot of pigeons there with the peacock wanting to be fed.  Marisa liked chasing the pigeons. It was a lot for Marisa and she ended up falling a sleep while I was holding her.  It's hard to keep her to any type of schedule since we are doing things for the adoption at various times in the day. 
Later this afternoon our guide took us to a silk shop.  I don't remember the name.  I guess Hangzhou is known for its silk.  We saw how they took the silk out of the cocoon and stretch it. It's all very interesting.  And then the whole store had all kinds of items -- clothes comforters, etc. made of silk.  We did get a silk comforter for Marisa.  Something that she can use plus something she will have from her home town and can pass on to her children. 
Today was a good day.  We feel all of your prayers and support.  Marisa seems to be more attached to us.  Of course there are still times that she doesn't want us to pick her up or she pushes our hand away if we try to touch her but that is becoming less and less.  She seems very happy to be with us and we've seen her laugh a lot.  She's doing much better with us having to take something from her and she seems to know that it's still going to be here for her later.  Last night we gave her a bath and it was so much fun!  She loved it!  She didn't want to get out of the tub!!  She has such a sweet personality and seems to like to be the center of attention.  Today while we were at the park we had some people ask our guide why we had a Chinese child and she explained it to them.  They seemed happy for us and said what a pretty girl she was.  We of course think she's a little doll.  She is so fun to watch as she plays by herself here in the hotel.  She can amuse herself very easily and it's fun to watch.  It doesn't seem like she needs a lot of toys to amuse herself with.  She is learning what no means even if she doesn't like it.  I can see that she is a typical two year old in wanting to do for herself and not really wanting our help.  But then with other things she does look at us and ask for our approval before doing something or getting something.  When I say ask, it's not that we can understand what she's saying but you can figure out what she means.  Even though we speak two different languages I think we are understanding each other more and more each day.  She seems to be very curious about things and gets excited about little things.  She is a very sweet little girl.
Well, she was pretty tired tonight and went down pretty easily.  Thank goodness she is a heavy sleeper because we still needed to pack and it was hard to be really quiet while packing.  She slept through all of that.  This morning she was up early for some reason but did just lay in her crib quietly but we ended up not being able to get any more sleep, so we're pretty tired again tonight.  Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 6 am for the airport to fly to Guangzhou to take care of the rest of our paperwork and get a visa for Marisa.  We are flying a day early so that she can have a TB test done tomorrow.  We'll have a little bit of down time of a day or so while we wait for the other families in our group to arrive in Guangzhou.  So I am hoping to be able to upload some pictures then.
Just a few more things.  The orphanage where Marisa stayed put together a booklet for us that included pictures of Marisa when she was younger.  It is so nice to have that and means alot that they would give us that.  Plus we also received a book from the director of the orphanage about Hangzhou and he wrote a special note to Marisa in the front of the book.  You can tell that they really loved and cared for Marisa well.  I'm so glad we have a few of these things for her so that she will be able to have them.
Well, I'd better get some rest.  It will be an interesting day to take a flight with a young child.  Hopefully the whole airport experience will go well as well as the flight.  It will be nice to be in one place for a week.  I'll post more once we're in Guangzhou and hopefully upload some more pictures.  Thanks again for the continued prayers.  We feel like we are doing well.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's official!

I'm getting some pictures uploaded today but it is taking very long.  I don't know if it's the connection here or what.  The pictures are of yesterday when we were at the Civil Affairs office after we first met Marisa and throughout that morning.  Today we went back to the Civil Affairs office to proceed with the adoption.  They give a family 24 hours to decide if they want to proceed with the adoption or not.  So this morning we returned to the Civil Affairs office to register the adoption and we received the official adoption decree.  We are now officially Marisa YiChen's parents!  We also went to the Police Station to register for a passport for Marisa.  That will be ready on Friday.  She had to have her picture taken again today and it seems like in all of these official pictures she has been crying and doesn't look like herself.   
This morning we also stopped at the Children's Hospital where Marisa was left to be found.  We do not have any other details about why she was left.  She was left with a small bracelet and little purse or something.  But we are not allowed to have those things, they are kept by the Civil Affairs office I guess.  I do not really understand why Marisa can't have what is her's but I guess that's the way the Chinese government works.  So we took some pictures of the hospital.  And in talking to our guide she said Marisa could've been left by a single mother because single mothers are not looked very highly upon.  And if she was raised by a single mother she wouldn't have been able to get an ID card or go to school.  So if Marisa's mother was single she would've thought it best to leave her child in hopes of a better future.  So we'll never know to tell Marisa but I'm sure her mother left her only because she didn't feel she could provide for her and hoped someone else would be able to.
We have spent time in the hotel again this afternoon.  I brought lunch back to hotel for us.  Then we put Marisa down for a nap.  She laid in her crib and did fall asleep and slept for a couple of hours.  We were also able to take a nap while she did.  After she woke up she let us know she had to use the bathroom and then she wanted to lay back in the crib.  She is doing better today.  She has reached for us each again at different times.  She makes eye contact.  All these things are good and mean progress toward her attaching to us.  Tonight we are going to try to give her a bath.  The orphanage reported she does like baths but for us to give it to her maybe a different story.  She does like to have her face and hands washed with a wash cloth.  She seems to be learning what yes and no mean.  She has typical two year old behaviors where she wants to do everything herself and not let us help or sometimes she has to be told she can't do something.
This evening we had dinner in the room again.  It's pretty sad when your child gets excited when she sees the bag and knows that's dinner!  It will be different once we get home.  What's hard is she wants what we're eating and usually what we're eating she can't have.  For the most part we're doing okay with her diet, I think.  I'm trying to be very conscious of what is low in protein or has no protein.  It's been a little difficult when we're not as familiar with the food and how it might be prepared.  So hopefully we're doing okay with that.  I guess once we get home and meet with the dietician and Marisa's Phe (phenylalanine) levels have been checked, we'll know better what she can and can't eat.
Today it seems like Marisa is starting to trust us more.  She calls us mama and baba (daddy).  Today as she was looking at the little photo album with pictures we'd sent her, she points to the picture of our cat and I told her kitty says "meow" and so now she points to Zoe (the cat) and says "meow" all the time.  She also will repeat some words we say,  like "bye-bye", "please".  One thing we found she likes to play with is paper.  I had brought some scrap paper and so we tore some into smaller pieces and she'll put those in her purse then take them out and then back in, etc.  The orphanage had sent a little pink purse with her and she likes to carry that around and put things in it.  The thing I'm excited about as a teacher is that she seems to take an interest in words that she sees on paper and she points to them almost like she is pretending to read what it says.
Tomorrow we will be going to West Lake which is a very nice lake here in Hangzhou.  And actually tonight was the first night we have actually been able to see it from our room.  It has been very hazy most days - actually it's smog I guess.  We will also be going to the orphanage tomorrow to drop off our donation.  We were denied a tour of the orphanage but at least this way we'll be able to see a little of the area.  I guess it is a very nice orphanage as far as the facilities and things.  Tomorrow will be our last full day here.  On Thursday we will be flying to Guangzhou so that Marisa can have a TB test done.  We and another family will be flying in to Guangzhou a day early or our girls can have the TB test done.  The other families we were with in Beijing will meet up with us in Guangzhou on Friday then.  It's hard to believe we've been here for almost a week.  I am tired of living out of a suitcase already.  I'll be glad once we're in Guangzhou since that will be our last stop and we'll be staying there for a week and not have to change hotels for a while.  Of course, we will be going to Hong Kong after that for one night and then flying home.  In talking with the other families from our group, I think they are all doing the same thing - going to Hong Kong for one night and then flying home from there.  That's kind of nice that we'll still be together.
Well, I think I will end for now.  I know some of my thoughts are kind of random.  As I thought of things I would write about them.  Hopefully my thoughts make sense.  So until tomorrow.....

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Meeting Marisa YiChen!

I know everyone is dying to know how it went today since today was the day we met Marisa.  I don't know if I'll be able to send pictures with this post or not.  Pictures are loading really slowly tonight and it is taking forever or not working for me.  I'm pretty tired so I don't know how long I'll try to upload them.
We got to the Civil Affairs office around 9:30 am this morning.  I saw Marisa sitting in a chair right near the door we entered.  She was wearing the outfit we sent in her care package.  She also had the teddy bear we sent and the board book.  She also had the disposable camera we sent along.  We may try to get the film developed from that camera while we're here yet.  We're anxious to see what's on it.  Well, Marisa wasn't too happy to have us hold her and she pretty much arched her back, screamed and cried when one of us was trying to hold her.  Ron and I took turns holding her for awhile each time so she would start getting used to us.  Of course, there were papers to sign as well.  There were a couple of other families in the room meeting their children for the first time and signing paperwork.  It seemed while we were at the Civil Affairs office Marisa was taking to Ron more than me which I did kind of expect since she hasn't been around men as much.  She doesn't want to betray her other female caretakers that she has formed an attachment to, so she doesn't want to show any type of attachment to me.  We found out that after they knew she was going to be adopted, she was returned to the orphanage and has been there for the past 6 months.  So I'm sure that was another huge change for her -- going from a family she's come to love to going back to the orphanage.  We found out that at the orphanage they also provide some type of education classes for these little ones and she did very well.  She was also a favorite with the orphanage workers and they told us they tended to spoil her.  Oh no!  I'm sure she deserved to be spoiled.
Marisa was upset most of the time we were at the Civil Affairs office.  We were there until after 11:00 am, I think.  She did fall asleep while I was holding her as we were signing paperwork.  So she slept for a while.  I guess she usually takes a nap from 11:30 to 1:30 every day.  I think everything upset her so much she was exhausted with the crying and stuff that she just crashed. 
We're finding that she doesn't want anything that is her's taken from her even for a little bit.  I knew this could be a problem because they will hang on to what is their's afraid that it will be taken from them forever.  We even had trouble taking her shoes off when we were at the hotel.  She cried and cried and was fighting me the whole time.  Even when I put her sandals right beside her, she was still crying and trying to make me see she wanted them on her feet.  She at first wouldn't let us help her with anything like opening a wrapper to some crackers that she had brought with her.  But she has slowly let us do that for her since she sees that we might only have to take it out of her hands for a little bit and then she gets it back.
After the Civil Affairs office appointment, we had to stop at a little photo place to have our family picture taken.  It wasn't a very happy photo for Marisa.  It seems that one of us can hold her and then she'll settle down and be okay but then if we want to put her down she will start crying again.  So we pick up the family picture tomorrow.  It will be interesting to see what that will look like with our unhappy camper.  I forget what we need that picture for -- something in our paperwork.  She also had to have a picture taken alone for her passport.  That didn't make her happy to be by herself.  Ron did sit with her as the photographer tried to get a head shot of her.
We then came back to the hotel.  Marisa and I stayed behind while Veronica (our guide) and Ron went to pick up a couple of bottles (since I found out she drinks her special protein formula from a bottle) and some lunch for us all.  Marisa did okay with me but there were still bouts of crying.  So we spent most of the day and evening in the room with her.  She seemed happy at times and would walk around and watch tv.  She really likes the teddy bear we sent her and doesn't like to part with that.  She ate pretty well both for lunch and dinner.  She didn't have any wetting accidents either.  Somehow I figured out she when had to go to the bathroom by her expression or she'd kind of whine/cry.  I set her on the toilet and she'd do her thing.  I wasn't sure if tonight she'd let us put a pull up on her and change her clothes to pjs.  She did let us, we just tried to do it very quick.  I gave her her special formula tonight before going to bed.  She drank some and then had to go to the bathroom.  She kind of pointed at her tummy but of course didn't know if it hurt or what.  I brought her back out to the bed to try to give her some more formula.  She took a little and then all of her supper and formula came up!  What a mess!  She didn't cry or anything.  We got her cleaned up and everything else and I was still holding her and she fell asleep!  I was so glad she was able to fall asleep.  I'm hoping she'll sleep through the night so we can all get a good night's rest.  I think with her being so upset today for most of the day is why she threw up because she didn't seem to be feeling sick otherwise.
So we stayed in today.  Had lunch from a Chinese place that Ron brought back here.  Tonight we had some McDonald's that our guide went and got for us.  It is so nice to have our guide.  Since not many people here seem to speak any English she has been a great help talking to the hotel personnel if we need something or ordering meals for us.  Any way with staying in our room most of the day we used this opportunity to pick Marisa up and hold her.  She didn't always like this but she is starting to cry less when we do.  She has reached for each of us at one time or another throught the course of the day which has been encouraging.  Even though she will let us hold her, she doesn't lean in close to us or let her body conform to our's.  She tends to be kind of stiff yet.  But we did see her smile and laugh several times today.  She can be quite the little character.  She does like to do funny things because she knows it will make mommy and daddy laugh. And she really likes to have her picture taken.  She likes for us to show her the picture after we take it.  The report from the orphanage said that she tends to be an extrovert in familiar settings and I can see where that can be true. 
Later this afternoon our guide took us to exchange our money for the fees and other expenses we have with the adoption that we'll need to pay tomorrow.  I carried Marisa to the bank - the bank was in walking distance from our hotel.  But a toddler gets pretty heavy even for a short distance.  Our guide seems to think that Marisa needs to walk more.  I wasn't too concerned with her walking when we're walking down the street with crowds of people.  I'd rather hold her then.  So she did have a meltdown in the bank as we were leaving because our guide wanted Marisa to walk and she didn't want to.  She didn't want to hold my hand then but of course she had no choice with that.
So even though the behavior was kind of hard to deal with today, it was expected.  We just have to be patient and keep being there for her so she knows she can trust us.  Once she knows she can trust us, it should start to go a little better.  I know it's hard for people to understand why we need to just spend time alone with her but this is why.  She needs to be able to form that attachment to us and know that we are her parents and we won't leave or let anything bad happen to her.  The less stimuli the better at first.  When she feels overwhelmed, then she cries and has a meltdown.  These will eventually become fewer and fewer as she learns to trust us but it will take some time. 
We continue to need your prayers and hopefully tomorrow will go better than today and every day after that.  I do dread the 15 hour plane ride that we will have on the way home.  But I'm hoping by then she will have learned to trust us enough that it will go better and hopefully she will be easy going and not get too fussy on the long flight.
I'm sorry I can not seem to get photos downloaded tonight.  I don't have the patience to deal with that either because I'm tired and need to get some rest.  So I will try the photos again tomorrow and hopefully it will work for me. 

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

In Hangzhou

Yesterday we flew out of Beijing airport around 8 am.  Well, I guess that was when our flight was scheduled to leave but we had to wait for our turn to take off, so we sat on the runway for a while.  Had a safe flight.  On our way to the airport (all five families went because we all had flights out that morning to our different provinces) we were given a "breakfast" by the hotel since we were unable to make it to the buffet since we were leaving early.  Our packed breakfast consisted of some type of cheese and meat sandwich, a salad, a banana, a hardboiled egg and some cookies.  Isn't that an interesting breakfast? ;)  But then a little into the flight they served breakfast!  And it was only a two-hour flight!  That doesn't happen in the US!  You only get a snack and a drink on a short flight like that. 
Our guide, Veronica, was waiting for us at the airport.  She is a different guide than the one we had in Beijing.  She will actually continue to be the guide for all of us families when we get to Guangzhou.  So we went to our hotel which was about an hour drive from the airport.  On the way to the hotel, Veronica talked about what we'd be doing these next few days and some about the city.  We were kind of disappointed because we've been told that the city is a very beautiful city by others as well as our guide, but the problem is they just started their rainy season so when we arrived it was raining and gets fairly foggy.  So we really couldn't see much in the distance as we drove toward our hotel.  It's not a hard rain but just a fairly steady rain.  It will probably rain the whole time we're here.  Yes, we did bring umbrellas.  I did see our hotel room has an umbrella for our use though.
So we got to our hotel and Veronica checked us in.  Here they really don't understand any English so we really rely on her to speak for us.  It was interesting -- we had to go to the 8th floor of the hotel for the lobby!  Our room is on the 23rd floor.  We arrived in our room and had to wait for housekeeping to come and finish cleaning our room and make the beds.  So we watched TV for about 45 minutes until someone came.  Then we unpacked and organized our things and each took short naps until we were to meet Veronica to go get some water.  I can't remember if I've said before that people don't drink the water here.  You only drink bottled or water that's been boiled.  So no tap water.  So far it hasn't been too difficult to remember that but when you are without water then you realize how much you take water for granted and how thirsty you can get.  So since we're staying here for a few days we thought we'd get some water to keep in our room.  Veronica took us to a little "grocery store" just right near our hotel.  This grocery store was nothing like the little grocery stores at home.  We recognized many name brands as I think those things are produced in China.  We picked up some water, coke, and a can of Pringles.  We decided to stay in for the evening since we were both pretty tired (especially since I haven't slept really well yet) and actually Veronica thought that was a good idea since we have a big day ahead of us today.  So she ordered a Papa John's pizza for us and had it delivered to our room.  It was good! 
I probably fell asleep soon after 6:30 pm last night I was so tired.  I slept until about a little bit ago.  So I'm writing this at 4 am China time on Monday morning but it is actually 4 pm back in Indiana!  Happy Father's Day to our dads!
The plan for today is getting up about 7 am, going to breakfast about 8 am, and then making sure we have everything we need to go meet Marisa at the Civil Affairs office.  I think Veronica said it's about a 20 minute drive from our hotel.  Yesterday the hotel brought a crib to our room for Marisa and there is no mattress!  The babies are used to sleeping on hard surfaces like that!  Since Marisa is used to that I guess it will be okay.  So we go to get Marisa and get to ask some questions about routines and things.  Then we get to spend the day with her.  We may not be doing much.  I think Veronica may take us to a Chinese restuarant later today.  Then tomorrow we will go back to Civil Affairs and we'll have paperwork and things to fill out and fees to pay.
And, Kristi, I found out that we are about a 20 minute drive from the West Lake, so I guess we won't be walking there!  But I did mention it to our guide and she said she would take us there.
Once again I'm sorry for not having pictures up yet.  I am hoping later today if I'm not too tired to be able to do that but it depends on how the day goes and if nothing else I'll at least try to post a picture of Marisa for you.  Right now Ron's still sleeping and so I don't want to turn lights on and wake him.  I'm just glad I'm able to post about our days to keep in touch with you back home.
Please pray for us today as we meet Marisa for the first time and pray that she won't be too afraid or upset about the changes that are happening in her life.  We realize she will be somewhat upset but hopefully she will let us comfort her and won't resist us too much.  I'll try to post more about our day with Marisa later this evening.
Love you all!! 


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Saturday, June 19, 2010

A day of sightseeing

Our day started bright and early but I actually wasn't sleeping that well anyway so I guess to get up early was fine.  Ron seemed to be sleeping well but he said the bed was a little uncomfortable.  The bed is hard, there is no give -- not like a firm mattress we might have at home.  Ron said it was like sleeping on the floor and I would have to agree. 
So we got down to breakfast in the hotel around 7 am.  It is an interesting buffet.  They have breakfast foods but also foods that we'd consider lunch or dinner foods.  But then I don't know for sure what they eat for breakfast here in China.  While at breakfast we also met the other 4 families that are here for adoptions through Great Wall (our adoption agency).  There are three couples from Florida and the family we met last night at the airport -- they are from Illinois.  Everyone is very friendly.  We have becoming first time parents in common with the one couple from Florida and it's funny because the husband is my age and the wife is Ron's age.  So we have a couple things in common with them.  The family we met at the airport is adopting an older girl (4 years old) and so we along with them will fly to Guangzhou one day earlier than the other couples so that our daughters can have a TB test done which is a requirement for any child 2 years old and older being adopted, if I remember correctly.  So it will be nice not to be alone at the hotel but to know someone else.  
Our day was spent sightseeing here in Beijing.  I never realized how large of a city Beijing was until today.  Our guide Michelle, shared a lot of things about the city.  Of course to remember everything she told us is not something that we'll do I'm sure.  By the way our guide, Michelle, has been wonderful.  She lets us know where we can eat that the food is all okay, clues us in on tipping, and other things that are appropriate.  What would we do without her!!  We started out at Tiananmen Square.  It was crazy to see all the people.  There were a lot of Chinese people there on vacation, people from other countries, people on tours, families, people from other other adoption agencies, and who knows who else.  So it was very crowded due to it being the weekend and summer.  We went into the Forbidden City and I never realized how it goes on forever it seems.  There are many "gates" as they call them.  And it took us a while to walk through the whole thing but very interesting because it was built in 1406 to 1420 (something like that).  We used the toilets there.  They don't use the word "restrooms" here that we have seen.  There are just signs for "toilets".  I was glad to see when we went into the women's restroom that there were regular western toilets as well as the squaty potties.  So I opted for the toilet I'm familiar with.  Forgot the toilet paper but got a tissue from one of the other ladies in our group.  And they don't throw toilet paper down the stool, they put it in a small trash can next to the toilet.  Very interesting cultural differences. We went to lunch at a restaurant that was included in our tour for the day.  We also got a short tour of how they make these one type of jars.  Then we ate lunch.  They brought out a variety of foods and put it on the center of the table that had a table that turned so everyone at the table could reach the food.  So it was kind of like eating at a buffet. 
After lunch we drove to the Great Wall.  It was amazing because as we got closer to the Great Wall  we saw mountains but due to the smog we weren't able to see the mountains from a distance.  We were dropped off at a certain point and we could climb from there.  We climbed up part of the way to the 2nd tower.  Well, for one it was very warm and the sun was out so that made it difficult to climb and when I realized how steep it was, I kind of freaked out and decided to come down because of the height.  Ron and another guy from our group did make it up to the 2nd tower.  On our way back to the hotel from the Great Wall, we went past the Olympic area.  We saw the "Water Cube" and "the Bird's Nest".  Our guide told us that the whole area was developed just for the Olympics.  Now pretty much everything sits empty because it's too expensive.  It looked like a little city.
We didn't feel too bad today as far as jet lag or anything.  I know it helped to be out in the sun today and follow a pretty normal schedule. But I started feeling it late this afternoon and felt like I could've slept after we got back from our tour of the Great Wall.  We went with another couple to eat dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe tonight.  It was a fun time.  When we got back we packed some things and got things ready to leave tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning we fly to Marisa's home town of Hangzhou.  This afternoon after we got back to the hotel we got a call from the gal that will be our guide while we're in Hangzhou.  It was really nice for her to touch base with us.  We are the only ones from our group that is going to Hangzhou.  So we'll have the guide to ourselves.  Tomorrow (Sunday) we fly to Hangzhou and get checked into our hotel.  It's pretty much a free day.  So not sure what we'll do,  if we'll hang out in the hotel room and sleep/rest or if we'll go walk around the city. 
Well I think I need to sign off for now.  Sorry for not having any pictures yet.  I am just so tired I'm almost falling asleep as I'm typing this.  So maybe the jet lag is finally hitting me.  And we need to get up about 4:30 in the morning so it's probably best to get some sleep.  Only 2 more days till we meet Marisa!!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

We're in China!!!

Wow! What a day we have had!  It is now about 1:45 am on Saturday morning in China.  We just got checked into our hotel here in Beijing about 45 minutes ago.  Our flights all went smoothly -- well maybe some turbulence but as far as us making our connections and things everything went fine.  From South Bend we left a little past the original scheduled time but we still made it to Minneapolis on time.  The plane we were on from Minneapolis to Tokyo was a very large plane.  What a long ride!  Ron and I were stuck in seats in the middle between two other people.  But the two gentlemen were very friendly and talkative, so we learned a little about their lives.  How could we not talk to them when the flight was about 12 hours long!  And we were chasing the sun the whole way since we were traveling west.  It was the weirdest thing.  People closed shades on the plane and the lights were turned down so people could sleep.  We did sleep some but not very much.  There were movies we could watch.  We tried to get up and walk around some but that's not that easy on a plane with that many people since others had the same idea and the flight attendants were trying to get around as well.  And boy did we eat well.  We had two meals on the plane --one at the beginning of our flight and one near the end.  In the middle of the flight we had a sandwich and fruit.  It was easy to get around at the Tokyo airport.  So much was in English as well as Japanese.  The flight from Tokyo to Beijing was not quite 4 hours.  We arrived in Beijing about 10:30 pm China time Friday (10:30 am Friday back home time).  It took us a little while to get through stuff at the airport that you need to do before you can leave.  We got our luggage okay and found our guide from Great Wall with no problem. But then we had to wait on another family to get in to the airport yet, so we waited probably another hour and that's why we got to the airport so late.
Still can't quite believe this is real and that we are really on the other side of the world in China!  The hotel is very nice.  You have to put your key card in a slot to get electricity.  I guess that cuts down on waste doesn't it?!  The beds are hard but hopefully we can sleep well.  An early start to our day so that we can do some sightseeing here in Beijing for the day.  I'll post more tomorrow and try to post some pictures.  I'm not able to access blogger and so have to email it to our blog.  Maybe someone can leave us a comment and let me know if you could read this or send us an email.  We are able to access our email at least here in Beijing.
Good night and keep those prayers coming!  They are working!  Love you all! 

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

And we're off!!

Here we go on one of the greatest adventures of our lives!!!  Actually it seems unreal that we are going to China.  I guess once we get there it will seem real! :)  Thanks so much to everyone for your prayers and continued prayers as we embark on this wonderful experience of adding a daughter to our family!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's finally happening...

We had a great 5 days in New Orleans for Ron's nephew's wedding.  It was hot and humid down there and actually people were saying it was much hotter while we were there than is normal for June.  Go figure!  The wedding was very nice.  Ron and I didn't do as much sightseeing on this trip since we've been there twice before and did a lot of sightseeing then. We did find a couple out of the way places to eat with very good food.  So that was fun.  Since we stayed in the French Quarter and the rehearsal dinner and wedding & reception were all in the French Quarter, we walked most places.  It sure was hot walking to the church in our dress clothes!! 

So here we are, only a couple of days until we leave for China.  Now here at the last minute there are things I wish we would've done, etc.  We waited for so long you would think we would have gotten everything done we wanted to have done before we travel to China but that is not the case.  I think "waiting" became the norm like we were going to be waiting forever or something.  I now realize that once you get the referral you are so occupied with getting paperwork done or collected, and making other last minute preparations that you don't have time for the other stuff.  I guess whatever doesn't get done will be waiting for us when we return home!

I'm feeling so many mixed emotions about our trip and meeting our daughter.  It still seems so unreal.  I'm not sure why it seems unreal when Marisa's room is full of stuff to pack for the trip.  I've got most things packed and just need to work on getting clothes packed.  It's so hard for me to pack light.  I want to be prepared for any possible situation and in order to do that I think I have to take absolutely everything with us!  But that's not the best idea since we have to carry all that around.  Hopefully I can pack light enough and not go over the weight limit for checked in luggage for travel within China.  I've also got some last minute things to get around.  And then I have the last minute hair cut appointment and dentist appointment to have a permanent crown put in - of all things! 

Well, it's back to getting things ready.  If I have some time tomorrow I'll post but if not this may be the last you hear from us until we reach China!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Our Consulate appointment has been confirmed!!!

Yes, our consulate appointment has been confirmed!!  The much awaited email came this morning around 11:00 am.  The appointment has been confirmed for June 28 at 10 am.  So that means we leave for Beijing on June 17!! 

It's all finally happening and it's so hard to believe that we are actually going over to China!  We also got an updated photo of Marisa and a little bit of updated information but not much.  I feel like she looks different in every picture and like she's growing up before my eyes!

After all of this waiting it's finally becoming real.  We are going to be parents soon!  We are to pick up Marisa on June 21 - the day after Father's Day.  What a nice Father's Day gift for Ron!  My grandma's (maternal) birthday was June 21 and my mom's birthday is June 23.  So I'm sure getting another grandchild will be a nice birthday present for her!