Friday, June 30, 2006

1st Day in Guangzhou

Snack time

Last night was a little rough for all of us. Sydney was not her usual self when we went for a walk to the lake last night and was pretty miserable. We found out a little later that she had diarrhea. We were worried about the flight today to Guangzhou with her ear infection and diarrhea combination. To top that off, she has developed some aversion to public restrooms and refuses to use the toilets. We tried some Children’s Imodium last night but that didn’t seem to help. This morning her temp. was over 104, so we have been pushing Tylenol. She actually did really well on the flight and only complained when we were landing. No other major blowouts either...she held it until we got to the hotel room! Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn!!! She is pretty stressed again and was grinding her teeth in the airport while we were waiting for our luggage.

But we all made it to the White Swan Hotel in one piece! It feels good to be in a new location with a wide variety of restaurants and places to go that are very close to the hotel. The hotel rooms are very nice but are still fairly small. Donny just went downstairs to meet one of our guides to find the grocery store and some places to eat. We ordered delivery pizza and spaghetti for supper for us but we will try some of the local food tomorrow. We are going to go look around the hotel to see what the pool looks like…Alycia and Donny are ready to swim; we’ll try Sydney in the pool but will have to be careful with her ear. We are finally able to see our blog using this hotel’s internet access and noticed how few pictures we’ve posted. The pictures posted above were taken in our hotel room in Guangzhou. We will add more pictures soon!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Hangzhou


Last night went fairly well. We went for a walk down by the lake and ended up eating at Pizza Hut (again!) and Donny and Alycia tried the Dairy Queen. They said it didn’t taste exactly like the ice cream back home but they ate all of it. Sydney had a couple of bites of the melted ice cream left in Alycia’s Blizzard cup and she seemed to like it. We don’t want to try too many new foods all at once. Sydney cried for the first time when we put her to bed last night. Not too long but long enough to let us know that she wasn’t happy about it. We all slept better than we have since we arrived and I don’t think Sydney was grinding her teeth at all last night!

Earlier in the day we went back to get the adoption decree signed by the local Hangzhou official. The picture above was taken after she had signed the decree. This is just one step of the process; we still have to meet in Guangzhou to have another official sign more paperwork.

This morning we decided not to go on the boat trip, so we met with the group and received our documents to take to Guangzhou. Then we went to the breakfast buffet in the hotel. Sydney ate a lot for breakfast and lunch today….I’m not sure where she puts all of that food but the girl loves to eat! She also seems to like to feed herself sometimes. Today she ate her rice and dumplings by herself. She kept looking up at me like she wasn’t sure if she should do it by herself or not. She is also playing a lot more now by herself and with us. After breakfast we walked over by the lake again and she was hopping and running while she played with her big sister. She is learning more words everyday. She has “bye bye”, “yep”, “bird” and her own version of Alycia figured out. She is parroting a lot more words but mainly uses gestures for things that she wants.

After lunch we let Sydney play in the room for a while and then laid her down for a nap. She had been quietly going to sleep when we laid her down for previous naps…..this afternoon she cried for about 30 minutes! She can be VERY stubborn!! Hopefully some of the transitions to naps and baths and things will improve as the communication improves. We’ve used some pictures with her but she hasn’t grasped the concept of using them to communicate yet. Her feelings get hurt easily and it doesn’t take much to make her sad if you try to tell her “no”.

After the little howler wakes up from her nap we’re going to find Haagen Dazs and have some ice cream. I think we’ll also find the little children’s clothing store and buy her a couple of outfits….hopefully two that will fit her this time! Tomorrow morning we are FINALLY off to Guangzhou. We’re just praying that Sydney tolerates the flight and that her ear is better. Otherwise, it will be a long morning and an even longer flight home.

We hope you are all doing well and we’ll post again once we get settled in our new home away from home.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


We made it through another night in Hangzhou! Last night was much better for Sydney and the rest of us as well. She only woke us up a couple of times grinding her teeth last night, so hopefully that means that she is relaxing a little more. We went for a walk last night in a park over by the lake. There were two ladies with a little girl about Sydney’s age, who stopped to say hello and ask how old she is….she is very hesitant around other kids. I thought she would gravitate to kids after being with them in the orphanage but she likes to observe them from her dad’s arms. Things are getting better every day that we spend together. She is cueing us more and pointing to things more frequently. She learns very quickly! The orphanage staff said that she is very smart and so far, without the aid of a formal IQ test, she seems to be pretty sharp!

We have been concerned about her cough and ear drainage. Last night she was digging at her ear again, and this morning she had more drainage. We asked our guide if we could take her to the doctor. She said it is a pubic hospital and there are many people so we could just show up this afternoon and wait to be seen. Another family here was sent with several samples of an antibiotic by their pediatrician, so they gave us a 7 day supply. We did some reading on the internet about a ruptured ear drum just to see if there was anything medically that could be done, just in case that’s what happened. We decided to skip the trip to the hospital for now and see if she improves on the antibiotic. We will still see a doctor in a couple of days in Guangzhou or we can go to the hospital tomorrow if she seems worse. Hopefully the antibiotic will clear up the ear infection and knock out the rattling cough that she and the other girls all seem to have.

Today we had breakfast in the hotel and left for a tour of a Buddhist temple (Lingyin). It was amazing and fun to see the monks. They smiled at the girls when we would walk past them. Our guide said that this is a very famous temple and monks from all over the world come to visit. Our camcorder battery died part way through the tour but we couldn’t take pictures in the temples anyway. It’s always humid and warm here and today was no exception but it was nice to be in the caves and trees. Alycia, Donny, and the other guys in our group climbed up some of the rock steps, while Sydney and the rest of the mom’s and kids waited. Sydney is such a trooper! She walked a lot and was carried a lot in the heat and never complained once. I’ve only seen her complain a couple of times so far. Today she cried and went limp when I tried to take her to the public bathrooms at the temple. I’m not sure why she reacted so strongly. They were squatters but she used one of those in a shopping market and didn’t complain. We’ll never know why it happened and she was perfectly fine using the bathroom when we got back to the hotel.

We went to Pizza Hut today and fed Sydney her first bites of American food. She had some spaghetti, fried shrimp, and beef with barley soup. It was my first “real” food after being sick for two days. I had a couple of bites of spaghetti and followed that up with yogurt and a banana when we got back to the hotel. So far, everything is staying put! Sydney is very similar to her big sister. She loves soup, does not like to be messy when she eats, and loves noodles! She asks Alycia to hold her and wanted to sit on her lap a lot today. On our way back from Pizza Hut today, I carried Sydney but she held Alycia’s finger the whole way back from the hotel. We discovered a Dairy Queen on our trip back from the temple and we’ll probably check that out tonight.

I also have to try on her new clothes that we found yesterday. So far she seems to fit the 2T clothes the best. She is wearing a little 3T skort today but the only reason it stays up is because she has a round little toddler belly, otherwise it would slide right off of her! Her little 3T shirt keeps falling off of her narrow shoulders and she doesn’t like that at all. She also doesn’t like some of the tags in her clothes……remind you of anyone else??!! She can wear the dresses that we brought but she’s not very “ladylike” when she sits and is definitely better suited for shorts!
We’re all excited that tomorrow is our last night here!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Our first 24 hours


Our first afternoon with Sydney went well. After we brought her back to the hotel, she took a long nap and didn’t want to wake up! She cried twice yesterday. Once when she woke up from her nap and had all of these strange people around her again and once when I tried to break her cracker in half so she could eat it easier. Alycia saved the day and gave her sister a new cracker, which immediately stopped the tears. Donny and Alycia went down to the hotel restaurant last night and brought food back to the room for Sydney. She loves to eat but we’re never sure when she’s full! She doesn’t really give any signal that we can read. Sydney really has transitioned well so far and was getting very silly with us in the hotel room last night. Alycia and I (Tina) gave her a bath and she LOVED being in the tub with her squirt toys! She looked like a little prune when she finally got out. She will still be a little feisty at times but she seems to be getting better at reading our signals that hitting or throwing too hard is not o.k. She also started pointing to things and said her first English word “bird” while she was out for a walk last night. I have been room bound since yesterday, with the exception of our official meetings today. I’m feeling better this evening but it’s been a miserable two days. There’s nothing worse than being sick and not being home!

We weren’t sure how Sydney’s first night would go but she went to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 and slept through the night. Between her grinding her teeth, the car alarm going off twice, and the noise in the hotel, we ended up not getting much sleep. I have never heard anyone grind their teeth as bad as she does! I am hoping that it gets better once she continues to relax more with us or that we learn to sleep through it. So far she seems to like eating, sleeping, baths, being outside, and sitting with her dad the best. She was wearing underwear when we got her and did fine yesterday and so far today. She doesn’t ask to use the bathroom but goes when I sit her on the toilet. We put her in a pull-up last night and were glad that we did because it was wet this morning. However, she is used to being awake at 6:30 and I think we woke her up around 8:00 this morning. She fights waking up!

Health-wise, she still seems fine. She was picking at her ear last night and a little bit again today. She still has a loose cough once in a while. We don’t see the doctor until we get to Guangzhou. All of the families that are with us here are anxious to leave for Guangzhou. The hotel rooms are small here and the food is not very good. I guess if I had to be sick somewhere along the way, I picked the right place….I’m not missing any great meals!

We had a couple of official stops this morning to start the process for Sydney’s passport and receive our official adoption agreement. Then we went to a store and bought her some new shoes (her old ones stink!) and a few outfits. They didn’t have much to choose from for clothes, so we grabbed a few things and we’ll see if they fit. If they don’t and if I feel better tomorrow, there’s a little shop down the block that sells kids clothes for around $6 an outfit. We have the next two days free while we wait for them to process her passport. We are going to try to tour a temple tomorrow; the following day they will take us on a boat tour around West Lake. We are not able to view the blog or any comments that are posted.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sydney...oh yeah, Great Wall, too


Sorry that we missed a day but it's amazing how quickly the time goes when you're having fun! We spent the previous day climbing The Great Wall.....I thought that was the best part of the trip so far but today topped the charts!! Today (6/26 over here), we finally met Er Wei. She was very slow to warm and didn't want us to pick her up or touch her at first. She is definitely a Daddy's girl and took to Donny and Alycia really quickly. Within a matter of a couple of hours, her caregiver and the orphanage director were gone, along with everything else that she has known. We stopped to take her passport photo on the way back to the hotel and the rest of this day we don't have anything scheduled.

Sydney is sleeping right now and Donny and Alycia have taken off to find Pizza Hut. It's also amazing how quickly you get homesick for the things that you know! We found a market last night, thanks to another adoptive family here, and loaded up on Pringles, Oreos, and Diet Coke. We've decided that it has been fun touring China but now we're ready to be home! It will be good to have some time to let us all adjust though before we have to leave.

Sydney is quite a little character. So far she has shared her feisty, playful side and her loving, gentle side. She likes to throw toys and giggles when you put things on your head and tip them off. The communication gap is tough, so we're hoping she picks up some English words soon. We're also working on our Mandarin words but our pronunciation is not very good! We'll try the picture cards after she wakes up from her nap. It's difficult to read any cues from Sydney, like when she is hungry or tired or has to use the bathroom.....she just takes what you offer and uses the toilet when you sit her on it. Hopefully, she will have us trained to her schedule pretty soon.

She seems to be in good health other than a little, loose cough. She has some old bug bites and a scratch on her leg. She is making me nervous when she keeps scratching her head but I don't see anything other than a dry scalp. We've only been with her for a few hours now so that's about all I know of Sydney for today.

We're counting down the days until we can see you all again!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Forbidden City

Ni Hao-

It’s Friday night about 6:00 and we’re just lounging in the hotel. We are waiting to get hungry enough to walk down the street to try our first Peking Duck for dinner. We are also going to try to find the street vendors tonight. They sell all kinds of foods from their stands….our guide Peter told us to look but don’t eat anything! We tried to find them last night but we didn’t walk far enough.

Another CHSFS family joined us today (Cheryl & Steve and their 8 year old Sarah) for our sightseeing trip to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I have e-mailed them several times and talked to Cheryl on the phone once. Their youngest daughter is also named Sydney, so we’ve already started the “your Sydney” and “our Sydney” discussions. They are from Indianapolis and this will be their third adoption from China. I think they are going to come with us tonight to eat some duck. Peter told us that another family will arrive tonight and will come with us to tour The Great Wall tomorrow. That will be our longest day of touring, as we will also eat lunch and do some shopping in the afternoon.

As far as the sightseeing, today was hot and more humid than yesterday. The Forbidden City was fun to see and is so much larger than I imagined it would be. We (Donny) took lots of video footage and pictures. We also broke down and drank an iced Starbucks halfway through the tour, so if I weren’t bringing back a good bargaining chip for my sister (her new niece), she may contemplate never speaking to me again! Hey, I think we all sweated off about 5 pounds apiece, we were desperate! We had lunch at our hotel’s French Restaurant and the food was very good! We’ve found some really great, inexpensive food.

The jetlag is much better today. Alycia and I didn’t need a nap today (let’s see…that leaves who that slept for 45 minutes??) and I think we’re just lazy from the heat. We’re all still healthy and I’m hoping that my throat irritation is just from the smog….it’s very heavy in Beijing.

We are getting very impatient to get to Sydney at this point! We have our plane tickets in hand to fly to her province. One more day of touring and we’re off to Hangzhou!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ni Hao from China!

We FINALLY made it!! Everything went smoothly and our flight actually left the airport a little early, so we had extra time to make our connecting flight in Tokyo. From all outward appearances, Donny did very well on the flight. We had some turbulence on both flights but it wasn’t too bad. It was definitely a long flight and we were all pretty wiped out when we arrived in Beijing. We stayed awake for the flight to help us shift our days and nights around. It was about 11:30 p.m. or so by the time we got into our hotel room. I think we were all feeling some jetlag this afternoon but hopefully we will sleep well tonight. Our guide in Beijing is Peter (he is employed by our adoption agency) and he is great! We are the only family that he had today, (another family arrives tonight) so he took us to the Summer Palace this morning and Alycia got to see the panda bears at the Beijing Zoo this afternoon. The pandas had just eaten, so we didn’t get to see them do much other than stand, sleep, and scratch themselves. It was hot today, so we didn’t walk around the zoo other than to see the pandas and buy a t-shirt.

We braved the traffic and hit the streets of Beijing a few times today (Thursday). We get lots of stares but only had our picture snapped by one family because we are (comparatively) soooo tall. It takes some time to get used to all of the store clerks trying to talk you into their stores. It was a little too overwhelming after a short visit to a few stores, so we just went back to our hotel. We took a nap this afternoon and decided to brave the shopping once again. We found a market with several vendors who weren’t quite as aggressive. The only thing we bought was some candy but at least it was a start! We also looked at some art and bartered on that…..we might go back but need to figure out if it’s something we can haul around for the rest of our trip. I was hoping to find someplace where I could buy a bunch of different items and have them all shipped home. I’ll ask Peter tomorrow if that’s possible.

Tomorrow morning we are off to do some more touring. It’s good that we’re busy doing things because it keeps us from counting down the hours and minutes until we get to Sydney.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We're going to China!!!

We finally have our travel approval and a confirmed consulate appointment!!! Sarah Wu from our adoption agency e-mailed us yesterday morning(June 5) to let us know that our consulate appointment would be on 7/3, so we could book our flight. Donny was the winner of the "who can find the cheapest flight first" award. He was off to a slow start, so I thought I had him beat....apparently he was just toying with me, as his next phone call was a winner! Here's what our trip looks like (unless I get a last minute phone call from a travel agent this morning with a better deal.....there's still time!): Leave MNPLS on June 20 and arrive in Beijing on June 21; travel to Hangzhou (to get Sydney :) on 6/25; and then on to Guangzhou on 6/30 where we stay until our flight home on 7/6. There are still some seats available on this flight's not too late to come along!

Now we get to start packing and planning for the next grand adventure in our lives......

“You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” --Winnie the Pooh