Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 1 - Beijing

This man's job is to ride around and sweep up trash on the street.  The streets are EXTREMELY clean.  We saw multiple street sweepers as well.

People cleaning the sidewalks.

Our first "photo session."  They wanted this little girl next to Deklan.

There are many bikes in Beijing!

I'm still not quite sure what these things are.  I think they might be some sort of enclosed bicycle taxi thing???

Bikes are never locked up.  It's also amazing to see how old they are, yet they just fix them and keep riding them!  We should take lessons from them!

Deklan looking at floating pokemon card in the water!

The entrance of the Forbidden City

The boys inside the Forbidden City

Another "photo session"

Then the mom wanted one alone with me.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City.  The details were stunningly beautiful!

The Forbidden City

The boys in front of a turtle statue.  Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Our Hotel

Trayton being silly with the cloth frisbee.

And, now Deklan is being silly.
Well, it's almost 4pm here.  After my last update, we went and ate breakfast at the buffet in our hotel restaurant.  They did a good job with it.  There was a selection of Chinese foods (noodles, vegetables, dumplings) as well as your standard cereal, made to order omelets, and the such.  After breakfast, we headed out and walked to the Forbidden City.  The walk took us about 30 minutes.  We were stopped several times by people wanting to take our pictures.  They usually had a child and wanted to take pictures of their child with our boys.  The person most in demand for pictures was Deklan.  I think because he is little, people just liked him or something.  Most people that wanted him in a picture had little girls and they wanted a picture of their little girl with him.  We were wondering if they were wanting to plan a marriage or something (kidding.)  With all of that being said, all of the boys were photographed a lot today.  I even had some young man want to take a picture with only me!  Haa Haa!!!  I guess at 40, foreigner 20 somethings still think I'm hot - HA!  When we got to the Forbidden City, there were a lot of people as it is a holiday weekend here in China.  We got a self guided ear set for each of us and went on our way.  It was hard to listen to the taping though because we were always being asked to take pictures with people...  We finished up the Forbidden City earlier than planned because it was so crowded and the boys were tired.  So, on our walk back to our hotel, we stopped and had lunch at a little restaurant.  Lunch was good and really cheap!  It was only around $20 for way more food than we needed.  Breakfast on the other hand at our hotel was $50!  The food was a little oily though - yet it was very fresh and the vegetables were cooked perfectly - not over cooked.  We stopped at a little store and bought some oranges (to cleans our palates) and water and headed up to our room.  The boys and I hung out in our apartment for an hour or so while Todd did a swim/run workout in the health club.  The boys played frisbee with their cloth frisbees in the hallway as well as played with their diablos.  The boys also made a friend with a 9 year old Chinese boy that I think LIVES in one of the apartments in the building.  He came out in the hall and played frisbee with Trayton.  He gave Trayton a carton of cookies and Trayton gave him a pack of gum.  I was able to get our suitcases organized. When I packed, I didn't have a Todd suitcase, a Kallen suitcase etc., I packed so that a little bit of everyone's stuff was in each bag - that way if a bag was lost we would still be fine.  Well, let me tell you, in theory, that sounds great, but when you are traveling with 5 people and have stuff for a 6th packed too, it is REALLY hard to find things.  So, I took an hour or so and got us organized so that we each have our own suitcase - not we can find things and I am a lot happier.  Oh, I also learned how to use the washing machine/dryer in our apartment...  I guess it is a little 2 in 1 machine.  It was running when I left, so hopefully it cleans thing correctly and doesn't eat things.  Right now, Todd is taking the boys swimming.  Tonight, we don't know what we will do.  We may go out to dinner with Todd's bosses relative, but if we can't meet up, we will venture out on our own.  Our apartment in right in the neighborhood where the night market it, so we may go check that out.  I'm sure we will get to bed early as we have to meet our driver/guide in the lobby by 7am to go to the Great Wall and the Olympic Stadium.  Here are a few pictures...  

We Made It Here Safely!

Hello Friends and Family,

We made it here safely.  It is 7:56am right now and we are wide awake.  Our flight got in around 4:30pm and we made it to our hotel around 6:45.  We were all asleep by 8:00pm.  I woke up at midnight only to find the boys watching "The Karate Kid."  Haa Haa!  They thought it was morning - I guess it was morning in the USA.  I told them to go back to sleep and they did sleep for another 3 hours or so.  The beds here are hard, but I'd rather have a hard bed where I don't feel every movement of Todd than a soft bed that is bouncy.  I guess we've been spoiled by our Tempurpedic.  Our flight was uneventful.  The boys did really well.  Deklan found out that he can't play his DS on the plane as he gets motion sickness - he didn't actually barf though - thank goodness!  The picture taking (of us by people we don't know) started on the plane.  The boys thought that was funny - they felt like movie stars.  The views from the plane were spectacular at times as we flew over Alaska and Russia.  At the airport we were met by our driver.  He was a very friendly man but spoke no English.  He drove us to our hotel in a Mercedes van.  The drive took around 1 1/2 hours - there was traffic.  Apparently it should have only taken about 45 minutes.  So far, Beijing reminds Todd and I of Seoul.  When we stepped off the plane, the smell brought rushing memories of Seoul back to us.  The driving here (so far) has been quite tame - nothing like Korea in 1997 - 1998.  Another funny thing were the cars; they have quite he variety were as Seoul didn't really.  We saw many different brands - a lot of Volkswagon Jettas, Audi's, many Hondas and Hyundais, a good bit of Toyota, we saw a Chrysler Town and Country, a Toyota FJ Cruiser, a few Hummers, Buicks - it was quite the variety of cars.  Today, we are going to go to the Forbidden City.  Tomorrow we will go to the Great Wall at Mutinayou (totally butchered the spelling there) and then a quick stop at the olympic stadium.  We are going to try and "hook up" with a friend of Todd's boss here in Beijing for dinner - he boss set this up for us - so sweet!  It will be nice to have someone take us out and show us where a good place to eat is.  Oh, our room is very nice.  It is a 2 bedroom apartment and we have a lot of  space.  The pool area is GORGEOUS!  Funny thing is a sign in the pool area says "Slip and Fall Carefully."  Gotta love the translation!  O.K., I'm going to try and attach some pictures here....  Until next time....
Trayton and Kallen waiting for the airport shuttle at our hotel in SF

One of the last photos of us as a family of 5 - SF hotel waiting for shuttle.

SF Airport

SF Airport

SF Airport

Just had to have a photo!  Here we come Gwyndolin!

Our plane.

Kallen and Trayton on the plane.

Russia from the air.

Our ride from the Beijing airport to our hotel.

This made me laugh!!  This is posted in the pool area at our hotel.

Keely (and family)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We left today!!!!

Well, that last walk through the house was very surreal as the next time we set foot in our home, we will have a BABY!!!!!!!  The kids went to school today and Todd and I finished all the packing and getting everything in order to leave.  We have quite a bit of room left in our suitcases which is good!  We do have a lot of luggage though!  We have 5 big suitcases, 5 rolling carry on suitcases, and 5 backpacks.  You need a visual???  Here you go...

Our bags...

Some interesting things happened on our way down to SF.   Some of you know that I wear Gwyndolin's referral photo on a necklace - all the time, and of course I had this necklace on today.  Well, at dinner one of the restaurant workers looked at our family and looked at my necklace and then at me and had this really puzzled look on her face and she said, "Where is your baby?"  I was so excited she posed the question like that!!!  I have had hundreds of comments on my necklace, but it's usually just the standard, "what a pretty necklace."  But, this lady wanted to know WHERE MY BABY WAS!  I was thrilled to tell her that we are flying out tomorrow to go get her.  The gal was just so sweet and wished us luck as we left.

Second interesting we were driving by the airport on our way to our hotel, I saw a tourist bus and it just so happened that all the people on the bus were Asian.  Then I took a closer look and saw that their guide was actually talking with a microphone and pointing out the sights.  So, I pointed out the tour bus to the kids.  Well right then, the tour guide started to wave to us so all 5 of us started waving back.  In a blink of an eye, all the people on the bus were on the side of the bus closest to us and they were either waving frantically to us, or taking pictures of us!!  Haa Haa!  It was so funny!  It felt like we were the first white people they had seen!  If they only knew we were heading to China... Now, we have prepared the boys that we will probably attract a lot of attention while in China and that people may take our picture...  So, after the whole tour bus incident, Trayton asked, "is this what it's going to be like in China?"  We got a good laugh out of this!  

I'm signing off for the night.  The next post will come to you from CHINA!!!!!
Can't wait!

Ironing Money

Well, yesterday, I finished ironing the wad of money we need to take with us.  I thought it was a funny site to see - me ironing money.  This is after a good couple of days being so tired, excited, anxious, running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Why am I ironing the money???  Good question!  China has a big problem with counterfeit USA currency so they are very particular about their money.  It must be in "like new" condition, no nicks, no ink mark of any kind, and it is best to have 2006 and newer to be on the safe side.  I went to probably 10 banks to get the best money in our town...  So, to crisp them up and get some creases out, I got the iron out and ironed away...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Itinerary

Here are our plans!!  We just can't wait to go!

Thursday April 28th - Fly to Beijing
Friday April 29th - Arrive in Beijing
Saturday April 30th - Tour the Forbidden City and Tiannamen Square (not sure on the spelling)
Sunday May 1st - Tour the Great Wall and the Olympic Stadium
Monday May 2nd - Fly to Nanchang, Jianxi Province
Tuesday May 3rd - WE GET GWYNDOLIN
Wednesday May 4th and Thursday May 5th - Do paper work in province for adoption
Friday May 6th - Fly to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
Saturday May 7th - Wednesday May 11th - Do paperwork for US Consulate for adoption
Thursday May 12th - take the train to Hong Kong
Friday May 13th - Tour Aberdeen Harbor and Victoria Peak
Saturday May 14th - Hong Kong Disney
Sunday May 15th - Fly Home as a family of 6!!!

We will be updating our blog on our trip - follow along if you would like!


Well, Gwydolin's room doesn't look as cute with suitcases and things all over it...  Today, we did the bulk of the packing.  All we need are last minute things like toothbrushes and such!  Much to our surprise, all of our suitcases are under 30 lbs. and still have room in them!  We needed to stay under 44lbs. and we did it with ease.  Granted we are bring 5 large suitcases, and 5 smaller rolling carry on size suitcases and then we will each have a backpack as our "personal item."  We are thrilled we still have room as we won't have to worry about buying things and then trying to find room for them.  A lot of the things we will "use up" too like diapers and food.  We are bringing nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, crackers, oatmeal, soup packets, prepared chicken salad, pancake mix and syrup (we have an apartment in Beijing.)  Oh, this is such a huge weight lifted off of me!  Today, I also ironed money - yep MONEY!  China is very selective of the bills they will exchange because there is a huge problem with counterfeit money.  All bills should be clean with no ink mark at all, no nicks or tears, minimal fold marks, and it's best to have series 2006 or newer... so I had to iron some of the folds out today.  They look great now!

The mess.  I feel like for the last 6 weeks or so, I have been just dump things in here.

The mess from another angle.

We're getting a little more organized at this point.  Kallen was a HUGE help with the packing!

Todd trying to figure our the Ergo Baby Carrier.

We Have Our Airline Tickets!!!!

O.K., this is so exciting!!!  Our tickets arrived via FedEx!  Our FedEx driver is amazing!  Over the 5 years that we have waited for our daughter, Shelli has been so supportive and lovely.  She comes to our house pretty much everyday if not twice because Todd has a home office.  Over the years, she has brought us adoption paperwork and such.  Here is a picture of Shelli with our airline tickets!!!  We leave April 28th (4 days and counting!!!)

Shelli with our airline tickets!

Oh, the Medications....

Just SOME of the medication we are bringing.

Well, I feel like a pharmacist or something.  We have one whole rolling carry on piece of luggage filled with medicine.  We have medication for everything!  Each of us have 2 different antibiotics (one for stomach bugs and the other for things like ear infections, cuts, or bronchitis.)  We also have allergy medicine, imodium, all kinds of bandages and butterflies, pedialite, benadryl, melatonin, tylenol, ibuprofen, cough drops, nyquil, tamiflu - oh and the list goes on.  Hopefully we are prepared for anything that may come our way!  I sure hope we don't get sick though!!!  I figure that since I spent hundreds of dollars on all of this we won't use it - it usually works out that way.  I sure hope Murphy's Law works this time!

Shopping For Suitcases

We have suitcases - yes we do - enough for a NORMAL vacation.  Normally we don't have the kids each have a very large rolling suitcase, but since we will be going to China for over 2 1/2 weeks and they are going to have to be in charge of their own bags, we thought it might be necessary for them each to have a big suitcase.  Our requirements for suitcases are that they must be LIGHT as we are only allowed 44 lbs. per piece of luggage which includes the weight of the suitcase as well as the things inside it.  (Side note: international flights do allow more weight but because we will be flying within China too, we must follow the rules of the domestic China flights) Much to our happiness, the lightest suitcases we could find were super cheep!  They will probably fall apart, but as long as they make it through this trip we are A O.K.  Here are some pictures of the boys picking out their suitcases...

Deklan checking the weight of the suitcase with our special suitcase scale.

Pack those puppies boys and lets GO!

The Week of The Chinese Consulate

Well, in order to go to China, you must have a Chinese Visa.  So, two weeks ago on a Tuesday, I went down to San Francisco to take care of this....  I arrived there at 10:30 - plenty of time to "drop off" our passports before noon so I could get everything back the same day between 2:30 and 3:00 - perfect.  NOT!  I stood in line ALL day only to NEVER get in.  Yes - all day, no food, no water, no pee break, all for nothing.  Aggravating!  So, I got up again at 4am on Friday morning and arrived in San Francisco at 7:30 (they open at 9am.)  People were already lining up!  But, thankfully I got in that day and was able to get our visas the same day!  Here are some pictures of the line and such!  The picture of me is the first day right when I got there - hence the happy face - little did I know what my day was going to have in store for me!

The Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China

The line went up around the corner of the block.

This is me at the beginning of the first day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Have Travel Approval!!!!!

Today, our agency called to tell us we have travel approval!!!  This means that China has approved us to come on over and get our daughter!!!  Very exciting!  Tomorrow, I'm going to San Francisco to get our Chinese visas.  Our China coordinator is working on setting things up for us on the China side.  He is scheduling the day that we can get our daughter in her province and coordinating that with our appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou - amongst many other appointments...  Hopefully we will know by the end of the week when we will go.  We are really hoping we can leave the last week of April.  We will be going to Beijing for a couple of days first, and then we will fly into Nanchang, Jianxi Province to get our daughter.  After 5-7 days there, it's on over to Guangzhou for another 5-7 days, then on our way out, we will try and hit Hong Kong.  We can't wait!  We'll keep you posted!!!!