Friday, July 25, 2014

In China: Day 16

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA


Day 16 - Thursday

4:30 am - Wake up. No breakfast buffet today, because it didn't start until 6:30 am. (and who's ready to eat that early anyway?) The very thoughtful hotel staff packed a breakfast for all of us.  No Skyping today either.

5:30 am - YES, 5:30 AM!!! Jump in the van to Hong Kong. A long 2 hr trip. At least traffic wasn't bad and, as always, S was very good in the vehicle - Oh, if only planes had that effect on him!

7:30 am - Arrive in Hong Kong. A lot of other families were on the same schedule as us. So happy that S won't be the only kid on the plane. He doesn't have to be perfect, but as long as he's not the worst, I'll be happy! Is it awful that I'm praying another kid flips out more than S?!?!  ; ) 

11:40 am - Boarded the flight. Why do we have to board so early?? I hate just sitting there, waiting on the tarmac…

12:15 pm - Take off for Chicago - 15 hours - Lord help us! Actually takeoff from Hong Kong was pretty cool. We flew over the ocean and I could see large ships and islands - so beautiful.  It was definitely a long ride. All of the kids seemed to take turns crying. S did a little, but no major, prolonged freak-outs, thank goodness! Ob had stocked up on new toys & snacks the night before, so we broke them out as needed. S really didn't get a good long sleep - just a couple 1-2 hr naps.

2:45 am China time/ 1:45 pm Chicago time- (From now on I'll flip to Chicago time.) Arrive in Chicago for a 3 hr layover…or so we thought!!  It ended up being more like a 6 hr layover because we were delayed 4 times!!  Apparently there were storms on the East coast, where our plane was arriving from. And O'Hara was complete chaos!!! I've never been to a more crowded, unorganized airport (and that's saying a lot considering all of the airports we've been to in the last 2 weeks!!)  I will NEVER again fly through there!!!  It was especially frustrating because our home is only a 3 hour drive away from Chicago.  When our flight first started being delayed we weighed our options:

   a) Wait it out & hope it doesn't get cancelled.
   b) Rent a car & drive home.  But what about our luggage? How would we get that back? And Ob was working on 30 hours of sleeplessness - not ideal for driving!
   c) Hire a driver to take us home.  Same issue with luggage. And I assume that'd be super expensive!

So, we stuck with choice a) and thankfully it didn't get canceled, BUT by the time it was delayed a 4th time I was in tears!  Like the big, heaving, snotty ones = not pretty.  The lack of sleep + dealing with a moody toddler + pregnancy hormones + airport chaos + being so close to home but stuck = mommy melt-down.  So I laid down & tried to sleep (there were actually many people, all over the airport doing the same thing!) This was one of the times I was so grateful to have Ob there with me. He took care of S while I got some much needed rest. 

9:45 pm - Take off from Chicago. By now, S was totally over airports and airplanes, so about 15 minutes into the flight he had a super, screaming meltdown!  And it lasted the rest of the flight. There was nothing we could do to sooth him.  Thankfully, the flight was only 30 minutes total and most of the passengers were very supportive (except for one grumpy old man that told us we just need to beat him - and he was serious!)  One of the other, kind passengers even approached us later and said he was praying for us!  :)

11:20 pm Indy time (10:20 pm Chicago time) - Arrive in Indy. I absolutely bawled when I saw the other 3 kiddos!  Also there were my parents, sister, grandma, and mother-in-law - all with signs and flags for S.  Then, finally, the drive home. 
First pic as a family of 6! :)
And meeting everyone at the airport...
video

12:15 am - HOME = GREATEST FEELING EVER!!  When we walked in, the house was clean, smelled great, and the fridge was stocked!!  So grateful for my awesome family!!  Ob & I chowed down on some left over pizza and dirt pudding!   Even though it was late we passed out souvenirs to everyone and Ob, S, & I took much-needed showers, so we didn't get to bed until 2 am. After 34 hours of traveling home, we were finally there! 


-Becky

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In China: Day 15

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA


Day 15 - Wednesday

7ish - Wake up

8 am - Skype with kids.

8:30 am - Breakfast buffet.

10 am - Walk to a nearby shopping center. It's annoying how pushy all the merchants are and how they come right up and hand your kid a toy, hoping he/she will refuse to let it go, thereby forcing you to deal with a fit or buy it. We only bought a few small souvenirs, including a magnet - Ob always gets one from all of his travels. 
Finally got a pic of our hotel in Guangzhou
11 am - Back at the hotel, play on the outdoor kids playground.

12 pm - Lunch. Again, too afraid to take S out to a "sit down" restaurant, Ob got McDonalds & we ate in our room.

1:20 pm - Nap time. He fell asleep on the ground and stayed asleep for 2 hours! 

4:30 am - Met our guide, John, who had picked up S's passport and visa and he passed it off to us.  We asked him about an iPad cord & he actually had one in his bag! PTL!  ;)

5:30 pm - Dinner with our guide at the hotel restaurant Food Street. He is very helpful when ordering and gives lots of suggestions. There were other adoptive families there, but, of course, S was the loudest… At least he didn't try to run away like one of the other kids!!

7 pm - Pack up everything. Plus the souvenirs I'm pretty sure our bags are going to be over the weight limit - goodbye $200… : (

8 pm - Bath time.

9 pm - Bedtime, we had planned on going to bed early, but since he took such a long nap, that didn't quite work out. While we slept (or at least laid in the dark trying to sleep), Ob went out to buy some more snacks for S on the plane.

And now, tonight is IT - our final night in China. We have to get up at 4:30 am tomorrow morning. Then we'll - or at least, I'll - be up for the next 30 hours (bc I can't sleep on planes, even if S does.) S has had several screaming tantrums, which I had read about in many adoption books, blogs, & articles, but they're still hard to deal with. I'm anxious to be home, but between dealing with S and lack of sleep, I'm thinking this trip will be a killer!!!  :( 

-Becky

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In China: Day 14

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA


Day 14 - Tuesday

5:45 am - Up early.

6 am - Skype with kids.

6:30 am - Breakfast buffet in hotel.

7:30 am - Met with guide. Today was an important day - our US consulate appointment. Anyone adopting a child over 2 has to have their consulate appointment on Tuesday. We got there at 8, a half hour early. It was super, crazy crowded, but, thankfully, it was mostly Chinese people needed a visa or requesting asylum. In fact, they normally see 2500 Chinese citizens a day!  Thankfully, we were the first in the "US Citizens" line. As we waited outside for about 20 minutes other adoptive families began to show up. Security is extremely strict. We were not allowed to bring in ANYTHING, other than the necessary paperwork. Obie even had to leave his cell with our guide. Eventually, we were allowed in and up to the second floor to window 7. We grabbed the first ticket, number 500. They had some kids play equipment there, so that was helpful, since we had nothing to entertain S with. When 12 families arrived, we all held up our right hand and took a group oath. Then we sat and waited for our number to be called, which was the first. They took our paperwork and Obie's fingerprint. They will add the visa to S's passport and we'll get that back tomorrow.
Only pic of our time at the US Consulate, bc nothing was allowed inside!
9 am - Finished with the Consulate appt- very quickly! We wanted to find a Chinese jersey for our oldest, but the shops didn't open for an hour, so we took the van to a place called Canton Tower, it was like a large rectangular tourist area. There were rides on the top of the spire, including one that was a rotating glass ball where you could see straight down and one that raised you up and the dropped you - no thanks!  Even if I wasn't pregnant!!  We walked and took pictures of the lake, library, and opera house. Then took a short rest when it began to rain. It felt really nice at first, but when it began to pick up, we headed back to the van.  
When the second one is finished, these are going to be like our twin towers used to be...
I think this was built for the Olympics? I can't remember?!?
Canton Tower is behind us
Many buildings...
This is a library
That's a big flat screen tv.
This is a performance auditorium. (can't remember the name!) They were advertising Dora the Explorer!
10 am - Shopped in a sporting area for our oldest. We found a couple good jerseys and had the name of the Chinese team ironed onto one of them. 

11 am - Back to the hotel. S feel asleep in the van and I hoped he'd stay asleep, but no such luck. He was up as soon as I laid him on the bed. We played and, again, I didn't want to fight him in a restaurant, so Ob brought back some food from "The Coffee Club" again. I had the fish & chips; Ob had a chicken sandwich. 

1:30 pm - Ob went hunting for an iPad cord. For some reason ours never worked here in China. The iPad is our "secret weapon" for the 15-hr flight home! But no luck. We'll have to ask our guide for help tomorrow.

Since S only took a tiny 10 minute nap, I had hoped he'd fall asleep at some point. The orphanage info stated he normally took a 1 - 2 hr nap each day. But no…So we just hung out and played in the room. S began to appreciate the games on Ob's cell phone - just like our other kiddos! We got bored in the room & started to get dressed for the pool when S had a screaming temper-tantrum, so we decided encouraging a nap was a better idea. 

2:45 pm - 4:00 pm - Nap time!  He wasn't super happy when he woke up, but we thought at least swimming would get us out of the room and distract him.

4:30 pm - Swim. He wasn't super excited about it today. He just stood with Ob for a while and watched me swim. Thirty minutes later he finally decided he wanted to hop in and began to enjoy himself. Soon other families came and he was much happier.

6 pm - Showers/baths.

7 pm - Papa John's delivered for dinner!

9:30 pm - Bedtime.


So close to being home…

-Becky

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In China: Day 13

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA


Day 13 - Monday

7ish - Wake up.

8 am - Skype with the kids. 

8:30 am - Breakfast buffet in hotel. Ob found a man wearing an Indiana t-shirt and immediately struck up a conversation. Then I chatted with a couple who had just adopted a 21-mouth-old. 

9:30 am - Met with guide and toured the Six Banyan Temple - a Buddhist temple, where we were blessed by a very unenthusiastic monk. Then off to the Chen Family House, which was like an indoor/outdoor museum. Lots of artwork and sculptures displayed. It was really humid again, but thankfully, the sun peaked in and out of the clouds and there were many fans blowing. It was still pretty sweaty & uncomfortable. But, at least today, we walked at a very slow pace, so I wasn't completely wrecked by the end.

Buddha! Interesting side note: Our 3rd child, P's nickname used to be Buddha because he as so fat & happy! :)
These statues were guards
More guards

Lots of incense burners - I liked the smell, but they'd be rough on anyone with asthma
Outside the temple
Yes, we got blessed by a Buddhist monk - even though we're Catholic - I figured when in Rome...

Now at entrance of Chen Family House

Lots of art


Just a random pic of the houses next door
Me with some statues. Again, we tried to get S to pose with them, but he was having no part of it!



12 pm - Back at the hotel. We weren't in the mood to walk anywhere or for McDonald's or expensive room service. Also, S had yet to take a nap, and we were worried about a mid-lunch flip-out. So Ob walked across the street to "The Coffee Club" and brought back lunch. I had ham & cheese, fries, and another strawberry milkshake. Ob got a club sandwich.

1:30 - 3:30 pm - Little S finally took a nap and so did I. But since it was later in the day, we didn't have time to swim.

5:30 pm - Met with our guide and took a 20 minute walk to a dumpling restaurant. Now, last time we walked to a restaurant I ended up getting sick and having to leave asap. But this time we walked slowly and it was too hot and humid, so it was better.  We tried some ground beef dumplings and a meat pie with some strong garlic soy sauce. I really liked the meat pie and soy sauce, and S was in love with the dumping wraps. He ripped them open, dumped the meat, and devoured, like, a dozen of them! 
There  were many medicinal drinks in this restaurant. This one is…wait for it…deer penis juice! Not kidding! Apparently, it helps with fertility!  
There was a wall of pics of famous people who had eaten at this restaurant. I can't remember who these people are, but my husband recognized them!
Food was actually one of the things I was looking forward to on this trip. I've been torn between wanting to try new, exotic things and being afraid of getting sick!  So far, I've done a good job of sticking to cooked stuff only, no fresh fruit, like my dr advised. However, he also warned me that even if it's properly cooked, if it's served on a contaminated plate or bowl, I could still get sick. :(  He also advised me to avoid drinks with ice, but I accidentally screwed that up…twice…once at the Pizza Hut in Beijing and once at our hotel in Wuhan.  Oh, and last night while I was brushing my teeth, I accidentally swished with the faucet water - I freaked out!!  Rinsing & spitting with the bottled water about a dozen times after that!!  

Obie has been MUCH more nonchalant (foolish?) about the water situation than me. He uses the faucet water to brush his teeth every day. I told him he's going to come back to the US with 8 different types of diseases!!!  

9ish - Bedtime


-Becky

Monday, July 21, 2014

In China: Day 12

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA

Day 12 - Sunday

7ish am - Wake up.

8 am - Skype with the kids. Internet's not great. Freezes a lot. In fact, it was better in Wuhan, which is weird.

8:30 am - Breakfast buffet in hotel.

9:30 am - Met with our guide and toured the Shamian Island. It was a park and shopping center with some hotels and churches. We even saw a Catholic church which was very cool!! Service was only in Mandarin. Our guide offered to take us to mass tomorrow if we wanted, but we declined. Later we saw a Christian church that offered an English service. We also did some souvenir shopping. It's so easy to buy for our 7-year-old daughter, A.  Nearly everything I pick up I think, A would love this!  It's harder to find things for 14-year-old B and 4-year-old P.  Eventually we picked up some things for A and P, but we're still looking for B - preferably a Chinese sports jersey.  It was super hot and humid so I didn't last long. I kind of feel like the party-pooper the last two days - The sun, heat, humidiity are just totally wear me out! I needed ac, so we had an early lunch at "Lucy's." It had many American dishes and the walls were covered with American movie stars and movie posters.  I had a chicken & cheese quesadilla and Obie had a grilled chicken wrap. Then we headed back to our hotel, where S took a good 1 hr nap.
Selfie with daddy
Shamian Island - everything looked like New Orleans!

I know there's a story behind this tree, but I can't remember it!
A Catholic Church in China!!


Trying to get S to pose with this popular statue - no such luck!
A very fancy Starbucks!
More random statues
The White Swan Hotel - many adoptive families used to stay here before it closed for renovation. It's due to re-open Sept 2014, but our guide said it's already nearly booked full for the year! Apparently, it's also very popular for weddings. 
Lunch at Lucy's
Too cool… ;)
3 pm - We decided to take a dip in the pool. The water was like warm bath water!! We all enjoyed it. :) Plus, we met another American family and chatted, which I LOVE!

4:30 pm - Headed back to the room and S and I bathed.

5:30 pm - Walked over to "The Coffee Club," a nice, casual restaurant with lots of American favorites. It's actually an Australian business with shops about everywhere but the US. S and shared fish & chips and a strawberry milkshake. Ob got a burger & fries. We shared a brownie and blueberry cheesecake for dessert. (Yes, I feel like a spoiled American!) S behaved like a typical toddler - he does NOT like to be confined in a chair. I remember this stage with our other kids. I remember saying, Taking a toddler out to dinner or lunch just isn't worth the fight!  Then back to the hotel. On our way we stopped and chatted with another American couple who were adopting a little boy slightly younger than S. They were a day ahead of in there journey and they filled us in on an important piece of info: Papa Johns delivers to the hotel!  Looks like we found where we'll be eating dinner tomorrow night! Lol!!  

6:30 pm - Back in the room where we watched a little tv and played. Then bed.

4 more days…

Saturday, July 19, 2014

In China: Day 11

*The following is one of 15 blog posts are about our trip to China. When we were waiting to travel, I anxiously read every blog & article I could about traveling, so I hope this helps anyone looking for info. Of course, it's all us our personal experience, so yours may be different.

Here's the itinerary: 
- Fly from Indy to Chicago & Chicago to Beijing 
- 3 nights in Beijing
- 5 nights is Wuhan, where we meet S
- 6 nights in Guangzhou
- drive to Hong Kong & fly back to USA

Day 11 - Saturday

6:30 am - Daddy got up and went to Starbucks - I think he had been going through withdrawal! Have we mentioned this is one of the reasons we were so looking forward to Guangzhou? Many American restaurants & amenities.

How he sleeps...
7-ish am - I get up.

8 am - Breakfast buffet. We were seated near a group of other American families here for adoption and when I saw them I wanted to run up and hug them!!!  Got to know one couple and learned that many of us had the same plan for today - the Medical Exam.

8:30 am - Skype with the kids. Unfortunately, the internet connection was horrible and after being kicked off 4 times, we finally gave up. :( But we did talk over the phone. Also at this time, S decided to have a screaming fit?? :(

9:30 am - Met with our guide and went to the medical exam. I had read from other blogs that this can be brutal - Crowded, looooong waits (like 2.5 hrs) and lots of tears during the TB test. But in reality everything went fine! And quick! Only 30 minutes! Parents are not allowed in the room during the TB test and S came out with some tears, but a sucker quickly fixed things! :) There were lots of other families there and it was fun to get to know them.

Waiting for our turn


After the TB test
A wine dispenser on the first floor?!?
12:30 pm - Lunch at the McDonalds in our hotel. Have I mentioned I LOVE the China Marriott Hotel? Seriously, this place is awesome! In addition to McDonald's, it has several nice restaurants, a Starbucks, lots of shops for men, women, & children's clothes, a nail salon, a massage place, a few bars, an workout room, a jewelry store, a bank, a business center, a convenience store, deli, bakery, an indoor & outdoor kids play area, a pool, tennis court, basketball court, a freakin' waterfall!!, a small stream with a small bridge over it, and I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff.  This is all IN the hotel!!!!  I feel like this is our reward for making it through 5 days in Wuhan and a crappy flight with S. Lol!

Waterfall at our hotel 
The pool with a HUGE tv showing the World Cup
4 pm - Met with our guide again and walk to a nearby park. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was super hot, humid, & sunny, so we were all sweaty messes. Then we headed to an authentic Cantonese restaurant where our guide helped us order. It began great and we were really enjoying ourselves, but then I got a killer cramp and needed to head back asap. It was a 15 minute walk, so our guide attempted to hail a cab, but no luck so we slowly walked back. I made it, crashed on the bed, and felt bad for being the one to ruin the fun. :(  I think I just over did it. The pregnancy definitely doesn't make me any more energetic than usual!

A huge fancy restaurant (can't remember the name) across the lake during our walk in the park
Ping-pong matches at the park
Karaoke at the park
Our guide, John, at the Cantonese restaurant
Again at the Cantonese restaurant, before it went downhill for me
Later that evening we all bathed and had a nice relaxing night.

-Becky