Sunday, June 28, 2009

home at last!

We survived the plane ride home. This was one of the happier moments. Not many more after that. Caleb was either sleeping, eating, or throwing a massive fit about sitting in his seat. But we all survived. Enough about that. Thank goodness!

We got home about 10:30 or 11pm Wed night and after trying out his bed, Caleb decided he'd rather sleep with Anna in her bed. Lucky for him, she let him.

Our first dinner together at home...spilled water and all!

The kids are all wearing "big brother/big sister" tees we bought in China. Caleb's hat says "little brother" in Chinese and his shirt says "Made in China"...I found it too cute!
First time swimming. He wasn't too fond of it at first, but LOVED it after a while.
He loved the swimming goggles so much that he wore them for most of the day...

I'll write more later but as of now, my head is foggy and not right from jet lag. I can't sleep at night and can't stay awake during the day. Hopefully Andy and I will be back to normal in a few days. The kids are all doing great.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goodnight from China

Well, here I sit on our last night in China and although I'm ready to go home and sleep in my own bed, see my kids in real life and not just through a computer (what would life be like w/o Skype?!), and get back to a normal routine, I am still a bit sad to leave here. Ok, so some of it has to do with the fact that normal for me involves cooking and cleaning and I haven't had to do any of that for the last 15 days. But most of it has to do with this strange sense of finality that leaving here has. Our long journey is about over. Yet, the real work and journey is just beginning.
We just said goodbye to the family that we have been traveling with for the last 2 weeks and it was harder than I expected. Caleb and his little friend happily waved goodbye to each other neither knowing what it really meant. But we did. And they giggled and waved while we cried.
So tomorrow morning we leave our hotel at 5:30am (that alone almost gives me a headache) for a 3 hour flight to Beijing. We'll spend about 5 hours hanging out at the airport (which actually sounds a bit, just a bit, enjoyable b/c it's at least air conditioned and has more places to walk than up and down crowded Chinese streets!) before our l-o-n-g flight to Chicago...and then customs and then one more very short flight home. Andy felt a bit motion sick during our 30 minute bus ride today to our oath ceremony. Not a very good sign of things to come for him. Could be a very interesting 24+hours! If I'm not going crazy (which is very, very likely), I'll try and take photos of it all. I'm hoping for a non-eventful easy going travel time. Again, not very likely considering how Caleb handled the 2 hour flight last week.
And speaking of "oath ceremony"...that's what we had today. We weren't allowed to bring in any cameras so I don't even have a picture to document the big moment. The word "ceremony" was probably not the correct word to describe what it was. In a nutshell, we drove to the US Consulate in Guangzhou where about 50 (or so? I'm really bad at guesstimating numbers) other adoptive families were as well. We stood in a line. Then another line. Then listened to a lady tell us info that was typed on a piece of paper we had just received and then we stood up and said something to the effect of "I promise to take care of and never abandon this child" and that was it. No photo opps, no music, no nothing that would make it kind of like a ceremony. In fact, Andy missed the oath part b/c he was taking Caleb to the bathroom for the 4th time (in about 20 minutes). Definitely another non-Hallmark kind of moment. Very strange. But the 7 minute "ceremony" made everything official. And that is good. Weird. But good.
And so as not leave on a weird kind of note, let me add a few pictures from our last days in China...
This is how Caleb "sits" sometimes. It is just how he squatts while using the squatty potty. I think it is so cute!

Caleb and his friend Ru Sheng...what you can't see is their prized possessions around their necks: a generic Barbie play phone and a purple and pink broken plastic guitar. They both carried them around their necks for the majority of the week as if they were the luckiest boys in the world.
The next are quite blurry b/c the humidity fogs up my camera really bad. They are all three pictures of brides having their photos taken. The custom in China is to have wedding photos taken well before the actual wedding day. The place where we are staying has European style buildings and pretty gardens all around so it is a popular place for wedding photos. I wish I had taken a picture of every bride and groom we saw while here. Too many to count and the dresses were lovely.

The view of Guangzhou
Trying to get a good deal on a lovely silk blanket...success.
And, again, this one is for the kids...mostly Nathan. Caleb loved it: the peeing statue.

Next post will be from a very tired mom. But tired at home. Can't wait!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Andy's top 11!

Well, I figured I should write an entry from China. Julia asks me every night and I always respond, "You do such a great job. Why should I write anything?" But, thought it would be good for Caleb to one day read something from his daddy or "baba" which he prefers to say. We have had a great trip overall. So many things to take in and see. Some of the things that will forever be stamped in my memory are as follows (my top ten list--well actually top 11!!):

1. The Chinese culture is different than I anticipated in a good way, really. Everyone is so friendly, helpful and seem quite happy--at least from an outsider's perspective. They are also very active--physically especially. Whether it be riding bikes, playing "hacky sack", playing board games together, doing Tai Chi or dancing, many Chinese are often busy outside doing one of these activities. They are so appreciative for us to adopt Caleb and "give him a better life in America". No doubt we will try to give him a "better life" like they are thinking as far as education and money goes, but most importantly we will provide a loving home where he knows that his mom and dad would do anything for him, he has brothers and sisters that like him most of the time, and most importantly we will raise him to know Jesus

2. The incredible number of people in China blows me away, not only when we are walking on the streets, but also the number of vehicles--both cars and bicycles. It is amazing to me with the number of people and vehicles that there aren't more accidents. Julia and I figure it is because there is always a traffic jam so they aren't going fast enough!
3. Caleb's orphanage...I was expecting for this to be a very heart wrenching experience for me truthfully. I thought I would see kids that looked malnourished, extremely sad and not taken care of both emotionally and physically. What we saw was just the opposite. Caleb's orphanage was better than some schools I have seen in the states. All of his nannies were very pleasant and knew Caleb very well--great sign that he was well cared for. They gave us a scrapbook of all the things he has created in his "school time" over the last couple of years as well as pictures of him during different stages of his life. The orphanage director as well as some of his caretakers sat down with us for over an hour talking to us about Caleb. As we took a tour of the orphange all the kids seemed so happy and were having so much fun coloring, painting, singing songs, etc. Caleb is such a cheery little guy--always singing, dancing, and smiling. Julia and I both feel like God's hand has been on Caleb from the very beginning to protect him and give him as loving as environment as he has had.

4. The squatty potties--now really, how does anyone go to the bathroom like this. I can't get over it. I have 2 more days here and think I should try it. I have been holding out and just going on the "western style" potties.
5. The food--I have frequented McDonald's more than I have in the last 2-3 years. I just can't do Chinese food. In Chengdu, most of the food was too spicy for me. For one meal, the food was so spicy that I drank a coke and a glass of water and my mouth was still on fire for the next 2 hours.
6. All the shops are incredible to me. Of course, Julia loves it, but every person that works at a shop tells us,"I will give you deal that is best price" I'm not kidding, every store! Not good for someone as cheap as me and has married someone who can't pass up a good deal!

7. The homes that people live in was a surprise to me. Definitely we live like kings and queens in the states. The place where we are staying right now in Ghongzhou for instance, there is one housing building on top of another. Hard to believe that people live this way, but maybe they are saying the same thing about us...

8. The Great Wall was something everyone should see some day. I can't imagine that people actually built this. I had enough trouble just hiking up a portion of it.

9. Going to a Christian Chinese church service was definitely not something I thought I would do when we left for this trip. I didn't even realize there were Christian churches in China that weren't secretive. I feel like we could learn a lot from Chinese Christians on how to really worship and not be ashamed of our relationship with Jesus.

10. Meeting so many other great adoptive families. We have especially loved getting to know the couple who has traveled with us throughout our trip. We have loved getting to know their child as well. We will surely have a bond with them for years to come. Even better, they live for 5 months out of the year at Glacier National Park. Should be a great place for us to visit one day. Anyway, their little boy is from Caleb's orphanage and was friends with him while he was there. When these 2 get together, they speak VERY LOUDLY in a bunch of Chinese language that I can't even begin to understand. It is very cute.

11. Finally, I have been overwhelmed with all of you who have sent us messages and have been praying for us while we have been gone. For all of you who have helped us over the past year in so many different ways throughout this journey to get Caleb, we will forever be grateful. God has definitely given us not only a great gift in Caleb, but also a very loving and supportive family, friends and church family. Can't wait for all of you to meet little Caleb, He sure is a cutie!!! Kara, Anna, and Nathan I miss you guys and can't wait to see you again and share all my stories :)


P.S. I didn't really throw up all the way on the plane. I just was getting a little nervous about the Chinese official taking my temperature and had to let out my anxiety in some way :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day/weekend

I didn't figure out how to use our computer here in Guangzhou until today. Turns out that all I needed to do was ask for a converter at the hotel front desk and that was it. So now I'm back online.
Friday we packed up and left Chengdu to fly to Guangzhou. That was pretty much our whole day. Packing, sitting at an airport, sitting on an airplane and getting settled into our newest hotel. Not too eventful really.
As Andy and I were packing things, we found Caleb tucking his teddy bear backpack into bed just like we do for Caleb. It was so cute. He even turned on the tv music that I turn on when Caleb takes his nap.
Caleb and his Chengdu friend loved watching all the hustle and bustle of the airport. Much better than the actual plane ride!
Saturday morning was the day for the infamous health check here in Guangzhou. It was one of the things I was dreading. It ended up being better than we expected. Actually, Andy thoguht it was cleaner than the Immediate Health Care Center we visited at home just a few months ago. Caleb did have to end up getting 4 immunizations though. He didn't even flinch. I had more tears than he did...which wasn't hard b/c he had none!

Then we had Subway for lunch. Ahh, it was good to eat something familiar!

And spent the evening walking around Shamien Island (which is where our hotel is..."island" is a bit of a stretch but it is separated by a very small bridge from the actual city)
Today, Sunday, is Father's Day and we started the day off by taking a walk. It sounds more leisurely than it is b/c it is about 200 million degrees here and you literally sweat as soon as you walk outside. We were dripping in sweat by the end of our walk. Sort of enjoyable if you like that kind of feeling. Lovely place, crazy craaaaazy humid weather.
We spent about 1/2 an hour talking w/this shop owner who is a Christian. She showed us her Bible and what she studies and how she came to know Jesus.

Then we went to a church service that was in Chinese and English. We only lasted about 30 minutes before Caleb had to go potty.

We had dinner at a Thai restaurant tonight and spend the most $ yet on dinner. I think we spent 20 dollars. That is pretty expensive in China. Most of our meals have cost us about 10 US dollars total for the three of us. The food we have eaten has been so great and we just laugh every time we get the bill b/c it is so cheap.
Walking around our hotel

We all came back dripping wet from sweat and needed a shower. Andy's third one for the day. He actually went running this afternoon. I would consider that cruel and unusual punishment...he considers it fun.
The last photo is another favorite of mine although pictures of shoes aren't generally appealing to me. This is what Caleb did w/his shoes tonight when he took them off for bath time. He lined them up right next to Andy's. He mimics just about anything Andy does. And he chatters in Chinese the whole time while doing it.
Like Father, Like Son