Monday, June 29, 2009

She laughs!!!!!! She cleans?!?

It only took a few hours, a good nap, half a vat of chicken congee and 2 fish sticks, but Miss Ke Xin has started to come out of her shell!!! Amazingly, she is laughing and playing with all of us. She is totally entertained by her big sister. Olivia was re-energized by a several hour nap (thank heavens!) and the remaining fish sticks, and she was in the mood to get to know her little sister better. The funniest part of the evening for me was when Ke Xin held out her comb to Olivia - and when Olivia reached to take it, Ke Xin pulled it back, fast as a whip and laughed and laughed. That is exactly how Mark used to play with Olivia when she was a baby!! So, the child has a sense of humor. Yeah!!!!
She also likes to clean! She and Olivia were playing tug of war with some wet wipes and Ke Xin proceeded to clean her sippy cup, legs and shoes with one of them. She was very thorough. She's tried on all of her shoes, but her old sandals are her favorites.
For Debbi's friends - I don't think she will be emailing you tonight. It's 9pm and she is totally sacked out on the bed with her mouth hanging open. I would take a picture of her, but then she would kill me. And she got the lucky chore of changing not 1, but 2 poopy diapers while I was out doing paperwork. Ha! Ha!
Everyone is asleep but me. Let us pray that no one wakes up bright as a bunny at 3am like they have the last 2 nights...

Introducing Brooke Ke Xin Myers!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Gotcha Day!!!!!!!! It went really - better than I expected. We met the guide, Yisha, in the lobby and boarded the bus for the short ride to the registration office. We were told that some of the kids were there, but some would arrive after us. So, I was quite surprised to hear "Qian Ke Xin!" almost before I put my things down on the nearest table. And there she was! Just standing there looking around, very serious. Everyone gasped, since she was the first in the room, and started taking pics of her. She didn't cried at all. She put her hands behind her head when I reached for her the first time. (This is funny to Mark and me because Olivia did the same thing as a baby.) I presented her with her purse full of little goodies and a super-soft stuffed horse. She was fairly interested in them and dug into the M&Ms. She got very animated when I showed her 2 pictures I'd put in the purse. One is of her and her foster brother Qi Meng, and the other is of the two of them with their foster mother. She kept pointing to her foster mom and saying "mama! mama!" and she would point to QiMeng and say something like "Moo!" (Now I'm REALLY disappointed we can't visit the orphanage - I think that closure would have meant a great deal to her and to our bonding process.) She was willing to share her candy with Olivia immediately and gave her several of the m&ms. She was very familiar with the little toy cell phone and liked the sounds it made.
After we had the kids for a little while, we signed the guardianship agreement and headed for the photo store for pictures to go on the passport and our adoption record. The bus driver overshot the shop, so we had to walk back a couple blocks. The store was very small and hot and the walk back to the hotel was VERY hot and sweaty. Olivia was out by the time we got back and was very hot again. She's not throwing up, but I think we have lost a lot of ground in her recovery.
We called Daddy on skype and he got to see his new daughter and talk to Olivia. He was totally tickled.
Ke Xin is in diapers. I didn't know if she'd let me change the wet one she had on, but she was perfectly happy to. She rethreaded the straps of her sandals and dressed herself in the new clothes I offered her. All this while, she has been silent & very watchful. NO smiles.
She and debbi and Olivia all took a nice nap. Deb and Ke Xin are awake, so we'll eat and then I have to head down to do paperwork. Things are running very smoothly, so far...

More Gotcha pics

Great Wall day

Even tho we are now in Zhengzhou, we still can't see the blog. So I'm sending the text and photos blindly through email. Hope they look ok! Yes, its Gotcha Day, but I have to do this stuff in order. Hope I don't get the pictures in backwards (order).
Saturday we went to the Great Wall, the Jade factory, the cloisonne factory, the Olympic Village, the Tea Doctor shop and the acrobat show. Whew! They tried to sell us something at every stop, which got to be irritating. The day was HOT (did I mention it was HOT???????)
The mountains outside Beijing are beautiful! We saw the Great Wall. It was beautiful. Did we climb the Great Wall? Are you kidding??????????????????? No way! Too hot and crowded. The picture does not do justice in showing you how far and how high the climb would have been. Only one member of our group, Eric M., made it to the next tower. Yeah for him! Olivia had a meltdown and we spent our time eating popsicles and searching for shade. Not just for Olivia - for several of us. Luckily we found some and quite enjoyed ourselves.
Olivia has made fast friends with Lilly, Heather and Eric's little girl. Those are their heads together on the back seat of the bus. They never actually slept tho.  
We walked past the Olympic venues and they were quite impressive. It was really HOT. Olivia was furious because she misunderstood and thought she was going to SEE the Olympics. And there is Maggie, our guide, with Olivia. She loved Olivia's blonde hair as much as the other Chinese. She keeps getting looks where ever we go. The girls who sat behind us on the Zhengzhou flight reached btwn the seats and touched her.
Olivia and I on the bus after the Dr. Tea show. The tea was delicious, especially the jasmine. I actually broke down and bought some. Olivia was wiped out by this time, but we still had the acrobat show to see. She was able to stay awake for most of it and it was quite entertaining. But she zonked before the end. We were all ready to. The day had begun at 8:30am, on the buss and didn't end until 7:30pm with no dinner yet. TOO long. TOO hot.
The last pic is Olivia asleep on her stroller at the gate in Beijing for the flight to Zhengzhou. She's gotten scared at security because people were yelling at us and ended up in tears. She fell asleep at the gate. The flight was hot and bumpy the entire way. Just was we were landing, she woke up and puked all over herself. Luckily no one was checking  temps. I changed her clothes, grabbed our stuff and ran off the plane. With rest and liquid ibuprofen, she was well enough to make it to Gotcha Day, but we've had a relapse, so she won't be going anywhere for the next couple days. Thank heavens we don't fly out until Saturday.

Great Wall pics

More Great Wall Pics

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Morning in Zhengzhou

Olivia is doing much better. We think it may have been exhaustion from 20 hours of flying, 2 overly-hot and overly-busy days in Beijing and then a very bumpy and hot ride from Beijing to Zhengzhou. She's eating and drinking small amounts and not puking, so I think we are on the mend. Thank goodness!! NOW I can feel excited about meeting Brooke in 4 hours! When your child is sick, it overshadows EVERYthing.
And again: THANK GOD FOR DEBBI. She has been the ultimate lifesaver. Sheez!!!! And the families traveling with us have been incredible - grabbing our bags in the airport, sharing medicines and just being there. Thank you to them in a BIG way.

Welcome to Zhengzhou

Here's the scoop - I got 2 hours sleep last night because Olivia woke up and was ready to roll. Now she has a stomach bug so she is puking, and - oh yeah - it's Gotcha Day tomorrow morning.
No time to post pictures, we've gone into survival mode here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Did I Mention It's HOT?

Today was too LONG and too HOT. We have to be ready to leave for the airport by 8am, so now that we finally got back from our touring after 11 HOURS... we gotta take this time to get ready to go. More pics tomorrow from the Great Wall. The HOT Great Wall. The SWEATY HOT Great Wall. Did I mention that its hot?
Stay tuned for Zhengzhou tomorrow...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pics out of order

Here are the pics you were supposed to see AFTER the Forbidden City pics. But I'm tired and hungry and forgot to attach them. I think... If I attached them, then I'm making an even bigger mess out of this post than I thought. Here are the ceiling detail, the rickshaw ride and Olivia sleeping...

Forbidden City

We started the day at 9am and gathered in the lobby for the ride to the Forbidden City. I got a pic of the 4 little girls we have in our group. Just think - in 3 days there will be EIGHT more kids in the picture! What a zoo!!
We toured the Forbidden City (Olivia said she didn't want to go because it was forbidden - she thought we weren't supposed to be there) today. It was hot. Did I say it was hot? Well, let me tell you, it was HOT. And we had our first experience with Squattie Potties. The name tells you everything you need to know. Ugh. Try using a squattie potty for the first time in sweaty hot heat, with a reluctant 4 year old. The best investment we made all day was the frozen bottled water. The City was very beautiful and I'd like to go back some time when we could tour the entire thing and take our time. Olivia was quite the star attraction. Because of her blonde hair, she got many looks and a few people wanted their pictures taken with her. She cooperated, but you could tell it got old pretty quickly.
We had a traditional Chinese lunch which was very good. We toured a silk factory where I found a small (16"x24") handwoven silk carpet that only cost $1500. I think I'll just stick that in my suitcase! And we visited a "typical" working class neighborhood.  
I'm not writing any more tonight because we can't see the blog and this may turn out to look like a mess. And room service just brought up our sandwiches. Hope you can see the pictures!

More Beijing Pics

The ceiling in the Forbidden City had such detail, I just had to get a shot.
We had a rickshaw ride through a poorer district near the Forbidden City. I didn't take pics of the people's homes, it just seemed rude. They're not a display - that's just how they live. The young rickshaw driver took our pic. I think he did a great job.
And, here's Olivia as soon as we got back to the room. She made a special bed out of the chair & footstool and zonked out on us. I'm hoping she doesn't wake up at 3am...

Blogging Being Blocked

We can't see our blog, so I'm posting through email. I hope it looks ok... If it doesn't, now you know why! Maybe we'll have better luck once we get to Zhengzhou.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Few Pics

Here is Olivia at her first take-off.
Olivia after we FINALLY got to the hotel, and
a curious display on top of the mini bar...
check out the little green box...

We're Here!!

We have made it to Beijing. The flight was beyond long. UGH. We're worn out, but its a little too early to hit the sack, so we'll eat with the other families at 6 and then go to sleep. We tour Beijing for the next 2 days. More later!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Biggest Thank You

The biggest Thank You goes to Mark. Without him, this adoption never would have happened. He opened up his heart to the idea of a child from China and worked SO hard to make it happen. All the work, all the time, all the money, all the stress when he was almost laid-off. He has worked hard all his life, saved his money, made wise choices and done the best he could. It has paid off in the life of his second daughter. I know she will be very proud of her new daddy as soon as she can understand.
I am one lucky woman.

Thank You!

In a few hours we will head to the Atlanta airport at the ridiculous hour of 3am. But, we have to be there 3 hours before our first flight takes off, so we'll do what we have to do. We're taking the stroller. I'll get Olivia into it (she's almost too big) and let her go back to sleep.
I think everything is packed. If not - it's not going. Debbi already has the bags in her van and I'm glad. I can't mess with them anymore.
I have a binder with all the important documents and a waist belt with a bunch of money. I'm ready to go! I think I'll try to take a nap first, though.
We wouldn't be making this trip if it weren't for the help of some other people. So I need to send out some thank yous. First is to Grandpa Howard who graciously loaned us the seed money to get the adoption started. Dr. Page, Mark's cardiologist, wrote a wonderful and supportive letter for our dossier explaining that Mark's high blood pressure wasn't a problem (the Chinese are very picky about that stuff), Aunt Lori helped us get through the US Immigration experience faster than expected and Donna Straight and the Perry's of our local adoption group have given us invaluable advice. There are probably alot more people I need to thank, but my brain is kinda fried right now, so I'll have to do that at a later date.
Now all we have to worry about is possible quarantine! Pray that no one sneezes on the flight to Beijing. They'll be taking our temperatures before they let us off the plane.
Pray for us!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Itinerary Time!

We have the official itinerary from our agency!

Here's what takes 2 1/2 weeks:
6/24 - (Wednesday) leave Atlanta (be at airport at 4am), head for Beijing
6/25 - arrive Beijing 2pm (2am in Atl), stay at Holiday Inn!
6/26 - tour, adjust to time change
6/27 - tour
6/28 - fly to Zhengzhou, arrive around noon, stay at Crowne Plaza
6/29 - (Monday) we receive Ke Xin that morning!!!!!!!!!! Eeeekkk!!
6/30 - complete Adoption Registration - she is officially a Myers whether she likes it or not!
7/01 - free day
7/02 - free day, we receive notarized adoption documents
7/03 - receive Ke Xin's Chinese passport, fly to Guangzhou, stay at White Swan Hotel
7/04 - (Saturday) Happy 4th of July - we'll be at the doctor's office for Ke Xin's physical and several immunizations, plus a TB skin test. We also prepare all of our paperwork for our Consulate Appt. I'll want some fireworks by the end of that day!!
7/05 - free day
7/06 - free day, TB skin test is checked.
7/07 - free day, chest x-ray if TB skin test was positive
7/08 - (Wednesday) - interview with US Immigration
7/09 - take Oath at Consulate
7/10 - fly to Hong Kong, hang out for the day
7/11 - fly home, finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arrive 10:30pm

There are 8 families on this trip, so we should make plenty of new friends. I'm excited, but very nervous, too. The weekend is going to zoom by and I'm never going to get everything ready in time! It seems like there are 100 little details to handle...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Quiet Sunday

Our poor travel agent had quite a time with our tickets on Friday. Her computer crashed and then Continental's went wacky and dumped our reservations not once but twice. We're ticketed now, so that is all settled. I think our agent, Sue Sorrels, was going to head for the liquor cabinet after she finally got our (and everyone else's) stuff straightened out! We will head for the Atlanta airport around 3:15am on June 24th, arriving at 4am - 3 hours before flight time. UGH UGH UGH. We'll fly to Newark and have 2 1/2 hours to chill before we head to Beijing, arriving around 2pm their time on Thursday the 25th. They are exactly 12 hours AHEAD of East Coast time. There are 4 families in our travel group on this same flight! There are 7 families in all. We'll meet with the others in Beijing.
If you read "Mark's Story" from a couple days ago, you'll know that he is having trouble sleeping during the day, while he's working midnight shift. I tried some black-out curtains and they didn't work at all. So this morning I installed MY version of black-out curtains... 2 navy blue comforters we had in the attic. They are terribly chic, nailed into the top of the window frames. But they WORK!! The bedroom is like a cave now. And Mark slept like a baby!
The new photos of us for Ke Xin and the letter FULL of questions for her orphanage and foster parents have been prepared by Ann at Red Thread and are on their way. I hope her foster mom has explained that we are coming to get her. I hope the transition isn't too much of a shock... You know she's going to be thinking, "Who are these crazy white people taking me away from everyone I know???"
Which reminds me - when we were at our local adoption group meeting last Friday, the host's adopted son, Sheridan, named Mark "giant". He said something like, "Hello giant - will you play with me?" while the rest of us were having a big "what to pack" discussion. Mark got the biggest kick out of that!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some New Pics

It's a bird!! It's a plane! It's........

Super Olivia!!!
(She designed her costume herself.) Gotta give her an A for Imagination!

Our new (used) playgym for the girls. This is the center tower. It will have 3 arms with swings, slide and monkey bars. Mark is pressure washing it. It needed a bath badly. It also needed to be "squared up". Mark just kept saying he didn't even know how it could stand up, it was THAT out-of-square. He's been replacing some boards and adjusting others, so now it looks like this:

Much better - but we still have a ways to go. Hopefully it will be up and ready by the time I get Brooke home on July 11th. (hint, hint...)

Olivia won the raffle for a free private lesson with the "instructor of her choice" at the gymnastics school. Of course, her choice was Miss Yolanda!!! She had a ball and loved having Miss Y all to herself.

The upstairs AC unit has a freon leak, so it was muggy and 82 degrees last week. Olivia bunked in the sunroon on the fouton. It was just like camping out and she loved it. The AC has been fixed and we've all moved back into our bedrooms, but she still wants to sleep in the sunroom.

My brother, the packrat, has been cleaning out his warehouse and donated several old kid toys to us. Olivia took a shine to Silverwind the Horse. Once again, she has designed her costume. I think she was going for a circus-style here.

Smoochy and Lucy. What a pair of faces.................

A Mark Story

Mark is working midnight shift this week. So he sleeps during the day.
When Olivia and I got back from her swimming lesson yesterday, I went to check on him. He wasn't in bed. He wasn't in the bathroom. He wasn't in any of the other bedrooms or bathrooms. He wasn't in the basement. He wasn't out back working on Olivia's (and Brooke's!) new (used) playgym. I checked the driveway again to make sure his car was there and he really was supposed to be on the property. Where could he be???????
As a last resort, I opened the door to our walk-in closet. The door bumped and stopped against his leg, on the floor. He was lying on the floor!!!!!!! I screamed out loud! Had he had some kind of attack??? Was he dead on the floor???????? Call 911!!! Call 911!!!
Then, suddenly I saw it - the pillow under his head. He was sleeping in the closet.
He never even stirred when I screamed. I just left him there since he rarely gets enough sleep when he works that shift.
Later he explained that it was dark and quiet and he'd slept quite well. I explained that he'd almost given me heart failure.
Today I found him in the same place after swim lessons. Except - he left the door cracked with his foot sticking out. It was kinda funny, since it looked like a homicide scene from an episode of Law & Order or CSI.
You gotta love him...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And It's Official!

We got the all-important Consulate Date today, and the travel dates are official: we depart two weeks from today, June 24th, and leave Guangzhou on July 10th. We've been speaking with a wonderful travel agent about airfare. Because of connection times, we may spend a day in Hong Kong! Wow!! It's all set and we're really going!!!!!! I have new photos to send to Ke Xin, so she can get familiar with our faces before we arrive on her doorstep, and a letter full of questions for her foster mom and the orphanage. I hope I get answers to at least a few of them.
Olivia has been taking swim lessons the last 2 weeks and loves them. She's had 2 teachers who are both very good with the kids. She was telling one of the other moms all about our China trip today - she's excited to be a big sister.
More details as I learn them!

Monday, June 8, 2009

T-A!!!! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

TA is officially here (CCAI never says anything until they know something for sure, so it would have been a bigger surprise it if did NOT come).
Now the agency has the paper it needs to request our US Consulate appointment (which happens in Guangzhou, the second week of the trip). If they get the date they are requesting, we'll fly out June 24th and leave China on July 10th.
And we can make airline reservations. I think it's gonna be alittle more expensive than hoped, but what can you do?
Whoo! Hoo!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It Worked!

The email test-post worked! It was almost too easy! Yeah!
Several people have been blocked from getting to during their trips to China. Using the "email post option" is one way around that.
The picture is probably from 1965. That's my dad, Grandma Hazel (dad's mom), my brother David, and me, and my mom, Arline. Mom has been gone over 20 years now, so its nice to have her picture here.
Wow. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far-far away...
The picture is courtesy of a gadget Mark got me at Christmas that can scan/view a 35mm slide and turn it into a digital picture. Software lets you edit and fix-up damaged pictures. I want to go through all dad's old slides and get them burned onto a CD before the slides go bad. That's another project for after Ke Xin gets settled in...
And 2 more local families, also with CCAI, got their TA call also! Looks like we'll all be traveling together! We have to wait and see what Consulate Appointment we get and then we can buy our airline tickets. I don't want to think about how much they will cost. Oh well - no way around that! It's exciting to have an actual date - 17 days from now we'll (hopefully) be in the air!

test blog post

Testing blogging from email if we are blocked from China.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Our agency called today, saying they HOPE to get our TA next week!!!! Yeah!!! IF they get it, we are looking at a June24th departure for China!!!! That would mean we get to meet Brooke Ke Xin Myers on June 29th!!!
I think we'll have a good weekend!! Now I can get rid of this "living in limbo" feeling. You can't plan because you have no idea when anything is going to happen. Instead, now I can start to panic!!!!!!!!
I need to mention that last Friday we met the nicest people at a graduation party. We were helping our neighbors celebrate their youngest daughter, Brittany's, high school graduation when I spied a man walking with his asian daughter. I asked if she was from China. They have been home with her 4 years this month! She and Olivia had a wonderful time playing for the rest of the evening. They are the nicest family. They live in Albany, Georgia, so they aren't really local, but I know we'll stay in touch. So, "Hi, Kim!"