Sunday, July 26, 2009

She Knows She Looks Different

We were at WalMart the other day and ran into a complete stranger with an adopted Chinese daughter. Seeing we had kids from the same place, we stopped and struck up a conversation. It was a really nice meeting and I'm sure we'll run into each other again. (You eventually run into everyone at WalMart.) The really interesting thing, tho, was Ke Xin's reaction to seeing the other little girl. She had been just hanging out in the cart, looking bored, until her eyes lit on the other little girl's face. And her reaction was immediate. She sat up straight and excitedly waved to the other child, saying "hello! hello!" At first I thought I might be making too much of it, but the other mom mentioned noticing the reaction, also.
Ke Xin is only two, and a "delayed" two because of her time being warehoused in the orphanage. I didn't think we'd deal with things like this until sometime later. But even at her very young age, she knows she's different and she gets excited when she recognizes someone else who is like her. I am impressed!! And I guess we'd better get busy with our China-related activities!
Also - Ke Xin and Olivia are alseep in Ke Xin's room, in Ke Xin's bed. She was doing so well sleeping that I decided to try to move her out of our bed and into her own. Olivia insisted she be included and the transition was seamless. I had expected tears and trouble, and got NOTHING. I kept thinking "It can't be this easy..." But is has been - so far....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Pics!

First night home with Dad, snacking on blueberries.

Making lots of noise with big sister.

Breakfast with mom and big sis. She'll eat almost anything!

Potato chip snack with Dad! Yum! American junk food!!

She was able to perch herself on a Barbie size chair and pretend to have a tea party.

Jet lag, 3 dogs and a cat. Thanks Mark.

She almost fits in the Barbie house!!

She loves to pose for the camera!! Hair boo-boos galore!

Aunt Lori sent some very nice outfits! And Ke Xin was happy to model them for this photoshoot. Ha!

Today's manicure. She doesn't hold still for long, but she likes to be fancy. What a girly-girl!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

We've been back for 1 1/2 weeks now. Things are going even better than I had hoped. Ke Xin is a delight. She is a happy, spunky, determined, independent little girl. What a joy to have her as part of our family!
To catch things up, we left Guangzhou (at 5:45am) and headed to Hong Kong back on July 10th. We spent the day there before heading to Newark on the 11th. This was because of how the flights lined up. Looking back, I REALLY wish we'd just flown back to Beijing and done the long leg of the trip to Newark that day. What little we saw of Hong Kong (around the airport) was beautiful. It was like pictures of Hawaii with mountains, water and lush plants. We went into town with Tiffany, Eric and Justin, looking for lunch. There was nothing around the hotel (a new and very beautiful Marriott) because it sits right next door to the airport. We'd heard there were all sorts of food options at the mall close by, but it was all the typical Chinese stuff. After walking and walking and sweating, we ended up at a Pizza Hut (how depressing). And most of their offerings were fairly exotic. I was tired, hungry and simply out of patience. And I was dragging two little kids and Debbi behind me. Debbi and I decided then and there that we would head back to the hotel, just cool off and hang out and order room service for dinner. Even tho we knew it would be crazy-expensive. So we hung out in the hotel and went swimming with the kids, watched TV and napped. And all the while, I knew most of the other families were heading home. Jealous! The next day we were up and off to the airport. Hurrah!!! The kids did great, GREAT, on the plane ride for 15.5 HOURS. We landed in Newark and headed for Immigration. What would happen? What would it be like? A very nice fellow glanced at our passports, stamped them, walked us to a seperate room and congratulated us, then left. Another man looked at our "brown envelope", ripped it open, leafed thru the pages for about 2 seconds and then said "OK - good bye". Wait? That's it? Well - that was really easy, but also sort of disappointing. We were herded thru the Newark airport like cattle and got to our new gate with time to spare - like 4.5 HOURS to spare. The kids and I were hungry so we found MacDonalds and Ke Xin had her very first junk food meal in the USA! Most of which ended up on the floor (we cleaned it up). How traditional! By the time the flight from Newark to Atlanta was ready to leave, Debbi and I were so tired we almost fell asleep at the gate. Both the kids had snoozed alittle on the plane and caught a nap, but we hadn't and we were not happy campers. We'd been up for close to 24 hours and it was an ugly picture. The flight to Atlanta was blessedly short and all that kept us going was the thought of seeing our men and sleeping in our own beds. Mark and Duff met us at the top of the escalator in Baggage. I didn't get a picture of Mark and Ke Xin meeting for the first time because things happened so fast and I was just so glad to be home I wasn't thinking of my camera. And by that time we'd be up for OVER 24 hours. If we were to ever do anything like this again, I would totally skip Hong Kong (an expensive waste of time), get the long leg of the journey done the first day and then do the short flight the next day. Hind sight is always 20/20...
I figured that Ke Xin would be guarded with Mark for the first couple days. Wrong! He was holding her and she was giggling before we even made it to the car in the airport paking lot!! He teased her all the way home and she loved every minute of it. I was just trying to keep my eyes open. She roamed around the house and investigated everything, and seemed totally at ease, except with the cats and dogs. They were the only thing that upset her and she was truely scared of them. Otherwise, it was like she'd always been here. She played with Olivia and sat on Mark and watched TV. They ate blueberries and had a ball. We finally pooped out at 2am and hit the sack.
Since then we have been catching up on our sleep and settling into a routine. And we have even been potty training!! We finally figured out that if we don't put a diaper on her, Ke Xin will let us know when she needs to go potty. She'll hop on and even wipe herself! If she's in pull-ups, she'll change them herself without saying a word.
She's now doing great with the cats and dogs. We were worried about that since she had such a fearful reaction to them at first. But now, after 1 1/2 weeks, she chases the cats and she figured out that if she yells at the dogs they will run from her! We let her watch them with us, without letting them get too close to her, and I think she figured out they were not going to harm her.
She and Olivia do great together. Actually, Olivia has had more trouble adjusting than Ke Xin. This surprised me since she'd always done so well with the foster children we'd had in the house. She'd gotten fairly defiant in China and that carried on after we got home. She has been very jealous from time to time, very argumentative and very clingy. I am trying to be understanding of what she may be feeling. But at the same time, I have told her that I won't tolerate any bad behavior. So, we have had many melt-downs and time-outs. But things were much better today. Maybe we are turning the corner. We'll just have to take it day by day. She doesn't behave badly with Ke Xin, just with Mark and me. So she really is being a good big sister. Ke Xin follows her and mimics everything she does. She wants to hold Olivia's hand when we are out walking and she gives her big hugs. It's all very new. Their relationship will develop over time. We just have to have patience.
Ke Xin does not talk very much. She has started mimicing things we say, but I think the other sounds she makes are baby talk, even by Chinese standards. She loves to sing to herself, too. But, she is very expressive with her face and gestures. There's a lot going on in her head. She knows what's going on around her. And she's not afraid to let you know what she wants. She gets her message across with pantomime and hand signals. And when she is displeased or angry you are left in no doubt as to how she feels. She really likes to stamp her feet. But she's also very easy going and very happy. She loves to play tricks and get games going. She loves being physical, so rough housing makes her laugh out loud. She's alot of fun!
When we first came home I planned for Ke Xin to sleep in her crib like she did in China. That was not what she had planned, tho. So, she is sleeping with us. But, she IS sleeping. Once she's down for the night, she sleeps thru the night. I've heard stories of sleep deprived parents that had me worried, so I consider her sleeping thru to be a true blessing. The first week, she would be furious at bedtime! She screamed and cried and kicked her feet for quite a while. But now she's used to the routine. She'd climb up on the bed herself if she was tall enough. She rolls around for a few minutes and then she's out. This is another time when Olivia's jealousy peeks out, so she has ended up in our bed a few times, too. The more the merrier. This, too, will work itself out in time. She's still bonding to us so we'll be patient. She's a good little sleeper, so we have nothing to complain about!
When I first met Ke Xin, she had no use for me. She preferred Debbi and Olivia. I didn't push her. You can't force someone to like you. Now I am happy to say that she will come to me and give me hugs. What a great thing! She's the same with Mark, so I think we have something good going on here. She seems genuinely happy and at ease with us. She likes to hold our hands and sit on our laps. She is definitely a sweetie! We are very lucky!!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Goodbye Guangzhou

No pics today. We spent the day getting ready to leave, buying a few last souvenirs, and then we went to the US Consulate to get our final papers and take the Oath. No electronics are allowed in the Consulate, so we don't have any photos to commemorate the event. Basically, we take an oath saying we didn't lie about anything in our adoption paperwork. They gave us back the Chinese passport with the US Visa, and also the famous "brown packet". We are NOT to open the brown packet. It is for Immigration & Customs when we land in Newark. Unfortunately, Ke Xin (and Justin) have large brown envelopes stapled to their passports. This makes it very clumsy to carry the passport. They contain their health reports because of their positive TB skin tests. We also have to carry their chest x-rays in our carry-on luggage! Mine is rolled up, so I hope it's not damaged. The x-rays are quite large, so I wasn't happy to hear I had to carry it. What is an Immigration official going to do with a chest x-ray???????? ("Yes, I'm an Immigration office, but I was also top of my class at Harvard med...")
We had Pappa John's tonight. We're off to Hong Kong tomorrow. Bags have to be outside the door at 5am! Ugh! I think we're all packed, though. I'm putting the kids to bed in their outfits for tomorrow. We've weighed the bags and I think we're under the limit.
I probably won't be posting again until we get home. 48 hours to Atlanta!!!!!!!!! 48 hours to hugging my man!!!!!!!! I know Debbi just wants to get away from us and I can't blame her.
Goodbye China! (Well, after we get out of Hong Kong...)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Consulate Appt Day!

When you see Ke Xin stop and lean onto the bed or chair and be very still, you know that she is performing a download. And she'll just kinda stay in that position until you pick her up and move her to change her.
After breakfast I took Olivia and Ke Xin to the playroom. There were several families there so the kids had someone to play with. But we all cleared out at 10:25am. Everyone had to be in their rooms from 10:30 on, because our guides had taken our paperwork to the Consulate for the celebrated and long-awaited "Consulate Appointment" (CA)!!!!!!! Whoo! Hoo! The last hurdle in the adoption. You have to be in your rooms so that they can contact you immediately if there's a problem with your paperwork. Our guide, Grace, called at 10:45 and told me everything was great and we could officially "leave the room". We were clear to bring Ke Xin home! It was nice, in that we didn't have to do anything. And it was sort of anti-climactic because we only kept busy for 15 minutes and then the whole thing was done with a phone call. No one else had any problems, either, so we could all sigh with relief. Even the family who ran into a problem yesterday was approved, so they took the oath today and will fly home tomorrow. I am jealous!!
So, we left the room and shopped. Debbi bought a Polo suitcase, I got some t-shirts so I didn't have to do any more laundry, Olivia got another dress and both girls got a pair of Chinese-style bedroom slippers. Once again, Ke Xin went ape as soon as she saw shoes. 
Since it was Hot, we didn't stay out too long. We headed back to the room and tried to put Ke Xin's hair up. She LOVES having boo-boos in her hair, but she can't leave them alone, so they don't stay for long.
Eric knocked on the door to take a McDonald's order! Yeah! (You have to take  taxi down past the Pearl Market for Micky D's.) The girls got hamburgers, I got a Big Mac & Debbi got the chicken sandwich. The chicken turned out to be more than she expected, since it was quite spicy! Just a warning to those who follow... What a great lunch!! Real french fries!!!
Then it was time for Ke Xin's haircut! I decided I wanted to see her eyes and I wanted her to have an authentic Chinese cut. So we made an appt with the White Swan Hair Salon. She really did well. She was worried at first and very watchful, but then she started to enjoy it. They only trimmed the back and bangs, but it made such a cute difference. And she was so happy with the results. Yes - she is a girly-girl.  
After that we headed for the pool and then planned to eat Italian, but halfway to the restaurant, Ke Xin fell asleep and Olivia declared she was tired.  Debbi and I knew better than to try to take 2 tired kids into a nice restaurant, so we got some sandwiches at the deli and had a picnic in our room. Ke Xin slept thru everything and Olivia never made it to dessert.
I've included a pic of Ke Xin in her crib. Notice the pillow over her face. Her sister, father and paternal grandmother all sleep this way, so I think she was destined to be a Myers!
Tomorrow we pack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I get my yuan changed back into US dollars. We go to the Consulate to take the Oath in the afternoon. We go to bed early since we have to have our bags out in the hallway the next morning (Fri) at 5AM. Yes - 5AM. Then we, and the Michaels family, head to the airport for a ridiculously early flight to Hong Kong. We spend one day and night there before flying out the next morning for HOME. We have a lay-over in Newark and then on to Atlanta. I will be SOOOO glad to get home!!! I miss my man!!! I even miss the dogs!!!! Ke Xin probably thinks we live in hotels. The poor kid! I'm wondering what we'll do once we land in Hong Kong. I know we can leave the bags at the hotel, but I doubt we can check in so early. We'll be pitiful Americans wandering the streets of Hong Kong like homeless people. 
Oh - is the Michael Jackson funeral the only thing that happened in America today???

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pearl Market and Red Couch

Today was busy! First we stuffed ourselves at breakfast, then we exchanged a bunch of money and went to the Pearl Market with Ann. Ann is a wonderful, tiny, energetic woman who runs a Care Package service here in Guangzhou. If you don't trust the mail to get your care package to your child's orphanage (the November pkg I sent must have been delivered to a black hole) you can contact Ann thru her website and she'll put everything together. Sending the pkg from within China has a better chance of making it to it's destination. To get to the Pearl Market, we took our first taxi ride!! After a little bit you learn not to watch where you're going. Zoom! Zip! Swerve! It was fun until the driver decided not to take us all the way to the Pearl Market. He dropped us off with a 10 minute walk to go! Ann was furious and they had a heated exchange in Chinese. He wanted us out so that he could continue straight on the road into a better part of town with higher fares. Eventually we exited the taxi and he took off, picking up another fare about 20 feet down the street. We headed left, with Ann fuming. We made the best of it though. It gave us a chance to just walk down a regular business street, see the shops and people and small and hear everything. Of course we were a sweaty mess by the time we got to the market, but hey - we're used to that by now! The Pearl Market is basically the same as the Merchandise Mart in Atlanta, but the stores are smaller, some are just stalls with no walls, and the pedestrian walkways are smaller. Economy of scale. And there's lots more than pearls - amber, jade, beads, you name it. Shop after shop, floor after floor. We got some wonderful jade pendants for Ke Xin's new grandmothers and then headed for the pearls. Ke Xin had passed out by this time, so we just laid her down in the corner of the shop on a piece of cardboard with a towel. She didn't care. It was floor to ceiling pearls!! Ann helped us fine nice quality strands, then the shop people went to work stringing them. Ann and the girls in the shop kept going on about how pretty Olivia was. They said she was a princess and kept touching her cheeks and giving her little pearls as gifts. Needless to say, Olivia sucked that right up. I had to laugh out loud when she corrected Ann and told her she was not a princess - she was a queen! (No, I didn't let her get away with that...) After our pearls were strung, we headed back to the White Swan. At least this time the taxi driver took us all the way to the door! We would have been in trouble if we had to walk - Debbi found "seed beads" in the stall next to the pearl stall and bought a ton of beads! Now she has to buy another suitcase to get them home because of the baggage weight limits enforced by the airlines. Ha! Seriously!! We thanked Ann and grabbed a quick lunch in our room. Then it was time for the swimming pool. The pool is beautiful! Both of them, actually. We waited to see what Ke Xin would do. She jumped right in! She's not afraid of the water if it is shallow. She's obviously been swimming before. I got a couple pics, but then was politely told to put my camera away by hotel staff. I was able to get a pic of Ke Xin when we left tho - she hoisted both floaties like a pro and took off down the path!!! Almost no one else was at the pool, so she wasn't copying anyone. She's done that before...
Then we threw on our clothes for the infamous "Red Couch" pictures for our group. It is a tradition to take the adopted kids' pictures sitting on the red couches at the Swan. Nice idea, but in reality... there was NO way we were going to get 8 little kids to sit still together long enough to get a decent shot. It was chaos, but it was cute.
As soon the the Couch pics were done, we got ready for the evenings' outing - the Dinner Cruise! (But first I called Continental Airlines Hong Kong and confirmed our flights for Saturday. Yeah, baby!) It was a very nice boat with ok food. The main attraction is the lights on the buildings all up and down the river. They really are spectacular. I didn't capture them well, but they really were impressive and everyone had fun watching them. Some big office buildings have scenes that play out from the ground floor all the way to the top. The colors on the bridges & buildings are constantly changing. Their electric bills must be out of this world!!! The kids had fun going to the upper deck and feeling the breezes. The picture with the tall building outlined in lights is our hotel, the White Swan.
By the time we got back, it was bedtime. Olivia fell asleep immediately. Debbi was telling Ke Xin to be quiet, so Ke Xin put her finger to her lips and said "shhhhhh". She is so smart -  she is absorbing everything she sees like a sponge. She copies Olivia constantly. As another mom said today, "She is a totally different child!" (from Gotcha Day). I think she and daddy are going to have a lot of fun...
Tomorrow is our Consulate Appointment. We don't actually go - our guide does. We have to wait in our rooms for her call in case she needs anything from us. Hopefully we'll get a call that all is clear and we can just go to lunch. I have my fingers crossed. Another family with us hasn't been so lucky. As we sleep tonight, they are working with US Immigration in the States trying to get everything straightened out so they can get their new daughter's visa and leave for home on time. Something went into effect July 1st that has thrown a monkey wrench into their schedule. I'll keep my fingers crossed for them, too.
Barring any problems, we'll be home in 4 days... FOUR. DAYS. Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

TB Test and... oh yeah - I knowingly bought squeaky shoes for my new daughter!

Mark probably read the headline and immediately called the lawyer to begin divorce proceedings. But the girl is into shoes and she deserved them. You'll see why...
After we got back from breakfast, we saw the window washers at work on our 26-story building. We're on the 12th floor. The poor guy was sitting on a small swing, dangling from a rope!!! Sheez!!! No way!! The girls loved it and kept waving to him through the window. He looked a little uncomfortable and then swung away like Spiderman.
We headed for the Mattel playroom in the hotel and met the nicest family. They were stuck in Beijing for a week in quarantine for swine flu!!! They looked really tired and just wanted to go home. Can't blame them. What a rotten experience. Ke Xin and Olivia love the playroom. Ke Xin did her typical thing - she took all the toys and put them in straight lines. She had fun, too, so she does know how to play and make messes.
At lunchtime we went out and picked up our wash and the orphanage pictures. It turns out one disposable camera was from the orphanage and one camera was from her foster family. They look like a very nice family - very happy. I know they have to be missing Ke Xin and wondering how she's doing. Again I felt how rotten it was that we were not allowed to visit the orphanage. I wonder if the orphanage would pass a message to the foster mom if I contacted them? Ke Xin's little foster brother was in several pictures. He will be going home next month and living near us in Louisiana. I know it's important that we keep them in contact.
After lunch it was the time we were dreading - the trip to the clinic to check the kids' TB skin tests. Ke Xin had developed what appeared to be a bruise at her injection site. One of the other families in our travel group is here for their 3rd time and they told us ahead of time that we would have trouble at the clinic. Ke Xin and Justin both had positive results and had to get chest x-rays. (Ke Xin remembered where she was and barred her teeth, growling at the nurse.) We were very anxious. If the x-ray showed TB, we could be stuck here for months while they went thru treatment!! The x-ray tech was ready immediately and was actually very nice. We got immediate results, too. Both kids' lungs were clear!! Thank Heavens!!! We celebrated with a stop at Starbucks and new squeaky sandals for Ke Xin. She really gets excited any time she sees shoes. She is rough and tumble, but she's also "all girl". She likes dresses and shoes for sure!! She was so excited she stomped around in the street with the sandals on, listening to the squeaky sounds. What a hoot! She was SO proud. Mommy was just relieved and happy to be almost done with this journey. Our Consulate appt is on Wednesday and we take the oath on Thursday. Then we begin the journey home.
The outdoor pictures are just some shots of Guangzhou. Like I said, it is so much like Savannah! One building is under renovation and all the scaffolding is bamboo. There is a large playground down the center of one of the drives. But it's not for kids - it is all workout equipment for adults. There were many people using the area when we walked home from the restaurant tonight. And some of the young guards were out doing drills this afternoon.
Another thing we saw was a photo shoot for bridal dresses. White bridal dresses! So western! In China, white is the color of mourning. They usually wear red. But, the gowns were beautiful and it was fun to watch the models.  
We had Italian food tonight, cooked by a real Italian cook. It was delicious, so... I think I'm gaining back the weight I lost in Zhengzhou. Maybe we'll just do Subway tomorrow. After we shop. Yeah! We have our own guide who will take us to the pearl market and help us get good deals! That should be fun. And then we have the river dinner cruise at the end the day. No paperwork, no doctors!!!!
I still can't see the blog, so I hope it doesn't look like a disaster. Mark said someone commented on the stroller. It is a Fisher Price imitation of the Sit N'Stand stroller. I picked it up at Big Lots. You don't need it if you have only one child, but if you have two - it is great!! Little feet get tired and whiny really quick, so you can load everyone up and go at your own pace. The only problem we've had is at airport security. They keep trying to send it through the scanner like a duffle bag. It won't fit. Then they act like I've loaded the hollow frame with C-4. Eventually we get through. Most of the Chinese stare at it since they don't have double strollers here. We get lots of comments. Ke Xin loves it. She acts like she's in a limo. I hope she'll feel the same way about her new car seat...