Saturday, July 29, 2006

More pics

This is us at our first meal again. One of the best things we brought to China with us was the disposable bibs. They came in handy several times and I never had to carry around a dirty bib in my diaper bag.

Some pics

The first picture is of the orphanage director handing Lilli over to us. The other picture is of our first meal together. She is handing us some noodles.

Ahhh, home at last

We made it. I have never been so glad to be home in all of my life! I sobbed when I saw my brother in Chicago. I was so overjoyed to see a familiar face even though we still had one more flight. When we finally got into Louisville, I sobbed again and only wanted my mom. I'm such a baby. China was fun and interesting, but it pales in comparison to the good 'ol USA! We stopped at McDonald's on the way home from the airport and had a "real" meal.

I am not going to type much because the wee one is asleep and I'm sure she will awaken at any minute and I would like to get some rest. The plane ride home was horrible. Lilli screamed for the first 5 hours. Todd was finally able to soothe her and get her to sleep. She slept for most of the rest of the flight. I was glad because I had a complete meltdown on the plane while she was screaming.

Things at home aren't going as smoothly as I would have hoped. Getting Lilli adjusted to IN time has been difficult. She is doing fine with the dogs and she loves the cat. She tolerates Boomer more than Sherman but I think that is because of all of the noises Sherman makes. She is eating well and we are trying to find things other than meat and noodles that she will eat. We did discover that she likes ice cream and blueberry pie. This weekend she has met all of her cousins and she loves playing with the kids.

I know things will continue to get better. This is such a transistory period and we have to remember that she has only been ours for 2 weeks. Her world (and ours) has been turned upside down and we need to be patient. We are doing all we can to keep her happy and ourselves sane!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Counting down the minutes 'til we're home

One family from our travel group leaves for home tomorrow. They are the first to go. It will be sad to see them go. We have formed a very close relationship with these people and their girls. We talk about having reunions every so often and I hope that we do. They have been our support system since we've been in China.

Todd is out shopping with Howie, from Maine. Apparently, Howie says you get better deals at night than in the day. Shops around here stay open very late and they open very early. Today we took it upon ourselves to cross the canal bridge and venture into the "real" Guangzhou City. One couple in our group, Mike and Barb from New Jersey, had some friends who were here in January and they had given them a hand-drawn map of Guangzhou. Guangzhou City is different from the island we are staying on and we are separated by the Pearl River. Shamian Island is built around the adoption industry. All of the stores cater to the adoptive clientel. Once you cross the bridge over the canal, you are in a different world. It really is the China you see in books. We walked by the strangest sights and smelled the oddest things imaginable.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dreaming of . . .

ice cubes, sheets, faucet water, less pollution, steak, baked potato, diet coke, Starbucks, living rooms, television, Target, soft beds, my dogs, my house. Can you tell I'm homesick? We are really anxious to get home. It is Monday in China so we leave in 48 hours! I can't wait to get the plane ride over with. I'm not anxious about that, but I am anxious about how the dragon is going to do. She can throw a humdinger of a fit, especially when she gets frustrated. Right now she is mad at the stacking cups so she is throwing them. Minton family--does this sound like anyone else we know? Ha!

We are still doing well. Todd has been sick the last two days. He has the Chinese version of Montezuma's revenge. He is doing better but this would be so much easier if he were at home. Luckily we have Imodium and Pepto with us.

We have had a lot of firsts this week. We found out that she waves bye, she can clap her hands and say "yeah", she likes to dance and jump on the bed. She likes to sing and mimic adults. She plays fairly well with other kids, but she is usually the aggressor and we have to intervene. Last night we had a picnic outside our hotel rooms with four other families. All of us brought some toys and let the girls play together. Lilli loves to be around people. She is also quite the little daredevil. She likes books, but she gets frustrated when she can't open them. I have to laugh at her sometimes because she gets so frustrated.

Well, we are going to the Pearl Market today and we have to get our picture taken at 11:00 on the red couch. We'll see everyone very soon!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Seriously, napkins

If you are going to be traveling to China in the near future, bring something you can use for a napkin! I don't know what they use, but you will rarely find a napkin at your table. If you do get a napkin it is a beverage size napkin or they will bring you a travel size container of tissue (and charge you for it). It is the strangest thing! I think you can purchase paper towel that comes in a box now. That would be ideal. Pack those instead of travel tissue. I way overpacked on travel tissue and have yet to use one whole package. Just a tip!

Still sweating in Guangzhou!

Ne Hao! I think that is Chinese for Hello! I probably spelled it wrong but at this point I don't care! We are finally in beautiful Guangzhou, China. It is really gorgeous on the island. We are staying at the infamous White Swan hotel which blows the White Rose in Wuhan out of the water! Our room overlooks the Pearl River (which is the 3rd largest river in China). It reminds me of home minus the Vegas style lights on the mainland. Guangzhou reminds me a little bit of New Orleans in that there are shop-lined streets and lots of Spanish moss hanging from the trees. The humidity, I'm sure, rivals New Orleans. It is definitely not as hot here as it was in Wuhan, but the humidity takes the cake. I am sweating in places I didn't know you could sweat. When we return to the hotel room we are soaked to the bone in sweat. It can be miserable but we are acclimating to it.

Lilli did fantastic on the plane ride from Wuhan to Guangzhou. She loved take-off but the vibration of the plane took over and lulled her to sleep. I was grateful as there were two screaming babies. I hope she does well on the long plane ride to Chicago. It is a 14 hour flight. We tried to book an extra seat, but the flight is already booked. I'm really dreading the long flight with the spicy one. (We have dubbed our travel group as the Spice Girls because of all of our Hubei babies and the 'tudes they are showing.)

We arrived at the White Swan at about 10:00 P.M. It had been a long day of traveling. Lilli was a trooper. She kept herself entertained most of the time and the other times we were shoving Cheerios down her throat! Ha! When we got to our room, there was a fireworks display going on over the river. It was a spectacular sight. Lilli was captivated and squealed with delight. We held her in the window and she watched in fascination. The loud noises did not bother her a bit. Even the vibrations of the windows didn't phase her. I'm telling you, she is a little daredevil!

The buffet this morning was the best food we have had since we've been in China. There were so many selections. I did miss the the multi-colored ox tripe and the preserved duck feet however! Ha! I had two BIG slices of french toast that were so fluffy! I was in heaven. I can't wait to get back to the states and have a steak with a baked potato and to be able to eat a salad. I like rice and noodles, but I am ready for American food made in America! We had lunch at a place called Lucy's today. It is an American grill. I ordered a Hawaiian Chicken and Pineapple grilled sandwich. It was decent. Everybody else had a hamburger and most really enjoyed it. We got a grilled cheese for the girls to split. Lilli's buddies Brenna and Hope liked the grilled cheese. Lilli wasn't too sure anbout it at first, but she ended up chowing on it. These girls have probably never had cheese (Angela, take deep breaths). We had pizza in Wuhan and Lilli liked the bread and sauce, but pulled the cheese off. I think the melted cheese on the sandwich may have been more to her liking.

We still can't get Lilli to take any formula or milk. Tonight I made some formula and sweetened it with sugar and she took one or two sips and was done. She also doesn't like many vegetables. She ate two or three bites of carrot at lunch today and ate a piece of celery. I bought a jar of mashed veggies tonight at the "grocery" store so hopefully she will eat that. We have also discovered that she really doesn't like sweet things. (I know, Angela, she is going to have a hard time fitting in to this family--no cheese or sweets!) We had dinner at a Thai restaurant this evening and ordered sweet and sour chicken. She took one bite of it and handed it off to Todd. What she enjoyed was the spicy curry chicken and some shrimp. They brought out these things called shrimp biscuits and I thought they tasted like something I would feed my goldfish. Lilli and her buddy Hope loved them! They were cramming them in their mouths. What a sight! These girls are bottomless pits and will eat all day long.

One thing I have discovered that I really like is bean paste. It sounds horrible but there are so many ways you can prepare it. Lilli loves it too. I must learn how to make the dumplings that she enjoys so much. Most of the ones she likes are stuffed with meat. She is definitely a meat and bread kind of girl. I can't wait to give her mashed potatoes (Michael don't worry--I won't be making them!)

Things are going fairly smoothly. I am ready to go home but I think I can persevere a few more days. We only have four full days left. In a way it is kind of sad to leave her home but it is definitely time to get her home and into a routine. I need my routine, too! I'm done brushing my teeth with bottled water and doing dishes in the bathroom sink. I miss my puppies, too.

Tomorrow we visit a Jade factory and go to a Buddhist temple. They will perform a blessing over the babies if we want to.

We did some shopping today. We bought an outfit for Lilli (a Chinese outfit) for when she is a little older (probably 5). Todd loved it and went in to haggle the price. I have bought Lilli 7 pairs of shoes! We have three pink pairs, two white, one lavender, and a pale yellow. She also has the pair that she came from the orphanage in. They were way too big. She is so petite that she wears the smallest shoe size available. The shoes are dirt cheap here so I can't help but buy several pairs!

I know there is more that I want to write, but I need to go to bed. Oh, we had our medical exam today and Lilli weights 19.3 pounds and is 29 inches long.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Todd and Lilli are playing!

We just got done with breakfast and Todd took Lilli outside to the playground to play. I hope they are doing OK. He was able to get her out of bed again this morning and played with her while I got ready. They are starting to bond. It has been slow but she is definitely coming around.

Bath time was a true nightmare last night. I put on my swimsuit and got in the tub with her and I have never heard her scream so hard or loudly! She gets so upset it is just pitiful. By the time bath is over she is so tired that she falls asleep.

We had a difficult time putting her in her crib last night and she ended up falling asleep with me in my bed. I eventually was able to put her in the crib without her fussing. Todd and I thought we would be slick and hang a blanket over the edge of the crib when we laid her down the first time. She had fallen asleep in my arms and I placed her in the bed. She started crying and then sat up. We hunkered down so she couldn't see us but she whipped that blanket right off the edge of the crib. I know I'm biased, but she figures things out so easily--I think she is really smart! Then I rocked her back to sleep and tried to lay down in bed with her in my arms. She wasn't too keen on this at first but she was so tired that she fell back asleep. I fell asleep too and woke up about an hour later. This is how sad it is around here: it was 10:00 P.M. when I woke up! We went to bed at 9:00 P.M.! I knew she was good and asleep so I picked her up and put her down in the crib without any problem. She slept through the night and I didn't hear her once! Yes, progress is being made!

Thanks for all of the encouraging e-mails! It is nice to hear that most of the things we are going through are quite normal! Gotta go and get packed for the last leg of our trip! Guangzhou, here we come!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The East Lake

We went to the East Lake this morning. The temp at 9:00 A.M. was 103 F. We mostly stayed on the bus but we walked around a little bit. It is a really beautiful place with the most beautiful lotus flowers. We got to sample some of the seeds. They taste like a mild watermelon. Very bland but with a hint of sweetness. I was trying to figure out how I could smuggle one of the lotus plants back for the ponds. I think I would get into trouble with customs!

Lilli fell asleep on the bus and is currently napping. We got some extra cute footage of her sharing Cheerios with another little girl. I wish we could get some of that footage on the blog. Maybe when we get to Guanzhou we will have a better connection. Speaking of Guangzhou, we leave tomorrow afternoon for the last leg of journey. In the morning we have a ceremony where we get Lilli's passport. I'm kind of sad because this is Lilli's home city and she will not return here for a very long time, if ever. I've tried to take as many photos as possible so I can share them with her. It is important to me that she knows about where she came from.

Todd and Lilli are making some progress. He was able to get her out of the crib this morning and even to feed her a little bit. We are having one toxic diaper a day so I think everything with her is normal. We are keeping a close watch on her eye, however, as it seems she has a lot of gunk in it. Her bottom lid curls back so much that we think the lashes are laying against her eyeball and irritating her eyes. We are keeping watch on it and we were told to keep hot compresses on it. I haven't tried that yet but I'm sure it will be a challenge.

Melissa, if you are reading this I should let you know that today Lilli threw an entire container of Cheerios from her stroller. She didn't want them anymore and nobody would take it for her so she threw them. I can't wait to see her and Emily together!

Well, I have a bit of a headache from the heat. The food is starting to get people down and there have been several people in our group getting sick. I'm going to lay down for awhile and try to get some rest. We are going out to eat as a group again tonight. Michael--still no Pon-Pon chicken!

Another day in China

It is morning '3' here in Wuhan. The spicy one is moving around in her crib so I won't write much. It is 7:00 A.M. and she has been asleep since about 9:00 last night. The third day, according to our guide, is supposed to be the magical day when real bonding occurs. I hope so for Todd's sake. He was able to play with her several times yesterday. We caught some of it on video.

We still HATE the bathtub. In fact, she hates water completely. She freaks when we take her next to the fountain outside the hotel. I'm devastated because I love the water so much and wanted to share it with her. We have a swimming pool at home and two goldfish ponds. I know it may take time so I'm not giving up. I think tonight I may put on my swimsuit and get in the tub with her. I don't think I'm going to put water in the tub either, just use the wash cloth to get her wet. If anyone has any suggestions please send them along. One of my family members will e-mail me the suggestions (Angela? Brinda?). I think that my e-mail address is attached to the blog so e-mail me as well.

Lilli LOVES to be outside and HATES to have to come back inside. She screamed for about an hour after we came in for the night. (Karen W. does this sound like Danielle?) We have several theories about this. First, we think that everything unpleasant happens in the room: diaper change, bath, nap, bedtime. Second, we think that when she is busy outside she isn't thinking about the loss she has just experienced but when we come back in the room it hits her dead in the noggin. Again, I know it is still so early in the game but I just want to make her life so comfy. I do OK when she is screaming. Actually it doesn't really bother me other than the fact that I know she is sad.

Gotta go! The spicy one awakes! We'll post more at nap time!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More China fun

I wanted to mention two other observations about China.

All of the mannequins in the store were white, blonde people. The blonde hair was long and wavy. We also could not find any Asian dolls. All of the dolls are white and blonde. Kind of weird.

Also, you can't order Diet Coke--it doesn't exist here. It is called Coke Light and it is very hard to find it without Lemon. Coke Light tastes like flat Diet Coke. The Coke Light with lemon is actually pretty good and does fine in place of diet Coke. It tastes like diet Sprite and Diet Coke mixed together. Restaurants also charge more for a Coke Light than for a regular Coke. We have been drinking a lot of regular drinks since we've been here because of the taste and for the carbonation for digestion. We have both avoided the water but today I desperately wanted ice cubes in my soft drink. That is another thing; the Chinese don't drink a lot of cold drinks. When you go to a restaurant, they don't ask you if you want a drink, you have to ask them. Most places serve soft drinks but juices and tea are more readily available. It always seems like it is an imposition for them to get you a soft drink.

I really like the Chinese people. They are exceedingly nice. Many of them know some English. Last night when we went to the restaurant the greeter said, "Good Morning." Like I said, SOME English. I was glad she made an attempt. Apparently, English is taught in the schools here. Our guide said that they have been teaching it for the last 20 years or so.

The Chinese crack me up with food. They try really hard to be Western. I may have mentioned that before. This morning Todd got a "blueberry muffin". I don't think they use sugar or flour in any baking. They use something but I'm not sure what. Todd made a good point that he would rather eat their food than their attempts at ours. It is wonderful that they want to make Americans feel at home. This morning on the breakfast buffet was stuffed pig stomach and braised ox tripe. And I was so looking forward to some preserved duck feet!

I gotta tell you, I'm pretty sick of being on display. I feel like an alien or like I have an extra arm growing out of my stomach. I really just want to blend in. I figured being short would be an advantage (guess the chubby, blonde part knocks me out of that). You really have to be patient and put on your game face when you go out anywhere. I have to admit that I've spent most of my time in the hotel room because of all of the attention. The novelty of being a foreigner is starting to wear off!

I wish I would have spent more time learning some simple phrases. I know hello and thank you. Shameful!

If you will be traveling to China soon . . .

Here are some things I wish I had right now! If you are traveling soon you might want to consider the following items:

1. napkins--if you get a napkin with your meal it will be a small dessert napkin. Most places don't supply one at all. Also, if you don't want to use chopsticks, bring plastic ware to the restaurants. Most don't have forks, spoons, etc.

2. small, scented garbage bags or--bring garbage bags to dispose of dirty diapers (or plastic shopping bags).

3. a travel clock. Our hotel room does not have a clock. We are staying at the White Rose in Wuhan, Hubei Province. I never know what time it is unless I look at the computer or my watch but I like to see a digital display!

4. laundry bag--you will need to do laundry while in China and we have had need for a laundry bag. Be sure to write your name on it so that you get your items back! We currently have a rogue pair of underwear!

I will keep adding to the list as I find things that seem necessary.

The spicy one is napping

So far the day has gone well. Our guide told us that it usually takes three full days for the babies to come out of their shells. We have hit and passed the 48 hour mark and cruising towards 72. I only rocked Lilli for a few minutes and fell sleep. She really fights sleeping. We did have another little break through today. She usually cries when we come back to the hotel room, but today we only had a whimper. I think it may have been the McDonald's we brought back with us. We have been shopping this morning at a Chinese department store and there is a McDonald's connected to it. I don't know the name of the department store but it was over 7 floors. All of the baby stuff was on the 7th floor. We bought Lilli two pairs of shoes. Her feet are tiny and it was difficult finding a pair to fit her, even in China. Shopping in China is very different than in the U.S. I was completely turned off by it at first and it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You find what you want and hand it to a salesperson. Sales people are not hard to locate as they constantly follow you around in the store. It is a bit unnerving but it is kind of like having a personal shopper with you in the store. After you pick what you want, the salesperson writes you a ticket and you take the ticket to the counter to pay. When you have paid, you go back to the salesperson and they hand you the merchandise. Maybe it cuts down on theft. I don't know.

Our McDonald's meal was excellent. I split a cheeseburger and fries with Lilli. She LOVES french fries. She didn't like the meat in the burger much but she loved the bun. It is fun watching her eat new things. She likes to feed us, too, and it is about the only thing she will do with Todd. I know this is hard for him and it absolutely breaks my heart. He wants so badly to be able to do things for her. She will come around I'm sure but that doesn't make it any easier.

Lilli took her first bottle today. She has wanted nothing to do with a bottle and I was disappointed because it is supposed to be an excellent bonding technique. I filled a bottle with water and liquilytes (her BM's have been mushy) and she went to town. I still haven't gotten her to take any formula but I think our main goal right now is bonding and attachment. Trust me, this kid is getting plenty to eat. She thinks Cheerios are crack!

We went out as a group last night to a Chinese restaurant. It was the BEST meal I've had yet. The food was excellent and I really like how the Chinese eat: the lazy susan in the middle and everyone shares the dishes. It is a bonding experience with the other families. We are all having so much fun watching what the other kids do! I even used my chopsticks and used them with success!

Lilli does excellent out in public. She will sit in my lap or in her stroller and she just takes it all in. She likes to be on the go. If we stop when she's riding in the stroller, she gets lippy and demands movement.

There is evidence all around of how poor a lot of the people in China are. While we were waiting for our bus outside of the store we got bombarded with beggars. It is really sad because they basically pimp their kids to beg for money. At Tienamen Square there were several little kids (5-6 y/o) who were crying and putting on a real show for money. You want to help but if you give them money they won't leave you alone. Our guide has had to get pretty verbal with some people who would not leave us alone. I think they believe that all Americans are rich and that money is growing out of our ears. We have seen some very poor and desperate places and most are very close to where we are staying. I feel very lucky to live in the U.S. and to have the things that I have (A/C). Can you tell I'm getting homesick?

There are two trends here in China that I think are fascinating. Wuhan, where we are now, is VERY, VERY, VERY HOT. The people wear these visors that look like welder's masks. It is quite comical, but I completely understand why. The heat is majorly intense. I don't know what the actual temp is but I am sure it is well above the 100 degree mark. The other thing that I think is neat is that all of the ladies have beautiful silk umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Chinese ladies want to be pale and fair skinned. (Lilli has obviously been in the sun a lot and is very dark.) The women get out of taxis and hurry to put their umbrellas up. I saw two girls sharing an umbrella today and the one who had the umbrella popped it up and went to the other side of the taxi to shield the other girl, like she is going to get wet from rain! They do not want to get any sun and maybe it is cooler.

Well there is so much to share that I could keep typing. I'm going to read for awhile before sassy britches gets up! I smell poo in a diaper but there is NO way I'm waking her to change her!

Hot water optional

Showers are an experience in this hotel. Sometimes the water is very hot and sometimes, no matter how long you let the water run, it is lukewarm at best. We are both getting anxious to get home and back to our luxury items. I am ready to start brushing my teeth without bottled water!

We had a roller coaster day yesterday. Lilli seems to take two steps forward and one step back with us. One of the cutest things yesterday was that she finally started getting curious about the other toys we brought. She liked the books but grew frustrated when she couldn't open them. Then they became projectiles. I opened one of the books that is a touch and feel type of book and she enjoyed that one. When I opened a page and touched a fuzzy bunny I made kind of a cooing noise. She started mimicking me and soon we were cooing together.

I was applying Calamine lotion to my foot and she was watching me; she stuck out her foot and wanted me to put some on hers! It was too cute.

The little dragon is now up so I have to end. I will attempt an update during nap time.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The dragon sleeps!

We had a successful first night. She fought sleep for a little bit but when she threw the stacking cups at Todd, we knew she was done. I rocked her to sleep which only took about 30 seconds. I laid her in the crib and she never stirred. She did cry out in the middle of the night, however. To have been a fly on the wall as Todd and I jumped out of bed and scrambled to get to her crib! I'm sure it was a sight. She never woke up when she cried so I didn't pick her up. I did massage her belly and she pushed my hand away. She cried out several more times during the night but I tuned in to the fact that this was probably normal for her or that she was grieving. My mom called and she said that all babies cry out in the night. That was a relief but I see why the experts say that you shouldn't allow your baby to sleep in your room. It was hard falling back to sleep after she would cry because I wasn't convinced/didn't know if she was OK.

According to her schedule given to us by the orphanage, she is supposed to rise at 6:00 A.M. I've been joking with the other parents because they all have late sleepers and early bed times. Lilli was the only one who supposedly gets up at 6:00 A.M. My mom says not to wake her so I'm going to let her sleep. So now it is 7:30 and she is still snoozing. We have an appointment at 10:00 with the orphanage to finalize the adoption. We still have to go down to breakfast, too. I can't wait to see what she likes to eat for breakfast. I'm going to try giving her congee which is a very popular baby food in China. I think it is just a rice cereal that is sweetened.

Well, I will continue to update as time allows. The little dragon is going to dictate the rest of my day!

Thanks to everyone who is responding to the blog and leaving comments. Unfortunately I can't access my blog from here or post pictures but I appreciate all of the helpful hints from everyone! My sil, Brinda, is relaying the parental advice to us from your comments! What a blessing!

Each minute a new experience!

After the last post we have made some headway with Lilli. Before I write any more I must apologize in advance for any typos or grammatical errors. I know my writing isn't as well- thought out as normal! I'm sure my brain will come back (in 18 years)!

Any-who, we took Lilli to the common area on our floor where there is a play area. Several of the families had their babies there playing. Lilli wasn't too impressed at first but eventually was enticed to play with the other babies because of a pink balloon. It was the first time we saw her smile and she had a belly laugh. She had so much fun and Todd was able to play with her a bit without her freaking out. She loved throwing the balloon and then grabbing it and watching it pop out of her hand. She has this cheezy grin where she juts out her chin and shows off her bottom teeth. We just melt with delight when she's happy. She is also enjoying stacking cups. She figured out how to put them all together tonight so I'm not sure what she is going to play with tomorrow. She will play and play with the stacking cups, setting them up and then knocking them down.

We were quite a spectacle at dinner tonight. This girl can eat! She ate more than Todd or me and I think she ate more than both of us combined. She loves noodles and rice (go figure). She will eat meats, but she makes a face when she eats meat. She tried watermelon tonight and really liked it. The Chinese have watermelon at every meal. We were probably at the buffet for 1-2 hours and she continued to eat. I just kept giving her more and she wasn't stopping. We did find out that she does not like for her hands to be dirty. When something gets on her hands she flings it everywhere. We left quite a mess at the restaurant. We are going to a restaurant tomorrow night with the group--that should be quite an experience with 9 new babies. Speaking of food, one of tonight's delicacies was stuffed salmon head. Again, if I don't lose 20 lbs on this trip I'm gonna be ticked!

Well, we got paid back for letting her eat so much. Our first toxic diaper came right after bath time. Bath time was NOT fun. She screamed the entire time and really didn't like it when I washed her face. We are able to come her down much more quickly than earlier today. I guess that is all part of the bonding process.

The hardest thing about today was watching her grieve for her foster parents. You could tell that she was simply heart broken and totally scared. I just held her and rocked her and let her cry. I know it will get easier as the days go by and everyone assures me this is normal, but it is really hard to see her go through the pain. We have a long road ahead of us but she is totally worth it. I can't wait for everyone to meet her. She is completely awesome in the most wonderful way imaginable!

I am going to attempt pictures again.

We cannot check the blog from here for some reason. The only thing we can do is update. I hope the photos show up!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Gotcha Day!

She's here! We got Lilli this morning at 10:00 A.M. She didn't cry when I took her from the orphanage director. Apparently she wasn't feeling well. When they made the bus ride from the orphanage to the hotel she got sick all over herself and her outfit. All of the babies had on these red Chinese outfits that were actually darling. One of the nannies washed out Lilli's outfit after she got sick and then one of our travel mates ironed it dry. We didn't find this out until after the fact.

Anyway, she isn't real impressed with either one of us right now. She's probably terrified more than anything! She prefers me right now but Todd has been able to hold her and soothe her a time or two. We haven't really seen her smile yet but we have definitely heard her SCREAM! She has been upset quite a bit today. I'm trying to do everything I can to soothe her but I know she needs to mourn. The only thing I can do is hold her and let her cry it out. She loves to be around other people and is usually calm when we're out somewhere. We took her down to the dining room today to eat and she did really well. She actually cried when we entered the room. She loves looking out the window and watching everything! Later we are going to brave the Carre Four store (Wal-Mart on crack) and get some items for her.

She is TINY, but she weighs a ton. It is kind of hard to hold onto her because there isn't much of her. It feels like you are holding an anvil when she is in your arms. I'm sure it is more because I am not used to holding a baby. She is also a heat generator!

After all of the chaos with getting the babies we were able to talk to one of the orphanage caregivers. The first thing she said about Lilli is that she is "spicy and very naughty". I have seen glimpses of this trait a few times. She definitely lets you know when she doesn't want something! We also learned that her foster parents were in their forties and that Lilli was their only foster child. They also said that the foster parents had pets: a cat and a dog. I was relieved to hear that because of the mutts at home! The caregiver told us that Lilli was aggressive with the animals. That should work out perfectly. Poor Boom, Sherm, and Jake! They have no idea what is about enter their world!

At about 1:45 I got her to go to sleep. The only thing that seems to soothe her is the sippy cup. She likes to chew on the tip so I think she is teething. We can see two teeth on the bottom and two more that have broken the skin. I think she has several on top but she hasn't let us see them yet. At lunch she ate lots of noodles and rice. She also liked Cheerios and some biter biscuits that one of the other families let us have.

Speaking of other families, we have met some of the most amazing people on this trip and have developed some great friendships. We are all pitching in and helping each other out. Many of us are first time parents and have no clue what we are doing. We are really relying on the BTDT parents to help out.

I'm including a few pics. Ok, maybe not. We are having some computer difficulty.

We're here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where do I begin? We have now been in China for three full days. We got in to China late Thursday night. This is the first time we have been able to get all of the connections working with the laptop and whatever gizmo the hotel has for hooking up to the internet. I hope this actually goes to the blog! Anyway, China is VERY different. There are LOTS of people and they LOVE Americans (at least I think they do!) They are ALWAYS staring at you and they want to have their picture taken with you. It is kind of like being a monkey at the zoo! I hear that once we have the babies the attention will become even more pronounced. I'm not going to post any photos today. I want to wait and post photos of Lilli after we get her tomorrow! We only have 14 hours until lift-off! We were supposed to go to the Civil Affairs Bureau to get the babies, but they are going to bring them to the hotel tomorrow at 10:00 A.M.! It is still surreal even though we are in country and so close to the actual event!

I have been keeping a written journal ever since we took off out of Louisville. Mostly observations about things that I've seen so far. The flight from Chicago to Tokyo was
L-O-N-G!!!! One of the coolest things about the flight was that there were monitors that showed where you were flying, how many miles (meters) you had come, how far you still had to travel, and how long you had been airborne. It was neat to see the places that we crossed over. Some of the most notable places we crossed were Anchorage, Alaska, The Bering Sea, and Russia. I wrote down the times (in Indiana time) that we crossed over each place for future reference. I think the flight from Tokyo to Beijing was the most miserable. The seats were definitely made for Chinese people and our tushes were sore from the 12-hour plane ride. There are constant reminders in China that we are MUCH bigger people than they are! One of the most hilarious things about the long plane ride was that many people on our plane were going home to Tokyo. I had packed books and magazines to read, puzzles, etc. I was ready to take on boredom! Well, the flight attendants turned off all of the lights, shut all of the windows and made the plane like a sleeping dorm. Hardly anyone (save me) was awake! I thought this was very odd. We never saw actual night on our entire flight, but since it was night time in Japan, the flight attendants wanted to simulate the change for the Japanese passengers. Since we flew coach, my overhead light was extremely obstrusive to our seat mate (who was the nicest person! Hi Yoko!) so I sat in darkness for the entire 12 hours. Thank goodness for my I-Pod! We got here in one piece so I guess that is the most important thing!

So the travel here was really no sweat. I thought I wouldn't handle it well, but I did fine. Once we got in the air on the long flight, I was fine. When we arrived in China, we breezed through Customs. I was really surprised. On the plane we had to fill out some paperwork on whether or not we had had any close contact with birds. I thought that was interesting! We took a bus to the hotel and tried to sleep. We were exhausted from travel, but it was hard to sleep.

I could ramble on forever about all of the things we have seen. I'm going to condense my experience to a few short lists of observations:

1. The Chinese are not big on A/C ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. I have done nothing but sweat since I've been here. The hotels have air, but not like we do in the states. I've resigned myself to the fact that I will have sweat stains on the back of my shirt the entire time we are here!

2. Chinese people are very nice, but quite bold. They aren't afraid to raise their voices, honk, shout, and I think swear at you if you step out of line. They all seem to be in a big hurry and they don't want any one in their way. When we shopped at the Carre Four store (Wal-Mart on crack) people will push your cart out of the way, push you, etc. They don't have any personal space boundaries. All of the gazillion people who were shopping at the store wanted to inspect what we were buying.

3. Chinese women LOVE high heel shoes. We saw several women wearing high heeled shoes climbing the Great Wall yesterday. It is insane. Most women wear stillettos and dresses.

4. Everything here is VERY inexpensive. We bought an insane amount of items today for only $24. One of the items was a stroller!

Interesting food I've seen/experienced:

1. At lunch before we climbed the Great Wall, the servers brought a whole fish (head, tail, scales, bones, etc.) to the table. It looked like it was covered in sweet and sour sauce. I wasn't going to try it, but ended up taking a small piece. It was really good!

2. At the supper buffet last night one of the dishes was Fried Chicken Feet. No one opted for that selection.

3. This morning we had something called a Mountain Medicine Roll. It had a plum taste to it, but i suspect it was flavored bean paste. The Chinese do amazing things with bean paste! This roll was delicious!

Well, that is all for now. I'll post pictures tomorrow and let everyone know how we are doing as a family. Right now I am going to bed because I haven't quite adjusted to the time change. Please pray that tomorrow will bring good things (and a healthy baby!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The 11th hour

OMG, OMG, OMG! We leave in less than 12 hours! This will be my last entry until we get to China. Thank you to everyone who has been keeping up with the blog and sending me your wishes. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel across the Pacific to get our little sweetie!

We will be in touch! Much love to all!


Lorie and Todd

Sleepless and sneezing

I knew it would happen. The nerves are frazzled. It is 5:00 A.M. and I haven't been able to sleep at all. I went to bed around 1:00 A.M. (after Todd which is completely amazing) and I have been tossing and turning. My allergies aren't making life easy on me either. Oh well. I'm sure tonight will be even worse. I can't believe I am going to be getting on a plane in 28 hours. I can't believe that I will probably be on the plane for 28 hours! Ha! It just doesn't seem real. I know I am going to have a total meltdown at the airport. I sure hope Todd is ready with the hefty drugs! I should be fine on the first flight--a whopping 55 minutes to Chicago. But when I walk the gerbil tube to get on the flight to Tokyo--whoo--I don't know what is going to happen! They will probably have to sedate me and strap me to the seat.

The carry-on bag thing isn't looking very good for me. I have tried 1000 different ways to pack my clothes and I just can't figure it out. I have resigned myself to having to check my bag.

I'm off to take some Benadryl and see if I can get some rest--today is going to be a busy one!

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Most Beautiful Baby in the World!

I know everyone is sick to death of this, but sometimes I just get goosebumps looking at her! She will be with us in 6 days!

3 days and counting

I heard a rumor that there is quite a following associated with this blog. Please feel free to leave comments! I do hope to continue updating while we are in China. A lady who is in China right now has had some trouble updating her blog and she is a master computer user. I'm more of an amateur. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, I had a freak-out moment on the way home from the movies. I don't know what scares me more: the looooooong plane ride, or a 16-month-old screaming baby. I was on the verge of hyperventilating as we drove home. I kept playing the "what if" game. Luckily Todd was in a calm place and tried talking sense into me. He was really patient with me until I started asking ridiculous questions. I think the turning point was when I asked, "what if the terrorists are on the plane?" I guess everyone who is going to become a parent goes through a questioning period where they question how well they are going to do in a given situation. I'm sure this is all normal, it is just uncharted territory for me and I am fast figuring out that I am no longer in control--very difficult for me!

We met with a pediatrician today and I really liked her. She said that paperwork on Lilli looks very good. I sure do hope it turns out that way!

I am going to begin packing for myself tomorrow. We are going to try to carry-on only (for ourselves). Lilli's bag weighs 34 lbs. Hers will be the only bag checked (we'll see). Each person can check 44 lbs. of luggage, have one carry-on and one personal item. I know it is different when you are traveling domestically, but in China they only allow 44 lbs. of luggage on in-country flights. We will be taking 2 flights in China: one to Wuhan and the other to Guanzhou. We've been told to pack lightly. I'm anxious to see how well I do with this one since I am the "more is better" queen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Still feeling pretty good

We leave in 4 days. I am still not worried or stressed. I think I stressed so much in the beginning that I don't have any more stress in me. I will also credit my daily exercise with the calm, cool, and collected feeling I am experiencing. I'm waiting for Todd to start losing patience with me about getting all of our stuff together. All I have to do is pack our things. That won't take very long and it is something I am going to do Wednesday. He took off Wednesday so we can get all of the last minute things done. What he doesn't realize is that I am the "behind the scenes" girl. I've made sure that we have everything we will need for the baby. I've taken care of the electronics we are packing. I am responsible for getting the gifts for the people in China. I've been doing a lot!

Well, he is out mowing the yard and I just heard the lawn mower stop so I had better get off the computer!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday before

OK--it's crunch time, right? I should be running around like a chicken with my head cut off. That is not how I would describe my attitude right now. You know the feeling you get when you've had two or three glasses of wine: that feeling where you think you can take on the world, like you want to jump up on a table and dance? That is how I feel right now. I can't explain it. I am the one who is usually freaking out, but I am so laid back it is scary. I guess I feel like I am getting ready take the trip of a lifetime and I am not going to waste one damn minute worrying! I am going to take everything in stride and enjoy every blasted minute of this ride! I know there will be trying times, but we have waited so long to get to this point and I just can't help but be super-excited! I don't know if you realize this, but this time next week we will probably have Lilli. Crazy! I'm ready! Bring it on!!!!!

Now, about the plane ride . . .

Friday, July 07, 2006

OMG--6 DAYS!!!

Does anyone know how to lose 40 lbs. in 6 days? LOL! I got a disturbing call from hubby dear today and he is extremely anxious! I thought I was supposed to play that role? I am amazingly calm! It is actually kind of scary. I told my friend yesterday that I really can't think about what is getting ready to transpire too much. If I do, I get nervous and anxious and I am not useful to anyone in that state (least of all myself). For right now I am basking in my "cool as a cucumber" state. I'm even going to get in the pool for awhile here in a minute. Someone in one of my groups mentioned that she is not obsessing about the trip because it is only two weeks of the rest of her child's life. That made so much sense to me and really put things into perspective. So, I am going to relax and enjoy the ride! Now ask me how I'm doing before I get on the plane! Ha!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Location of N. Korea

I just checked a map of the world. North Korea is connected to China, but on the north side and the only time we are going to be close to North Korea is on the 15th and 16th--we fly out of north China on the 17th. Thank goodness. The farther away I am from that lunatic, the better!

Hey Barb! Three posts today!

Weather in Wuhan

I just checked the 10-day forecast in Wuhan, China, and the temp the day we arrive will be 95 degrees with 77% humidity. Everyday between now and the 17th it shows rain. Ugh! And I can't wear shorts!

Here is a pic of the province so you can see where Wuhan is in relation to the rest of the country.

This time next week . . .

I will be on a plane headed for China! We should be somewhere over Russia at this point (I hope). I need to check our tickets again, but I think we land in Tokyo on the 14th at around 1:00 P.M. or so. We have a two-hour layover and then a four hour flight to Beijing. If I calculate correctly, the flight from L-ville to Chicago is about an hour. We have a two hour layover in Chicago and then a 12-13 hour flight to Tokyo. That is equivalent to going to Vegas three times. I can handle it! I'm just concerned about the time change and becoming acclimated to it. We don't get into Beijing until 8:25 P.M. (that is A.M. here) on the 14th. We do some heavy-duty sightseeing in Beijing on the 15th and then we head to Wuhan to pick up Lilli on the 16th! We don't actually get her until the 17th, but that gives us a day to prepare in the province. I don't know how long the flight is from Beijing to Wuhan but I am guessing 2-3 hours. That flight will be cake compared to the Chicago-Tokyo flight! I'm rambling at this point.

We had dinner with our good friends Tom and Karen and their little girl, Tomi Li. They are the ones responsible for getting us into this mess! LOL! We got all kinds of packing tips tonight and they are going to let us use their money belts. I am going to look very cute in that thing! I didn't realize how prissy I really am until this trip. I thought I was made of tougher stuff. I have a feeling that I am going to be learning a lot more about myself in the next several weeks.

I gotta tell you that this nonsense in North Korea is making me a bit uneasy. I believe China and Korea are VERY close to one another if not right next to each other. I just hope that Korea's crazy dictator keeps himself sane long enough for us to get to China and get back! Holy Moses! That guy is a loon!

I'm also starting to get a little nervous about our homecoming. I know people are going to want to see Lilli and I am going to want to show her off, but we have to make sure that she has bonded with us before we start parading her in front of everyone. I think I want to impose a CALL FIRST order before people come by and I think I may put a note on the door as well. I have been doing a lot of reading about bonding and attachment and I feel this will be the best thing for our family. Tom and Karen even suggested that I say that on our answering machine (the Call First order). I also think we will have to play that one by ear and I am always flexible. She is going to dictate a lot of what happens. We will just have to see!

One more thing . . . I think instead of spelling her name Lilly, I am going to spell it Lilli. It seems to fit better though I am not really sure why! I hope this doesn't screw up anyone's monogram plans! Ha!

Well, I'm off to download more songs onto my I-Pod. I copied 128 songs from CD's yesterday. I figure I have 18-20 hours on a plane and I don't want to run out of soothing music! Now all I need is my Valium prescription!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

8 days and counting

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July! We had the fam over for swimming and a cookout. There wasn't much swimming because of the rain, but the food was good! And we had plenty of it, especially sweets. The kids are all breaking in Lilli's toys for her. I can't believe the places that we found toys last night! They were EVERYWHERE!!! I guess I need to get used to the clutter of toys. I bought a big, wicker, storage chest that is going to be Lilliana's toy box. I am going to try to keep all of her toys in it. She got a play grocery store for the shower and it has a spot in the living room. I am trying to get "over" that but I am afraid it is going to find its home in the basement! I'm sure I'll mellow a little as time goes on; we'll just have to see.

I have been working on the finishing touches of her room today. The bumper pads need some alterations and I am currently ironing the curtains for her room. I washed the bed clothes as well since they have been on her bed since about October! I figure a good once over everything is in order.

I am going to have to repack Lil's clothes AGAIN! Our agency sent us a packing list from someone who has already been to China. They gave pointers on what to bring vs. what not to bring. Todd is all about this list and thinks that we must follow it to a "T". He also spent over an hour on the phone with a state trooper who just returned from China. Apparently he gave Todd a list of items as well. Todd thinks we should buy all of the clothes for Lilli when we get over there. I don't feel comfortable with this and feel we should pack a few things. It does seem silly (even to me) to lug a bunch of stuff half way across the world if I can buy it when I get over there, but I have my heart set on dressing her in things that I have picked. Where is the happy medium? My question is if we buy everything over there then don't we have to bring it back? Maybe what we'll do is buy stuff for her over there and then donate it to an orphanage before we fly home, that way we will have lots of room for souveniers. :)

I am going to try to get my house straightened up before Todd gets home. He is like a tornado when he comes in. He leaves things everywhere and then starts ranting and raving about the house being messy! It can be quite unnerving, but what a cutey when he gets aggravated!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

11 days and counting

Lots of things going on! We went camping this weekend with our good friends Jason and Linda. I wasn't too excited at first, but I slowly came to enjoy it. There are a few things I would change, but we'll save that post for another day.

We spent a good chunk of today finishing up Lilli's room. We hung the border and arranged the furniture. Todd hung some pictures and shelves and I continued the task of doing laundry for her. I took down the curtains to wash because they have been hanging for almost 9 months and they were probably dusty. We have kept the door to the nursery closed since the furniture and bedding arrived so dust is minimal; I still want everything to be clean when we come home.

We received our itinerary while we were gone. I haven't looked at it yet but I do know that we go to get Lilli on the 17th at 9:00 A.M.--that will be 9:00 P.M. on the 16th for everyone here at home. We'll be making phone calls so don't go to bed! LOL! We also received the cost for the intra-China travel arrangements. One word -- OUCH! Our idea that this adoption was going to cost less than $20,000 has gone by the wayside. We have been able to save some money, but everything seems to be costing more than we thought. Oh well. It will be worth it. We do find it funny, however, that they wait until you have the photos of your child before they get serious about travel costs!

I'm still trying to pack. I have a few more items to purchase, but I think I have everything we need. I think Todd and I are going to share a suitcase. By share I mean I will have at least 3/4 of the suitcase and he will have whatever is left when I am done. I am still having a shoe crisis. My rash is getting better (I went to the dr on Friday), but I still don't see how I am going to get around less than 3-4 pairs of shoes. I have resigned myself to the fact that I am only taking 4 outfits for myself. I also don't think I am going to take all of my make-up. I think I'll take the basics and be done with it.

The 4th of July is in two days. We are having the fam over for swimming and a cookout. The pool water temp today was 86 degrees--bathwater! It was awesome! I hope it stays nice, but I think it is supposed to rain on Tuesday. We'll see!