Sunday, September 24, 2006

We're Home!

We survived! I won't complain about the flight home because as we were about to board our bus from the hotel to the airport, a couple got wheeled out -- seems they made the very bad decision to order the seafood soup on their last night in Guangzhou and had food poisoning. I'm not sure how they managed to get home and when I saw them, some woman they didn't even know was holding their new baby.

It was great seeing the kids again, who were overjoyed to welcome their new sister. I can't believe we were entrusted with this sweet child and now have her at home and tucked into bed.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Red Couch Photo

I love wearing my new dress!

The red couch photo

Eva, Zoe, Lyvi and Ella wonder why their mommies didn't get them big bows

First bow

Oh my I'm feeling so very cute!

Medical Exam

At first Lyvi and her buddy Jolie weren't quite sure what awaited them!

But, surprisingly, Lyvi fell asleep and stayed asleep while six people manhandled her! She weighed in at 6.9 kilos.

Goodbye Nanchang

Tuesday night we had what seems to be our last good Chinese meal with XiXi, Bob and Liza (babies in tow of course!) During the meal Bob got the call that his new baby boy had been born, which made the meal even more memorable! We went back to the room to try to start cramming all our things back into bags -- what a mess -- we will certainly be buying a suitcase at our next stop.

Wednesday we had to say goodbye to Mary -- Harrah's guides are something else. Many other agencies don't schedule activities like they do so the families seemed to wander a bit. I chose Harrah's because of their travel reputation and I haven't been disappointed. Our guides keep telling us that we are also traveling with an adventurous and active group, which helps, too.

We flew to Guangzhou and have made it to the White Swan hotel. I didn't realize it at the time, but we pretty much were leaving China when we flew from Nanchang. This is very pretty island and has an interesting history, but the food is now Cantonese and the other choices pale in comparison to what we had in Nanchang. Gone are the bikes and interesting local shops. This hotel is much like the hotel in Hong Kong (although the Pennisula is still on another level) and all the shops in our area cater to tourists. It is fun to shop, but I am so glad XiXi helped us have the experience of vising a calligrapher to have a poem that may be important to Lyvi painted. She said it was just like something a local person would hang in their house, instead of the touristy things like children's names.

I wasn't ready to leave Nanchang, but this I can leave so finally I we are winding down and looking to the West!

Tuesday Photos

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


We got to start the day eating breakfast with Terri and Scott from Baylor and their new little girl, Margo. She is precious and was a joy to them right away (they actually got her on Monday just after we met them the first time.)

We tried to get coffee with Bob and Ella, but it turns out that coffee isn't available until afternoon/evening so that trip was a bust. We were looking for some things to do today since it is our last day in Nanchang. Bob's brother told him about the communist museum and XiXi was nice enough to say she would take us since she is a card carrying member and hadn't been to the museum before (she said her friends think she has water on the brain for being one, which she just laughs about.) Thank goodness she jumped on board because it was all in Chinese and the pictures weren't very descriptive. We did find a little more information about the important battle of Shanggao (and Larry, I mean little).

We then went with Bob and Liza to Pizza Hut (I think I'll go back to Chinese food) and then we had a great walk to the August 1 park we had visited on Saturday. We had to wander there and got a bit lost so of course we ended up on some really cool streets. I just enjoyed the sites and didn't bother taking pictures though.

I love this park. We saw some new areas with pretty bridges and trees. There were retired people there playing Chinese chess and cards. Some companies here retire people at 45 so many retired people get out to stay busy.

Liza and I had our eyes on this guy who painted names so we got those done for all our kids and got a big kick out of watching his creativity. Jason and Bob had the girls and hung out talking and smiling with the locals.

We had to go get their passports so we had an incredibly wild ride in a taxi back to the hotel. We ended up in a total log jam -- no car/bus/bike/motorbike wants to give way to another one unless they are less than 1.5 cm from getting hit. At one point, there were 5 buses crammed into an intersection and no one could move like those picture puzzle games or the new one Rushhour. For the first time ever here, I saw a car back up out of the way and finally one bus could turn and we slowly worked our way out of it. Then the driver decided it was a good idea to drive down the middle of oncoming traffic and that was a riot, too. The driving really adds to the adventure of China and I'll love it until I actually get hurt.

Lyvi's orphanage didn't turn in a picture for her passport so she had one taken last Wednesday on adoption day. Some of the other families got to see a new picture of there babies though -- so cute. I keep wanting to take a picture of these documents, but XiXi rightfully doesn't trust us with them so I'll have to share them later.

Last dinner and we went back to our favorite resturant as a group!

Buddhist Temple

Wow -- I really should not have let time get away before blogging -- I already can't remember what we have been doing all week! I know it included some hair-raising taxi rides, incredible foods, fascinating scenes while walking through the streets of Nanchang and making new friends.

On Monday we visited a gorgeous Buddhist Temple. I forgot to change lenses to get a good shot, but one golden Buddha was as tall as a three story house. We got off the bus and I thought there was this one colorful building and that it would be it. Oh no. It was setup so that there was a nice courtyard, then a temple that would blow your socks off, then another courtyard and then another incredible Buddhist display --on and on. My two favorite things were listening to the monks sing before their meal and then seeing them eat (sounds silly, but it really was a beautiful site). I also thought it was interesting to see how barely inches away from this beautiful area were typical Nanchang apartments rising up with clothes hanging to dry and everything you expect to see. I think I took a number of pictures showing the dichotomy of that.

Gee, what did we then do that afternoon? Maybe that is when we meet our new Baylor friends from Florida. They arrived today from Beijing and got their newest family member on Tuesday. They graduated in '92 and we started in '91. We really enjoyed them and think it is wonderful we ended up in the same city and hotel for a few days. Nothing like a BU reunion on the other side of the world!

Then we went to the restaurant with the cool fish tank -- this is a really upscale restaurant and the meal might have cost closer to $10 each! I learned later that we are even paying for the napkins we use and still, a meal and experience that would easily cost $50 a person is barely a blip on our financial radar here. All that mainly means it is a crime to not get out an enjoy and try as much Chinese food as possible here!

Pics on Flickr!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Our most important day

We will have to tell you the full story when we get home, but we got to meet and get to know all the people that took care of Lyvi her first 8 months of life. This orphanage is an example of what they hope other orphanages are able to become. They only keep the babies in the orphanage for about a month so they can monitor them during that critical time. Even once the babies are put into one of the 25 - 28 foster homes, Fu, the head nurse, bicycles around and visits them all weekly. They said they choose foster families based on how clean the homes are and how nice the families are.

We had lunch with the director, his wife, the office manager, the head nurse and their driver. Our guide and driver also ate with us. The restaurant served some locally grown food like peanuts, garlic and potatoes that even XiXi had not seen before. At one point I told Jason to count the dishes -- 17! There was also really good fish, mushrooms and a noodle soup that rivaled any chicken noodle soup I have ever had. I think they put a lot of white pepper in the dishes and it tasted terrific.

Of course the most important part of the meal was getting to know to the director and others there. They told us Lyvi was a very easy baby and would go to anyone. Considering that she was in foster care, I don't think it is the same as a baby who can't attach to anyone. A number of times they told us what an easy baby she was. While we were eating she got fussy and the nurse took her and spent more time with her. Lyvi did seem comfortable with her nurse, but Fu is also just really good with babies.

The director asked if we would drink wine with him. Although I was aware of how bad it was going to be (45 proof rice wine), it is important to us to follow this kind of custom. Things quickly got hysterical once he started toasting us. We did our best to sip only a little, although he goaded us to drink more. Jason was about done with the rice wine, but then Director Wu wanted to toast to XinShi now having two fathers -- who can say no to that? The director got quite tipsy and it was amazing he could stomach that much of the wine! XiXi told us that this was truly how a typical meal would be with lots of laughing, wine and fun. We had the director, his wife, the office manager and the nurse write good wishes in her book Harrah's gave us as a gift. They were teasing the director about how much he wrote (I had a feeling getting him tipsy would loosen up the pen a bit!) Everything I had been told about the director was true and we felt blessed to have such a warm send off for XinShi.

The acme of the day was getting to meet her foster mother. When we arrived in Shanggao, XiXi took us to a grocery store. An interesting side note is that she told the people there it was her baby so we wouldn't cause any trouble -- she said they probably think she is very rich to have a white nanny! We went there to buy a huge bottle of cooking oil and a bag of the rice used for congee as a gift for the foster mother. We bought a box of local cigarettes for the director. I also brought a small windchime for the foster mother. So, we felt really good about the gifts we gave her -- something to remember XinShi by and something practical.

We arrived in an area that was small whitewashed concrete apartments. Her foster mother quickly came out to see XinShi. XinShi didn't seem to know what to do and her foster mother kept kindly saying something like, "You forgot me already?" XinShi did go to her and the mother warmly told us that she really liked her and was so sad when she had to go. She said XinShi is very smart and that when she (foster mother) was crying because XinShi had to go, that XinShi wiped her foster mother's face. She wanted us to take a picture and send it to her, which of course we are happy to do and I hope it gets to her. XiXi seemed to think that Lyvi really did already forget her foster mother -- I wouldn't want to think my 8 month olds could have forgotten me that quickly so who knows what was going on in our sweetpea's mind.

They pointed out the blue window that was her apartment. What a beautiful corner of the area it was. She had a small garden and a basket turned over that was a coop for chickens. Beyond a sweet little bamboo gate were green fields and the whole place warmed my heart. My friend, Sharlande, reminded me of the Celtic phrase, "Thin Place -- when the veil between heaven and earth is so transparent that you're neither here nor there but in both places at once." That was too true. What a wonderful little piece of the world it was for her to be tucked in for 7 months.

The neighbors were warm and laughing and were excited that foreigners were there and they talked about what a lucky baby she is -- every adoptive parent knows that we are the lucky ones though.

XinShi gives me what we call monster kisses -- mouth wide open generally mixed with some sweet baby attack noise. I don't know what to make of it, but while her foster mother was holding her, she kept wanting to lean in and give me monster kiss after silly monster kiss. Her foster mother seemed so kind and sweet. I wish we were allowed to get to know her, but the visit was very short and she had two babies in her home that had started to cry.

The director then wanted to stop and buy us, XiXi, Mary and our driver each a bottle of the rice wine and some garlic. After waiting in the car for them to make the purchases, we were only able to give he and his wife a quick good-bye then we were headed away from Shanggao. There are some beautiful parks there and a hotel so I am already looking forward to a visit again. XiXi said things in China are changing so quickly that it will probably look very different when we come back.

The drive out and back could have its own post, but I am a bit overwhelmed by everything we saw. I could have walked to Shanggao and taken a picture every three steps. On the way back, XiXi stopped at a house and to buy chestnuts and I am again amazed at the homes and kind hearted people. She let us wander through her home while she gathered chestnuts for XiXi. She has very little, but based on her conversation, XiXi said the woman must work very hard and is actually doing very well for a farmer. My eyeballs were dry by the time we got home because I hardly wanted to blink and possibly miss something the hour and half drive each way.

We feel very fortunate to have been allowed by Director Wu to include this visit during our adoption trip and will always be grateful to him.

First Cuddle

This deserves its own post because this is the first time I have gotten Lyvi to cuddle on my shoulder! She is slowly relaxing, but the first days her arms went straight out and we just could not get her to lean on us. This is so sweet and so worth the wait!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Lyvi is too cute in the morning now. At first she would wake up and look around confused, sad and scared. Just a few days later and she is happy to see us and talk and giggle and play.

We ate (okay, it is fun to see the different foods people here eat in the morning, but it is getting a bit old -- HOW did people eat in this restaurant for 8 days???) breakfast then visited the shop around the corner to get a traditional Mandarin dress made for Lyvi. Unfortunately they don't have the fabric I want, but I thought I would get a dress made anyway so she would have one made that fit her well. Turns out they just use the same dress pattern for all the babies and this is going to be huge! I picked out another blue color so it would look pretty for her red couch photo in Guangzhou. I'll buy all my other dresses in Guangzhou I think.

Jason and I then wandered down to a big area that has lots of clothing stores and people performing outside. One little girl was a contortionist -- it was a bit sad if that is what her family has to make her do for them to have money. I tried to video something else a group was doing, but they told me not to. After awhile, we came back to meet our group for this mornings outings. We first went to August 1st park and we were quite a show. We showed them our adoption cards and they seemed to be happy for the babies and kind to us. There was so much going on at this park it was hard to take it all in -- musicians, dancers, singers, people exercising, jungle gyms, pigeons to feed, amusement park, cheap toys for sale, crafts for kids to do, etc. People come to the park to amuse themselves. The musicians, singers and dancers weren't performing, they were just enjoying the day doing something they love.

We then went to an area to buy porcelain, which is what this province is famous for. The prices are fantastic, but it is very hard to get home in one piece so there is no way you can buy even a 12th of what you might want.

Mary and XiXi then took us to a restaurant for lunch if we wanted -- I can't get enough of the food! Lyvi started the day by drinking an 8 ounce bottle, then watermelon, cereal and mandarins oranges for breakfast, mid-morning formula, jarred baby food for lunch, more formula and then whatever she could eat off the table -- she inhaled these really good cooked radishes before falling apart and needing her afternoon nap. This is the best she has eaten so either she feels better with us or from the antibiotics. People at the park were telling us how thin she was so we know she needs more good food in her.


I should have blogged last night, because I think I forget so much in just a few hours. Even though I want to journal, I barely have time to update the blog. And honestly, this is such an amazing experience, I don't have the words to adequately describe what is going on "behind the scenes".

So Friday I think was the day a small group of us got going early and took a taxi to the August 1st Square, which is the second largest public square in China after Beijing's Tiananmen Square. We went to see the people who get out and about in the morning to do Tai Chi and other exercises. The square commemorates the beginning of the People's Liberation Army in 1927. It was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War and took place August 1, 1927.

That was the wildest taxi ride we had been in yet probably because the streets weren't filled with cars and the driver could put the pedal to the metal. There weren't a lot of people exercising, but it turned out to be the place where people go to fly kites. We ran into some very nice people there and then wandered the streets a bit. One thing we saw was a man in a boat fishing trash and leaves out of lake/pond. It reminded me again of how all the main streets around us are very clean. Some people walk around and bang a cup because they want to collect recyleable material -- XiXi said China is very good about recycling. As we walked around, we mainly saw people heading to work and school.

The breakfast here is really good and we have a pretty good selection -- there are many Chinese food options and we get the fried rice, noodles and egg rolls. They also have eggs, french toast, pastries, fruit, etc.

This morning our group went to visit a village that is more like where our daughters are probably from than the city, which is all we have really seen so far. 75 - 80% of China is rural so it is important to see how much of the country lives. Our guides were careful to tell us that the Chinese government doesn't really want this side of China to be seen so much so we should be considerate about the pictures we put out on the internet. She mentioned that the politicians would never show a foreign official this part of China, but I don't think in the States they would do that either.

Everyone in the village was very kind to us and let us see inside their houses. One woman showed us the things in her home and we were able to video it. I loved seeing the furniture, like the bamboo chairs, the cot they use in the summer, utensils for washing clothes and most of all, the bamboo pillow. The banners that are hung beside and above the door for Chinese New Year are left out all year long. I think another favorite thing I saw was how there would be writing by the door of things the family wished for. I'll have to get our friends to translate again, but I love the idea of putting the hopes and dreams for your family out there for all to see.

The houses are very close to each other and the doors are mostly open so I imagine you know all of your neighbor's business. There was also a building near the entrance to the village and from reading the sign, XiXi said it seemed that the whole village was related and had the same surname and that this building was where they would probably meet and also honor ancestors. (Lyvi napped during both of those outings -- thank goodness she likes her baby bjorn carrier)

Some of us then visited Walmart again and had more dumplings for lunch. Lyvi had her first jarred baby food and loved it so Jason went to the local grocery store and got more. BTW -- we aren't sure why they take us to Walmart because everything we would need is right in the local grocery store down the street -- it is smaller, so maybe it can't handle 10 families wandering through the place.

Lyvi is still a very sweet little thing and puts her little bird arms a bit for us to pick her up. So she isn't reaching out, but is doing something to reach up for us to get her. She is wanting to be held more and more, which either means she doesn't want to loose another family or is bonding to us (or maybe both!) It is pretty easy to get her to smile and giggle. She will sit on the bed and play with some things for awhile, but now HATES being put on her back for things like diaper changes. This is a new thing so I'm not sure what it means, but we have to be quick when changing her.

I went with two other girls to get another foot massage. One guy kept oogling Sheri's legs, but I think it was because she was wearing shorts. I don't think I have seen even 5 girls or ladies with shorts on this entire week in Nanchang. Also, the people here dress much more warmly than we do. I think half of the time they are looking at us is because we seem so underdressed. If I was repacking, I would have brought more lightweight long sleeved shirts or a light jacket to go with things. I have been wearing pants so at least I had been covered from the waist down.

We met the group for dinner again and had a great time. This time we were in a private room so we could make quite a ruckus. The food is still amazing and I stuff myself silly every night. Mary said that the Jiangxi food is much like Hunan because the areas are connected by the river. I read a blog by someone who stayed here and ate at the hotel the entire 8 days. I just can't imagine missing out on this important part of our children's culture. Part of it may be that our agency is exceptional on the travel portion and our wonderful guides take us out for dinner every night if we want. At one restaurant, XiXi ran into a friend of hers who is also a guide for families. XiXi asked where all her families were and she said none of them wanted to go out to eat. It seems that part of the magic is that this group of families is really adventurous. XiXi said we not only try everything, but we eat it all up, too and there is nothing left (EVERYthing in the picture above tasted great.)

At all the Chinese restaurants, a number of dishes are ordered (I don't think I have ever seen less than 6 or 7 on a table) and everyone uses their chopsticks to serve themselves. You never order one meal just for yourself if you are out with a group. Considering the incredible quantity of food and beer ordered, the price continues to amaze us -- generally under $10 a couple.

Last night I completely crashed after dinner and then got up Saturday with a busy day again so there is very little time to write. It was another fabulous day here though. (photos on flickr)

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Today we visited the Teng Wang pavilion. We started on the fourth floor and watched a beautiful short show that included a singer, dancers and musicians. You could then wander down the different levels. I don't seem to be getting great pictures of the places we are visiting because I want to hold Lyvi -- I may have to get some from others in the group. It was fun looking at the things for sale (and buying some, too!) You wouldn't believe the prices on tea sets -- if only they weren't so hard to get home. Also, it was my first time to ask (I guess they really didn't ask) to be in a photo with a local family. I was in the photo with the women, then they had Jason pose with the man.

The building is very colorful, but today it was so hazy it is hard for our photographs to do it justice. It is an important part of the Jiangxi culture and history. It has been destroyed 28 times and rebuilt 29 times because there is a famous poem that goes along with the building so of course they want the building to be a place people can visit. I learned about a poet called the Asian Shakespeare. He was writing during the Ming dynasty, which is also when Shakespeare is around. Mary said that he died the same day Shakespeare did -- I'll have to find out more about him.

After visiting the actual building, we wandered around the grounds. This sweet grandmother brought her grandson over to chat with us. She had him do all sorts of things like say hello and grin. He was so very cute and her enthusiasm for him was just as precious. Half of it all was in Mandarin, but I sure knew when he was blowing kisses.

Lyvi didn't handle being out so well and cried every time I tried to feed her something -- does she not feel good, want to feed herself, not like what we are serving, etc. It will take awhile to read her signals better. She did finally eat some steamed egg at dinner when I used chopsticks. Her chest, nose and eyes aren't any better and she pulls on her ear so we went ahead and started antibiotics today -- some others are doing the same.

She is still the cutest little thing and it is so fun to make her laugh, coo and giggle. She isn't much for deep cuddling when we hold her, but she seems to like us just fine. She rolls up in a ball on the bed to grab her toes and stick them in her mouth. She cracks herself up when she does this. I also love watching the other 8 babies in the group. They are all precious in their own ways and it is such a gift to get to watch them with their new families.

This afternoon I went with two other families for a foot massage -- it was SO much more than a foot massage and only cost $5 (including tip) for 30-40 minutes! I will be getting Jason there and hope to make this a daily ritual while we can. Two of the guys tried to get a massage at the hotel and ended up with a prostitute so I think we all are happy to be introduced to this place down the street.

A local store has Lyvi's finding ad (the orphanage puts a tiny photo and description in the paper -- I'll have to post a picture of a page of these sometime. It is very sobering to see 100 little faces looking out from the paper.) Her picture isn't very clear so I am glad I did not pay to get it before we came here, but of course we are very happy to have it.

More excellent Chinese food for dinner with the group. There were clear noodles, spicy beef dishes, great tofu dish, some kind of pancake-like thing, plan noodles, shrimp mixed with tea on and on. The amount of food they serve at a meal is amazing and I wish I knew the dish names better so I could order similar dishes in the States. Certainly some of our friends know where in Texas we can get Chinese food like this. Now we are off to dreamland. Actually I just don't sleep more than 5 hours a night! Today was the first day that I didn't take a nap and I think it might have been because of the massage. In the morning, some families are heading to a park to watch the locals do their morning exercises. If the weather cooperates, we will be visiting a local village tomorrow and then I hope to wander around Nanchang the rest of the day (and end up back at the foot massage place again.)

Uploading photos to the blog is a pain, but there are a few new ones in flickr!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The kids back home are have a ball when they get to watch Lyvi on the webcam (and we have a ball watching them!) After our fist "call", Gi sent an email from the kids.

From Jonathan:
I can't wait until she comes back. She is going to blast my heart off. I want to pick her up and hold her. That was so cute when she was eating and playing and she kissed the bunny.

From Lindsay:
She's adorable! I want to see her when she gets here. I want to pick her up.

From Dylan:
I love Mei-Mei.

Rest of Wednesday

So we hung out in the room this afternoon while ShiShi napped and we both took turns doing the same. Then, the group met for dinner. Our guides order everything for us and there was a ton of food. I'll have to get the name of a couple of dishes because they were so good. There was some minced pork wrapped in eggplant with a delicious sauce, white rice, plain noodles, tasty green beans, broccoli cooked with something fab, beef and lamb that you dip in a sauce that had lots of ginger. There was also a soup, but it had a bit too much ginger and I was completely stuffed by then.

Shi Shi ate tons of the steamed eggs and then had a ball gumming green beans and noodles. She was good perched in her highchair, but we have to keep a hand on her for the times when she suddenly tips over. She had a green bean dangling out of her mouth like a cigarette and enjoyed us laughing at her over it. I also found a tickle spot on her thigh and she likes me to get it.

She doesn't reach out to us and still spends a lot of time looking at us as she tries to figure out what in the world is going on. But, she likes us so it is an interesting relationship to watch. She likes to explore the toys and things right around her so we have to be careful at the table or else everything is on the floor.

I wonder how she was carried around because her arms seem to mainly go straight out unless she is trying to hold something in front of her.

I don't think we can visit the orphanage, only the town of Shanggao, but that is okay because she was in foster care and we couldn't visit the house anyway. She came back with the cameras, but not the little toy we sent (which is fine -- I hope some other little baby gets to enjoy it.) They are also working on either answering or translating the questions we sent with her care package. When she came to us, her top layer was a Circo brand Target outfit. I wonder if it was donated, but because it is not split pants that they couldn't really use a sleeper. Perhaps they use those kinds of clothes to send the babies off. Under this were the more traditional clothes. I want to keep them for her, but on the other hand I don't like taking anything from the orphanage. Hopefully we can give them some extra money sometime during the visit or go to Walmart and buy new ones. Not that I mention it, that would probably be better since these are thread bare.

I think ShiShi is finally comfortable enough for us to start wandering the streets tomorrow. I get such a kick out of just walking down the roads to see the various shops. One shop was filled with metal cooking pots and someone inside was tinkering -- if that is what you call it -- a pot. There are not alot of tourist things to do, but plenty of local places to explore.

Miss Lyvia XinShi Wallis!

My goodness we have SUCH a different girl than we did last night. She woke up at 5 am for a bottle, just like her papers said she would. Then she fell back asleep until 6 something. When she woke up, she spent some time looking back and forth between the two of us. I kept expecting some more drama like we had last night, but she seems to be in a groove with us.

She LOVES the fruit puffs we brought and we spent some this morning sitting with her while she nibbled on them. I was prepared that we would have to take turns going down for breakfast, but she did great and even ate some egg and congee. She is going to both of us without a problem, which is the best thing yet. We are being careful to make sure that we both spend time feeding her, holding her, etc.

This is a big day because today we officially adopted her. The Jiangxi officials asked some questions like what our occupations are, why we want to adopt from China, what are our education plans for her, etc. Then they gave us a gift of porcelain and we signed on to take care of her forever! While we were waiting, we found a dozen ways to make LYVIA smile and laugh. Eventually she got tired and easily fell asleep in my arms.

After the Civil Affairs visit and then to the notary, we stopped by a high end department store for clothes because it is cooler than most of us expected and some needed a few more warm outfits. I bought an outfit just for fun because there are salespeople everywhere and they take the item you want, write it down in a ledger, take the money, get the change and then give you a receipt. Then if you go a section over (just like Dillard's) to buy something else, the whole production starts again. There were some beautiful things there, I loved the bed linens, and I could have shopped more if I didn't have to carry it all back in a suitcase.

Some of us went to get dumplings and the other halfs took the babies back to the hotel. Those dumplings are delicious for fast food! We walked back to the hotel so now I have a better clue about where we are and where we can go wander around without getting lost. Most of the streets look the same to me since the main ones are all lined with shop after colorful shop.

LYVIA played on the floor a bit this afternoon and shook her toys about. We gave her some rice cereal and then a bath, which she loved. In the bath, she slipped backwards and got water all over her face and started to cry so I decided I would take her out. Then she really started to cry and it turned out that she wanted more bath time! After bath it was nap time and again she did a really good job of falling asleep in my arms.

Tonight we are going out for a group dinner!

We put a lot more photos on Flickr -- hopefully you can see them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First Day Photos

More photos on Flickr

Shi Shi is here!

Our group made it to the 26th floor of the new Civil Affairs office and the babies were there waiting. I couldn't recognize a single baby from their referral picture (although later I started to see some resemblances). XiXi finally pointed out XinShi and she was mighty cute watching all the goings on. When they handed her to us, she was okay at first so we had some sweet moments getting to watch her, then she eventually started to cry harder and harder. She cried for quite awhile, but calmed down at some point on the bus. Her chest is rattling, her nose is running and her two bottom teeth are cutting through so this could be an interesting week! Back at the hotel, she got scared again and continued to cry (a lot!).

Not too long after we were back in our room she calmed down (she already her first dose of Tylenol) and we sat on the couch and played with the sweetest little girl. She liked looking at family pictures and the crinkly paper they were in. She can sit up just fine, but we haven't figured out how steady she it yet. Mary came in and we did our paperwork that allowed us to keep her overnight for a "harmony" period. Shi Shi was just the sweetest little thing and started cooing and enjoyed us cooing back. Jason tickled her check and that would make her smile a bit. She seemed all washed up and has a haircut.

Director Wu told us that she left her foster family just today so it wasn't too surprising that soon she was back to more crying and crying. She would take a look around the room, realize she didn't know where she was and cry again. It was quite pitiful. I doubt that we have the bottle sorted out correctly, but she did drink some. She seemed to do better with our Avent bottle than with the bottle they sent with her that has the bigger hole (probably because they put rice cereal in it.) It took a couple of hours before we got her calmed down and to sleep at exactly when they said her bedtime was (8 pm). I completely crashed just after that although I had wanted to call the kids before they went to school (but not while Xin Shi was screaming.)

Her arms and legs don't have a lot of meat on them, but she is still a good size. Her top layer is a Target brand outfit and is 9 months. She loved the Sassy links and likes to reach out and touch things. She even ate some of the fruit puffs already. I'm sure there is more to tell, but I better get back to sleep as it is the middle of the night!

(Larry -- we gave Director Wu the pictures and he didn't open them in front of us, but seemed appreciative. He is checking to see if we can visit the orphanage. Mary also remembers your family and daughter warmly!)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Finally in China!

We made it late last night to Nanchang! Our guide Mary picked us up at the airport and told us about the Jiangxi province on the ride to the hotel. She said that the province is quite poor and the majority of the people or production is agriculture on small plots of land that the government tells them to work. There are also manufacturing plants, but the economy is mainly ag.

Our room is very spacious and has a kitchen, two bathrooms, dining table, living room and bedroom. Since we were going to stay here 9 nights, I wanted plenty of room to wander around. I can't figure out what is in the mattress to make it so hard, but there is a something like a down comforter on top and we slept great. Our internet didn't work last night, but this morning two very nice employees came and spent a lot of time working on it until fixed.

Nanchang is very different than Hong Kong. Just like we had heard, many people get around via bicycle and scooters. We also rode in a taxi today -- quite the breathtaking experience, but also quite a thrill for the $1.30 fare. I'd love to video one of the rides. We have already visited Walmart to get formula, diapers, drinks and what-nots. I found a lot of fun drinks to try and moon cakes are being sold by the hundreds because of the upcoming Autumn festival. The director told our guides what formula the other families needed, which was quite a little thrill. Our director is going to bring a bag of Shi Shi's formula. I hope we can figure out how to give him some money for it.

Back to Walmart, I enjoyed walking around to see the different fruits, meats and fish for sale. After we got our things, another guide helped us order delicious beef and pork with cabbage dumplings for lunch. She said the resturant was the Chinese version of McDonalds and that they could be found everywhere. I'll have to try those again because they were about half the size of the ones we eat back home so I didn't order enough. I'll have to take a picture of them because they did such a better job of crimping the edges than I do.

I am glad we got out and were busy because we are overwhelmed waiting for Shi Shi today! This has been SUCH a long wait and now it is pretty much over! Hard to believe. There is a sweet little crib in the room and now we are unpacked and just waiting and waiting.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I can't figure out how to link photos to Flickr so we stuck a Flickr link to the side that I think you should be able to click on to see more photos!

Monday Morning

Not my pics -- BTW!

Well, I'm TRYING to not wake up so early, but I can only lie in bed for so long and I collapsed into bed at 8:30. So, I am enjoying my last night of the Hong Kong skyline. At some time during the night, they turn off the neon lights and gigantic advertisements and the skyline looks a bit more relaxed.

I did forget to mention that we visited the Stanley Market on Sunday, too. I didn't see much to buy, but we did buy some prints and one original painting. We were running late to meet our guide so I passed on the mandarin dog clothes -- Lindsay would have loved them so I'm feeling a bit guilty about that (until I think about how much Sadie and Oliver would NOT have loved them).

I was getting so tired I couldn't make decisions so we let our guide take us to a jewelry store -- I've read about others who get taken on these "tours" so I was a bit interested in experiencing it for myself. They pretty much take you to a jewelry store (or jade, porcelain, etc) and I assume get a tip of some sort for doing so. The song and dance is that the store is regulated in some way by the government so you know you are getting quality items. They had a chart of Chinese zodiac signs and Shi Shi's is the rooster. It said that September was a "lucky" month for her. I don't know how she will feel about it, but we are certainly feeling lucky and blessed this month! I found a garnet necklace I wanted, but I had never shopped for garnet before so I had no idea if the price was acceptable or not so I regrettably passed on it. My ability to function was hitting an all time low for the day so I just needed to get back to the hotel room.

We came back and rested a bit then went to tea in the lobby downstairs. If you are a guest, you can get a reservation and have a table waiting for you and you don't have to stand in line -- a very welcome perk. We drank delicious Jasmine tea and some scrumptious dessert and finger sandwiches before Jason started not feeling well so he headed back upstairs.

It was only 6 pm so we knew we needed to get moving to try and stay awake as long as possible. We walked down Nathan road and used the glaring neon lights that stretch as far as the eye can see to keep us awake. Shop after shop lines the street and cross streets. After awhile I started getting delirious again so we headed back to the shore to watch a light show they do every night at 8pm. It was clever how they sync up a number of the buildings and I wish I would have seen it from our room the night before so that we could compare vantage points. We did what we could, but at 8:30 I collapsed into bed, slept until 12 am, took an Ambien and sleep until 3 am.

Today we will have another yummy visit from room service for breakfast and then we need to check out at 12 am and "our" Rolls Royce drives us back to the airport at 2 pm. I hope to get a picture of the suspension bridge (second longest in the world, but longest bridge that has a motorway and railway.) I love the lines of the cables stretching up when you drive under it. We get to Nanchang at 8:30 pm and our agency guide will pick us up and take us to the hotel. Hopefully the traveling will keep me up longer tonight! Then tomorrow we unpack and wander aimlessly until it is time to get Ms. Shi Shi in our arms that afternoon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hong Kong tour

Hong Kong tour
Our guide picked us up at 9 am and off we went! We enjoyed room service this morning, the incredible view and just relaxing. Jason said, “How often do you get to lie in bed reading the news and gazing at the Hong Kong skyline?”

We had a guide and a driver. Our guide walked us through part of downtown Hong Kong so we could get a feel for the “real Hong Kong”. He showed us the medicines and markets. He was good about answering questions and was thrilled to get to take us to a local restaurant for tea – nothing was written in English. He ordered lemon tea on ice for us. I thought Jason was going to faint right there. Hopefully the water was okay though because I enjoyed stopping in a shop I know Jason and I would not have stopped in ourselves. I thought the tea was delicious so if we do get sick, it was worth it! He wanted to show us the differences in apartments that people of various incomes would live in. Along our walk, we also stopped at the Man Mo Temple. They had huge coils of “everlasting incense” hanging from the ceiling. People burn incense to ask for help for various things.
We then drove up Magazine Gap Road to Victoria Peak. Our view is so awesome from our room that I didn’t need to see Victoria Peak, however, the road was beautiful and it was interesting to see the different kinds of housing along the road. The narrow road had a wall of rock with greenery growing out of every crevice. It twisted more then my tired body could handle well, but I survived. We then went to the Aberdeen fishing village and road a sampan through all the anchored boats. Many of the fishing boats are also homes for people.

Our guide was excited that my dad had visited Hong Kong in the 80’s and he made me take pictures of the Jumbo floating restaurant – it can seat 3,500 people and he just knew that my dad would remember this restaurant, which was THE thing in the 80’s.

It is only mid day and I can’t wait for nightfall because this skyline is so beautiful at night – it is something you just have to see for yourself since it can’t be adequately described or photographed.

On the agenda for the rest of the day is a bit of a rest, the famous Peninsula tea and more wandering around Hong Kong.

I’ll probably have to come back and add to this. Mid-day jet lag is taking over.

**So I tried to rest, but have I mentioned the telescope in the room yet? Every time I try to rest, there is something new for me to look at through the telescope! Now there is a group taking wedding photos (one of the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen), street performers and a traditional boat I'll have to find the name of. I’ve got to try and close my eyes a bit so I have the energy to get out there in the middle of it all again.

Hong Kong

Jason and I both made it to Hong Kong and easily found each other.

I didn't realize my plane would travel this way, but we flew down to Hong Kong over China. The ground was mainly cloaked with clouds, but when it was clear, the land was beautiful. Instead of looking like a patchwork quilt like flying over the States, the farms looked like the stripes on woven fabric. There were clusters of villages and one particularly beautiful town at the base of a mountain.

I LOVED flying into Hong Kong. The mountains were cloudy, but our plane flew low enough to see the islands and water. We flew around the entire island before landing so I feel like I got a wonderful view of Kowloon, the New Territories and Hong Kong Island. Their new suspension bridge looked incredible when we flew by and barges were cutting through the water stacked with the same containers we see heading down the rails. High rises were reaching up to the plane and the mountains are verdant.

We were delivered to the hotel in a Rolls Royce -- quite comfy and stylish! We have the most wonderful room! I think I could just stay in the hotel until it is time to fly to Jiangxi. We have a suite and the bedroom and living room both have flat panel tv's -- there is also a tv in the gorgeous bathroom. The best thing about the room is that both the living room and bedroom have huge windows overlooking the harbor. We are looking at Hong Kong Island and I love how the skyline, that stretches along the harbor, is lit at night.

This is the perfect place to unwind after our whirlwind week and get ready for the next adventure!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I couldn't leave tomorrow morning if it wasn't for my mother-in-law, who works grandma magic on my kids. They love their Gi from the bottom of their hearts and feel very safe with her. While searching for baby names, I came across a site that said "Gi" was a Korean name that meant "the brave one". I would certainly have to agree with that!

Good luck with the three kids, two dogs and fish -- we can't thank you enough!

They are showering me with food ~ without me!!

* Some of Lela's friends haven taken pity on her family and are ensuring that the rest of the Wallis' will be fed upon their return from China! What great friends Lela has * Although I might be biased * posted by Kristen!! :)

The referral is here! ~ Lela and Jason are adding 1 more...
with the long awaited adoption of Baby #4!

They're traveling to China for 15 days it seems
to hug the little girl ~ they've only seen in their dreams

Already Xin Shi has toys, diapers and dresses galore,
but Lela is still trying to figure out how she'll feed all four!!

We have thought of a way to help her prepare
by having friends cook meals for them later to share.

Please join us at Studio Kitchen to help assemble the dishes
That they can enjoy when they return ~ with all of our best wishes!

To make it an official "shower" we'll have wine, snacks and cake.
But the bonus of course is ~ we don't actually have to bake!!

New Understanding

I always wondered why people don't post so much right before their trip -- we are excited for them and they just leave you hanging! There really is just no time for fun stuff though. At the moment I am just typing and assume I am hitting the right keys, but I'm so tired I can hardly see. Of course this intense preparation is amplified for us a bit because we get to (not have to) leave in a week and Jason had to head off to England and there are three children, two dogs and a fish for me to prepare as well as our Hong Kong Honeymoon, an international trip and Shi Shi's adoption!

I have tons of room in my luggage, but it still seems to weigh more than the measly 44 pounds total you are allowed to have for in-country flights. Still, I'm excited to see that empty space I hope to fill with treasures these next two weeks! The only superfluous item I know I am lugging to China is the full-sized head and neck pillow for the plane. I've tried the puny blow-up ones and they just don't keep me comfy. I've come up with lots of potential uses for this ridiculously large thing so I am at peace with my desire to bring it. I'm not at peace with the pharmacy I am bringing along. I can't believe the number of medicines needed for two adults and a child. The medicine alone must weigh 20 pounds! I even tried to get the smallest version of things and take our half used kid medicine. We are ready for every sniffle, cough, infection, scabie, rash, tummy thing that might come along -- it is probably bad to wish a ton of ailments on us, but I hope we can use up some of these things!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

One week until Shi Shi Day!

Tuesday of next week is when we will have little Shi Shi in our arms! She will probably be screaming in our arms, but that is understandable. We plan to be getting her about 4:30 on Tuesday China time! Shi Shi is the nickname her foster family uses. Maybe by Tuesday we will have a Western name for her, but we are happy to call her Shi Shi until then (and after!). We are planning on an "L" name since her sister, mom and grandmothers have "L" names. Feel free to submit some ideas! With Jason in England, I'm not sure when we will get the chance to actually discuss names though.

I am frantically trying to pull the kids, house, packing and pets together. I have three days left to do more things than I care to think about. My throat is on fire still and the kids won't fall asleep at night and now I'm not sure if I have hotel rooms reserved in China!

Still breathing and trying to take things one at a time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lana and Lela

"If you have not already, you will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of a beloved person. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that does not seal back up. And you come through. It is like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly-that still hurts when the weather is cold-but you learn to dance with the limp" -Anne Lamott

Well, the weather is a bit cold at moments right now, but I'm thankful that I have a new life to look forward to this month. One thing my mom taught me is to truly enjoy children and their childhood and that is a gift that continues to give. This is the last day that I spent with my mom and I am so thankful for it and the 33 years I had before that.

One down

Well, Jason is already headed off on a jet plane. He had a meeting in England he didn't need to miss so Friday we ran around town shopping for things I probably should have already bought. We stuffed his luggage and sent him on his way.

We will meet in Hong Kong (somehow) on Saturday. We have already learned that traveling with a can of formula isn't the best idea. His luggage got crushed and the can exploded all over his clothes -- the joys of parenthood.

We tested out Skype and aren't blown away. Hopefully we can figure out how to make the connection clearer so we can talk to the kids while we are there. Maybe I will have time (yeah, right) to hunt down some families who have used it in the past.