Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paperwork and shopping day in Zhengzhou

Our first night with Henry went very well. He only whined a little around 1am and I thought he was dreaming. When he continued to whine, I checked on him and realized he was probably freezing cold as our room was chilly! If you're coming to China in the winter, invest in several fleece-type pajama onesies if you don't want to use a blanket. On the other hand, a couple of other families told us that their rooms were so warm that they had to open their window, so you may want to also purchase some regular pajamas as well.

It was a long day today but I'll keep it brief: after breakfast our group returned to the registration office to pick up our official adoption certificate, so we are now officially Henry's parents! \o/ We paid our fee, handed over one gift, and took informal photos. After that, our bus took us to the Notary Office. We provided our passports with our new adoption certificate so they could make copies; we signed some forms, and left another gift. I think we were supposed to be "interviewed" but I don't remember why this didn't happen.

After a spot of take-out lunch in our room, we all took a nap before heading out to the Lotus Center for a bit of shopping with the group. This was an optional event so we had to pay the driver 43 yuan or $7 per adult. It was Henry's first experience with the stroller and he seemed to tolerate it for the most part. We only had time to wander around the department store where they sold baby items on the third floor and food on the second floor.

We didn't buy a lot but everything we picked up probably could have been purchased at the Wal-Mart (maybe cheaper?). My goal was to purchase more onesies and warmer PJs for Henry and maybe additional outfits for him but we didn't succeed in this department. Almost all of the onesies offered were split-pant types (large gaping hole in the crotch area) and they were also mainly for toddlers. It is probably wise to buy a bunch of cheap to reasonable onesies to last until you arrive in Guangzhou because I think they're hard to find here (not that I've had time to search high and low for them). You could hand-wash them in the summer or we could have them washed or drycleaned in the winter but I think it would have been easier if we had brought over more than enough (and perhaps trash the ones you don't want to keep due to diaper explosions).

A couple of small items that I wish I had brought with us are plastic utensils to cut or "mash up" fruits for Henry in our hotel room, and a couple of collapsible containers as I like to keep things organized (the shoe box sized container would have been perfect but it took up too much room in my suitcase). I'm sure there are other items but I can't think right now.

Tomorrow, our new family will be making an orphanage visit to the Xuchang SWI. It's not cheap but it's important to me (and I think for Henry, too, when he's old enough to understand). Can't wait to say hello to my friends' little munchkins!!

Here are pictures taken with my point-and-shoot camera.

Best buddies at the Registration Office
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In front of the popular red wall
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I took a photo of the formula to show the
store assistant what I needed. I also took
a sample diaper with me but ended up
purchasing Pampers, anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Day to Remember: Gotcha, Henry!

Mon. 02.27.12

First of all, I'm sorry this post is long but there's so much to share!

We woke up around 5am and took our time getting ready and making sure we gathered all our paperwork, gifts and a few baby items (a small toy, Cheerios or other snack in a Snack Trap, a back-up diaper, maybe a sippy cup of juice, a puffer jacket if it's cold, and definitely your best camera). We had brought our stroller down to the lobby at 9:30am but a mom who was adopting again told us we didn't need it since we carry our child down a few steps from the registration office to the bus, so Dave took it back to the room. Our reps advised us to write our children's Chinese names on the gift bags, red envelopes and baby passport fees but not all agencies do this.

One thing we did FORGET to take with us was a set of questions for the orphanage director and assistant. However, since our paper update from yesterday basically provided all the answers we needed, it wasn't necessary for us to ask too many questions. Besides, we could only think of two questions!

Everyone made light conversation as nerves began to set in. Some of us showed someone else from another family how to use each other's cameras and video cameras. I think the first set of children came in around 10am. For our group and another friend from another agency, I took as many photos as I could. We all took photos for each other, actually. Every time the door opened, we all turned our heads. Still no Henry. By 11am or so, all the children arrived except for two families: ours and another family whose daughter was also from the same orphanage. What's ironic is that the orphanage is the closest to the registration office out of all the participating orphanages!

It must have been 11:20 or later when we noticed a small SUV parking up outside the building. Two women walked out and with them were two babies. I started taking pictures although I couldn't see Henry until he turned his face. I gave my camera to a dad and Dave handed over our friend's video camera to another dad. I was so emotional! Henry was perfect and he was just curious looking at us and looking at his new surroundings. Dave said we were given two bags of Henry's things by the orphanage director, which I vaguely remember. I just couldn't stop hugging and kissing and touching Henry's distinguished cheeks! I then remembered I had a husband so I handed Henry over to his new dad. Henry never cried once. He just stared at Dave and gave him a "what's up" nod. :)

Yisha's assistant translated our questions and answers with the orphanage director and assistant, and we handed over our gift bags, red envelopes, and child's passport fee. We also had our "adoption photo" taken as a family, which took no more than a minute.

As soon as we arrived back at the hotel, we stripped Henry down to his last layer and changed his diaper and let him soak in his new room for the next few days. It was cool watching our new son "in person"! He enjoyed his new soft toys but loved to put almost everything in his mouth. Henry had taken a nap for over an hour so I slowly woke him up. He stretched hard but didn't cry. :)

While half of our spouses met up in the meeting room to sign the 24-hour "guardianship agreement" (all adoptive parents are basically given a "test drive" of their new child!), the rest of us spent more time with our little kiddos. Since our Chinese formula -- which came with Henry's stuff -- was written in Chinese, Dave took the bag with him to have Yisha translate for us (she also had formula scoops, which did not come with the formula).

I couldn't wait any longer for Dave to return so I gave Henry some prune baby food. We had noticed that he did not like to be hand-fed directly and would try to take whatever we gave him in his own little fingers. So, while trying to feed him this brown prune stuff, he was blocking me with his wrists like a little kung-fu master! I couldn't stop laughing at him but I managed to give him a taste on his lips and voila, he was sold!

Dave returned with instructions and I made a bottle -- using the Drop-In Liner system, which I absolutely love -- and let it cool down in the ice-bucket of cold water before I left to sign papers (FYI: Chinese babies are not used to drinking cold water or cold formula). Henry didn't cry when I left as he was quite content playing with daddy. The only time he cried was when I changed his diaper for the second time. He cried hard but it lasted about 3 minutes. We decided to go down to the restaurant for dinner at 6pm as we hadn't eaten since breakfast at 7:30am! We were given a high chair and Henry was pretty happy. We realized we made a rookie parent mistake. We didn't bring any toys, bibs, baby spoons, baby wipes, or sippy cup to the restaurant! Dave made a quick dash back to the room and we were fine again :).

After some relaxing play time in the room, we decided to give Henry a bath in his new ducky bath tub. He was already familiar with sitting inside and playing with toys. We were preparing for him to scream down the hotel because we were told in our update that he did not like to take baths. I quickly threw his stacking cups in his slightly-bubble-filled ducky and allowed him to get his feet wet first. I had to act fast as it was quite cold in our bathroom. I sat him down and ran water over his little body with a wash cloth. He was so engrossed with the stacking cups that his bath didn't bother him at all. So happy!!! When I rinsed his hair and the water went over his face a little, he kind of gave short whimpers but he did NOT cry! We just kept talking to him and telling him what a good little boy he was. Oh, how we LOVE this boy!!

We got Henry in his PJs and put him in an American-brand diaper for bed (and use the Chinese brand during the day as I've heard they're not as good). We relaxed on my bed until he fell asleep (btw, we got two large Twin beds and not Queen or King at the Crowne in Zhengzhou). We've had the best day of our lives. Here are some photos! Goodnight!

Hello Henry!
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Henry with daddy & mummy
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Henry looking at daddy suspiciously
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Henry enjoying a bus ride
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Henry checking out the bed
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Taking a nap
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Having a giggle with daddy
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Riding the Ducky bath tub

First day in Zhengzhou

Sun. 02.26.12
We woke up early and had our usual breakfast meal. We also paid our guide, George, and our driver, and checked out. Our guide couldn't tell us how much to tip the driver and suggested we refer to our agency package but we figured "20RMB per person per roundtrip" for 3 full days would come to 120 RMB or $19 (10RMB per person per roundtrip is also sufficient). We waited for our group and got back on the bus one last time in Beijing and headed for the airport.

The majority of us were heading to Zhengzhou so we said goodbye to two families who had to wait for George to return to them while he checked us in at China Southern. Our two suitcases were in total about 6 pounds over the 44 lb pound limit per bag but they went through fine. No one weighed our carry-on wheelie case. George walked us to the security check-point and I got all teary-eyed when we said our goodbyes (I think he reminded me of my brother); he's been such a fantastic guide -- so happy and positive and extremely helpful.

It was funny being greeted by "Ni-hao" by the flight attendants (did I mention I'm Asian?) while my husband was greeted by "hello" -- just made me giggle as I can speak only a few words in Mandarin. We landed in Zhengzhou and the flight only took 1 hour and 20 minutes :). Our group met our agency rep, Yisha, and assistant at the airport and headed to the Crowne Plaza hotel on our bus, where we were given name tags and the most recent updates about our children!!! We were so eager and happy to read new information about our son and was ecstatic to learn that he is an extrovert! We giggled at the little things such as Henry not enjoying baths and that "he has never seen animal before and he might like animal" -- we think he's seen photos of our dog, Monty. :)

At the hotel, we handed a copy of our passport and visa pages to our rep who then checked us all in and we dispersed into our rooms. I think three other families are on our floor. The room was okay but not as "current" as the Crowne in Beijing. It took forever to heat up the room and just as long to get hot water. We met the group downstairs for a late lunch and I loved my Thai Fried Rice. Our very basic birch-color crib was delivered to our room after lunch by two staff members (our agency requests cribs for families who are receiving very young children).

After lunch, one parent per family met up with Yisha in the lobby to walk to the bank to exchange money. Okay, I had read about bringing over clean and crisp US notes ($100 bills) but I thought it was mainly for the orphanage fee. No, you will need to bring these perfect bills for the bank as well (for registration, notarization, and other fees [plus spending money] if your agency didn't ask you to prepay). Luckily for us, we just had enough clean and crisp $100-bills for today's trip to the bank. Some of our bills had creases down the middle so I set those aside. Dave said one family had over $300-worth of bills rejected by the bank teller because the notes had ink markings on them. So, if you visit the bank and you don't have perfect bills, take more than enough so you have a few back-up bills.

Before we could settle into our hotel room, a large group of us walked about 15 minutes to Wal-Mart to purchase our cheapo strollers. Our rep agreed it was a good idea to make the purchase the night before we meet our kids. The Wal-Mart here was a bit of a maze and not many employees spoke English so I pulled an assistant to our group and pointed to the stroller that one mom brought with her and pointed to the ceiling and then the floor, which was my way of asking, "On which floor do you carry strollers?" It worked! LOL! We were a little disappointed at the range since there were more pricy strollers than the cheaper side. We bought one in the sale for $55, which was quite nice (but probably not something I would have thought hard about at home) as we'll be taking it back to the US.

We decided to skip the group dinner and unpacked almost everything, which included our baby stuff! It was so exciting to pack little things into our bags for tomorrow's big day!!!

The one thing I'm really worried about is the cigarette smoke we're smelling in our room, which materialized towards the end of the night. We've noticed that it's not the room itself that smells of smoke but it's the smoke that is seeping through into our room from elsewhere. Someone very close to our room is smoking and it's driving us crazy. It's disgusting and it's really irritating our throats. We're just worried about our son but there's nothing we can do because guests are permitted to smoke in designated hotel rooms (we are on a non-smoking floor, apparently). I've been spraying my Febreze around the room, which helps a little but it still STINKS!

Folks, this is our last night as a couple! I hope to update you with photos of our Gotcha Day tomorrow (or the day after)!

A little outdated but spacious hotel room
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All the lights and TV were operated by some kind of
"mother board" on the table between the beds!
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We ended up placing this basic crib in between
our beds, which worked quite well
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You can just see the hairdryer in the
mirror, which looks like a hand-held
vacuum cleaner! They did have a
modern one in the drawer though.
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I guess for emergencies if you have several bad nights!

Beijing Tour | Day 2

First of all, I want to apologize in advance for typos and grammatical errors (and lack of photos) as I'm rushing like a mad woman to update my blog, and don't have time to recheck my meager writing. It's also getting very late and it's Gotcha Day tomorrow!!! :) Btw, I'm including two posts in one day so this disclaimer refers to the second post as well :).

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Sat. 02.25.12 (cont'd)
First stop was at the Jade Factory consisting of a quick tour and shopping opportunity. There were some very pretty items on display but I had no desire to purchase anything. My mom loves her jade bangle and pendant, which are rarely removed, and I did not realize how expensive jade is, so I was "just browsing" the shop floor. Some families bought small zodiac-sign-animal pendants for their new child, which I thought was a neat idea.

Next was the Great Wall. Our guide, George, suggested we walk up to only the fifth tower or terminal as he wanted us back by a certain time (and the fact that the Wall is gigantic!). Before we headed up, we had our group photo taken for a souvenir Beijing book. If we wanted to purchase the book after our walk, we would pay 100 RMB ($16). Some of us ordered one and paid upfront.

We started our trek up the Wall on multiple-sized steps from a few inches to about a foot or so. I was puffing and panting, and took advantage of those in front who were pausing for breath as I needed a breather myself. It was so crowded at first as most of us were practically "spooning" each other without touching while others were happily coming down the opposite direction. At the first tower, a few "couples" from our group stepped aside to take a quick water break. (Please remember to take a couple bottles of water with you as you do not want to get dehydrated.) Our little group continued and it got harder and harder. I was thankful for our short break and another water break at the second tower as I felt slightly light-headed. I think it was here when it started to thin out a little. Every now and then I took some photos and the views were spectacular (photos very soon, I promise). We moved on at a steady pace and continued taking mini water breaks. By the time we were at the fourth terminal, the fifth tower was just a short ramp away (yeah, no steps on this "last" leg, which was actually harder on the calves!). We made it in 45 minutes (I think?). We took photos. We breathed and drank more water. It was an easier climb down the Wall and there was no crowd at the bottom; we must have hit a few bus-loads of people or something on our way up! Loved our Beijing book, loved the Wall! (Oh, I didn't witness this myself but I heard from several ladies that the squatty potties were absolutely disgusting at the Great Wall; the worst they've seen!)

After lunch, we took a short stroll and some photos at the Olympic Park or Bird's Nest. When none of us in the group thought we'd make it to the Acrobat Show, we were all "alive" again and agreed it was an excellent show. Just don't expect the local audience to be quiet and considerate as most people seemed to be having full-scale conversations like they were sitting at a restaurant!

Back at the hotel, we ordered a light dinner while taking advantage of free wi-fi in the lobby area (which I failed to mention in my earlier post. The Internet is slow but hey, it's free...and again, only in the lobby area). We bumped into another couple who were also armed with their electronic paraphernalia so the four of us sat in silence together while we typed, scrolled, and pressed away until dinner came!

I was giddy...well, we were BOTH giddy as we started packing and preparing for our flight to Zhengzhou -- the capital city of Henan Province. We were finally flying into the same province where our son was staying and it made me smile to think that he has no idea what's ahead of him.

That's a very fast moving blade!
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A few of us climbed up to the tower on the upper right
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The black circles on this map
represented "You are here" but they
were everywhere!
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Thought this was funny
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This was the start of the climb
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It was literally this steep with people's butts as the
main view going up!
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Beautiful view
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We all loved climbing back down;
notice the size of the steps!
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Bird's Nest
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Start of the acrobat show
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End of the acrobat show with multiple motorcycles
inside of this metal sphere

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beijing Tour | Day 1

Fri. 02.24.12 (continued)
Let me start off by saying how COLD it was today! I thought I wore enough layers and would be fine with a thick fleece but I don't know what I was thinking of. Thank goodness I had packed my gloves and puffer jacket (compressed in a bag!) when we started our tour because it was 5C or 40F.

We took a rickshaw to the streets of Hutong where the traditional houses are in the older part of Beijing. I was grateful for the plush colorful blanket each rickshaw came with because we needed it! While our guide, George, shared many fascinating facts and stories about the homes and Ancient people of Hutong, I must admit I was drifting in and out of the conversation because I couldn't stop thinking about how cold I was! If you're not used to the cold weather, be sure to pack hats, gloves, scarves and a heavy coat or jacket (and check the local weather forecast)!

Rickshaw ride in Hutong
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George talking to Mrs. Wu
While in Hutong, we visited the home of Mrs. Wu who had been living in the same modest-sized house for 53 years. She provided a small cup of hot tea for everyone, which we all needed for our freezing bodies. After a few Q&As, we hopped on our rickshaws, back to the bus, and headed out to the Silk Factory. The trip was very interesting as an employee demonstrated the process of how the silk was produced and transformed into mass products such as bed quilts and cushions. The sales people were hardcore and wouldn't leave any of us alone. This was also the place where some of us experienced our first "squatty pottie" or hole-in-the-floor toilet. Ladies, remember to carry your travel Kleenex with you and roll up your pants! One positive side to the squatty potties is the possibility of achieving good, toned thighs! LOL!

Silk Factory demo
After the Silk Factory, it was time for lunch with the whole group. George said we'd pay for our lunch and the tour tickets for both days on our last day with him (Saturday) so we will exchange more American dollars on the "Exchange" ATM machine in the hotel lobby. FYI, the ATM surcharge fee is 20 RMB ($3+) so you may want to exchange a couple of hundred at a time until you visit the bank.

We got back on the bus and headed over to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Square was very impressive and I've never before seen so many Chinese people in one place at one time. Some people stopped to gawk at our group but others were "fascinated" by George because 1) he was Asian and speaking in English, and 2) I've heard there are plain-clothes police who monitor the tour guides to ensure they don't say anything negative about the Chinese system. George warned us not to accept any "free massages" from those who try to give us an unwanted pat-down and to keep our belongings zipped up in our bags but to leave our passports in our hotel safe. We also took his advice about ignoring the scores of street vendors when they try to sell us all kinds of souvenirs: don't even say "no" and just walk on, which seemed to do the trick (most of the time).

Tiananmen Square
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Tiananmen Square
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Forbidden City Building
One thing we did notice was the smog, which resulted in many gray photos of the day -- even when the sun was trying very hard to make an appearance. The Forbidden City was massive as well! We remember seeing a small-scale model at Forbidden Gardens outside of Houston many years ago but you cannot imagine the sheer size of this place until you're there in person. After walking through the fifth archway and through yet another courtyard, I was sure we were coming to an end but it felt like an endless maze! One family who returned for their second adoption had their 3-year old daughter with them so they decided not to join us for any part of the tour and visited the zoo instead (also they did the tour last time). It was a very smart idea as the day's tour lasted from 9am until 5pm! I think Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Gardens took about 3 hours alone, and there were 3 kids with us (ages 6 through 10) who were absolute troopers!

We all had a couple of hours of chill-time in our rooms and the majority of us met up again for dinner. We walked over to the "brightly lit restaurant with the red characters" across the street and were placed in the basketball-themed room for 11 adults and 3 kids. The menu was more like a volume but only a few dishes looked appetizing (I'm a picky eater but a few agreed). I wasn't expecting American-Chinese cuisine but I was also not expecting "baby turtle," "baby duck," "donkey meat," "pig's knuckle," "pig's snout," "tripe" (stomach lining), etc.! I ended up with crispy chicken and a side dish of green beans and Chinese broccoli; Dave had a small piece of cod and we both survived :).

One last thing: Internet service is slow in the hotel room. Sometimes we get Internet without logging into our VPN (Virtual Private Network), other times we need it. Internet is also not free so we only log on when we're ready! At the Crowne here, you may "Enjoy Broadband Internet access for RMB 3.00 per minute with a maximum charge of RMB 120.00 per 24 Hour Day" :). It will be disconnected if you've been idle for 10 minutes.

Sat. 02.25.12
Dave woke me up by accident at 3:30am when he was making his way to the loo in the dark by grabbing my foot instead of the bed! Half an hour later, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the hallway. When I concentrated on the tone of their voices, they sounded quite pleasant, just not very considerate for the rest of the hotel guests! Of course, we couldn't get back to sleep so I took my hair-wash-day shower.

Today, we are taking on The Great Wall of China, which we've been looking forward to for months! We will also be visiting the Jade Market and the Olympic Park (or the "Bird's Nest"), and then we'll be attending an acrobatics show tonight. George reminded us to dress casual and won't be needing our suit and tie :).

Oh my gosh, I'm so giddy! Two more days to our little fella! Later 'gators!

Friday, February 24, 2012

From Houston to Beijing

Wed. 02.22.12
We woke up at 4am to a deafening sound of the radio. Dave wanted to make sure we didn't sleep in by accident! Although waking up at crack of dawn and only getting 2.5 hours of sleep was not ideal, I realized that leaving just one hour to get ready was also not enough. I personally should've woken up 30 minutes earlier as I needed more time to actually wake up.

United Airlines (UA) domestic flight: I still can't believe the airline no longer offers "free" snacks, not even a small packet of nuts or pretzels! Luckily I had a banana for breakfast and packed some granola bars. Slept a little; watched a bit of TV on shared screens, which made the four-hour flight go by a little faster. I didn't even have enough time to fully test out my new foldable foot rest (I'm 5 ft and a peanut) but when I used it, the circulation in my legs and feet immediately improved.

UA international flight: Dave went to the desk and asked if we could be moved to a row all to ourselves and he succeeded. What a smart guy. We met our agency's travel group (three other couples) at the gate in San Francisco! Very nice people. On the plane, I was very disappointed to find that we didn't get individual TV screens. However, having a row to ourselves made up for it as we could free up some floor space by placing our jackets and bags on the spare seat. Oh, just to save you from watching one of the worst movies ever made, don't watch the new Footloose; it really was terrible. Lunch was delicious though and I've just discovered ginger sesame dressing, which was yummy. I wish I had packed my own iPad. I had a bunch of games and activities that would have kept me pretty occupied on the long leg of our flight, and I also downloaded some kids' storybooks as well so I may have to search for these again on Dave's iPad. We just didn't have enough space and our carry-ons were already hefty on the shoulders. Finally, if you're a fan of 80s music, check out channel 8. I couldn't help myself from upper-body-dancing and mime-singing in the dark!

Thu. 02.23.12
We all met our guide, George, after baggage claim. He is such a nice and happy guy. He briefed us a little on the bus to our hotel but we were all so tired that we probably didn't take in everything. The Crowne Plaza Wangfujing was quite nice (photos below). Our room was on the fifth floor and I couldn't smell any cigarette smoke at all so I can save my Febreze for the time being!

After hanging out with another couple for drinks and supper, we crashed. We had a great night's sleep for about 7 hours! The bed wasn't as "hard" as George had warned us about and the only time we woke up was when the room phone rang twice at 12:30am!! Wrong number -- grrr!

Fri. 02.24.12
Breakfast was amazing. Dave was so happy with the bacon because it was similar to British bacon (more meat, less fat). We're meeting George at 8:45am in the lobby so I will share details about the Beijing tour at Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Hutong Tour later on.

Three more days until we see Henry!!!

Crowne Plaze Wangfujing
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There was even a mirror in the shower!
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Dave checking out the safe

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Final post: leaving in a few hours!

Okay, a little random here because I'm tired and it's past midnight (CST) and I'll be up at 4am :O. We officially finished packing late this afternoon and were ready to take the dog to our friends' house except we had a wee accident with our garage door. Let's just say some of the rollers came off track and our garage door was stuck asymmetrically. I was just afraid the whole thing would collapse on us while we were trying to fix it. We probably soiled our pants a little here.

Luckily we were able to drive my car out (plus dog) and I headed over to our friends' house while the hubby started to make phone calls for an emergency visit. It was almost 5:30pm! Why now, why today?? We got a lucky break as a couple of guys were able to visit us a few hours later and fixed it within 30 minutes and informed us that we didn't require a garage door replacement! Phew! The repair was another expense we did not want to fork out (remember my husband's car shifter replacement just the other day?) but it had to be done.

Below are some random pictures. As promised, the Packing List is also included for download as well. Thanks to all the BTDT moms and dads, I had compiled one list that was generated and consolidated by many within the last few months. I'm not a huge fan of MS Word but feel free to download and customize the list yourself (in table-format...and the ones I crossed off I felt were unnecessary).

Goodnight {yawn}.

Just managed to squeeze in 44 lbs
each of the two large suitcases!
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Packing List (page 1)
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Packing List (page 2)
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We'll be here ♥ on Sunday!Cute poster from Zulily; frame + mat board
from Hobby Lobby (frame 50% off!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two days to go and still packing!

I want to say that our last weekend together as a couple was very romantic but it wasn't -- lol! I was pretty stressed out with all of the last-minute purchases and making sure we have all of the required documents to take with us to China. We will still have one more weekend together pre-baby in Beijing, China so I guess you can't get anymore romantic than that! :)

Today, I will attempt to finish off my final last-minute purchases. One mom on RQ mentioned taking a large-size Tupperware container to wash bottles, nipples, sippy cups, etc., inside of it (and not directly in the hotel sink), and it can also be used to keep all the more fragile items such as snacks, soft plastic pureed baby food, glass bottles of medicine, etc., so I think I'll get one today while I run a few more errands.

In the meantime, I will share with you my packing bits and pieces. (Btw, I'm not taking ALL of the baby clothes you see here; I still can't decide...and I haven't even packed all of my own clothes yet -- yikes.) I will also include my packing list when it has been updated.


Nursery / Packing Headquarters
(notice the Prince Henry sweater from
my sweet friend, T!)
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Mini bottles of everything (my husband didn't want to
share my cucumber-and-green-tea-scented body wash
so he now has his own "manly body wash")
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This make-up bag was a Clinique Bonus Time gift from
years ago, which has become my new medical bag!
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Thought this would be a cool idea to use a laundry bag
for all of our little fella's soft (and lightweight!) toys
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Auntie Debbie-G bought this cool bag for Henry's
bathroom toys but I'm going to hook it around our
serving trays on the plane ride home for H's toys

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Details, details: our travel itinerary

In-China itinerary (click to zoom)
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Full travel itinerary (click to zoom)

Before I get to the itinerary, I just have to share that this is not the time for my husband's car to break down several days prior to our trip! He could not get his car out of Park so I dropped him off at work and he arranged for a tow truck to take the car to the dealership. Since we share a tight common driveway with our neighbors, the tow truck guy asked me to help him pull the car out of the garage by steering the wheel while he gently towed. I was so happy to see him leave so I could continue with my errands for the day! What we were NOT happy with was the cost of the replacement shifter assembly! :O Why now???

Our final travel conference call went well today. It took about 45 minutes but we didn't offer many questions (Dave asked one) as we had about 20 minutes to review the 29-page Final Travel Packet! I was so excited to finally see our travel itinerary, which has been abridged below. I think this is our longest "vacation" ever!! Goodnight!

Wed. 02.22 -- Leave U.S. (morning) for Beijing.

Thu. 02.23 -- Arrive in Beijing (afternoon):
  • Meet with Beijing guide.
  • Check in at the Crowne Plaza Wangfujing Hotel. Free time.
Fri. 02.24 -- Tour Beijing:
  • Tiananmen Square.
  • Forbidden City.
  • Hutong Tour.
  • Optional acrobatics show.
Sat. 02.25 -- Tour Beijing:  
  • Great Wall.
Sun. 02.26 -- Depart Beijing (morning) for Zhengzhou on China Southern:
  • Meet with agency representative and her assistant in Zhengzhou.
  • Check in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Mon. 02.27 -- Henry's Day!
  • Today is the big day as we will finally have our son in our arms!!
  • Sign the Guardianship Agreement (afternoon).
  • Take Registration Certificate photos at local photo shop.
  • Return to the hotel. Meet with agency rep to prepare registration paperwork.    
Tue. 02.28 -- Day of Adoption Registration:
  • Take a bus to the registration office to complete the Adoption Registration (morning).
  • Go to the provincial notary office to complete the notary interview.
  • Rest or optional group shopping trip to the Lotus Center or Wal-Mart (afternoon).
Wed. 02.29 -- Free time or rest. Optional tours maybe available.

Thur. 03.01 -- Free time or rest. Optional tours maybe available.
  • Receive your notary documents (afternoon).
Fri. 03.02 -- Last day in Zhengzhou:
  • Receive your child’s passport.
  • Meet with agency rep.
  • Leave Zhengzhou (early evening) for Guangzhou on China Southern.
  • Check in at the China Hotel in Guangzhou.
Sat. 03.03 -- Happy Birthday, Daddy!
  • Take bus to Shamian Island to complete child’s visa physical and visa photo taken this morning.
  • Meet with agency reps to prepare paperwork for the Consulate Appointment.
Sun. 03.04 -- Free day in Guangzhou.

Mon. 03.05 -- Consulate Appointment:
  • Agency rep to deliver visa packets to the U.S. Consulate Adoption Unit (morning).  
  • Go to the U.S. Consulate to take the oath (afternoon).
Tue. 03.06 -- Agency rep will go to the U.S. Consulate to receive child’s visa packet.

Wed. 03.07 -- Depart Guangzhou for Hong Kong via train:
  • (Typically, families would be departing Hong Kong for the USA but we’re extending our trip to meet with family.)
  • Check in at the Butterfly on Prat Boutique Hotel.
Thu. 03.08 -- Hang out with family in Hong Kong for a few days!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last two weeks at the orphanage

Henry (18 mos) with lots of fluffy hair!
**** ****
Henry with his buddy, Lee
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Henry trying to "show some leg"
while Lee is taking all the limelight :)

I received a lovely surprise early this morning: several pictures of Henry back at the Xuchang SWI! Our little boy was staying at the therapy center in Kaifeng for a few months but no one could tell us when he was returning to Xuchang so this was such an amazing surprise! My friend, Sue, is currently in China and met her little boy only a few days ago (I was all teary-eyed reading her blog). The family had a chance to visit the orphanage so they took some photos of our kids -- thank you so much, Sue! Lee's mom and I are already friends so we were thrilled to learn that our boys are temporary "crib buddies." :) Awwww.

Super busy today! I walked into Babies R Us with a plan to buy only a high chair but came out not only with a snazzy high chair but also a bunch of plastic toys for the orphanage, extra crib mattress covers, lightweight hooded bath towels, some baby-proofing items, and some weird-looking pureed food. At Target, I bought a lovely scarf to go with the two neck ties as gifts for the officials and directors....but I've just realized I need a total of 6 (not 3!) non-monetary gifts plus 3 cash gifts in red envelopes. No worries, I have other ideas: pen gift box, American-made candy, and maybe a Texas T-shirt! :) Oh, and my new green suitcase arrived today! Although it stinks of moth balls, it's perfect!! Proper packing this weekend!

Tomorrow, we should receive our Final Travel Packet in the morning, so we should finally see our full travel itinerary! Then, we're having more passport photos taken and returning home for our "final travel conference call" with our agency and other families in our group. So exciting!

I can't believe it's Friday tomorrow! I'm feeling a little bit of eeeeek and a little bit of arrrrrrghghggh!