Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Our Last Days in China -- A Pictorial Review

On one of our last days, we had our Consulate Appointment.

With this appointment, Carter got his US visa ensuring that once we touched down in the US, he became a citizen

That night, after spending the day making a stop to buy some pearls at the pearl market, we went on the Pearl River cruise. We all had a wonderful time eating Papa John's pizza and enjoying a Pearl River beer.

The next day, after making a last stop on Shamian Island and eating at our neighborhood, legitimately local restaurant, we took a van with an wonderful couple from Nebraska down to Hong Kong.

Our last day was spent in Hong Kong. Well, not really. Most of it was on Lantau Island where we took a 25 minute (ONE WAY) gondola / cable car ride where I was fairly certain we would plummet 100s of feet to our deaths in a ball of twisted metal and broken glass. Against all odds, we did not and spent a fabulous day at the Big Buddha enjoying the breathtaking scenery and gorgeous weather.

The rest of the day doesn't even warrant the time it would take to explain. Suffice it to say, getting off the MTR at either the Hong Kong Station or the Kowloon Station was more than a little confusing and the taxi / color / island system does not lend itself to usage when you're tired, hungry, and annoyed. We may have gotten "stuck" in an incredibly upscale mall. Frustrating does not begin to do justice to the emotions we were experiencing.....

At one point, when we did step away from the metro station proper, we were greeted with this amazing sight. Sadly, we could NOT figure out how to get there! Geez.

We finally gave up at went back to the hotel to eat supper. At least it was astronomically expensive. :( This does not sit well with a penny-pinching tightwad such as myself, but it was the last day, and we were done. A detail worth noting? Throughout the entire day (1/2 day debacle), Carter did not fuss. Not once. The kid is ridiculous! Starting on the metro, he even fell asleep for about an hour and a half in his stroller,
that is until Troy pulled him out to hold him so he would be more comfortable. We can only pray that this kind of travel is not a fluke or related to the state-of-adoption-shock. He was like that the entire two weeks we were together in China. He made the time in-country far too easy which allowed us to see a lot of China and experience a lot of the culture. What a blessing -- in so many more ways than that, obviously!

Coming home the next day was nothing short of brutal, not because of Carter since he slept, played or watched videos; rather it was brutal just because it seemed to be the eternal day. We were awake for nearly 40 hours straight. However, the rough day of travel was somewhat mitigated by being met at the airport by a couple "groups" of people. Our boys, other family and close friends greeted us at the top of the escalators.

As we descended, we were welcomed by a group of students.

A warm, sweet welcome to say the least! Our home was even festooned! And snacks and beverages were waiting as well.

Sigh. We are more blessed than mere pictures and words can convey.

Since then, jetlag has been a cruel and constant companion. Hopefully that will be gone soon, too! It is sitting heavily with me now, though, so I will conclude this post. In the next post, I will try express our gratitude, though, as intimated earlier, paltry words probably cannot do it justice. Til then....


So, I have had every intention of updating the blog, but jetlag has been brutal. In a nutshell, we're doing well. Aiden and Ethan have been sweet and gentle with Carter, and it appears Carter loves them. However, the newness may already be wearing off for the older two. Carter had the audacity to crawl up on the chair next to Aiden as he was playing on his iPad, and Aiden (although relatively delicately by his standards) instructed Carter to go away. Ethan, understandably is showing some signs of jealousy but is still a doll and will frequently, unsolicited, inform me that he loves Carter. Then he will go on to say he also loves Mommy and Daddy and Aiden. Sweet boy.

Carter is adjusting pretty well; He's goofy, silly, and remarkably sweet. He's amazing at entertaining himself and would , if we'd allow it, require very little attention. Still, we feel that on a scale of 1 to 10 for adjustment, he's at about a 2 or 3. He's still in the people-pleasing phase. Hence us hunkering down and adhering to practices of past: only Mom and Dad are allowed to hold him and comfort him; only we get to feed him or offer him treats; just we can take care of his needs, essentially. We do this so he learns we're not just passing through. We're the real deal: Mom and Dad! This is home, and we're going nowhere, no matter what he does. We are here to love him and take care of him forever. For the next few months, this is how we plan to approach the situation. Much like we did with Aiden and Ethan. We're even doing an immediate family-of-five stay-at-home Thanksgiving.

On a positive note: today something must have scared Carter while he was playing on the train set downstairs. (That's not the positive note!) I heard him whimper, and as I was making my way towards the stairs, he cried out Momma -- and meant, beyond a shadow of a doubt, me! And, he held his arms up to be comforted. I've even had the privilege of rocking him to sleep a few times since being home.

Ok, I still have a post of thanks to do (which seems appropriate considering the time of year!) re: all the people who helped us get to this point -- having our son home! The list is extensive and the thanks will be profuse; however, last night was another relatively rough one as Carter still has nights and days mixed around. I'm not doing a whole lot better in that respect. Therefore, that post and one wrapping up our China portion will have to come later. And this one will have to remain lame. I will try to save face, though, by including a couple pictures as that's all anybody really cares about, let's face it!

An American citizen! Landed at Dallas / Fort Worth Airport and is officially a citizen of the US!

Big brother Ethan showing him how the iPod works

Happy birthday, Dad!

Next post(s)? Our last days in China / Hong Kong and our eternal gratitude.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Long Time, No Post

It has been some time since I posted.  There's so much to do in Guangzhou, and since we only had a day in Hong Kong, we made the most of it.  Or tried to anyway.

I will post some pics of what we've been up to and try to update when we get home, God willing, Friday night at 10:00ish.  As it is, I'm sitting at gate 49 at Hong Kong International Airport waiting to board our plane to arrive so we can start the final leg of the journey with our 15 hour flight.

And we'll be taking this portion of our journey with a newly adopted 3 year old.  I would be far more concerned if he were not so ridiculously well behaved and easy to entertain.  Now watch him chose this time to change his ways.  :-O

In brief, that night after Carter's consulate appointment, we went and found a cute, local neighborhood restaurant where not a soul spoke English and not a word of English was on the menu.  The lady there was a doll, though, and we ended up with delicious food!

That night, we went on the river boat cruise.  

The next day was our last day in GZ, and we found our way back to that restuarant and Shamian island since our van to HK didn't leave until 5:30.  The van ride was uneventful, and I again cannot say enough about the value; the ease and convenience of the van ride make it well worth the nominal extra price compared to the train we took on our first trip.  

We got to HK around 8:00 and ordered room service.  The next morning, we availed ourselves of the delicious buffet breakfast and headed out for the day.  We visited the Po Lin Monastary and the Giant Buddha.  The tram ride, while beautiful and breath-taking, left much to be desired as far as I'm concerned, but I did it.  It was, most definitely, worth it!  

We then headed into Hong Kong.  Now, that is a post in and of itself.  Sigh.  Suffice it to say, it was a bust.  Unbelievable.  And, you might be thinking it would be because we were hauling an over-tired toddler around with us.  Nope.  True to form, he was impeccibly behaved.  He even fell asleep on the metro and continued to sleep in his stroller for about an hour.  The trouble had to do with a mall and the wrong colored cabs.  Unbelievable.  I'll tell that story another day.  

Now, I'm sitting on the plane about 3 hours out from Dallas / Fort Worth.  We've been on here for about 11 hours thus far (not including the hour after boarding / time on the tarmac / taxiing et al). Carter fell asleep while we were waiting to push back and slept for about 2 hours.  Since waking up, he's quietly eaten and watched Planes (2 showings), Finding Nemo & a little of Frozen.  Now he has been sleeping again for about 4 hours again.  He's been awesome.  Not really to our surprise.  

He and Troy are in front of me since we couldn't get seats together in main cabin extra.  And WOW is main cabin extra worth it!! Great seats and lots of space.  It didn't cost much more and for a 15 hour flight? Totally NOT over rated.  Well, took a break from movies (so far Blended, The Fault in Our Stars, $@* Tape, and Draft Day) to finish this.  Back to the entertainment, if I can get my stupid entertainment system working again.  Sigh.   

Next post will (prayerfully) be stateside!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nearing the End

We just get so busy here in Guangzhou that blog posts seem to take a back seat.  Time is slipping away quickly.  It's an emotional conundrum.  We love it here.  Guangzhou is a great city with so much to see and do, and it has a decidedly Western feel in places compared to other parts of China.  So, our love of being here is warring with our desire to get home to family and friends. The weather here (upper 70s and lower 80s vs the crap back home) is also making it difficult to leavve.  However, the squatties are putting this place at a decidedly disadvantage!

 (One of the CLEANER squatties I've been in.  PS They don't flush their TP and only flush when it's #2!!)

Anway, after 4 hours of sleep Friday, we got up for the medical check.  Fairly routine -- except when they rip your newly adopted son with whom you're trying to bond out of your arms, whisk him away to a closed room, and ram a needle into his arm (ok, that might have been a melodramtic visual but actually not far from the truth) to do a blood draw.

 At least they had a wine vending machine in the lobby! :-/ Surprisingly, I did not avail myself of any of its contents!

Anyway, all went well, and after that concluded, it was nap time for Carter and paperwork time for Daddy.  Then we went for supper with a wonderful Wuhan family.  The food on the other hand... Blah.  Suffice it to say, eating "Australian" in China?  Not recommended.

The next day was a free day.  We went to one of my favorite places in the world: Shamian Island.  It has this wonderful tropical / European feel.  It has fabulous shopping and beautiful pedestrian areas. 


We ran into another Wuhan family there and went to Lucy's: a Chinese adoptive family pilgrimage.  However obligatory, not the greatest food.  We got to eat outside though, so bonus!  

Then we came back to the hotel to go swimming for a bit.  Yes.  Swimming.  Outside.  In 80+* weather.  Yeah.  I am NOT looking forward to going home.  Have I mentioned how much I do NOT want to leave this weather?  

After swimming, we got cleaned up and headed to our Holt group supper.  Ah.  Yum.  I cannot begin to explain how much we love the food here.  And this meal was phenomenal!

Today was another free day.  We opted to forgo the zoo as we'd seen it already, and Carter, although he would have loved it, wouldn't remember it anyway.  Instead, we went to the pearl market 

 (Some gals at the market stringing me pearls.)

and back to Shamian.  We wandered about and ate a light lunch outside.  So gorgeous. 

I even treated myself to a massage.  Hard to pass up at $30 for an hour.  Seriously amazing.   Tonight, Troy and I again ventured out to get authentic, local food.  Oh. My. Word! So delicious.  And luckily we had a "menu" written out for us by one of the Holt staff so we got amazing food.  Nothing was in English and nobody spoke a word of English! :-O

Now, as we're nearing the end of our time in China, a brief word on the most important part of the story.  Carter.  He is ridiculous.  He is so well-behaved, neither Troy nor I know how to deal with him.   In fact, we've said time and again that he's just too easy!  We don't even know how to handle it.  We're sure it will all change, but for now, he is quiet, sweet, and gentle.  He can sit for hours and play by himself.  He will happily sit in his stroller or on our laps in a cab or on a bus as we haul him around.  He will sit quietly at a table in a restaurant and be content with a single car or toy.  His heart is very gentle; a stern "no" and a frown can cause him to fall apart.  He will occassionally contemplate defying us but never will follow through.  He is really an angel.  And, we cannot wait for that to change.  We're sure this is a, "somebody recently didn't love me enough to keep me and threw me away" stage where he is trying to ingratiate himself to us.  It's really very sad.  We're hoping that soon enough he'll realize he's stuck with us.  Forever.  Poor kid!  Short story long, we love this kid.  He's pretty amazing, and we can't wait to get him to his home! And, in 3 days, we start that journey!