Tuesday, August 19, 2008

FINALLY...an update!

Hello again!
So sorry I've been so lax on getting this blog updated...I've had a difficult time making the transition from one kiddo to two...but I'm hoping we're on the upswing now! As you can see from the pictures, Graham is doing GREAT! The pic below is of him enjoying one of his favorite breakfasts of cinnamon sugar toast!...doesn't it look like he needs a shave! ha.
Grahamm and Amelia are getting along a lot better now. This is a picture of the two of them digging for rollie-pollie bugs in the backyard this week...they stay busy playing now that Amelia has figured out (most days) that he's here to stay.
And here's his famous grin. He's such a happy baby! This was when we were celebrating my Mother's birthday last month...he loves being out and about.
He has settled in and is doing so well! After we'd been home about 6 weeks I started to see him really respond to English. The biggest clue he was really catching on came one morning when I couldn't find him - and was looking all over the house for him. I found him in the Living Room over in the corner. When he turned and started walking towards me his mouth looked full! "What's in your mouth?" I asked...and he opened his mouth and out fell Amelia's "My little pony" tiny, tiny horse shoes...several of them! ha. As of today I would say his current English comprehension is about 90%...of course, he is only 15 months old!

Tomorrow (Wednesday the 20th) he is having surgery at Children's Hospital in Oakland. We have had several appointments since we got home in May, and because of his age, they put him on the list for surgery in a speedy fashion. I'll post from the hospital if it's possible and fill you all in. In the meantime...we would appreciate your prayers. All the medical staff assure us that the children recover much more quickly than the parents! haha.

So that's it for now - just wanted to catch you up and let you know of our big day tomorrow. Thank you for all your love and support!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

caption for Wuhan photos

I just got the update from Wuhan which I posted some time ago with captions for the photos. I had just posted the photos! You might have to scroll down to an earlier date to see the captions and photos. I am not too sure about that:) Hopefully I DID post it! If not I shall try again:)
Got an email from Christy just now and they were going to the US Embassy to sign paperwork and will leave there Sat AM our time!! - They should arrive in Redding about 11:30 AM Sat!

Another Day in Guangzhou

It's Thursday evening here and as I post this, my turndown service was just given (I love this life - when will I get my own nightly turndown service at home?...cleaned bathroom, fresh towels and lightly plumped and smoothed sheets--aah...) Anyway, I know you're wondering - what do they DO all day over there? Well, here's a quick run-down of our day today. Graham is sleeping now, and Amelia and Baba are down in the Mattel play room, so I have time to post. Enjoy!

Good morning! This is the way Graham wakes up in the morning, and especially when we head down to the amazing breakfast at the White Swan Buffet! It's about a $40 USD per person breakfast buffet, but it's included with our room. Very, very yummy. Graham loves the scrambled eggs and bao's (bbq pork in soft bun) and Amelia loves the fruit! What a happy way to start the day! And now for the surprise! It's a Chinese birthday celebration! Graham smiled as we sang "Happy Birthday to You" in Chinese. His birthday is May 14th, one day after his Aunt Diane's... and Amelia is great at singing (Junie shung lu qui la...)! We then shared this beautiful cake with the other families around us. Many were hesitant to try it, but once they did, they all loved it too! Look at how much Graham loved it! :) It's a light angel food type layered cake stuffed with whipped cream and fresh fruit. By the way, our guide here in GZ, Nikki, gifted us with the cake...how sweet of her, and we all really enjoyed it! Is this cute or what?! He didn't know what to think about the icing...

I think he decided he liked it a lot! I let him stick his hand in and feed himself! Messy Mom!

And Amelia got in on the action. Notice the t-shirt she's wearing. It says "Big Sister" in Chinese. She loves wearing it!...right after this picture, Graham reached out and gave her a big gob of icing in her hair...she was a good sport about it.

And this is the view from the breakfast room. It's of the Pearl River, and I love this picture of the old and new. The guy you see standing in the boat at the forefront of the picture is actually grabbing the moss out of the river with his net, and putting the moss into a bucket on the boat. The haze is constant here in the river delta.

After breakfast, Tom went to the consulate to pay for Graham's visa, and Amelia, Graham and I headed to a nearby park. This island, Shamian Island, was a haven for the British during the 1800's, and many of the buildings from that time are still standing. It's extremely picturesque, with lots of beautiful flowers, shrubs and peaceful pathways in the medians. As we were walking to the park, we came upon the local grammar school children out in the parkway doing their morning exercises. The school is a very competitive school, so apparently the kids are high achievers. I love this picture with the young and older...students and soldiers. We watched it all. While we were watching, this guy (late teens) came up to me on his bike and asked if he could practice his English with me. He asked me about my hobbies, where I lived etc. I asked him about his hobbies and basketball was his favorite. He knew all the US team information, and actually named himself after LeBron James. No, not LeBron, but James! :)

Probably 200 kids or more all along the yard.
And then, after the exercises, we went on to the park. Lots of old people working out there too. Amelia had fun and found some new friends! :)

Notice the OLD people exercising on the equipment! And of course Graham was a good sport during it all. He was content, then I gave him his bottle. He just loves to hold it. (Although I did hold him and feed him as Amelia was playing.) He's just such an easy little guy. He loves to watch what's going on around him!

As I mentioned, this island is a refuge from the ugly city. Many, many brides and grooms come here in their rented finery to have pictures taken. I love this shot with the 3 couples being readied for their photos. This is NOT the day of the wedding, but sometime before. They have all these pictures taken in preparation for the wedding. It's fun to see them all over the island.

While I went shopping this afternoon, Tom took the kids swimming. Graham's not quite sure of it, but has a smile anyway! His favorite position is OUT of the pool and holding on to the side strainer! Doesn't he look relieved to be out! ha.

And of course our mermaid is always lovely. She really enjoyed this pretty pool.

And finally dinner. Notice all the noodles all over Graham and Tom. I fed him while Tom held him. I had brought dinner back to the room from another local restaurant. While I was feeding Graham noodles, somehow he found the meat and bone from the soup, and I had to fish the crunched up bone (from the restaurant not him) and gristle out of his mouth--I guess he was sucking the meat from it...it was gross.

So that's the end of the day. We're enjoying ourselves, but ready to get on home! Tomorrow, Friday, we will have a free morning (packing and last minute shopping, swimming) and then we'll check out at 2:30, leave for the consulate, and have our consulate appointment at 3:30. This is the "swearing in" of Graham. Amelia will be with us too. Then, we head to the train station, where we'll take the train to Hong Kong. Friday night will be at the Sheraton again, and then Saturday we fly out to San Francisco and on to Redding, arriving at 11:30am Saturday.

I hope I'll be able to post tomorrow night, but if I don't I'll give an update once we're home. It has been an amazing trip. As I look back over the photos, more stories come to mind, so I may post on some of the tantalizing aspects of China in the coming months...but in the meantime, thank you so much for following along with us. We appreciate all the prayers and thoughts you've had for us over the past 2 weeks, and will look forward to introducing Graham to you in person as soon as possible.

Many blessings, and love ya!

Christy :)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

note from Audy

Tuesday at 11:40PM Redding, CA time.
I have posted my last draft from Christy. I imagine they are very busy. It is good news that they are in Guangzhou. The American Embassy is there and that is where they have to sign all the papers for Graham. We can scarcely wait until Saturday! Audy

Hello from Guangzhou!

We made it and we're oh, so happy!!

Today is Tom's turn to write the posting...so enjoy! You'll see the difference in the 2 of us just by the post I'm sure...

First dip in the pool, and not so sure he likes it!
Airport in Wuhan - it's fabulous, and boy were we ready to leave Wuhan! We took a Emb124? commuter jet to Guangzhou. They served lunch and Amelia and Graham slept. It was the grace of God we got through security since Tom HAD to bring his eyedrops with him because when they were checked on the way to Wuhan, they leaked out of the bottle, and at $100 a bottle (that lasts a month), he was not interested in repeating that situation. We "snuck" it through in his backpack, and there were no problems! Oh, plus our carry ons were way overloaded, but I think they took pity on us since we had our arms full of the children!
Hotel Lobby in Wuhan. Saying goodbye!

My first medical exam. Amelia is more apprehensive than Graham
Pearl River Laser Show ... More impressive in person. It lasts about 45 minutes with music we can hear in our room on the 12th floor of the White Swan.

8.5 kilos = 19 lbs! He's tiny!
Head circumference (not DBH for you foresters).

Two happy people at the health clinic.

Happy and Healthy. Health benefits department at work should be happy too.

Empress Amelia at Rest. Just the visit to the Medical Center wore her out. She was convinced they were going to grab her and start examining her. I don't think she believed they weren't going to until we left the facility!

Well, we made it!

Today is Graham's first birthday, the Big Zero One, Wednesday, May 14. This is Tom. Everyone is taking their 2 pm naps. It is warm, say 90 degrees, a bit humid (enough to get you perspiring), with a slight breeze.

Wuhan traffic was pretty snarly, so it took us a while to get from the hotel to the airport. Christy is the suitcase packing queen ... we were able to cram all the stuff she bought on her numerous forays to the shopping areas into the 3 suitcases that were to be checked at the airport. Over here your checked bags cannot exceed 20 kilos which is about 44 lbs. For 3 bags that is 60 kilos (your grand total can't go over 60). Well, we made it at 59 kilos! The flight from Hong Kong to the USA is back to the 50 lb limit so we should be good to go. This assumes Christy is not going to shop ... which is a bad assumption.

We are staying at the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island in the heart of Guangzhou along the Pearl River. Our initial room was on the 9th floor with a city view -- just like our last visit here. But when we walked in the last tenant was a cigar smoker. Christy didn't even go into the room. So we asked for a non-smoking room and are on the 12th floor with a view of the Pearl River. What a beautiful setting. There is lots of river traffic. Barges, tugs, sightseeing, and other small boats go by all the time. Just like the auto traffic, I can't see any boat navigation logic, like passing on one side or the other. Just a lot of sounding the ships' horns.

Amelia and I went down to the Swan Room. This is a special play area that Mattel has provisioned down on the first floor of the hotel. There are play toys, stuffed animals, balls, a TV, and other fun things to do. I remember Christmas Eve three years ago when we picked up Amelia, we camped out in the Swan Room for a short time while we were checking in because The White Swan Hotel was mobbed by people wanting to see the Christmas decorations and this room was the only quiet spot for our traveling families back then. Well it looks much the same today -- but fewer people.

We also went to the swimming pool and played in the water. There is a huge waterfall and Amelia and I would swim under the falls and come up on the back side. She really liked that. Graham got into the pool for a short time too. The water was coolish, so he took a quick dip in Christy's arms.

There are quite a few families here with adopted children. I would have to estimate more than 75% of the families already have an Asian child and are here for little brothers or sisters. The breakfast buffet is still quite a scrumptious spread, and this is the place to see all the families. That being said, the number of adoptions is way down and some of the families now stay over at the Marriott (which is closer to the Consulate office) or the Victory Hotel down the street. As a result, many of the shops we remember are now closed. The noodle shop (with its menu that had many humorously incorrect English words) is now a clothes shop. The park with the small carousel and roller coaster is just a plaza.

The White Swan still is a nice hotel. The mattresses are semi-hard which is okay with me, but the pillows are hard as a rock. I might as well use my jacket folded up as a pillow, but I didn't bring one. The river view rooms allow us to see a fantastic laser light show both sides of the river. Even the huge city bridge across the way is outfitted with the lights. We were thinking of taking a cruise tonight, but Christy just said that the view from our room is good enough for her.

We had a medical exam for Graham this morning and he passed. As you can see from the pictures, he was happy and smiling the whole time! Those of you who remember, Amelia screamed the whole time. (She still hates to go to the Dr. - sorry Dr. Hu!) Graham couldn't have been sweeter. He was laughing and smiling the whole time. He's just so easy! Of course the Dr's all adored him too. What's not to love about a happy, smiling baby! We also took a photo for his US Visa that will get him into the country on Saturday. We will pickup the visa on Friday afternoon before we head by train to Hong Kong.

Oops, Christy just woke up. But, instead of taking over the typing, she is heading out .... shopping.

Later this afternoon...Tom finished this post, and I just added a few descriptive details. We'll write again later when we have some more fun pictures!

Love ya,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a cute one

This is so cute I coudn't stand it! I had to get him changed while sleeping, and once I did he woke up...and this was the result. Gotta love this little guy! We're off to the airport!

love ya,

All Well Here in Wuhan

Hello! It's good Tuesday morning here in Wuhan, and all is well. Traffic is flowing, music is playing, and I can see the neighborhood residents over at the Gymnasium practicing their tai chi. In other words, we're fine.

As I noted yesterday while posting our blog, we felt the earthquake for quite a while with our building swaying, but that was it. The bathroom has a few more cracks in the ceiling, but other than that, all seems the same.

We take the plane to Guangzhou this morning, so we're finishing packing and getting ready to leave. But that sweet picture of Graham tells of our state here! Now I must run and wake him to take him to breakfast. He was up at 5:30am hungry for a bottle. I fed him, and he's still sleeping! (It's 8:00am). I must wake him since we have to be ready to leave our room at 9:00am. The housekeepers have to come in and count the towels before we can check out! (I'm not kidding.)...hmmm, just more variety from the spice of life in China. Will post once we're settled in Guangzhou tonight.

love ya!