Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy to be Home

We made it home to a banner, pink ribbon and balloons. I was in and out of the bathroom sick for most of the plane ride home. So the 24 hour journey home was less than ideal. However, we all did manage to sleep the same 4 hours on our long flight home. We are Sooooo happy to be home and don't plan to travel internationally as a family for several years (maybe 10 or 15). It took us all a while to get over jet lag but, we are all settling in and getting into a routine.

Mia loves her new home. She especially likes all the new toys and the space. She has learned to crawl and is into everything. And I do mean everything. I do not remember Noah being this busy.

Nana a Poppa came through town for a couple days and brought the 100 wishes quilt. Mia loved the colors.

She has been a great eater. And seems to love ALL food (yes, she must be my daughter). Nana brought some sugar cookies. Mia could not get it all in her mouth fast enough.

It took Mia a while to get back on this time zone but, will sleep through the night again. Noah went back to school. He was happy to see his friends and get back to his life. However, he is very proud of his new sister. He loved showing her to his class, neighbors and friends at church.

Last day in China

How cute am I????
Mark and Mia stayed in the room to nap and Noah and I walked a few blocks to a park. There was a hotel with cool waterfalls on the way.

The park was beautiful with a lake surrounded by different paths.

This is our hotel.

The McDonalds.

The car dealer across the street. They would not let people take pictures with the cars.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where should we sleep?

Check out the kiddos in our bed. Mark just asked, "Where are WE going to sleep?"
Mia is a blanky girl like her brother.


Today we had our appointment with the American Consulate. Our guides actually took our paperwork over for us but, we had to stay in our rooms so they could call us if there was a problem. At 11:00 we were free to leave. We took a taxi back over to Shamian Island. We stopped at the famous White Swan hotel to take some photos.

This is Noah in the lobby. They have a pond with big fish.
And a great waterfall.

Here are the kiddos on the famous red couch. Most adoption groups stay at the White Swan and get a picture of all the babies on the red couch. Our group is kind of scattered today so we will just have to settle for these two cuties.

We had nice lunch at Lucy's restaurant. It is a restaurant owned by an Australian but, they serve a lot of American food. Mia stuck with chicken congee (one of her favorites) .
We then did a little shopping. However, Mia had another poop episode. It actually went though her pants and the carrier on to Noah's hand. He handled it quite well (brotherly love). We had quite a mess and of course I did not have extra clothes (I did not learn my lesson last time). Anyway since both my clothes and Mia's clothes were poopy we cut the shopping short and headed back to our hotel for a bath. There were a couple more things I wanted to buy but, nothing Earth shattering.
Tomorrow we have a free morning. At dinner we discussed our options of the zoo, a park, more shopping, or start packing. We will see what time everyone is up. Mia has a cold so we all may have it soon. In the afternoon we will take our oath and get Mia's visa to come home. I may not post tomorrow night if I am not packed up.
Our luggage will be picked up from our room at 5:00 am China time on Saturday. We arrive in Nashville in NW flight 651 at 4:12 pm Nashville time on Saturday. We can't wait.

Pearl River

Last night we took a dinner cruise of the Pearl River. It was a buffet dinner (Chinese food of course) which was okay. But, we really enjoyed going up on deck and seeing the city all lit up. The cruise is similar to the General Jackson in Nashville but, they don't have entertainment. However, Guangzhou (population 11 million) is much bigger than Nashville and all the buildings have different colored lights. It was really cool. All four of us really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Mark and Noah went to the electronics market and the toy market today. We were all going to go. But, Mia was tired so I figured a nap would be a better choice. Anyway while she slept I uploaded pictures to . She is up and I did not quite finish and it is not edited but, you can check it out. Mom... you can order prints from the site. We are going on a Pearl river cruise tonight so I may not post again until tomorrow.


Today was a wonderful day in China. We really have settled in and are even starting to feel like we are on vacation. Mia is such a blessing. She was truly meant to be part of our family. She is doing great. She gets fussy when she is tired our hungry (like all of us). Otherwise she is so happy. Some other families have commented about how smiley and happy she seems to be. And all of the people on the street and in the stores comment on how pretty both she and Noah are and that they even look alike. She is eating great ..... there will be no counting bites with Mia. She eats her food then she wants ours.
We had a relaxing morning. We slept in a bit. Mark went down to Starbucks and got us coffee as soon as we woke up. It was wonderful to relax and enjoy being together. We did not even make it down to breakfast until 9:00. We then walked with our group to Yuexiu Park. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful park.

There were bunches of people playing hacky sack. However, they use a Chinese hacky sack, which is really a stack of disks with feathers attached. You see men and women young and old playing. There were probably 50 people playing in this one area of the park. They looked like people of all ages however, our guide informed us they were all retired. Yes, Dad and Bruce retired people out jumping around kicking a hacky sack. Our guide said in this area of China people have a long lifespan because of the climate, diet, tea, and morning exercises (which is Tai Chi).

We then climbed a bunch of steps ( I may be in shape by the time I get home) up 50 meters. At the top they have a goat statue. Guangzhou is known as the goat city.

In other areas of the park we saw people playing badminton and ballroom dancing.

It was a lovely relaxing morning. We then headed back to the hotel. Mark and Noah went to McDonald's and I had peanut butter crackers in the room so Mia could nap. We then loaded the bus to go to Liwan plaza for shopping. On the way we stopped at the Buddhist Temple. Several families wanted to have their child blessed by a Buddhist Monk before leaving China. Buddhism used to be the mandatory religion in China. They now have freedom of religion but, about 60% of Chinese people are still Buddhist.

They have to go to the Temple twice a month otherwise they can have a small Buddha statue in their house to worship at home.

This is a picture inside the Temple. They have 3 Buddha statues that are about 15 feet tall. They represent past, present and future. There is something about every 25 million years one is created. We allowed Mia to participate in the blessing of the babies. It was really interesting (Mark video taped it). It is quite similar to a baptism but there are no questions to the parents. The monk says some stuff (but, we could not understand) lights some incense then sprinkles something toward each child. It was not really over each child because we had such a big group. I am not sure if it is water but, it is in a cup and he sprinkles with tweezers. I think (but, I would need to check with my World History insider ... Mom) Buddhist believe in living a peaceful life now and no after life. Mia will still be baptised at Westminster (in Feb.).
After our visit to the Temple we did visit the Liwan plaza. It is a BIG shopping mall. The 1st part of the mall is typical to our malls. It has a variety of types of stores clothes, purses, luggage, food, music etc. Mark went to the music store and got a few CDs and a couple of DVDs for a pretty good price. The second part of the mall is the jewelry market. It is the same size and has over 300 jewelry stores. Our guide showed us two stores one to buy pearls and one to buy jade which was good because the mall is overwhelming. Both have high quality merchandise for reasonable prices according to our guide it is about 1/6th the price you would pay in the US. China is best known for both pearls and jade. From as early as 3000 B.C. jade was known in China as 'yu', the 'royal gem'. In the Chinese empire, jade has always had a very special significance, roughly comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West. We bought two small jade circle pendants one for me and one for Mia when she is older. We also bought Mia some pearls to give her for an important occasion maybe her wedding.
We got back to our hotel exhausted at around 6:15. However, we were pleasantly greeted in the lobby with a string quartet and a small orange drink (shot glass size). Mia was done for the day ... actually all four of us were. We ordered room service. They are all asleep and I better join them. Thank you for all of your e-mails and posts. We miss you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy and Healthy

We had a nice morning with a great breakfast, some time in the playroom and a nap for Mia in her bed.

After lunch we loaded the bus and headed to Shamian Island for Mia's medical exam. It was quick and painless. She was 16.4 lbs and 29 inches.

We then had free time to shop and explore Shamian Island. We got Mia some squeeky shoes and a few clothes. Mark and Noah got some kind of Chinese flute to "share". You have to bargain for your prices so you never know if you are getting a good deal. The Island has beautiful architecture with lots of trees and of course is on the water. I wish we had more time so we may go back.

At 5:30 we loaded up the buses to head to a Cantonese restaurant for our farewell dinner. I know we are not leaving until Saturday but, one family is leaving early. We already had the bus. And it was dinner time. Well, my family is asleep. Tomorrow morning we will go to the park.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunny Day

As you can tell from the pictures it was a Sunny Day today. We love Guangzhou. After 6 cloudy, rainy days a little sun can go a long way. The temperature is in the low 70s.

We got up and went to the Fabulous breakfast buffet. Then Noah met Avery. Three families we meet in Beijing went to different provinces to adopt special needs children and rejoined our group yesterday. Avery was adopted by one of these families. She is five and they are staying in the room next door to us. She and Noah were fast friends. He has been doing great but, has really missed his friends. They went with Mark and Mia to the playroom while I got our room situated and turned in Mia's Visa paperwork.

We then headed by taxi to the Electronics Market on a mission to find a camera battery. We got a battery and a cord to charge our camcorder. The Market is HUGE and I am not exaggerating. It is almost like an antique mall where different people own a little section and display their merchandise. Most people specialized in one thing, cell phones, ipods, speakers, cameras, video games etc, but, some sell several things. Speer and Uncle Doug and any one else who loves electronics would have been in heaven. It is in multiple buildings and even more across the street (like Christmas Village). We only walked through part of it. Noah got tired and we decided we should go after we did not buy him a remote control helicopter (which was really pretty cool). Mark may go back later in the week by himself.

We then went with our group to Sun Yat-Sun Memorial Hall. We took the subway. Here is Noah with Elsie one of our guides.

Inside the hall is like a big auditorium. They were having a convention. But, part of the program was some performances of music and dance. We quietly went into the balcony and watched part of the show. Noah did not get to see much. There were about 8 teenage girls sitting in front of us. They all had to take their picture with Noah. Many of them did it four of five times. We should start charging a fee.

This is our group. A few families stayed home for naps. Behind us is the hall. Sun Yat-Sun is considered the father of China or the 1st President (after the last Emperor). He took power in 1922 and made it the People's Republic of China. On the building it has four Chinese characters : sky, under sky, for and people. Meaning everything under heaven is for the people.

After Memorial Hall we went with our guide and a couple other families to a restaurant for dinner. However, Mia pooped through her diaper and I did not have a change of clothes for her. So, I walked her back to the hotel and gave her a bath. I was not too upset because .... When I went to the restroom (all the public restrooms have squatty potties ---- which means they are a hole in the ground and you stand to go ---- they do flush and a few of them have toilet paper) I saw a guy washing glasses in the bathroom sink. Considering, I have been boiling water to wash all of Mia's bowls, spoons and bottles I was a little concerned he was using tap water. Then our guide told us that the empty bowl on the center of our lazy susan was for dirty water, I got more concerned. Apparently, the Catonese rinse there dishes with hot tea before they eat. I guess tea is made with boiling water so if you rinse with tea you wash off the tap water used to clean the dishes????? Mark and Noah ate and said it was very good. They brought me leftovers and I ate some. I hope no one is sick tomorrow.
Here is my beautiful family. Tomorrow we have Mia's medical exam in the afternoon.


Sorry, we did not post yesterday. It was a long day. We got up early to get packed up for our flight to Guangzhou. We had a lot of waiting around in the airport as we tried to get 38 adults, 7 kids and 17 babies checked in and through security. The flight was short and uneventful. Mia climbed around for a while then both Mia and Noah fell asleep. Then the ordeal began. We got our luggage off the baggage claim and someone in our group was missing a bag. Well we had checked all of our bags together---64 bags and we did not know the number on the missing bag. So we had to match every bag with every luggage stub. It was a nightmare. I think they finally found the bag back in Nanchang.

Everyone was tired and hungry but, we made it to our hotel and were pleasantly surprised. Traditionally most people adopting from China stay at the White Swan Hotel. It is on Shamian Island and there is suppose to be tons of great shopping close to the hotel. I was a little bit disappointed when I found out we were were staying at the China hotel and it is not on the Island. But, it is VERY NICE. It would be a good use of your Marriott points Dad. Amber and Emilie tradition fits with hotels improving along the journey. Actually our hotel in Beijing was fantastic. But, this is perfect except we have to pay for Internet and rent a stroller (both free in Nanchang).

We checked into our room and went to grab some quick lunch (there is a McDonald's next door and a Starbucks in our hotel)it was already 3:30 and we had to get Mia's visa picture taken at 4:00. I then went with some other people from our group to a grocery store to get us some water and a few snacks. We had dinner at one of the six restaurants in our hotel and went to bed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leaving Jiangxi

We all slept in this morning. In fact, Noah slept past 7. After breakfast Noah and Mark made a dash for the arcade. Noah wanted to cash in his tickets for a prize. He got a little notebook and came back and wrote all is favorite things about
China and the date.

We then all found the playroom in the hotel. Who knew? It figures we would find it on the last day. Anyway, they have a pool table, ping pong table and a big play area for babies. Mia hung out with a couple of her friends on the floor (see picture) while Noah, Mark and some of the other big kids played ping pong. It was a nice break from our room for another rainy day. After lunch I did a bunch of paperwork for Mia's immigration to the US. Mia and Mark took a nap and Noah played the Leapster (thanks LaNita). We then had a big birthday party. It was a little girl named Maia 1st birthday. A Dad and one of the siblings had birthdays earlier in the week. Our guides got a huge cake with the names of the three birthdays in the middle and all 17 babies names around the outside. The candle was really cool almost like a firework. By the way we hear fireworks all the time (I am sure you all know fireworks were invented in China). The birthday party was great. Our camera died but, everyone else took pictures so I am sure someone will e-mail them to me or post them on their Blog.

We ordered pizza to our room for dinner and I attempted to get packed. Our luggage has to be ready by 7:00 am. We should be in Guangzhou by lunchtime.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We all slept until 5:30 this morning. Hooray!! We may switch over to this time zone just in time to go home. Mia is doing great. She is smiley and laughs (I will try to post pictures of that tomorrow). Yesterday when I put her on her tummy she screamed. Today she is making it across the bed to get a toy. Her arms still are not strong enough to push her up onto all fours but, the girl can move. She can roll and sit herself up (sometimes) too.

We hit another tourist attraction today-- Teng Wang Pavilion. It over looks the
Gan river. That is the biggest river in the Jiangxi province. They use the name of the river as the short name for the province. It was foggy so we did not have much of a view. I guess tourist come because of the view of the river with mountains in the background. They did a short traditional performance with music and dancing on the top floor. We all enjoyed it. The next picture is the view from one side of the Pavilion--- I think it looks like traditional China. However, most of what we have seen has been city. Jiangxi province is very rural and very poor with lots of rice farmers. Nanchang where we are staying has 4 million people (not rural).

Mia slept through the tour. After lunch she took a nap in her bed and Noah and I went to the arcade and walking street. Mark is not feeling well. He has a bunch of chest congestion. He slept while Mia took her nap then stayed in the room while I took the kids to the group dinner. We went to a new restaurant which was good. They had high chairs which was a huge help since Mark was not there. Mia is never still unless she is sleeping. I am not looking forward to the plane ride home.

After dinner Mia started blowing raspberries (I am not sure you can tell from the picture). Noah LOVED it. He would laugh, she would laugh and do it some more. They were both so full of joy it was great.

At 7:40 ( a late night for us) I took the kids to the fountain show with our group. The water, lights and music are all coordinated. It was very good. Noah said, I thought they were going to do a show in front of the fountain not have the fountain do the show (he was pleasantly surprised). Unfortunately, it is/was raining again. I hand washed our socks and underwear on Tuesday and it is still wet (yuck). Everyone is asleep. Mark has mostly been asleep since this afternoon so I hope he is better tomorrow.
The bad news is our camera battery is low. We lost our camera bag in the Forbidden City on our 1st day in China. We have our video and still camera but, lost the cords to charge the video camera and connect it to the TV and computer plus, my extra battery and one of my extra memory cards for our still camera. Noah and I went in five stores that carry camera film or batteries today ... no luck. Our guide thinks we might have to wait until we get to Guangzho on Saturday. So, I will try to catch Mia's smile and/or laugh tomorrow before the battery dies. We have a free morning and paperwork in the afternoon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Great Day

Well, it was Mia's turn to wake everyone up at 4:00 am today. However, no one seemed to mind. It is just part of our routine. We had a nice morning relaxing in the room. Mia is getting a lot more active and playful. She likes to touch our faces which makes Noah laugh. She loves to make Noah laugh.

Around 10 our group headed out. Our guides took us to a porcelain shop. They said it was high quality porcelain at a reasonable price. Jiangxi province is known for its porcelain. Porcelain is different from pottery due to the temperature which it is fired. Pottery is fired at 800 to 1000 degrees where porcelain is fired at 1300 degrees. Before they had thermometers they would beat the fire and judge the temperature by the color of the fire. I guess that enables it to be thinner yet, still durable. You can judge the value of porcelain by how thin (thin as paper), transparent (when held to a light) and rings like a bell when you hit two pieces together in addition to it being hand made and hand painted. This area of the world was 1st known for its porcelain. It was called china and the country was then called China. I loved the store everything was beautiful.

We then headed to the people's park. It was a rainy day but we still got out and walked around. It is a beautiful park. I am sure we would have really enjoyed it on a sunny day.

We then headed back to the hotel for lunch and a little relaxing. Mark and Noah then went to the arcade while Mia took a nap. Mark said it was like the Beatles arriving in the US. The teenagers in the arcade treated Noah like a celebrity and all got their picture taken with him. We went to the same restaurant as yesterday but, ordered different dishes. Still delicious. Well, I am sleepy. Noah is asleep but, Mia is living the life. She has her Daddy pushing her up and down the hallway in her stroller. He just brought her in .... she is kicked back with one leg sticking out.