Journey To MaryAlice

Join me as I journey to China to find my daughter, Mary Alice.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

We've made it to Guangzhou!

It's 7am on Monday and we're sitting at Starbuck's, enjoying an iced vanilla latte and updating the blog. The internet is free here and we're told the ice is okay. We're down to hours until MaryAlice Time. We leave at 2pm for the Civil Affairs office and the babies arrive at 2:30pm for the orphanage. We're sitting here going through the list of questions to ask the nanny this afternoon, although I did receive an update two days ago describing how her bottle is made, the times she eats, whether she's potty trained (she's not) and other stuff that I think I've already blogged about.
The White Swan is very nice. I've included a photo looking outside my window. We have adjoining rooms and both have cribs, so maybe Marcia and Monica will get a baby too!! LOL. We haven't explored too much yet and are on our way to have the buffet breakfast.
We went for a foot massage yesterday when we arrived at Shamian Island at the Chinese Medicine Shop. The foot massage was for 60 minutes and included an awesome shoulder massage...all for 10 dollars. Thanks Linda for the tip on that one! We'll be back as often as possible. Monica had the body massage and felt like she was being dismembered, but loved it! LOL!
The flight to Guangzhou was easy. Our guide, Catherine was with us the entire time, making it so stress free. It's nice to be able to unpack the suitcase and set up "stations" for diaper changing, computer area and bottle making. Thanks for that tip Susan and Riz. I included a picture of Monica handling the luggage. I took your advice, Bill and am planning on working these women for the next 10 days!!
Shamian Island is like Savannah with shade trees and very little car traffic. It's quite warm and muggy, but the trees help.
Well that's it for now. I will try to update the blog as soon as possible with photos and maybe even video, if I remember how to upload it to YouTube. I think MaryAlice is going to look just like she did in the updated photos...we shall see!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Travel Tips for Those Still Waiting

1) When you exchange your dollars into yuan, ask for some smaller bills to carry (5, 10 and 20 yuan). This way when you are out and about shopping, you can give exact change and avoid any "not so real" yuan.
2) The main power in the hotel room works by inserting your room key in a slot. There is also a main power button by the nightstand. Don't wake up at 3am thinking your power is out and call housekeeping to fix. It is really embarrassing when they just turn the main power button back on. Not the WE did that...I'm just sayin'.
3) Consider bringing a digital voice recorder and sitting close to the front of the bus. It helps ward off car sickness, but the guide will also talk about many subjects on the way to the sights and you might want to listen to it again. They may have an different perspective on international adoption, family life in China, the purpose of splits pants and specific province information.

Day Two - Touring Beijing

Here are some photos of today's touring. It started out a rainy, drizzly day...not great for climbing The Great Wall, but we push through the elements and I made it half way!! Monica made it to the top. The steps are very steep and I was worried about running out of energy and strength for the trip down. I do better going up than down and my quads got quite a work out. There is a special photo of some super fantastic, change your life Wrigley's gum, compliments of one of my bosses. I promised him the gum would make it to China and The Great Wall. I'm doing my part to build bridges with our Asian friends.
Sorry, I meant to turn that top photo around. It is one of the many squatty potties we came across in our travels today. They're no big deal except when you're trying to negotiate a backpack, camera belt, etc.
After The Great Wall, we went to the Cloisonne Factory and Friendship Store (government owned store) and had Chinese food for lunch. The Cloisonne was beautiful, but we hope to make purchases in Guangzhou, as we understand the Friendship Store prices to be 10 times what they are in Guangzhou.
Next, off to The Summer Palace. Very beautiful and peaceful, but by that time, I believe everyone in the group was tired from the morning's climb. We took a dragon boat back to the bus so we could drive by the Olympic venues. The driver was able to pull over the side of the road so we could jump out for quick photos. Now that they are preparing fot the Para-Olympics, we could not go into the venues.
We leave the hotel at 8:30am for Guangzhou and should arrive about 2:30pm. That will give us time to get the feel for the layout before baby time on Monday afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day One - Touring Beijing

This is going to be a short post, as I'm tired!! We had a full day. Started off at Tiananmen Square, the The Forbidden City (now known as the Palace Museum), then lunch at a Peking Duck restaurant. We then took a separate tour of a Hutong which is a very old part of Beijing that is disappearing with the building of high rises. We took a pedi-cab tour and then stopped at a family's home for tea. We sat in his living room and asked him questions about China and cultural differences, etc. His family has lived in the hutong since 1936 and he is the youngest of six children. He slowed us old photos "taken with a Kodak" of his siblings playing as children. We had a nice discussion with our guide about the One-Child Policy and her thoughts. She said people support the policy since it is better to have one child that can be provided an education and future rather than two and not being able to do that due to cost. We shopped and haggled a bit then hurried back to the hotel to turn around and go to the Acrobatics show. I kept dozing off during the show, that I think I have whiplash from jerking my head back so much. I'm so tired right now, I'm skipping dinner. Marcia and Monica went to the market for snacks tomorrow. We start at 8:45 for The Great Wall and the Summer Palace. We'll get back at 5:30pm, so will have a chance to blog more and call home...oops, 5:30am...maybe not. We should be driving by the Olypmic venues on the way back to the hotel, so can get pictures. We probably won't be able to park though as they are getting ready for the ParaOlympcis. We'll be packing for our flight the next day since we leave at 8:30am. Our guide, Catherine will be travelling with us down to Guangzhou, so she'll be able to help us negotiate the flight, luggage, etc. She has been a wonderful guide and was able to arrange the tour to the hutong for us with another guide, Grace. I forgot to mention this involved a taxi ride which was an interesting experience. Not as scary as I expected, but still interesting as the bikes, buses, cars, taxis and pedestrians orchestrate the organized chaos without batting an eyelash.
The first photo is one of a little boy wearing split pants. We saw a handful of these today at The Forbidden City. There is one family in our group with three boys, aged 4, 6, and 8. They were in front of us on the long flight over. These kids have got to be the most laid-back, well behaved kids. Other than a little siblings rivalry over who gets to sit by the window during landing, they've been real troopers. The funny thing is their "rockstar" status. All three have blond hair, and they must have been asked to have their picture taken 3-4 times while touring today. Marcia was even asked to have her picture taken with a little girl...she loved it!!
My best news of the day is that we all received some detailed information on our babies. Our agency sent questions to the SWI to have the nannies answer. They gave the name of the formula and cereal she's been on and the other foods she's been eating. She's eating apple sauce, banana sauce, egg, meat broth, sliced meat (interesting!) and congee. There's something listed as "haw slices" and I asked my guide what it was. She wasn't sure, but thinks it is given to "improve appetite". I had a good laugh at that one! Must be working!! Her nickname is GuoGuo (pronouced gwaw,gwaw). She likes toys that make sound and playing hide and seek with the adults. She cries when she sees a stranger in a strange place (not sure what this means, as I don't think she leaves the orphanage). She has not had any serious illnesses and is in good physical condition.
That's all for to bed!
As you can see, I've updated this post a bit. Marcia and I have been awake since 4:30am. I'm still working on thank-notes and sent a few out yestereday. You'll get them in two months!
Tips for those waiting to travel: I'll write this as its fresh in my mind.
1) I'm glad I brought the laptop.
2) I wish I had thrown in more granola bars, snacks in my bag. You don't always have a chance to get to a grocery store at first and it's nice to have those while touring and at 4:30 in the morning.
3) If you have room, pack a smaller backpack for touring. I've been carrying my big one, and while okay, it is big. I look like the total tourist geek, but I don't care. Even a fanny pack would have been nice. I know the horror of a fanny pack!!
4) Do not stuff creamer packets in your pockets while going through the airport.
5) Pack some Crystal Light individual packets as drinking plain water gets old.
6) Get out of the hotel and see stuff.
That's if for now!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We're Here!

Thanks to "T" for updating the blog. You've done a great job and I like the graphics. The flights were all great, arrived early as well as the luggage. The Zhaolong Hotel is right dowtown. Tomorrow we see Tiannamen Square and The Forbidden City. Tomorrow night we see the acrobatics show. Saturday is for The Great Wall, Summer Palace and driving by the Olympics venues. Our guide Catherine met us at baggage claim and I finally feel like I can relax and let someone else be in charge. So, we're off to bed to get some sleep for our tours.

I think "T's" a more interesting blogger than I am...sorry.

We've made in to Tokyo!

It's 4pm Thursday here, 4am Orlando time.  We're sittng on the floor next to a outlet and found a wireless network in Narita Airport.  The 12 hour flight from Detroit was not too bad.  Got a couple of power naps in, a couple of movies and wrote 5 thank-you notes.  We're going to try and stay awake, so when we arrive in Beijing at 9:30pm, we'll be able to sleep.  We've met up with the other adoptive parents from my agency.

Monica and Marcia fell in love with the toilets in Toyko.  They came equipped with 10 buttons offering all sorts of "cleaning" options with low pressure and high pressure.

I was practically stripped searched going through security in Toyko, as I came setting off the alarm.  Come to find out, the powdered creamers I "borrowed" from Northwest for our coffen contain high amounts of metal...scary.  Monica is embarrassed to be seen with me as my money pouches make me look like I have a colostomy bag.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Sign of Good Fortune!

Tonight, as I was heading home to update Sharon's blog, I stopped to get some take-out food. After I finished dinner I opened my fortune cookie and got this fortune..."Good news of long-awaited event will arrive soon." I'm not normally in to this kind of thing...but I just had to share my fortune with all of you!

The Journey to Beijing

Well the journey to Beijing has begun! Sharon, her sister, Marcia, and her sister-in-law, Monica, left Orlando this morning and safely made it to Detroit about noon. They are now en route to Tokyo where they will change planes again for the final leg of their flight to Beijing. We will keep you posted as they Journey to MaryAlice!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're Off!!

Well, we will be in about 6 hours. Must get to sleep!!! I probably won't have internet access until Friday, so won't have updates for a couple of days on the blog. I'm having writer's block right now, so will hit the sack. I promise more exciting blogging in the days to come.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Some Special News!

I got word today from an adoptive mom that recently visited Maonan SWI, that she saw MaryAlice and said she is adorable, has beautiful eyes and chubby cheeks!! She wasn't allowed to take photos, but saw her in the playroom and recognized her from our previous correspondence. I was so excited to hear this news!!

On the other side of the world...I pack, and repack and then try it one more time to get my luggage weight under the limit. I have a mini-pharmacy that I refuse to compromise on. And just how many Cheerios should I bring? People laugh about that one, but from what we're told, Cheerios are difficult to find in China, so if I guess wrong, we may be bargaining with other families. It could be a long flight back if we have to ration the Cheerios!

We arrive in Beijing the night of the 28th and have two full days of touring, Friday and Saturday. Sunday we fly to Guangzhou, which will allow me a chance to get things organized in the hotel room. Monday afternoon, I meet MaryAlice! I'll try to post photos as soon as I can, so that hopefully Monday morning 9/1/08, folks back home can see.

That's it for now...must get back to packing, laundry, cleaning, etc.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning to Upload a Video

I think I've got it figured out, but man it takes it a while to download. Hopefully in the future, I'll have more interesting videos! There's not much drama in this one...all business during the delivery. I'd probably be the same way if I was in the hospital delivering a baby. The lesson here is that I've learned I'm not a "happy" crier. I cry when I'm sad or mad, but not when I'm happy, so the best chance you have to see me cry is if Northwest loses my luggage!

That's all for now...must get to work!!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

My Bags are Packed, I'm Ready to Go....

Seriously!! How many trips to Target and CVS pharmacy does it take to travel to China??
Plane Tickets....$1,100
Having your sister-in-law seated on the long flight home next to MaryAlice, while you sit in the row behind her...PRICELESS!!!
"Hey, keep that baby quiet! Momma needs her sleep!" LOL!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happy 11 Months MaryAlice!!!!

Today is my baby's 11 month birthday. For the Big ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY, we're having a big party in China! Cake, Congee, Cheerios and formula for everyone!!!

We're leaving on 8/27/08, so the countdown has begun...21 days. I haven't heard yet when "Gotcha Day" will be, but I suspect it will be either the 31st or 1st. In the meantime, I've been busy packing, organizing the house, getting work stuff situated, getting documents in order and stalking the computer for tips on travel, etc.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Where in the World is MaryAlice???

I don't know if you can see on the map, where I've highlighted Maoming City, Guangdong province, but it is in south China...subtropical. The top photo is of Maonan Social Welfare Institute. It is my understanding that the babies are on the third floor in three different rooms, a playroom, laundry room, feeding prep room and medical room. I've been able to view photos from December 2006. This was prior to Half the Sky opening their Infant Nurture Program in April 2007. From the referral photos, there appears to be more toys available than I saw in the 2006 photos of the playroom, where I saw none. I've been able to speak with a mom whose daughter was sponsored under the Infant Nurture program and she said it is a wonderful program. They provide a nanny to come in to play, nuture and basically love on the baby. I don't know if this is for all of the children or only the sponsored ones. I won't be able to find out until I am home and can contact Half the Sky for copies of the updates, unless I am given those with I meet MaryAlice. A child can be sponsored for $300/year through the Half the Sky website under the Infant Nurture link.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive!

Our Travel Approval arrived today!!! Travel dates: 8/27/08 through 9/11/08. My agency is requesting our Consulate Appointment for 9/9/08 and we should know about that early next week. WooHoo!!!!!

Beijing, China

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