Monday, March 27, 2006

Big sister Julia

Reunion at the airport.

The highlight of the whole trip for Jamie: he saw Brent Butt of "Corner Gas" at the airport.

Happy to finally be in Canada!

Cozy in her bassinet on the plane

Guiping babies

Mr. Liu proudly showed us his cricket and grasshopper.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flight home!

On Friday morning we finished up our packing and got on the bus for the final time to head to the airport. It was crazy and confusing there, but we got through smoothly. All the families with babies were allowed to go through the line reserved for diplomats. We felt very important!

We were delighted to find that we had bulkhead seats on the plane. This allowed us to stretch our legs a bit more, and there was a bassinet that attached onto the bulkhead that we could use. Rachel didn't sleep much for the first six hours. She didn't cry, just squirmed around a lot. Finally she fell asleep and slept soundly in the little bassinet. She looked so cute and cozy in there. Jamie and I watched movies on our DVD player and relaxed.

We arrived in Toronto for our seven-hour layover. It took about an hour and a half to get through customs and immigration, which all went very smoothly. After that we met up with my friend Julie and her three kids, who came to spend some time with us at the airport. We had supper and enjoyed a nice visit, though Jamie was falling asleep through some of it.

We then headed to our gate and made ourselves at home on the floor for a while. Rachel crawled around and played, and Jamie stretched out for a rest. We met another adoptive parent who had brought her daughter home from China a year ago, and enjoyed talking with her, though we were so tired that I'm not sure if anything we said made any sense!

Our flight from Toronto to Fredericton went very well. Rachel fell asleep before the plane even took off and didn't wake up until we were getting off the plane. My parents, my sister, and our kids were all waiting for us in the airport. My sister had helped the kids make t-shirts and a banner welcoming Rachel home, very cute. The kids had their pyjamas on underneath, since it was midnight and they had been in bed earlier. It was so great to see everybody. My mom took Rachel and we hugged the kids. The boys burst into tears and I joined in with them. We were all so happy to be back together again. Rachel studied the kids seriously and touched their faces before smiling at them. She went into her carseat with no problems at all and sucked her thumb quietly all the way home.

The boys wanted to see everything that we had bought before they went back to bed, so it was very late before they finally got to sleep. Rachel slept for a few hours before waking up, and we got up with her. My parents stayed overnight so we could get a little sleep the next day, which we really appreciated.

It's Monday now and we are nowhere near a normal sleep schedule yet. It will take some time, and will be rough for a bit, but we know we will get there. We are very tired, but we don't mind too much having Rachel to ourselves in the middle of the night to play. She is such a happy baby. She keeps looking at us and smiling with such joy, it's like she can't believe that we are still here.

The kids just love her, and can't get enough of her. They get impatient when she is sleeping and keep asking when she will wake up so they can play with her. Julia gets a bit jealous sometimes when Mommy is holding the baby and wants to be held too, just as I had expected. She is very proud to be a big sister, though, and tells us "I like my baby sister".

Rachel fits into our family so well. She is happy and easygoing, and enjoys her siblings and the dogs and cat. She takes everything in stride, and keeps us entertained with her giggles and funny faces. She is active and is going to keep us busy running after her. She would like to be walking right now! I can tell that she won't be my little baby for long, so I am going to enjoy this stage to the fullest before she becomes a toddler.

We will try to keep posting updates and pictures of her here at home.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Last day

Today we slept in a bit and had a later breakfast than usual, enjoying a morning with no rushing to get on the bus. Jamie, Rachel and I then headed to the Oriental Plaza, a large, modern mall that was very nice but a little too upscale for us. There was a Starbucks there, though, and a delicious bread place, and we had some yummy lattes and pastries. We then went out onto the street and walked along WangFuJing, which is a street lined with all kinds of department stores and specialty shops. We found a music shop that Jamie had wanted to see, and looked around. There were lots of traditional Chinese instruments there, it was interesting. For lunch we had, for the first time since we have been in China, McDonald's. It tasted exactly like McDonald's back home and I think we enjoyed it more than any McDonald's meal we have ever had. For dessert we went next door to the Hagen-Daaz cafe, and had some delicious ice cream. We then went to another huge electronics store and Jamie looked around while I followed him, pushing the stroller and yawning, and realizing how Jamie feels when I drag him into clothing stores.

We came back to the hotel for a bit then out we went again, determined to spend the rest of our Chinese yuan even if it killed us. We went back to the Silk Market, and Jamie wore himself out bartering. We got some good prices, but it sure was a lot of work! One thing we got was another suitcase to hold all the other things we bought. Here is what it sounds like walking down an aisle at the Silk Market: "Hello, underwear? Hello, underwear? Hello lady, you want a scarf? Hey, hello, you want a T-shirt? I have best price, best price! Hello beautiful lady, I have purses for you!" and so on. Jamie tried on a jacket and was told that he looked "very handsome, very cool" so of course he was sold.

Then, though I'm not proud to admit it, we ate at another McDonald's for supper. Then another Starbucks for some more lattes. Somehow I had pictured having a Chinese meal for our last supper in Beijing, but we just had to have us some more cheeseburgers.

Our poor little baby was so good all day, even though we hauled her all over town. She babbled and played with us, and had a big grin for us just about every time we looked at her.

We've just finished (mostly) packing up, doing some laundry in the sink, and washing up bottles. Tomorrow will be a very long day. We are so excited though to be going home. Harrison, Quentin and Julia, Mommy and Daddy have missed you very much and we can't wait to get home and see you. It's very, very soon now! We are going to get on that big plane and fly all the way back to the other side of the world, where you will be waiting for us. Then we will start our lives as a family of six!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 11:00 AM, Beijing
Narrow streets, hard to believe we met oncoming traffic...people, bikes, motorbikes.. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 10:00 AM, Beijing
We picked the smallest driver in the team. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hutong tour

This morning we went on a hutong tour. There is a company that will take you in rickshaws into the hutongs to show you how people live there, and tell you how it was in ancient times. A hutong is an alley formed by a compound with houses around a courtyard. The gray-tiled houses all look alike. It was very interesting and the ride was relaxing, except for when we had to cross busy streets and play "chicken" with cars and buses. We got to see a kindergarten in the hutong. Twenty percent of the children board there throughout the week. The kids were so cute, waving at us and saying "Hello!" We went into a family's home, where the gentlemen served us tea and snacks. He had some candied rose petals there that were very good. Jamie loved them and ate a bunch. The man there also had many birds, some of which were talking. There were a lot of street vendors and Jamie bought some kind of violin type thing, I forget what it was called. It is pretty fragile looking and will likely not survive the trip home, but it was really neat.

In the afternoon we went to the Pearl Market again, and to the Toy Market next to it. The Toy Market wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped, but it was still fun. We did a bit more shopping at the Pearl Market, then went back to the hotel.

There we were given Rachel's passport and visa. She is ready to go home now! For supper we all gathered in the hotel restaurant and had a Peking Duck dinner. There were several different dishes, all very good. The chef carved the roast duck into slices in front of us. Of course the head and bill were still attached.

Tonight was our last night together as a group. Tomorrow some will be leaving for home, though many will be travelling with us the next day. I have to say that I can't imagine a nicer group of people with whom to share this experience. We enjoyed meeting everyone so much, and I truly feel that they are all wonderful parents. Their children are very fortunate to have them. I hope that we will be able to keep in contact, and share how our kids are progressing over the years to come.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 12:00 PM, Beijing
Inside the walls of the Forbidden City -- the name is a bit of a misnomer, as you can tell from all the people milling about, it's really not so forbidden. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 11:15 AM, Beijing
Oh yeah...Rachel is still cute today. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 10:45 AM, Beijing
This dude seems to be really popular in China Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 10:00 AM, Beijing
Watching the flag in the square. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 9:30 AM, Beijing
Babies marching...errr...strolling in Tiananmen square. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Silk Market

We had a busy and tiring day today. This morning we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Our guide Mary warned us that as soon as we got off the bus we would be beseiged by street vendors, and boy, was she right. She told us that if we didn't want anything not to speak to them or even look at them, or they would be all over us. They were certainly persistent. There were also some people begging who were very pitiful, including a little boy with swollen deformed feet with open sores. The sights were interesting, but it was a lot of walking and everyone was very tired. We got lots of curious stares, and a few people asked to have their picture taken with Jamie. I think they zeroed in on him because of his height. One man indicated that we needed to cover Rachel with her blanket, even though the day was warm and she was covered from head to toe in polar fleece! A young woman came up to us and gave Rachel a little Chinese flag, it was so sweet of her.

This afternoon we went to the Silk Market. It was quite an experience as well. Much like the Pearl Market but with a lot more clothes, and the sellers seemed even more persistent. One girl got a good hold on my arm and I wasn't sure she was ever going to let me go! One lady in our group said that some of them would grab her long hair and pull on it to get her attention. We bought some outfits for the girls and a few other trinkets.

We were exhausted when we got back to the hotel so we ordered Papa John's pizza delivery. Like most of the western food here, it was a bit different, but not too bad.

Tomorrow we are doing a hutong tour and a Peking Duck Dinner. In the evening we will have a group picture taken. It will be our last night together as a group since some are leaving on Thursday. I can't believe that our time here is almost at an end, it really has gone by quickly!

Today on the bus I was looking around at all of the babies and marvelling at the change in them since they came to us. Where at first they were solemn and scared-looking, some crying, some staring silently, they are now smiling, laughing and playing with their new parents. It is truly a beautiful thing to watch these new families as they grow and change together with every day.

Rachel is becoming much more secure and will now play by herself (meaning not on our laps) on the bed or the floor for short times. She can crawl all the way across the room, and she is trying out standing by herself. She has really surprised us with her motor skills. No delays here! I think she will be walking well before her first birthday.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006, 8:35 PM, Beijing
And finally, this last one we call "Thumbsucking Angel" :) Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006, 8:30 PM, Beijing
This one is either called "Thumbsucking in Deep Thought", or "Thumbsucking While Making Boom-Boom" -- its hard to tell exactly which one it is without further investigation. Posted by Picasa

Visa medical exam

Before I forget, I wanted to mention that Jamie is the one posting the pictures and captions and I (Angela) am the one writing the journal entries. I really, *really* don't want to take credit for his work. ;-)

Our shopping trip, oops, I mean adoption trip, continues to go great. I think I have a baby here somewhere amid the piles of stuff I have bought.

This morning the babies had their medical exams for their visas. Before going into the medical building, we had to wait in a Greek restaurant, where they served us tea and coffee, plus fruit and pastries. The reason for any of this, I have no idea. We were then led through a back alley to get to the building. The medical building was very nice, with a lovely waiting area with lots of toys for the children. There were people there from many different countries. The doctor we saw was from Montreal, while some others saw an Australian doctor. She pronounced Rachel healthy and doing well on the growth charts.

In the afternoon I went shopping with another mom in our group. We went to a department store filled with kids' clothes and toys and had a great time. Our husbands were back at the hotel looking after the babies, so we were footloose and fancy-free. Our communication with the sales ladies consisted entirely of pointing, but seemed to work quite well.

This evening Rachel once again went to bed great. Jamie and I are going to watch an episode of "The Office" that he downloaded from the internet. Tomorrow we are going to the Forbidden City and Tianammen Square, then to the Silk Market in the afternoon. Yay, more shopping!

Monday, March 20, 2006, 2:00 PM, Beijing
This one is called "Thumbsucking Sleeping Beauty" Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006, 10:45AM, Beijing
This one is called "Thumbsucking and Strike a Pose" Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006, 10:30 AM, Beijing
Thumbsucking has become all the rage with the babies here in China. We have a series of photos we call "Thumbsucking Art". This one is called "Thumbsucking Superhero".

Monday, March 20, 2006, 10:00 AM, Beijing
At the clinic, getting measured - about 71 cm long, 8.888 kilos, and about 42.5 cm around the head. Not too shabby... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 2:00 PM, Outside Beijing
And in my continuing quest to understand this Chinese bathroom phenomenon, I found this restroom in a restaurant later that afternoon that gave you the option to "squat" on the left, or "sit" on the right. I think the icons are self explanatory... a universal language of sorts. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 12:50 PM, Outside Beijing
This is the part we did do. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 12:50 PM, Outside Beijing
This is the part we didn't do... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 12:35 PM, Outside Beijing
Well, we didn't make it all the way to the top. Here's where Rachel got tired, and we had to turn around :) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 12:00 PM, Outside Beijing
Rachel slept most of the way up the wall. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 1:05 PM, Outside Beijing
No climbing? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006, 1:10 PM, Outside Beijing
The Great Stall


Sunday, March 19, 2006, 11:00 AM, Outside Beijing
The Great Wall