China Day 12: Medical Exam, Pearl River Cruise and Jen Throws a Temper Tantrum.

Yesterday was a busy day! We had Jia’s medical appointment and Visa photo in the morning, so we had to go across town to the Visa office. We arrived, and they took about 5 minutes to get all of our pictures, then we went upstairs to the medical area. Any Chinese person who wants a Visa has to come to the same place, and also get their pictures taken and a medical check, so there were hundreds of people there, waiting. They have a special area just for adoptive families, which is nice, but it made me feel bad for the people who had to wait in the chaotic large room. Our guides went to complete our paperwork and we hung out and waited. Jia was a wild child, running between Josh and I and cackling. She was so funny! We waiting about 20 minutes and then suddenly a doctor and a few nurses showed up and they were ready to go. The medical check consists of three different stations in three different exam rooms, a general screening, where the doctor looked at her spine, hands, feet, etc, listened to her heart and lungs, kind of like a well visit. Then we moved to the ENT, and he checked over her ears, nose and throat, and then we went to see the nurses for her height and weight check. She was cleared and healthy as can be.

 

The last part of the exam is the least fun‚Ķ the blood draw for the TB test. It has been long standing protocol that parents are not allowed in the room with their kids while they’re getting their blood drawn, and I think there are reasons for that, although it’s against my natural inclination. Alas, there is nothing you can do about it, so we prepped Jia as best we could, and the nurses came and got her, and took her into the room. She made not one peep and it was over in 3 minutes, so it sounded a lot worse then it was. We greeted her with suckers and snuggles and she was okay after about 10 minutes, although I think it’s the most subdued I’ve seen her yet.

The blood draw room.  The characters above read "Door of DOOM".  At least, we're assuming.  ;)

The blood draw room. The characters above read “Door of DOOM”. At least, we’re assuming. ūüėČ

But survived the Doom Room like a champ.

But survived the Doom Room like a champ.

Showing our friend Will her BandAid.

Showing our friend Will her BandAid.

 

Jia, someday when you read this, take this as proof that we were VERY SAD about your blood test.

Jia, someday when you read this, take this as proof that we were VERY SAD about your blood test.

 

Then we headed back to the hotel for lunch and naptime. We were going to try this Middle Eastern place we had read was good, but we got there and it was not open, or something? We’re still not really sure. So then we walked a little further for noodles and they were PACKED, so that is how it came to pass that I threw a mini temper tantrum in the middle the sidewalk of Guangzhou. I’d hit my limit. I was DONE. I wanted to be able to look around and at least be able to understand my options, or have a chance of someone speaking English who could help me. I believe I was the very definition of hangry. My brain was kicking and screaming on the floor, unable to see past the CRISIS in front of me to the options that I actually had, and I felt totally frozen in indecision. Long story short, we ended up back at the hotel, at Starbucks, eating over priced, under good sandwiches, but at least we were caffeinated and fed. Sometimes, that’s enough. And in the end, Jia took a looooooong nap, and that was much needed rest time for all of us. If you’re reading this and yet to travel, you will likely have a moment like this, too, and when you do, you can think back to this post and realize you’re not alone. This adoption trip is wonderful, but it’s HARD and overwhelming and weird. Throwing mental temper tantrums in the street is a thing, and it’s just part of the experience. Solidarity, friends. Tomorrow will be a new day.

 

So, that night, reasonably rested and slightly more mentally stable, we went to the Pearl River Cruise. Unbeknownst to me, so did like, all the other adoptive families in Guangzhou and I was delighted to run into my friend Kasey and Tracy and to make my Internet friends into real friends. That, and so many other friendships I’ve made on the adventure, will go down as some of my biggest, most loved gifts. It was so great to get to hug the actual necks of people I have only seen on FB, and they were just as lovely in person as in pixels.

 

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The Pearl River is the 4th largest in China, and we did a loop, basically, passing Shaiman Island, and the cable tower, and many other beautifully lit hotels, bridges and buildings. It was really fun and Jia had a ball, so it ended up being a great night.

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Yesterday ended up being a mixed bag of emotions, from worry, to grief, to joy and contentment. Welcome to adoption and parenting, and international travel, right? Today is better, and I got to go shopping, so HEY.

 

3 more days, and tomorrow is the Consulate appointment, the VERY LAST PIECE OF THE POLLARDS GET TO GO HOME PUZZLE. Think I’m excited much?! Spoiler‚Ķ. I AM.

China: days 9, 10, and 11: infirmary, the miracle of flight and Buddhist monks are my favorite

So, last we left off, we had just completed a nice relaxing day of not doing much, which culminated in our group going out for dinner to a restaurant suggested by our guide. I felt fine when we got there, but by the time we left, I had started to feel pretty lousy, mostly sinus symptoms, nothing super serious. I have a few food related allergies, so I just assumed it was either that or the smog, and we headed back to the hotel so I could take some Zyrtec and hopefully avoid more serious issues. And that was all a good plan until I woke up at 3:00am feeling like I had been hit by a truck. The full range of cold/flu issues…. Exploding sinuses, aches, chills, sweats and general misery and angst. I was SICK and I knew it.

 

We had been planning to go the Aquarium with our group that day, but I assumed that since I was out of commission, Josh and Jia would just chill at the hotel. Nope. Super Dad loaded Jia up in the carrier and got on with life. They had a pretty decent time over all at the Aquarium, and I was able to rest for several hours, which helped immensely. By the time they got back, I was feeling well enough to remain upright for longer then 10 minutes, and just in time too. Because we were headed to Guangzhou the next day, and we needed to pack up all of our stuff, AGAIN. So we spent the rest of the day packing, and eating room service.

 

The next day, I woke up feeling much better, but still not (even as I’m typing this) 100%. I’m not sure if it’s allergies or legit cold, but I’m definitely still feeling it. We met our group in the lobby at 11:30 to go to the airport, which was an hour away. I might jinx myself by saying this, but riding on the bus has been much better recently, thank goodness. We’re down to one meltdown per trip, but we started at about 100870585 per trip, so we’re just rocking busses now, pretty much. Progress has been made.

Jia helping Daddy move the suitcases to the hallway.  She's ready to hit the road.

Jia helping Daddy move the suitcases to the hallway. She’s ready to hit the road.

 

Once we got to the airport, our guide got out tickets and walked us to Security and then has to say her goodbyes. It was bittersweet for sure, and we could not have asked for a better guide in Zhengzhou. Rita is the best.

Our fantastic Zhengzhou guide, Rita.  We literally could not have done it without her.

Our fantastic Zhengzhou guide, Rita. We literally could not have done it without her.

 

So we hoovered some food, and eventually boarded the plane. We ended up being delayed by about 45 minutes, but everyone kept their wits about them, so it was fine. It was finally time to take off, and that’s when the trouble started. Jia really doesn’t like to be strapped down by seat belts, but of course, the airlines do not care. So after trying to keep her in her seat, they eventually gave us a baby seatbelt, which attaches to the adults seatbelt and then around the baby, so they can stay in your lap. Oh, she was LIVID about it. So we were the parents that everyone stares at and thanks their lucky stars they aren’t sitting beside. But once we got in the air, she was totally fine, happy as can be. We played, she watched Frozen, she ate some (gross) air plane food, and then fell fast asleep in my arms. We kind of just adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for seatbelts on the way down and we made it through landing with no belt and no problems.

No seatbelt, no problems.

No seatbelt, no problems.

 

Since we landed late, we didn’t get to our hotel until almost 9:30 and we were TIRED. Luckily our hotel is right beside a McDonalds and we caved and got chicken nuggets, burgers and french fries. Judge all you want, they were delicious. :).

 

The next day was some optional touring of a Buddhist temple, the Chan House, which is a museum and has lots of shops, and then another shopping area. We woke up in the morning kind of kicking ourselves for saying we’d go on this tour, but we were committed, so off we went. I am SO GLAD we did. It was one of my favorite things so far.

Jia, ready to take on the day.  I love this picture of her!

Jia, ready to take on the day. I love this picture of her!

 

The Buddhist temple is simply beautiful, full of statues, pictures, and history. There are several different buildings, each housing a different Buddha. The people who were there worshipping would light odd numbered¬†¬† sticks on incense, say their prayers to the Buddha, and then stick the incense in the sand so their prayers would rise to heaven. There are different Buddha’s for different types of prayers, including one female Buddha specifically for women and children.

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I mentioned on FB that I also had an opportunity to see and be blessed by a Buddhist monk. I wish I could adequately express how lovely his countenance was… I just really enjoyed seeing and meeting him. He blessed us with a safe journey home and I could feel the sincerity of his prayer. So special to me.

 

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From there, we went to the Chan house, which is mostly a museum, but also a shopping area. It was HOT and crowded and we didn’t have a lot of time, so we spent a lot of it in the shops, especially the calligraphy shop, where we got our names and the girls names and our family name on different scrolls. I’m excited to display these in our home! After that, we went to another shopping area, but by then I was DONE and couldn’t make any more decisions. So we were pretty much just waiting to go back to the hotel by then.

 

So, that’s pretty much the last few days. We’re really enjoying being in Guangzhou, everything feels much more accessible and a lot easier to navigate, plus, did I mention Starbucks IN THE HOTEL? God bless it. We are starting to wind down and get REAL homesick though. We’ve been gone a long time and I’m ready to go home. I’m working on staying open and enjoying the time we have left (which will be full of really neat things that our agency has planned), but I am longing for home now. I think that everyone hits a point on their trip where they are just DONE and I’m there today. It always gets better, but right now it’s hard. 4 more days! We’re really in the home stretch now.

China days 6, 7, and 8: officially official, squatty success and the van ride we shall never speak of again.

I’m behind on blogging‚Ķ it’s funny how that happens when you have an insta-toddler and have to re-remember how to parents one of these lovely creatures. But she is currently napping and I have a moment to catch up, so here we go‚Ķ

 

Tuesday morning, we met our guide in the lobby at 8:30 to go to the registration office where you become legal guardians of your child. We met the notary in the same room where we had Family Day the day before. The notary checked all of our paperwork, and then said a few words, basically thanking us for adopting these children, wishing us well and encouraging us to take good care of them. Then he said “you are now legally their parents”. To say that was lovely to hear is an understatement. We feel so lucky to be Jia’s parents and now it’s now it’s official not only in our hearts, but on paper too.

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Funny side story: most families who adopt their children in Zhengzhou take a picture in front of this red wall with Chinese writing on it, and we were no exception in wanting our pictures there. It seemed kind of momentous and I’d been waiting for a long time to get to stand there. So all the families in our travel group took their photos and we all felt very pleased with ourselves‚Ķ. Then our guide said “do you know what that says?”. We all said no, of course, and she said “it says ‘Marriage Bureau‚Ķ. So any Chinese person will wonder why you got married when you were adopting your child'”. We all found that highly amusing. It doesn’t change the symbolism for me, but it will make me laugh every time I see it.

 

From there, we went to notary office, which was 6 steep flights up an old government building. We sat around in a conference room for a while (we snagged the seats right in front of the AC… so nice!) and then we went to another room and had our picture taken. Then back down the stairs and back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day just hanging out, going for walks, playing in the playroom, and chilling. Josh went to Wal-Mart and got stuck in a torrential downpour on the way back.

 

Wednesday was the day that we went to apply for Jia’s passport. For most families, you have to go to your child’s home city to apply, and in Jia’s case, her home city, Nanyang, was 3.5 hours away by van. As I mentioned to some of you on Facebook, they don’t really do car seats here, and kid are pretty much free to climb around their vehicles at will, I guess? I don’t really know. But I had chosen not to bring a car seat because there isn’t a reliable way to install them safely, so we were pretty much winging it. In the end, the less that is said about that day, the better. It was HARD. Jia didn‚Äôt like sitting in a lap/being held the whole time, there were major tantrums, and lots of tears, the latter both hers and mine. But in the end, we survived it, and sometimes that’s all you can say. I also think that it helped us get over the hump of Jia’s intense temper tantrums because when you have 85904904367340 of them in a day and your parents don’t give in on the big issues, that usually means they’re serious. So it seems like her tantrums since then have been shorter and less severe, which is nice. I feel like we fought the battles that will eventually win the war, so to speak.

At the beginning of our trip when spirits were still high and hopes plentiful...

At the beginning of our trip when spirits were still high and hopes plentiful…

Two of my favorite goofballs...

Two of my favorite goofballs…

 

 

Also, yesterday I successfully used a squatty potty. I will let you look up with a squatty potty is on your own because I DID NOT take a picture.¬† I do have some boundaries. I debated about talking about it, but it is a source of great pride for me and I feel like I’ve accomplished some international travel bucket list item, so whatever, man. My thanks to my friend Gretchen for her tutorial on squatty potty usage.

 

Today we have a free day, which we desperately needed, so we had a leisurely morning, went to Wal-Mart and to lunch and now we’re chilling in the room. I see swimming and playroom in our futures.

Jia LOOOOOOVES seaweed snacks.   She is welcome to them all.

Jia LOOOOOOVES seaweed snacks. She is welcome to them all.

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As far as how we’re doing over all, I think that we’ve all had our moments where we’re so glad to be here, and some where we can’t wait to go home. I miss fresh fruits and veggies and water out of the tap. I miss idly eavesdropping on people at the next table over. I miss my house because living in a hotel gets old after a while. I really miss Eden and my friends and my family, although that’s been made easier by Facebook and WeChat, and we’ve gotten to talk to Eden every day, sometimes twice. I think I am just ready to go home and start my life again, just life + Jia. We have one more day in Zhengzhou and then we fly to Guangzhou on Saturday, to start our last leg of the trip there. We’ll be there for 6.5 days and then we head HOME. We are SO, SO ready. I can’t wait to eat a salad.

Spicy beef fried rice...  yum!!

Spicy beef fried rice… yum!!

China kids meal:  chicken wings, fried prawns, stir fried greens, corn, ramen and Fanta.

China kids meal: chicken wings, fried prawns, stir fried greens, corn, ramen and Fanta.

 

 

But on the other hand, we, and especially Jia, are leaving a lot behind too, and I think it’s really important that we don’t forget that. We have all gained so much in the process, but she is losing a tremendous amount too, and leaving her home country will be bittersweet.

Wearing her shirt from Eden...

Wearing her shirt from Eden…

I said "Jia, are you ready to go to America?" and she said "Let's go!"

I said “Jia, are you ready to go to America?” and she said “Let’s go!”

 

 

Keep the comments and posts coming, we have been so encouraged by them and it helps the homesickness. Thanks as always for following along on this crazy trip. Love you guys!

Family Day, Jia Day, Sisters Day… the BEST day.

Meeting Jia and the hours after feel like a dream. It went exactly how we hoped but didn’t dare to actually expect. It was perfect and I cannot believe it’s real.

We woke up this morning at 3:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So after we just resigned ourselves to being tired and got up and got things ready, go ourselves ready, had breakfast with some travel group friends, and then came back up to the room to wait for another hour, which seemed like an eternity. Thank you to the people who chatted with me while I waited, it was great!

Then we got on a bus and headed to the government building where we would be meeting Jia. You are taken to this little room which has an outside door and the vans from the orphanages pull up there. There was already a little guy there, so we took pictures for that family and for each successive family as they got their kiddos, and then there was a lull with no kids for a little while. So we were waiting and my friend Teresa said that a van pulled up with a little girl. It was JIA!!! We watched her walk in and were able to be right inside the door when she came in, so showed her the puppy we brought and gave her a sucker, and her nanny kind of stepped out of the way and she stood with us for a few minutes. I pulled out the photo book we had sent and brought a copy of and showed her and that seemed to maybe connect? At that point she was willing to sit on Josh’s lap and we pulled out all the stops – Goldfish, water, toys, books, whatever you want, we’ll get you! The Goldfish were the ticket and she figured out the snack trap pretty quick. We spent a little time sitting on the floor and then our guide called us over to sign paperwork. She was still attached to Josh and sat on his lap while he signed. Then we showed her the little playground they have and that was really the ticket! She LOVED it and really lit up and played with both of us, and seemed to open up to me a little bit. We also had to do a formal family picture there, which was interesting. But we managed it so it’s all good.

Then it was time to go! She walked out with me and did well on the bus ride over (no car seats in China!), although the three hour trip to Nanyang on Wednesday will be interesting. We got to the hotel and she walked in with us and straight to the room with no problems at all! Since then she’s played, we‚Äôve walked the halls, she’s gotten fresh clothes and a diaper, and she’s eaten lunch. She actually launched herself at Josh at one point and said DADA!!! What a miracle. I laid her down for her nap and she was OUT.

I feel truly blessed by how this has gone. I cannot believe it. I had prepared myself for anything, but maybe not for this smooth of a transition. It’s very possible that she will have a hard time later, maybe at bed time or in a few days, but for now things are so wonderful it’s unbelievable. I can‚Äôt imagine how confused she is and how many questions she must have and I marvel at the openness of her heart to even let us in a little, let alone like this. She is so brave.

We are so grateful for your prayers and good thought for us today. You all must have a special line straight to Heaven because we feel like God has blessed us far beyond what we imagined.

So, for now we’re just chilling, waiting for her to wake up and then we’re going to play and hang out and venture out for dinner. It finally feels really and it‚Äôs better then I could have ever dreamed. What a gift we’ve been given.

Here are all the pictures from today.¬† Enjoy!¬† ūüôā

 

China Day 2 and half of 3: The Great Wall, Jade Factory, and the Bullet Train

So far I’ve typed a blog from a plane, now it’s time for a blog from a train. We are currently on the bullet train from Beijing to Zhengzhou, cruising along at something like 180 mph. The China country side is flying by my window and it’s so nice to see green after being in the city.

 

Josh and our friends climbed all the way up to the first tower.  Two of our friends climbed even beyond that.  It was about 98 degrees and 99% humidity and they were sweaty messes.

Josh and our friends climbed all the way up to the first tower. Two of our friends climbed even beyond that. It was about 98 degrees and 99% humidity and they were sweaty messes.

This is a beacon tower.  If you've ever watched Mulan, you know that these were used to send messages and the people who manned these towers would light them to let the next tower know that someone was coming so they could be prepared.  To spread a message along the whole Wall took 3-4 hours.

This is a beacon tower. If you’ve ever watched Mulan, you know that these were used to send messages and the people who manned these towers would light them to let the next tower know that someone was coming so they could be prepared. To spread a message along the whole Wall took 3-4 hours.

 

 

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall and the jade factory. The Great Wall is AMAZING. To think it was built by hand is incredible. We went to a section of the wall called the Juyongguan Pass, which they said was less crowded then some of the other sections. I simply can’t imagine it having been more crowded then it was, so I am glad we went there. You pull into the parking lot and just see this massive crush of humanity headed up to the tower at the top of the hill. I was thinking that I wanted to climb up, so I headed that way with the other people from my group who were going, and we headed up. There are a series of steps and landings before you get to the actual climbing part of the Wall, and just getting up there was tough, so we took a short break at the beginning and then headed up. I got about a 16th of the way, turned around and looked at how steep it was going to be coming down and I couldn’t do it. Going up would be fine, but coming down would be petrifying. Not to mention that there were thousands of people climbing at the same time and if you get bumped once, you become a human bowling ball with thousands of pins. Nope, nope, nope. So Josh, and 5 other people from our travel group pressed on and I waited at the bottom with my friend Teresa. I got to see pictures and that was enough for me. Josh got to the top and went to the top of the tower, accessed by a ladder like stairway, and was only up there with 7 other people, so was able to have the whole place sort of to himself, which was cool. He also said that as he was coming down, he didn’t look out too much, just stayed focused on the steps in front of him, but that there were people who came down at the same time who were running down the middle like it was no big deal, some of them with babies or toddlers on their backs. I can’t imagine. When we were waiting we saw one girl boost herself into one of the lookout spaces for a picture, like it wasn’t thousands and thousands of feet down if she fell. People are CRAZY, here and everywhere.

 

After that, we went to the jade factory, which has an attached restaurant, and our guide ordered for us, so we got a ton of different dishes, which were all wonderful. It was nice to not have to think so much about what to eat and to let someone else do it for us. Then we went to the jade factory and did some shopping, but I can’t talk too much about it since it’s all gifts. It was a great experience and I’m glad we got to go.

 

Then we headed back to the hotel and rested for a while, and eventually ventured out for dinner. Some friends from our group had found a place the night before that they loved, so we went there, and it was so, so good. We were the only white people there, always a good sign in my book.

 

When we got back to the hotel, we were told that the President of CCAI, Joshua Zhong, was in Beijing and was coming to the hotel to meet with us just to see how our trip was going. So we got to meet Josh and thank him in person for the amazing things CCAI does, which was awesome. I cannot say enough good things about CCAI. They are the best, and I can’t imagine having done this without them and their help.

 

Then we went back and went to sleep. Sleep still isn’t coming super easy right now, so we are TIRED. We’ve been in bed by 8 most nights, and up by around 4, if not earlier. This morning, we got up on purpose at 4 to meet in the lobby by 5:30 to take the train to Zhengzhou.

 

So, about the train. We’d been told that the actual train was awesome, but getting to and through the station was stressful. Thankfully, we had a bus to take us to the station, and our guide took us through as far as she was able. I absolutely cannot imagine doing something like that for the first time ever with no one to help us. It would have been a nightmare. But she prepped us well and we knew exactly where to go and what to do, so it was chaotic, but manageable for sure. And now that we’re on the train, it’s AMAZING. Leg room, scenery, good company. We’re good. We’ll see what I say once we have to get off and find our way out.

These are all the people waiting to get on the train.  We were in the midst of the chaos waiting our turn to go through.  It was pretty intense, but more orderly then you'd expect.

These are all the people waiting to get on the train. We were in the midst of the chaos waiting our turn to go through. It was pretty intense, but more orderly then you’d expect.

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Here is what the train looks like. It’s no Hogwarts Express, but it’ll do. ūüôā

 

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY, JIA DAY!!! We will leave to meet her at 9:30 Monday morning in China, so 9:30 Sunday night in the US.¬† We would really appreciate your prayers for us (your) tonight.¬† She will likely be confused and scared and sad that we’re not her foster family, and that’s all okay.¬† We just want this to be as easy a transition as possible for her and for her to feel safe with us.¬† You can also be praying for all of the other families in our group, three of whom are first time parents.¬† We are ecstatic, nervous, excited, and a million other emotions. But mostly we’re just ready. Let’s get this beautiful girl with us and then HOME. It’s almost go time! My next update will likely be our Family Day post and I can’t wait to share it with you!

China Day 2: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Old Beijing, Snack Street and a few minor culture meltdowns.

 

Hi there! It is currently Saturday morning, July 11th here, so I think Friday night you time? I don’t know, I’ve lost it all. :).

 

Yesterday, we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. And when I say we, I mean my travel group and most of the rest of China. It was CROWDED. We started in the Square and noticed there was a huge line of Chinese (no foreigners) queuing up through barricades for miles. Our guide told us that was people who were waiting to see Chairman Mao’s preserved body and that people essentially come and pilgrimage here. July is the one month that Chinese kids are out of schools, so many families come from all over China to Beijing to see the sites and see his body. There aren‚Äôt any building you can go into or anything, so it’s pretty much just looking at the buildings and walking through the square. That in itself is pretty neat though.

 

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

 

Then we went through to the Forbidden City. I hate to point you to Wikipedia, but it does a far better job of explaining about the different rooms and what they were used for then I can ever do. So check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_City. I didn’t realize how big it was, and how many little buildings there were. So many of them were used very infrequently, maybe only once, and the amount of time and the number of resources used to make each building is a mind blower.

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Forbidden City

Forbidden City

 

I would liken visiting the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City to visiting the monuments in Washington DC, especially if you’re a foreigner and haven’t had the benefit of learning all the history of what they mean. It was an amazing experience, and I’m glad we did it, but it was a lot to take in all at once.

 

After that, we went to find rickshaws, and took a rickshaw tour of Old Beijing. The streets are NARROW and shared by rickshaws, cars, motor bikes and regular bikes, and it’s a miracle anyone survives the traffic, but they do! It was amazing to see and so interesting. I’ll try to upload a video of it so you can get an idea. We also had lunch at the house of a local family and it was delicious! Meatballs, rice, spicy peppers, zucchini, peanuts, and a lot more‚Ķ so yummy. That was the highlight of the day for me.

Most of our travel group.

Most of our travel group.

 

So once we left Old Beijing, we went back to the hotel and rested for a little while, and then we has planned to meet up with our group to walk to dinner, but first, Snack Street. Our guide has told us that we should go, but warned us over and over, do not eat anything. You will get sick, sick, sick. So Snack Street is a row, maybe a quarter mile long, of food stalls, and they sell some bizarre stuff. I mean, bugs, spiders, snakes, testicles, you name it. I was walking past one stall and the guys inside said “I have some delicious lambs balls‚Ķ” and then holds up another stick “‚Ķ. Or perhaps you want lambs penis instead?”. I’m sure you’re shocked to learn that I turned him down. Our group made it through with no snack eaten on Snack Street, in large part because of the smell. I don’t know if it was a specific type of food or a mix of the food and sewer system, but there were parts of the street that smelled atrocious. So while Snack Street was fascinating and I am so glad we went, it took a long time before my appetite came back.

Scorpions, anyone?

Scorpions, anyone?

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I think these are crabs, but other people thought they looked like brains. Yummy!

I don't know what the heck these are?

I don’t know what the heck these are?

Tarantulas.... it's what's for dinner.

Tarantulas…. it’s what’s for dinner.

One other thing I want to talk about is culture shock. There are a few things specifically that have been interesting for me. First, especially because there are so many visitors to Beijing right now, we get stared at A LOT because non-Asians are very rare here. The kids are especially funny because they just don’t know what to make of us, and you can see their little brains just putting it all together and figuring out what’s what.

 

Secondly, there are TONS of people and very different understandings of personal space. People think absolutely nothing of bumping into you, pushing you out of the way, there are very few orderly lines, and paying for things is basically just whoever shoves money to the front first. This has been really challenging for me, because I am a person who deeply loves order and rules and there just aren’t the ones I’m used to here. And I have a lot of anxiety in large crowds, which is basically all China is. In the US, I can do crowds because I know the rules, and usually can then go home, to my comfy house and familiar food and there just isn’t that option here. So I’ve been having a hard time with figuring out of to decompress from the intensity.

 

One other thing I didn’t account for is how much not speaking or understanding the language would bother me. I am a word person and I love communicating with people, and not being able to is really throwing me off. I can’t do the polite midwestern “hi how are you beautiful weather” small talk and I never realized how much I liked it until I couldn’t do it.

 

So, those are a few of the hard things interspersed with a lot of really amazing things. One amazing thing is our travel group and how awesome they all are. We have 5 families, adopting 5 kids, 2 boys, 3 girls, ranging in age from 2-4. One family on their third adoption to make 5 kids at home, us, first adoption, second kid, and the other three, first adoption, first kid. We’ve all meshed really well and they are just lovely people. I’m incredibly thankful for that.

 

And on that note, I need to go shower to get ready to tackle the Great Wall of China. Then we’re going to do lunch and the jade factory, so let the buying begin. Miss you guys lots already!

Leaving on a jet plane…. arriving in China!

Hi pals. I’m typing this from our airplane‚Ķ isn’t technology a marvel? But I am tying on a teeny tiny tablet keyboard, so I’m having to retype every word, basically, since I’m also in a cramped airplane seat, so have tiny t-rex arm syndrome. :).

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I am trying to keep a good record of this trip because I’m sure, like most big events, this will eventually fade. So here’s how things have gone.

We have been packing for DAYS. DAYS. And by Monday night, we had 99% of our stuff packed and ready to go, and then the rest of Tuesday was just chucking more stuff in that we “might” need. I’m sure we brought far more then we needed, but we ended up with two 46 lb suitcases, so I’m quite pleased with that. Roughing it isn’t really my “thing” so I’m pretty proud of our “light” packing.

Emotionally, the days leading up to leaving were rough. I’m sure I looked frazzled, and I certainly felt that way. I was worried about Eden, I was worried about the trip, etc, etc, etc. I mean, just, all the worries. And I told myself that I would worry right up until we walked into that airport, and then I was done. I had done as much as I could, and that would have to be enough. As much packing, as much prepping Eden, as much aimless worrying, and at some point I just needed to relinquish it. I was especially worried about an emotional airport scene with Eden, on both our ends. I could just see her having to be dragged away, and me sobbing through security. Ugh. But a few days ago, I read a blog post from a fellow adoptive mom who said that she has encouraged her kids to yell and scream and jump as they were pulling out of the driveway, and on the way up, I told Eden that I wanted her to make as much noise as possible while we were walking away and make everyone stare. It worked really well and we got good hugs and goodbyes and then she screamed us into the airport. I am so glad that I read about that tactic, I think it saved us a lot of the sads.

Once we got to the airport, we got boarding passes, checked our baggage and got through security in record time, and had plenty of time to go eat, so we walked down to Chik–fil-a, and had a nice American meal of fried chicken and fries. Our flight was delayed 40 minutes, so we got to chill for a little while, chat with friends, etc. It was a huge help for my fragile emotions to read all the notes and texts from the people we love. You guys helped so much.

So we boarded, got our seats, and off we went. We found out that for some reason, our flight would be shorter then usual by about an hour, which is why we delayed our take off. Apparently Beijing only lets you land within 30 minutes of your planned time, so we had to adjust for that. We don’t really care why, just WAHOO shorter flight.

So far we’ve had dinner (thai beef!) and drinks and have watched two episodes of The Newsroom. We’re still too wired to sleep much, but I’m sure we’ll get there. Tylenol PM is our friend. There is a guy sitting across from me who is having some PHELM ISSUES, so ear plugs are also my friend.¬† Update:¬† Josh slept two hours, me, about 20 minutes.¬† We are not good airplane sleepers.

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One super cool thing that’s happened is we are sitting in a row of four seats, and the other couple in our row is also adopting a 2 year old little girl. So it’s been fun talking with them and comparing notes.

Anyway. That’s the beginning of our trip. Sorry for the stream of consciousness blogging. Not my best effort, but all I can manage for now. Thanks again for following along and for loving us well. Couldn’t do it without you!

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Okay, now we’re on our room and we’ve actually slept, so maybe I can be coherent. We landed yesterday and were met by our guide, and waiting on another family who were also arriving around the same time. One thing that has been nice is this process is being able to connect with other families who we’ll be traveling with via Facebook, so we knew who we were meeting and there were hugs and much rejoicing!

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We took a mini bus to our hotel from the airport and got settled in our room. By then the lack of sleep and long day were catching up with us, but I was hungry, so we walked to a noodle shop that was right next door. We ordered a chicken dish and a beef and noodles dish. I’m not sure that either of them was a huge hit, but they were pretty good filled our bellies and that was enough. Then we came back and Josh was out like a light. I don’t know what it was, but I was WIRED and not quite ready to sleep, so I video called my parents and Eden and talked to them and then finally, finally, the crash happened. We both slept okay, but woke up at about 3:45 wide awake and ready to start the day. I’m sure we’ll pay for that later.

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Today we’re going to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, then we’re going to see the old streets of Beijing via rickshaw, and have dinner with a local family in their home. It should be QUITE A DAY!

Tomorrow is the Great Wall and then the day after we take the train to Zhengzhou and the wait to meet Jia is hours, not days. I am loving being here, and so glad we got to come a few days early and see Beijing, but I think I am just anxious to get to Jia and get started. But I am not wanting to squander our last few kid free days for a loooooooong time, so I’m soaking it in. What a ride!

We’re going on an adventure!

Y’all.¬† We leave in SIX DAYS. ¬†S-I-X. ¬†As in one less then 7, one more then 5. ¬†SIX.

This is a very auspicious day because a year ago today, we signed with our adoption agency and started this whole crazy process.  It seems unreal that a year ago, we only imagined our daughter, and now we get to meet her in 6 days.

The crazy thing with adoption is that so much of it is waiting.¬† Once you’re done with the dossier part, you’re largely just¬†hanging out¬†while¬†people to pass all your paperwork around and give it their approval, so you just WAIT…. and then¬†the last person stamps it and it’s GO TIME.¬† We got Travel Approval¬†June 25th,¬†got our Consulate Appointment and scheduled our plane tickets on the 26th¬†and we take off the 8th. ¬†That’s¬†crazy fast!

It also means that reality comes slamming in, and for me it’s¬†been¬†some hard moments realizing that Eden won’t be my only anymore. ¬†I assume this is something that every mom goes through when their first baby isn’t their only baby anymore, but that’s been¬†hard the last few days. ¬†Add that to the logistical demands of¬†packing for China and tying up last minute details, which takes a lot of my time and¬†ooof, Mom Guilt like WHOA. ¬†I know we will all adjust and it’s going to be so good, but I think we’re all grieving what is because we don’t yet fully know what will be.

Josh and I both feel like our emotions¬†change radically every 5 minutes… we’re happy, sad, worried, excited,¬†nervous, ready to go and¬†completely overwhelmed with everything that still has to be done. ¬†I don’t know, you guys. ¬†I want to put a pretty bow on this, but¬†right now it’s kind of like we’re just muddling through to the end. ¬†We’re trying to stay present and actually live the next 6 days aware and that’s taking all we’ve got right now.

We are looking forward to¬†having this part of it done, and¬†getting on a plane and¬†being able to just FOCUS on getting to Jia.¬† That is one thing we don’t have any¬†conflicted emotions about…we are ECSTATIC about finally getting¬†her in our arms and finding out who she really is.¬†¬†We know that this is going to be SO HARD for her,¬†and that what is¬†exciting for us is terrifying¬†for her.¬†¬†That part of it is heartbreaking.¬†¬†We will actually meet her on July 13th¬†around 11:00am¬†(so¬†11pm¬†July 12th¬†Eastern time)¬†and we’d really love it if people would pray and send all their positive energy for her that¬†night.

So, here’s my conclusion… we’re all a little bonkers, and we probably will be for a while. ¬†We’ve been leaning on friends and family and your prayers and good thoughts¬†and kind words¬†lately and¬†are so grateful for them all. ¬†I’ve had so many people offer to help do anything we need and even though I¬†haven’t been good at taking people up on their offers,¬†just the offers themselves and knowing people are thinking of us has meant so much.

I am going to try to blog here during our trip so stop back! ¬†Can’t wait to share this crazy adventure with you!