Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is for Jackie Sue

I think it's interesting what details are important to different people. So, I'm taking requests. :) My dear mentor, Jackie Sue, wanted to know the answer to a few questions. Feel free to leave your questions and I'll do my best to get to them.

Is she sick at all or is she feeling good? She has some chest congestion that doesn't sound nice at all, but her nose is running clear, she doesn't have a fever, and isn't batting at her ears.

Do the clothes you took fit? I took a combination of 6-12 months and 12-18 months clothes and she definitely fits the 12-18. I could easily put her in 18-24 months, but they would be baggy.

Is she bigger or smaller than you thought? I think she's a little bigger than I thought. She's definitely more perfect than I could have imagined though.

How is she eating? We haven't figured out her eating schedule quite yet. She doesn't like bottles very much though she, on two different occasions, has sucked down a small bottle. She eats congee (rice soup), likes mandarin oranges, banana bread, kinds likes watermelon, can't stand prunes (Who does like those, though?), likes crackers and bread and egg. Much to our dismay, we have not gotten the first poo out of her yet.

Does she prefer one of you over the other? She loves us both equally. She will miss her Daddy when he leaves tomorrow.

I have to go now. The US immigration decided that a form I got approved when we were at home is no longer filled out properly. I need to get a shower and get that paperwork done. We leave for our daughter's orphanage in less than an hour.

Price Kissing Carmon

The videos seem to be a real hit, so here's another. Price seems to be really sweet on Carmon, sometimes much to her dismay. He invades her personal space a bit, I think. You tell me.

Carmon playing in Mommy's lap

We just got home from a night walk down "The Walking Street" and were getting ready for bed. Enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Misc pictures and comments from Tom

Abby and Carmon are napping and Price is watching a Thomas DVD, so I am going to take a minute and post some pictures along with a short (for me, anyway) explanation of them.

This first picture was taken at Washington Dulles airport. Price was in the back pack, and we were riding their shuttle bus between terminals. I grabbed a hand rail and Price decided he needed to help me by grabbing one, too. You can imagine how much help a two year old gives...

This next picture was taken on the flight to Beijing. Price fell asleep stretched out across three seats, and we both thought this was a cute picture.

This next picture is Price walking with our guide Maggie in Beijing. He would talk to her, call her name, and generally loved being with her.

Next, we have a photo of Abby near the top of the Great Wall section we climbed. The parking lot is behind and below her.

This next photo is near the top of the Great Wall. It was an amazing sight, very pretty despite being very brown from lack of rain.

Here are Maggie and Abby at the Summer Palace, standing in front of a male lion statue. How can you tell if it is a male or female lion statue in China? The male lion has the world under his foot, a female has a baby lion under hers. Plus, Maggie told us that as you face out from the building the female is always on the right, since (wait for it....) the female is always right. :)

We have a 10:00 tour of the Pavillion today, and tomorrow we tour the orphanage where Carmon lived the first few months of her life. Thursday, we part ways and Price and I head home via Beijing and Dulles. Abby and Carmon head to Guangzhou and the appointments there that will make Carmon a US Citizen. They arrive back home a week after Price and I do.

We appreciate all the emails and the expressions of love and prayers. We're doing great considering all that is going on, and as long as I can get enough to eat and not get grumpy, we'll all be fine. There have been quite a few positive comments about the videos, and since we are going out among the locals today, I am fairly certain there will be more to post tonight.

Jack and Madeleine, we all four miss you. Price is already being a GREAT big brother to your new sister - he even offered to share one of his binkys with her! This morning, she started crying a little, and he kept saying to her "Its alright baby, don't cry".

Love to all.


Carmon playing in the mirror

Well, Abby woke up and asked me to post this video. Nothing else to say about it except she started seeing herself in the mirror.

One from Tom

This blog is being done by Tom, and as, you’ll see, Abby and I comment and write about different things. The kids slept great from about 9:00 PM Sunday night until Price started talking around 5:00 AM. Abby and I woke up, and she started working on the second effort at her post that took three tries (see the previous post). We decided to grab breakfast from the hotel before getting cleaned up for the day’s appointments. The hotel breakfast is included with the room price, plus the food is a) good and b) mostly recognizable as exactly what the label says it is. Although, I have to say, their idea of orange juice seems to be more juice that is orange in color as opposed to juice from an orange. We have discovered that a BIG breakfast in these nice hotels will save us money and give us enough food to get through until mid afternoon.

Our guide, Mary, picked us up at 9:00 for the three appointments we had today. The first was in a building that had a waiting area which contained another a dozen or so families who are also adopting. We had an ‘interview’ – four questions, a couple of signatures, we got a gift for adopting, and then we waited for our formal Adoption Certificate to be printed. Next, we got back in the van and drove to a very quick notarization appointment, and then last, we had her picture taken and we were done for the day. Mary took us to a grocery store to get some milk, water, and soft drinks. You just have to see this place to believe it - people every where, and so many workers in the store straightening displays, standing around to help, etc. It felt like there were often more workers than shoppers. I’ll have to go back to get the names and descriptions of some of the items for sale in this store to post. Some of the English names and descriptions are really amazing. Then, Mary brought us back to the hotel, made plans for tomorrow, and we were on our own.

We fed the kids some lunch and then put them down for naps. During this time, Abby actually got her post completed and posted while I watched a movie on her iPod. When we got the kids up, we went back to the grocery store, because Abby hadn’t gone in with Mary and me earlier, and because we needed a couple of more things. Then, we went to the ‘walking street’, which is blocked off at the ends and has stores, shops, and food stands/stalls up and down the whole length of it. While we were out, we ran into two other adopting couples: one in the grocery store, and one on the walking street. While we were talking to the couple on the walking street, a small crowd gathered around us, and, before we knew it, we were celebrities. Also, we had several older ladies, and a few men, come up and touch the kids hands or feet to check to see if we were keeping them warm enough. In one instance a lady came over, checked Carmon’s hand, and then went back to her friend and explained that she was fine and that Carmon also had a pair of tights on under her long pants!

At the very end of the walking street was a McDonald’s, and. after the hamburger (I use the term loosely) we had from room service the night before, I wanted to try to see if American Hamburgers had made it to the Far East yet. I went in and ordered from a picture menu and paid. When I came out, a small crowd had gathered around Abby, Price, and Carmon, and I could just barely see Abby’s blonde hair surrounded by many locals. I shot some video of this. As Abby and I were walking away (still being stalked by the clothing police, I might add), she told me that Price had started playing Peek-A-Boo with some of the people who were looking at him.

A few observations and comments, NONE of which are meant to be disrespectful of the Chinese: first, Diet Coke doesn’t exist in China. Coke Lite, yes, Coke Zero, yes, but you get a REALLY strange look when you ask for Diet anything. Second, driving on the roads is, at best, go where you want, in any lane you want, including the lane of traffic moving in the opposite direction’. It works great for them; it really does! As Abby and I were watching it from the sidewalks (or moped lanes as they are known here) or the van, it is absolutely amazing that we didn’t see many, many crashes. Bicycles, mopeds, cars, SMALL cars, walkers, trucks, buses, all go where they need to go, even if they cut off a police car or van while doing it! Third, the people are all very, very friendly, even if they don’t speak English. People everywhere we have been always smile at us, wave, want to see and talk to the kids; it’s like we’re part of their family. This also means, though, that there is the occasional look at us as if we’re the Black Sheep of the family for not dressing the kids warmly enough…

Well, the kids are in bed, Abby is snoozing and my head is drooping, so I am going to post this for now, along with some video for all you to see. All this video was shot with Abby’s new digital camera, because the digital video camera we brought over with us broke somehow. We discovered that about 15 minutes before going down to have a quick lunch before we received Carmon. The first video is when we first saw her, and Abby got to hold her. The second video is of the crowd surrounding Abby and the kids when I came out of McDonald’s this afternoon.

One last thing I thought of as I was getting out of bed to post this…our legs are KILLING us from the climb up the Great Wall Saturday! Every time we’ve had to get in or out of the van, go up steps, or squat down to pick up a kid or a kid thing, we’ve both laughed about the soreness and the way we are moving. It looks like we’re both in our 60’s!

Jack and Madeleine, you’re going to love Carmon! Mommy and Daddy miss you both so much, and I can’t wait to see you Friday. Everyone, please keep the prayers and email coming!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The most unabridged version I can manage

Third time’s the charm, right? This better work this time folks, because, if it doesn’t, you are OUT OF LUCK! I first typed this directly at the Blogger website. I was ALL DONE and highlighted all the text to make it larger and poof! ALL GONE!! Then, it did an autosave. Nice, huh? Didn’t do an autosave when I had everything typed; it waited until I was done deleting it first. So, I learned my lesson. I decided to type everything first in Microsoft Word and just cut and paste it into Blogger. Brilliant, huh? I know! I know! It took another hour to get everything typed and edited again. I saved it and thought we were good to go. Thing is, I got some funny error messages when I started the computer up and logged in. Apparently, I should have paid attention to them. It had created some sort of temporary profile that was erased when I later logged in properly. I found this really hot computer guy who was kind enough to give me the bad news. So, here I am, sitting in the dark, with 2 nappers and a hot computer guy next to me watching a movie on my ipod…in between bouts of snoring :). Don’t worry, I’m typing this in Word and saving it after every sentence, and have verified that I am properly logged in and saving this file to the correct file location. Whew!

So now, I’ll gladly take myself back to yesterday again…

Our Beijing guide, Maggie, met us in the lobby at 9:00 a.m. to take us to the airport for our 90 minute flight from Beijing (pronounced with a hard “j” actually, not with a “zh” sound) to Nanchang (short “a” first, then an “a” pronounced somewhere between an “ah” sound and a “u” sound). Maggie was able to convince the manager of our airline, China Southern, not to charge us a fee for our excess baggage by telling him we were adopting. She said, “They’re taking care of our babies”. Heartbreaker, right? Price fell asleep before take-off and didn’t wake up until we had already started our descent.

We arrived in Nanchang 30 minutes early, at 1:30 in the afternoon where, thankfully, our Nanchang guide, Mary, was already waiting for us. We collected our baggage and made our way to our van for the 20 minute ride to our hotel. It was at this time that Mary told us the orphanage would be bringing Carmon to the hotel around 3:30 or 4. We checked into the Gloria Grand Hotel and, as soon as we got to our room, I started nesting. I quickly unpacked the kids’ suitcases into drawers and started organizing things so our room would be uncluttered when they brought Carmon up. Tom wrapped some presents because we didn’t know when we would have to start passing them out. We finished that at 2:45 and decided to go to a cafĂ© downstairs to grab a bite to eat. We didn’t know when we would have an opportunity to eat again.

We got downstairs and I asked Tom to go back up to get our camera. I was worried they’d come early, and we wouldn’t have the means to document our first meeting with our newest daughter. As I waited downstairs, I noticed some babies in the lobby. There were 2 little girls, and I was devastated because I was afraid one was Carmon and I wasn’t recognizing her. Not to worry…those girls were carried up to meet their adoptive parents within a few minutes. Then there was another little baby who appeared to be a boy to me. He also seemed like he was with his father and was walking already, but our guide came into the lobby and was talking with them. I gave her “the eye” asking if that was Carmon. She smiled and gave me “they eye” back. I was mortified at the thought that it was Carmon and I’d called him a boy and not recognized my own daughter. Not to worry, again. There was apparently a miscommunication between my “eye” and Mary’s “eye”.

There was a lady in the lobby that Mary went to sit with. That lady had also been sitting with the previous 2 adopted girls, so I am assuming she is some sort of liaison between the “state” and the orphanage and the adoptive parents. I was sitting on the edge of my seat while trying to choke down bites from a club sandwich…that had egg on it. The liaison hopped up, and I could see an SUV in the reflection from some marble tiles through the window we were sitting by. I looked at Mary again, afraid to give her “the eye” for fear of another miscommunication. But she was also up on her feet moving toward the door. I got on my feet, too. She did give me “they eye” when some caretakers came through the door holding Carmon. I KNEW IT WAS CARMON!!! And, for the record, I had correctly picked her out of the orphanage pictures that I’d previously posted on my blog. I tentatively headed towards them, not sure if I was allowed to go over. Mary motioned me over and I went straight for Carmon and took her from the lady holding her. She already had a tear on her face when I got to her, but she shared a few more of those with me. An orphanage employee seemed to think I could use some help soothing her and took her back from me. I wanted to swat her hands away, but I thought that might not be a good idea. But it wasn’t long before the orphanage director told her to give Carmon back to me. I’m not going to let anyone take her away from me ever again!

Mary got some paperwork from the orphanage employees and said we were free to take Carmon up to our room. Mary came with us because we had to sign some papers and thumbprint our signatures. Carmon was already showing some periods of calm, but she also showed some real, pure anger, bowing her back and letting out a different sounding cry.

By 4:35 Mary had left our room and we had our little girl all to ourselves. I felt a little bewildered. She was still mostly crying, especially when she looked at my face or when Tom or Price tried to talk to her. We were kind of just looking at each other with a “Well, here we are” expression on our faces. I put Carmon in our Hip Hammock and just walked around bouncing her. Tom set up a Thomas DVD for Price to watch and basically just tried to keep him entertained.

I sat in a chair and, with Carmon still in the Hip Hammock, she fell asleep on my chest. What a treat! She’s MY girl!

Almost an hour later she woke up. She fussed a little bit when I gave her to Tom, but the fussing was short-lived. We tried to feed her a bottle, but she wasn’t interested. Tom and I ordered room service…an interesting beef burger, some very non-American “American cheesecake”, and a bottle of Nanchang beer. Tom was holding Carmon while he ate his dinner and she was very excited by his food, so he gave her a French fry. :) She didn’t care for that much but did very much enjoy the bun from his burger. We were all exhausted and were asleep by 8:30.

She cried out a few times during the night but didn’t even give me time to get to her bed to comfort her before she had quieted herself back down.

So, there you have it…the complete story of the day I had my last baby.

Both the babies asleep

After breakfast this morning, both babies came back and went to bed...at 8a.m. Wouldn't u love to go back to bed for a nap every day at 8? Obviously, we're all exhausted and adjusting.

The complete - VERY short version

Everyone - Abby has twice tried to post, but the computer lost the blog update both times! We're getting ready to go to our first paperwork appointment, and both kids are napping. Carmon calmed down after a couple of hours (maybe less) of our first meeting and slept through the night until about 5:30 when Price was talking to her. We had a good breakfast, and things are going VERY well, we are so pleased and thankful. Thanks for your prayers, thoughts and emails, keep them ALL coming!


Jack and Madeleine, here are pictures of your little sister

We were down grabbing a quick bite when in comes a group of ladies with Carmon. I am posting a couple of pictures, and when Abby feels like she can let go of Carmon, she'll post a real update. Tom

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Almost time...

Our plane arrived in Nanchang about 30 minutes early, but we were welcomed by our guide Mary. It's now 2:45 and we just settled into our hotel. We were told that we would get a call around 3:30 or 4:00 that our daughter was here and she will be brought directly to our hotel room. I'm nesting. In a flurry, Tom and I got the room cleared and organized so that we would have space for our expanding family. We'll be posting pictures soon!!! BTW, we just found out that our video camera is dead. Yippee!

The Great Wall of China and other adventures

We are EXHAUSTED but from a very rewarding day! After a really tasty buffet breakfast in our hotel, we met our guide, Maggie, at 8:30 in the lobby of our hotel. We headed first to The Jade Factory.

This is an example of agate jade. The workmanship was truly fantastic. We learned that jade comes in many colors, and that the majority of the statues are carved from one piece of jade. Even the one pictured above, that has rings hanging off the handles, is carved from one single piece of jade.

From The Jade Factory, we traveled to The Great Wall of China. Price made it all the way! Can you believe it? The real miracle is that Tom was able to backpack that baby all the way up and back down.

The monument in this picture displays a quote by Chairman Mao that says something similar to this: “You are not a real man until you have climbed to the top of the Great Wall of China.”. It was a real dream come true for me to be able to visit the Great Wall and enjoy the amazing views from the heights it took us to.

After leaving the Great Wall, we went to tour and have lunch on the second story of the CloisonnĂ© (pronounced cloy’-sun-nay) Factory. Again, we were in awe of the skill involved in carrying on this ancient art form. The first course served to us was oxtail soup. It actually sounds a lot more exotic than it tasted. It tasted like spicy, watered down tomato soup. I did eat something in it that I didn’t recognize, but I don’t think it was actually oxtail. It was more similar to the texture of water chestnuts.

After lunch, we traveled to the Summer Palace. The history of the largest imperial garden in China was fascinating to Tom and me, but I doubt you are interested in the details. One thing though…it is located on one square mile and is made up of 60% water from a manmade, 2-3 meter deep, HAND DUG lake. HAND DUG!!!

The garden was exquisite. I personally loved the Chinese magnolia trees that were in bloom. Price slept through the entire garden in the backpack on Tom’s back!

After touring the Summer Palace, we made a final stop at the Pearl Factory before

coming back to have dinner at a very authentic Chinese restaurant near the hotel. The meal was delicious. We started with an unnamed vegetable. Our guide is going to try to figure out the English name for it, but she doesn’t think we have this vegetable in the States. Then we had pork and green bean dumplings, a lamb dish that was garnished with a lot of cilantro, and fried rice. It was so delicious! Did I already say that? Price fell asleep on my lap at dinner, so we are hoping he will get a better night’s sleep tonight than last night.

Jack and Madeleine, we had lots of fun bragging about how special you guys are as our guide asked questions about you! She thinks your nicknames (Pumpkin and Sassy) are very interesting. Tomorrow afternoon we will get to meet your new sister. When you wake up in the morning on Sunday and check the computer, we will hopefully have a video and pictures for you. We love you two very much.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It’s technically still time for us to be sleeping, but jut lag has won! I took a doctor-prescribed sleeping pill at 9:30, right before I started blogging last night, and I had to re-read last night’s blog this morning because I didn’t even remember having written it. The pill helped immensely until 12:30. That’s when Price started crying out. He’s slept very fitfully ever since, and, therefore, so have we. We tried giving him Benadryl, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. So, we have a long day ahead of us and aren’t well rested for it. As you are going to sleep tonight, please pray that we’ll have the stamina to soak in all the things we get to do and see and eat  today.

Jack and Madeleine, What did you do all day with Baba? Did you wear her out? Daddy and I miss you and are thinking about you a lot. xoxo

We made it. Our trip started out great. We arrived at the airport at 5:15 in the morning. We’d been told we may not even be able to sit together on the plane since we made our reservation the day before we flew, but they were able to move us together for the flight from Orlando to Washington, D.C. It was only a 90 minute flight or so and Price slept on my lap for a little over an hour. It was a sweet moment between us. Then, for our flight from D.C. to Beijing, they upgraded us to Economy Plus and there was quite a bit more leg room. They put us in the bulk head row, but the arms don’t move up between the seats. So, while we were waiting to move to the other row they had for us, we (ok, it was me) asked for some of the champagne they were serving in business class. Oohhh Suure! They moved us to a whole row so we had 5 seats with moveable armrests!!!! Price fell asleep soon after takeoff and slept for 3 and a half hours. Then he was awake for 4 and a half. He was pretty busy but very well behaved. One nearby couple even commented that they hadn’t heard him the whole flight. Tom and I didn’t really get any sleep. I got a couple 20 or 30 minutes rests and Tom had a good period of time at the end of the flight where he was working hard to get rest.

So, we made it through immigration with lots of looks at Tom carrying Price in a backpack. We got our bags and made it through Customs, and then we met up with our guide Ms Maggie. She brought us back to our hotel (Novotel Peace Hotel). We learned that Tiananmen Square is near us so we wanted to visit it. Tom agreed to go to the lobby with her to get directions. I stayed in our room to organize things. That’s when I found out we’d left Price’s suitcase at the airport. So, unfortunately we headed all the way back there (1 hour each way) and blew our chance to go see Tiananmen tonight. So, we’ve turned in for tonight and are looking forward to a day of touring the Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace, and the jade factory,

Jack and Madeleine, we miss you. I hope you are having fun with Baba, Remember to be respectful. LOVELOVELOVE, Mommy

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leaving Miami

I know this is a couple days back, but I wanted to show you what I saw as I was leaving Miami after getting Price's passport.What a sweet thing to see!!! Can you read it? The picture was taken on my camera phone while I was driving, so it's not the best quality. It says "China Shipping".

redbox code for Wednesday

The Wednesday code is a special treat for March only, if I understand correctly, so take advantage of the last one I will be posting this month: MMM325.

Quick and Dirty

Here's the quick and dirty version of what our trip should tentatively look like:

March 26: Arrive at airport in Orlando at 5 a.m. for 8:13 flight to Beijing via Dulles.
March 27: Arrive in Beijing at 2:30 p.m. Upon arrival, guide picks us up and transfers us to Novotel Peace Hotel. Free for the rest of the day.
March 28: Breakfast at hotel. Visit Great Wall (2 hour drive from Beijing), Lunch, tour Summer Palace, Dinner.
March 29: Depart Beijing at 11:35 a.m. for Nanchang. Arrive in Nanchang at 1:55 p.m. Upon arrival, guide picks us up and transfers us to the Gloria Plaza Hotel. GET CARMON around 5 p.m.
March 30: Civil Affair registration and Notary office.
March 31: Apply for Carmon's Chinese passport.
April 1: Visit orphanage.

April 2: Abby and Carmon will leave Nanchang at 10:10 a.m. to fly to Guangzhou and arrives in Guangzhou at 11:35 a.m. Upon arrival, guide will pick us up and transfer us to the Guandong Victory Hotel. First medical check will be that afternoon. Tom and Price will leave Nanchang at 11:25 a.m. to fly to Beijing, arrive Beijing at 1:45 p.m. before flying out of Beijing at 6:25 p.m. to come back to the States.
April 3: 2nd medical check (She will have to have 5 immunizations so they are breaking it up into 2 appointments)
April 4, 5, 6: Free to explore city.

April 7: Consulate Appointment at 9 a.m. Only the guide goes to this one. She delivers our paperwork for us.
April 8: Around 2:30 p.m. guide will take us to the Consulate for the Swearing In ceremony.
April 9: Abby and Carmon will leave at 12:00 p.m. to fly to Beijing, arrive Beijing at 2:50 p.m. Then we will fly from Beijing at 6:25 p.m. to come back to the States for an arrival at five minutes after midnight in Orlando (technically the 10th of April).

By the way, China is 13 hours ahead of Florida (Eastern time zone) time. So, if you are reading this at 1 in the afternoon here, it is 2 in the morning there.

The final day

The day has actually arrived; we leave tomorrow. Let me tell you a little bit about how we got to this point, just in the last couple days.

At the end of last week, we had still not heard from the consulate in China if they had received notification directly from immigration to say we were officially allowed to come. So, my nerves were STARTING to get the better of me. Thanks to a relatively busy weekend, I made it through Saturday. Our agency had advised us to be watching late Sunday night or early Monday morning for an email from China. So, I stayed up late...not that it was difficult to do since I can't fall asleep before midnight these days and always wake up before 6, and that's while taking Advil PM.

By Monday morning, we hadn't heard anything and I was near frantic. We still had not purchased our plane tickets, made hotel reservations, etc and we were supposed to be leaving Thursday. I was very sick to my stomach all day and near tears at the drop of a hat.

Once our approval left the National Benefits Center in Lees Summit, MO where we were given approval on our I800, it went to the National Visa Center to be forwarded officially to China. At one point during the day, we got a phone number for the National Visa Center to ask them if they knew why we weren't getting a response from the consulate. It was a BAD move to call them. I called 2 different times to speak to two different people because I didn't like what the first one said. She said that once the notification leaves there (D.C.) it can take 3-4 months to get through customs and to the consulate. Oh yeah! You read that right! I was devastated and confused. That's why I called again. Bad move! I got the same news from the second person. However, they also didn't know why I filled out the specific adoption forms I had. So, on one hand I was afraid I'd totally messed up, and, on the other hand, I was afraid they were actually right about the 3-4 month thing.

After talking to the adoption agency, we learned that we had been misinformed by the National Visa Center and that we were still on track. But STILL WAITING! I asked for the phone number for the consulate, but was told that they liked to handle this kind of thing electronically and didn't want to be getting a bunch of calls. OH WELL! Never been much of a rule follower.

So, a little after 9 Monday night, I called the consulate myself. I spoke to a Chinese lady named Rachel...uh-huh, Rachel. Anyway, she verified they had received confirmation, verified that we still have our appointment on April 7th at 10:30 a.m. and were allowed to travel.

I was immediately relieved and started packing in a hurry. Tom, grab 9 shirts. Get whichever shorts you want to take. Did you charge all the batteries? Which cameras are we taking? Will you get our camping pillows out of the garage to use on the plane? And so on and so forth.

I also immediately sent an email to the agency asking them to get on travel arrangments right away. I know, it was after 9 at night, but I expected somebody to be at my beck and call. They actually were. The fastest that agency has EVER moved...EV-ER!

So, we're all set. Today I have a few final arrangements to make but we will leave our house around 4:30 in the morning to get there 3 hours early for our INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT!! WOOHOO!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Pictures of Carmon?

I promised you some more pictures of Carmon. Again, I'm not sure they are her and would like your help. I printed the pictures to take to the orphange with me where I'll ask the caretakers to identify the babies for me so I can be sure.

It's Been Hectic Here

It's been a few days since I posted because things got crazy around here. As you read here, I had to go to Miami to get Price's passport last Friday so that I could overnight it to Texas where our courier was waiting to receive it and take it to the Chinese consulate in Houston Monday (yesterday). Then, she had to leave it for one day and go back to pick it up Tuesday (today) and overnight it back to us so that we can receive it Wednesday (tomorrow) so that we can leave Thursday (the day after tomorrow). That's not cutting it too close, is it? Crazy, I know!!

Well, the story of that day is filled with blessings and miracles.

I left a little after 8 in the morning. As I was hugging Jack good-bye, I got that "What if I never see you again" feeling. NOT the best way to start off the trip. If you're a mom, I'm sure you know that feeling. I had to pull myself together quickly! Tom wasn't pleased that I was going down alone...thanks to all of you that didn't volunteer to accompany me on my road trip. Honestly, though, I was so stressed out and peopled-out that I enjoyed the trip alone.

The Peanut 'put his pillows up' a little less than 2 hours into the 4 hour drive. When he gets sleepy, he puts his hands up behind his head and rests on his arms/elbows...we call that 'putting his pillows up'. It's so cute!

He slept almost 2 hours in the car, which was the first miracle. The weather was nice, and the roads were clear. We made it to Miami in great time and the Passport Agency was right off the interstate. I even found free parking in the back of the building the Passport Agency's office was in.

I got there at 12:15 for my 12:30 appointment. I went to the office and handed the man at the front desk all my paperwork. The room was already filled with 100 people so I said to the gentleman, "Sooooo, my 12:30 appointment...notsomuch?" And he replied, "Notsomuch. The word 'appointment' is a bit of a misstatement. They usually book 40 people for one appointment." NOT ENCOURAGING. He said I'd wait at least an hour, but I ended up waiting 2 hours. Price did well; he is 2, so I had to keep that in mind, but all in all, he was a gem.

As I sat waiting, I was hearing stories that got me very discouraged! One lady had been there since 7:30 a.m., had a flight to catch in 90 minutes, and was told it would still be a while longer. AND we were more than 20 miles away from the airport. I'm guessing she missed her flight.

At 2:20, my number (3044) was called. I went up to the appropriate window and explained that I needed my passport that afternoon. He asked when I was leaving and when I told him it was going to be this Wednesday or Thursday, he said that the only people getting their passports today were leaving today! WHAT!?!?! I just wanna know how many of you procrastinate THAT badly? Anyway, I explained that it needed to be mailed off today to get the visa for Price back in time from Houston. He asked when I needed to mail it, and I told him I had to be at the post office by 4 to guarantee Next Day Delivery. He looked at me a bit sadly and sweetly told me that just wasn't possible, that the very earliest he could get it done would be 4:30. I just stood there looking kinda dumb if I do say so myself. I was actually calculating in my head and just figured I'd send it via FedEx (twice as expensive, but definitely falls into the category gotta-do-what-ya-gotta-do). He asked me to hold on a minute while he talked to his boss. He was back in less than 60 seconds to tell me, "We'll have it done in about an hour." WHAT?!?! Alrighty; no arguments here.

I had to go to a different room to actually pick up the passport, so I took a second to use the ladies room and change Price's diaper. Then I went out to my car to make sure I had everything ready for the post office. It was only a block away, so I was going to be walking there after I got the passport. I looked over our visa application to verify that it was filled out properly. My stomach was really upset because I knew that if I messed this up, our adoption process was going to have another hiccup in it and my heart wasn't prepared to deal with that.

I headed back into the building. Once I got in the office where you pick up the passports, it wasn't real clear what I was supposed to do. All the chairs were full and people lined the walls. There were 3 windows with employees behind them and I just decided to walk up to one to ask what I was supposed to do. As I got closer, I heard them say 'Chitty' and asked if they were looking for me. The gentleman told me he called my name about 5 minutes ago because they had Price's passport done. Done? 5 minutes ago? I JUST left the office upstairs about 6 minutes ago. Again, no complaints from me! So, I gleefully skipped out, passport in hand. MAYBE that's a BIT of an exaggeration, but I was inwardly gleeful.

We headed to the post office, got our package mailed off, loaded Price back up in the car, and headed for home. I was back on the interstate by 3:30...a mere seventy minutes after being told it would be about an hour to complete the passport.

Price slept again on the way home...bigger miracle, since he stopped taking 2 naps in one day MONTHS ago.

The next step was to wait for confirmation from the American consulate in China that they had all the paperwork we needed to keep our April 7th appointment.

Check back later for another update. Lots has changed already.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Hour

I love Steak & Shake's Yougurtshakes. It's like a milkshake, but healthier. :) At least, that's what I tell myself. It IS made from yogurt instead of ice cream after all. Anyway, all of their drinks and shakes are now half price from 2-4 PM every Monday through Friday.
Click here to find a participating location near you.

Picture of Carmon

In January, when China celebrates Chinese New Year, these pictures were posted by our daughter's orphanage on a Yahoo group we are members of that is composed of families that are in the process of adopting or have already adopted from our daughter's orphanage.

You be the judge. Look back here to see Carmon's referral pictures. Then tell me if you see her in any of these photos.

You can see, from these photos, that the babies are well bundled. They rest in these bamboo baskets for a fair portion of their day.

Leave a comment and tell me which girl you think is ours and I'll reveal my guess later. We also got some more pictures from the orphanage last night that willl be posted soon for your guesses.

"Before" pictures of the nursery

We're quickly closing in on the day that we will leave to go get Carmon. It could be as early as Wednesday or as late as Saturday. I'll explain that in a later email.

Today, I am going to start working on organizing to pack and I want you to feel a sense of accomplishment with me as I transform this baby's room.

Notice the huge stack of Huggies diapers in this picture? Can you tell we took advantage of the sale Walgreens had recently and stocked up?

Price couldn't resist getting in this picture. And I couldn't resist him because he's so cute!

Please don't look at the hamper overflowing with clothes right next to the chair Price is sitting in.

Check back later to see how much progress I make.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quaker's Free Birthday Party with a Purpose Kit

If you are taking advantage of the great deals at Target this week on Quaker Granola Bars, you'll wanna combine this with it.

Buy any 4 boxes of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars or Quaker Granola Bites, download this mail-in-offer form, and mail the form with 4 UPCs to:

Quaker Birthday Party Kit Offer
P.O. Box 750340
El Paso, TX 88575-0340.

In 6-8 weeks you should receive your Birthday Party with a Purpose Kit in the mail.

In addition, there are FREE party materials (invitations, banners, and thank-you notes) here. You can choose from Pirate, Green, Tea, Princess, or Cowboy themes.

Wednesday Bonus redbox Code

The code for a free rental from redbox is GTL456.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today's redbox code

The promo code for today is 2GR4N8. Enjoy your movie!

South Beach, here I come.

No, I am not starting a new diet (though it wouldn't be a bad idea), and, unfortunately, I'm not going on vacation. Price and I get to make the 4 hour drive (one way) to Miami together this Friday to get a passport for him.

We got a call from our adoption agency Friday afternoon that they'd received the final approval paperwork from immigration and would be sending a second request to the consulate in China for an appointment. They are expecting the appointment to be scheduled for the 7th, 8th, or 9th of April so we will probably be leaving very late Friday the 27th of March of very early in the morning Saturday, the 28th of March...less than 2 weeks from now!

We had to be within 2 weeks of traveling to be able to get a passport in a day (instead of waiting 6 weeks) and the earliest available appointment was this Friday. I'm going to call this morning to see if I can just come and wait like you do at the doctor's office if they have to "work you in", because we still have to send his passport off to Houston, TX for a couple days to receive his visa. This will be a very nervous time, waiting while we get that passport BACK.

Anybody up for a road trip? I really don't care to drive down for 4 hours and back for four hours alone.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Coke Zero fan?

If you are a Coke Zero fan and a mycokerewards.com member, then here's a deal for you:

Click the image above for more details.

Approval is imminent!

Of course, approval for our adoption has been imminent since the begininning technically, but I talked to Officer Hence in immigration this afternoon and he said our agency should have the approval form by tomorrow morning. That means we can request our consulate appointment again and will most likely have travel dates by the middle of this coming week. It's POSSIBLE we could be traveling by March 28th.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday's Surprise redbox Code

The code for today for redbox is JBG123. And, since you are following this blog because you respect my movie critiquing ability, :) my husband said Pineapple Express was a waste. He likes those "dumb, guy movies" usually, but turned this one off after 30 minutes. I personally can't believe he lasted that long. It fell under the heading "Glad it was free!".

Monday, March 9, 2009

One thing about adoption I CAN count on.

I got a call from immigration today asking me to correct a couple blanks on the form we recently submitted. I was advised by my adoption agency to write our daughter's name this way:
Last name: Yue
First Name: Mei
Middle Name: Hua

The blanks on these forms refer to Carmon's Chinese name. Well, as discussed in the post about how we chose our daughter's name, Mei Hua is actually her first name. Her last name, in Chinese, is Yu and the translation into English of her last name is Yue. So, we had to correct those 2 minor things and ship it off AGAIN. Thankfully, though, I was able to send this set of corrected forms directly to the office in Missouri instead of shipping it to Missouri via Chicago.

Here's the guarantee part: the post office guarantees it will be delivered between noon and 3 p.m. this Wednesday. I can finally say something in our adoption process is planned now. It wasn't able to go next day because the address is "enough off the beaten path" that it has to be flown nearby, then trucked to the exact physical location.

Now, since it is a DoD (Department of Defense) office all mail has to go through xray and Anthrax checks so, hopefully, by the end of the week, we will have our final approval.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Diet Coke Sale and Free Movie Ticket

This is the perfect week to take advantage of a sale at CVS or Walgreens to buy Diet Coke and get free movie ticket. Each drugstore has a net purchase price of $2.50 per 12 pack when you purchase 4 packs. Remember my post here, earlier this week? If you spend $8 on Diet Coke, you can submit your receipt for a free movie ticket. But, purchase your Diet Coke today or tomorrow because your receipt has to be dated between 2/27/09 and 3/09/09 (Monday). To sweeten the deal even further, use mycokerewards.com points to print a coupon for $1.00 off a purchase of a 12 pack. Then you will get 4 12 packs for $1.50 each at a total of $6 and get a free movie ticket out of the deal as well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Surprise! Redbox code for today

This code should get you a free rental today: 75EA16. Just for the record, the movie Blindness is NOT recommended. It has some VERY disturbing scenes.

Suffering in Silence...

I'm not really good at suffering in silence, but I'm doing my best. Blogging is technically silence, right?

I spoke to our immigration case manager on Tuesday and this was the party line he quoted me. Once our paperwork is received in Chicago (for the surprise form we had to fill out), it should take 10-14 days to make it's way to him in Missouri. Don't even get me started on that little process...where it's mailed by me to Chicago and then re-mailed from Chicago, ILLINOIS to MISSOURI. But, I digress! Once he receives it, it takes priority and should be completed within a day or two. Of course, that assumes that we properly filled it out and sent the correct documents with it. Did I already tell you that I already had all the documents I waited to receive by FedEx from our agency to fill out this form? So, I waited an extra, unnecessary day to mail off our paperwork. A day may not seem like much if you haven't adopted, but just try to remember what it felt like that last day you were pregnant and WAITING with eager excitement to deliver.

So, we are waiting again. If things progress on the schedule as my friends (who I should've been able to and wanted to travel with), we will likely be traveling in about 4-5 weeks.
Here's how it went for them:

  • Sunday, February 16 Received Travel Authorization from China
  • Monday, February 17 Adoption Agency requested consulate appointment from China
  • Tuesday, February 18 Consulate appointment confirmed for March 24 (5 weeks out)
  • Saturday, March 14 Our friends leave for China
  • Monday, March 16 Our friends will meet their daughter
  • Tuesday, March 24 Our friends will have their consulate ppointment
  • Thursday, March 26 Our friends come home from China with their daughter

So, if we receive our approval 14 days (just a guess) from when we mailed it on Thursday, February 26, that would be March 12. If we request our consulate appointment that day, we may receive our confirmation on March 15 (the day AFTER our friends leave for China). It is safe to assume that our consulate appointment would be near April 20 and we would, therefore, leave for China around April 11 and meet our daughter for the first time in person on April 13.

These are all estimates, but ,since I am a planner by nature, it helps me to have some kind of timeline in my head. It also sets me up for disappointment, but that won't be anything new, right?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Free Movie Ticket

I saw this promotion advertised in my People magazine this past week. I admit I am a celebrity rag junkie. My husband usually gets me a subscription for my Valentine's Day present. He acts like it's MY present, but I have to fight him off it to be able to read it. Anyway, here goes:

Spend $8 or more on the products pictured (Physicians Formula New Organicwear Superfruit Lip Gloss, Diet Coke, Campbell' s Soup, Olay Pro-X, Rachel Getting Married DVD, or TurboTax) and send original receipt(s) along with you home and email addresses to:

All Things Red

P.O. Box 4938

New Yor, NY 10185

The movie ticket can be applied toward a movie of your choice at participating movie theaters. Original store receipt with qualifying items circled and purchase date between 02/27/09 and 03/09/09 must be postmarked by 03/27/09. Limit one ticket per household. Allow 4-8 weeks for delivery of ticket.

BOGO 20 oz Coke coupon

If you enter the code 100869373819 into your My Coke Rewards Account, you will be able to print a BOGO coupon to use at Walgreens good on any 20 oz bottle of any Coca-Cola product.

Monday's Free Redbox Code

Today's code for a free rental is MS72K3.