Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tenley was found here, next to the gates, on Sept. 14, 2004.

Tenley slept here for 9 months.

A Long Exausting Day

Divide and Conquer

Jeff has shared his nasty cold with me, and last night and today have been positively icky. I can't breathe, I have a very sore scratchy throat and I feel like I was hit by a truck. Meanwhile, last night Tenley decided to load up her diaper with something green and foul smelling, and not at all the consistency we would like. She repeated this 3 more times before bed.

This left us with a small problem: we were suppposed to go visit Tenley's orphanage today, but it's a 4 hour bus ride- each way. I just wanted to crawl into bed and die, and we were pretty sure no one else in our group would want to be trapped on a bus with the kind of smells Tenley was making. Should we go, or not go? All of us go? One of us go? Could we, in good conscience, not go at all?? So, in the end, I decided to miserably get on the bus, and I left Jeff and Tenley to spend the day in or near the safety of the hotel (and a healthy supply of diapers & wipes).

If You Don't Like the Weather in Guangzhou, Wait 5 Minutes- It Will Change

Jeff & Tenley had a fine day at the hotel, with the only problem being that everytime they tried to leave for a little outing, Mother Nature rained on their parade- literally. Eventually Jeff gave up and decided to cruise every single floor of the hotel with Tenley in her stroller. When they got to the business offices on 4, a woman came out and was smiling at Tenley in all her cuteness and remarked to Jeff, "Your little boy is so cute!" Jeff laughed and said, "Yes, we think SHE's rather adorable too!" The woman blushed and apologized. Jeff told her not to apologize- it was the horrible haircut that made her look boyish. The woman agreed: "like old man". She inquired as to Ten's age, and then ran back to her office and returned proudly displaying pictures of her 10 month old daughter. Tenley also made friends with several business men in the lobby, and the all the guards by the elevators. They dropped off some laundry at the Valet desk, and later went to pick it up (our other laundry is at a fruit stand across the street- we may need to buy a kilo of lychees in order to pick it up). All in all a good day for them of playing, napping, eating and just hanging out.

Heart Wrenching

I boarded a bus and headed off with the rest of the group on the 4 hour drive through the Chinese countryside to see my daughter's orphanage. I felt like since we had the opportuinty to go, we owed it to Tenley in case she had questions about that part of her life.
The countryside was green and lush - mostly because of the copious amounts of rain. We passed fields of who knows what that were being tended by people in big woven hats, and several rice paddies. There were cows grazing along, and some were working. These weren't like Jerseys or Holsteins that we see back home, but more like the water buffalo or sebu variety with the Brahma bull hump and long ears and loopy horns. They all had rope halters on that connected to a ring in their nose, and some were hitched to homemade plows. We also passed pond after pond with these funny bubbling bobbers in the middle that we later found out were fish farms. Many of the fish farmers were also raising ducks and geese, and we saw huge flocks of them out happily waddling around in the rain.

Eventually we came to a small town (which turns our to have population of half a million) and drove through it's quiet streets to a large steel gate that led to the Yang Xi Social Welfare Institute. We picked up the Director and Assistant Director and went out to a local restaurant for lunch, where I had the best meal I've had since coming to China ( the bathroom scale says I've lost 7 lbs). Then we returned to the orphanage.

First we gathered in the reception room and the Director told us that is orphanage was opened in 2002 and that they are very proud of the modern facility. She pointed out the wall of photos of former Yang Xi children and asked us to please send photos. They are a small SWI and have about 80 children right now- most children from that orphanage get adopted. We talked about the formula and rice powder ratio for making their bottles- 7 scoops of each- which may be why many children have been refusing their bottles because we were making it too thin. We also saw their bottles and realized that the holes we had cut in our nipples to make them larger were inadequtae, because the SWI nipple openings were the size of a nice fresh pea.Then we went upstairs to see the nursury, and that was when I discovered why my daughter has such a mishapen head from the huge flat spot she's created laying on her back.

My precious little girl spent the first nine months of her life in a tubular steel crib with a 2 inch piece of plywood for a mattress. Nothing else. No mattress of any kind. No blankets or bumpers. Just a metal cage with a wood bottom. My heart broke. Tears streamed down my face as I asked which of the now empty end row of cribs had belonged to my child. She had lived in a room with white tile walls and two rows of windows that had pictures of Hello Kitty and Teletubbies taped to them. There are only 3 caregivers for all the children in that room. There is no playroom- if it's a nice day they put them out on the porch, or they set them near the door if it's raining. There were only a few toys and 2 or 3 walkers. I went over and pinched cheeks and tickled the little ones who still wait for a forever family and looked at me so piteously for any tiny bit of attention. I was so glad Jeff hadn't come: he would have been angry that this was how his child had lived, and he would have tried to carry 2 or 3 more out to bring home. I met Tenley's nanny, Guan Li Mei, and when she told me that Ten likes red toys I knew for certain that this was my daughter's caretaker (her favourite is the big red stacking cup, and she always gnaws on the red key!).

We stopped for pictures at the main gate to the SWI for pictures, since all but 3 of the girls adopted on this trip were abandond there. Then we visited a shop which sells knives created locally, and began the long bus ride home. I arrived home 3 1/2 hours later to my husband and new daughter who must feel as though she's won the lottery with her current crib and all the attention and toys she now has. Wait until she gets home to the US, then she'll think she's not only won the lottery, but died and gone to the Ritz as well.

Tenley's Day In

Tenley napping again.

Today while Mommy went to visit the orphanage with the other group members, Tenley stayed with me in the hotel. She had a bit of an upset tummy yesterday which manifested itself in her diaper several times so we decided that a four hour bus ride (each way) was not going to be good for Tenley and the other passengers if this little problem continued. The picture above is her latest nap. She has napped quite a bit of the day. She eats, naps, we play hard then she naps again, then she eats get the idea. We have tried three times to go out for a walk over to the park again but everytime we try it starts pouring rain. The third time we at least got around the block close to the back entrance to the hotel before it started raining on us that time. So much for outdoors.
She is becoming more and more comfortable with us and it shows in the amount of giggling that occurs when we play. She loves to be flown around the room and dumped into the soft feather pillows on the bed. She is scooting everywhere and is just about ready to crawl. Her tooth finally broke through and is just poking up enough to see now. No more chewing on my fingers now! Now she tries to amputate whatever goes in her mouth.
She is a very happy baby and loves to tell us all about her life. She just looks at us and babbles like she is telling us the best story. She cracks herself up when she is talking to her toys. Of course the keys are the favorite but she likes to talk to the sea horse with teething rings on it too! She is quite the character.
Hopefully when Mommy comes home tonight we will have some interesting information about Tenley's life at the orphanage before us. Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pool Time Today

Pool Time

After we came back from shopping, Tenley had a little liquid lunch then Michelle and I had some lunch. I was going to go with a few other people in our group in search of a cheap laundry place so I took Tenley with me so Michelle could have some alone time. The whole laundry thing turned into an hour or more out in the blast furnace heat and Tenley was so overheated by the time we got back it was time for the pool.

Being from on orphanage, the largest body of water Tenley has been in was our bathtub in the hotel room. She doesn't seem to mind that so we thought the pool would be like a big bathtub. Turns out she loves the water. At first we put her in the floating whale thing, shown above, and pushed her around. Then I lifted her out and held her with me and then the real splashing began. She got so into the water that she started talking to us all about it. Baby speak but we got the idea that she liked it. Hopefully we have added another waterbaby to our family and she will spend many days in water with us having fun.

"Why do you people keep pointing that thing at me?" "Don't you have anything better to do?"

Look out Mr. Knit Doll, you are in for a chomping from the one tooth wonder!

"Daddy says my legs are almost as long as his."

Keys are favored by Tenley

"Got my keys, what else do I need?"

Tenley Shops

Tenley enjoyed being chauffered around in the Baby Bjorn. She met some nice fish in one of the department stores and had many people staring at her and trying to sell her a Rolex.

Beijing Road Mall

Today the group went shopping on Beijing Road. This is sort of an outdoor mall type of place. The people watching was stellar but the deals were so-so.

First Manicure

First order of business this morning was a manicure for miss Tenley. She had some wicked long fingernails and really needed them cut. She didn't seem to mind at all...this time. Next time, now that she knows what's coming, she may not like it at all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Still Have The Touch

Tenley's bedtime, according to the orphanage, was 8pm. She sleeps through the night and gets up around 6am. So naturally, last night, we kept her up until almost midnight and then woke her up this morning to go and finalize the adoption. Today was busy. Miss Tenley had two longish bus rides, two interview with Chinese Officials, a passport photo taken by the local Police Dept. , a nap, a walk in the park and a dinner out with all the other families in our group here. That is a full day for a 9 month old cutie pie.

So it was no wonder that by almost 8pm tonight she was ready for bed. She was, of course, cranky and that was the sure sign. Sleepy but completely unwilling to surrender because something hugely important and fun might happen while she was asleep. Michelle and I made promises not to have any fun until she woke up tomorrow morning.

About 20 years ago I used to babysit for a cute little girl and my magic touch was that anytime, anywhere I could get that girl to sleep in 10 mins flat. No fussing no mussing. I have often bragged about this to Michelle over the years but I wondered if that would hold true when we got our daughter. I am here to tell you it still works. I have the touch. This kid was cranky and squirmy but I held her tight and whispered "Wo Ai Ni" (I Love You) and she was out in 10 mins.
Michelle decided now would be a good time to take a shower and I am sitting here staring at this little creature that is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. From the moment I saw her tiny picture I was in love. Today I promised the Chinese Gov't that I would never adandon her, never abuse her, and always take care of her. Just 4 days ago I couldn't really imagine my life with a child and now after just one day I can't imagine my life without her. She is amazing.

A Walk In The Park

This afternoon, after Tenley's nap and before dinner we went for a walk in the very large park next to our hotel. This park has three huge lakes, two very large restaurants, a Tai Chi area, an Exercise/Dance area, a pool, a kiddie amusement park (think fair rides) and tons of walking paths.

We took Tenley out for a spin in her new cheap stroller purchased at the Friendship Store just for this trip. It was warm but not too hot. But it was humid. Ten feet from the hotel door and I looked like I had just run a marathon. Of course to get to this park you have to cross the street in an underground passage and on our side there is no escalator, just stairs. Even umbrella stollers are heavy when you have a baby in them and you carry them up and down 200 stairs.

But I digress...the park, it was lovely. We strolled through all the areas looking at all the interesting things and people. But the people were the part that caught our attention the most. The looks they gave us ranged in everything from "What are you doing with one of our children" to "I know you are not good and loyal members of the communist party". I'm not kidding here it was hysterical. One lady was giving Michelle such dirty look that she almost fell off the approaching curb. That made us laugh. Most looked at us and then looked at Tenley with a confused look on their faces. If Michelle was by herself they might make the assumption that she was a nanny or babysitter. The looks were really funny.

When we got to the area where the dance class was going Tenley was fascinated by the women dancing with large fans. The music was nice and the dance was really beautiful. In this same area there were several couples, old and young, who were playing Hacky Sack. As we were walking we ran into a family out for a stroll with their pet bird. Apparently here in China it is Standard Operating Procedure to take the family bird out for a walk once in a while. Cage and all. This is hysterical and I hope to get a picture of it soon.

There was another area in the park where there were seven ping-pong tables set up and people were playing with bright orange paddles and balls. Most were older and they seemed to be having a really good time. It looked like a lot of fun. As we went through the park many people stared at Tenley. One family who had a little girl with them came right up to us and they were telling the little girl that this was a baby. Tenley stared at the girl and the little girl touched Tenley's very long eyelashes and then point to her own. All was well until she tried to touch Tenley's plastic keys. Well that just wouldn't do. Tenley snatched those away and moved them to the other hand away from the little girl. The older ladies laughed and said goodbye as we walked away. They were really nice.

Norman had told us a long time ago that foreign adoption is not spoken of in China so many people do not have any clue why a bunch of white people would have Chinese children. Here in Guangzhou, with so many adoptive families coming through, you would think people would be used to this by now. I guess not.

When someone gives us a dirty look or says something as we pass by we just smile knowing that our little girl will have a better life in America with her new mommy and daddy!

Today we got our first real smiles and giggles. She loves her keys and likes to be tickled. Unfortunately, tickling is what lead housekeeping to change our comforter after the massive pee accident due to tickling!

Look at the size of those feet! No socks that we brought will fit her feet. Good thing it's like 1200 degrees outside.

So far, as usual, if there is tedious work to be done Tenley sleeps through it. She slept through most of the paperwork at the Civil Affairs office today.

Next came a quick trip to the Chinese Passport office (aka: The Police Station) to get Tenley's official Chinese papers. This will allow her to leave the Country and enter the US as an American Citizen. Standing with us is Norman Niu, the director of US Asian Affairs which is the facilitator that we used to complete the adoption. Norman has been doing this for over 20 years and is known affectionately as Uncle Norman by all the families that he has helped start.

Paperwork had to be done to complete the Chinese portion of the adoption. After the paperwork we had to be interviewed twice, once by a notary official from the judiciary and once by the Provincial Registrar. After that Tenley was officially ours!

After a bath lounge time is required.

Miss Tenley gets her first bath which she desparately needed. She liked the water but was still very unsure of why we were rubbing it all over her.

Tenley's First Night With Us

After we got back to the hotel yesterday Tenley was still ok for awhile. We stripped her out of the outfit she was wearing that was 2 sizes too big, and wiped her down with a baby wipe because she was dirty, smelly and sweaty.
We examined her all over- she's a long skinny little thing, with long narrow feet just like her Mom! Her back- and her entire butt -are covered with Mongolian Spots: these are the things that cause parents to exclaim "My kid is covered in bruises!", but they really aren't -they're a birthmark that's common among Asians that is a bluish balck color and each one is almost perfectly round and they will fade away with time. She has a flat spot on her head from the position she sleeps in. One of the grandmothers traveling with the group has told us to rub her head on a circular motion a couple of time a day and she swears it will round right out since their skull bones don't fuse until 16 months. After examining her thoroughly, we changed her diaper and with that she nodded off right in the middle of our bed.
Tenley napped and we ordered room service, which we dove into like a pack of wild wolves. We both took showers, read our books, blogged and generally just hung out...for 3 hours! When she finally woke up she was a happy baby again. Still unsure of us. We tried to feed her and she ate a little. We put her on the floor and she played with her Stacking Cups and mostly she just wanted someone to hold her and tell her everything was going to be alright. She was in a strange place with strange people and strange sounds. Finally it was around 11:30pm when I told Michelle to go to bed and I would put Tenley to sleep. So she and I walked the floor a little while she tried to go to sleep. She just didn't want to miss anything. God knows she might wake up in yet another strange place. She finally was out. I did the arm drop test and it flopped like a jelly fish. I put her down in her crib and was just to the other side of the room when Michelle (Whose nose was stuffed all day) began snoring loudly. That did it. Tenley was back up saying what's going on? All it took was a reassuring touch on her tummy and she was back to sleep in a moment. It was really cute. She slept from about midnight all the way until 8am this morning. Then it was time for a bath!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tenley has one tooth coming in on the bottom front. She seemed very unhappy about this so we got out the Baby Orajel. While Michelle got it ready, Tenley had other ideas of how to make it work!

Stacking Cups

Nap was over so now it was time for some quality play with the stacking cups...a favorite among newly adopted daughters. This was the best advice we received from a family who had gone before us.

"Will someone please turn out the lights?"

Nap Time

Nap time again. After loads of tears.

Lounging on the Bed

"Who are these people and why do they keep looking at me?" "I know they're not members of the communist party!"

On the bus back to the China Hotel. Tenley looks bored!

New Mommies

All the new mommies and a couple of daddies. The two ladies in the middle are the Director and Asst. Director of the Yangxi Social Welfare Institution.

Tenley Sleeps

Everything was too much for Tenley so a nap was in order.

Gotcha Day!!

Gotcha Day!

Today was Gotcha Day! We met in the hotel lobby at 2:30pm and then boarded a bus to go to the Civil Affairs office of Guangzhou. There was a lot of nervous energy from all the families as Martin explained how things were going to proceed. They would bring the babies in one family at a time and then we would have a question and answer session with the agency assistant director. We went up to the 5th floor of the building and were placed in a small room. Martin told us where to stand when it was everyone's turn so pictures could be taken. Then he said, "Ok, let's start."
We were first. Everyone else in the room was glad we were first. Despite the fact that they all wanted their babies right now, they were very nervous about the whole thing. As the nanny brought Tenley in Martin introduced her by her Chinese name of Qiu Li Hao. Everyone took a deep breath as they handed this little angel to us. She didn't cry or squirm but just looked around at all the strange people she had never seen before. Many pictures were taken and we were blind from the flashes. As we moved out of the way for the next couple Tenley just seemed overwhelmed by the whole event.
That was enough for her. Within the next 5 mins Tenley went to sleep. 7 other families met their daughters today. Some cried, some looked around in wonder, some slept. For the most part they were happy. After all the babies had been presented, the asst. director was brought around to meet everyone and answer questions. We asked the usual where was she found, what time does she eat or sleep, when she is upset what soothes her, etc. Anything we could think of. Michelle had a set of questions all typed up so we just went by those.
After all the questions were answered we presented the Director and Asst. Director with lucky money, a box of See's candy and some new clothes for other babies at the orphanage. In a few minutes we were back on the bus and on our way back to the hotel. A full day for miss Tenley!

We are in labor...sort of

Today is the day. It is sort of like labor. There are stomach pains (hunger & nerves) and everyone is rushing around like crazy. In a few hours we will get on a bus, go to the civil affairs office in Guangzhou and be presented with a baby. Kind of like a lifetime achievement award.

We went downstairs, had some breakfast, talked to a few other soon to be parents and then came back to the room. Michelle decided she didn't know where the crib had been recently so she wiped the entire thing down with Lysol Disinfectant wipes. Good thing she did too. There were some dirty spots.

The only thing left to do now is calm our nerves. That will be accomplished with shopping. We are going back to the friendship store to see about getting a few items we still need. That should take up some time. Maybe there will be a foot massage later before the big moment. Who knows.

T -4.5 hrs until we leave to get Tenley. Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bed is ready! Michelle added the things we brought for Tenley like the stuffed Elephant nightlight, the blanket that my sister knitted for us and other toys that we brought. All that is missing is that cute little girl!

This is Tenley's Kitchen (our Bathroom). Everything is ready to wash and sterilize bottles, nipples and other assorted stuff she needs.
Posted by Zeus

This is Tenley's Market (our bar area). Michelle has all of her stuff set up and ready to go. Who knew there would be so much stuff!
Posted by Zeus

We got back from lunch and the hotel staff had delivered a crib to our room. We ate the lunch, paid the fees and accepted the crib. There's no turning back now! Tomorrow is Tenley's Gotcha Day!!
Posted by Zeus

Here we are in front of the Pearl River. We had just completed lunch and were off to the Friendship Store.
Posted by Zeus

Happy Birthday

During lunch USAA brought out a cake to celebrate my birthday (37) and the birthday of Cammie (6). They all sang "Happy Birthday" and together we blew out the candles. Then we cut the cake. There are over 40 families here and somehow the restaurant made this cake go around. It was pretty tasty!
Posted by Zeus

The Most Expensive Lunch Ever

Dim Sum Lunch
Posted by Zeus

Today started with the rest of the group arriving from the airport. Those of us who had done a pre-trip arrived in Guanzhou on Saturday. At 10:30am we all met in the lobby of the hotel and were met by the China Team who handed us name badges on USAA Lanyards. We all got in two buses and headed off to a restaurant for what is affectionately called "the most expensive lunch ever". So named because this is the point in the trip when we pay all of our fees to the orphanage, Chinese Gov't, US Gov't, and Hotel fees. We give all the money to USAA representatives and they will handle everything from here. During lunch quite a lot of information was covered though mostly for those traveling to other provinces to get their daughters. We will be staying in Guangzhou so most of the info did not apply to us.
Lunch was alright but it was quickly decided that we didn't much care for food that had a face that was still staring at us. It was quite unnerving. After lunch we headed off to the Friendship Store to make some purchases. Michelle and I bought a stroller for Tenley to use while we are here in China. If it survives the trip we may bring it home. After shopping a little we boarded the buses back to the China Hotel for our last free night as a couple. Tomorrow we meet Tenley!

Sneaky Chinese Night Visitor

Chinese Mouse
Posted by Zeus

So there we were, sleeping the sleep of the righteous. Next thing I know Michelle's mom hearing kicked in and she was up with a flashlight going through our suitcases. As it was 4:50am I decided that I should inquire about her strange activities. She said she heard something crinkling around our luggage. I listened but didn't hear anything. She tossed a few items around and then called it quits and came back to bed.
Well that did it for me. Something moving in my room?? No sleep was happening for me anymore. What if it was a snake? What if it was a scorpion? Whatever it was one thing was true, the monster had to leave. I only paid for three people in this room and another mouth to feed was out of the question. Especially since that mouth would likely be feeding on me while I was asleep.
I kept listening. Of course now every little sound caught my attention. First it was by the TV then it was by the Suitcases then it was by the sofa. I sat up to take full advantage of my range of hearing when I heard it behind me. Well, I couldn't get out of that bed fast enough! I grabbed the flashlight and started looking around. Of course this woke Michelle back up. We turned on the lights and I moved the night stand and out popped this cute little furry Chinese mouse.
Well, I was relieved. No snake, no scorpion and not very monstrous I might add. But very, very cute. Michelle lept into action grabbing the camera. I had to coax the little guy out again and this time he walked closer to us. Michelle snapped a pic or two and I caught him in the trash can. I was already to call housekeeping to evict the unpaid tenant when Michelle said "No, they'll kill him!" Next thing I know she was offering that mouse some food. If it was up to her we would build an in-room habitrail for the monster and he would become Tenley's first pet.
We compromised and decided to take the mouse out to the garden for a quick early morning release. We picked a lovely spot by the pogoda in the central area of the garden. Lots of grass to play in, bushes to hide in and most importantly wide open spaces nowhere near my room.
Having performed our good deed for the day we walked happily back to our room already remembering fondly the sneaky Chinese night visitor.

Sneaky Chinese Mouse comes out for a closer look. Maybe we had food!
Posted by Zeus

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Strange Dinner

We got to Guangzhou today around 12:45pm and went directly to the China Hotel, our home away from home for the next two weeks. After a brief look around the hotel we decided that a foot massage in the health center was in order. During our massage we spotted another couple from our group, Chris and Mary Francis Reynolds, out by the pool. When our massage was over we met them in the pool lobby area. After some conversation we decided to meet for dinner. We were going to walk to a park near our hotel and eat at a Chinese restaurant that was recommended by the hotel concierge staff.
When we got to the restaurant we were told that the dining room was full and we could wait or we could use a VIP room for 1000 Yuan. Since the staff's english was about as good as our chinese we had to ask them to repeat this several times. We were confused...was 1000 Yuan going to cover the room and dinner or would food be extra? After several repeats and no real answers, we thought we had a handle on the situation and agreed. We walked upstairs and were presented with a room that could have easily handled ten people. We had a private kitchen, private restroom and a staff of five. After we started looking at the menu the nagging doubt started to creep back in...did we actually know what we had gotten ourselves into? What was the ultimate cost going to be? Since the staff in the room spoke no english they enlisted the help of another senior hostess who spoke english. While answering questions about the food Mary Francis finally was the one who nailed down that the room and dinner was all included for 1000Yuan. Not bad so we decided to continue on.
The ladies came out and inquired about drinks. We all had green tea and the Chris ordered a beer. Michelle ordered iced tea and they brought all four of us a glass filled with ice that they had poured hot green tea over. Yum! Then the english speaking hostess came out and said we had already ordered a special roasted chicken and did we want the whole chicken or a half? That was odd, no one had actually ordered anything. Then it hit me, when Michelle asked a question about the chicken they thought that was what she ordered. One down, three to go. Mary Francis ordered steamed veggies and Chris was in the midst of ordering BBQ Pork and Brisket when the senior hostess finally informed us that this was family style. One big dish for everyone to share. Pretty soon we realized that we'd ordered a lot of food. I ordered the stewed prawns and tomato sauce. This is when the dinner upselling began. At home some idiot fast food worker will ask you if you want fries with that. Here in China it began with a question..."Do you like seafood?" Then she started listing all the stuff we could get that was A-number one. Everytime we said no, she came up with something else. We were just laughing. Everytime one of us opened our mouth to ask a question another item was assumed to be ordered for all of us. By the time dinner arrived we decided we had better start eating and stop talking before they tried to sell us a car or some jade earrings.
The food was good but strange to say the least. The steamed veggies turned out to be Broccoli. The prawns still had a face and legs. The pork came with sugar for dipping. Thank God we had steamed rice. Dessert was an interesting item as well. It is a traditional dessert dish called Birds Nest. A strange gelatinous goo that you pour liquid sugar and either almond milk or coconut milk into. Oh and it's served warm. Sounds vile but oddly enough tasted good. While we were eating our birds nest the senior hostess approached each one of us individually and handed us her business card. A very important thing in most Asian cultures. We thanked her and took the cards. The bill came and after the service charge was 1,096 Yuan (about $133.00 US). We paid and decided a quick departure was in order before they started trying to sell us more food or gifts or half interest in the restaurant.
We had a nice walk back through the park and back to the hotel. We are meeting everyone tomorrow morning at 10:30am for the most expensive Dim Sum brunch ever. More on that tomorrow. When we got back to the hotel, true to form after eating Chinese food, Michelle said, "I'm hungry."

Welcome to Guangzhou!

This is Sarah from the China Team. She met us at the Guangzhou East Train station. She will be with us for the next two weeks as well as a whole bunch of others on the Team. There are about 36 families for them to watch over. Welcome To Guangzhou!
Posted by Zeus

I Have Found Our 1st "Squatty Potty" in China

....on a moving train.

For those of you who have never traveled to Asia before, you will most likely encounter that unplesant fixture known as "The Squatty Potty" at some point in your journey. The porcelain commode that we are used to seeing in our homes and public toilets everywhere are referred to in the East as "Western Toilets". The Squatty Potty is exactly what it sounds like: a hole in the floor, often oblong or teardrop shaped, over which you squat and do your business. If you're a guy, and your mission is #1 - no problem. If you're a girl, or your mission is #2...things could get ugly- literally. For women, the challenge is not to pee in your shoe or all over your pants (which is why many women wear skirts). For the guys, your challenge is to aim into the hole...and if you miss- oh well! that's going to be somebody else's problem.

Which is probably why the we could easily describe the train's Potty as less than sanitary. Filthy, disgusting and vile are more appropriate. When I opened the door to the Potty, the floor was covered with pee, and it looked like the walls in back of the Potty had taken some hits as well. The Potty does not flush, and it's shallow hole was already stuffed full of toilet paper. This left me in a quandry: it's difficult enough to pull your pants & undies down far enough not to pee into them or your shoe, but how to keep them from touching the pee soaked floor at the same time??? There was no help for it- they would have to come off. So I carefully removed my shorts one leg at a time making sure I didn't touch the inside with the now totally disgusting soles of my shoes. Then I repeted this with the underware. I was now standing half naked on a speeding train inside of a filthy compartment the size of a phone booth, and I realized that there was no safe surface on which to set these items that I didn't fear would leave them covered with bacteria and probably cause me to contract 7 venerial diseaeses simultaneously. So I put them on my head. At least I knew where that had been. I then put my years of expensive ballet training (thanks Mom) to good use by assuming a nice 2nd position, plie'ing over the Squatty Potty, and using the facilities without peeing in my shoe!

When I had finished, I reached over and gave the toilet paper a well practiced yank. Unfortunately, it was not actually attached to a spindle and it rolled right out of its holder, bounced merrily into three pee puddles as it crossed the floor, and came to rest right in the middle of the Squatty Potty. I sighed. I tore off the dry piece still attatched to my hand in mid air, tidied up, and left the roll right where it was.

That would have to be somebody else's problem.

Terms of Endearment

Everyday we have breakfast in the hotel restaurant partly because it is convenient but mostly because it is free! There is a nice fountain at the front of the restuarant and the breakfast buffet is pretty good. The staff is friendly and always there to assist in whatever you need. After this things take a darker turn. There is a music track that plays in the background and it is relentlessly playing the same song over and over again. People are talking and eating so you don't really pay that much attention at first.

The next thing you know, you are plowing through your breakfast like it's the first meal you've seen in a month. Faster and faster and you have know idea why. Then you realize subconsciously you are trying to get out of there as fast as you can to avoid hearing that song again.

Yesterday, I finally asked one of the waitresses about it and she told me it was the theme from Terms of Endearment (a perfectly awful and depressing movie with Shirley McLaine from the early 80's) and that the song was a favorite among the wait staff therefore they just press the repeat button on the CD player. These people are insane.

Or perhaps they have a little bit of mad genious in them. I guess if you play the same song over and over again the table turnover might go quicker allowing them to squeeze in more and more guests. Whatever the reason, I will never again be able to hear that horrible song without thinking of Hong Kong.

By the way, for those of you keeping score, it is sunny today and there is actually blue sky showing through the clouds. Of course it would happen this way, we are leaving Hong Kong today.

Friday, June 24, 2005

There's an Ark Being Built on Canton Rd.

This is the view out our window today. Look at the "stripes" over the trees in the bottom of the picture - that's not mist, or fuzz, or haze- that's the rain.
Posted by Zeus

We met a man named Noah today, and animals have been seen wandering two by two down Reclamation St. It may sound extreme, but if you were here you'd believe it!

Today's agenda: the Jade Market, the Big Buddah on Lantau Island, and the Po Lin Monestary (conveiniently located next to the Big Buddah). What actually occurred: the Jade Market, a spin around the mall, and a loooong nap.

Here's what happened: We woke up to the sound of booming, rolling thunder and bright flashes of lightening. We sat fixated in front of our window watching the clouds get darker and darker and lower and lower. The rain was coming down in sheets, and when the wind changed it would splatter the window and obscure the view for a few moments. And speaking of an obscured view, as said clouds rolled in, we watched the buildings dissappear one by one until we could barely make out the tower of the Peninsula and the bay had completely vanished. This went on and on, punctuated by the thunder that shook the windows and the bright flashes of lightening that felt as if you were looking directly into a camera flash. Apparently, it was not going to let up. We sighed- there was no point in going to the Buddha: he sits on top of a mountain on top of 286 steps and is 118 ft tall. With today's cloud cover, Buddha would have his head in the clouds- literally. Not to mention that it would involve 2 subways and a 45 minute bus ride up a winding mountain road in the driving rain to get to the "headless" Buddha. Not our idea of a good time. Especially not Jeff's: he's sick. Red sore throat, sinuses on overdrive, and starting to feel like he was hit by a truck. I am unwilling to compromise his health, as we will be receiving a baby in 2 days that I maintain will want only Daddy, and I can't have Daddy getting the Little Empress sick too. So, we weighed our options, and judged our swimming ability sound enough to attempt a trip to the jade market.

As we headed to the front doors, a nice hotel security man informed us that it was a "Red Rain" alert. At first we wondered if Donald Rumsefeld had immigrated. However no, it's the just the Chinese color coded weather alert system: Red Rain indicates a certain level of water an hour, a percentage of runoff, and advises that persons only go out on necessary business and do so with extreme caution. We deemed the Jade Market necessary. One step outside the front doors, and we deemed a taxi necessiary. Once again, our taxi driver spoke not a word of English and had no idea where we wanted to go. But this time we whipped out our handy dandy tourist map and pointed to the Jade Market, and we were rewarded with an "Ohhh! Yoichoichoi!!" and off we sped!

The Jade Market is near the Temple Street Night Market and the guide books merely describe it as "covered". We did not have much hope for this, and given the weather conditions, we had visions of becoming drenched as we made our way through rows of easy ups and patio umbrellas with tarps draped over them. Luckily, the Jade Market is in an actual building- it looks like an old packing house with a metal roof, so we were well covered and quite comfortable. We arrived about 10:30, and many vendors were still setting up their wares. Going early is a good thing, because the vendors are willing to deal, and all want you to be their first sale. I think it also helped that it was a weekday and the weather was so bad that not many people were there. The sales people are pushy, but happily willing to haggle, and even when you don't haggle the prices are good. We managed to drop $1,000HK in one hour, and were sorry we hadn't brought more money.

When we had used our last disposable dollar, we headed out into the rain and wandered around several streets looking for the taxi stand we had used the night before. I enjoyed the walk: it wasn't raining too hard, and we were walking through streets that are what I expected "old" Hong Kong to look like: Narrow streets with rusty neon signs written in Chinese, 3-5 floor walk ups - the kind of thing we would deem abject poverty and would only see in sections of LA where you wouldn't get out of your car, the apartments are above small store fronts that sell all manner of goods and little side walk restaurants with huge pots of rice and congee and things in tanks you can select for lunch. You pass alleys filled with junk and gaggles of men smoking, and occasionally someone has set up shop selling anything from food to fortune telling under a tarp in one. The streets don't drain adequately, and when you look up, there is laundry hanging on poles from peoples windows. I finally realized that the whole HK experience has reminded me of a scene from Blade Runner.

We eventually found a taxi, and headed back to the hotel to get Jeff some cough drops and a nap. Tomorrow morning we'll be off to the train station and will arrive in Guangzhou around 12:45 (9:45pm PDT). Then the USAA China Team will take us to the China Hotel where we'll get settled in and start setting up to receive Tenley on Monday.

"If God had wanted me to be a duck...

So much rain!
Posted by Zeus

...He would have given me webbed feet." Which would have come in handy today. Today began wth rain. Not the pleasant, oh look, its raining kind of rain. More like the head for the hills grab all you can carry kind of rain. Michelle was sure she saw a Chinese Junk floating down Nathan Road in the middle of Hong Kong.

Today's agenda was to head out to the Western Market, then the Man Mo Temple and then the Jade Market. We grabbed our umbrellas, confident we could handle a little moisture from the sky, and hit the road to the Star Ferry terminal. Less than two blocks away from our hotel we were completely soaked to the skin from the waist down. We looked like we tried to wade across Victoria Harbor rather than take the ferry. The rain was relentless. The farther we walked the harder the rain came down. We finally got to the ferry terminal, purchased our tickets and waited for the next ferry. Given all the rain and wind, the ride across the harbor was not as rough as we thought it would be. If it was a clear day, the view from the top deck of the ferry would have been great.

We got off the ferry and walked around a bit until we got our bearings. We took the trolley a few blocks up and got off at the Western Market. Not exactly what we thought it would be but still it was inside and air conditioned. It was like a very small mini-mall inside. We went upstairs and visited various fabric vendors. We made a few purchases, looked around the bottom floor briefly and then left. Back out into the rain. We had lunch at a French cafe type place and then went walking to the Man Mo Temple. The rain was not as bad now but we still needed our umbrellas. There were so many people out walking that we kept getting run over. We also learned that Michelle is also the perfect height to be gouged in the eye by an umbrella passing by.

We got to the Man Mo Temple and took a few pics outside. We went inside and the man there indicated that we could take pictures inside. This temple is dedicated to the gods of Literature (Man) and Martial Arts (Mo). An interesting thing about this temple is the hanging spiral incense that burns constantly. It was very sweet smelling and we both wondered just how long it would take to burn through a whole spriral of incense. Michelle snapped a few pictures and we left. We checked out the souvenier shop next door and it turned out to be attached to another part of the temple. We looked in and found a whole wall covered with plaques honoring the dead. They were all numbered and had chinese names on them and some even had a picture. It was very interesting. I am not sure where there numbering started but the last one on the wall that was blank was 8,110.

We left Man Mo and headed back to the ferry terminal to cross the harbor back to our side. We were going to the Jade Market. Unfortunately, the rain had completely soaked Michelle's Teva sandals and they were beginning to rub a raw spot on her ankle. We decided to detour to the hotel and grab a bandaid. We realized once we were in our room that the Jade Market closes really early and we had missed for today. Something to add to tomorrow's agenda.

After a quick nap we were off to dinner at Murphy's Irish Pub. Irish pub in Hong Kong??? Aside from the fact the color scheme inside the pub was wrong, it was a typical pub. It even came with a loud, drunk Irishman. He was sitting with another man and an asian woman. My uncharitable comment for the day came when I asked Michelle how much that woman would have to drink before the loud man became attractive. Not much was apparently the answer because only moments later she was kissing him. Dinner was good and I promised Michelle that tomorrow we would actually eat Chinese food.

After dinner we took cab to the Temple street Night Market. Think Chinese Swap Meet. It was blocks of claptrap and trinkets all for a very reasonable price. We walked the entire street up and down. We made a few small purchases and then took a cab back to the wrong hotel. Turns out that in a city owned and occupied by the British for 150 years, where english was spoken widely, we got the one cab driver who didn't speak english and didn't have a clue what or where our hotel was. He first took us to the Regal Hotel. If I had known where we were at that point we would have gotten out and walked. I told him that was the wrong place and repeated our hotel name. He nodded his head and off we went again. This time we stopped at a bus turnout so he could call in to his dispatcher. The best part was when he handed me the microphone to say the name of our hotel. I had to do this twice. Finally, the dispatcher told him how to get to our hotel and we were off again. Really it was a nice city tour that we didn't know we were getting.

We're back at the hotel now and it is 12:45am so I guess we will sign off and go to bed now. Tomorrow should be another fun, rain filled day in Hong Kong.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wing Lok Street. An interesting little side street on our way to the Man Mo Temple.
Posted by Zeus

This is the spiral hanging incense inside Man Mo temple.
Posted by Zeus

Man Mo Temple
Posted by Zeus

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hello Taiwan, Hello Hong Kong

Taiwan Airport 5:30am
Posted by Zeus

The Taiwan airport was still pretty quiet at 5:30 am, so we followed the herd of transferring passengers and found our gate. We did a quick re-arranging of some of our carry on luggage and then I went on re-con to find a money exchange, a telephone & something to drink. I found the bank and traded $8 for $220 Taiwan stopped at a little store to grab a Coke Light (Chinese Diet Coke) and attempted to buy a card for the pay phones at 3 locations. No luck. Finally I noticed the signs for EVA's lounge, so I followed them and was rewarded with a phone card and a much nicer place to spend the remaining 3 hours in the airport. I went back to the gate and fetched Jeff, and the we settled into to EVA lounge.

The EVA Lounge in Taiwan is really nice, because that's their home base. This lounge had comfy chairs and tabels and big screen TVs, a phone room, buniness center, video game room, toilets, showers, baby room, and a buffet kitchen. We grabbed a snack and I made use of the phone room to call our hotel in Hong Kong and arrange an airport pick up. I also called my Mom to tell her we were there- the connection wasn't so great, but she seemed really surprised and happy to hear from us.

Our 3 hours flew by and it was time to get on another plane. This time we were in Laurel Class, and I really wish we had these seats on the international flight!! These were the ones you always see on Quantas and Virgin Atlantic commercials that lay out almost flat into a bed. Very Nice. Again they served a full 3 course meal (despite the fact that it was only a 1 hr 20 min flight) and I decided to recline the bed and get the most out of the last 30 min of the flight. I lucked out- the weather in Hong Kong was so bad that we had to circle for an hour, so I got a decent nap in!

After we landed, we saw an airline representative holding a sign with Jeff's name, so we picked up our message and map from her and went to fetch baggage and meet the car. We were admitted to HK with no problems, and didn't even have to stop at customs. We found our hotel desk, and the nice man informed us that our car was here, took the luggage trolley from me and whisked us off to our Mercedes. The driver informed us that the drive would take about 35 minutes. It was still raining, but Jeff got video as we drove into Kowloon.

The New World Renaisance is attatched to a mall (I think everything in Hong Kong is attatched to a mall), and is right on the water. We checked in and upgraded to a newly refurbished room on the Club Levels. The room is on the seventeenth floor with a view of other buildings! It has a king size bed (as hard as a rock- seriously- you sit on it and the mattress doesn't even give!), desk with fax, TV with DVD player, 3 phones, large bathroom, and comes with robes and slippers.

After we got settled and our luggage arrived, we went back downstairs to exchange money, and book our train tickets to Guangzhou on Saturday. We then popped into the little grocery store in the attatched mall and picked up some snacks and more bottled water.

At that point we were both beat and decided a shower and quick nap was in order so we could get up and have dinner, watch the buildings on Victoria Harbor do their nightly light show and maybe visit the night market before bed.

The alarm went off and I didn't move. Jeff got up because he had a splitting headache-the kind that makes you naucious. He took medicine and another shower. I slumbered on. We finally got up at 2 something am, and ordered room service, and we're thinking it's time to go back to bed so we can get up again in a few hours and see some of Hong Kong.

We Are Outa Here

Now THIS is a stork!
Posted by Zeus

We finally left. After the disaster last Thursday, we bought actual tickets and headed off to LAX on Monday night for our 1:20 am Tuesday flight that would finally get us to China.

Our check in at the Bradley terminal went pretty smoothly- Jeff was trotted off to have the bags double x-rayed while I checked us in at EVA. No problems.

EVA (like most airlines) has a nice little lounge for it 1st & Business Class passengers, so we went upstairs to enjoy to comfy chairs & complementary snacks for the hour & a half before boarding. When it was our turn, we trooped back downstairs and made our way down the jetway to our stork. It was then that I was gifted with the realization of a tiny fantasy in my life: I got to sit in the dome on the top of the 747. The upstairs on the big plane has always been some kind of cool mystery to me, and I was at long last rewarded with a seat in it!

Our seats were farly large with footrests and a pretty good recline ratio. What was really nice was the extra long feather pillows and down blankets that came with our seats! Not to mention the slippers and the little goody bag from L'Occitane with lotion, lipbalm, a toothbrush & paste, hairbrush, and fluffy velour eyeshades. Jeff more than had enough leg room, but you still had to climb over the asile person if you were sitting on the window. As soon as we were in the air the flight attendants began serving dinner (which we had pre-ordered on line...and we were pleasantly surprised that they had our order correct!)...dinner took about 2 hours for 3 courses and 2 hot towels, and as soon as it was over everyone went to sleep...except me. I was the lone reading light in the entire dome. I read about 1/2 a book and the got up to stretch and ended up talking in the galley to Aries and Happely the flight attendants for the next 3 hours. Eventually I decided to nap too, and I curled up under the down blanket until Jeff woke me at the 2-hours-to -go-time-for-breakfast mark. The flight attendants asked if we would fill out surveys and say nice things about them- which we did- and then they gifted us with a bottle of Dom Peringnon as a celebration of our adoption!

All in all it was a good flight! The seats were comfy and the food was tasty and miracle of all miracles: Jeff slept for almost 6 hours!

We landed in Taiwan at 5:30 am- the long part of the journey to China at an end.

Monday, June 20, 2005

These are the Disney Princesses that we chose to paint on Tenley's closet door. Aurora and Mulan still have a few details to be finished when we get home but overall they came out really nice.
Posted by Zeus

Being home for the last couple of days has given us a chance to finish more in Tenley's room. We had some letters painted with ladybugs to hang above her crib and they came in today.
Posted by Zeus

Regrouping and the New Plan

With the assistance of Mom, the Super Travel Sleuth, we have aquired plane tickets to China! Mom found a great deal on EVA (the airline of Taiwan) and we decided to spring for business class since it's going to be 15 hrs in a plane, and eventually another 15 hrs with a squirmy 9 month old. The flight leaves out of LAX and goes to Taipei and then on to Hong Kong. Sadly, it's about 5x more expensive than Meg's Buddy Passes. Worse, the first flight we could get was on the 21st. This means that Beijing is pretty much a lost cause: a) we're in Hong Kong and getting to Beijing would require a 3 hr plane trip or a 24 hr train trip, and b) we'd only have 2 days in Beijing. I'm heartbroken.

The truth is that we should have had a back-up plan to begin with. Just like people who are shocked and feel a great sense of loss when the computer they thought was running just fine up and crashes taking all of their data with it; our trip up and crashed and took our plans to see Beijing with it.

I was so crushed over not being able to get to Beijing and see The Wall, the Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace that Jeff threw himself into trying to find reasonable airfare to get us to Beijing even if only for 2 days. This has proved harder than it sounds. The great internet site I have for cheap flights within China only serves the mainland, so there are no flights to Hong Kong. We have found several internet sites that do have HK flights, but none with e-tickets, so we'd have to find a way to get the tickets. We tried calling the airlines directly (I shudder to see our phone bill) but they quoted us $750pp for a 1 way flight to Beijing! Ouch! We have one last line in the water, but if we don't have firm tickets by noon tomorrow, we'll be scrapping Beijing and making hotel reservations in Hong Kong.

It's not that Hong Kong is bad, on the contrary, it's an amazing city with it's own rich history... it's just that it isn't the China we wanted to see. And there really isn't anything of that China anywhere near HK. I can't believe we're going to go all the way to China and not see the Great Wall.... however I may have found a junk we can take a ride on! It's also more expensive than Beijing. Oh, well- we'll make the best of it and plan another trip to see all of the things we're going to miss!!! Kirsty, the really fabulous Canadian school teacher who lives in Beijing and found us an apartment to stay in has already graciously offered her apartment to us for a subsequent visit- and I will take her up on it!!

So the plan as it currently stands is:

EVA Airlines Flight BR0015 Departing LAX at 1:20 am on June 21
arriving Hong Kong at 11:30am June 22

Either hanging out in HK for 2 days and then taking the train to Guangzhou, or flying to Beijing for 2 days and then flying to Guangzhou.

June 26 (happy 37th birthday Jeff!), rendezvous with USAA and the rest of Groups 103,104, 106p at the China Hotel and begin the adoption!

July 8, complete the adoption process and take the train to Hong Kong.

EVA Airlines Flight Br0870 Departing HK for Taipei at 3:30pm
EVA Airlines Flight BR0012 Departing Taipei for LAX at 6:40pm

Arrive home in the USA with Tenley on July 9, 2005 at 3:50pm

Let's hope the 2nd time is the charm!!!!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Premature Labor

Looked like a stork but was just some other big ugly gray bird.
Posted by Zeus

All Documents needed for China - Check
Referral in hand from China - Check
Confirmation of travel date for group 103 - Check
More money than we have ever seen before, ready to go - Check
Airline tickets for travel - MIA

While we hope it's not, this could be a once in a lifetime trip to China so there are some things we want to see. Therefore, we too, are pre-tripping to Beijing. Since we are using Megan the Sky Waitress' buddy passes to fly standby, Michelle and Megan have been watching the flight loads diligently to ensure that we'll get on the flight of our choice. Friday, June 17th was selected as the day for us! Unfortunately, Friday's flights went bad. The flight filled up and it looked like we would have no chance of getting on. The decision was made to push back one day and go Thursday, June 16th.

One day doesn't seem that much earlier but when you are doing a trip like this it might as well have been two weeks earlier. We were not ready! Last minute packing, directions to others helping with our cats, and general craziness made the time go by really fast. Wednesday night came and we decided to take a quick nap and resume the packing. 3 hours later we were up and moving. Soon after that we were done and in the car ready to start our big 4:30am. Megan drove us to LAX, put us on the plane to San Francisco and we were off! We landed in San Francisco and started our 5 hour wait until our flight to Beijing. There was lunch, a little nap and much people watching.

Then the desk crew arrived and the boarding began. The rush was on. This flight was over sold in coach. Almost 65 people had tickets that did not know if they were getting on this plane. We were not worried as we were on standby for business class. Traditionally once all the people were done upgrading from coach into business or first there were some seats left. Those seats usually went to those on standby. Business and first were not over sold on this flight so we were not worried about getting on.

Apparently tradition did not sit well with this desk crew and they decided to break tradition and began upgrading people randomly to open up coach seats for those who bought tickets for coach. This did not help us at all. When it started looking like everyone was boarding and they had not called our names yet, Michelle decided to go an inquire as to whether or not we needed to check in with them. She was cut off and dismissed by a very rude and harried crew member. She looked at Michelle and snipped "We'll deal with NRSAs after everyone else is boarded". That was that! At this point there was a bit of panic starting to set in. Surely we would still get on this flight? This was a very large plane and of course there was enough room all of us. We watched as the waiting area started to get empty and we were still sitting there. Finally, when all was said and done 7 people did not get on this flight. The two of us on standby and 5 others who had purchased tickets but were unlucky enough not to get boarded.

We were devastated. We stood there stunned, watching the flight we were supposed to be on backing away from the gate without us. Finally, we collected ourselves and headed to the baggage claim to locate our luggage which we secretly feared was on it's way to China. We hung out near baggage carousel 3 which sat silent and unmoving and waited for our lonely luggage to appear on it. After 20 minutes, I went in search of our luggage, and Michelle started to figure out a plan. I headed to the baggage services desk, and sure enough, our luggage was there! That was a relief. Except that the idiot woman at United who checked us in stapled Huang Yao's baggage tickets to our envelope and the guy didn't want to give me our bags! It was only because I could describe them, and their contents in detail and the fact that Michelle had put obnoxious neon lucite yellow-green luggage tags with our address on them- which I could recite- that he finally gave them to me.

By the time I got back to Michelle, she had recovered our abandond reservation at the LaQuinta Inn, and we decided to rent a car so we could go into the city for dinner. We purchased a Smarte Carte (worth every penny of it's $3) and trecked off to the car rental desk to fetch our tiny plastic Chevy and head to the LaQuinta to begin making use of their free internet connection to find a way to China!

We checked in, and unloaded the laptop and got to work. Michelle's Mom was already on the case and calling us with everything she could find. Unfortunately, our 3 hrs of sleep and the emotions of the day were beginning to take their toll. We decided to put down the cell phones and the laptop and go get some dinner. Neither of us had the strength to make the 17 mile drive to the Fog City Diner, so we settled for the early bird dinner at the Hungry Hunter 2 blocks away. The food helped, and we resumed the rescue operation as soon as we got back.

Unfortunately, the damage was done: not on the 16th flight; the original flight of the 17th was even worse- coach was over sold by over 70, and now business was oversold; all of the Sat & Sun flights were as bad as Friday. We now had to face the awful fact that we were going to have to buy tickets. Fortunately, Michelle's Mom had sleuthed out a good deal on EVA, but it was going to Hong Kong instead of Beijing...and we couldn't leave until the 21st. Not only were we about to spend a small fortune to go to China, we were about to miss seeing Beijing. To top it off, the flights home from San Fran on Friday were packed and the first flight we stood a reasonable chance of getting on was at 10:00 at night! This was the final straw, so we took showers and Tylenol Simply Sleep, shut off our cell phones, and called it a day at 7pm.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Warning! Baby room disaster in progress. Full packing mode being shown here. The Feline Assistant in the background is no doubt preparing to remove something from the room and eat it.
Posted by Zeus

Packing Hell

Who knew that a little person could need so much stuff? Apparently, not us. Michelle is packing us for this trip. I am not allowed to pack as I have routinely end up at our destination one too many times without pants, a belt, shoes, etc. Therefore, I have been banned from the packing duties. FOREVER!

Michelle is racing around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to pack for three people, one of whom she doesn't know and hasn't seen. What sizes to pack, how many diapers to take, a variety of bottles were up for discussion and don't get me started on the clothes. There was a pile of clothes and diapers on one part of the floor, bottles, nipples and sippy cups on another part of the floor and the cats were loving it. So much to see, smell and play with! They were in heaven.

At one point Beeps' (our little cat) life was in jeopardy due to the fact that she had removed a package of diapers from the suitcase, dragged them into the hall and began killing them. As if that wasn't enough, apparently a box of Cherrios was evil and had to be dealt with kitty style and 3am. The more Michelle packed the more Beeps unpacked.

There was also a point during the packing when I asked Michelle if she secretly had a medical degree as she resembled a walking pharmacy. Michelle replied that all LeDuc women believe that they are a doctor or at the very least as smart as any doctor. We have enough drugs for any ten people. No ailment can stand in our way on this trip. Viruses beware!

So we are a few days away from leaving and Michelle carries on the packing duties. Me, I continue to wander around looking at things that need to be put away and thinking I'll get to it later.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tenley's cubbies are filling up! This represents only 1/3 of the books we have for her, and about 1/2 of her toys. We may need bigger cubbies.
Posted by Zeus

Wild animal! Caution: do not stick your fingers through the bars...particularly not if you have a pastrami sandwhich!
Posted by Zeus