Archive for November, 2006

Mama got sick

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Well, I finally seem to have caught this horrid cold that Anna picked up on the plane.  I don’t know why Joe doesn’t have it.  But I could have predicted I’d start to feel crummy tonight, because I have to work a full day tomorrow. 

Suffice it to say, today went OK.  I went out for a couple of hours shopping, and got home just as Joe had to leave.  Anna only fussed about 15 minutes, then was ready to play and eat dinner.  I started to feel crummy about that time, and just got worse.  My throat hurts so bad I can hardly stand it.  If this is what Anna felt like last week, I can certainly understand her mood.

I’ve taken some cold medicine, so I’m very bleary eyed, and am not all that sure what I’m writing, so this is all for now.  I’ll try to put in the pictures I took today of one of Anna’s very cute little outfits from China tomorrow.

The first long day

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

I konw everyone is waiting with bated breath to hear how the first long afternoon alone went for Anna and me.  The short answer is, it went OK.  Not wonderfully, but OK.

Joe and Anna had another broken night, up again between 2 and 5, I think.  We decided this morning that we have to start getting her up earlier in the AM so she has time for a decent nap, and is still tired at bedtime.  So, she had some breakfast, then Baba had to leave for class around 11:45 AM.  We cried at the door and around and about the kitchen for about an hour again today. anna-cry-1.JPG  Then, she went and got her little Bob Dog shoes again, and brought them to me, so I sat her on my lap and helped her put them on.  Somehow, after that, we were OK. 

We got out the big Legos, and played with those for a while.  She has become fascinated by my camera, and comes running over every time I get it down, so it’s getting harder to get good pictures of her.  Thus the weirdly angled picture of the Legos, and the picture of Porter with the Legos.

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She kept running over to sit in her little rocking chair today, but as soon as I got the camera, she’d jump out and run to me, so I could never capture that.  We ate some lunch, and then I decided to try taking her out in public.  I got her jacket on, and put mine on, and she then excitedly ran to the office to get not only her backpack, but the empty carton that all of her board books came in (it has a little handle on it, so it’s meant to be carried, too).  Since both of her hands were occupied, she couldn’t hold my hand to walk down the stairs outside, so I had to pick her up along with all of her accoutrements and carry the whole circus to the car.  I strapped her into her carseat, and she didn’t complain all the way to St. Johnsbury.

We headed in to Frogs and Lily Pads, the local children’s store, to look for a stroller.  She wanted to bring in both her backpack and the box, but I limited her to the box.  She behaved very well there, because they had a little wooden train track and trains set up.  She picked up two of the little train pieces and carried those around the whole time.  Which meant I had to carry her box, of course.  We found a nice jogging-type stroller with large inflatable wheels (necessary for traversing our gravel roads!)  We bought it, and headed home.  Naturally, she fell asleep in the car seat on the way home, and was pretty much unrousable, so I carried her in and put her in her crib for a nap.  I was able to completely assemble the stroller, have a half hour conversation with a friend, and eat some noodles before she woke up again. 

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I fed her as much as she would eat after her nap.  She wanted her formula, but was fussing around about drinking it, until I poured it out of the bottle into a cup.  Then, she was very excited about it, and drank most of it.  Tomorrow, I suppose she’ll want it in the bottle again.  Whatever creates the maximum amount of dishes.  She wanted ramen noodles, but then wouldn’t eat them.  She was interested in rice, but I didn’t have any I could make up in a hurry, so we went with a hot dog instead.  She ate about a half of one.  She also had some Cheerios and some of those toddler dried fruit puffs.  She really likes those, and kept hi yao-ing me for those until I got tired of it (hi yao means I want more).  After dinner she was getting fussy, so we went downstairs to watch some more Baby Einstein.  She was about to fall asleep in my lap when Baba came in.  She transfered herself to him, and they played for a bit in her room, and now they’ve gone to sleep.  Maybe she’ll make it through the night tonight.

My observation for the day is that, while she’s accepting me as her playmate and provider of food, she’s not all that emotionally attached to me yet.  I can walk out of the room and disappear, even when we’re alone, and she doesn’t come looking for me.  She’ll let me do all the necessary things for her, even those that involve holding her, like helping her with the potty, or putting on her shoes, but if I try to just hold her for a snuggle, she’s having none of that.  She fights and starts crying.  I’m just thrilled that she didn’t scream for 9 hours today, so I’m willing to wait for her first spontaneous expression of affection toward me.  We’ve made huge strides in the last few days.  Yesterday, I felt like I was about 2 weeks behind Joe in my relationship with her, but today I feel like maybe I’m only a week and a half behind.  Tomorrow, Joe has a relatively short class in the evening, so I’m not sure if she’ll even get out of her crying phase, but we’ll see.  We’ll just take it one day at a time!

The light switch! (I hope!!!)

Monday, November 27th, 2006

What a day!  I know there will be set backs, but this afternoon was just marvelous.  I finally have a little girl!

Joe and Anna went to bed around 10PM last night, and I’m told they slept until 3AM, fussed until they went back to sleep at 6AM, and then slept until 10AM for Joe, and about 11:30 for Anna.  I made Joe get up so he could get a few things done.  I knew with Joe going to teach this afternoon, Anna wouldn’t get a nap, so I wasn’t worried about her sleeping so late.  I needed to go out to do a few errands, so after Anna was up and fed, I took off and went to Walmart and the grocery store.

I got home shortly before Joe had to leave for class.  I don’t think he really gave her a meal in the meantime, but she was snacking on Cheerios when I got home.  He left at 3:45, and the waterworks started.  It was a little different today, though.  She wasn’t just planted by the door.  She wandered around while crying, and showed some interest in other things, like the big box I had just taken something out of.  I kept checking her, but kind of ignored the crying.  She still wouldn’t play with anything I was doing.  After just about an hour, I went over to her, and she actually lifted her arms for me to pick her up!  I held her so she could watch whatever show was on Nickelodeon, and she was suddenly quiet, intently watching it.  After a few minutes of that, I decided it was silly to stand in front of the little upstairs TV when we could watch downstairs, so I carried her down and we plopped in the rocking chair in front of the TV.  She fussed a bit, still trying to see the stairs, but I held on to her, and she fell asleep in about 5 minutes.  After the phone rang for the second time, I thought she could nap better upstairs on her bed, so I carried her up, but of course she woke up as soon as I tried to lay her down, and wouldn’t lay by me.  So, we pottied, then I grabbed her sippy cup and some little cheerio-like banana puffs I got today, and we went back downstairs.  It took about 3 minutes for her to start pointing at those puffs.  After she ate several handfuls, I thought (because I’m so brilliantly perceptive!:grinnod that perhaps the child was hungry.

We traipsed back upstairs, and she let me put her in her highchair.  Her first course was a snack container of mandarin oranges, which she polished off in record time, and drank the juice.  I showed her the little Hormel entrees I had brought home (chicken/dumplings or chicken/rice) and she wisely selected the chicken and dumplings.  I heated them up, and that little snip ate almost all the dumplings.  I only got about 3!  I got all the chicken though (what little there was).  I made her a boiled egg, which she sucked down like usual.  She had the better part of her bottle, and then she noticed … the bananas!  So, she ate about 3/4 of a banana before I opened the Oreos and she decided that would be much more entertaining.  And it was!  For all concerned!

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Baba came home during the systematic dismemberment of the second oreo, and she was glad to see him, but didn’t go ballistic.  We cleaned up, and pooped (some in our diaper, ugh!).  She found one of those subscription cards from the People Magazine on the table (the one with George Clooney on the cover – she already has good taste!) and brought it to me to read, over and over again.  I managed to distract her with one of her little books, so we read that for awhile.  I decided to press my advantage (in case it disappears!) so I introduced her to a little set of board books I got her at Borders, which she was very excited about, and THEN, I showed her the Hello, Kitty backpack I’ve been hiding.  Oh, my goodness!  It has a handle and wheels and everything!  First she went dragging it down the hall to show Baba.  Then she brought it back, and I showed her how to unzip it.  So, she immediately loaded all her books into it, and closed it up again, and then drug it back to the kitchen to show Baba again.  Best of all, she hasn’t cried once since her hour-long jag this afternoon!

anna-bag-1.JPG anna-bag-3.JPG anna-bag-2.JPG (BTW, Gramma Winter, those are one of the pairs of velour sweat pants you sent her.  They fit quite well!)

Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s not all going to be wine and roses from now on.  In fact, tomorrow she may revert to Anna-zilla, but tonight I’m going to revel in my afternoon of nirvana.  She’s still following Joe up and down the hall, but she peeks around to see where I am.  She let me put her new little booties on (even though she bu yao’d them mightily until we distracted her again.  What is it with her and shoes?!)  I don’t think she’s ever had shoes with floppy ears before!  She’s still trying to teach me Chinese, but she’s listening to me very hard as well, and I’m just waiting for the first English word to pop out.  She knows so many things, and she loves to pose for the camera.  As soon as she figures out what I’m doing, she’ll usually drop whatever she’s holding and start clapping.  I think she’s finally figured out she’s stuck with these two large, somewhat imbecilic, funny-looking people, and she’d better make the best of it.  We’ll make the best of it, too!!!

Kotcha steps in (& some new pics added at the end!)

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

OK, you guys.  If you’re just going to go off and leave the baby napping alone, I’ll have to look out for her.  Hmph.  What bad parents.

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Seriously, when she wakes up and sees the big gow-gow next to her, she may have a heart attack.  Although, she did try to pick him up a little while ago, so maybe they bonded when I wasn’t looking.  She’s being obstinate about calling him a dog.  I correct her and tell her he’s a cat, but she just shakes her head and yells “Gow gow!”  Kotcha is truly a special cat.  He’s almost 11 now, and he’s helped me raise every kitten I’ve brought into the house.  He’s so gentle that I have no concerns about him hurting her.  Besides, he has no front claws, so he couldn’t do much damage even if he wanted to.

Joe and Anna went to bed earlier last night, but she woke up at about 5:30AM and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  I made them get up at 7AM, so we could try to establish a more normal sleeping schedule again.  We put her down for her afternoon nap at 2PM, and will probably get her up soon, so she’ll be able to sleep tonight. 

Today, we planned a little longer outing for Joe.  He left at 10:30AM and didn’t return until 12:30PM.  I wish I could say the crying stopped, but it didn’t.  However, I did see some very positive things today, so I’m kind of excited.  After Joe left, we went downstairs to the big TV and I barricaded the steps again.  I put in a Baby Einstein video (which I really enjoyed, BTW).  She wouldn’t come away from the baby gate, so I had to go get her and put her in my lap.  She never would focus on the video today.  She just kept squirming around trying to see the stairway.  At least she had her rag stuffed in her mouth so the howling wasn’t as loud as usual.  After about a half hour of this, I got annoyed with it, and I picked her up and sat her on my shoulders.  I think this scared her, because she immediately grabbed onto my hands and wouldn’t let go.  That’s the first time ever she’s even tried to hold my hand.  I carried her out into the backyard this way, and we walked all around.  She was very quiet all this time.  After a few minutes, I put her down in the grass, and put out my hand for her, and she grabbed it again.  We walked and walked in the back yard, with only an occasional whimper. 

She wanted to go back in, but then she immediately went for the gated stairs and started howling again, so she gave me her hand again, and we walked upstairs.  I tried to interest her in some toys in the living room, but she was right back at the door, bawling.  This time, I offered her my hand again, she took it, and we walked the house and looked in all the rooms to make sure Joe wasn’t there.  Then we went out the mudroom door and walked around the front yard a bit.  It’s not that warm here, and we weren’t bundled up, and MY hands were cold, so we came back in.  She walked with me to the bathroom, and pottied, and then washed her hands and took a little hand lotion (she’s so cute with lotion; she thinks it’s great fun to rub and rub her hands together, but then always wants more, no matter how much is dripping off of her hands!).  She cried the whole time, but she was actually able to function.  I tried to play a little more, but that wasn’t happening, so we went into her room.  I shut us in, and got out some play-dough, but she had no interest in that.  She had another funny shoe incident.  You all probably remember that she was so attached to the little shoes she came to us in, and after we bought her a new pair that fit, she would try to take off the new ones as soon as she got indoors, and run for those old ones wanting to put them on.  Well, today I had her in a little red sweatsuit, so I got out her new little red squeeky shoes and put them on her.  When we got into her room and it was obvious I wasn’t going to let her stand by the door, she cried her way over to her sneakers that we bought in Nanning (the ones she was always so anxious to take off), and sat down with them.  She contemptuously kicked off her new squeeky shoes, and spent about 10 minutes trying so hard to put on her sneakers.  She couldn’t get her feet all the way into them, and she would go ahead and fasten the velcro.  Then she couldn’t figure out why her heel was flopping around when she got up.  It was hard not to be amused, even while she was being so pitiful.  Finally, she came over and held up one foot to me to help her get her shoe on.  She sat down by me and let me put them on and fasten them. 

Then she tried to get up onto the bed, which is quite high.  I got up there, but then of course she didn’t want to be, but I brought her up with me and laid down with her for a few minutes.  She fought that like a little tigress, but fortunately, I’m still much bigger than she is, so I won that round.  About that time, Joe came home, so all was right with the world again. 

We had lunch after that.  She was very good, and ate a few small bites of hot dog along with her staple, Cheerios.  She refused to eat any peaches or carrots, although she keeps trying to give me the carrots, because I seem to like them.  Right after lunch, she let me take her out of her high chair, and I took her by the hand to the bathroom again.  She refused to hold my hand for the first couple of steps, lunging for Joe, but then she grabbed my hand and sobbed her way to the potty chair.  Baba came with us, so it was OK when we got there.  We cleaned up again, and we all went in and laid on the bed for a few minutes until she went to sleep.  She’s still napping now with the cat.

So, even though she still wouldn’t quit crying, we had a couple of major steps forward today.  She let me distract her just a little bit with the walk outside, and she held my hand!  Then she actually let me lay next to her on the bed while going down for her nap.  She was well-protected from me by Joe’s arm, but still, that’s the first time she hasn’t screamed when I’m there, too.  I’m almost starting to feel like a mama!

She just woke up from her nap, and didn’t have a heart attack, so we’re going to progress downstairs to try to catch up on some of our favorite TV shows that we missed while in China.  Maybe after dinner, she’ll be able to go to sleep for the night at a normal time tonight.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed!!!

Here are the new pics taken this evening with Anna trying to sit in her little rocking chair, and playing with the dogs and her Disney piano that we bought in China.  She willingly played with me a bit this evening, and we had quite a conversation over dinner.  She steadfastly refuses to try any English words.  Instead she keeps saying things more slowly and clearly.   She thinks she’s running a remedial Chinese for Dummies course for Joe and me!:lol:anna-chair.JPG anna-dogs.JPG anna-piano.JPG anna-piano-3.JPG anna-piano-2.JPG

First Saturday at home

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Things are going not too badly today, for a change!  Perhaps that’s because Anna is a bit sick, but I’m hoping it’s a good sign.  It was a rough night for all of us again.  I didn’t really believe that jet lag would be so much worse coming home, but it has been.  For myself, I’m feeling sleepy in the very early evening, too early for bed, but then by around midnight, I’m wide awake again.  I’m finding it difficult to go to sleep before 3 or 4 AM.  I think Anna is having the same problem.  Joe got her to sleep around 10PM last night, but that didn’t last, and they fussed around until about 3AM, and finally got to sleep.  We got up around 10:30 this AM.  We’re all kinda tired today.

Anna started with a very stuffy nose yesterday, and it’s worse today.  I started her on a little bit of cold medicine last night.  It’s tylenol with a cough suppressant and nasal decongestant.  It seemed to help her breathe and rest a little better last night.  She got another dose this AM.  She just seems to feel like I do when I have a head cold, a bit out of it.  I took her temp a little while ago, and it was 97.8, so it doesn’t seem to be an infection.  I hope she’s not allergic to dogs/cats!  She’s also been a bit constipated since that long flight, so I snuck a little bit of laxative into her bottle this morning, and she’s since had a nice BM, so I hope that makes her feel better.  Always makes ME feel better!

Joe had to do some errands this morning, so we had our first true session with Anna and me alone.  I put my earplugs in, then sat down on the floor in the living room surrounded by toys.  I played for awhile, and finally had to go retrieve Anna from the door.  She stayed by me as long as I gently held her, although she would have broken for the door again if I’d completely let go.  She cried gently the whole time and wouldn’t play with me, but she didn’t scream.  After about 20 minutes of this, I put her jacket on and took her downstairs and out into the backyard for a few minutes.  It was cold, so I didn’t put her down, but she was quiet and interested outdoors.  When we came in, I gated the stairs, and put her down.  She headed straight for the gate, and started to work into a good screaming session.  I couldn’t distract her with the trike or the little horse my folks brought.  I tried reading a glossy flyer, but no interest.  Finally, I got a DVD with some Hans Christian Anderson stories out and popped that in.  I sat on the end table in front of the TV with Anna plopped in my lap, and she quieted down and watched with me.  We watched a few minutes and then I thought I’d get more comfortable on the couch.  She immediately started crying again and trying to get away from me, no longer watching the screen.  So, I moved back to the end table, and she quieted down again.  We’ve not noticed any problems with her vision yet, but I wonder if she couldn’t really see the TV from the couch.  We’ll have her checked out as soon as she’s comfortable enough with both of us to let us handle her in an appointment.  Anyway, Joe was gone for about an hour, and we didn’t have any real screaming.  I hope that’s a good sign.  We’ll try again tomorrow for a little longer.  Monday she’s got 5 hours with me, so I hope she can settle down then.  My friend Jackie down the street who has a 22 month old son has volunteered herself and Hayden for a play date on Tuesday if I’m at my wit’s end by then.  Tuesday is Joe’s long day, from noon until 9PM.

Joe went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, so we had a nice brunch when he got home.  Anna does like boiled eggs, although she doesn’t always eat the whites.  Last night she sucked down 2 whole eggs, but today she only wanted the yolks.  I offered her some ramen noodles, but she didn’t want them today.  She ate a very few Cheerios, but she had her bottle and some apple juice, so she’s doing OK in that regard.  We played a bit after lunch, then went outside to set up my inflatable OU player, and headed in to watch the game.  Joe and Anna are napping intermittently (poor little Anna has to breathe through her mouth!) while I watch the game. 

anna-play-1.JPG anna-sleep-1.JPG  Thanks for the clothes, Aunt Nicki!  (And Aunt Eileen for yesterday’s outfit!)The 12 month sizes are perfect right now!  Since they’re right on, I’m sure they’ll only fit for a short time, but it’s great to not have her clothes falling off for a few days!  Gramma Winter sent us some lovely 18 month sweats that I’m sure will be great in a week or two!

We’ve had a few regressions since we’ve gotten home.  She’s not asking to go to the bathroom, and we’ve had a few accidents, even though we try to get her to the potty regularly.  We bought a very cute potty chair yesterday which she’s using well when Joe puts her on it.  I think she likes not having to be held up.  She’s not eating as well here yet, but she’s eating enough.  She was quite happy to sit in her high chair and play today as long as Joe and I were at the table (well, as long as Joe is at the table; she couldn’t care less where I go!)  Since I don’t have any good pictures today, I’m putting a couple of pictures in from the disposable camera we sent in our care package.  She was a happy child then!

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Pat, how do I pronounce the word for “cat”?  She’s calling the cat “gow gow” too, but when I try to say “mao mao,”  I’m obviously pronouncing it wrong, because she bu yao’s me then.  Unless she just doesn’t really know about cats for some reason, and thinks he IS a dog.  He’s big enough to be a dog.

Any suggestions from all the experienced moms out there for the best medication for a stuffy-nosed, 20 pound, 20 month-old would be appreciated!  I know how I would treat a dog, but kids are new to me!

First day home

Friday, November 24th, 2006

{Added at 9:25PM – We just got Anna ready for bed, and we keep learning new things about her!  She’s always trying to wipe off her tongue with her napkin, so I thought we should brush her teeth before bed.  We got the little stool Gramma got her, and put it in front of the bathroom sink.  I gave her some soap in her hand, and she washed her hands and rinsed them.  I washed her face, then gave her her little toothbrush with some toddler toothpaste on it, and she brushed her own teeth!!!  I gave her a cup to rinse with, but that she didn’t know what to do with, so we’ll work on that.  Her foster mother really taught her alot!:yes:} 

Anna really put us through the ringer last night.  I think she had too much sleep, going from 3:00AM to 1:30PM, and then a 2 hour nap in the car seat on the way home.  Joe and I were kaput, but she was raring to go, and had no interest in sleeping.  I stayed with her in her room for 3 hours while Joe tried to do some things in the house.  You can see below how much she enjoyed the lovely crib we prepared for her.

anna-crib2.JPG anna-crib1.JPG  This, by the way, is the only expression I ever get to see on my daughter’s face.

Joe finally got her to sleep at 6:00AM, and they slept until about 10:00AM, when I made everyone get up.  We decided there would be no naps today so that hopefully, she’ll be tired enough to go to sleep tonight.  She slept in her crib for an hour or so early last night, but she was having none of that later, even with Joe right next to her.  We’ll keep working on that, because, darn it, she’s just going to have to sleep in it. :yawn:

We got up, and Joe had some things to do, so she had to stay with me.  Another hour of crying.  I put her in the carrier and wore her around the house.  She hated it and screamed in my face the whole time.   (I finally bought ear plugs today, so I’ll be able to deal with it better next time.) She refused to eat anything when Joe wasn’t in the room, so she went hungry.  She finally took her bottle, but that was it.  I took advantage of a couple of screams to brush her teeth and get rid of some of that “milk breath”.  No sense wasting a good scream!!! =O

We got her dressed, and she fit perfectly in a little outfit Uncle Jon and Aunt Eileen got for her.  She also started to play with the cute little talking horse Nono and Nana Casciari got her.  She doesn’t get the riding part of it, but she figured out how to press his ears to make him sing.  She also found her little stool from Gramma Winter, and ran over to sit on it everytime after she pushed the horse’s ear.  She’s really very cute when she wants to be. :wink:

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We traipsed out to Walmart (on Black Friday) to get a high chair and a potty chair.  She’s had a few accidents over the last couple of days with all the traveling and tantrums, so I’m glad we’ve kept the diaper on.  Joe also got her a car seat for his pickup.  We also picked up some cabinet locks and plug covers because she’s very curious about those things.  Joe’s installing those right now with a little help from his little helper (I keep hearing outbursts from the kitchen, so I suspect she’s being really helpful!)

I got the high chair put together, and Joe strapped her in, then went to sit down to eat his lunch.  I gave her some macaroni and cheese, which she did try, to her credit, but didn’t like.  But then, instead of asking for something else, she decided to throw a tantrum.  anna-high-chair3.JPG  We let her work on that one for about half an hour, then Joe finally told her to stop crying, and she did!  She ate some fruit puffs (which she had tried and spit out a couple of days ago,) and also a few of those little sweet bun crackers from China, along with another bottle.  I’m guessing she won’t starve today. 

She put on quite the performance for my staff at the office today, but she never worked herself into a full screaming rage, so they only had to witness the piteous crying.  She is talking to the dogs, now that I know what she’s saying, thanks to Pat.  I’m trying to teach her their names, but she’s not talking to me again, so it’s a little hard.  Sirius is afraid of her, so he barks back when she yells “dog” at him (she says something like gow gow).  The other dogs don’t seem to care about her one way or the other.  They haven’t discovered the joys of sitting beneath a toddler’s high chair at meal time, yet.

Tomorrow’s plan is for Joe to run out to do some errands alone, so we’ll get some more alone time.  I don’t see any real changes yet, but I’ll keep working at it.  I’m just looking forward so much to getting to sit down and play with her toys with her, and introduce her to Dressy Bessy, and read books with her.  I’ve only got 2 weeks off from work, and I fear the whole time will be spent with her screaming at me!  Well, off to see what Joe is up to.  Maybe we’ll get to sit down and watch one or two of those kiddie movies we picked up in China!

Day ? – I’ve lost track, but we’re home at last!

Friday, November 24th, 2006

A perfectly horrible 32 hours of traveling was finally completed at about midnight on Nov. 22.  That was yesterday, I think.  We left the hotel in Guangzhou at  5:30AM local time on Nov. 22 (that’s 4:30PM EST Nov. 21).  We didn’t have any problems on the short flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong except for some wild turbulance.  We were worried about figuring out all the transfers in Hong Kong, but that all went fine.  Seems like we had to go through security about 20 times, but we finally got on our plane to Newark.  That flight went fine, except for everyone getting cranky.  For those who may be considering these Continental flights in the future, I have to say next time I’ll probably try the United flights out of Chicago instead.  Our flights were fine, but the in-flight service is exactly as I’d expect from my experience with Continental’s domestic flights – definately lower tier.  The attendants tend to be brusque and rude if you don’t understand what they’re asking immediately.  The attendants on our little in-China flights on China Southern were much more polite and respectful.  When you’ve been on a plane in a little cracker box seat, a smile goes a long way toward making you feel a bit more human again.  ‘Nuf said – we got there in one piece and on time, and back in one piece and on time. 

Anna behaved pretty well overall.  She did quite well for the first 10 hours, but then got pretty fussy.  She never had a tantrum, but was whimpery and moany much of the last 5 hours.  Unfortunately, Joe was also pretty cranky at that point, so they just fed off of each other’s negative energy.  I so desperately wanted to help, but I’m still taboo.  We knew things were going to be stressful in Newark because we only had a 1:50 hour layover, and we arrived about 15 minutes late.  We were in the second to last row of the plane, so it took us forever to get out.  Immigration was about 2 miles away from our gate, so that was a hike.  Surprisingly, that moved very quickly, although the escort told us we were in the wrong line.  But he helped us out anyway.  We were told several times that we couldn’t go in the line for US citizens, and there was only one other choice, for visitors, so we went there.  It wasn’t a big deal.  The agent was very fast, just looked at our passports and Anna’s visa, and took her brown envelope, told us he would send it downstairs, stamped her passport, and we were through.

When you come in on an international flight, you have to collect your baggage at your first US port city, go through customs, and then recheck your bags.  It’s all streamlined, so it’s not really as hard as it sounds, but the baggage claim turned out to be the longest part.  We were through immigration before the bags started coming, and then I swear, our bags were absolutely the last three.  We must have waited there over half an hour for them.  Going through customs was a breeze, though.  We had only half an hour before our next flight to Manchester, so we booked it to the baggage recheck counter, and the baggage guy there caught us and told us our flight to Manchester had been cancelled.  Oh, yippee.  We knew there was a later Continental flight to Manchester, so we were hopeful we’d get on that.  We went just around the corner to the special Continental transfer desk, waited a few minutes, and fortunately, found out we could take the later flight.  Funnily enough, we almost had a problem with Anna, because her reservation was booked separately from ours, and when their computer automatically rebooked us, the flight was full after.  So, it rebooked Anna on a flight out the next morning.  It didn’t seem to raise any red flags that there was an infant traveling alone!  But the agent made a call, and got her on the same flight.  Whew.  Although in retrospect, it might not have been such a bad thing …

Our new flight was scheduled 5 hours later than the first one, but we could deal.  Continental gave us three meal vouchers, so we got a nice pizza dinner.  When we got done with that, we saw that our flight had been delayed from 8:40PM to 9:10PM. OK.  (The reason for cancellations and delays was high winds in Newark.)  It kept getting later and later, and we finally left the gate at 10:15PM.  We arrived in Manchester at about 11:30, and Raoul and Jon (Joe’s brother) met us at baggage claim.  What a treat to see familiar faces!  Our bags arrived in good condition, and Jon and Raoul took our suitcases while Joe and I took the Highlander shuttle to our car, strapped Anna in the carseat, and went to Joe’s folks’ house.  We had planned to go on home when we arrived (which was supposed to be 5PM) but in light of the hour we decided to stay over.  Kay fixed us a nice snack, we stayed up talking for a bit, and then went to bed around 3AM.  We woke up at 1:30PM today.  So now I’m not all that tired.  Wonder why?  We ate a brunch, then headed for home, and got here a little before 6PM.  Anna cried for the first 15 minutes in the car seat, but then went to sleep, and made it all the way home. 

Home again, home again.  At least the dogs and cats love me.  Anna was afraid of, but intrigued by the cats.  Kotcha is so outgoing and gentle, he kept coming up for attention, and of course, I had to carry him around a bit.  The other cats don’t know what to think yet.  She calls them something I don’t recognize, so she must know what cats are.  The dogs were their usual selves, which of course scared her silly.  Those of you who know my dogs know that they wouldn’t harm a fly, but they are, how do you say, a bit exuberant, to say the least.  They jump a lot.  They’re very interested in Anna, but she’s pretty scared of them, although she was willing to yell at Siri from the safety of the couch!  Siri talks back, though, so I don’t know how they’re going to work that out.  I had to hold Anna while Joe was doing a few chores, like putting our basement door back up so she can’t fall down the stairs.  She cried, but didn’t fight me too much. 

We had a late Thanksgiving dinner (thanks, Kay!) and then went downstairs to watch some football.  I got the bright idea to get out the little tricycle because I know she likes them.  She was so excited she jumped off the couch, and immediately pushed it a couple of feet into the dog’s water dish.  That was OK – it was empty – but it wouldn’t go anymore, so I backed it up and put her on the seat.  Well, I should have known that if I put her there, she wouldn’t like it, so she immediately started yelling bu yao and just went limp to fall off the seat.  I put her back on and tried to push her a bit, but she was screaming by this time, and pushing a wet noodle on a trike is neither easy nor fun.  Joe was so aggravated with how she was behaving, that he decided it was time for bed, and he was done with her for the evening.  So we went upstairs, put her in her pajamas and plopped her in her crib.  Joe just left before he yelled at her.  I had to then stay in the room with the little set of powerhouse lungs.  She tried to destroy her crib, she tried to climb out, and she finally just gave up and stood there squalling.  I loved her, I read books to her, I sang to her, I carried her, I played with all of her new toys, to no avail. Oh, when she’s interested in something, she’ll stop crying for a few seconds, but then she’ll start back up again.  This started at 9:30, and I finally quit at 12:30.  Three hours.  I thought I was making a break-through at one point, because she actually held her arms up to me while I was beside the crib.  I picked her up, and she did hold on for the first time, but didn’t stop crying, and was looking over my shoulder the whole time in case Joe might come in.  After trying that 2 or 3 times, I figured out the only reason she was holding her arms out was she wanted me to get her out of the crib.  If I just bend down and give her a hug, she breaks if after about 3 seconds, and pushes away from me again.  Three hours of this.  We finally decided she needed to sleep, and she won’t even cry herself to sleep.  So Joe came in, and she stopped immediately.

Mama’s still chopped liver around here.  We’ll keep working on it.  It’s really hard for me to hold out for that long.  Seems to be no problem for her.  But we’re going to do whatever it takes, so if I have to sit with her for 8 hours while she cries the whole time, that’s what I’ll do!  Thank heavens I have a couple of weeks before I have to go back to my regular work schedule.  It’s looking like that 5 hours Joe will be gone on Monday night will be a nightmare.  Oh, I wish we’d felt comfortable doing this more in China.  I’m sure we’d be farther ahead now.  But with neighbors banging on the walls in Nanning, it didn’t seem like the best time to do it.  We will be turning over a new leaf at home.  She will have to have time with only the Mama, and she’ll have to learn that that’s OK.  There’s no one here to hear her scream except the dogs, and they’re barking so loudly outside they hardly notice.

The banana is awake again, and even Joe can’t get her to sleep, so she’s helping him blog right now.  I, however, am getting tired, so I have to go take my bath and go to bed.  Tomorrow we have some important errands, like getting a high chair and bowls that stick to the tray, and a potty chair, and maybe a few more 12-month clothes.  I know she won’t wear them long, but that seems to be the size that fits right now.  Thanks for your continued prayers and support.  Wish us luck and perserverance!

Day 13 – The Final Day and the Swearing In

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

The only big event of the day was the trip to the US Consulate in downtown Guangzhou for the swearing in ceremony.  This is basically a cattle call.  Fifty-two families were gathered together in a big meeting room, and we held up our right hands and swore that the information we provided in our adoption documents was accurate to the best of our knowlege.  They checked our passport photos and Anna’s to make sure we were who we claimed to be.  When all of that was done, we got a sealed envelope with Anna’s immigration paperwork, which we are not to open until we get to Newark tomorrow.  We got Anna’s passport back with her visa to enter the US.  So, we’re good to go.

After breakfast this morning, we went back over to Sherry’s Place to pick up another suitcase, a quilted jacket for Anna, a shirt for Joe, a gift for my April DTC group secret pal, and a few other little gifts.  We also got a used little stroller to take on the planes with us so we can wheel Anna around in the airport and give Joe a break from carrying her constantly.  It’s not very nice, but it cost us all of $7, so we can’t complain too much about the condition.  We’ll have to buy a jogging-type stroller with large wheels when we get home, because these strollers with the little wheels will never survive on our gravel roads.

We came back to the room, and Anna took a quick little nap while Joe went out to get us some bread from the little deli next door.  We had that for lunch, and then it was time to leave for the consulate.  We were having a monsoon at the time, naturally.  First rain we’ve had on this trip.  So, we were somewhat soggy and cold.  It was a 40 minute ride to the consulate.  We were there probably about half an hour, and then it was back to the hotel.  Anna fell asleep on the way back, but we had to wake her up again to go eat dinner.

We went over to Lucy’s with the Rogers and the Flemings and had a nice final meal.  We’ve met such great people on this trip, and we’ll all keep in touch through our online groups, I hope.  Anna was fairly well-behaved at dinner, so much so that everyone kept commenting on how good she is.  Hmph.  I kept inviting them back to our room so they could see the REAL Anna.  It took Joe about 1-1/2 hours after dinner to get her back to sleep.  Finally she’s out, so we can finish our packing.  It’s almost 10PM here, and we have to have our luggage outside our door at 5:20AM tomorrow, and we leave at 5:40AM.  Jason will go with us to the airport to get us checked in.  He says the first flight of the morning is rarely delayed, so we should be in good time for our flight out of Hong Kong.  Apparently we can check our bags all the way through to Manchester here in Guangzhou, although we’ll have to pick them up in Newark to go through customs.  They’ll then go back into the pool to go on our final flight.  I’m dreading the travel tomorrow, but at least it’s only one more day.  My mantra of the night … only one more day, only one more day …

I’ve enjoyed Guangzhou alot, even though I never got to take the pictures around the hotel that I wanted to.  Maybe I’ll sneak out tonight when we’re done packing and shoot a few.  I am SO ready to come home.  I just want to be able to do our own things in our own house, and get this little girl situated in a normal routine.  I know it’s still going to take some time for her to come around, but she’s going to have no choice soon, because Baba will have to leave to teach classes, and she’ll have to come to Mama if she needs things.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I won’t post again until we’re home, home, home!!!

Day 12 – A Decent Day

Monday, November 20th, 2006

For the first time, we didn’t have to be anywhere in the morning – YEA!!!  8) – so we slept in until about 8 AM, and didn’t get to breakfast until 9:30.  Anna was fussy to begin with, but shaped up after a bit and ate another egg yolk and some watermelon, along with apple juice and the staple of her diet – Cheerios.  We had to be in our room from 10 until 11:30 while Jason took our paperwork over to the US Consulate for our visa appointment in case there was a problem that he needed to call us about.  I think in the past each family went in person for their consulate appointments, but the US Consulate recently moved from Shamian Island to someplace downtown, and it is a 40 minute drive from the hotel.  Since we HAVE to go for the oath taking ceremony tomorrow, the guides simply take our paperwork over for us to get our visa, since we don’t have to do that in person.  I’m a little confused about the legalities of it all, but I know Joe and I didn’t have to go to the Chinese consulate in person to get our visas, either.  The paperwork just has to be hand delivered.  So, Jason called about 11:15 and said there were no problems, so we could go on about our business.

I spent some of that time taking the promised pictures of our room here at the White Swan.  The hotel is diamond-shaped, with rooms along the outer walls.  We are on the 14th floor, immediately off of the elevator corridor, one of the two middle rooms on our side.  Because of the shape of the hotel, this means our room is not square but trapezoidal in shape.  It’s subtle, but you can tell by the way the beds won’t lie sqarely along the walls.  It actually gives us a slightly larger room.  Which is good, because it’s a pretty small room, without much “counter space” to put things up out of the reach of a toddler.  Please try to ignore the extreme clutter in the room.  It’s completely full of our stuff, and Anna was sleeping when I got around to taking the pictures, so I didn’t want to wake her up by moving things around too much.

anna-1.JPG Anna trying to look out the window with Joe, and seeing only herself in the mirrored wall.

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anna14.JPG Anna trying to nap through all the commotion.

We were just preparing ourselves for our daily holding and screaming session at about 1 PM when Joe was due to go out and pick up our laundry, and then the little snip fell asleep.  Somehow it didn’t seem fair to wake her up just to make her miserable, so Joe just went out while she was napping.  We had to wake her up a little before 3 so we could go to the pearl market. {Added a bit later because I forgot to mention it while I was writing the post earlier:  Anna did decide it was OK to play a couple of games with me this morning.  She loves taking things out of little containers and putting them back in. For about 15 minutes, she helped me take out and put back into their box some crayola markers.  She did OK as long as Joe was in view.}

Not too far into the city, there is a huge, and I mean HUGE, shopping center.  It’s not all contained within one building, but it puts the Mall of America to shame.  It was 6 stories tall, and was built like a catacomb, with concentric circles of stores on each floor.  Thousands of stores.  Mostly very small.  There are many, many jewelry and pearl wholesale stores, and Jason took us to one that he said was trustworthy.  I suppose he gets a cut from what we buy there, but that’s OK.  They had very nice pearls, and a well-dressed and well-spoken staff.  Freshwater pearls come in 4 different grades here, and the highest grade are so beautiful.  An 18-inch strand of those costs about $150.  I picked out 2 strands of the next grade down for myself and for Anna when she’s older (maybe a graduation or wedding?).  They double knotted between each pearl and attached a clasp with the Chinese character for love on it.  I modeled mine for awhile back in the room, and it’s really gorgeous.  I also picked up a few gifts there.  There was a shop with $2 DVDs and CDs near the entrance, so we picked up a few children’s DVDs (things like Mulan and Winnie the Pooh and Over the Hedge).  Hopefully we won’t have any trouble getting back home with them.  And hopefully they’ll play in our DVD player.  We got a total of 6 full-length DVDs and 2 CDs for Joe for $16.  We took a taxi back to the hotel, and then had about an hour before we left for dinner.

We met up with just about all of the other CCAI families at the Cow and Bridge Thai restaurant for dinner.  You can probably imagine that we occupied most of the restaurant.  We ate across the table from Julia and Toby Wolson, who adopted the other child with albinism in our group.  He’s almost 3, and is much paler than Anna.  Anna behaved remarkably well.  She ate a bunch of chip-like things, and 2 whole skewers of chicken from my chicken satay, and then a handful of noodles from my pad thai.  We also had some crab rangoons, but she got one bite of that and spit it out.  I’ve also got a picture of Comfort and Justin Rogers and their new son, Caleb.  It was a tough place to get good photos, so my other ones weren’t really blog-worthy.

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On the way home, we stopped in at a shop where Lorene had gotten some really cute dresses for her girls earlier.  I picked out 3 nice little two-piece knit outfits, 2 pairs of leather squeaker shoes, and a little two-piece silk Chinese outfit (in a beautiful fuschia fabric), and paid a grand total of $25.  I probably could have gotten them for less, but my bargaining skills run more to cars and houses.  With these small amounts, it’s really hard for me to get worked up about whether I’m spending $20 or $25 for something that I would be paying twice that much for at home.  Joe’s fighting me over bringing so much stuff home, but even he isn’t griping about the money.  At least not on those small items.  Anna was getting very cranky by this time, and kept bu yao-ing when we tried to hold something up to her to size it. 

anna-outfit-1.JPG anna-outfit-2.JPG Seriously, how could you bu yao these outfits?!

We stopped by Sherry’s Place to pick up the rest of our laundry, and to get my dress and jacket.  She had found the jacket in just the right size, so didn’t have to have that altered.  My dress was finished, and I tried it on back at the hotel.  It’s just beautiful!  I’ll take some photos back home after I’ve gotten it pressed and post them.  I can hardly wait to see Anna and me in our matching dresses!  I’m hoping she’ll let me hold her in them.  Surely by Christmas?! =O I really need to get her a little jacket, too.  Shhh … don’t tell Joe!

Anna was a royal fuss-budget when we got back to the hotel.  She threw a fit just because Joe was sitting at the computer and not paying attention to her.  He kept gently putting her back into her bed and telling her buku, or no crying.  The piteous howling went on for about half an hour, with us taking turns putting her back into her bed.  Finally we both sat by her with Joe’s hand on her, and she was asleep within 5 minutes.  Isn’t she just precious?

Tomorrow morning after breakfast we have to finish up our shopping and buy at least one more suitcase (they can be had for less than $20).  We deliberately packed light on the way here, because the in-China luggage allowances are so small for flights.  But international flights allow you to check two 50# bags per person, and 1 for a child, so we could technically take 5 bags.  I think we’ll probably have 3.  But we can really wean down our carry-ons to just the essentials we’ll need for Anna.  I’m still debating about a stroller.  We’ve been borrowing one here from Sherry’s Place, but I think it would make life a lot easier in the airports if we could push her instead of having to carry her everywhere.  And she likes the stroller, too.

We leave at 2:45 for the consulate, and we have to have all the shopping done, because we won’t get back until 5:30 or so.  Then we’ll be busy packing and trying to get some sleep because we have to put our luggage outside the door at 5:20 AM Wednesday morning, and we leave at 5:40.  Triple Ugh.:bleh: But oh, will I be glad to be home.  I’m buying ear plugs at the first opportunity.  Maybe even at the airport.  :wink:

Day 11- The Tour, etc.

Monday, November 20th, 2006

We went on a nice little tour (expensive for me!) this morning with many of the other families from CCAI.  We had a whole bus load, and I got to meet several of the people I’ve been talking to for a couple of months.  We went to a Buddhist temple first, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.  It was built in the 6th century and is still a very active temple and monastery.  This is the first place I’ve encountered beggars on this trip.  Apparently enterprising people go out into the country and look for handicapped, pitiful looking children and essentially buy them from their parents, then bring them into the city and put them out on the streets to beg.  Our guide, Jason, said they do get three meals a day, so their life is probably better than it would have been at home.  Anyhoo…  The temple was very pretty.  The Buddhist monks will often do a baby blessing ceremony, but there was some other event going on today, so they couldn’t set up the blessing.  We wouldn’t have partaken in that anyway, but it would have been interesting to see.

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People leave food offerings for the Buddhas for various reasons.  The one on the right is a fertility Buddha, and is the only female Buddha.  With some prompting from Jason, we got Anna to pose with me for a brief fleeting second or two to get some pictures, just so we could prove to the world that we were both in China at the same time.  I care about such things, and Anna might in the future, although right now, I’m still the evil witch trying to come between her and her beloved baba.  anna-7.JPG anna-8.JPG

Next, we went to a lovely Guangdong government sponsored market with lots of local handicrafts for sale.  When I say handicrafts, I’m not talking about pottery and tea cozies.  I’m talking about egg-shell porcelain tea services and ivory carvings and embroidery and jade jewelry.  I went a bit nuts in there, I’m ashamed to say.  The quality of the goods was excellent and the prices were OK (non-negotiable there.)  I think Joe’s cutting me off for any more expensive spending.  I’m going to be limited to cheap souvenirs for the rest of the trip.  I didn’t take any pictures there; I was too busy shopping.

Then we went to the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum, which was established by the Chen family in the late 1800’s.  Another beautiful archictectural structure.  Mostly I got pictures of the kid. 

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anna-13.JPG This is a traditional Chinese bed with porcelain pillows.  That’s taking firm mattresses to all new heights!

The following photos are of the traditional Guangdong embroidery.  That’s right, embroidery.  These aren’t paintings.  They were spectacular in person.

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Guangdong is also famous for ivory carving.  Now that ivory is scarce, they use bone or wood most of the time.  The ball on the left has 43 decreasingly sized smaller balls carved inside it, all from one piece of ivory.  I asked Jason how they did that, and he just said that the seniors do it.  I guess they’ve got nothing better to do!

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We came back to the hotel, fed Anna a bottle and a few Cheerios, and then we decided it was time to try to let her know that Joe might leave, but wasn’t going to abandon her.  So he gathered our laundry, and went out to deliver it, warning the little elevator attendant whose stand is right outside our door that the baby would be crying because he was leaving.  He was probably only gone for about 20 minutes or so.  I had to go pick her up because she was standing at the door screaming and beating on it.  I held her in my lap the whole time, and she was actually starting to calm just a tiny bit when Joe came back.  After that it was all over.  I held her for another 40 minutes or so, but she would never stop, or if she did slow down for a bit, the second I made eye contact with her, the screaming started again.  And I’m talking tonsil-exposing screaming, not crying.  It’s awful.  By that time, we had to get her ready for her Red Couch pictures, so I had to stop.  You’ll probably notice the red, chapped cheeks in all the photos. 

I feel a little badly that I didn’t put her little Chinese dress on her, because most of the other kids were in theirs, but she pitched such a fit over trying it on yesterday that I just couldn’t face it today.  So I put her little autumn outfit on her.  It might actually fit next fall or the year after that.  But it was cute.  She behaved quite well, because baba did most of the holding, as you can see.  We met most of the other people in our CCAI  group there, and we’re almost all in the picture on the right.  The middle photos are of the newly adopted kids in our little group of 4 families that Jason is herding around, and then our 4 families together.

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We had dinner with Sandy and Jim Houle and their family at Lucy’s, which serves primarily American food.  It was a treat to get a hamburger and french fries.  We got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Anna, which she wouldn’t touch, but she ate all her french fries.  She was an absolute hoot at dinner, mimicking Joe and Jim when they were talking, and laughing hysterically whenever they laughed.  Everyone thinks she’s just precious.  If only they had to stay in a small hotel room with her.  Hah.

When we got back to the room, Joe and I laid down on the same bed, and that caused a 2-1/2 hour fit.  We didn’t give in, though.  She would stop for a bit, and almost fell asleep on her feet once, but she’d shake herself awake and start the screaming again.  I can’t believe they haven’t thrown us out of the hotel yet.  Joe finally put her in her little bed and laid on his bed with his hand on her, and she was asleep within 2 minutes.  I know, I know, she won.  It was just too late to keep playing the game tonight.  I will be so glad when we’re home, and nobody will be able to hear the piteous screaming over the dogs’ barking, and the police won’t have to be called.  Sandy told me tonight that her first adopted daughter did something very similar to her, and she was home about 6 weeks before she started to accept Sandy.  As depressing as that is, it’s at least reassuring to know that the process may just take that long, and we’re not ruining her little psyche in the meantime.  I can hardly wait to hear the things she’ll say about me to her therapist when she’s a tortured generation Z kid. 

I leave you with a photo of the infamous “squatty potty”.  This one is in the park near Lucy’s restaurant, where I had to go after downing 2 beers with my dinner.  Now that felt good.  Drinking the beers, that is, not using the squatty potty. 

anna-24.JPG  The end.  Tee hee.