Archive for October, 2007

Bob Dog

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Last year, you all may remember our shopping day in Nanning, on which we bought a new pair of Bob Dog sneakers for Anna. She came in a little pair of pink fabric squeaker shoes, not new, and too big. We also had no clothes that fit the little sprite, so we were desperate to get some little leggings or pants that fit, and a new pair of shoes. We didn’t know, but apparently Bob Dog shoes were kind of a big deal. Anna wanted nothing to do with those shoes, and she took every opportunity over the next few days to wrench them off and come bawling to one of us carrying her pink shoes asking us to put them back on. I had to hide the pink shoes. After we got home, and she had more shoes to choose from, she did the same thing with the Bob Dog shoes. Whenever Joe would leave for class, she would take off whatever tennies I had on her, and come crying with her Bob Dog shoes.

Will came to us in a little pair of well-used olive drab canvas sneakers. Today was our shopping day in Yinchuan, so a new pair of Bob Dog sneakers was at the top of my shopping list. It was, in fact, the only thing on my shopping list. We began the day with some breakfast downstairs (see photos). We had to go to the police station, where they process the passports, to have new photos taken of Will and Isabella for their passports. We don’t know what was wrong with the first photos. Then, we were free to travel by taxi to the department store.

10-20-07-1.jpg 10-20-07-2.jpg 10-20-07-3.jpg Anna was entranced with the idea of drinking milk from a coffee cup.  Even though she kept spilling a bit at a time, and cleaning it up with her wipe, she drank almost a full cup of “Anna’s coffee” this morning.

Laura found the baby department for us, and Isabella got some diapers and a stroller while we hunted for new shoes! We made a beeline for the Bob Dogs, and picked out a wonderful pair of black sneakers with red trim and red and green lights in the heels for Pan Pan.  Of course, Miss Anna had to have a new pair of Bob Dogs as well.  She and Baba picked them out while we were trying to figure out if Will’s shoes fit correctly.

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After the shoes, we tried to find a duffle bag inexpensively so we could pack some of the items that came with Will.  We didn’t find anything cheap enough for our tastes, but Trish and Buck found a nice suitcase to replace the one that disintegrated on the flight from Beijing to Yinchuan.  Then we traipsed all over kingdom come looking for outsized pants to fit our generous American butts since all of us are out of pants until the laundry comes back.  We did finally find a store that had some jeans that fit us, but they were a bit pricey and they were unwilling to come down enough to allow us to buy them without going to the bank to change money, so we left to eat lunch and think about it.

We ate lunch at the KFC, and neither Will nor Anna would eat the egg custard that Anna was so wild about last year.  I ate Anna’s; it was quite good.  I don’t know why our local KFC doesn’t serve those!  Anna was getting quite tired by this time, so we headed back to the hotel and after about a half hour of screaming and crying from an overtired baby, Joe got Anna to sleep.  Nicki and I tried to get Pan Pan down for a nap, but he refused.  His schedule from the orphanage does not mention a nap, so I’m guessing he doesn’t take one now.  We’ll be having to institute that once we get home.  He was pretty exhausted at dinner time, though.  I did close the curtains and made him understand that he had to be quiet because Anna was sleeping.  He did well, drawing in a little book I gave him, and putting stickers in it until he woke up.

I had to put my foot down today and become the mean mama already.  I hate that, but someone has to do it.  It started with Pan Pan trying to grab my computer mouse.  After 3 gentle “no”s, followed by naughty giggles, I had to physically remove his hand and give him the “mom” look.  He was surprised, and he has not tried that again.  He is a little boy, though, and his behaviors are new to us.  He is very cheerful and exhuberant, and if you play along, he is soon trying to wrestle and hit and poke, all while giggling furiously.  I don’t like hitting, and over the course of the afternoon, he lost his flashlight, his shoes and his pencil, all because he was using them as weapons.  I’ve had to remove his hand from the big flashlight in the room, and the cabinet door leading to the fridge as well, all followed by the “mom” look.  He gets the mom look.  He doesn’t try those things again, at least while I’m there.

He’s still confused about who is who, and will try to call Nicki “mama” until she stops him.  He called the nannies “mama” too, so I’m not quite sure he understands what it means.  Nicki corrects him each time, and he will identify me as the mama when pushed, but I’m not as fun, and I’m the possessor of the “mom” look, so he’s probably thinking this is all a bad dream.  He has to sleep with us, though, so I know he’ll get the picture.  He also has to come home with us, so time is on our side in establishing the right relationships.  Nicki has been so incredibly helpful in allowing me to spend the time with Anna that I think is necessary to prevent her from feeling any ill effects on her place in the family.

Anyway, to finish the day, Joe went on a scouting expedition to find a pizza place he was sure we had driven by close to the hotel.  He found it.  It’s Uncle Robin’s American Pizza, or something like that, and it’s about 2 blocks from the hotel.  He met Uncle Robin Lee himself, and was thrilled to find Robin spoke English quite well.  He gave Joe his business card and told Joe to call his cell phone to order pizzas in the future so he could speak to him directly, and he will deliver to our hotel.  Joe was beyond thrilled!  He came home with 2 smallish pepperoni and extra cheese pizzas, and they were quite good.  Anna ate about half a slice, which is normal for her, and Will first ate all the topping off, and then started working on the crust.  He wasn’t so sure about it, but he was a good sport.

10-20-07-7.jpg 10-20-07-6.jpg The extra cheese was apparently a bit too cheesy for the princess.

Tomorrow we go on our big tour, to Sand Lake and to some mausoleum where someone important is buried.  I guess we are not going to get to go to Movie City.  I can’ t quite understand why we are so limited in our touring when we are in this province for so long, but there it is.  Thursday we have only one appointment, in the afternoon, and Friday, we just have to pick up the passports.  I may ask if we can do one of the other things either on Thursday morning or Friday afternoon, even if we have to take a taxi.  I know it’s a lot of stuff to drag kids to, but I think they would enjoy both Sand Lake and the old movie studio sets.  Well, we’ll see what happens. 

I’ll try to remember to ask about that restaurant, Cathy.  I know we’ll still be looking for places to eat.  We’ve got 3 more nights in province.  Tomorrow is Halloween, so we’ll get to put our kids in their special Halloween sweatsuits, and get out the goodies and let them trick or treat in the hall! Then it will finally be Thursday, and I will be able to get out of these stinky pants!

Added later: I forgot to mention that Will woke up crying just a little this morning. We got up, just he and I, and we sat down by the window and ate some little buns. He then indicated he needed to go to the bathroom, and he pooped, so life was better already. We sat by the computer,and he ate while I perused e-mail, etc. Anna woke up, came and joined me on my lap, and we decided it was a good time to call Grandma and Grandpa on Skype. Anna and Will both got to see them, and talk to them for a few minutes. It was still dark here, so G&G had a hard time seeing us, but they saw a little. So, they’ve officially met Will! Joe has photos of us talking on the computer on his blog. Check them out!

The full Gotcha Day post

Monday, October 29th, 2007

You got the brief version. Now that everyone else is asleep, I can give you the full version. We had a nice breakfast, and then met downstairs and headed over to the orphanage. Laura actually forgot our TAs, so we had to swing by her hotel again to pick them up. I think she’s a bit nervous, too. At 8:30, we arrived at the orphanage, and went into the conference room to meet with the director, a very nice, professional woman. She asked us a few questions and gave Trish and I beautiful scarves of lamb’s wool. She then took our money, and the nannies brought Pan Pan and Ya Li in to meet us.

So different from last time. I knew better than to snatch the child up this time. I came close by and squatted down, and the nannies explained to him that I was Mama. He was clutching a little toy fire engine I had sent in a care package, and a couple of pictures they said he had colored for his mama. He immediately repeated “mama”, and “baba” when they pointed Joe out. He didn’t show any real reaction of any kind, but he did make eye contact, and studied us very hard. He was obviously nervous, but then again, so were we, so I can’t say that I blame him.

Before I write anything else, I have to tell everyone what an absolutely precious little girl Anna was all day today. I cannot believe some of the wonderful things she did. She came right up to Will and patted him, told him it was all right. She’s using Ge Ge and Will pretty interchangeably right now. He’s calling her Anna Mei Mei. She has patted him, fed him Goldfish (she would not share her Gerber Puffs, however – too precious to share!), tried to play with him and hug him all day. I’ve spent a good portion of the day crying just watching what a big girl she’s become.

We went back out to the lobby, where they had assembled a number of little ones, and we took the group photos. I know I was supposed to be looking for the faces of children who will be coming home soon, but I have to confess I was shell-shocked, too, and I wasn’t really able to concentrate on any specific children. Pan Pan’s nannies were heartbroken, alternately picking him up and hugging him, tears running down their faces. He was reluctant to come with me, but not unwilling. He cried once for just a few seconds when it finally hit him that he was leaving with us.

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We went immediately from the orphanage to a photo shop for our family photo. This is the only time he resisted coming with me. I needed to pick him up once, and he flopped on the floor away from me, but when I picked him up, he didn’t fight me. We had to wait there for a little bit for the photos, and sat on the floor and tried to get him to let me play with his truck, but he wasn’t letting go of that. No way.

After the photo shop, we went directly to the civil affairs office to complete the adoption registration. I don’t know why we did it all in the same day, rather than waiting 24 hours like normal, but it’s OK. While we were there, I had to focus on paperwork, and so did Joe to a large extent, so Auntie Nicki sat on the floor at the other end of the conference room and played with both Will and Anna. She’s the one who got him to roll his truck to Anna back and forth a few times. By this time, Anna had already consumed an entire container of Gerber Puffs (we think she was a bit nervous) and Will was working away on a container of Goldfish. We got through the paperwork without incident, and then came back to the hotel for a bit.

10-29-07-6.jpg Pan Pan, Joe and Laura at the Civil Affairs Office

Joe ran to the grocery nearby and got some ramen noodles, so that’s what we all had for lunch. That went very well. In the meantime, I got out the little backpacks I had filled with matching toys for both of them, and they were very excited about them. They each have a set of Matchbox cars, a Pez dispenser, a plastic tube filled with little animals (dogs for Anna and dinosaurs for Will) and a little board book. We had to run interference because Will wants Anna’s cars, but overall, they did very well.

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10-29-07-11.jpg 10-29-07-12.jpg Eating noodles for lunch

After lunch, we had to go back out to the notary office to have all the paperwork notarized, and then we went to a laundry nearby to drop off the laundry. Unbeknownst to us, they decided they couldn’t get our laundry done until Thursday!!! I took all of my jeans, etc., over except the pants I was wearing, and now I have to wear them until Thursday! I’m pretty disappointed in that. I have to do all the tours, etc., in one pair of khaki pants. Very light tan, of course. At least I have enough shirts and underwear. I’m not impressed with Yinchuan at this point.

Back to the hotel again. We ordered room service. Will is a fantastic eater. He hasn’t stopped eating since we picked him up. He’s pretty solid, but not a fat kiddo. He comes to tell you when he has to pee, which is fantastic. Joe took him in the shower with him, and he did all right. I helped him brush his teeth (he does a much better job than Anna!) and got him into his jammies. We all laid down in bed together (yes, he still has his truck) and he went to sleep quickly. As did Anna and Joe. I couldn’t sleep yet, because my blogging public was awaiting the full report!

He and Anna aren’t really playing together yet, although they are showing some interest in each other. Mostly they’re fighting over belongings at this point; I suppose that will only get worse with time. Will spent the bulk of the afternoon pushing his fire truck around the room. Anna is a bit insecure, but we are loving on her as much as possible, so I think she’s OK. Like many of the orphanage kids, Will did have to pack up everything in his little backpack to take along to the notary office. He even tried to take the packaging material from his cars, but I managed to get that away from him. When something like this happens to you, you never know if you’re coming back to the same place again, so you have to take everything you own.

10-29-07-13.jpg Pushing the truck

He’s already mimicking some English words, even said Amen with us after our table prayer before dinner. He’s a real cutie. I was a bit surprised that his nose is as flat as it is; that wasn’t obvious from his photos. His lip repair is good, but not perfect, so there will need to be some lip revision surgery done. I’ve looked at his teeth, and they seem to be OK, but something isn’t quite right, and I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m pretty certain he’ll need some orthodontic intervention.

There you have it. Joe’s snoring, Anna’s tossing and turning, and Will’s sleeping peacefully. He breathes loudly when sleeping, but there’s no snoring yet. As much as I want to complain about the hotel, I’ll have to save it for another post because I still have to upload all the photos, and I’m tired. The hotel is treating us well, but so much about it is just so blasted inconvenient. I’ve got to remember to ask for more pillows tomorrow.

Quick Gotcha Day post

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’ll post more later, but I know everyone’s sitting around waiting for news, so here’s a quicky post. Things went very differently today than they did last year. We have only had about 2 seconds of crying so far. Pan Pan is a bit standoffish, but is engaging with toys we brought for him, and he’s eating goldfish like they’re going out of style. He’s about an inch taller than Anna, but feels significantly heavier when I pick him up. He’s asked to go to the bathroom a couple of times, and Joe reports that he’s done well. We’re making some noodles in the room before we head out to the notary’s office this afternoon to finish things up. Here are a few pics:

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The time is upon us

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Our life as we know it is about to end. It’s 15 minutes until we leave to go meet our son for the first time. We have little backpacks for each child with matching toys, Gerber Puffs and Goldfish, sippy cups, diapers, wipes, our gifts for the caretakers, Will’s denim jacket, etc…

I’m sure we’re forgetting something vital, but it will all be fine.

See you soon…

Welcome to Yinchuan

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Today was a traveling day, so there wasn’t as much excitement as previous days. We got up early to eat breakfast, and met Teresa and Kevin and daughter Meggie who flew into Beijing yesterday for an overnight stay before flying on to Hefei today. We also ate with Trish and Buck, and Cindy and Russ and their new baby girl, Chloe. After breakfast, we did some last minute packing, then met Lisa and the others listed above, and headed to the airport. We had no issues with our baggage or security, and our flight was uneventful. Anna slept for about 2/3 of it, just long enough to miss lunch. It was only about a 90 minute flight.

Watching the scenery through the plane window was very interesting. First, we flew over quite an extensive mountain range, with snow everywhere. I was completely unaware that there were so many and such high mountains in China. I shall have to consult my guide book (which is nestled safely on my bookshelf at home, where it can relax and stay neat and prissy instead of being helpful while I’m actually traveling!) when I get home to see what those mountains are. After the mountains, we passed over what looked just like the badlands in South Dakota. Hilly, sandy terrain. Absolutely barren. Then, we started seeing brown, cultivated fields. Very flat. When we got in, we learned that those were wheat fields, recently harvested. Apparently wheat and rice are the two main agricultural products of Ningxia.

Our guide, Laura, is from Xi’An, southeast of here. It is a 16 hour train ride for her to get here, and she arrived a little earlier than we did. She met us at the airport, but without her big CCAI sign. We arrived about 25 minutes early and caught her by surprise. She is very nice, though, and I think by the end of the week, we’ll have her out of her shell. She has handled many adoptions for CCAI, but this is her first time in Ningxia. She had never been to Yinchuan before today. So she is learning all about it, too. Because she has nothing else to do here, she will likely be available to do things with us all week.

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We arrived at the hotel at about 1:30PM. It’s a pretty hotel, but very like other hotels in China – filthy carpets, remnants of food under the beds, etc. I’ve posted photos below of our room. That was our first room. Our key worked to get us in the room, but refused to work after that. The maintenance man couldn’t even get it working, so they had to move us to another room. We’re still right next door to Nicki; just on the other side. The rooms are identical, so the photos don’t really matter much. There is no bathtub though. We have a lovely, large, walk-in shower, but no bathtub. I don’t quite understand how we’re going to bathe 2 toddlers in a room with no bathtub. Any ideas?

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The jury is still out on Yinchuan.  It’s a very small city (2 million people – you all know that there are only 600,000 people in the entire state of Vermont, don’t you?) compared to all the other places we’ve been, and I sense that the English-speaking potential of most hotel employees, etc., is very low.  The commercial area we are in ( the “old town” ) is quite busy, with many brightly colored business store fronts along the road, but virtually none of the signs are translated into English.  Much different from Nanning, where at least an attempt was made.  It’s not a pretty city by day, but becomes quite beautiful at night, with lots of neon lights, etc.

Laura let us settle in to the hotel (which involved changing rooms for us) and then we headed over to a bank branch to exchange money.  Ningxia is one of the few provinces that wants its money in RMB instead of USD.  The orphanage donation is large enough that the RMB we got would not fit in our waist-belts.  I had to carry it out in a brown paper bag! 

After the money adventure, Laura suggested we eat at a local restaurant, and we chose a muslim Chinese restaurant.  She went with us, and thank heavens, because I was starting to have flashbacks of trying to order decent food at the downstairs restaurant at our hotel in Nanning.  We had a lovely meal, and 3 large dishes with several beers set the whole table back 98 RMB.  That’s about $13.  Total. 

Here are some shots of the neighborhood of our hotel as we were walking back after dinner.

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I leave you with a group photo of our last night as families of 3.  I’m sad, I’m excited, I don’t know what to think.  Part of me thinks this is such a wonderful thing, and Miss Anna is going to be so happy with a sibling.  Not the first day, of course, but eventually.  The other part still worries that this is the mistake of a lifetime.

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So the schedule for tomorrow: we meet at 8:20AM, go to the orphanage, and receive our children at 8:30AM.  Maybe it’s better if I’m not awake yet.  Anyway, we are going to do all the paperwork tomorrow, so the rest of our week while we wait for passports, will be free time.  I hope it’s fun.  Tomorrow: pics of the new kid!

A Great Wall

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Today was the day we went to the Great Wall of China!  Of course, first we had to have another shopping opportunity at the jade factory.   I resisted.  Anna was being a pill, so I got to use her as an excuse to go out front anyway.

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We traveled on to a section of the Great Wall about 40 km from Beijing.  It was still foggy/smoggy, so it was difficult to appreciate the grandeur of the structure that is normally visible from that point, but it was better than yesterday.   I didn’t realize how mountainous the terrain is immediately outside of Beijing.  As we were driving out of the city, the mountains just loom up, almost the same was the Colorado Rockies just appear in the sky as you’re driving westward from Kansas.  The Great Wall was over 6000 km long in total, and was constructed over several hundred years. 

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Joe strapped Anna to his back, and we headed up.  We made it up to the third watch tower (we think) before I got too nervous about heading back down a very steep, irregular stone staircase with no handrails, surrounded by approximately 16 million of the 17 million people who normally reside in Beijing.

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10-27-07-9.jpg This is what Anna started doing as we got higher up the wall.  I still don’t know if she was just messing around, or if the lack of oxygen was getting to her.  We headed down after she started doing this.

10-27-07-11.jpg This is the view from the highest point we achieved.  That line of busses you can see in the left middle portion of the photo is the point from which we started our climb.  This section of the wall takes some twists and turns, and you can’t always see “there” from “here.”

10-27-07-12.jpg Again, we think we made it to the 3rd tower (also the third from the top)

By the way, Joe does have some pictures of me climbing the wall as well, because I know you all are thinking there’s no way I was up there crawling around on that thing!  Hopefully he’ll post them on his blog.

After the Great Wall adventure, we had lunch at a Friendship Store outside of Beijing.  Friendship stores are established by the government for the express purpose of giving tourists a place to shop safely.  They are filled with local handicrafts and artwork, and the quality is guaranteed by the government.  The price is also fixed by the government, so there is no bargaining to be done.  The lunch was good.  I still managed to not buy anything.  Saving myself for Guangzhou!

After lunch, we went to the Ming Dynasty Tombs. My understanding is that this monument is really just  a memorial to the Ming Kings, who are buried elsewhere.  It is a beautiful, peaceful place, with groomed weeping willow trees lining a long walkway.   The walk is guarded by stone creatures, both real animals and imaginary animals.

10-27-07-13.jpg 10-27-07-14.jpg 10-27-07-15.jpg Joe and I both took this picture of Nicki, and naturally, she has her eyes closed in both of them.

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Last, but not least,  we drove home past the site of the in-town 2008 Olympics activities.  We saw the “bird’s nest” structure where the opening ceremonies will be held.  There was also a new “water building” (don’t ask, I don’t remember its significance), and the left-over brand new buildings put up during the bid for the 2000 Olympics.  Of course, they have to be rebuilt now, but they will get to see some use.

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We leave at 8:30 AM for the airport for our flight to Yinchuan.  We’ll have some time to scout around our hotel area Sunday afternoon and evening, and then Monday, we’ll meet Will for the first time.  If only that poor little boy knew what is about to hit him!

A foggy day in Beijing

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Today was a foggy day for me in more ways than one. It was a very foggy day overall. Our guide, Lisa Li, assures us that this is quite unusual in Beijing. I suspect that it is simply because I’m here. I do have that kind of power over the weather. In fact, the weather looked just like it did the one day I was able to spend at the Grand Canyon a number of years ago. I’ve seen nothing but the near lip of the Grand Canyon. And a squirrel that bit one of my bandmates on the finger. But I digress.

Despite the best efforts of our guide, I remain fairly uneducated on the subject of Beijing architecture, city design, and history. I will do my best to share what I learned today, but I make no claims as to the accuracy of anything in this post.

Beijing is the historic home of the Chinese emperors. The city was constructed based on a series of concentric circles, or rings, with the emperor’s home, the Forbidden City, in the center. I believe there are 5 rings in total. Nowadays, the rings are delineated by roads, and anything inside the second ring road is considered “downtown”. I believe there is a moat outside the second ring as well. Today, we visited Tian An Men Square and the Forbidden City in the morning. There is a central north-south axis in Beijing, and all of the important buildings are built upon that line. We first noted Chairman Mao’s tomb and some various other monuments, and then proceeded to Tian An Men square.

10-26-07-1.jpg Chairman Mao’s Memorial

10-26-07-2.jpg Walking to the square

10-26-07-3.jpg Monument to the People’s Heroes

10-26-07-4.jpg Tian An Men Gate, at the north end of Tian An Men Square.  Note the picture of Mao right in the center.  The flag pole in the center is where the protests and violent government reaction took place in 1989.

10-26-07-5.jpg A group of Tibetan tourists

10-26-07-6.jpg The next gate on the way to the center of the Forbidden City

10-26-07-7.jpg Everything is being refurbished and repainted for the 2008 Olympics

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I know everyone really just wants to see pictures of Anna in the Forbidden City, so here you go!  Apparently, everybody in China wants to see Anna, too.  She was quite the popular attraction in several places today.  Our guide explained that most of the other tourists we encountered today were not local Beijing residents, but people from other areas of China. They are not accustomed to seeing foreigners every day, and a pretty little light-haired girl like Anna is quite a novelty. Several times we were stopped, and peopled crowded around trying to have their picture taken with her. She was not impressed, although she didn’t cry. I even had one woman ask if she could hold Anna while her husband took her picture. Um, no. She had to settle for having her picture taken with Anna AND her fat mama. When I asked Lisa what was up with this, she explained that everyone thinks Anna is a caucasion girl. I guess I’ll just have to start telling people, “She’s not that exciting – she’s Chinese, you know!”

10-26-07-13.jpg Anna with Lisa, discussing Puppy Dog

10-26-07-14.jpg One of the bedchambers for the emperor’s many concubines

10-26-07-15.jpg 10-26-07-16.jpg The Imperial Gardens and the moat around the Forbidden City

We then ate lunch as a group at a restaurant downtown.  We had a private room with a big table, and some excellent, and some not-so-excellent food items.  Anna ate a lot of watermelon.

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After lunch, we went to a silk carpet factory where some of the details of hand-weaving silk carpets were explained and demonstrated to us, and we were shown many beautiful carpets in hopes that we might swoon and accidentally throw down our credit cards and purchase a several thousand dollar carpet to be shipped to our home for our cats to pee on. We didn’t fall for it, but the carpets were very pretty.

We then took a rickshaw tour of the hutong district.  Hutong means “wagon wheel”, and refers to the fact that private dwellings were laid out in a spoke-like pattern around a water source.  There are very few of these privately-owned housing areas left in Beijing.  Most of them have been demolished to make way for government owned apartment buildings.  The streets are very narrow, and mostly very quiet.  Houses vary greatly in quality, but all consist of four smaller apartments or sections situated around a central courtyard.  A modestly sized hutong is now worth around $375,000, so the families that own them are really quite wealthy, even though the homes themselves appear to be pretty substandard living quarters, in my opinion.  In any case, one poor rickshaw driver drew the short straw and had to pedal around with the hefty Winter sisters, and another one got off easy, with just Anna and the baba to carry.  There was some sort of a “sea” in the hutong district, and many small commercial areas as well, with lots of bars.  Our guide, a young single woman, explained that this is a very good place for young singles to hang out to meet people.  Joe threatened that he was going to head there this evening, but since he is now laying on the bed snoring loudly, I don’t think he can keep up with the young singles anymore.  Sorry, Joe.

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This evening, we went to a short acrobat show (that would be short both in length, and in stature of the acrobats), put on by young acrobat students.  Very entertaining.  Baba snored through much of it, but I believe Anna was quite entertained.  I didn’t get any photos of it; I was tired of taking pictures by that time.  We came back to the hotel, and Joe got Anna ready for bed while I started this post.  I got tired in the middle of my ruminations and had to nap for a bit, so it’s a little delayed.  I must get in bed myself, because we have another busy day of touring tomorrow, and even though we seem to have avoided jet lag by sleeping well last night, we still get tired easily. 

I leave you with a group photo taken in Tian An Men Square by an “official” photographer, who inserted our photo into a souvenir photo book, and then sold them to us.  It’s  a nice photo and a nice book, so it was OK.

10-26-07-24.jpg From left, Nicki, Joe, Anna, Billie, Trish, Buck, Connie, Shelly and Lisa

Excellent sleep

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Anna fell asleep yesterday on the way to the hotel, and after a bit of pizza last night, Joe and I were both asleep by 8:30 PM. We awoke briefly at 1:30 AM, and I was afraid that would be it, but I was able to get Anna back to sleep, and we all just woke up at 6:30!

Anna’s hoovering Cheerios, and we’re getting ready to go eat breakfast and start … Day 1 in China – the 2007 Operation Will Adventure!

A very long journey to Beijing

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

But a successful one. We are exhausted. We left our house at 3AM on October 24th, flew out of Manchester at 6:40AM, arrived in Newark at 8AM, met Nicki at our gate, flew out at about 12:30PM, then arrived in Beijing at 1:30PM on October 25th. No sleep for us since Monday night. We’re out of energy. I just sent Joe and Nicki out to try to pick up some water and pizza because Anna’s dead asleep on the bed, and I hate to wake her, even though I know she’ll be up running around like a ninny at 3AM tomorrow. She fell asleep in the van on the way here, and hasn’t budged since.

10-25-07-3.jpg Our gate in Newark for the flight to Beijing

10-25-07-1.jpg 10-25-07-2.jpg Our plane, a Boeing 777

10-25-07-4.jpg 10-25-07-5.jpg Waiting at the gate

10-25-07-6.jpg Anna’s nap nest – lasted only about 1 hour

10-25-07-7.jpg Couldn’t they have just picked us up at home? 

10-25-07-8.jpg Flying over the North Pole – brrr!

10-25-07-9.jpg About an hour before we landed

10-25-07-10.jpg As soon as we got to the hotel

10-25-07-11.jpg 10-25-07-12.jpg 10-25-07-13.jpg Our hotel room

Nicki is next door.  Apparently they don’t have connecting rooms.  I suppose we should have asked about a suite, but I’m just too tired.  This is fine.  It’s not as nice as the other hotels we stayed at on our last trip, but it’s serviceable.  Clean.  Very small.  Picture 1970’s standard issue Holiday Inn in the states, and you’ll have it.

Anna was a remarkably good traveler for a little girl with almost no sleep.  She really didn’t have a meltdown until the plane began descending into Beijing, and that was because she didn’t want to wear her seatbelt.  She screamed for about the last 20 minutes.  Of course, none of the other children on the flight elected to scream at that time, so she stood out like a sore thumb.  She was fine as soon as we got off, and she fell asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the van to come to the hotel.  I know I should wake her, but I just don’t have the heart to do it.  She’s had such a rough day, and done so very well for a toddler.  She’s the best little girl anyone could ever have asked for.  I’m very proud of her.

Tomorrow we go to the Forbidden City and then tour something else.  I’ve confused the two days worth of tours, so it will be a surprise to me as well.  I know that over the next two days, we will be touring the Ming tombs, climbing on the Great Wall, visiting a hutong district in Beijing and riding in a rickshaw, and seeing the Beijing Acrobats perform.  Good stuff. 

I’m hoping the others show up soon before my head crashes into my keyboard.  Check back tomorrow for the next exciting update!

48 hours

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Just about 48 hours until we leave our house to drive to Manchester, and board the plane to Newark, where we get to sit for 4 hours, meet up with Auntie Nicki, and try desperately to psych ourselves up for a 14 hour plane ride. Either that or run Anna up and down the hall for 4 hours non-stop to wear her out so at least she might be able to sleep.

I’ve got most of the nit-picky business things taken care of, so mostly I have to spend these last few hours running errands, going for both doctor and dentist appointments tomorrow morning, spending a few minutes at the clinic, going to band rehearsal tomorrow night, working Tuesday morning, and then doing laundry and basically trying to “fit 10 pounds into a 5 pound sack” in what little time is left over.

Wish us luck. And perhaps pray for us – I think we’ll need it!