Monday, September 29, 2008

The Long & Winding Road...

Well, the long and winding road has finally led us home. What an adventure! We left Hong Kong at 10am on Friday, heading for Newark. 16 hours later, we arrive in Newark, only to be told that because of bad weather (what weather? I don't see any weather?) our flight was being delayed by a few hours, and that we will NEVER make our connection from Atlanta to Ft Myers. Yeah, that's just the news WE wanted to hear after all those hours of flying! So, we start trudging up and down the lines at all the airlines, asking if anyone will be flying to Ft Myers... no deal... BUT, if we want to stay with our original airline, they will fly us into Sarasota. That flight was also delayed, so we will have no problem making that connection. Ok, so I have just barely enough bars on my cell to get in touch with Margie to find out if they can still pick us up, even if we are now going to be almost 2 hours drive from home... I don't know why I bothered to ask... I knew Margie & Charlie would say yes. So, we headed to Atlanta at 7pm Friday night (US Time). We land in Atlanta, and come out of our gate to start heading to the gate for Sarasota... and guess what we pass... the gate for the flight to Ft Myers... and it hasn't left yet!!! Well, we thought about it for about a minute, but realized, all our luggage has already been checked thru to Sarasota... so no sense in flying to Ft Myers! What a pain... We left Atlanta about 9:30pm headed for Florida. We finally arrived around midnight in Sarasota. Now I had no doubt Margie & Charlie would be there, but they said they were going to try to convince my folks not to make the trip.. yeah, right... LOL... Just as we expected, mom bursts out in tears as soon as she sees her new granddaughter. And Rachel took to her Nana right away. She took to her Grandpa too... and Margie.. and Charlie... and the lady who worked at the counter who they all met while they were waiting for us! LOL... Our little girl was so good through all the insanity of flying around the world for the last 24 hours.

I was surprised to find our yard decorated before we got home! Kim & Rita did an amazing job. Oh, and Kim's hubby Chris seemed to have a good time TP'g my mailbox and bushes! :-)

I am SO glad that it is all over... We are absolutely thrilled to be home... OH.. and Penny did great with the baby. All she wants to do is lick her face... and hands, and toes... She sure has grown up while we were gone!

Today (Sunday) my girlfriends came over for their first visit with Rachel. They had a ball, and so did she! She got passed around to everyone, including my girlfriends 11 year old daughter Miranda, who is going to make an AWESOME babysitter! (IF she wants!)
I gotta say, I have some incredible friends... They really have been there for all the trials & tribulations... I love you guys... :-)

Mom came over after the girls left. Needless to say, our little munchkin had a full day with all the company... can you tell?

Tomorrow we have her first pediatrician appointment... I wonder if she can give me something too... I am sick... oh BOY am I sick... for the first time in YEARS I am actually running a fever, chills, tummy ache, etc. I'm going to have a hard time keeping my germies away from the baby, but I don't want her getting whatever I seem to be getting. So that's why the one long post... not sure if I'll be up for doing this again tomorrow...
Wish us luck at the Dr's office!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Helter Skelter

Ok, if someone can tell me what day it is, I would appreciate it. My head is spinning from all we have been doing!
Yesterday we took the kids for their medical exams and for Visa pictures. Later that afternoon, we had red couch mania. For those who don't know, there is a section of the White Swan hotel where they have several red couches arranged. Traditionally, all adoptive families put their kids on the red couch for group pictures... yeah, right! Here are some pics of the bedlam that we encountered! :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Do You Sleep

I know, I've been bad. I'm sorry I have not posted in a couple of days. But we finally were paroled from Changsha and yesterday we arrived in Guangzhou. What a world of difference! This place reminds me of an old European city. It's beautiful... gorgeous gardens, old world architecture. Very VERY big difference from Changsha.
The rest of the group is staying at the White Swan, however we opted to stay at the Victory. To be honest, I really LOVE the lobby area of the White Swan, but I am still really glad we chose to stay here. The rooms are very comfortable, and the beds... all I can say is, last night was the best nights sleep we have had since arriving in China. We got a business suite, and it is quite large. There is a separate sitting area with a couch and chair, plus plenty of room for Rachel to use it as a playroom. Plus, our Internet is free, and there is a special filtered water spout in the bathroom that is safe to drink!!! That is probably our favorite part. No more lugging bottles of water from the store!

Today we went to the Chen family temple. It was very pretty. Again, lots of gardens and also of course, lots of shops. We bought this really cool instrument. It's kind of like a clarinet, but its not. Then when we got back to the island, I ended up buying a flute instrument too. They are both very cool and sounds great, when we get them playing correctly! I'm doing the flute and Tommy is doing the other thing...

After we went to the temple, we went to a market place. I picked up a few nice things in Jade for my mom & Marla. I also got a string of pearls for when Rachel is MUCH older. Then we came back to the island. We had another little shopping excursion this afternoon, where I picked up a few more things. I wanted to get her a couple of traditional Chinese outfits. I got her a beautiful little dress that will fit her now, and then I got her a cute pants set for when she is a few years older.

I will not be buying much more. Today we also bought another suitcase so that we can bring it all home!! Right now, Rachel has just fallen asleep on Tommy's chest. She loves her daddy.
We will be heading to bed soon. Tomorrow will be another busy day. We were supposed to go to a park, but instead, we are going to the ZOO! That was actually my idea and since everyone was up for it, they changed the plan for the day. I can't wait. Just hope they have Panda's!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Schools Out

Today was another sightseeing day. We went to an academy where we saw a fabulous music performance. I believe they said Confucious either studied or taught here. It is a very famous school in China, not just the province.
After that, Michael brought us to a fantastic place for lunch. A little more expensive than the average meals we have been getting with him, but actually it was worth it... the food was amazing. lots more veggies than we usually get which was good too.

We came back to the hotel after lunch and it was time to give our little bean a bath... then it was nap time for all. We were so totally exhausted, that we fell asleep around 2pm and didn't really wake up again until 7pm. Funny how just going out walking around a little makes us so tired. I think it has to do with the air quality and lack of oxygen getting to the brain.

Anyway, we opted to skip dinner tonite. I was still full from lunch! Tommy had my leftovers from the other day, which was really just a light snack for him.

Oh, and I took LOTS of pictures of Rachel today, so everyone can stop yelling at me! I will be sending out the snapfish invites again... :-)

In the meantime, here are a few of todays highlights...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bird of Beauty

Today we went to the Embroidery & Silk Museum. It was amazing. We went into the work area to watch the woman making the embroidered pieces. I was in awe of their workmanship. We picked up a couple of things mainly because it is specific to Rachel's province... it will be a beautiful keepsake for her later...

After coming back to the hotel, it was time for a little play before nap...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's a Marvelous Night for a Moondance

Last night Micheal took us to an awesome restaurant down the block from the hotel. He did all the ordering for us. It was really good... and holy cow was it cheap... we ate for a long time and all were stuffed to the gills, for a whopping $8 per person! INCLUDING TIP! Too funny... anyway, it seems Rachel is the belle of the ball wherever we go, and this was no exception... here are some of her newest fans...

This morning & afternoon, we were on our own... we go to do whatever we wanted... so naturally, we went SHOPPING... we actually didn't buy very much... we are saving it up for when we get to Guangzhou.. but we sure attracted a lot of attention... that's truly amazing... we are like a walking freak show apparently. Everyone stops to look at all the babies, and they have no fear! One lady walked right up and took Rachel right out of her stroller before I had a chance to stop her! Freaked the hell out of me... but I got her back right away and opted to carry her for while after that! Here are some shopping pics (not many taken because forgot to charge up the camera! DUH)

Tonight was the Mid Autumn Moon Festival. The tradition here is for everyone to celebrate the mid autumn moon by spending time with family and then you are supposed to eat moon cakes and make a wish.
Well, we went to a mid autum festival, but some of the families decided they wanted to go back to the hotel early, so we didn't get to see a lot of the festivities but what we saw we enjoyed. I was hoping to see the entertainment but someone said they got a picture of one of the performers as she was entering the park, so when she sends it to me I will post it here... in the meantime, here are some of the pics we took. There were lots more but these are the highlights!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

That Was Yesterday

Rachel is sleeping like a little angel, so I thought I would take a few minutes to try to update here. Yesterday was our big adventure out to Walmart. All I can say is, you have to see it to believe it. I don't think Tommy will EVER complain about going to our Walmart again. The place was wild. They had things for sale I can't even describe, because I might gag. Things I would have thought belonged in the pet department were being sold in the food dept. Scary... I will post a few pics, which honestly, I'm kinda stealing from one of the other Chen Chen gang because I forgot my camera.

One thing I have to say... we have an AWESOME bunch of families in our group. Seriously, some of the sweetest people in the world. I will try to get a bunch of pictures of each family in our group and post them later. I still feel so bad that not everyone in our group got to be a part of all the pre-travel chatter. But we are all making up for it now that we are together. So our girls all have a pretty amazing extended family!

Rachel & her "Grandma" Chen - Josephine Chen & her husband Paris are here with their son Jeff & daughter in law Laura. Rachel has totally taken to her!

Oh.. and before anyone freaks, yes we heard all about the recall on the baby formula. Several of the parents in our group started to buy that brand, but were stopped at the checkout and all tainted products were returned and exchanged. We had actually bought Nestle brand (wanted something that sounded familiar) so we were never in any danger.

Anyway, we picked up an umbrella stroller while at Wally world... not as cheap as everyone had told us it could have been, but we really didn't care anymore... we were both in too much pain trying to carry Rachel everywhere... it is already worth every penny (or Yuan... LOL)

Today we had our first siteseeing tour... we went to a Museum - it was the history of the Province museum... I will have to find out from someone what the name of it is... sorry...

Tonite, Michael (our Guide) is taking us all to an authentic Hunan Chinese restaurant. Somewhere not too far from the hotel. and tomorrow is the big Autumn Moon festival. Our Hotel (the Dolton) has been an absolute FLURRY of activity selling Mooncakes for the big event. Tomorrow night we will go to the park near the hotel to enjoy the festivities... I'm sure I'll have LOTS of pics to post of that too.

Well, I have to gather our dirty laundry now, and then upload pics... Look for more later! Oh, and BOY do we MISS THE STATES! Ok... this was a long post, but until today, I hadn't had enough time to write, so I think I made up for it now! Miss you all back at home... xoxo

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Welcome to Wally World East

So it is official. We are now Rachel's mommy and daddy forever. Yesterday was the big "ceremony" at the civil affairs office. It mostly involved a lot of paperwork. They asked us what we did for a living, how much we earn, and did we promise to never abandon or abuse her. We signed all the papers, got our family picture done, got her foot print on form... and sweat like a bunch of hounds. That civil affairs office building is like a sauna... anyway when it was all done, we went back to the hotel, and tried to relax. Later on, we had a really terrific dinner at the Chinese restaurant here at the hotel. and incredibly inexpensive too. we will definitely be going back there.

After dinner, we walked around the neighborhood with Sophie, Gary & Zia. It was really a beautiful night. Unfortunately, my back was KILLING me and so we had to end it much sooner than everyone else would have wanted.

Then it was time for bed. Went to sleep around 9:30 or so. but it's been a bit of a rough night... Rachel is not feeling well and has had us up most of the night... Could be either teething or an ear infection... not entirely sure which yet. I may start her on the antibiotics today. Going to talk to Shazia (she's in our group - and a pharmasist) to see what she thinks and to get her help to make sure I don't screw up mixing this stuff!

Today is our big shopping day at Walmart. Can't wait.. gotta get the umbrella stroller. It's been kinda rough carrying her around all the time. I am going to try to weigh her today.
She eats like a truck driver... She loves to eat. Thats been a good thing, since at least we know that as crummy as she feels, she is still eating!

That's about it for now... no new pics yet since we went to bed right away yesterday, but I will try to post more later...
xoxoxox to everyone and wish us luck that she gets over this cold! Daddy is out walking the halls with her now so mommy can take a shower! LOL

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This Song..

Ok... so I was trying to use song titles for almost all my blog titles... but right now my brain is complete and total MUSH... Rachel is sound asleep... I gave her some Motrin because all our little ones appear to have colds... lots of coughing and stuffy noses... She has been an absolute DREAM... she hasn't cried at all, has laughed with us a lot, and the absolute best feeling in the world was when I held her and she put her little arms around my neck and held on like she knew me... I haven't stopped crying and smiling at the same time...

Tomorrow we have to be out of her very early in the morning. We finalize all the paperwork and hand over the bulk of our money... Oh... and she is in size 2 diapers that still look a little big, and the 9 mos PJ's I put her in are big too... only not so much in the length...

She stands up in the crib and she has 2 teeth on the bottom and a 3rd coming in on top (which would account for the stuffy nose, but I don't think the cough would be connected.. Mom, you tell me!)

so here are a few more pictures...

Words Get in the Way

I am just so beyond words right now... I could not be happier. My daughter and her daddy are both napping at the moment... I'm getting ready to go up to a meeting room for paperwork...

So without futher adue... May I present... Ms. Rachel MeiLi Evonne Shaw... and family!!!

More to follow but I have to run to do more paperwork!!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Glass Hotel

We made it through our first full travel day! It is around 9:30pm and we are in our hotel in Hong Kong. My ankles look like they belong on the Michellin Man... I am so swollen from all the airplane rides... but we are HERE!!!!

Tomorrow morning we have to be at the airport at 7am for our next flight... THE flight... we leave for Changsha!!! WOOHOO....

I already spoke to Kim on Skype tonite. Tried to call mom, but got the answering machine! and Marla must not be near the computer... but this place is really nice... apparently it was just built a year ago. very fancy.. there is even a shopping mall downstairs!

Well, this has to be short because they charge for internet here and I only bought an hour to call people... Tomorrow I will hpefully be in the room at a reasonable hour and I will have LOTS of pictures to post!!!

Love all,

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eight Miles High

Today I tested Skype with Marla & Kim. This is going to be SO cool... it worked really great with Kim and pretty well with Marla... I think that one was because of her camera... but she is actually going to buy a new web cam...
I'm just about done packing. really all that is left is the carry on stuff. That and what my girlfriend Lorie brought me today. She came over with her sister and her 2 gorgeous little girls. She adopted them both from China too. They were absolutely adorable!!! Anyway, she brought stuff for us to take on the trip, so I have to get that into the bags. Then Margie & Charlie came over for a last minute goodbye and final instructions for all the stuff they need to know about the house. They are staying here while we are gone. They also brought Rachel the cutest little cup with her name on it! Beautiful bright colors... YEAH...
I spent most of today on the phone! everyone calling to say bon voyage... it was not what I intended, since I had so much cleaning up to do... but I decided I will continue working throughout the evening, and whatever I don't get to I will just dump into a garbage bag and it will wait till we get home!
Right now I'm going to print out our boarding passes for tomorrow's flights. then I have to pack up the laptop and start getting the last minute stuff done. Tommy just left to get Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner.. Forgot to tell him what I wanted! I sure hope he remembers I don't do legs...
Ok, so this should be the last post probably until we get to China, but if there is time I may post tomorrow from Newark... we'll see.
Wow... it's really happening! YIPPEE

Saturday, September 06, 2008

You've Got a Friend

You know... I left work feeling really down. I was just so hurt... But I walked out of there without anyone from my shift saying anything, and just got in my car and didn't look back. I headed off to meet my ladies group for an emergency meeting... I was the emergency! LOL.. they wanted to say bon voyage... and boy did they! I am SO grateful for the friends I have... they are so awesome... The girls gave me a beautiful gift to wear on the trip (so that I know they are with me the whole time). It is a gorgeous mother & child necklace. They made me feel SO much better!!!
So to Kim, Nancy, Donna & Rita.... I just want ALL of you to know how special you are to me.... and know that I love you all very much... Rachel is going to have some awesome aunties!!! :-) Thanks for being there... oh and Kim... NOTICE THE COLOR!!! LOL.... just for you, shopper girl!

Friday, September 05, 2008

For Once in my Life

55.86 hours until we are on a plane. Even more important, 111 hours to go until we are holding our precious daughter. Wow... that is just so... I can't even describe it. After waiting 3 long years, it is just a matter of hours... I'm gonna be a mom... did I say wow?
No major events today. Went to AT&T to get a new phone for Tommy, but they didn't have any freebies (he doesn't want any bells or whistles... just a phone) so we will wait until we get back to get that for him. Then I hit Target looking for an inflatable bath tub to bring to China. They only had the big one with the giant duck head, which I did not want. Guess I'll have to run all the way out to Babies R Us for the one they have. I did pick up an inflatable "baby pool" from Target which I will take if I can't get the other one. It is really too big to fit in a bathtub, but it will do in a pinch.
Tonite is my last night at work YIIIIPPPPPEEEEE!!!!! I'm actually kinda hurt. They did nothing for my last night. Considering all the birthdays & showers I've done around here, I was kinda thinking maybe SOMETHING... but nope... not so much as a card... I sure wish I could stay home for good... Funny, but I think I told someone months ago that I didn't think anyone would do anything when I left... but in the back of my mind (or my heart), I guess I had hoped... oh well... you never know, right? Well, I won't be thinking of this place for the next 5 months...

Psycho Killer - Qu'est-ce que c'est?

I am starting to firmly believe in the old adage "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger..."
Today was hell... got a call at noon from our credit union. I was expecting their call because today was when my new money was going to be delivered so they were calling me to pick it up... or so I thought... but NO... instead they are calling me to tell me that despite all the promises and assurances they gave me not 2 days ago, they could NOT get the new money... I blew my top... I got hysterical... I cried, screamed, cried some more... and all they said was "sorry". So I called the main HQ in Tampa... freaked out some more on the phone with them... told them it was doubly aggravating having to listen to their message on hold, which kept repeating how much they value their members and value our trust... yeah right... ok, so I call my girlfriend Kim... my savior... I'm hysterical crying to her on the phone... I asked her to take the end of the alphabet and I had already started the beginning and we would meet in the middle and call every freakin bank in the county until I got enough new bills... well, she stops me and says her mom works at a credit union up in Punta Gorda... SO... she calls her mom, they have new bills, we are taking a road trip to PG... so I go to my credit union branch on Santa Barbara (because if I go into the one on Del Prado, I would do some serious physical harm to them) and I'm going to withdraw $6000 to take up to Punta Gorda... while I'm in line, my phone rings... its the main office in Tampa... they found new bills for me but they are not at the Del Prado branch... they are in the Santa Barbara branch! I tell her I'm standing in the Santa Barbara branch... she tells me to ask for Joanne.. so I do... they have my money in an envelope in the back... all in new bills, no marks, no folds... just like I need. So I call my girlfriend and tell her the road trip is off... and now I need Valium!!!! or ice cream... LOL... Nothing like a little excitement/aggravation to start my day!
BUT... we did get some GOOD news... we got an updated itinerary from the agency... seems we are NOT going to get our daughter on the 11th... we are actually getting her on the 10th!!! the same day we arrive in Changsha!!!
We get in around 11am, go to the hotel, unload, and have to be at the civil affairs office at 3:30pm!!!! WOOHOO!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Riders On The Storm

Another day closer... only now I have something NEW to worry about... Hurricane season is kicking us where it hurts. We are closely watching out for Hurricane Ike. It is currently out in the Atlantic at a Category 4. It's expected to become a 5 by tomorrow night. By Monday, it should be in the Bahamas. If I'm figuring correctly, we should not have a problem flying out, but now I'll be worrying about the house and all the animals... I'm also calling American Airlines constantly to make sure they don't cancel our flight... I'm thinking of flying up to NJ on Sunday instead, just to be certain we won't have any issues... but that means losing the cost of the tickets we already have, PLUS paying for a hotel at the airport... not to mention losing an entire day of cleaning the house and getting ready... I don't care much for that idea either... Ok... just going to think good, positive thoughts. I know... Tina will step in and kick Ike outa there! :-)
This morning I stopped at the Urgent care clinic... I'm pretty sure I've got a sinus infection. Well, the Doc said it was allergies and gave me perscriptions for nasal spray and antihistimine... but I did get her to give me a script for Cipro for the trip... so it wasn't a complete waste...
Went to my parents for dinner and for dad to do my hair... he added the highlights this time too! :-)
Tomorrow... more packing, less panic... I hope!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Funny How Time Flies

Today was the run to the bank to get a cashier's check for our agency. Then to the post office to get it out Priority mail... we had to get our in-china flight fees paid by Thursday...
So while I was at the bank, had a minor panic attack when they told me they are HOPING to get our money in by Thursday (the brand new bills we have to take for all the China expenses - like the orphanage donation, etc... ) She PROMISED me they would have it and I did not have to be nervous... she told me to have faith... these days, that is easier said than done! I told her she's literally got my life in her hands! We'll see what happens...
I still have WAY too much to do before Monday. I was running way far behind today (forgot Tommy had started to clean Fred's tank and when I came home from the bank run I realized he was still in the bathtub and the tank was still 1/4 full of cruddy water! had to finish that before I could take my nap!) and since I was running so late, had to cancel having dad do my hair... well, he will do it tomorrow instead.
Still have to finish packing Tommy's clothes - he promised to have them all laid out for me for tomorrow. Not to mention digging thru the mountain of JUNK on the dining room table. OY... I'm tired~! LOL.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fly Away from Here

Today was a packing day. I finished packing my bag and it weighed in at 40 lbs. Just where I wanted it to be. Now I'm waiting for Tommy to pull out all the clothes he wants to take so I can pack his bag and see what other baby stuff I can get in there too... looks like we will have plenty of room. Especially since we will be buying a new bag while we are in China for all the stuff we will be buying there... mostly clothes for Rachel, and a few gifts to give her over the coming years...
Unfortunately, I'm also feeling really crummy today... my head hurts, and I feel totally run down like I'm getting a cold... I REFUSE TO GET SICK!!!
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going to dad's to get my hair done and start my final week of work. Actually, only 4 more nights of work before I am OUTA THERE... 5 months... how cool is that?
But I really have to get moving on the cleaning around here... There is a pile of stuff on the dining room table that will take over if I don't get it GONE... LOL... well, I work best under pressure, I guess.

Our Story

My photo
We are the proud parents of a beautiful little girl. I have not stopped smiling since the moment they placed her in my arms. We adopted her Sept 2008 and it's been nothing but wonderful! She is the best reason to open my eyes every day! Currently living in SW Florida. I've also become a MAJOR Twilight junkie, so now I'm told I'm a TWI-MOM & I LOVE it!

Our Daughter Rachel MeiLi

Our Daughter Rachel MeiLi
Rachel MeiLi

Red Thread Legend

Red Thread Legend
Chinese Red Thread Legend


Jodi's Greatest Hits - Some of my Favorite Tunes