Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ni Hao

Kennedy wanted to call to let everyone know how excited she is to meet them.

Wrapping up!

It is hard to believe that two plus weeks have come and gone so quickly. We are busily packing right now while Ms. Busy Body sleeps away, occasionally flip-flopping and whining in her sleep, causing our synchronized instantaneous cessation of activity--like a game of freeze tag. :)

Yesterday was pretty low key. Our travel group got together at 12:30 for the "red couch" photo-- it's a tradition at this hotel to get the kids dressed up in traditional clothes and make them sit together on the couch while being blinded by the flashes of 15 cameras. Fun, eh?

Last night our group went on a river boat cruise on the Pearl River. It was...funny. Funny, funny, funny. The food was good, the view was fabulous (the river is lined with tons of neon), and the music was...hilarious. Ummmm...think bad American romance music. ("Say you, say me...") Kennedy and I did some ballroom dancing, not wanting the moment to pass us by. Good stuff. It was a nice way to spend a warm evening.

Today was our final official requirement--the Consulate appointment. It was not nearly as formal as I thought it would be. The room was filled with families adopting--probably 100 of us or so--and we all took the oath together. Then we got this big brown envelope that we are not allowed to open, but deliver to our "port of entry"--Seattle, in our case--for processing of Kennedy's immigration. So her Chinese passport now contains an IR-3 visa, meaning she will be a citizen as soon as we are stamped in Seattle. (And no, I don't have pictures of the Consulate appointment because they are security-crazed and cameras are not allowed. Oh well, Kennedy slept through the entire proceeding anyway.)

So, that's about it! We leave for the airport tomorrow morning at 9:00--just 11 hours from now. We fly from Guangzhou to Seoul to Seattle to Chicago, arriving at around 7:30pm on Thursday. We have LOVED our time in China and look forward to a return trip soon. But, as often happens at the end of a trip, we are ready to get home--ready for all of you to meet Kennedy, ready for brushing teeth with water from the tap, ready for our washing machine. :) Please pray for an easy, sleep-filled 19 hours of travel for us tomorrow! Kennedy is beyond busy and I wonder how she'll do cramped on a plane for such a long time...wish us luck!

See you soon! And to our travel mates, THANK YOU for being such a great group of folks to share such an incredible experience with. We have such great memories of each of you and look forward to future get-togethers of the Chongren gals. :)

Peace out!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hello from Guangzhou. Hope this tides you over while Jen sleeps

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday, good to me...

What a GREAT day! There just aren't words to describe how amazing it is to watch this little flower bloom before our eyes. We are so in love with her little self.

Today started with the dreaded trip to the medical examination office for the check-up required by the Consulate for immigration processing. How do I describe this office... Hmmmm...well, it's a clinic here in Guangzhou that serves MANY people. It was packed from door to door with parents and kids all waiting to be seen. I mean, this office was PACKED. And noisy. REALLY noisy.

The exam is done assembly line style. A clinician weighs, measures, and takes temps. An ENT doctor checks ears and throat. Another doctor undresses the kids and examines them head to toe. All in all, it took less than an hour and wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. (Tell that to Kennedy, Kaitelin, Christina and Charlotte, right?!)

After the doctor's visit, we went on a walking tour of the wholesale medicine market and pet market. The medicine market streets are lined with all sorts of dried goods--many of which are crazy and very interesting. (Dried frogs, seahorses, etc.) Traditional medicine remains a common practice here, as evidenced by vendor after vendor maintaining huge inventories. The pet market streets are lined with vendors selling dogs, cats, ducks, mice, etc., and all the items you need to keep them cared for. These markets are packed with people and are such a fascinating part of life here--I hope the pictures do them some justice, as they are quite a treat for the eyes.

After the markets, we went to a department store in search of toys for Kennedy. We realize that our girl is BUSY and the 19 hours of travel ahead of us on Thursday may be made easier with a few items of distraction. Dan found this plastic rabbit filled with 10 sensory toys that are just so adorable. When Dan showed them to Kennedy, her eyes lit up like crazy and she began reaching and giggling and so instead of a couple toys, we now have 10. And a rabbit container. Oh, and a separate set of bath toys. I now understand how kids wind up spoiled.

Anyway, we stopped at Starbucks for an afternoon green tea latte and sat outside on the veranda. This might be the most relaxing Starbucks on earth. Kennedy kept reaching behind her to get to the tied up package hanging off her stroller that contained her toys. She is quite smart. I have no idea how she knew--or remembered--that they were back there, but she did. She would stretch and reach around the back of the stroller and then look at us and giggle with her adorable nose all scrunched up. She is too cute for words.

Speaking of words, Kennedy can say Mama and Baba! It started today and she is so proud of herself about it. But she won't perform--it has to come from her unprompted, which makes it quite a treat when she does it. I really don't think voices get much cuter, but I'm not biased or anything.

So the toys were supposed to be saved for the plane, but she was so excited about them and kept going "ooey?" in their general direction, so...we folded. She's the boss. That's just how it is. We played on the bed with those toys for about 2 hours today. She LOVES to play and gets so animated--kicking her legs, cooing, clapping, and making goo-goo eyes at us. (Her eyes are so expressive--she loves making funny faces and mimics just about every face we make followed by a big smile.) I am in complete awe of the transformation we have witnessed in the past week--she is an amazing kid and we feel so incredibly lucky to be her Mama and Baba. Dan and I have been laughing nearly non-stop while she is awake the past 2 days. She is hilarious--and she knows it, too. :)

Tonight we ate pizza (all 3 of us) in the room, played with toys and "talked" for much longer than we should have (there is not bedtime yet--we're just lettin' it happen as it does) and went for a 2 hour walk that put Kennedy to sleep for the night.

Tomorrow we have the famous photo on the red couch here at the White Swan--it's a tradition to get the kiddos from the travel group together for a photo on a red couch here at the hotel. Today I bought each of the girls a traditional hat that is made in their province that I think will jazz up the photo nicely and be a good keepsake. Tomorrow night we go on a dinner boat cruise on the Pearl River--Kennedy's first boat ride!

Oh, and by the way, I know it looks like we haven't changed Kennedy's clothes all week. Just for the record, she has 3 of the same outfit here because they are sink washable and line dry within a couple hours and REI only made them in one fabric. Same for me and Dan. No one smells or anything. :)