Location: Hong Kong

After a hard afternoon of travel due to a little, tired, grumpy boy who threw some very big tantrums, we arrived in Hong Kong.
Tomorrow morning we fly out and change planes in Tokyo, then take our very long flight to Atlanta. We get to see a very special person at the ATL airport during our 3 hour layover. Shelley is the person who is responsible for letting us know a very precious little boy needed a mom and a dad. She is flying out to China as we are flying in, and it will be such a blessing to hang out for a couple of hours together.
We get in to Johnson City on the 9pm flight Thursday. This trip has been wonderful but we are SO excited to be coming home. I think my parents and Heath’s mom can’t wait, too. They have been counting down the hours for us to relieve them of their duties! We are very thankful for their sacrifice and their love. Mom, Dad and Memaw, one thing we ask… please no plans for Chinese food anytime soon!
Jack is very excited we are staying at the airport hotel. He knows that this plane will take us to where he can say – in Chinese, of course – “Finally – I arrive my America!”

Countdown: 1 Day!

The Letter ‘A’ and My New Kitten

Yesterday we went back to the clinic to have the doctor read the TB test results. Many of the babies got upset because they remembered the last time they were in the office they got a stick in the arm. To distract Jack, I pointed out a sign which was in Chinese and English which had a big letter ‘A’. Jack loves to imitate, so he practiced saying, “AAAAAAA”, pointing at the A. We walked around the clinic and Jack found every capital ‘A’ that could be found on the many signs. He would excitedly yell, “AAAAAA” and point until I walked him up and he could touch the ‘A’. We did that most of the time we were at the clinic.

After the clinic checks were completed, we all took a trip to Shaimain (sp?) Island to explore and shop. Our bus driver does not speak English, and would talk with Jack often. He would laugh and laugh at Jack’s responses. Our guide would translate. The bus driver was very amused with Jack and would sneak him treats. Jack pointed out many A’s to us all on the Bank of America and Bank of China signs, license plates, etc. This kept him very busy as there were many A’s to find.

The Island is where we stayed when we were in Guangzhou last time and it was wonderful to remember the beautiful architecture of the buildings and walk along the brick streets. We saw many A’s there as well. We shopped a little at a place which donates their profits to orphans. Heath found some beautiful fabric which he wants to have made into a stoll (sp?) for his church robe. At this same place, Gracie found a fabulous silk cat hat, with ears and tail, and Jack immediately took to it, too. They were priced very low (US $3) and we bought them each one. They both wanted to wear their hats, even in the heat, and would often let out a random, “Meow”. That cracked us up. Jack would talk to every shopkeeper, and make sure they got a ‘Hellloooo!’ as well as a ‘Meow!’ since he was now pretending he was a cat.

Jack insisted on wearing the hat to dinner, so throughout the night I would play along and call my little kitty and he would meow and laugh. In the hotel he made sure he greeted random people with a hello or a meow. At bedtime he asked to sleep in the hat. I don’t blame him. Our room is air conditioned, which he is not used to, and feels very cold and unnatural to him. So the hat helped. It also helped him remember he was in character to be a cat. This morning he meowed at me. I also got a nice snuggle and a big hug from my little kitten.

On schedule for today was a trip to the US Consulate, where we we would have a swearing-in and answered some questions on our documents before they prepared the visa’s for our sons and daughters. To get to the right room, we had to go through two security stations, and follow signs all over the building for ‘Adoptive Families’. Yep. There is a letter A in Adoptive. We followed that A all over until we got to the right room. And there were more A’s in the room! There was also a play house and toys which kept our little A-reading-kitten busy. He is a very busy boy and plays hard. Thankfully he is gentle with the babies who also were playing with toys. But with the older kids, he was a rough and tumble little boy and forgot he was pretending to be a cat. He found a chalk board and drew the letter A several times. He was very proud he could do this. He also took off his shoes and wouldn’t put them back on, and ripped the Abacas out of a little girl’s hand so he got to sit with dad and was grumpy for a time. Finally, it was our turn and we got to turn in our paperwork. Tomorrow we will go back to the Consulate on our way to the train station. We will pick up our children’s visas and head to Hong Kong on the train. Yeah! That is the first leg of our journey home! Most likely he will be wearing his cat hat and will make friends along the way. And we will find some A’s to read, such as in AtlAntA, where he will officially become and AmericAn citizen. And when he Meow’s at the folks in Customs who will stamp his papers, we will smile. And cry. And say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Countdown: 2 days

My Power Ranger son

I am not sure who has enjoyed them more, Gracie or Jack, but Jack sure has been into the Power Ranger videos and movie. We figured he would like them but it has been fun to watch him run around the room making Power Ranger noises and taking the Power Ranger stance. He has taken to the Power Ranger action figures and made them act out scenes from the moving with great excitement. They also went in the bath with him. His exuberance for life is just a joy to watch. We went to play on the hotel playground tonight, and Jack played like a Power Ranger all over the slides (fists with arms raised when he reached the top) climbing equipment, and cubes. He played with a little friend and pulled him all over the place, all in character. He made the funniest moves, and a whole lot of noise. He is one loud little guy. He seemed to try to teach the other little boy some English. He was shouting, trying to get the boy to imitate, “Helloooooo!!!” and “Bye Bye!!!!” Cracked us up.

Earlier today, our group toured Buddhist temple, then a cultural museum and finally ended our morning at the jade and pearl wholesale market. We enjoyed the museum and market the most.

This afternoon, while Jack took a nap, Gracie and I went to the pool and she and her friend, Olivia, swam for a few hours. It was very relaxing and I had a nice time talking with Olivia’s mom, and another mom in our group.

We are very ready to get back home. Loving this trip so much, so thankful to have our little guy, but SO ready to be home and allow the rest of our family to enjoy this precious, full-of-life little boy. He is something else. We are so blessed.

Countdown: 4 days

McDonalds, Starbucks and the Medical Clinic

We arrived late last night in Guangzhou, where we will be until the 12th. This is where we get Jack’s visa to travel to America, and also pass the required medical clinic exam and TB test. The rest of our travel group from FTIA also arrived last night, and it was so fun to see them this morning with their new sons and daughters. Gracie was excited to see her friend, Olivia, whom she met in Beijing.

Before we met up with our group, we found the Starbucks which is in the hotel. After a week in the beautiful city of Nanning, with only authentic Chinese food, we were thrilled to sit and soak in the smells, sounds and taste of Starbucks. Jack picked a pasta salad to eat for breakfast, and I think he enjoyed that as much as I did my carmel macchiato.

Our trip to the medical clinic was interesting, as we got to see many other adoptive families with their new children. Some of them we recognized from Nanning and we said hello. Two different doctors carefully examined Jack, and then we took him to have his TB test. He joked with the doctors, was very cooperative and not shy at all. He did not like the TB test and cried. He is the oldest child in our travel group, and has been interested in the other kids, laughing and talking with them. Most are too young to really talk back, but one boy knows some words and Jack talks a little with him. Jack did not like the boy getting too close to Heath. He got quite possessive.

After the clinic visit, we stopped at a supermarket. Jack loved being in the cart and laughed and talked the whole time. The guide told us Jack says the funniest things. We found a bubble gun and let Jack hold it. The guide told him he could not open it until we paid for it. As soon as we left the check out stand, Jack was calling to the guide, saying,”Hey, we pay! We pay!” He also liked the pear juice and chocolate we bought. Gracie got the sour skittles she had been craving, and a lemonade.

Back at the hotel, Jack and I got things put away while Heath and Gracie walked to McDonalds. Yes, McDonalds. After a week of only real Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacks- with the exception of KFC in Yulin, which I didn’t really eat since I was engrossed in the experience of meeting the foster family – having McDonalds was a treat. Normally I am not a fan. And I resist when my kids want to go. But honestly, I was really looking forward to a cheeseburger and fries today. WHile they were gone, Jack sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Chinese (of course) and I joined in with the American version. He thought that was so cool. I will admit, it was pretty amazing singing a duet in two languages with my son. Very special. That said, in full disclosure, he was on the toilet at the time and when we were done I had to wipe his little bottom.

Jack had his first Micky D’s fries. He shouted. He danced. We got it on video. What is it that makes kids love this stuff??? It was really cute. If we can ever figure out how to post a video on here, we will do it, otherwise, wait for us to get back in the states and access our Facebook accounts because we will post it there. Jack then watched me dip my fries in ketchup. He copied me. And then dragged his next fry over and over until it was mostly ketchup and minimal fry. Too funny. Gracie savored her cheeseburger and nibbled little bites until it was finally gone. We played musical fries when Jack decided to just eat of out Gracie’s box. She decided it would be easier to take mine instead of get hers back. I found Jack’s first box and finished it off.

Nap time. Not Jack’s favorite time of day. He doesn’t want to miss anything. He cries, he shouts, he giggles when we tell him to lay down and go to sleep. Up until today he has been sleeping in my bed with me for naps and nights. But this hotel has a crib in the room, so last night he slept by himself. And today for nap time, the same. He was not happy. He wanted to play. Not in the crib. It took about 45 minutes of us laying him down and being firm before he finally fell asleep. At one point he was shouting some very serious words – very loudly – and I was wondering when the hotel staff might knock on our door to rescue him. I had no idea what he was saying but since he was shouting and pointing at me, I think he may have been verbally filing some grievance about his mom. I just kept working on this blog. Then I posted it and it disappeared. Nothing. After 45 min of typing it is just gone. So I stood up in my bed and started yelling loudly, pointing at the computer. Just kidding. But I felt like it.
I will copy and save this one – just in case – before I hit ‘post’.

We are missing home and our family and friends. Countdown for the trip home: 5 days

Our quiet day

Today was a fairly quiet day. We needed that.

Breakfast for me was Chinese pea pods and coffee. Gracie ate a variety of vegetable and meat dumplings. Heath didn’t eat. Jack drank soy-milk and ate some noodles, and then wanted my pea pods. The servers got a kick out of him asking for them two at a time, and came by to chat. I asked them what they were saying to him, and they told me that they had asked him if he spoke English. He had replied, “NO!” So they asked if his mama spoke Chinese and he pointed and emphatically said I did. I guess he thinks the minimal words I have learned, along with me nodding often means I speak Chinese. Too cute.

We tried to tour Green Mountain Park today, but Heath was feeling so ill that after the thirty-minute drive and hour into the tour, he needed to go back to the hotel. Our guide stopped at a local pharmacy on the way back and we bought some antibiotics and some mysterious Chinese medicine for his ailment. The pharmacy was interesting. There were old men grinding up unknown leaves into powder, and workers measuring clumps of dried lizards, dried plants, fungi, and things I won’t even try to describe. The smell was very strong and somewhat herbal. We have no idea what Heath is taking with the antibiotic but he is willing to try anything at this point. Before we left the states, our doctor did prescribe a gut antibiotic but unfortunately, the pharmacy did not carry it and had to get some delivered, and it was not delivered prior to us leaving. Bummer. We definitely could have used that one. The other things prescribed we were able to fill but have not needed, thankfully. So we picked up some type of antibiotic along with something they recommended for his stomach. The driver told us later that he has taken it and it worked for him which was good to know.

Once back at the hotel, Gracie, Jack and I walked to the restaurant and let Heath have a quiet hotel room. Jack picked something from a picture off the menu, Gracie ordered some pasta and I had duck. Jack decided he wanted to collect everyone’s knives, from our table and the surrounding. He did not like it when I brought him back to his chair without the knives. We did that a few times before the food arrived. When he ate, he thanked the server and told her it was delicious. She laughed and told me what he had said.

After lunch, we went back to the room and got ready for a nap. Jack did not want to nap. We read a few books, and when it was time to sleep he got angry and threw a bit of a temper tantrum. We comforted him but let him know we were still going to nap. He eventually cried himself to sleep, but he was being cuddled and knew we loved him.

Nap-time ended and we had some cookies and water. Then we dressed for the pool. Gracie, Jack and I left Heath to have more quiet time, and walked to the pool. The pool attendant made us shower, and wear caps, which made Jack very, very angry. He screamed, cried, tried to hit. We got his hat on him and took a very brief shower. He screamed and constantly tried to pull the hat off for about 10 minutes. Quite a few people were watching us, wondering if I was hurting him. He was so loud. I almost gave up and went back to the room, but I knew Gracie really wanted to swim. And I really didn’t want him to learn that if he yells long and loud enough he gets his way. Thankfully, he quieted down eventually and then finally decided he was okay sitting in the kids’ pool with me. We splashed, played, kicked our feet, and later found a cute little 2 year-old who had a ball she shared. She and Jack would take turns holding the ball underwater and let it fly up out of the water. They would laugh and laugh. Her father told me that she said she liked playing with the handsome boy. How sweet! Later, I finally got him to kick his feet and use a floatation ring and he was so proud of himself moving around the water on his own. He also got a kick out of using his newly learned English, calling out,”Hullloooo!” at random people. He also yelled to Gracie often, using the Chinese word for big sister. He was careful to keep track of her when she was swimming in the big pool. When it was time to go, Gracie wanted to get one more swim in, and he turned around and waved, “ Bye Jia Jia” which was another more newly learned word. She scrambled out and followed us and he was happy.

We bought him a ‘love ball’ which is a traditional ball used by the people in this region. It is used to propose marriage in a traditional ceremony. He saw the love ball in the hotel store when we were buying drinks and asked if he could get it. Now he is wearing it around his neck and calls it ‘Love Ball’. Another English word checked off the list. He also knows, ‘Gracie’ but likes calling her ‘Jia Jia’. Other words he has picked up are, ‘potty, car, thank you, hi, ‘and of course, ‘hello’. We have learned a lot of Chinese words from him, and from our guide so communication hasn’t been an issue. We pretty much know what he is telling us most of the time. He makes sure of that.

Tomorrow we leave in the afternoon for the airport, and take a short flight to Guangzhou. This is where we will get his American Visa for his passport, and have a swearing in at the US Embassy, along with a room full of other adoptive parents. We will see the other four families that are in our travel group from FTIA, our agency. We will spend five nights at the Marriott and then take the train to Hong Kong the evening of the 12th. We will then fly out of Hong Kong on the morning of the 13th, travel about 25 hours, and arrive in Johnson City around 9pm the 13th.

It is almost bedtime here, and Jack has been working on his Ramen noodles for about an hour. He has done many other things during this time, such as watch videos on my iphone of Memaw’s birthday, and Tay’s pre-birthday. He LOVES to look at all the pictures and videos on our iphones. This keeps him occupied for a long time. He knows who is in his family, and he is excited to have dogs. That is a good thing since we have so many right now.

Gracie is tired, and laying with her head on my knew as I type. She is belly laughing at Jack. He finished most of his noodles, so he poured orange juice into his glass, poured bottled water into the OJ, then poured that mixture into his noodles. She thinks it is very funny that he is drinking that new concoction now. He says it is delicious.

We think they both are funny. We love her laugh.

I just saw the internet has come back on so I will see if I can post this quickly before it goes out again.