Monday, October 31, 2005

The Trouble With Ohio

As many of you know, I grew up in Connecticut. Great state, that Connecticut. Quite lovely in many respects. I miss it sometimes.

But I live in Ohio now. Me gusta Ohio. Great place to live. Lovely state, all around. I am happy to live in Ohio. Mind you, I'm no Buckeye fan (and, if you are like me, you might not know what a buckeye is until you move to Ohio.) But, I'm no UConn fan either. So there you go.

But I suppose if I had to decide where my loyalties lie, they'd come up on the Ohio side. Fine, fine place, this Ohio.

With one exception.

No one here knows how to do ice cream.*

I began noticing ice cream infractions right after college, when I was living on my own and doing all the important things that single women do when they start out life on their own. You know, things like finding the best ice cream joints.

I have been annoyed, on several occasions, because of the way that people "do" ice cream here. It happened again this past weekend, and I started wondering why I get annoyed. I have concluded that I have long held a subconscious list of ice cream rules. I realized I had several rules which govern my expectations when eating ice cream. Some might consider them ice cream minutiae, but they have led to many a disappointment for me. I think these rules, in part, came from my ice cream experiences when I was growing up in Connecticut. But, Connecticut or Ohio, I truly believe that THIS is how ice cream should be done.

Here are the rules:

1. Ice cream joints should be open all year.
This concept of closing down your shop for 9 months out of the year is ludicrous. What's the matter with everyone? Do people stop eating ice cream just because it gets cold? That's STUPID!

2. If you are going to sell ice cream, you must sell vanilla AND chocolate, at the very least.
What's up with going to a Dairy Queen and being told that they only sell vanilla? At DAIRY QUEEN? Geez, more like Dairy Pauper... selling only one flavor... and the LAMEST ONE, at that!

3. Hard pack ice cream should be, um, HARD.
If you aren't breaking your wrist when you are dipping it (scooping it, in CT) then it might as well be soft serve. And don't try to sell me that stupid Pampered Chef ice cream scoop with antifreeze in the handle that melts the ice cream when you dip it. If I wanted melted ice cream I'd drink chocolate milk. Hard pack isn't supposed to be slimy. It's supposed to be hard.

4. A chocolate milkshake should be made with CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM.
What, I must know, is the point of making a shake with chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream, when you can use chocolate ice cream and get WAY better results? (Unless you are at that Dairy Queen, that is...) No one out here does this. I swear. I first encountered this ridiculousness during my maiden voyage to Steak n Shake. A restaurant which, go figure, only serves vanilla ice cream. Everyone was telling me how great Steak n Shake was. After ordering a single steakburger - which is like eating a beef-flavored piece of paper on a bun - I was served this pseudo chocolate shake. All I could think was hmmm the steak stunk, and the shake is even worse!

5. A malt is a milkshake (in other words, it's drinkable,) with malt in it.
The Spot, the "famous" diner in Sidney, Ohio, makes one killer old fashioned cream pie. But don't order a malt there. It is literally soft serve in a cup. WhaaAAAAAAT?

6. A sundae has whipped cream.
Stop asking me if I want whipped cream when I order a sundae. Of course I want whipped cream. If I didn't, I would have ordered a cup.

I am sure this all sounds rather silly to you all. But I have given this a lot of thought, and I think this really is how ice cream should be done. It just doesn't make sense any other way.

I am contacting my congressmen.

(*With the notable exception of Graeter's. Them folks got some stinking good 'scream.)

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Dear Yahoo! Music:
No, thank you. I do not need a fix of "Shakira." But I'll be sure to turn to you the moment I do.


The ol' blog is back to is previous status. I don't know how to classify that status, but it has returned to the old days, nonetheless. While in China, there was actually a day when I got over 500 page loads. In one day! This is insane. I have since learned that friends of friends of friends (AKA, complete strangers) were reading the blog, and enjoying pictures of Bao.

Now it's just me. I only get a fraction of those page loads now.

I'm used to it though. It's the same phenomenon that has been happening since the first time I took my first baby to church. Whenever accompanied by a child, I inexplicably become invisible. So, holding Boo's hand, for example, I can walk down a hall and people will pop out of rooms or call after us with "Hi, Ms. Boo!"

Once in a while people catch what they've done and try to correct themselves. It usually happens once we are already ten feet past. They'll say "Oh, Hi to you too, Lori!"

Yeah, yeah.

Even my mom calls more often, now that I have kids. (You cannot deny this, mother.)


I have instituted a new practice in my spiritual life. I started doing it in China after I had my "breakdown." I was emotionally exhausted in part because of how much effort it took to get any positive responses from Bao. (Normal, of course, but still exhausting when coupled with other things.) There was a part of me that wanted her to love me "just because," and not just when I did something fun. As I was praying this out, I realized that I was guilty of doing to God what Bao had been doing with me. SO...

I started smiling at God. Whenever I thought of it, I would literally look up and give him a big, and probably cheesy, grin. I'm still doing it. I know that God is always doing things for me every moment, but it has become my way of saying "I love you even when I don't see what you are doing." It usually brings to mind a ton of good things he has done for me. And it makes me laugh at having a silly thing between the two of us.

God is good.

And so is my blog... even though no one is reading it any more!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Is it weird...

That I eat leftover roast right out of the refrigerator.

For breakfast.

Well, I have one or two ideas for things I can post about, but don't have the inclination to do it right now. Things with Ms. Bao have been good, I think. She has a crabby period right before she needs to sleep. It gets pretty bad b/c I think she is fighting the sleep. And I still can't figure out any sort of schedule for her... I am not into "putting" kids on a schedule, but I did try to get her to eat something like breakfast this morning. She wasn't interested, thank you.

Bao is doing well with the kids. She plays great when they are around, as long as they aren't in her face, all over her. And she seems to be attaching to me and Paul, which I am thrilled about. Right now it means holding her and just being around her a lot. That will exhaust me at some point, but for now, I am just trying to give her what she wants.

She is sleeping great through the night, getting up once to eat. I have no idea when she woke up this morning. I woke up to sounds of her happily chatting in her crib. She seemed glad to see me when I came in.

She is still very uninterested in strangers, particularly a large group of them. People always want to touch her face or hold her hand, neither of which she likes. (She lets me touch her face when I am snuggling with her, and she will lay her cheek against mine, but she still pushes my hand away when I try to hold it.) We've been out to church and that's about it, which is where the problem comes in. At church everyone knows us and wants to see her, so they get in her face and talk to her like they are expecting her to respond. She just turns toward me whenever that happens. The ladies at Bible study were understanding and, quite literally, backed off. But when we go out around lots of people where she can just observe, she's all about that. She likes to look around and hear people having conversation, etc.

Mom and Dad left yesterday and should be home some time today. It was nice having them around. They took Boo and Bug out to do a bunch of things, which they obviously enjoyed.

So now, it's just us. Things are manageable so far. We went to get some groceries last night and look around at an electronics store. Bao isn't too fond of the carseat, but in every other way things went fairly smoothly.

Man, three kids. It's a totally different dynamic that will take some getting used to.

We're getting there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Can things go TOO smoothly?

Well, the little lady has slept through the last two nights and I seem to be able to pacify her relatively quickly when she cries. Today, when she started rubbing her eyes, I laid her in her crib and, believe it or not, she took a nap. Hmm.

It seems too easy. I keep waiting for something to go wrong. I know this is not healthy. But there's something in the back of my head that keeps telling me not to let my guard down.

I even convinced myself that Bug was going to start puking when he woke up in the middle of the night last night. I was all ready for it. And I was already making plans for how to tell him he couldn't go to the Halloween party b/c he was sick... and of course Boo would have caught it by then too, so I was trying to figure out how to break it to her too...

Of course, Bug never puked...

I think I am going crazy.

Aye, aye, aye.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Hey, It's me.

We're back.

Well. Things are going pretty good, and seem to be going better with each day. Ms. Bao seems to be fussing less... or we are just getting better at figuring out what she wants. This is my least favorite (and therefore most stressful) phase of mothering... the part where you have to "figure" your kid out. But, things are progressing.

Bao is up about 2 hours during the night still, but there seem to be some changes in the schedule which I am taking as signs that she will soon be adjusted to the eastern time zone. Yahoo!

The flights were okay. The little social butterfly got tired of looking at our faces and cried quite a bit a few times. But, if she wasn't pacified by a bottle, she was with some conversation in the flight attendant's bridge with some of the other passengers. She did sleep a lot too.

We made it and I guess that is all that matters.

We spent our first night home with Boo, Bug, and Bao camping out on the floor of the living room so that we could all spend an extended period just being close to each other. The kids seemed so glad to see us again. Lots of hugs and kisses all night long. Ms. Boo and I fell asleep holding hands, and when I woke up to tend to Bao, we were still holding on!

Since then the transition has been fairly smooth. I lost it a few times when I was desparately exhausted and all three of them were crying at once. But things are slowly becoming manageable. Paul is back at work today, and this morning went really well. It helps that the folks from church are bring over meals. And it helps that my parents are here too. They are all in the garage right now (it's raining) playing a rousing game of "tag wag." I am sure this is something that Boo made up... but they keep yelling "tag wag!" and seem to be having quite a good time.

I don't have a family picture to post for two reasons... First - we haven't taken any yet. Second - the digital camera is back in the hands of its owner, so I have no way of uploading unless I get film processed and scan the prints. That's a little too much for me to handle right now... so I apologize to everyone who wants to see the happy family.

Thanks for all of your support and care for us over these last few weeks. At this point, I can honestly say that I have absolutley no desire to ever do this again... but I am thoroughly glad that we did.

Signing off for now...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

That's All Folks...

Well, we are getting on a plane tomorrow morning. Leaving the hotel at 5:30 am and will be back home around 6 pm.

I am ready to leave here, but I am not sure I am ready to be home yet. Big transitions await. So this may be the last you hear from me in a while. Faithful readers, please check back. I imagine I will return one of these days.

To answer the quiz questions:

Guangzhou is the city formerly known as Canton. Yes, we have spent 4 whole days in the home of Cantonese cooking. No, I didn't try much. (We have been preoccupied with Bao's health. As mentioned previously, we suspected she had an ear infection. After giving her two doses of an antibiotic, she had an allergic reaction. We have switched antibiotics after consulting with the pediatrician back home... hopefully she will respond favorably to the new medicine.)

Guangzhou is the home to 100 million people. Lin, our agency rep, told us that the evening we arrived. We asked her to clarify, because we didn't believe her. I think she includes the suburbs as part of her total... but still a hundred million? Schnikeys.

To update you on what we did today:

We went to the US Consulate to take a group oath. We were told that there were 55 other families taking the oath at the same time. It was pretty simple. We were basically attesting, on Bao's behalf, that the information we provided to the consulate was true. Now, once Bao's passport is stamped upon entering the US, she will officially become a US citizen. Yeah, Bao!

Well, it's getting late and I need some sleep. Pray for safety and for a fairly smooth trip as far as the crabbiness factor...

And thanks for reading, y'all.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The day in Guangzhou

We went to the Jade and Pearl market today. Crazy. Booth after booth after booth of all sorts of stones. Lots of jade. Lots of pearl. Lots of other kinds of non-gem stones. All ready to be strung into any kind of jewelry you desire. Or buy them loose and take them home.

I had a pearl necklace made for me. Final cost: $10. Insane.

We went off the island to go to the market. It was more crowded. We were talking about how big the city is. Do you know? Here is a little Guangzhou quiz for you:

How many people live in Guangzhou?
a. 1 million b. 10 million c. 50 million d. 100 million

Guangzhou is the city formerly known as_____________________.

And just so you don't think I won't give you the answers, I will reveal the answer to the last question: Ms. Bao prefers the nipple that was in the blue ring. Both people who guessed, guessed correctly.

Thank you for playing.

We did not go to the Consulate today. I misunderstood. Our agency rep went for us, with all the papers we filled out yesterday. We will go tomorrow to take an oath. Then we will be issued visas for our girls and we will be DONE!

Looking forward to being home and seeing everyone.

Not too much longer.


Hanging out
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Gotta have a picture of Ms. Bao, since that's what you're all here for.

The Market in Guangzhou
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
I don't know what all these things are in these bags. But some were seahorses, some were starfish. In another spot we saw bags of water beetles. We also saw snake wines... with the snakes in the bottle... as well as ant wines - and a few others that I won't post here, but I'll tell you if you ask.

A street in Guangzhou
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Do you see that chicken? Right after I took this picture, it bit Paul's leg off.

Feeling Better?

Ms. Bao seems to be feeling better. We gave her ibuprofen last night for her fever, and started her on the antibiotics that the pediatrician gave us before we left. We think she has at least one ear infection. I suspected it when we were in Kunming, but she didn't seem bothered by it, and I thought that her physical exam in Guangzhou would catch it. Well, they looked in her ears, but only with their eyes. (!!!)

It wasn't until the fever that I became convinced she had an ear infection. "Grandma," who is traveling with the M family, asked if she could take Bao for a few hours today. She wanted to give me and Paul some time to do things without having to worry about Bao. We gladly accepted. During the few hours she spent with Bao, she noticed some of the same things we did... especially the crying when it was time for more Ibuprofen. But she said Bao was happy as a lark within a half hour of taking more medicine. She thinks it's an ear infection too. We felt reassured that someone else would interpret the signs the way we did.

We had some great play time together after we got her back from Grandma. She played on the bed, waved, rocked, wiggled, kicked. We haven't seen her do any of these things for about two days, so we hope this means she is getting back to herself.

She is asleep now, so I think I am going to join her in her nap.

Thank you all for your prayers. I think what Bao needed most was for her parents to get a clue! We appreciate you all. And we look forward to being home!


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
My dad did this to me.
-Ms. Bao

Pearl River
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
The Pearl River surrounds Shamian Island. On the other side is Guangzhou. Along this area of the river, people seem to gather and practice their dancing (ballroom, tango, etc.,) do Tai Chi, play hackey sack, and all sorts of other things.

Bad Mom, BAD, BAD Mom!

Okay. Bao has a fever.

Here I am whining about her, and she's sick.

I didn't take her temp b/c she just had it done yesterday, and she was fine. What a difference a day makes.

I gave her some Motrin. She should be feeling better soon - just in time for her to go to bed.

Tomorrow we have our appointment at the consulate. I will also ask Lin about getting Bao checked out.

And hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.


Someone, stick a spike in my head

I am about to go out of my mind. Ms. Bao needs constant attention. She isn't playing nicely much at all anymore. She cries almost constantly, unless we are walking outside with her. And I mean walking. Don't stop or she starts crying walking. She isn't happy unless she is moving or eating. I am not kidding. And I am about to go crazy.

We can't take her shopping, because we'd have to actually STOP in a store. Just walking - either in the stroller or in the snuggly. We haven't done anything since yesterday where we haven't been on edge constantly to keep her moving.

And when she gets upset, she isn't just wimpering. She is full out crying.

This island is small. We have walked all over it. And we are constantly being accosted by the shop owners who sit outside of their stores waiting for people like us to walk by, and then jumping up to invite us in and tell us about all the great stuff in their store that is exactly the same stuff that is in every other store, only theirs is better, and they'll give us a good price.

I am absolutely going out of my mind. I do not know what Bao wants and if I knew, I don't think I'd have the energy to give it to her.

The highlight of my day was a one hour, full-body massage. It cost under $10.

Please pray. I am at the end of my rope... and we still have two more days here and some long flights to get through before we make it home.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Bao reads up on the safety procedures before her first ever airpline flight!

Bethany3 020
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
I love it!

The church in Kunming
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
The sanctuary of the church in Kunming.
Xishan building, Heilinpu, Kunming City, Yunnan Province. Any guesses as to the significance of this building?

Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
This is Bao during her physical exam this morning. She was in the middle of a bottle when her turn came up. She cheered up soon after :)


What a day...

Friday was quite a day for me. The morning was pretty uneventful in terms of what we did. But I think the emotional exhaustion is catching up with me, and I spent a good bit of time crying to God about everything that's been going on. In many ways I feel like this whole thing is an out-of-body experience. The magnitude of everything that is happening to our family isn't at the forefront of my mind. Yesterday, the weight of it all hit me, full force.

Bao is great. She is doing well and seems to be adjusting well. But she doesn't respond (and I don't expect her to) to me in ways that one might expect a nine month old to respond to her mom. She doesn't smile at me unless I work at it. She doesn't hug or give any other signs of affection. All normal for any mom with a new baby. But draining, nonetheless.

Add to this the difficulty that Boo and Bug have had while we've been gone, and I think my general feeling yesterday was my family is wrecked. I was convinced that Boo and Bug, the kids who love me just because I'm mom, would just be mad when we came home, and nothing would be the same. It has been hard for me to be away from them, but I don't think I realized it until yesterday.

As I said before, we talked with the kids last night. Bug is doing really well, and sounds so much older that I had to ask Kelly if it was really him on the phone. Boo was very sad, but I hope that with talking to us, her behavior will change. She did the same kind of acting out when Paul was gone for a week - and she got a lot better when he called and talked to her each day.

And I am doing a lot better too. I have spent a lot of time in prayer and I think I realized that what grieves me the most about my relationship with Bao is what grieves God the most about my relationship with Him. I always have to do the work with her. She doesn't offer affection without me initiating... kinda like I am with God. I thank Him for the good stuff, but I haven't been showing him love just because he's my Father. Hmmm, the things we learn from our children.

And, I have always known that things will be different in our family after we return with Bao. But, I'm pretty sure at this point that I haven't wrecked anything. I just know that I will really, really, REALLY enjoy being with Boo and Bug again when we get home.

All this to say, I don't think anyone can imagine what kind of emotional toll this kind of thing will take until they actually do it. I've settled down considerably since yesterday. And I am trusting God to maintain my attachment with the other two as well as develop attachment with Bao.

And speaking of Bao's development, I should say that in almost every way, she is behind the average nine-month-old. She sits up fairly well. But she can't roll over yet. She can't feed herself any small food yet. She hasn't been stimulated to do these kinds of things. And she hasn't been emotionally or cognitively stimulated the way a parent does for a child. We were told by our agency as part of our training, that we should measure our child's development from the time that we adopted her. In other words, when Bao comes home, she will be like a 2 week-old in many ways. I say that just so that people will know what to expect from her as well as why we may not treat her like a nine-month-old.

But there is still much to say about yesterday, AFTER my little crying jag.

We got all of Bao's official adoption papers from the provincial notary office. She's ours in the eyes of the Chinese government!!! We got the papers around 4 pm and were scheduled to leave for the airport at 6:20.

We had previously asked Li if she would help us get a Bible in Mandarin for Bao. Li said "are you a Christian?" She was so excited. I knew that she was. She shared a bit of her testimony and told me that her husband and her daughter were also believers. So sweet. She was so excited to hear that we are believers.

So, after delivering the papers, Li took me and another mom to her church, which was just around the corner. As we walked, I shared with Li and C about what a basket-case I'd been in the last few hours, and C expressed that she was having a hard time too. I think Li sensed our distress... did the tears give it away? When we got to the church, we went to the sanctuary, and Li suggested we sit for a little time of "quiet." I sat in a pew and grabbed a Bible, which was written in Mandarin, of course. I opened it and I just started crying. Weren't they smuggling these into China just a short time ago? I prayed a bit and we went upstairs.

Upstairs was a small book store. The pastor was the cashier! We each bought a Mandarin Bible, a Mandarin/English Bible, a set of bookmarks with scriptures in Mandarin and English, several English/Mandarin refrigerator magnets, 4 CDs of Christian music, and a kids Mandarin/English Bible. (All for less than 20 US dollars!!!) I kept crying and having to compose myself. What a nut!!! We paid the pastor, and he gave us his name and address!

After leaving the church, Li and I got into a taxi. After reading the translation of the documents we'd received, we realized that a specific location was given for where Bao was found. I asked Li if she could take me there. She agreed.

On the 10 minute ride, Li talked about how poor many of the people were, particularly the people living in the country. But, she told me, many of them believe in Jesus and they are so happy. We talked about the difference between "poor" in the US, and "poor" in China. There is almost no comparison. But Li said that with no TV or other such things, those poor believers will gather for worship every night. Then, she added, "their worship is so pure." She told me about the churches she had visited in the US and added that the worship just was not the same. Her church ministers to several minority groups, and she has been in their worship services many times. "They love Jesus," she said. We talked about how easy it is to become blinded by riches.

Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit. I wonder if the "poor" also receive a special blessing. They understand something that the wealthy struggle to grasp.

We were travelling through the city and suddenly the well-paved road turned into some kind of obstacle course! There were HUGE pot holes in the road. The buildings were dilapidated. It was dirty. Obviously, we were entering a very poor part of the city.

We stopped. Li pointed. There is was. The building where Bao was found. (I posted a picture of it... did you guess correctly?) The translation said she was found "opposite" this building. I understood why. Across from the building was nothing that could be considered any sort of landmark. It was a building, but it seemed deserted. No sign on it. No distinguishing features.

So I took pictures, both digital and video.

I went to get back in the cab and I felt uncomfortable about just leaving. So, for about the eightieth time that day, I started crying. Li just hugged me. She was so sweet.

We came back to the hotel at about 5 pm. I joined up with Paul and Bao, and we finished packing up. We checked out and headed for the airport.

As I said before, we got in pretty late last night. Bao did okay on the flight. Crying and inconsolable while waiting on the runway... for what seemed like a long time. But once the plane got started, she did well. She fell asleep just before we got off the plane. She woke up for a few minutes, but fell back asleep until we got to the hotel. I held her the whole way to the hotel. So sweet.

This morning, we took the children for their physical exams, required by the US Consulate. Bao did fine, though she didn't like some of it. We came back to our the hotel. We worked on finishing up the paperwork that will be required for our consulate visit on Monday. Very boring, but necessary.

Tomorrow we have a free day. I am looking forward to poking around the island. (We are on Shamian Island - a quaint little area separated from the rest of Guangzhou by the Pearl River.) There are lots of shops here and good (western!) food. They really cater to adoptive families around here, since this is where most of them stay while they are doing their paperwork at the consulate. It's a more affluent area, and it is nice just to walk around.

We took a stroll this morning and came across a playground. Many adults were also using the playground equipment. It seemed like they were using it for exercise purposes. One man was running around the track that enclosed the playground. I laughed when I saw one girl dressed up like a ballerina, wearing a pair of gold high heels. I know a few little girls who would love to wear the same thing - while climbing around at the playground!

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading


Friday, October 14, 2005

We're in Guangzhou

Hey, folks. We left Kunming yesterday on an 8:20 (pm) flight for Guangzhou. We arrived late Friday night and met our newest agency rep, Lin. We took a 40 minute bus ride to our hotel, checking in around midnight. We were tired, but made a call home to our other babes who are waiting for us.

There is a lot to tell about yesterday. But for now, we need to go get some breakfast. I will post more later, I just wanted to tell you all that we made it!



I was wondering who "fostered" the children there. Are they just other Chinese families? Just wondering? Did Li mention that most orphanages seem to be ran like this one? Or is this a nicer one?

Thank you, Jill, for your insightful questions :)

We don't know exactly who the foster family was. The information that we got is that many children at Kunming CWI go into foster care. The foster families do get money for taking in the children. But we have been told that they look for families whom they think really want to care for the children. Judging from Bao's condition, I think she was very well cared for.

We haven't asked Li specifically about other orphanages, and I think that's because we already know that there are orphanages that are much worse, and a few that are spectacular. My *impression* is that the orphanages in larger cities tend to have more funding and therefore better facilities/care. Private orphanages (like the one sponsored by our agency) are not nearly as fortunate, unless there is significant funding from outside sources. I am pretty sure that Kunming CWI is funded by the government.

To update you on Bao, she has turned into quite the fusser. Perhaps she understood what those nannies were saying about her yesterday and has decided to act accordingly. It seems she gets quite fussy if she spends too long around the same scenery. We have taken her on walks around the city to settle her down, and it has worked thus far. Do you know where I am going with this? Please pray that I will be at peace during the plane trip regardless of how she decides to act.

Please also pray for Ms. Boo and Mr. But. Kelly is having a rough time, particularly with Boo. I don't know a ton of details now, but she is having a pretty hard time.

Thanks for reading, y'all.



Thursday, October 13, 2005

Follow up

Well, I forgot a few things, and I have a few questions to answer too. So...

Grandma A. asked what the rash is. I have no idea. If they told us, they told us in Chinese, and Li didn't translate it for us. The stuff they gave us to put on the rash is interesting. They told us to use it for two days. We'll see what happens. The rash seems to be clearing up some on its own.

And by the way, Grandma A, you should take note that the onesie Bao is wearing in that last photo is one of the ones you sent for her:)

Linda asked how old Bao is. 9 months.

Danielle told me ten times before we left to let her know ASAP what size clothes Bao wears. Uh... the 12 month stuff seems too big, and that's all I brought, really. So I guess she wears 6-9 months. She is a tiny girl, I think. But maybe that's just because a few weeks ago my baby was a 2 1/2 year old!

We also had a great surprise at the orphanage today. The family pictures that we sent to Bao were returned to us. AND, the disposable camera that we sent was completely used. I didn't even think that my package would make it to the orphanage! But it did. I am curious to see what variety of pics they took. Bao went into foster care at about 6 months. Our package wouldn't have arrived at the orphanage until she was about 8 months old. I seriously doubt that they delivered the camera to the foster family, so I am thinking all the pictures were taken during the week she spent in the orphanage after returning from foster care. HA! That wouldn't give us any pictures that show her at a significantly younger age. But, maybe there will be some glimpses of the orphanage in them. We'll likely get the pics developed while we are in Guangzhou - so we'll see what we get.

The "bad" nipple was rejected again tonight for the fourth time. We even switched the ring, thinking that maybe she preferred the color and not the actual nipple.

My child is far too smart to fall for our ridiculous schemes.


Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
That's my girl! Look how cute she is.

Which is her favorite?
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Here they are. Can you tell the difference? Ms. Bao can. Want to guess which one she prefers?
Kunming Children's Welfare Institute

Kunming CWI
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Another view from the outside of the Kunming CWI

The Orphanage

Today we visited the Kunming Children's Welfare Institute. It was wonderful and it was hard.

As we entered the orphanage, we could hear children in a nearby classroom who were cheering and singing and sounding generally happy.

The building, as you will see in the photos, was beautiful. We were only allowed to photograph the outside of the building. But the inside was pristinely kept. White floors, white tile walls, beautiful wood work around the doorways. All of it clean and even shiney. The first place they took us was to the orphanage hospital so that someone could look at Ms. Bao's rash. We took her into a room with about 4 large, clean exam tables. In the corner, I noticed a.... what are they called? It was one of those things you put sick babies in... enclosed, with spaces in the sides for caregivers to reach in. Does that make sense? It looked like it was in very good condition and it made me wonder what other equipment they had.

They took us to the area they said was Bao's "class." I am not sure what that meant, but I assumed that these were the other kids she lived with. There were two nannies working in the room. One was holding a baby while 6 or 7 more were all roaming in walkers. There was one child under a blanket on a mattress in the corner. Adjoining that room were the rooms with cribs. All had clean white sheets with bright red cherries on them. The cribs were of beautiful wood, very sturdy, and also very clean.

All of the rooms surrounded a central courtyard, and the door to each room opened right out onto the "balcony" outside. When we left Bao's class, we continued around the balcony and saw another group of children out in their walkers on the balcony with their nanny. She remembered Bao. We were so excited.

We walked to another area that seemed kind of like a museum to the history of the orphanage. Li pointed out a few things of interest and we moved on. As we did, we walked out around another courtyard where there were trees, plants, and a swingset. We also passed by classrooms. They were also very clean and neat. Well accomodated with chairs, tables, toys. Brightly colored. One of the parents in our group commented that it was nicer than the day care they used back home.

We came to another baby room, which I think was for younger babies. One nanny held up a boy with a cleft lip to look out at us. We were told that we could not enter. But the nannies came out to us. One of them looked at Bao, and immediately said her Chinese name. I nodded enthusiastically. Li asked the nannies for us if they could remember any traits that stood out to them. The answer Li gave us for Bao was "fussy! She cried a lot!"

We were told that many of the children were not at the orphanage anymore because so many were taken into foster care. We also learned that in 2002, there were 162 children adopted from the orphanage.

We went down to the first floor where they told us the disabled children were housed. We entered a classroom of 5 children. There were two caregivers there. Three of the children were working on their writing. They waved (one of them with help from the caregiver) and they said "hi" or "hello" and some of the returned our "ni hao" as well. Two of them smiled at us with the biggest smiles I had ever seen. The fourth child sat quietly nearby, with a brace on each arm. The last child, a six year old boy, had braces on all four limbs. A man in scrubs was doing what looked like physical therapy with him. Someone asked what the boy was saying. Li explained that he could not speak, he was just saying nonsense.

I couldn't hold back the tears in that room. The children were beautiful. To have those kinds of disabilities is certainly unfortunate but to have no parents on top of that seems so unfair. My heart was aching for them. They were so precious.

When our tour was over, we came back to the lobby at the main entrance. There was a police car at the entrance. A new baby was being dropped off.

As we waited for our gifts to be exchanged, we continued to ask Li some questions. Two of the girls in our group had the surname "Guan" and two had "Wu." We learned that "Guan" is given to the girls who were found in the Guandu district of Kunming. "Wu" was for the girls found in the Wuhua district.

Today was a special day. I held Bao close to me, thanking God that we could take her away from there. But I was also so encouraged to see that they were so well cared for in an orphanage with fantastic facilities.

Before we left, they brought us medicine and vitamins to be used for clearing up Bao's rash.

It was a wonderful day. Thank you, LORD!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I invited you all to look at photos on flickr, but I didn't realize I had to specify who could access my photos. They aren't anything earth-shattering, and I post the best ones on the blog, but if you want access to my photos, let me know.

To give you access, I need your e-mail address. If you send that to me, don't use the comment feature, unless you want your e-mail address to become public knowledge. Instead, you can use the e-mail feature at the end of this post. Send the e-mail to my private account, and then only I will be able to see it.

Sorry for the mix-up.

Grand Excursion

Well, we almost missed our chance to visit the Stone Forest today. Thinking that our outing was to begin at 2:30, we were keeping a leisurely pace getting ready for the day. At 8:30, Li called the room and asked if we were coming. Um... yeah. I wasn't dressed yet. Bao's bag wasn't ready. We hadn't even eaten breakfast.

But we grabbed a bunch of stuff and headed out the door. Thanks to Helen who called and woke us up this morning. If it hadn't been for that, we probably wouldn't have been close enough to being ready.

Stone Forest is one of the famous sites in Yunnan Province, and is not one to be missed. We rode about 1 1/2 hours into the mountainous countryside before arriving there. The country was beautiful. It was exactly like what you'd imagine seeing in the Chinese countryside.

We saw rice paddies. We saw corn too. And they planted it wherever they could find a spot to plant it, even if there wasn't much room. And it was planted on the steepest of slopes. I wondered at how a person could even harvest it from such locations.

I was kicking myself for not bringing the video camera.

We saw huge bunches of bananas on top of a flat roof. We saw goats being herded through steep, narrow walkways. We saw acres and acres of farmland.

And every once in a while, we saw people in wide, flat, straw hats working in the fields - loading things onto old trucks or hauling teepee shaped bundles to a nearby pile. I spotted someone walking up a narrow path, carrying a heavy load that was attached by rope to a wooden pole that he carried over his shoulders.

It was the people that made me wonder. I've read a little about the farmers of China. Mostly poor, and some of them desperately so. They make up something like 80% of the population. I thought about how long they work. And I thought about me driving through and catching a glimpse of them on my way to a tourist attraction. They seemed so insignificant surrounded by the huge mountains. I wondered if they felt that way.

And, of course, I wondered if Bao's mama is one of those workers. Did we pass by her today? Does she know Bao is okay? Oh, my mind was wandering all over the place.

Bao did great today. She fussed for her bottle just before we arrived at the Stone Forest. But she took it and was content for the rest of the trip... provided we kept that stroller moving! We spent a fair amount of time seeing the sites and bargaining with the vendors for good prices on the myriad minority handicrafts that were for sale.

Bao slept across my lap and Paul's on the way home. And she seemed to do well for the rest of the night. I am still not able to predict when she wants a bottle or when she wants solid food, but she lets me know she's hungry, and we try whatever works.

The only bummer news we heard today came from the C family. They said that when they booked their flight out of Guangzhou, they were told that no more bassinettes were available. People who purchase lap seats for their infants can request a bassinette to be used in the bulkhead seats. All four families in our group are flying out on the same flight. Which means we will be in the regular seats, holding Bao, for the 5 hour flight. I am hoping that once we go our separate ways in Tokyo, we will be able to get bulkhead seats for our flight into Minneapolis. Holding Bao for 13 hours will not be so comfy, I am afraid.

Tomorrow we visit the orphanage. It will be emotional for me, I am sure. I need to brace myself. And soon we will be leaving Kunming, which makes me sad. I feel like I haven't seen enough or taken enough notes to pass on the Bao some day.

Ah. The child awakes. I must away.

I have posted some more pictures from our outing today. If you want to see more, I have others posted at or you can click on one of the photos below and it will take you to my photo collection. If you want to find your own way to flickr, you will need to look for the photos posted by PEZmama (that's me.)

Over and out.


Stone Forest
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
I like this photo for two reasons: first, the rock formation is cool; second, you can see people milling around in those round, flat straw hats.


Stone Forest
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
In the more crowded areas of stones, you could often look up and see something like this.


Stone Forests
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
This is one of the many stone formations we saw today. It was more difficult to take pictures in the areas where there were only narrow paths through the tall stones. This picture was taken in one of the more open areas. The whole place was beautiful and really amazing to see.


Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
This is one of the little girls we saw at the Stone Forest who was dressed in a traditional minority outfit.

Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
This is all of us at Stone Forest. I will post a few more pictures later tonight and tell you more about our day.

Bye for now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In case you are interested

Here are a few posts for anyone who might like to read about the experiences of a mama who has already come home from China with a new baby. "A" has written some very honest stuff, which I appreciate.

Click here for a post about arriving home.
Here is one about the transition.
Click here for a post about adjustment of siblings.
Here is one about mommy exhaustion.

That's all I got for now.



Clever Title

Hello, again. I feel as though I have very little to tell you. But if you want to read, I'll type something for you.

As mentioned previously, we went to Walmart today. We found a cute stroller, and Bao really seems to like it. So much so, in fact, that she starts to cry when it comes to a stop. She just likes to keep moving. Even when we hold her, she likes to be moving around. Otherwise she starts pushing away from us.

The stroller thing is minor, but Bao's fussiness factor has definitely risen today. I am unsure of how to comfort her. This is normal for any new mom, but it is still disconcerting. Just when I think she has calmed down, she gets upset again... but I don't know why!

Her eating and napping is all messed up too. It is kind of difficult to follow the schedule they gave us for her, and her cues seem to imply that that's not the schedule she prefers. Part of her schedule included bottle feeding with water or "juice water." Niether of those, from what I remember, is such a great idea for babies this young, so I have omitted it. And I don't know how much of any food she was given, so we are just letting her eat until she acts like she's full.

Today she conked out on the floor of the hotel to take a nap at 11:00. Yesterday it was 1:00. Who knows? And she didn't take as much of a bottle tonight before bed as she did the last two nights... so it has me wondering if she'll be waking up for more in a few hours.

All of these things together have me wondering what kind of flight we have in store for us when we return home. If she doen't like to be still, we might have some problems. And if she is fussy about sleeping and napping, like she was today, it will be a long ride.

Am I boring you to tears yet?

We went out for dinner tonight and B fussed until she got her noodles. The rest of dinner was very pleasant. Then we went for a walk. The weather is absolutely gorgeous, and so is the city with all the lights on. Bao loved the stroller ride. And, as has happened since we got her, all sorts of people are stopping to talk to her or just to look. I don't know how to read all of their glances, but I suppose none of it matters.

Before returning to the room we finally made it to the 21st floor of the hotel where they have a revolving lounge. After getting on one elevator and realizing it only went up to the 18th floor, we hopped on another one and found that the view from the lounge was awesome! The picture that is posted here is from the lounge.

Bao is now scratching at that rash. She has actually been pulling at her clothes since we got her, so maybe it has always been bothering her. Anyway, I put some cream on it and we'll see what happens. Li thinks we should ask about it at the orphanage and see the doctor there. Unfortunately, that isn't until Thursday.

And what's up with the nipple on her bottles? We had one that she liked, so we picked up another one today at Walmart. Since it was clean, we tried to use it. I say tried because she wanted nothing to do with it. I tried several times, then put the "old" nipple on the bottle... and she took it. How can she tell the difference between two identical nipples? I mean they're exactly the same! Whatever we do, we cannot lose that nipple... like I lost my sunglasses...only I am hoping that I just misplaced them.

Aye, aye, aye.

Tomorrow we go to the famous Stone Forest. Should be some good pics from there.

Later, taters.


Gimmee some room here, peeps.

I know most of you won't be reading this when we get back with Bao. But, for those of you who have been with me a while, I thought I'd share a few non-adoption thoughts that have been rattling around. Here they are, in no particular order.

Nice hitting into that double play, A-Rod. Nice.

And while we are on sports: Tiger - lose the goatee. And Phil - was that a MUSTACHE I saw? You're KILLING me, man!

And, as a matter of curiosity: Does it make sense to anyone else why they put non-skid material on the bottoms of newborn socks?

Li asked if we wanted to visit the bird and flower market. Uh, bird market? I don't think I am brave enough for that, given this whole bird flu thing. Maybe I saw too many stories about it before we left, and now I am paranoid. (And what was up with that? Everywhere I looked was some show or news story about the bird flu!!!)

I ate tripe. While I was eating it, I had a vague recollection that is was one of those things that, when you find out what it is, you are inclined to say something like "gross!" Maybe I'm just imagining that. Anyway, it wasn't gross.

I am torn between honoring local custom and maintaining Bao's comfort. We get stared at a lot. (It's one of those things I think everyone should do at some point - put themselves in a situation where they don't fit in and everyone stares at them. Maybe that's a topic for another time, but that's what I think, nonetheless.) However, it is hard to know if they are staring because we are white folks with a Chinese baby, because Bao is just plain cute, or because people disapprove of us walking around with her outside without putting her in long sleeves and a hat. It's like 70 degrees today. I have already been scolded once about the lack of sleeves. But, today, I let her go without it.

To answer some questions:

Bao's rash was there when we got her. I don't think it is a food allergy. (Regarding food allergies: I have no idea what things Bao has already eaten and what she hasn't. Her schedule said she eats vegetables, noodles, eggs, congee, meats, on and on. So, I have strayed from my usual method of only feeding one new thing in a 4 day period. It seems kinda useless since she has already been introduced to so much. I am just feeding her whatever she will eat.)

We are not staying this long for pleasure. (Though, so far it is quite pleasureable.) After filling out the paperwork for Bao's passport yesterday, we are now waiting the normal 4-5 days that it takes for the passport to be issued. It's standard procedure. In the mean time, we are just tourists. After we get her passport, we have to return to Guangzhou where she'll have a medical exam. It is required by the US Consulate in order to issue her a visa. Then we apply for visas on Monday, wait for them to be issued, and we leave on Wednesday morning.

More pictures later. All we have done today is go to Walmart to buy a stroller and we didn't bring the camera on that excursion... though Bao was cute in the stroller!


Monday, October 10, 2005

Out and About

I don't know why I can't place these photos within the text, but anyway, here they are. The first is a picture from dinner last night. We finally got Bao to eat some squash. We followed it up with some rice noodles. She just loves them! It is common for me to call my babies "noodle head." So, obviously, she will fit right in.

The other two pictures were from our walk around the Green Lake area. The whole place is beautiful. I took a whole lot of pictures, and then we went shopping! Usually that isn't my thing so much. But we are trying to find gifts for Bao from China and I am having fun looking in all the shops.

We got to talk to Boo and Bug last night. Bug didn't really want to talk to me. Kelly said he was having a hard time the other night, and doesn't get into looking at pictures of us. It is all understandable, but for those of you who are praying, please remember to pray for my other babies too. Boo sounded really good, but we still have 9 days to go.

Bao finally pooped this morning. I know, just what you wanted to read... but it is something I was a little concerned about. She kept trying, but nothing happened. So, I was happy to change her diaper this morning.

She also has a rash that looks a bit like heat rash. It isn't bothering her, but it seems to be spreading. I don't think it is anything major, but it is a slight concern, since it is spreading. Otherwise, she is doing great. Of course the demented part of me keeps wondering when something is going to go wrong.... It just seems like things are going too smoothly. Thanks for all of your prayers. They are felt!

I think we are meeting with Li today to determine what kinds of outings we want to plan as a group. There are several attractions around Kunming which are farther than our feet will take us. Hopefully we will get to see a bunch of good sites...

Y'all let me know if there is something specific you want me to hear about, or what other kinds of pics you might want to see.

Thanks for reading. Oh, and



Three happy folks

three happy folks
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Here we are back at the Civil Affairs Bureau today to finalize the adoption. Normally, this is done at the same time that you get the children, but the offices were not open on Sunday... Li simply asked for the favor of getting our kids earlier, and they were willing to do it. YAY!

Bao has been in great spirits today. She has taken a bottle well. We laid her in her crib at naptime, and she just cooed and played until she decided to fall asleep. She slept through the night last night too! Paul was joking that we just needed to adopt to get one who sleeps through the night! It's easy to joke because it is a blessing for us, but it makes me a little sad thinking about how she had to learn so early to soothe herself because no one was available to console her when she cried.

This thought in mind, I am taking every opportunity to quickly respond to her every cry (which are getting fewer and fewer) in hopes that she'll learn that she can depend on us or "call out" for us when she needs something.

She is a sweetie. She is smiling a lot more today. She seems happy to see us when she wakes up. She is talking and kicking and waving. She is saying "ma ma ma" and just generally being beautiful.

Is God not good?

I will end this post by telling you to scroll down. I have decided it is easier to post each picture individually, and there is more below this. Hope you enjoy.


foot stamping

foot stamping
Originally uploaded by PEZmama.
Ms. Bao got her foot stamped onto official paperwork at the Civil Affairs Bureau. They pulled out the "special" red ink that is used for chops (stamps made from stone) in China. We quickly pulled out Bao's basket and asked if they would stamp her foot on its lid too. We have one of these baskets for each of our children and we got them stamped with their footprints at the hospital. I was so thrilled that they were eager to grant our request. And, like Boo and Bug's baskets that were signed by doctors and nurses, we are collecting signatures of several officials and workers from the orphanage and our agency. It is looking pretty cool.

We don't have many pictures with good scenery, but we are hoping to go get a few today. The Green Lake area is beautiful, and I told Paul we needed to get some pictures of Bao at the lake before we leave.

Our appointment today was our last until we visit the orphanage on Thursday. So, who knows what we will find around the city during the next few days. But it will be nice to have time to do "whatever."

On our ride to do paperwork today, we drove by a park where we saw several games of netless badminton in progress. Just down the way from those was a large group of women practicing what looked like Tai Chi, all holding swords!

Yesterday at the Green Lake, we came upon groups of 4 people playing a game at little tables. The pieces looked sort of like dominoes, but the pictures on each were very different than anything I've ever seen. I couldn't make any sense of the game. It seemed like everyone was playing at the same time. One woman who was watching a game, was knitting while she watched. She was KNITTING WITHOUT LOOKING. Amazing. I have seen lots of women around here who are working on some knitting project.

We also did some shopping yesterday near the lake, trying to pass some time before going to get Bao. We got seriously worked over by one merchant where we bought a few gifts and had a chop made for Bao. We watched her carve it right there while we waited.

She kept trying to get us to buy two of everything, saying that 2 is a lucky number in China. (Of course so is 6, 8, and 9!!!) It was so funny. She kept saying she'd give us a good deal. By American standards, we really didn't spend much for what we bought, but we walked away laughing and wondering how much we'd just been taken for.

Anyway, I am itching to get taken for a little more, so I'm going to get outta here. Thanks for reading y'all. We love getting your comments and keeping you updated.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ni hao, bao bei

"Hello, precious treasure."

These were my first words to little Ms. Bao today when they put her in my arms. Wow, wow, wow. She's here.

We went at the appointed time and loaded into a van which took us to a place about a 1/2 hour away. We all walked into a room, which looked like it was some sort of children's welfare office. After we milled around for a while, taking pictures and videotaping, a "director" came out to address us. Li translated. I have absolutely no recollection what she said!

Following that, Li gave each family some paper work and asked us to verify the information that was on it. Just about all of us found mistakes, so we turned aside to write out our corrections. Just as we were doing that, I heard someone say, "the babies are here." I just looked up and two (or was it three?) women walked in holding all four of the babies in our group.

Before anyone really knew what was going on, they were calling out the names of the babies and saying "who has (fill in child's name)?"

I just started crying. The C family got their girl first. I saw that the next baby was not Bao, so I turned my gaze back on the C's. This is their first baby. She was crying too.

When I looked back, it was time for the next baby, and I knew without hearing her name that it was Ms. Bao. I walked up, grabbed her, and that was it.

The first few minutes were strange. She looked all around, and didn't fuss, but didn't seem interested in us. After a few minutes she warmed up, but she brushed away my first attempts to get close to or touch her face. I took the hint and backed off.

We gave her one of the toys we brought for her and let her have her snuggler. She seemed to like them, though still was not obviously enjoying anything.

Later Paul held her and let her sit facing the crowd instead of him. He played with her from behind and she began to smile a little. I was able to catch some of it on tape.

It seemed that each of the other babies cried at some point. Bao did not. As I asked questions of Li, she would in turn ask them of one of the women who brought the babies. We were told that Bao usually doesn't fuss unless she is tired or needs to be changed. We were told what her eating schedule is, and that she eats congee, soft noodles, and steamed egg. Bottle at night before bed.

The big shock came when Li announced to the group that all of our girls had been in foster care. I had previously asked our agency about this, and we were told that she was not in foster care. After hearing this, I braced myself for a tougher transition, as Bao would have surely formed some attachments which would make it harder for her to open up to us.

After a few more John Hancocks on some official paperwork, we were back in the van, with our children, and on our way to have their passport pictures taken.

CC and I were talking during the trip and apparently she had found out that the girls were returned to the orphanage (from their foster homes) about 10 days before we got them. I guess that is good.

Bao also started to liven up in the van. Crying. She had two pairs of pants on, a onesie, a sweater, and a jacket. I was hot in the van, so I figured she must be very uncomfortable. We removed a layer. She continued to cry - loud and strong - so we attempted to feed her a bottle. She reached for it, but then wanted nothing to do with it when she got it in her mouth. She fussed off and on for a while, and calmed down considerably when we got out of the van again.

After a quick passport photo, we were back in the van. Bao cried almost the whole way back to the hotel, with brief periods of calm. She fell asleep in my arms about a block away from the hotel and woke up when I got out of the van. She fussed all the way up to the room.

But as soon as I laid her on the bed and removed both pairs of pants, she was as happy as a lark! I changed her diaper, and then the fun began...

I stroked her legs and she stared right at my face. I talked to her and played with her. I laid her on a blanket on the floor and we just played, and played. She kicked her legs. She waved her hands. She rolled to her side to pick up toys and her shoe. She laughed when I pretended to eat her belly or held her high over my head. We played a little game of sticking out our tongues. She stuck out her pointy little tongue, and I did the same. She reached up to grab my tongue and seemed to enjoy the feeling of it. She grabbed my hair and smiled when I pulled my head back, taking her hand with me.

Paul was still in the lobby getting instuctions from Li about tomorrow. When he came back, I think he was happy to see that her demeanor changed.

When it neared her scheduled dinner time, I tried to give her rice cereal. She seemed to happily eat about three bites, but then spit it out, pushed the spoon away, and started crying. We tried peas. Nothing doing. So, we tried a bottle again. No thanks.

So we went down to the restaurant where we knew we could find some noodles or congee. We met the M family on the way, and we all went across the street to get some dinner. Bao was impatient for food, and started crying again. We tried the bottle. No. We tried the M's bottle which they'd prepared with rice cereal in it. No. We tried one of the M's nipples which were shaped differently. NO!

Then, finally the noodles came. YES!!! Noodles were the big winner. She ate and was content.

We were told that she takes a bottle before bed, so after dinner we went up a block to a department/grocery store. We bought Chinese formula - I have no idea what it is, exactly, b/c I could not read one bit of the package. I didn't even know how to prepare it. We also bought a new nipple.

Back at the ranch, Bao got fussy. So, we mixed a bottle with two scoops of rice cereal, two scoops of Chinese formula, and topped it with a new nipple.

After two false starts, I just clamped down, held her tight, and put the bottle in her mouth. She drank about 4 ounces and promply fell asleep.

So far, so good.

And that was our day. Here is a picture of the tongue she likes to show off. I hope you like these. We didn't get a lot with me or Paul today. But you didn't want to see us anyway. (If you would like the pictures, I THINK you can click on them and you will be taken to the page for that photo. You should be able to print from there. If that doesn't work, go to and search for my photos under the username PEZmama.)

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Enough blogging, already!!!

Well, I got some sleep. I went to bed all excited, thinking I would be able to sleep late.

Uh, no.

I couldn't stay awake past 10 pm. I slept great, but I got up at around 5:15 am and I cannot go back to sleep. Jet lag has turned me into a morning person!

Hey, if jet lag can to THAT, maybe it can make me smarter and take away my wrinkles too... I'll let you know what I find out about that.

Paul was up too and we were both looking for something to do. He, of course, decided to check all the college football scores. I was wanting to read some blogs, but I have not been able to access them. I think they are likely blocked in China. So naturally, when Paul told me that Minnesota beat Michigan in the last second of the game, I was bummed I couldn't go offer some words of encouragement to the Michigan fan over at Boy Makes Three. And I really wanted to direct all of you over to grrltravels (sorry, but I don't know the URL for that one) so you could read about what it might be like after we come home with Bao. She's got a great, honest account of what it has been like in the few weeks since she has been home with her Baby Z from China.

But, alas, I cannot do either of these things. So, I will have to be content to post to my own blog... and annoy all of you with another post sans photos of Bao.

I'm wondering about her. I'm wondering, of all things, what her hair is like. Thick or fine? Silly, but I guess that's the stuff you are left to wonder about when you wake up at 5 IN THE MORNING and you don't get so see your child for another 7 1/2 hours. Aye, aye, aye. 7 1/2 hours! (See, there's just nothing good that comes from getting up early!)

We have all of Bao's things laid out on the floor to bring with us today. Bottles and extra formula, her jacket and hat, diapers and wipes, some rice cereal, my list of questions for the orphanage director. Then of course we have the video camera, the regular camera, and gifts for caretakers. I keep looking at all of it thinking, she's gonna be living in this room with us very soon.

Is she gonna look at me and think who is this woman who looks so funny and talks so strangely? (I wonder if she'll understand me when I tell her that Boo and Bug wonder the same things....) Is she going to like us or want to go back to the orphanage? Is she going to smile at us? Will she mind that I will want to play with her toes and kiss her cheeks constantly? Hmmm.

Don't worry, I am not lamenting anything that hasn't happened yet, I am just wondering... and waiting.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.


A Few More Details

I am trying desperately to keep myself awake until it is time for bed. We are far too tired to go walking around the city again, so I thought I'd post again.

Needless to say, jet lag has got a grasp on me. Tired just doesn't seem to describe it. I almost dropped my head on the table tonight during dinner. My body is just wondering what the heck I am doing, trying to become nocturnal.

We met the M family while were were in Tokyo. They are one of the other three families in our travel group. We will all be getting our girls tomorrow from the same orphanage. We stayed over at the same hotel with them in Guangzhou. It has been fun to make some new friends when everything else just reminds us that we are strangers here.

We are especially taken with their three-year-old daughter, C. She was adopted from China also. She is just the cutest little girl, and very sweet. Seeing her makes me wonder what Bao will look like when she is 3, or 10, or 40....

I am looking forward to meeting the O/S family. They beat us here by three days and have been doing the tourist thing, but we have yet to meet them. And there is also the C family who will be arriving tomorrow just before we leave to get the girls.

We were met by our agency rep, Li, when we got off the plane in Kunming. After some communication difficulties at the hotel in Guangzhou, I was glad be in her capable hands. She'd made our hotel reservations long before we got there, and she directed everything at the hotel. She knows what she is doing.

We grilled her on the ride to the hotel. Do you know if any of our girls are from a minority group (there are many in Kunming) or are they Han Chinese (the majority)? Would we be able to visit the orphanage? Are the girls taken outside very often? etc, etc.

Then she gave us instructions too...
-we need to bring jackets for the girls tomorrow. It's chilly here and she was quick to point out that, though westerners may just wear a T-shirt, the Chinese would always bundle a child.
-we need to pay the hotel in cash in order to secure the negotiated rate.
-we need to be prepared tomorrow with food, bottles, the jacket (again!) and anything else we need to bring for the baby.
-we need to meet her in the lobby at 2 pm. We will leave from there to meet the girls. Then she added, "you must be on time."

Uh, don't worry, Li, we'll be on time!

After Li left, we went up to our room and got situated. When I say "got situated," I mean grabbing some food from our suitcase and spending the next 45 minutes trying to get the computer running so we could e-mail Boo and Bug. Once situated, we ventured out into the city.

We saw neat sights all around the city today, the first of which is the view from our hotel window. We overlook the hotel's entryway and beyond that are the buildings that I supppose are typical of lots of cities in China. But behind the buildings are beautiful mountains... don't ask me which ones, but they're there.

On our excursion tonight, we saw plenty. My favorite scene was that of a man testing calligraphy brushes (much like we might test a pen to get an idea of its feel before we buy.) He was squatting down to reach the assortment of brushes offered by a street vendor, effortlessly creating the broad strokes of various Chinese symbols on a scrap of printed, green paper.

We stopped in at WalMart, which is huge, to try to find a stroller for Bao. We looked around on all three of its floors for quite a while. Without a doubt, the bottom floor was the most interesting. As we walked down the stairwell, we were quickly surrounded by the smells of an open market. All sorts of hot food (including fried chicken) were being prepared. It kinda resembled a huge deli, but with a lot more to offer than the average American deli.

It seemed odd to me that the cashier at WalMart became distressed when we handed her RMB100 to pay for our purchases totalling RMB6o. There was some scrambling, but they got us the correct change. Our first stop after WalMart was one of the vendors outside. We picked out some gifts for the kids that totalled RMB45. We haven't been here long enough to accumulate small bills, and the change from WalMart was not enough to cover the cost for our gifts. We hesitated at handing over another RMB100 bill, thinking they'd surely have difficultly making change. The woman looked at us like, yeah, what's the big deal? and promptly produced the correct change.


Anyway, I don't know that I have anything else terribly interesting to say. Thank you for reading - you are helping me stay awake.


We Made it!

Hey all. Thanks for all the comments. We haven't been able to get online until now and it was nice to hear from so many of you already.

Well, we're in Kunming. We spent the night in Guangzhou and flew here this morning. It is nice and cool here. As soon as I am done with this we are going out to poke around the city for a while, buy a stroller for Bao. See what we can find. It will be our only time to go out without a little one, so we don't want to miss it.

The trip here was pretty smooth. The weight limit for each bag was 50 lbs. Ours weighed 50.5 and 51.0 lbs. The guy at the check-in counter did us a $260 favor by letting it slide. Geez, you'd think some people were praying for us, or something. Another favor that was greatly appreciated came from a stranger on the 13 hour flight from Detroit to Tokyo. Paul and I got on the plane, looked at our boarding passes, and realized we weren't seated next to each other! So, thanks to the lady who switched seats with me. It was a crowded flight!

Now that we are in Kunming, we are just anxious to get Ms. Bao. It is strange to know that we're in the same city, but we can't see her. We will meet her at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon, which is 2:30 am Eastern time. So, hopefully, by the time you read this again, we will have some photos posted.

Bye for now. We're off to do some shopping!

P.S. For those of you who were going out to personalize a gift for Bao, you might want to hold off. Her middle name is being reconsidered. More on that later.


Thursday, October 06, 2005


I don't feel excited. I don't feel anxious either. That's fine, I guess. It's just that I don't really feel like I am leaving for China to bring home my daughter.

Granted, I don't know what leaving for China to bring home your daughter should feel like, so maybe I am feeling it, I just don't know it :)

It was nice to be at church for the first time in a week. With Boo sick last Weds, and Bug sick on Sunday, I really missed it. And selfishly, I knew it would be fun to be around the ladies because they would be so excited. And they were excited. And it was nice. THANK YOU, LADIES!

I came home and Paul and I rearranged stuff in our luggage and took a few things out. If we are not over the weight limit, I think it will be some kind of miracle.

Anyhoo. I am tired, tired, tired. Don't worry mom, I am going to bed now. And I think I might have a few hours tomorrow when I can catch some z's too.

Next post: from China (or, if I am bored enough, from somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.)


Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Bamboo orange
Bamboo orange,
originally uploaded by taramaru.
- because I awoke to find that this guy has taken up residence in my stomach.

- because I am wondering what kind of mom lets her son go around with a fever for five days(figuring it is a virus and it will go away) but then forgets to call the doctor until the day before leaving for two weeks because the fever really HASN'T gone away.

- because it is past 9:00 am and my kids are still sleeping. That's allowed for the sick one, but the fact that my "well" child is still sleeping has me suspicious that she is not all that well.

- because I can't find that red shirt I bought specifically for the trip.

- because I can't find either of Bugs's two pairs of sneakers

... and it's only 9 am.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Top Ten Signs your Computer is About to Bite the Dust

10. In the middle of typing an innocent e-mail, menu windows that you never accessed start opening. (And something you're typing inevitably commands the menu to start carrying out some unknown task.)

9. Four and a half years old and its Windows software has never once been updated.

8. Norton Antivirus decides to turn itself on and you can just about forget about getting anything done.

7. You type an a-mail to a group of people and hit send. You receive a mail delivery failure notice before your next screen has even loaded.

6. You want to IM and surf at the same time. Your computer laughs at you.

5. You get up in the middle of some work at the computer and come back to see that your screen saver has kicked on. Just for fun, you jiggle the mouse and then decide you are going to see how long it takes for the computer to completely restore the screen. 45 seconds.

4. People who come over to your house hate using your computer because even their Tandy 1000 is faster.

3. Occasionally, while typing a post for your blog, you get through an entire sentence without any new words appearing on your screen. You wait around for a minute or two, and they slowly but surely appear.

2. The last few times you have tried to print, the print monitor says the job is "in progress," but nothing actually comes out of your printer.

1. The CPU is constantly making this rattling noise, as if to say, "I think I can, I think I can!"


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Okay, Back to THAT topic again


This has been the year of reading for me. I think I have read more books in this last year than in the last 10 combined. I am not exaggerating. I really think that's true.

So I'm all hmm what sounds good to read next? And I get all like I'll get on the NYTimes website and check the best sellers list. So I go over there, and I see that it lists a book that caught my eye when I was last at Borders. (Now I realize the only reason it caught my eye is because it was right out front where they keep the... what?... the BEST SELLERS... but hey, what can I say. I thought it might be interesting because, after spending extended periods in two Muslim countries - though neither was nearly as strict as Iran - I thought I'd like to see how the women I met compare to the women in this true story.) The title is Reading Lolita in Tehran. So then I'm all wow, I was thinking I might like to read that. And it's on the best sellers list, so it must be pretty good.

So, I get it at the library. And I read the first 55 pages.

Too bad I didn't read this post over at Boy Makes Three before I got that far.

Now, granted, it didn't kill me or anything to read these 55 pages. I wasn't bored out of my mind. But as I read, I grew increasingly hopeful that somehow the story would pick up and get more interesting. But mostly, the whole thing seemed choppy and slow and I just wanted to know more than I was getting.

It came time to return the book to the library (after renewing it a few times) and I thought about renewing it again. But it just came down to the fact that I didn't like the book. So then I'm all what is wrong with you? Everyone else liked the book! For crying out loud, it's a New York Times Best Seller!!!

But I returned it. And with that, Reading Lolita in Tehran gets added to the long list of books that I have started but not finished - a list which I think says a lot about me, but I am not sure how much of it is good!

So I have this coupon for Borders that expires today and I am wondering if I should chance it with the other NYT Best Seller that I was eyeing. It's Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. I was looking for something to take on the plane with me, but I don't want another Reading Lolita. I am wondering if I just ain't the kind of person who likes the stuff that "everyone else" likes. Maybe I should try stilhoping's (the author of Boy Makes Three) method for book selection - picking the book with the best cover. Couldn't hurt.

Reading. Why do I try?

Now, jump ahead 8 hours. That's how much time has passed since I wrote the first part of this post and what is to follow.

Today was a major bummer in every way. Actually, this whole weekend has been very reminiscint of an Oreck XL. (I'll give you a minute to think about that. And did you click on the link? Cuz I'm thinking that dude's shoulders look too big for his head, don't you?) I might post about it if I feel like entering the pity-party genre. Regardless of whether I post, I just needed to get out of the house tonight. So I went out to do the grocery shopping (yippee!!!) and to purchase that book at Borders with my coupon.

But, alas, Dreams, is still not a reality, because I forgot to bring my coupon with me when I left. And you can be darn sure I am not paying full price for one of those awful New York Times Best sellers. So, it may be a book that I won't finish, but at least it's one I haven't started either!

Seriously, why do I try?

And here is a little aside from my evening:

While I am out, I remember that I need to buy a few more gifts to give to caretakers and such while in China. Of course, it's Sunday night, and not much is open. So I go to Meijer, the grocery/department store, so I can get the groceries and the gifts as well.

The list of gift ideas I had did me no good. I could buy the slipper socks, but I'd have to hope that the recipients don't see the huge "MADE IN CHINA" molded into the rubber bottoms. Or I could buy pretty hand towels, but who knew hand towels were $7 apiece! But really I am just looking for something simple that would be a nice compliment to the hand lotion I purchased last week. Aye, aye, aye.

So I am finishing up the grocery shopping when I see this white couple pushing two carts stuffed full of groceries... and Chinese kids. Three of them. And I think back to another recent post at Boy Makes Three, about seeing adoptive parents at the store and wanting to strike up a conversation with them. (Are we living parellel lives or something?) Only in my case, I wasn't as interested in talking about their kids, as much as I wanted to say, "Please, please, pretty please, will you help me find some appropriate caretaker gifts?"

Uugh. It has been a long day.

I go sleepy now. Tomorrow is a big day - STITCH REMOVAL!!! WOOHOOO!


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Cooking up a Legacy

I don't know where this post is going. Hopefully it will make some sense when I am done.

I was thinking the other day about a conversation Boo and I had while we were in the car. She is into wedding plans lately. Sometimes she is telling me to keep something, so we can use it in her wedding. Sometimes she discusses who will be her flower girls. Sometimes she tells me how she wants her hair, or her dress, or her gloves. Etc. Being that we teach the college and career Sunday school class at church (AKA - the "Singles" class) we tend to go to a lot of weddings. Obviously, Boo is taking notes.

When she really started thinking about all of this, she started asking when she would get married. We generally tell her that when she is ready to move out of our house and live with her husband, then she will be ready to get married. The thought of moving out of our house isn't such a nice one for her. So, every once in a while she says, "Mom, I am not going to get married." I usually respond with a simple, "Okay."

But, she was back to her planning in the car the other day, when she said, "Mom, after you get married, when do your mom and dad come?" I hadn't yet realized that she was asking about herself, and I started to explain that I already was married. She said, "No, when I get married, when will you and dad come?"

"Do you mean come over for a visit?" I asked.


Well, whenever you want to invite us over we will be happy to come over. She asked a bunch of questions about what we'd do, then started asking about how far away we'd live.

I responded with my standard "I don't know. You and your husband will have to decide where you will live."

She paused a second and said, "I want to live close to you. Maybe we could live in the house next to you." We went on to discuss the different things we could do together during our visits.

Inside, I was laughing. I am planning to remind her of those words some day, and I know she will laugh at them too. Oh my!

But, down in my heart I was thinking, how precious. Thank you, Lord.

I don't know how this happened. This child loves me like a child should - she can't imagine life without her mom and dad. Part of me was thinking, has she forgotten how mean I am to her sometimes? Gosh. I mess up so bad with her sometimes. (I generally do a good job - but man, when I mess up, I MESS UP!) So I was just driving along thinking about how nice it would be to have a grown-up daughter who still wants to be with me.

So, as I pray this through, I started thinking I should pray for God's grace so I'd know how to raise her to be my friend. But, after more thought, I think it is more appropriate to pray that He'd train me to be her friend. I realize that is harder, but I think that's the ticket.


The weather has turned cool (Yay!) and I have been making soup. I love soup and I love soup weather. I was in the middle of boiling the peas for pea soup when Boo had her accident the other day. I left the peas on the stove to soak, and returned to them that evening to finish up. I had (IMHO) the great idea to put butternut squash in the soup. I thought it would be awesome. Too bad I forgot to put the finished pot of soup in the refrigerator before I went to bed. I walked into the kitchen the next morning and saw it sitting on the stove. It was a big bummer to start my day.

So I decided to make some vegetable beef the next day to satisfy my soup craving. For the frist time in a long time, I just made it up - and it actually turned out pretty good. And it is so much faster to prepare when you don't have to keep checking the cook book. Now that it has aged in the frige a few days, it is really good. Yummy.

It is a sort-of goal of mine that when Boo is living next door to me, and wants to know how to make awesome vegetable beef soup like her mom's, that she will come over for the "recipe" and I annoy the tar out of her by saying the kinds of things that my mom says to me...

"You just throw in some beef stock." To which Boo will reply, "how much?" And I will say... what... can you guess?


And just for fun, I will throw in the transcript to the conversation I had with Bug while typing this post.

Me: Bug, stop painting on your face.
Bug: (ignoring me.)
Me: Bug, you are not to paint on your face again.
Bug: (ignoring me.)
Me: Bug, did you hear me?
Bug: Yes.
Me: please tell me what I said.
Bug: Did you hear me!

Good job, son.