Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coming Home Video

OK, I've finally been able to download and do a little editing of the video from when we arrived home.  You may want to scroll down and pause the music at the bottom since there's music with the video.  We're all doing well, will update more later.  We hope you enjoy the video.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Settling In

Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch.  I really love fall and being able to decorate.  I'm happy we still have some time for the fall decorations, especially when the weather is so nice and cool!  Jian was really excited and said he's never carved a pumpkin before.  He loved picking out his own pumpkin and looking at everything there.  He kept asking if they were real. :) 

Things are going well here.  We're working on settling into a routine.  Tanner is now back at school full time and adjusting better than I expected.  I thought he would be upset to leave his brother, but, he's happy to be going to school, and we're so thankful.  This morning Tanner seemed a little down and while we were in his room, I told him his brother was awake, a big grin came across his face and he turned around and gave Jian a big high-five. 

Jian was pretty nervous about starting to learn english, but, now that he's started, he's doing really well and gets excited to learn something new!  This should help things a lot, he definitely has motivation.  We're working on finding things for him to do.  Right now, he's like a giant toddler.  We are following him around everywhere and helping him learn what things are as well as what things he can and cannot touch (it becomes a bit tiring :)).  Yesterday we went to a craft store and found him a couple of things to do for a few days.  We're doing school and then some activities (plus, giving mom a little break).  As we left the store, he was able to experience what happens with a fender bender :).  Two of us were backing out at the same time and rubbed bumpers.  Jian was extremely nervous and couldn't believe we didn't get out and scream at each other.  Once we were in the car he kept signing - that girl was so nice, she was so nice!  I'm thankful it was nothing big and was a good opportunity for him.

Jian loves his dad.  He can't wait to see him when Jon arrives home and is often looking at his watch to see how much longer until dad is finished with work.  He likes to play with him, chat with him, and just be close to him.  Clearly he's not had much male influence in his life and he has a fabulous dad to learn from. 

He and Tanner enjoy riding their bikes in the backyard every afternoon.  Yesterday, while they were outside, I enjoyed watching them have a conversation about their bikes.  What a blessing it is to see the two of them communicating so well and to be doing something fun together.   Jian is incredibly excited to go to a high school football game tonight, there's a possibility of rain, so we'll see what happens (though we can definitely use the rain here). 

I'm having some trouble getting video onto here, so, I'm working on converting the file right now, I hope it works, so that you can see Jian coming home.  I also am excited to post about how we found out about Jian in the first place and meeting (online) some new people  that had a part in us learning about him.  We love seeing God's handiwork throughout this story.  We also would love to post more about our time and people we met while in China.  I'm checking on the logistics of some of that and will keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How it's going

Well, it's been a few days since I've posted.  Things are a lot more busy here and there's a lot more to do. In fact, a few times, believe it or not, I've preferred to be back in China!  There, we were all together, with nothing to do except figure out what to do together :).  Here, Jon is back at work, there's laundry to do, a few things left to unpack, school work, paperwork, blah, blah, blah. 

Anyways - yesterday, I woke up really thankful and feeling better and a little more rested.  I had a great post for the blog written in my head (obviously it never got here :)).  Today, was not such a great day.  I woke up crabby and tired, sat for several hours with both boys at the doctors office, cried some, was irritated, and then decided I should remember what I was thankful for yesterday!  So, to end the day on a better note, I thought I would list the things I would've mentioned yesterday.

I am thankful for:
Being able to drink water from the faucet whenever I want.
Being able to wear flip flops again
Two sons who are quick to forgive and love to laugh
An amazing husband who is so helpful with both boys
Friends and family who love us in countless ways, including helping teach Jian, spending time with the boys, giving them welcome home gifts and planning parties!
A soft bed
Beautiful, fall weather
Wonderful healthcare
Being able to freely worship and talk about our Heavenly Father without ever even questioning or being concerned for my safety
A gracious God

I'll add more later about how things are going (really well actually, just don't ask me today :)) tomorrow hopefully!

Monday, October 18, 2010

More of being home

Since my body is still on China time, I figured I'd try to post an update.  Hopefully it will actually be somewhat coherent, I guess we'll find out in the morning.

So, we arrived home on Friday night around 9:30-10:00.  Jian was so thrilled and loved looking around and seeing his room (still working on the video - actually, I haven't worked on it at all, haven't even downloaded it, so, that should say, will be working on the video).  He was really excited when he saw a ripstick (skateboard) in his room (thanks Becky!), as well as balloons and a few other fun things that were left (thanks Becky and Audra :)).  He looked around and kept saying everything was so big!   He then took his bag to his room and emptied it all out on the floor.  He found a place for everything that he brought with him.  He put pictures up on his desk and walls, he had some special necklaces (with his name and a jade rat (his birthday is the year of the rat) and he hung those up under the slats on his bed.  He loved having a place to put things and was disappointed at the empty drawers.  I explained once we washed the clothes we brought from China he'd have clothes to fill them again.

Saturday morning, he enjoyed exploring outside and was excited to see all the things to do.  He's adjusting well and loving being here.  He likes looking at how spread out things are and is probably surprised to not see so many people and mopeds and bikes.  He wanted his haircut, he had said in China that he wanted it cut when we went to America, so, Jon cut it for him, I'll try to remember to post a picture, it's cute, shorter and less shaggy. 

Yesterday, (Sunday) we went to church, he wasn't quite sure what to think about all of that.  Though, he was really excited to meet people.  It was very special when he was introduced in church and brought joyful tears.  He was given a Chinese/English New Testament and looked at it for a while last night, we're excited to start reading some of it with him.  He's very social and friendly and was happy to see so many new friends.  He was really excited to meet Brighton, who is deaf and was adopted from China 3 years ago, they enjoyed some basketball and made plans for the next time they could get together.  Jian loved being able to play basketball and ripstick with his new friend John after church.  On the way home, Jian was looking outside and signed "it's blue, the sky is blue!  That's so cool!  In China the sky is black and it always smells."  We agreed, there was a lot of pollution and we rarely saw the sun.  A cute observation :)

The boys all enjoyed some afternoon bike riding to the lake while I tried to catch up on the laundry.  At meals, Jian has been watching us pray.  We've also been trying to explain basic information to him in a way he can understand.  Last night at dinner, he asked to pray!  This is the interpreted version of his prayer: "Dear God, thank you that I could fly to America from China.  Thank you for new friends, Thank you for my family and that I am adopted, Amen"  WOW!  Not a copied prayer, but well thought out - so amazing!

Our adjustment to home is going really well. He's a real busybody, so, we have to keep a close eye on him and help explain what is acceptable behavior, boundaries, etc.  Thankfully, he continues to take redirection extremely well. 

Tanner is absolutely overjoyed at having a brother.  He has tried to give Jian everything he owns, toys, money, awards, whatever he has, he wants to give it to Jian.  What a tender heart!

I need to go back and start from the beginning about how we heard about Jian - we just saw the e-mail again the other day and we'd love to share with you how this all began.

So, what do we have up for the week?  Later today (Monday), we're going to do some homework, hopefully fold some laundry so that we all actually have clean clothes to wear, and possibly head to the social security office.  I think we'll take a trip to the new HEB as well, we can make it an educational experience.  Tanner is still home today, and will go to school 1/2 day Tuesday and Wednesday, then all day after that.  Hopefully that will help his adjustment back.  Tuesday Jian has a doctors appointment just for a checkup and then Wednesday Tanner has a cardiology appointment.  His geneticist had found an abnormality in some genetic testing (unrelated to the leukodystrophy) and would like us to pursue that.  So, thankfully I just realized the appointment is here and we don't have to drive to Temple - yeah!  Anyways, enough of my blabbering on - I'll try to get the pictures/videos on later today if possible.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the love and prayers from all of you - it's such a joy to be a part of the family of God and see his presence in so many ways.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

AHHHHHHH........ Home

So, this is going to be another quick post :)  More to come later when I'm a little more rested and my brain works better.

We arrived home last night.  It feels sooooo good to be home.  We had fun watching Jian explore the house and videotaped him seeing his new room - to say he loved it would be an understatement!  He screamed :)  It was great!

This morning he had fun exploring the backyard and was thrilled to learn we can see deer in the back yard.  When we left the house he was shocked to see a squirrel cross the road (they're mostly seen in cages at the zoo in China!) and wanted to catch it.

We all slept until 10:30 (it felt amazing) and then stayed up all day.  We  ate breakfast, did some laundry, unpacked and went shopping for a few necessities for Jian, and replaced Tanner's glasses.  We spent some nice time with friends (and saw baby Adalee Walsh for the first time :)) and now are home and ready for bed again (actually, I've been ready for a while, but, we're trying to get back on Central time).

So, more to come of our adjustment back home - along with some final China pictures.  But for now, good night from America!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A new citizen!

Well, we made it to America!! I can finally use my iphone again too.

We enjoyed seeing Hong Kong in the way to the airport :) It was a long trip to Newark. Tanner had a migraine starting about 1/2 way through the trip & he finally stopped vomiting just before we landed. But, we are so thankful he never had one while in China.

Jian is thrilled to be in America and can't wait to be home. The homeland security officer was excited to process his immigration paperwork, he's used to babies and liked explaining the process and having him sign the forms.

Thanks for your prayers for safe travel, everything so far has gone smoothly. We will update more tomorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

in Hong Kong

We've arrived in Hong Kong.  It was a long day, we're tired, a bit snippy with each other and ready to be home!  We received Jian's passport and visa papers with no problems today, yeah!!    More from America :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

US Consulate appointment day!

We enjoyed a nice morning today.  After breakfast we went walking with one of our new friends to see the local wet market (where they sell animals for food).  Don't worry, no graphic pictures here (though, there were definitely some graphic things to see.)  The pictures below are of Jian looking at the scorpions (we don't know if they're snacks or meals) in a bucket - we have plenty at home in Texas we can send to them here!  Jian is standing next to some pigs, chicken feet and squid (everything else except the scorpions was dead).  It was very intriguing to see all of these different things (including whole goats (skinned), jellyfish, huge squid, duck, one dog :() and seeing what local people do and eat.  I was a little concerned about what happens when the goat is not sold that day, but, I decided to not dwell on that too much! The last picture is walking back to our hotel holding my new friend Carrie.  The boys really had fun playing with her too. Since she's Chinese and spoke little English, she was used to gesturing, so they all communicated well with each other. The last picture is a man biking down the street, a common occurrence with big packages loaded onto bikes and motorcycles (including propane tanks!!!)

Then we did a little shopping for a few more gifts to bring home.  We enjoyed some lunch and saw a Chinese movie being made!  After lunch we all took a little rest before leaving for the consulate.  

We were at the consulate appointment with 10 other families who were also adopting, and had seen several of them around town and in our hotel, so, it was fun to share this together.  To be honest, it was a little anti-climactic in the end.  No one is allowed to take their cameras or phones inside the consulate, so we couldn't get any pictures.  We all waited together, then, were called up family by family to sign a document that we'd previously sent in through our agency, and waited for everyone else to do the same.  After that, we all sat together and listened to the instructions for when we receive the visa and paperwork for immigration.  I interpreted for the boys and was impressed that both paid attention so well with all that was going on.  The lady introduced herself, talked a little about the building, then announced there were 2 children's birthdays, one girl who just turned 2 and then had a few nice comments about Jian having just turned 14 and that his adoption happened just under the wire.  Everyone clapped for him and as he looked around, he seemed a little embarrassed, it was cute.  I did get teary when we had to raise our right hands and take an oath that all of our information was true and accurate, though, it was hard to raise my right hand and sign at the same time :).  As soon as that was over, everyone clapped and Tanner jumped up and down hugging Jian.  It was really adorable how excited he was and seeing the two of them hugging each other (I wish I could've had a picture!)  We spoke to the lady there at the consulate for a few minutes before leaving and she said all the people there commented how they loved Jian's passport photo (the one where he was always giggling) because most of them are very serious or the children are crying, and it was nice to see him so happy.

So, that was that!  We went back and grabbed some dinner and now the boys are swimming again.  Tomorrow we'll be packing up and getting ready to go.  We'll leave in the early afternoon to go to the US Consulate one last time to pick up Jian's passport and visa and the paperwork we will need to give to US immigration when we arrive in New Jersey.  Our plane stops in NJ, and we'll need to de-plane, and go through customs.  At this time, when he walks off the plane, he will become a US citizen.  After picking up the passport and visa, we'll head to the train station to go to Hong Kong.  That was a bit stressful this morning, apparently something is going on in Hong Kong right now as most hotels were completely booked, we both were becoming anxious and wondering what we would do, when finally we found a hotel as well as a service that will bring us to the airport Friday morning.  Phew!  We're hoping it's not too bad, but, we're just happy to have a room to sleep in!

Today we are really ready to go.  Tanner was a little sad tonight and said he missed his hamster.  He asked me later who I was missing, I told him "my bed!" and he replied "and my hamster??"  I'm finally done with all being in one room in a small, hard bed and wearing the same 5 outfits all the time!  BUT.... I would not have traded this experience for the world.  

This morning at breakfast, JIan and I we were discussing all of the children who were being adopted and how wonderful it was for them to go to a home with a mom and dad.  He told us some things in a very general way that he had seen at the orphanage (children that had died) and it caused me to cry.  He said "it's ok, don't cry" and I told him it was ok to be sad and cry.  It reminded me again that though we have an amazing new son who has a new beginning and a new life, he still has a past.  He has a history that we were not a part of and a history that will always be a part of him.  This history does not define him, it is not who he is, but it will always affect him.  Our prayer is that he will use it for the glory of God!  I was reminded of Philippians 2:14-16 "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."  

Well, the boys just came back!  So, it's time to do a little packing.  We are really looking forward to being home soon.  To seeing how Jian adjusts there, to being a family back home.  He is so excited - I'm hoping his expectations aren't too high! :)  Hopefully we will be able to update tomorrow from Hong Kong - if not, it's possible our next update will be from America!!! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not everything can go swimmingly....

Well, it's true.  We couldn't expect everything to go so smoothly.  I called to confirm our flights today and found out we had a flight from Beijing to Houston, but, the flight they had us on from Guangzhou to Beijing had canceled our tickets.  Hmmmm, well, ok.  Lets go over this again, with all the names and information, I explained the whole deal from before.  After about 3 total hours on the phone, we are now flying out of Hong Kong on Friday.  So, we'll need to check out of our hotel here Thursday after picking up Jian's visa, take a train to Hong Kong, stay overnight there and then fly out from there to New Jersey and then on to Houston.  The good news is that our total travel time will be about 5 hours less than we originally had been scheduled for and will only have 2 flights instead of 3 flights.  We also get to Houston about 3 hours earlier than originally planned.  So,hopefully this will all go smoothly!

This morning we went to the US Consulate to get Jian's fingerprinting completed.  I was excited to see the US flag and thought it would feel a little more like home, but, nope, it didn't!  Then we went to a park and walked around there, took a little (and I do mean little) boat ride on the lake/pond.  We came back to go swimming before going to dinner and enjoying a night cruise down the Pearl River.  It was a nice evening with a beautiful breeze and we enjoyed the company of some other adoptive families as well. 

Tomorrow we're going to check out some local markets and then we go to the Consulate again in the afternoon to take an oath.  There will be many other US families there at the same time, so, that will be fun!  OK - goodnight from Guangzhou!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chimelong Safari

We had a fabulous day yesterday at the Chimelong safari.  Apparently, if you visit Guangzhou - this is one of the best things to do.  It was a combination of safari/zoo/performance all rolled into one.

We went with another family and were all very happy to have gone.  We loved the drive-through safari (on a train) and saw a lot of lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, deer, wildebeests, zebra, camels, rhinos and much more, very close up.  Jian loved it, but, was quite concerned that they would eat people.  After the 45 minute ride, we got off and walked (well, actually ran, following our guide) through the rest of the zoo and saw tons of white tigers, many pandas, a lot of baby animals, tigers, chimp, zebra, wildebeest, and deer and then attended 2 performances, an elephant performance (it was amazing) and a tiger performance (a little more sad and not quite as amazing).  We were completely worn out by the end of the day.  We all enjoyed leisurely looking at the animals, but, apparently that's not the chinese way of doing things ;)  Our guide was always in a hurry and encouraging us to move on after about a 1-2 minute stop at each place.  It was a bit comical really!  We laughed a lot because it seemed there wasn't any time to enjoy the animals, we were always needing to move on to the next one.  We wonder if the word linger is in the Chinese vocabulary.

Both boys really loved the park.  We obtained a lot of fun video that we'll have to post when we get back home.  There was a lot of laughter and a really fun day of memories.  The boys were tired, but, of course, not too tired to swim.  A quick dinner in our room (of 50-cent noodles from the 7/11 across the street) and we're all ready to rest, read and sleep!

This morning we went to have Jian's TB test read.  Fortunately, it was clear (they didn't inject it very well and left a bit of a bruise so I was a bit concerned they might note that as a reaction, but, thankfully it was clear).  Then, we went to do a little shopping to a pedestrian mall.   On the way we saw an entire street with very small shops on both sides of all types of chinese medicinal foods like dried snake, dried (and flattened) lizards, mushrooms, seeds, deer tendons, bones of things, and many other unrecognizable things - they were in giant bags to come and buy in bulk.  We also enjoyed walking (well, one of us - the rest of them tolerated it) around a large store of many smaller shops filled with jade.  It was a bit overwhelming, but, nice to look at.  

Now, back for some more swimming and a restful (hopefully :)) evening.  Tomorrow we'll need to get Jian's fingerprints done at the US Consulate and the following day we take our oath at the US Consulate.  Thursday we pick up his visa and Friday we head home!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some observations

So, there are definitely some different things about China that we are not used to back home. Here are some of our observations for our memories and your entertainment.

* I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the squatty potty non-western style restroom facilities.
* There's no such thing as waiting in line, you may wait in line, and when it's time to go in, it becomes a crowd and it's a free-for-all.  You have to learn to maneuver your way around (somewhat like roller derby) and it's not considered rude!
* Customer service is a relative term :)
* There are a lot of different smells and we're not always able to discern what they are, or, really get used to them.
* Listening harder and talking louder doesn't help me get my point across any better.
* Interpreting has a different meaning here - there can be a 10 minute conversation and then a 1 sentence interpretation.
* Top sheets are not a commonly used item - all our hotel beds have only had bottom sheets and duvets!
* Being stared at and having your picture taken doesn't necessarily make you feel like a celebrity, but, it makes us laugh :)
*We don't  think we will ever get used to the idea that having the head still on your dinner somehow makes it more appetizing.

Now for some serious notes.

We are daily recognizing astonishing blessings that we've been given.  Both in our trip here and with our family.  It's amazing how often I think that 3 weeks ago we knew very little about our soon to be son and how quickly we have felt like a family.  Our communication of course is not perfect, but, it's easy to do.  The boys behave like brothers and really seem to enjoy each other's company. While he does tend to need alot of redirection and explanations about appropriate and innappropriate behaviors, he always accepts the redirection well, which we are very thankful for.  I do not feel like Jian has not ever been our son.

Tanner has not had any migraines or any more symptoms since the first week we were here.  He gets tired but never complains.  Yesterday he was feeling a little homesick and down, but, who isn't!

We have all been able to get along and not really had any arguments or frustrations with each other.  After being in such close proximity and constantly together for three weeks, it's a real blessing that I haven't been worse!  With my OCD tendencies, they've put up with a lot, and I'm so thankful that Jon is still being patient with me and we're both continuing to have patience with the boys!

These things are all thanks to your prayers!  We know that this trip is ordained and we are exactly where we're supposed to be, and it makes it so special and meaningful that you are praying for us and joining us on this trip.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Medical exam.....done (mostly)

So, our first day in Guangzhou was a successful one.  We had a nice breakfast while enjoying the Pearl River.  During breakfast Jian continued staring at a little girl who was adopted.  He couldn't pull himself away.  He asked a lot of questions about it and why she was in the orphanage.

We then met our guide and walked to get Jian's Visa pictures taken.  The lady kept talking to him in Chinese and I think telling him not to smile.   I finally asked our guide to remind the lady that he was deaf.  He continued giggling and had a hard time not smiling - it was pretty cute.

Then we walked to the medical exam office.  This is for adoptees from all over the country, as well as a medical office for anyone.  We met several other adoptive families there, it was fun seeing a lot of different age children that were being adopted.  It felt really crazy there - we were shuffled from one section to the next, one doctor listened to his heart and lungs and checked him all over, then, someone else checked his eyes (at this point the doctor came over and explained he was disappointed in Jian's posture :)), then we moved to the ENT area before blood pressure.  Then, we waited for a while before he had to get 5 shots plus the oral polio.  We had warned him ahead of time, and he did great taking the shots.  We had to wait about 30 minutes to make sure there was no reaction before we could leave.  We have to go back in 2 days to have his TB test checked.  

After that ordeal, we had a delicious Thai lunch with another American family.  We came back for a little swimming, resting and TV watching since it was a rainy day outside.  Jon and Jian went to the gym for a while and right now they're enjoying a rousing game of Memory (who would've thought he'd have so much fun playing Memory on the Ipad  :)).  This includes squeals and much laughter whether winning, losing or tying.

Tomorrow we're all excited to go to a wildlife safari!  We've heard you can pet baby tigers and hopefully will see panda bears.  It should be a fun day.

Also, one week from today we will be home in our beds! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

We are in Guangzhou

We have arrived in Guangzhou!  Jian was so incredibly excited to be on an airplane, he could hardly wait!

We almost didn't make it to our flight though.

Here's the scenario.

Our guide brought us to the airport, showed us our gate number on the tickets, and brought us to security.  Here is where I got nervous.  We're in China, I don't speak the language, not many foreigners there, flying in-country, trying to go through security.....well, no reason to be nervous, security apparently has a different meaning in China, I'm not sure they even looked at our bags as they went through the x-ray machine.  Phew, ok, step one down.  Now, we follow the signs to gate 28.  We walk down a long hallway, down 2 escalators and to a very big waiting area with very few seats and many, many people.  It looks like we'll need to take a bus to our plane.  OK, no problem.  We were early, we'll sit close to the gate and hope for some English.  It looked as if they were serving food if you had a ticket.  We don't know if there will be lunch on our flight, so, Jon attempted to get food.  The lady just waved him away.  So, when it was close to boarding time, Jon went to check with a gate attendant if we were at the right gate, she replied - 15.  "What??" Who knows what that meant.  OK, we'll just wait a little longer.  Then, we realized a man sitting close to Tanner had the same city on his ticket, excellent! We are going to stick close to him.  I had eagle eyes on him, and freaked out a little when he got up to go to the bathroom, he was probably a little bothered by the foreigner stalkers, but, we felt like he was our ticket to Guangzhou!  A few minutes later they took a chain and locked the doors to go to the buses.  Hmmmm, well, they'll be back.  Our guy stuck around looking out the window, and didn't seem concerned (there's a picture attached of the unwitting assistant - it's the last picture).  When it was past boarding time, Jon went to another gate attendant close by and asked her for help, she pointed at the gate we were at, OK, good, we're still in the right place.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:50pm, and it's now about 12:35, we're starting to get a little nervous, but, our friend that we were stalking was still there.  Suddenly, our guy starts moving, we get up and start following and then we hear our flight announced in English, flight ZH9618, is in final boarding at gate 15.  WHAT???!!!! OK, our guy starts running, so we start running.  Up 2 escalators and down the hall - WHEW!!!  We were almost the last people on the plane.  Apparently they did not feel a need to make the flight announcement in English until the last minute, what a great idea!  Oh well, we were SO thankful that we made it.  We enjoyed a noodle or rice lunch with some sort of meat and coconut cake for dessert.  We got drinks in dixie cups, and were delighted to be on our flight!

Jian was thrilled.  We've attached some pictures of his first flight.  Tanner was disappointed that he didn't get the window seat.  Jian took tons of pictures from the plane and then, couldn't believe we had to wait another 2 hours until we arrived.  He could hardly believe it when we told him that next week our flight will be 25 hours.  

So, now we're here in Guangzhou. Our guide met us at the airport and brought us to our hotel, The White Swan.   It seems strange here.  Now that we're not in Jian's hometown, we'd kind of like everything to be done and head back home. Jian agrees too, he's counting down the days to fly to America.   But, it's a nice hotel (the common areas are beautiful, the room is a bit smaller than our room in Nanjing.  In fact, Jon and I get to share a twin bed!  The room is also a bit smelly, but, not a lot different than the rest of China.  I'm thrilled to not have a window from the bathroom to the bedroom too!)  The pools are beautiful and we get to sit outside and watch the kids swim, this was a nice activity after finding dinner at Starbucks.  It's a lot less crowded here in this area, much more touristy, but a lot less traffic.  We're on a small island, so, it's easy to get around right here by walking.  While walking around in the hotel tonight, we met another family who adopted a 2 year old boy with a heart condition from a different province.  They live in Dallas!  Jian was excited to see another adopted boy and both Jian and Tanner had fun playing with the little boy. 

One of the pictures attached are a couple of the amenities we're provided at hotels in China.  We have both of these things at all our hotels so far :)  You can't drink the water here, so you get 2 bottles a day (we have a hot pot to boil more water), AND, the amenities are not complete without your breathing mask in case of.....!

Tomorrow we go for Jian's medical appointment and TB test.  I'm hoping to get his vaccination records translated as well.  Then, I think we're free for the rest of the afternoon.  

So, one week from now we'll be halfway home!  Yeah!  Our trip though, has truly been amazing and fantastic.  We couldn't have asked for it to be any better, and all the glory goes to God.  Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  Our communication and bonding is going great and we're looking forward to one more week all together.  We loved having 2 weeks in Jian's hometown and meeting many new friends there.  

OH, that reminds me of one more thing - if you're still reading..... :) This morning, before leaving Nanjing, we were leaving a gift for Jian's "Chinese mom and dad."  Our guide, Michael, called them and they said they were close and so stopped in to say goodbye.  We gave them the gift and she asked when we were returning to China.  We tried to explain we were unsure and it's so expensive.  Our guide said maybe we could come back for Jian's 20th birthday in 6 years and we laughed.  Well, in the van on our way to the airport, she called Michael and told him to let us know that she'll take care of all the arrangements and we don't need to do anything to help with Jian's 20th birthday party!  YIKES!  We didn't really necessarily plan to come back then - we'll have to see what happens there. :)

OK now, goodnight from Guangzhou. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Off to Guangzhou

After a fun and restful day yesterday, we are mostly packed and ready to head out to Guangzhou very soon.  We should be there by late afternoon.  

We are a bit sad to be leaving here (actually, Jian is not at all sad - he's so excited to get on an airplane - I wonder when/if he will show sadness).  Our server at breakfast told us she was sad we were leaving - so sweet!

OK - off to finish packing, will update more from Guangzhou.  

Goodbye for now Nanjing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The City Wall and Nanjing Museum

Today we enjoyed a long walk on some more of the city wall and enjoyed a view of the mountain and a beautiful lake and park.  It was too much for Tanner, and we were again thankful for the backpack we purchased prior to the trip.  Tanner is not feeling 100%, but, much better than he was yesterday. We were concerned about whether the azithromycin antibiotic we had would even work for an ear infection since that wasn't really what the doctor was thinking when he prescribed it. But we saw God's care for us again when I (Shelly) got on the internet and found an article date September 22, 2010 that found a single dose of azithromycin was more effective for treating ear infections than a ten day treatment with the more commonly used amoxicillin.  God is good.

 We're also so amazed that despite how weak he is (in general, not from the ear infection), that he is such a trooper.  He keeps on going without complaining.  We go up and down a lot of steps to get to subways and buses, lots of walking to find places as well as the touring that we do.  What an amazing kid he is.  

We ate a fabulous Indian lunch before checking out the Nanjing Museum.  Just outside of the museum there was a lot of activity due to the holidays.  There was a man making cotton candy on the back of his bike (pedaling his bike made the motor work to make the cotton candy!!)  The kids loved it, it tasted a little odd to us though.  Several people asked to have their pictures taken with Jon and or Tanner here :).  We were also heart broken as we saw several men with different physical disabilities that did not appear to have any other options than begging on the streets.  Tanner always wants to help by giving money or food and as well as touching them and looking in their faces with compassion far beyond his years. 

The museum itself was all about the city and showed a short movie and other information about Jian's home!  We really enjoyed this and the kids had fun there as well.  Jian enjoyed pointing out where the orphanage was, the deaf school and other places he knew.  After looking at a map today we were shocked with how far he had to ride his bike every day to go to school. 

I can't believe that our time here in Nanjing is almost finished.  I never thought I would say this, but, I will be truly sad to leave!  What a truly memorable and special time we have had here.  We will be a little sad to leave, but, Jian is ready to go!  Tonight he looked at the calendar and wrote at the top (in Chinese), "I can't wait to go to America!"  I hope he still feels that way once we're home.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Chinese picnic and dumplings

Today was a great day.  We loved being able to share our story with many new friends and talk about our adoption and our lives.  It is clear to us that we are here for so much more than this adoption.  What a memorable time we're having here.  We met new friends today who invited us back to Nanjing anytime and told us we're welcome to stay with them in the city of our son.  

So, we attended a picnic today. To get there, we took our first subway and bus rides.  All of the boys (Jon included, enjoyed the many different forms of transportation).  This was a picnic unlike any we have ever been to before!  We sat on concrete stools around small firepits.  About 6-8 people sat at each place.  There was charcoal underneath a grate and on top was foil in places.  There were many different kinds of food and they would brush on sauces and spices on top of the food being cooked.  There was tofu, beef, pork, bananas, squid, chicken, beans, mushrooms, and more.  They were cooked on wooden skewers.  The cooked meat would often be on the same plate as the raw meat, so, I was again praying for protection for our bodies.  The food was delicious (most of it - I tried squid this time!) and the company memorable.  And, as in true Chinese fashion, there was way more food than I could eat.  I sat with several new friends, Jon and Jian sat together with others (Jian enjoyed being the cook) and Tanner sat by himself with many Chinese, and was very proud to be on his own.  It was a beautiful day for a picnic and we stayed for several hours.  The kids had some fun things to play on and then played a little frisbee and badminton while we enjoyed sitting and chatting for a while.

We then went on to a home where we were taught how to make dumplings.  Jon and I both learned. I'm not sure we'll try it at home, maybe we'll just buy the already made ones.  We enjoyed the company as well as the fun time making dinner and eating with new friends.  We were again able to share our adoption story and how it all transpired and worked out.  Many people are surprised and curious as to why Americans would want to adopt a 14 year old Chinese boy who is deaf.  I'm not sure we'll ever tire of telling the story.  We also enjoyed listening to a young Chinese girl play the Guzheng (an ancient Chinese instrument).  It was beautiful and amazing!  We were enthralled with her abilities and her mother gave us a DVD of her playing.

Tanner has been having a runny nose for a few days and responded well to allergy medicine, so, we assumed it was the smoke and pollution here.  Well, tonight when Jon was washing his face, he responded in pain when his ear was touched.  This almost always means an ear infection.  We're thankful that we have antibiotics along with us and will pray that they will work to clear up the infection.  He's continuing to love having a big brother.  Yesterday morning he started clapping and jumping up and down and signed to Jian "I'm so happy you're my brother!!!"  

Jian still is doing so much better than we ever imagined.  It feels like we've been a family forever (I guess in one sense, that's true).  It's hard to believe it's been just over a week since we've met him and he became our son.   There are definitely some frustrations and irritations, but, nothing we didn't expect or out of the ordinary - especially for a deaf child, and one who has grown up in an orphanage.  He loves to touch everything, grab things and be a little aggressive at times.  This is not unusual for someone wanting/needing attention as well as a way to communicate with those he can't sign or speak with.  He actually is learning well and responding well to redirection.  He still always has a smile on his face and loves to check his calendar every day to see when we're flying to America.  

Tomorrow we are looking forward to some more sight-seeing around the city.  Hopefully a museum about Nanjing as well as a trip to the mountain.  It's supposed to be another beautiful day, so, I'd better sign off and get some sleep to be ready for another enjoyable day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday and Monday

I couldn't come up with a title better than that, so, Sunday and Monday it is. We don't have a lot to report from here, just a couple of nice quiet days enjoying our family and time together in Nanjing.

Yesterday, we did some homework, then enjoyed walking around Confucious Temple (we tried to find the silk lantern factory to visit, but, couldn't find it and couldn't find anyone who spoke enough English to help us.)  It was a busy day there since it was a weekend and the holiday.   We made a few purchases, and then the boys were a little bored and tired.  I was getting a little tired of the crowds and the smells, so we went back to the room for lunch and a swim.  It was a nice, quiet Sunday afternoon/evening.  We enjoyed a dinner at one of the restaurants in the mall attached to our hotel.  We appreciate having Jian as our own interpreter :)  He likes it as well.  We wanted to order sprite with our meal, but, it wasn't on the menu, Jian wrote it down in Chinese and sure enough, we were delivered 4 sprites! We've done this a few times at different restaurants, it works well for us and helps Jian feel important.

Today was another quiet day. We worked on homework again with both boys.  Jian seems to be doing quite well with math, and with ASL. We were working on some sight words today and he said "I prefer Chinese!"  though he did well in continuing to practice and learn.  We again did some swimming, and then enjoyed a tex-mex dinner with our american friends!  When we left, we were quickly reminded that we were still in China!  It was nice to have an evening and feel back at home.

Tomorrow we're going to have a picnic lunch with some friends and some of their friends, we're looking forward to that and the boys are excited to be going on a picnic!