Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Breakfast Time!

Alyzabeth likes to feed herself... And as much as she can, we think it's a grand idea! :)

I Think It's Understandable

When you're 2 years old and away from "home" for the first time. I think it's understandable that you might cry a little...
You might miss what use to be. Routines. Sights. Sounds. Familiar voices and touches. Smells. Little friends you played with. The taste of your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your nannies.
When you're 2 years old and living in your "forever home" for the first time. I think it's understandable that you might cry a little...

Alyzabeth had a better night. Not a good night. A better night. She had a tiring day from its very beginning since the night didn't come easy. And if Alyzabeth's nights do not come easy, well, let's just say that Mom's nights are even less restful and Peaceful.

We were able to keep everyone up for most the day (and no, not from crying :) Mom and Dad each grabbed separate naps as did Alyzabeth before we gathered ourselves up for a afternoon trip to the town park with Nana. Not so much to play but to help stay up and continue to make the switch back to our Eastern Time Zone.
The trip to the park also marked Alyzabeth's first time in a car seat. And while we are not recommending it, Alyzabeth's first ride was fairly subdued. In other words, she didn't throw a screaming fit being buckled in for what had to be a first.

So why no screaming fit? Well take a look at that face. The poor thing was too worn out and still recovering from an abbreviated nap. We had sat her in the seat previously without going anywhere just to give her an "idea" of how these things work. We'll see how quiet she is once she has a fully charged battery :)

And she also formerly met GC (gray cat) for the first time.

And before anyone calls the authorities.
No. We did not force Alyzabeth to sit buckled in a car seat on the ride home from the airport. After spending 30 plus hours in three different planes in worlds thousands of miles apart. We cut her some slack. And us.
Here's what we did. We duct taped Alyzabeth to her mom's chest and then used bungee cords to hold them both securely down in the back seat. Then for added safety, we took some rope and wrapped the truck with old discarded bed mattresses before pulling out on the road for the ride home. It did sort of have that "Beverly Hillbilly" look but at that time of night and living where we do, few noticed, fewer yet cared. We might could have done without the hay bales stuffed inside but live and learn...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Morning Cruise On The Radio Flyer!

First off, lets get the "Alyzabeth Hates The Night Time" update out of the way.

Alyzabeth continues to hate the night time. And she tells us. Very loudly. MOST ALL OF THE NIGHT she lets us know this... How in the world this little body can get up with a smile on her face while we drag ourselves to the coffee pot after another sleepless night is beyond explanation.

Now to the good stuff, this is how baby girl started her morning after a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham, hot oatmeal, applesauce and watermelon with a sippy cup of whole milk as a chaser. We did explain the girl loves to eat?!? :)
Right now she is throwing her ball and racing around playing with Nana.

Oh, this promises to be a busy day...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What a Day!! Day 1 At Home!

September 28, 2008

Here's how our first day went at Alyzabeth's (AA) new home!!

We had our family visit including cousin Carolyn, AA's sister Leaa, Hubby Jesse, daughter Alivia, and AA's brother Justin and daughter Kilee plus Cathy & Werner and their daughter Christa. Christa was particularly patient with AA during "play time".

First picture has AA tentatively standing and watching the others while Christa tries to entice AA to play.

Second picture has our daughter and son, plus their two daughters (our "grands") and Christa. AA is warming up a bit and did play with everyone. She is very reserved but with Crista's help learned to stack the rings, play with the blocks and give hugs to others.

The third picture is of AA happily pushing along on her LL Bean Flyer. She is now in bed hopefully asleep for the entire night (at least that is what we are hoping for - we need our sleep!).

Thank you to our family for their gifts (Marsha too!).

And the really BIG news...... Our Daughter, Leaa and hubby Jesse are expecting their second child in May 2009!! A sibling for Alivia. Hurrah! AA will be "Aunt" to our three Grands!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We're Home!

We have a new US citizen that we will be formally introducing :)

Thank you Nana Ann for picking us up!!!
The flights home went quite well actually. Everyone is safe and sound and we'll be putting out an update tomorrow. For now, we're going to try and go to bed. Aly is doing the impossible as I type this...trying to get baby girl #2 down. Wish her luck :)

and while we're at it - HAPPY BIRTHDAY (9/28) to the original baby girl.... our Leaa D.
Love you,
dad & aly

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trip To The Pearl Market

A video of our trip at the Pearl Market and back. As usual. No editing. For us, the trip rated a success as we are not the best of shoppers! I tried to post earlier today but the video was taking forever so I shortened it somewhat in hopes of finally getting this posted. As you can see I originally tried to upload at 1:30 PM but it wasn't happening. So here's our next attempt at 7:55 PM our time!

Continuing with our edited post :)
We have completed the US Consulate oath and we are ready to fly home in the morning! Once Alyzabeth gets her visa stamped by Immigration in Chicago we will have a NEW US CITIZEN!!! The one, the only, MS ALYZABETH AN!!!
Talk with you all soon!
ac & fm & aa
posted Friday @ 1:30 PM (or we should say - we tried :) it's now 7:55 PM)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shamian Island - Day 2 (Or Day 13 of China Journey)

The best place to see lots of pictures of our surroundings is to visit Sarah at Coming Around Again blog. A few more pictures are on Journey to Sophie (Foy's) and 6000 Miles to Abigail (Webb's); see 09/20/08 post with us in the front row.

Welcome to Shamian Island!
Everyone in the group has been looking forward to getting to Guangzhou and not just because it means we're close to flying home. This is where everyone plans to do some major shopping! The Island is set up for us and our Travel Group had no plans on letting them down :) However, we hadn't planned on battling the effects of a TYPHOON! Unreal. We travel half a world away and still we can't get out of the path of a Hurricane!
We can't even begin to tell you what it was like sloshing through the flooded streets getting to the Medical Appointments. Yes, scuzzy water up to our knees for 30 minutes. We hope not to catch pneumonia! Or lose any time getting our shopping in!!! :)

Some firsts and random thoughts!
AA drinks from a straw now.
She can unscrew a water bottle and play with the cap by screwing it back on, then off, then on, then....
She has "blown her kisses" to us! We practiced lots of kissing so now she will pucker up and blow kisses on command!
She looks at me and calls me "mama" (when she is screaming, mad or in anyway upset, she calls out for her "first" mama; we know the difference),
She still requires about three foot safety space around her when out in public, no one can get close to her! She immediately begins crying again, pinching or scratching me and withdraws into her shell.
She is daddy's new best play friend. They play together for hours with AA crawling all over him and sitting in his lap.
And here is the big one, it may be a repeat but it's worth repeating. She is falling asleep in her CRIB provided I hum like crazy and shake the crib like we're in a earthquake!

All of our paperwork goes to the Consulate today and should all go well we will get AA's visa approval and then do the oath tomorrow. Fly out Saturday morning early!

I'm giving the computer back to Ford so he can put on a video of all of us making our way through the water yesterday to get AA's medical exam and visa photo. I don't know if Ford will post the video of the picture session and the exam. Let's just say that in his words, it's brutal! Poor Alyzabeth, she does not like strangers to touch her or get too close...

Bye for now.
Alyson, Alyzabeth & Ford
posted Thursday morning @10:15:AM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We're In Guangzhou

We made it to Guangzhou and in doing so Alyzabeth experienced her first plane ride!
Her reaction:
More cheerios and be fast about it...

Actually, she really did do fine. No tears. No tantrums. Just lots of food with the occasional cheerio to wash things down :) And mom's bottle of water.

We're too tired to do a true post so this will be short. We plan to post tomorrow with more videos and tall tales of our wild adventures from China :)
We are snug in our room at the White Swan Hotel and for some of you, you will know from reading our blog that the White Swan holds a special meaning for us. It was more than a little overwhelming when pulling up in our bus and walking through the doors...
And speaking of emotional. We opened the door to our room, turned on the lights and what did we have waiting for us? Try a dozen red roses from Be, Don and Joanna Mei.
That pretty much turned us into a puddle of water as we read the card and could not believe that they would have thought to do something so kind, so sweet, so absolute loving.
You guys are way too good to us.
Thank You so much...

So many firsts today but we'll save them for another post but I must share two BIG ones.
Alyzabeth went to sleep in her room tonight and not the hallway in mom's arms (after a rather robust fight we'll confess) for the very first time.

AND. Alyzabeth sat on daddy's lap without any prompting and pretended to cook in a small bowl and then share her culinary delight by offering imaginary tastes from her stirring spoon. I have a cooking companion! She also decided to wear my ball cap.

We'll talk more tomorrow - so tired right now but so SO HAPPYY!!!
ac & fm & aa
Tuesday @ 11:05 PM

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Birthday

Wanted to share the photo on the left of our Chongqing travel group of momma's and their babies!! :)

The Birthday
(video below)

It was a fun gathering of the families coming and going with their little ones. All of us got to kick back a bit and share in the birthday cake Aly and I purchased at a little bakery Marie had pointed out to us when first arriving in Chongqing. We simply took over the "sitting room" on the 30th floor of the Golden Resources Hotel and turned the kids loose!
A few folks walked past us and smiled and you could see the puzzled look on their faces as they tried to figure out exactly what was going on :)

Tonight is our last night in Chongqing. Tomorrow morning we catch our flight to Guangzhou and take care of the final piece of paperwork before heading back to the States! We're hoping like everyone else that the little ones do well flying. If Alyzabeth does have her meltdown, well, she just has her meltdown. I'm sure it'll drive everyone around us crazy but you know, we control what we can and try to do our best. We'll see...

Alyzabeth does great during the day. She is playing more. She has napped the past two mornings after falling asleep in her stroller ride with mom. Loves to have me lift her high in the air, which every daddy must do, it allows the angels a closer look and she likes pony rides on my leg.
I can't just reach down, pick her up and walk around but she does come running towards me with open arms to play. We just have to make sure she can see mom or actually, she wants mom to see her :) She will stay in the same room with me without crying when Aly uses the bathroom. Hey, as said before, we celebrate everything around here :)

Going to bed at night and first waking in the morning continues to be hard for baby girl. However, once down last night, she slept for 9 hours!! Woke up crying but then settled down once we left the room to go have breakfast. At breakfast she insisted on getting out of mama's lap (she will not sit in a high chair) and running around before circling back for another bite of steamed egg - yum yum...
It was good for her. She smiled, laughed and generally had a good time and she did eat well, just always on the go :) It was early enough that only a very few people were there so it was easy to gently herd her back towards mom every now and then when she strayed too far.
Alyzabeth is making great strides and so are we :) We're all learning what it takes to be her family. We make our mistakes and we have our moments of doing it right. We don't mind sharing both. It may be painful for some to watch or read but we didn't go into this expecting it to be a rose garden. Even our beautiful rose comes with her own set of protective thorns :)
We're convinced that given time, Alyzabeth will have us trained up just right...

At some point I plan to do a bullet list of our China observations. It is a unique culture to say the least. Fascinating and puzzling all at the same time. Then again, I would imagine they would find a trip to America to offer much in the same. The contrasts are both beautiful and sobering.
Our journeys abroad have always helped us to view our everyday world in a more open light. We find it's best for us not to view one culture as better or worse than the other but to view them as they are. To be more tolerant of their individual nuances. We can and do love our country without wanting or expecting each country to be as our own.

That's it for now.
We love reading your comments and wish we had more time to read our favorite blogs. Hopefully, we'll post again soon. If you happen to have any questions we hope you will feel comfortable in asking them.

For all you in The Wait - get ready for the ride of your life!
ac & fm & aa
Monday @ 11:10 AM

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If Only This Works Again!

Mama was able to get baby girl to sit in her stroller. Earlier attempts were met with quiet, cute disapproval. Yeah, right... Earlier attempts were met with the veracity of a screaming banshee. However, mama tried and tried again and lo and behold, she was able to push her through the halls and up and down the elevator until she fell asleep for a much needed nap. For mom and daughter :)

Once most assuredly asleep, daddy got the chance to take over and give mama a small break in the action. Right now, baby girl is sleeping in her stroller and mama is curled up on the bed. And we have peace. We have quiet.. We have a smile on daddy's face :)

Post later. Lazy day today. And we are ready for that...
ac & fm & aa
Sunday @ 9:35 AM

Nan Min Hua - Alyzabeth's Chinese Name

While touring at the Three Rivers Gorge Museum we made a stop at an indoor Artist Gallery and they painted Alyzabeth's Chinese name for us. Some day it will become one of her Chinese gifts purchased during our family journey...

We Have Our FIRST Giggle!

10PM Update:
As feared, Alyzabeth is inconsolable once more at night and continues to wail in the room or with Aly wandering the halls carrying her. Hard to say how long it will last. A couple of more hours or all night. There is just really nothing you can do for her. We could only wish it was something as simple as needing a clean diaper or something to eat...
Prayers for Aly as I can't hold Alyzabeth or console her. To say it's going to be a long night is a whale of an understatement. Night time is not our friend.

OK, we celebrated her first BM so it only seems right that we celebrate her first giggle! :)

Today has certainly been one of those days where we pinch ourselves and wonder when all heck breaks loose once again. And it will but we're going to enjoy our daughter enjoying herself for the time being! Not only did we get our first giggle today we had our first pulling of mom's hair, Aly loved that one :) She had her first taste of ice cream and she jabbered at us in what had to be some form of 2 year old Chinese. Hey, we're tickled to hear her say anything! She is running (literally running) around the room and playing. Honest to goodness playing, complete with smiles and giggles and then runs to mom with her arms reaching up for her! Oh yeah, we've been waiting for this :)

Alyzabeth An is beginning to show herself to us! YES!!!
We are so proud of how brave and strong this little girl is... Of course, let's keep this in perspective, we haven't tried putting her to bed yet :) At this point we are most definitely in the two steps forward, one step back mode. Please Lord, let her (and us) sleep is in our nightly prayers :)

We headed down to the People's Assembly Hall this morning and also took a tour of the Three Rivers Gorge Museum. And still the most exciting thing was watching our daughter having a good time. We also had Alyzabeth's original Chinese name done to eventually have it matted and framed as a gift down the road. We also purchased a handmade colored print that will also be gifted to her a some future time. We included the video of it being done along with one of her giggles...

Having trouble uploading the video of her name being painted, will add it when things are working again. I'm suspecting bandwidth issues as we're also having trouble getting the video to work with SKYPE.
In the meantime, here's a photo of Aly and baby girl crashed after a walk back from the bookstore. The heat and humidity of Florida has met its match in the heat and humidity of Chongqing. They both can be brutal!

Well, must run again. Heading out to buy a birthday cake and some pizza and then tonight I'm sharing in a Hot Pot Dinner with the guys while Aly tends to baby girl.

Post again soon.
ac & fm & aa

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Alyzabeth!!!

We're heading out the door so this will have to be quick.


Last night we attended the CQ Tourism Festival and let me tell you - these folks love to throw a party. Our group had front row seating and believe me when I tell you seating was at a premium! We were honored guests. We were escorted in and out by our own personal police escort. You should have see the stares and attention we all received. The news media was snapping pictures and TV stations interviewed a couple of our families. It was unreal! :) And so cool... The video snip can not possibly do justice in showing the size of the crowd.

On to Alyzabeth: Once more, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALYZABETH! The big #2!!! (If it's September 20th where you are :)
Alyzabeth fell asleep at the Festival and remained asleep after we got back to our room. She slept through the night and so did we! Yes!!! :) She is doing so well. It's all coming together for her and us. Slowly but surely... Life is good.

I hate to run but we are needing to rush out the door. I'll post later and include more video.
ac & fm & aa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

She's Walking Hand In Hand With Mama!

As good as yesterday afternoon was, last night was just the opposite. Simply put, last night was not a good one to say the least. We crave sleep :)
Alyzabeth woke up crying last night and again very early this morning. Nothing was able to calm her, not even walking the halls so all Aly could do was hold her and sing to her without a break from the crying. In fact, last night could have been a case of the night terrors. We fixed her a bottle but it wasn't hunger driving her distress. There are those times when all we can do is be there with her and for her all the while knowing we can't take away all the pain.

And still, there are highlights to share. Happy times. Good times. HUGE strides in gaining Alyzabeth's trust began yesterday afternoon after returning from our visit to the Chongqing zoo.

Where we were:
Alyzabeth would cry anytime she was in our room. (We switched rooms but little help)
She had to be held by Aly at all times. Not just most the time. All the time.
She would not walk.
She would not play.
She would not smile.
She cried if Aly sat down with her.
She cried with a diaper change.
She would let me feed her but nothing else. (I'm cheerio dad and watermelon man)
She would only drink from a bottle.
In short. She cried. A lot. A whole lot. About anything and everything. And was very unhappy.

Where we are now:
Alyzabeth does not cry each time we go back to the room.
She takes her mother's hand and walks with her in the hotel hallways.
She has waved twice when prompted to wave goodbye.
Aly can sit down while holding her without her crying every now and then.
We had our first diaper change without tears. Whimpers. But no tears.
She is drinking from a sippy cup.
She is beginning to play with her toys and baba.
When asked where is baba, she pointed to me. Twice :)
She has smiled at Aly and now me.
She reaches up to touch her mother's face.
She had her first drink of whole milk.
She had her first taste of oatmeal.
In short. She is crying less frequently. Is starting to play and smile. Acknowledges baba and is developing a huge amount of trust in mama. Now if she would just sleep through the night and take naps! :)
She is also catching a cold... Oh well, there's a surprise - Not :)

And how are we?
Thankful for the moments of peace and quiet.
Over the moon happy to see her smile and HOPEFUL that her gains in trusting us will progress today and in the days to follow.

Today's only scheduled morning activity is a shopping trip but we may decide to skip on it. We all could use the down time. Tonight we will be attending a big outdoor stage event next to our hotel.
Yesterday, we gave Anita (one of our CCAI guides) the two cameras from our Care Package to have developed that the orphanage returned to us . We're hoping to get them back this afternoon sometime.

The video clip shows our daughter holding her mom's hand while they take a walk together. I wish you all could have been here to see them walk out of the room hand in hand for the first time. Some things earn the title "Special". That was truly special and will without a doubt, forever be a Special Memory... And I've also added a short clip from our trip to the Zoo.

Life is good. We're doing fine and thank everyone for the prayers and good wishes and WORDS OF WISDOM AND SUPPORT!
(and just to prove it wasn't a fluke - aa gave us another BM!!! man, the things you won't celebrate on this journey :)
ac & fm & aa

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Official

As of yesterday afternoon we are the official parents of Alyzabeth An in the eyes of the Chinese government. The documents have all been signed, the seals affixed, family picture snapped and all fees have been paid.

A note to Waiting Families:
I know you hear a lot about rising Orphanage Rearing Fees. While a few of the orphanages may have raised their fee, what is common and what I think may be adding to the present confusion about the cost, is the issue of the official exchange rate of the US Dollar to the Chinese RMB at the time of your adoption. The exchange rate fluctuates daily and as a result you will not know the exact fee until the day before or the actual day you complete the adoption at the Chinese Registry in your son or daughters province. Rest assured you are not going to be hit for thousands of dollars. The swing is in the low to mid hundreds at best.

Alyzabeth is still in major grieving mode. Alyson still cannot sit her down to play or walk without a meltdown. The same holds true when changing a diaper or when we put her in the baby carrier Aly wears for support. I can still feed her but not hold her which I expected.
She will cry whenever we enter our room and will only stop when Alyson walks her in the hallways or if we take her outside. We have switched rooms but it does not appear to have made a real difference. She falls asleep in Aly's arms while being walked in the hallway and then is brought to her crib and very gently put down at bedtime. She is not napping due to our adoption paperwork schedule. Hopefully, with that completed, we may be able to get her back on what we were told was her nap schedule of sometime between 1-3 in the afternoon. Last night she woke up crying and Aly was able to hold her and rock her back to sleep in the room. Things are tough right now. Family may have noticed we have not SKYPED or emailed. Meal time continues to be our best time. I think for two reason. She gets to leave the room and she likes to eat. Slowly but steadily. She does not like to be rushed and definitely does not like loud, strong voices. We have a very fragile, very gentle girl on our hands.

So. How are we doing? Exhausted but happy :) Aly has been remarkable and each family in our group knows what we are going through with our toddler. They are very supportive and no doubt extremely happy that it's us and not them :) Once we can get Alyzabeth out of Aly's arms and playing and walking and not crying in the room we'll be home free! That's not asking too much is it? :)
All in due time. We have a precious daughter and we know that in her time she will emerge and when she does she will find us waiting for her. Protecting her. Loving her... My heart melts when I see her with her mother. Lightly stroking her hair. Kissing her forehead. Humming a lullaby to comfort her. The mother daughter bond is nothing short of miraculous and something so unique, so beautiful to witness... I love them both so very much.

The video is a short look at the Registry office and the families gathered together at a dinner hosted by our CCAI guides Marie and Anita complete with a birthday cake to celebrate our family adoptions. CCAI has been very good to us and we continue to be very appreciative of all they have done and continue to do. It's a major stress reliever having them with us 24 hours a day.

Well, I better go. I'm sitting on the bathroom floor with the door closed while Aly and baby girl are sleeping to type this up. Because once you know who wakes up - well, the fun begins anew! :)
Life is good. Hopefully, We'll post again soon.

And for all those BTDT folks: Alyzabeth had her first BM!!! Hey, it can only help her to feel better :)
ac & fm & aa

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 3 Chongqing - Registry Day!

Quick post because we have to go to the Registry in just a few minutes.

Alyzabeth will not leave her mother's arms for one minute without crying for her. I'm doing what I can and while she does not like for me to hold her, she does like for me to feed her. As long as she's on mom's lap :)

The great news: Alyzabeth slept through the night! She awoke and immediately wanted to be held by Aly or else. I ran out to one of the stores and purchased a baby carrier to provide support when Aly is holding her. We left ours at home, on purpose no less. Mistake...

Her favorite time with us is when we all eat together. She did great at breakfast. Alyzabeth absolutely loves noodles, congee and watermelon. The video is of breakfast and a snippet of a group I filmed while going to purchase the baby carrier. The man was leading what appeared to be a class.

Short post. Must run. Later... :)
ac & fm & aa
ps: sorry Leaa & Justin - we missed our appointment with you all. Our fault. Talk soon.

We Have Alyzabeth!

Alyzabeth is old enough to know that her world has turned upside down...

Our beautiful daughter had definitely BONDED with her caregiver and when her nanny turned her over to Aly and then left - well, it was heart breaking! Bless her heart, we feel so bad for her knowing that her grieving process is so painful. Our hearts literally break for her.

I stayed behind while Aly took her to our room and finished a bit more paperwork, thanked the orphanage director and presented the Red Bag gifts. Alyzabeth and mama and baba are going to have a few rough days and nights as our little one comes to know us, comes to trust us...
What we do know is that she can bond, has bonded and one day will develop that bond with us. It will take time. Patience. And lots of love...

We'll post later as right now we have a little parenting and a lot of hugging and loving to do for one scared little girl.

ac & fm & aa

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today Is The Day

We just finished breakfast and at 9 am I am meeting with our other guide, Anita, who will take us to the bank to exchange our "perfect" American currency :) into Chinese currency as we prepare to pay adoption fees. We were very fortunate in that we were able to wire the actual adoption fee (sometimes called "child rearing" fee). It's been a relief not having to carry the additional cash around with you every second of every day while on the journey.
Aly has prepared all our Red bags and envelopes so we think we are ready on that front. At 1 pm today Aly will meet with Marie (in the hotel conference room) to complete our adoption papers that we will submit to the Chinese registry.

The little ones will begin arriving at our hotel at 2 pm with some arriving as late as 4 or 5 pm. The exact time depends on their train schedule or the traffic they encounter if arriving by bus. I don't want to call it tension but you can definitely detect a shift in the mood of the families. Every one is still smiling and friendly but you can sense the anticipation. The anxiety. Our nervousness coming out in a myriad of subtle yet visible emotional glimpses.
It's good to see that if only to let us know we are not alone in feeling happy and scared... All at the same time.

Once we have Alyzabeth and are back in our room, I'll work up a short (unedited :) video of Alyzabeth as she was placed in her mother's arms for the first time...
It may only be a video minus any actual posting. Then again, you may not be able to shut me up :) I think you all know what I mean.

Included in this post is a short video of this mornings breakfast and a very quick peek of the bank exchange. I wasn't too sure that filming in the bank was a cool thing to do so it's quick and somewhat jerky. And it was HOT and HUMID in there!

The next time we post, we will be sharing our ALYZABETH AN with you.
Imagine that!!!
ac & fm

If It's Monday - This Must Be Chongqing!

By 5:00 AM this morning (we're exactly 12 hours ahead of the folks back home) 10 families were sitting on the bus motoring our way to the Beijing airport. The streets were mostly deserted as this is the third day of the 3 day Moon Festival Holiday in China. It was kind of neat seeing the city in a more laid back posture but you can be sure that by the time the sun was up - so would be Beijing!

Getting through security at the airport went smooth enough. The biggest thing to remember is that certain parts of the world don't quite queue up the way some of us do. In other words, just because you happen to be first in line doesn't mean someone isn't going to just walk up and stand in front of you. It's different but once you catch on to what's happening it's pretty easy to deal with :)

The 2 hours plus flight to Chongqing (chung - chin) left on time and arrive on time. No hassles, no surprises. Aly and I sat next to "Jerry". I would give his Chinese name but believe me, it's better I give you the English name he goes by. Jerry suggested I call him Jerry after agreeing it was evident I was not going to be able to properly pronounce his Chinese name. Cool guy.

A very surreal moment occurred while sitting on the tarmac. The music to the John Lennon song Imagine began playing over the plane intercom system prior to takeoff. Aly and I each shared a private moment on that one. A flood of emotions hit us. Imagine Alyzabeth An... It's Easy If You Try...

Upon arrival in Chongqing we were met by our CCAI guides, Marie and Anita. You would not believe the packet each family received from Marie. She has already contacted the orphanages where our children are and has asked most of the questions we would have been asking the nannies tomorrow and gave us their responses neatly typed out. She already had our hotel room keys and had us registered. She gave us a typed list of each family (including the name of their child) in our group and what room they would be staying in. We received a handy "translation" list of questions, phrases, etc in Chinese and English so if we want to we can simply point on the paper when out and about. We have name tags explaining where we are staying and why we are here and why we are pushing around and fussing over our Asian babies. We have a checklist for what we need each day to complete the adoption: Money, gifts, documents, etc...
I'm telling you - Marie is way organized and we were all blown away with how helpful and thoughtful all of this is to us. She also gave us a quick walking tour of the area pointing out different shops, grocery stores, restaurants, STARBUCKS! And she arranged to have our dirty laundry picked up today with delivery for tomorrow!! The lady is awesome!!!
Thank You Marie!!!

Our hotel is nice, The Golden Resources. We're on the 28th floor - quite the view :) Beneath the hotel is an underground mall that is open 24 hours a day. It has discos, grocery stores, clothing stores, well you get the idea. We toured through with Marie and Anita and then had dinner there tonight. Love the spicy food here! Check out the dude pouring the tea in the video.
We didn't expect to attract too much attention in coming to Chongqing since it is such a large city (over 33 million people) but we are. Aly is attracting major attention. I think it may have something to do with her curly blond hair :) She stands out like a sore thumb :) Marie tells us that Chongqing and the surrounding rural population is not that familiar with foreigners . The people have been super nice and more than a few have tried out their English on us.

Well, we're going to hit the sack early tonight. Hopefully we'll each get a good nights sleep. We did purchase an inexpensive stroller today for Alyzabeth since we will be here for a full week and because she is a toddler. We can "borrow" free ones in GZ but we're not in GZ. Don't know that this stroller will make it home with us but if not, it will have served its purpose well. We also picked up a couple of toys for her to play with.
We meet our Alyzabeth An tomorrow around 2:00 PM. Her orphanage is one of the closer ones to Chongqing being only 2 hours away. One of the little ones in our group has an 11 hour bus ride to get to the hotel. Bless her heart.

Gotta go... We are super tired. Wonder why? :) Thanks for your prayers and well wishes and COMMENTS! They keep us going!!
Another rough, no frills added video has been included with this post :)
ac & fm

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Great Wall & Leaving Beijing

We're awake.

It's 2:30 in the morning for us but it might as well be noon. In a couple of hours we have to be packed, downstairs and on the bus for a ride to the airport. We leave Beijing this morning to fly to Alyzabeth's home city of Chongqing.
That pretty much explains why we're awake...

Yesterday was another adventure packed day highlighted by our trip to The Great Wall. We made a couple of scheduled pit stops along the way or should that be buying stops. Actually, the stops worked well for us as we had planned to purchased a few "future" birthday gifts for Alyzabeth.
At the Jade Factory we bought a bangle bracelet for Alyzabeth and followed that up with a stop at a Cloisonne Factory where we purchased another bangle bracelet along with a pair of earrings. At each stop your group is given a guided tour by a factory employee. The tours really are interesting and educational and you are literally standing right beside the folks doing the work. Pretty bizarre :)
Everything was so tempting! Watch your wallets!!

Then it was on to The Great Wall. Very imposing. Very impressive. And a bear to climb!!! We were soaking wet after climbing up what seemed to be miles! The view was spectacular but oh did it expose just how out of shape we are :) Coming down was no small feat what with our legs being so tired but we did it and now we can say we walked The Great Wall of China!!! Even if it did about kill us :)

Standard disclaimer on the video snippet. As before, I'm not editing the FLIP videos though they desperately need to be. To save time we're just pushing them out to family and friends so you can enjoy this amazing trip with us! We'll polish them up later :) Thanks for letting us slide on this. We've appreciated your comments letting us know that's cool...

That's it. Talk and post with you all later.
Tomorrow we get Alyzabeth...
Life is good.
ac & fm

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 2 Of Our Trip Of A Lifetime To China

China is awesome!!!
The sights. The sounds. The smells. The PEOPLE!

We went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City yesterday. As everyone has described, the place is HUGE! Not big. HUGE :) We went to the silk factory and bought a silk blanket for Alyzabeth. We had lunch in the Hutong district where we enjoyed our first ever rickshaw ride. Think NASCAR while being pedaled on a bicycle! What a wild ride! Way fun.

We have eaten as a group so far in great restaurants for lunch and dinner.
Hey Don! We stole your and Be's idea and put our video camera on the round serving table and had each family slowly rotate the camera in front of them. We each then gave our names, where we were from and the name of our son or daughter we came to bring home!! Cool idea. So glad you shared that idea with us.
Aly has been passing around a journal that everyone has signed along with their email addresses and blogs. The journal is also intended to be one of the gifts we give to Alyzabeth as she gets older and celebrates birthdays.
We went to the Acrobatic Show. After a while you stop asking yourself how did they just do that! Unbelievable is all we can say. We finished the evening off with another fantastic Chinese dinner along with most of the families (had some great Peking Duck) and finally returned back to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. or so.

Today we're headed to The Great Wall, a Jade Factory and a drive around the Olympic buildings (they are closed to the public due to the Para-Olympics, unless you have a ticket). We still can't believe we are HERE! :) Just so overwhelmingly AWESOME!!

I hope the post isn't too rambling. It's really hard to sit still for very long and put everything down in a nice connecting way. We've included another video snippet that once again has not been edited. I plan to do all the foo-foo editing when I get home. Think of it as a rough collage of our day if you will. Right now, we just want to share this with you all. Hope that's cool with everyone.

We'll post later! WHAT AN ADVENTURE!
ac & fm

(P.S. The time is not right on the post... I had to back date it in order to post it.. Here in Beijing it is 09/14/08 at 5:20 a.m.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hey Mia & Mike - Look Who We Met!

So we head downstairs for breakfast this morning and asked another couple from our Travel Group if we could share a table with them. You know how these things go, we each asked where the other lived. Turns out they were from Illinois, from the same city that my sister and her husband live in. What a coincidence, so they ask what my sister's name is and I'm thinking, no way will they know Mia & Mike but how nice to ask...

They don't just know them - they go to church together and just went out to dinner with them last month! How cool is that!?! :)

Hey Don and Be, you know what you were telling us about how nothing on these journeys happen by chance, well, here's another example!
Got to go! Post later...

We're Here!!!

This is a very rough, non-edited video clip, all to say WE'RE HERE!!! :)

No problem with the flights - just a very longggggggggggggggg day. We tested SKYPE already and it's working great. We talked (FREE) with Aly's BIL George in Maine and Mom who is house-sitting, complete with video. Too cool. Love SKYPE.
Full day of sightseeing scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday. Should be fun getting to know all the other families in our Travel Group.

Forever Day is scheduled for Tuesday, September 16! Can you say EXCITED!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We're Gone

Destination China...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Fly Out Tomorrow Morning...

Our thoughts are with those enduring the Wait...

We offer our sincerest prayers and best wishes that your strength remains constant, your resolve steadfast and the dream first born in your heart, to only grow stronger. While our time has arrived. Know and believe your time will as well. Never stop believing.

We fly out tomorrow morning. We'll be posting as often as time and connections allow :) Thanks to everyone who have helped us get to this point. So much happening. So much yet to happen. Beijing airport (photo), here we come!

Imagine Alyzabeth An... It's easy if you try.
And soon what we once could only Imagine will be Forever in our arms...
ac & fm

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Adoption - Words of Wisdom

While we continue to pack and prepare for our flight to China...(we leave on 09/11/08! Only two more sleeps until we are on our way to Alyzabeth!)..... I continue to read others stories to help us better prepare as parents for Alyzabeth........

I can put my foot in my mouth with the best of them (this is alyson writing)......
So whenever I read this type of post it reminds me how many times I probably asked "dumb or rude" questions, not meaning to.
My sensitivity comes in when I see it effect the children.

Tiffany posted her words of wisdom; she is an adoptive family.
Tiffany gives her perspective on what the child hears through these questions and then the answer from her as a parent. I don't expect any questions like this, but it wouldn't hurt to be prepared.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Grateful Thoughts! - So Many To Thank

I am thankful for all our friends and family... We will have many posts to share of all the wonderful things they have done for us... So many thanks to give.

My sister, Melissa, in the not so frozen North, put this on her blog for us from An American Tail. The song is so wonderful to listen to, thinking of our new daughter and how close we are to holding her!! She included the words to this song on one of the 100 Good Wishes Quilt squares she sent. Love the video! Brings tears to my eyes, thinking about praying for Alyzabeth and sleeping under the same big sky, until we meet.....

She also sent us the Edible Fruit Arrangement that was so yummy!! We quickly devoured the chocolate covered banana's and froze much of the fruit to make breakfast smoothies!

Our family and friends hosted a "baby" shower for us on Saturday, 09/06/08. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the attention (more on the Baby Shower to come).
As the shower was beginning, food being set out and everyone all smiles, my cousin CR, asked DD and SIL to get the camera; she was bringing a surprise in from the car. So we all watched as she and someone else helped her bring in lots of balloons and more gifts. Hiding behind the balloons was my sister from Maine! She had made arrangements to fly here when she heard about our "Florida" baby shower and boy, did she surprise us! Everyone was so good about keeping a secret (especially Mom, Andrew and CR)! I thought CR and Melissa were up to some thing, as Mel does many special things (like sending me the Edible fruit in celebration of our referral) but never thought she would be here in person! It was a great surprise Mel & CR!!

The next day (Sunday) we enjoyed a day on the beach - it was perfect!! GD Livi was squirmy, so it was hard to get good pictures of her and Mel together!
We were celebrating DS's birthday and I know everyone enjoyed having a place to hang out thanks to having the use of my cousin's condo - Gloria and Joan!!

And here she is cuddling with Salty Dog. He actually slept with her at night - traitor!! He loves the attention!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

New Alyzabeth Photos (Including First Smile)

We were pleasantly surprised yesterday to receive an update on Alyzabeth which included 3 new photos of our daughter.

Plans continue to move forward with a departure date set for September 11. Flight reservations have been made and we will receive our final Agency travel packet Monday. We're carefully watching Hurricane Ike and the impact it could possibly have on our flight plans.
Great news is we have family flying in to stay at the house and take care of the cats and Salty Dog. And eventually, upon our return, US! :)

Times are hectic crazy but FUN!

Our first photo of Alyzabeth smiling :) YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! :) Love it!!!

DD comes today so we can check out our laptops to make sure we're all set to go with Skype and also to make certain we have our video connections working.
It's like everyone tries to tell those of us in the Wait - get prepared early because when your time comes - it moves at super sonic speed!
Gotta go... :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

September 11 - We're China Bound!!!

We received notice from our Agency today to make our flight arrangements! We have our Consulate Appointment!!

We leave September 11 for Beijing with a Consulate appointment scheduled for September 25.
Wow! Our Agency pulled out all the stops to get us there quickly and we can't thank them enough!

We will fly into Chongqing on September 15 which means we will celebrate Alyzabeth's 2nd birthday together!
We will be singing Happy Birthday to our daughter.....

So much to do, so little time to do it :)
Life is good!

Referrals Are Here! February 1 - 9 Are In!

WOW! We have Referrals! Only 22 days since the last batch!!

Congratulations to all the new families seeing the face of their little one for the first time. We can honestly say that the next few days and weeks will have your jaws aching from smiling so much :) And smile is something you have earned the right to do!

Your WAIT is OVER!!!

Once more, Congratulations and extra hugs to some of our Wait buddies that we've come to think of as "family". We are over the top happy that your special time has arrived!!
Please hop over and wish these newest families all the best:

Journey To Kavanna
Lily Whittall

And join us in wishing the best and sharing in the joy of these new families:

Happin' Things
Baby Jillian
Living By Faith
The Hill Family
Room For At Least One More
Our Journey To Malia

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nanchaun, Chongqing - Alyzabeth's Orphanange

I'm going back in time trying to piece together some details surrounding the orphanage where Alyzabeth (Nan Min Hua) is waiting for us. I didn't find a great deal of information so maybe that is good news!

I found this information on how her orphanage did following the massive 7.8 earthquake on May 13, 2008 from Love Without Boundaries:

Nanchuan, Chongqing: All children are safe and no damage reported.

The charity group, LWB, is very active at the Nanchuan, Chongqing orphanage spearheading fund raisings for clothing and cloth diapers.
LWB also has purchased 2 Heating and Cooling units for the orphanage as well as sponsoring a monthly nutrition program.

Below is a picture from the Nanchuan Orphanage from the blog Emi O:

Another picture of Alyzabeth's orphanage taken in June 2007 from Fairytales Do Come True:

Nanchuan is a small orphanage with what I believe to be only 3 rooms while normally caring for 20-30 little ones at any given time .
If anyone has additional information about this orphanage, we would love to chat with you!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Short Break in the Action

I know there are not exactly a ton of NASCAR followers that also follow the adoption blogs but I happen to be one. Long story made short, my dad loved racing and I drafted along with him. It gave me (us) something to share and talk about. And I grew to love the sport.

Also, I'm more anxious than usual this week as we are hoping to hear from our agency that we have our CA's (Consulate Appointments). And following that, we'll be getting our travel schedule! So, I am plainly doing my best to reduce my stress level by immersing myself with a NASCAR diversion!

If you have read our blog from years ago (some posts MIA from when we swapped around a few times from Typepad back to Blogger), you may recall that I am/was a die-hard Ricky Craven fan. Yes, member of his fan club too. Following his retirement from racing I began cheering more earnestly for my next favorite driver - Jeff Gordon. There's a connection between Ricky and Jeff (long story..).
BUT, wait, over five years ago, Carl Edwards came to our rescue (he actually wins races) and he is from my DH's home State of Missouri. I LOVE NASCAR races and beg every weekend to go on a road trip to see one. We haven't been to a race this year yet. (Hint - Hint to you know who!)

So here's the news we're (more like I) reading to feed the habit!!
(can you tell this is Alyson writing? DH, fm, is all about the love and sentiments for our new daughter.... now you can understand why it's probably best he is going to be the SAHD :)

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch - A Rivalry??
Carl & Kyle - On Probation

And to satisfy my RC fix - Here's his latest article on Yahoo!