Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sat & Sun Day 3 & 4

Saturday we spent the morning in Beijing. We had breakfast at the hotel which was so much food but we didn't get to eat again until our flight way later. We walked down the street from our hotel and saw a shopping center with an Apple Store and McDonalds. We kept walking about 1/2 hour to the Forbidden City. We really had no idea where we were going and it was hot!  We didn't have time to take a tour or any thing. We stopped and bought some Popsicles and walked back. We had to check out and our guide picked us up at 1:30pm. She did not want to pick us up until 2:00pm for 3:30pm flight and I was worried about traffic etc. But I should have known as soon as we got to they airport we saw our flight was delayed 2 hrs. So we had to sit and wait for an hour and there are no seats. We finally check in and go to security so our guide had to leave. Thanks Cai for all your help!

Airport security was not nice at all! No liquids on flight at all- no water bottles, shampoo, etc. I beeped thru the x-ray and has to get wanded - I think it was my glasses. The female officer was not friendly. Oh well. On to the gate to wait a bit. The domestic terminal is the old Beijing airport it's pretty old and small. We got a shuttle bus to our plane our flight was on Hainan. It was fine no problems. The food wasn't good though. We got to Guiyang around 9pm not sure as there are no clocks in China it seems!

Our guide Vickie picked us up. She is very nice and speaks great English. She gave us a whole history of Guizhou Provence but I was so sleepy in the car. We are staying at another Novotel hotel. The room is very nice but smells faintly of cigarette smoke. Also we have 1 king bed, a couch and a cot. Should be interesting. The night manager was super helpful but he is apparently the only person in the hotel who speaks English. The beds are hard. I was warned but they are HARD! We had a good night got to bed around 1:00am. 

Now its Sunday morning. We had breakfast at the hotel again. The breakfast is combination breakfast buffet and Chinese buffet. We try to eat a lot because we keep missing lunch and dinner. After lunch we wanted to go buy some supplies so we asked at the front desk. There is this one young guy that speaks a little English so he gave us directions. We found a little market up the street and there is a KFC right next to the hotel. We didn't see anything else except clothing and electronic stores. There is also a very small park next to the hotel.

At 3:30 Vickie is going to pick us up and we will meet Anna around 4:00pm at the Civil Affairs/Adoption Center. My stomach is not feeling too good. I don't think I ate or drank anything weird. Hope it passes. Everyone else is doing well. There are no other white people here at all. We were the only ones on the plane and we haven't seen anyone else non-Asian. Definitely a different perspective!

We're in China - Day 1 & 2

We arrived in Beijing late Friday night. The flight from Chicago was about 14 hours. It wasn't too bad except for all the sitting. My butt was getting numb! Rachel slept for a long time and missed dinner. They brought us food 3 times it was ok. I watched Downton Abbey then I fell asleep for a few hours. There was a nice guy named Luke sitting next to me he was going to Taiwan to study Chinese. We had a long layover in Chicago on Thursday- it was more boring than the flight to Beijing.

We arrived around 10:00pm and the Beijing airport was pretty empty. We had a long walk to get go through immigration, get our luggage and go thru customs.  It was all very easy. The international terminal is very big and nice. Then our guide Cai met us. It was like paparazzi with all the people waiting within signs.

Not far to the hotel Novotel Peace. Really nice hotel and nice room. We drove past Snack Street but it was closed. We were really hungry it was now midnight but felt like lunch time so we ordered soup from room service.  We did not get to sleep until around 3:00am due to the time difference. The beds and pillows were comfy not hard!

Saturday we went to the breakfast buffet in the morning at the hotel. So much food! And so many different things. We decided to go for a walk. We saw the Apple store and walked past snack street but it was closed. We walked all the way down to the Forbidden City but we didn't have time to tour. We had to walk back to the hotel to check out. It was really hot so we got banana Popsicles. There were vendors selling watermelon and cantaloupe on a stick.

Our guide Cai picked us up to go to the airport. This time the domestic terminal was not as nice. We found our flight was delayed 2 hours for some reason?. People kept trying to talk to me about Rachel but I couldn't understand them, The airport security people were very stern and not nice. We waited a while then took a bus to our plane. 

The flight to Guiyang was fine. The food was not so good. We got to the airport and our guide Vickie was waiting for us. She speaks really good English and told us all about Guizhou province. It is like NYC here. Lots of big buildings and lit up signs it looks like Times Square at night. The hotel is nice and we have a large room but only 1 king bed and a couch. No one speaks English at all except the hotel manager. We tried to ask for an extra blanket but no one can understand us! Also no room service. The beds at this Novotel are rock hard!

I will try to post some pictures later. The VPN is working much better here in Guiyang. We haven't needed any power adapters so far. We meet Anna tomorrow afternoon - Sunday.

*update - got a few pictures posted* 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's the day we're on our way!

We're all packed and ready to go! Sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Chicago which will be short. Then we have a long layover. Then we have a 14 hour flight to Beijing!

Didn't get to sleep until 3am last night due to having to do all the packing last night. We have 3 suitcases for 3 people going and 4 returning. Plus we each have a small carryon. It's not very much stuff but I'm tired of lugging it around already. 

Rachel has a home work assignment to write down all her flights in a journal. We're all on our devices now but Cleveland airport has no power outlets - what?!

There were some cool elephant statues when we walked in. Hope to check in online along the way!
*Update - we made it to Chicago now we have a long layover.  No power outlets in Chicago either - really missing Akron Canton Airport!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One more day!

Wow! We leave for China tomorrow. There has been sweat, tears, paperwork, expenses, hard work, prayers and little sleep. I think we all feel a little nervous. We're going to a "strange" country. We're worried about the language barrier. We're not looking forward to the long flights. But most of all we're happy and a little nervous to meet Anna. 

We have no idea what she is like or how she will react. Pray that she does well - and they we all get along! Peace and harmony!(now I'm singing that song from Peppa Pig)

Here's one more picture. It's too funny that she has English words on her dress. I'm sure she has no idea what it means.

One more thing please pray my foot feels better. It is still really bothering me. 

I need 2!

2 days to go and I have so much to do- I need 2 of me! Reminder please do not try to call or text us in China unless it is an emergency - international calls are $2 a minute! You can iMessage me if you have an iPhone and if we are both on WiFi. 

Today is Rachel's 8th birthday - happy birthday Rachel! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

3, 2, 1...

Almost time for take off, 3 more days! Hopefully we can blog or post on FB in China. China blocks most social media sites so we'll see but check in with us. 

Please do not try to call us or text us in China except in an emergency. We cannot get international calls. 

First day of school today! Rachel is in 2nd grade! Waiting for the school bus ...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pray 4 us !

4 days to go!

Here are some specific prayer requests for our trip to China.  
(Remember China is 12 hours ahead of us.)

8/29- Pray for a safe trip from Cleveland to Chicago to Beijing.  It is long plane ride. Pray that everyone does well and we get some sleep. Pray for good health and safety for all of us.

8/30- We arrive in Beijing very late at night China time.  Pray that we can get on China time and get over jet lag quickly.  Pray that we find our liason in China, Ms. Cai.

8/31- We have a 4 hour flight in China to our province Guizhou.  Pray for being able to find our guide Vickie and check into the hotel ok. Pray that no one gets sick in China and that our flight is not delayed.

9/1- We will meet Anna today.  She has about a 3 hour car ride to get to us.  Pray that she is ok and accepts us.  This will be the hardest day of her life.  We are asking her to leave her foster grandparents- the only family she as known.  Please pray for her to be comforted.

9/2- We do the adoption paperwork today. Pray that things go smoothly with the officials and that we get her passport promptly. Pray for the language barrier.

9/3- 9/5- We will have Anna at the hotel for a few days .  Pray that she begins to bond with us.  We are in a province with very few English- speaking people and hardly any Westerners come here. Pray that we can communicate with her.

9/6- We travel to Guangzhou. Pray for the plane ride- it is probably Anna's first plane ride. Pray that we find our guide Lucia and check in ok at the hotel.

9/7- Anna has a medical exam today to clear her to come to the US.  Pray that she does well and every test is negative!

9/8-9/9-  We have a couple of free days.  Pray that Anna is adjusting to us and that we are adjusting to her.  Pray that we are enjoying our time as a family of four. Pray for good health and good communication.

9/10- We have an appointment today at the US Consulate.  Pray that everything goes smoothly with our paperwork. Pray that we get our Visa promptly tomorrow so that we can leave.

9/11- Our last full day in China.  Pray that everyone sleeps well. We will drive to Hong Kong tonight. Pray for safety driving. Pray that we don't have any typhoon warnings!

9/12- We return to US today from Hong Kong via Tokyo.  Pray for good weather and no missed connections to Chicago and Cleveland.  Pray that we clear customs and immigration in Chicago quickly.

9/13- We will be home in Ohio.  Pray that everyone is adjusting well to the new family dynamic. Pray that no one is sick and that our house is ok.

9/16- Lee goes back to work. Rachel goes back to school. Jan will be home with Anna.  Pray that everyone transitions well.

It may take a few days for Anna to adjust to her new surroundings. We may have to limit visitors for a short time depending on how she is adjusting. Thank you for understanding. We won't turn down any meals though - the cupboard will be bare! 😊

Number 5!

5 days to go! Uh-huh! I really need to start packing! I have to work 3 of those days so I don't have a lot of free time. 

Today is my birthday! But I am at work. Later we are going to the Aeros game. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

6 days and counting

We leave next week for China. Called the police department today to have them check the house while we're gone. 

Just an FYI we will try to post updates on Facebook or our blog if we can but the China firewall blocks some sites on the Internet so we'll see.  Also please don't call or text us except in an emergency. We may be able to message iPhone to iPhone if we have WiFi. 

Spending one last day at the lake today. School open house tonight and school starts Monday. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lucky number 7!

We leave in 7 days! School starts Monday so I also have to meet with Rachel's teacher about her assignments. 

Best news of the day- our passports came back from NYC with our visa stamps so now we can travel ! That took forever ! 17 days - it's supposed to take a week maybe. 

Lots to do!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

8 is Great!

My dear little Rachel turns 8 next week right before we leave for China. We are leaving in 8 days! She is going to miss 2 weeks of school. Lee is taking 2 weeks of vacation time and I am taking a personal leave. Because I had minor foot surgery last month I pretty much used up all my paid time off except for a few days.  However we got some good news this week - I can't really say what it is at this time, but trust me - I'll fill you in later.

Been checking the China news channel on our cable and there was a massive land slide in Guangzhou that closed the train station and stranded thousands of people in Guangzhou- yikes! There has been bad flooding in China. There was also a volcano eruption in Japan- we are flying home through Tokyo. I hear the Narita airport had high-tech toilets - we shall see!

9 more days

9 more days until we leave for China. I am still waiting for our visas. Yes this is getting old. Chris the courier in NYC said they would be ready today then he will FedEx them to us. BTW a visa is a stamp they put in your passport so it is our actual passports that are in NYC. Praying they make it back here ok! 

Today we have to wire the rest of our fees to China. Let me tell you this is so much better than how it used to be done. You used to have to take something like $10k cash with you to China then exchange it to Chinese yuan.

I am sitting here now with ice on my leg because a shopping cart fell on my leg. Ouch! Now I will have a huge bruise on my calf. Rachel has an end of the summer cold which we will probably all get. I really should be packing! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

10 days to go!

School starts in one week and we are going to China in 10 days! And we still don't have our visas yet.  The courier assured me they would be issued tomorrow and then he will FedEx them to us. Other than that we are buying stuff for the trip and planning what to pack.

Over the weekend we celebrated Jan and Rachel's birthdays.  Our birthdays kind of get over-shadowed every year because of the start of school so we celebrate a little early.  Rachel is going into 2nd grade a she is not too happy because her friend is in the other class this year.  I'm sure it will all work out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Even Dozen

We leave in 12 days! We're going to celebrate my birthday (it's a milestone), Rachel's 8th birthday and the first day of school (2nd grade) all in the next two weeks! Plus I work 5 days out of the next 2 weeks.

Starting to really think about things and how hard it will be for Anna to leave her foster family. It is the only family she has known. We probably won't even get to meet them. My biggest worries about the trip are the long plane ride and the language barrier.  I'm sure it will be all the harder for Anna.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lucky Number 13

We're leaving for China in 13 days! The number 13 is not considered "unlucky" in China but the number 4 is- go figure! Picking up lots of travel size stuff and getting everything ready.  It's hard to wrap my head around packing for 2 weeks worth of clothes and stuff! Still waiting for our visas/passports to arrive.

panda cupcakes
Rachel had her "friends" birthday party at the lake yesterday.
It turned out to be a nice day even though it was a little chilly for August.  Can't believe she is almost 8 years old and starting 2nd grade soon!

Monday, August 12, 2013

And the winner is...

We had 135 puzzle pieces pledged for our fundraiser and we raised over $1200 towards our China adoption! A big thank you to everyone who participated! And now the winner of the $50 Best Buy gift card chosen by random number generator is... #35... Mike Hudock! Congratulations and thanks again to everyone! We really appreciate the support we got from our friends and family- we just can't thank you enough!  We're leaving in 16 days!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Last part of fees

Our passports are on their way to the Chinese Consulate in NYC for visa stamps.  They put a stamp in your passport and send it back to you so you can enter China. Praying nothing gets lost by FedEx!

We also got an update and a new photo of Anna!  She is 5 1/2 but only about 33 lbs.  She doesn't look tiny in her picture though- she always looks so happy!  We had sent her a care package a few weeks ago and she is holding some of the items we sent.

We are leaving in 3 weeks.  We have so much to do to prepare it's overwhelming!  We also have a tremendous amount of expenses.

The visas were $570, the flights to China were $5500, the China orphanage donation is $5000, and our in-country China expenses (flights, hotels, etc.) are $6000.

We are very thankful to the people who supported our fundraiser.  We got about $1000 in donations.  We will do the gift card drawing August 10.

We have applied for 4 small adoption grants.  We heard back from 2 of them that they are taking our application to the board for review.  Praying that we get something!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We have flights to China!

Whew! We have flights booked to China! We are leaving in 4 weeks! And we have Gotcha Day in one month on Sept 1st! That is the day we will receive Anna.  Then we stay in China for about 2 weeks.  There is  lots of paperwork and things you have to take care of there.  On Sept 10 we will have an appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  Anna will have a swearing in ceremony to get her Visa to come to America! As soon as we land on US soil and clear immigration at the airport she becomes a US citizen.  We will also complete the legal adoption in China.  (When we adopted Rachel from Korea we had to complete the adoption in Summit County.) Anna will come home on a Chinese passport in her Chinese name YuanYuan.

We have passports, we have plane tickets, we are waiting for hotel reservations that our adoption agency makes and our travel visas to enter China. Now I'm off to go shopping because there is lots to get for the trip!