Wednesday morning, while we were homeschooling, I got a phone call on the house line. I was a tad annoyed at the interruption, because I thought it would be something like TeleStaff (Paul's automated overtime phone calls) or a telemarketer, or an appointment reminder. I was wrong. It was our agency.
When she said, "This is L, how are you?" I answered, "If you're calling why I think you're calling, I'm doing GREAT!" She laughed and said, "You've got TA!" She then gave me the BAD news. Dragon Boat festival would close all the Civil Affairs offices, so we couldn't leave until 6/14, at the earliest. I specifically asked if both Guangxi and Jiangxi were definitely closed, and she said, "I'm 90% sure, but I can have R check...?" Since I'd been hoping to leave around 6/2, I told her, "Please do."
I then contacted my friend, a Disney travel agent, and gave her our details to see what she could come up with for international flights. On a whim, I also sent the info to the agent we used when we traveled for Hannah. The agent we used last time was able to get us the better price, and put tickets on hold for us, since we'd been instructed, DO NOT BUY TICKETS YET.
The next morning, Thursday, I got an email saying that R was able to get us in to the Civil Affairs office in Nanchang, Jiangxi during the week of Dragon Festival, so if we wanted to pick up Luke first, we could leave 6/11. It's only 3 days earlier, I realize, but I was TOTALLY thrilled! Not to mention, by having Luke Day at the end of one week, and Katie Day on Monday of the following week, we're actually shaving a few days off the trip. Which saves money. Which is a very good thing.
She then asked if she could request our CA on certain dates, and I, of course, gave my consent. Here's the annoying thing about all this: Every.Single.Thing. takes another day, because she emails during our day and China's night, then their in country person, R, emails during HIS day and OUR night. She continued to say, DO NOT BUY TICKETS YET.
I then took our new dates to our travel agent and had her re-work the flight arrangements. The final verdict came back, Paul's tickets $1,530 for Alaska air to Seattle and Hainan air to Beijing, and $360 for China Southern air to Nanning. My tickets would be $1526. Katie's flight home would be $747.70, and Luke's would be $132.20. Katie has a child's ticket, and Luke is flying as a lap baby, because he'll still be a hair under 2 when we come home, thank goodness! That alone saves $600 bucks.
Friday's morning email confirmed our Consulate Appointment for 8:30 on 6/27. Which means we can fly home on 6/29. Unfortunately, it also said, DO NOT BUY TICKETS YET. L wants to make sure that R can coordinate "gotcha day" and adoption day appointments in both provinces before we pay for tickets. I emailed our travel accommodation forms to R, the in-China guy.
Later Friday, our travel agent emailed and said that the hold she placed would expire on Saturday, and we needed to fish or cut bait (but in much nicer terms, of course!). Not realizing that it was FRIDAY, I emailed back and told her that we were waiting to hear back from China the following day. Sweet woman that she is, she didn't call me on my ditz-brain moment, but that could be because she'd just accidentally sent me someone else's itinerary, and maybe we're on the same wavelength?
It wasn't until on the way home from a gender reveal party for twins that I suddenly realized it was Friday in conjunction with the ramifications that would have for us. I fired off another email to R, letting him know we needed a decision asap so we could save our rates.
Saturday morning's email indicated that something was lost in translation, when he said, if you and your husband are going to different provinces, why don't you just wait until 6/17 for both "gotcha" days. I emailed back at 5:43 a.m. our time saying, no, that's not what we're doing, I'm doing the first province alone, and Paul is coming later for the second and third phases of the trip, and do we have his blessing to book flights? He emailed back about 45 minutes later and said, "Could you wait a little if possible, I have not heard from Civil Affairs because it is the weekend here." Which I knew, of course, but I really wanted the answer to be different.
Two hours later, our travel agent called. If she released the holds, Paul's ticket across the ocean would shoot up to over $2,000. We had until 2 p.m. Texas time.
I knew I was not "supposed to" book the flights yet, but I decided that given the choice between 1) MAYBE we'll have to change something and pay fees, and 2) absolutely paying several hundred dollars more... I booked the flights.
I don't think I can go through this process again. The paperwork, the wait, the minefield of pushing each piece of the process through different agencies, offices, governments. I know it's all worth it in the end, but I just don't think I have it in me to pour this much of myself into the system, when I have so many people here who are counting on me to focus on them.
Sitting here, Saturday morning, I'm obsessing over whether I did the right thing or not, which is silly, because I know I won't get Official Word from my agency until Tuesday because of the US holiday Monday, although I'm holding out some hope that I might potentially hear from R by Monday morning our time because it's NOT a holiday in China, so he should be able to book those appointments.
So now, I'm going to get OFF the computer and get ready to go run errands with the girls, hoping to distract myself by focusing on the PRESENT. Even though I've already spent $4,000 today, we're off to the post office, the library, and a little bit of shopping. Annaliese still needs a graduation dress, and it's less than a week away. Oops.
Only 17 more days until I leave! I think.
Have you clicked for us today? Thank you!