A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Almost 24 hours after landing in Sacramento, I'm getting the chance to check in and let everyone know we made it okay.  The airport greeting crew was wonderful, and after a shower in my own bathroom and a couple of good naps (was after midnight by the time we got to bed, and was up for the day at 4 something, so I'm calling that a nap) I'm feeling fairly human again.

Mr Luke sleeping in a bit this morning.  

And Miss Katie really slept in, but she woke up all smiles and has opened up to the other kids a lot.  Last night she was pretty overwhelmed and reserved, but today, she's chattering and interacting.  She loves Hannah's Big Wheel, and the noisy Fisher Price Castle.  

I'm feeling pretty productive, all things considered.  I went through the bucket of mail.  The suitcases are unpacked and put away.  I've done 5 loads of laundry so far, with just one more to go until all the laundry is done, which is a feat, since it's not usually all finished at once.  

Paul's feeling pretty out of it, still.  But, awesome dad that he is, he went to the store to get baby food and fruit.  We're starting Luke out with the orange baby foods, since he didn't care for pears or applesauce in China.  He did, however, eat a few fishy crackers today, so that's good.  Katie seems to like them, too.  

The other kids are enjoying the novelty of discovering who Katie and Luke are, which is fun.  Hannah is, naturally, a little insecure right now, but I'm sure she'll pull through with a little extra attention.  

Haven't downloaded pics off the big camera yet, but we didn't take many pictures since the last post.  

It's good to be home.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last Full Day in China

I'm thankful Mr Luke got this crib instead of Miss Katie. 

When I was messing with our perpetually damp laundry, I snagged myself on these loose staples. 

Looks like there used to be another wooden piece like this one on the left side. While I wish Luke was not so incredibly delayed, at least that kept him from potentially hurting himself on this bed. No chance of him pulling to stand or trying climb out. 

Speaking of laundry...  DO NOT try this at home. Paul called this his 40 watt clothes dryer. We did send out a load of laundry at one point. But it cost $50, and I didn't mind washing in the bathtub a couple of times. The problem is that clothes here don't DRY. 

Actually, whether it's putting dry clothes on a damp body in a hurry to get out the door on time, or putting slightly damp clothes on a dry body because there's nothing else left to wear, or going out in dry clothes that immediately become damp with sweat, it feels very soggy here. It will be nice to get home and dry out. 

After dinner last night, we stopped at a little bakery on the way back to the hotel and had a treat. Paul had a German cheese custard, and I had Black Forest cake. Katie had some of each, of course. 

After dessert, it was bath time. 

It's a little bit like washing a cat (which I've actually done) to rinse Luke's hair. 

Today was our first day with no activities here in GZ. We got to Sleep In. Which is awesome because Luke doesn't sleep though the night. 

After breakfast, we hung out in the hotel playroom for a while.

Today was the first day since we got Katie that the kids haven't worn coordinating outfits. We're getting close to running out of clean clothes, and I wanted to make sure they had something dry to travel in tomorrow. 

Baba and Katie had fun making a Lego structure and Katie threw her very first fit for us when we cleaned up to leave. Real tears, but it was short lived. 

Luke scootched  himself backward in this walker, but more out of anger than intention. He was too tall for it, really. I think we're going to be looking at some sort of therapeutic stander to get him used to bearing weight on his legs and help him gain the balance he needs to learn to stand and walk. 

After play time, we hung out in the room for a while, packed our bags, took naps, waited for our guide to drop off the kids' passports with their visas, then went out for a quick dinner. Now we're channel surfing for a bit (a good reminder of why we don't have tv at home) and hoping for an early bedtime, as we're getting up at 4:30 to head out for the airport. We fly from here to Beijing, then to Seattle, then home to Sac. It's thirty some odd hours of travel, but because of time zones, we get home the evening of the same day that we leave. It's just a really really REALLY long day. On the way home last time, I hit the wall about 7 hours into the long flight home. I just wanted OFF that plane. Not good when you have another 5 hours on that plane and you have to get on yet another flight after that. 

Please pray for no delays, safe travels, and sleepy kids. Can't wait to get home and hug my herd!  

Dinner Adventures

Last night, we decided to try someplace new for dinner. We ended up at Grandmother's Kitchen upstairs from the noodle place.

No one spoke any English, but we figured with picture menus we'd be okay. 

We sat down and found little covered pots of what looked like potpourri. Then the water boy came along. 

He launches boiling water at your cups from across the table to make tea. 

Paul called it lawn clipping tea because of the flowers that looked like dandelions. It was pretty good. I recognized orange peel in it. 

We ordered a bowl of peanuts because we knew Katie liked those, and chow fan, or fried rice, and then we got adventurous and tried "steamed pork in rice flour."  Paul liked it. It was more pork fat than pork meat, though. 

The kids were quite the attraction, of course. We had several servers come over to check us out, and when the table behind us noticed us, they all stopped to stare. Our guide mentioned the day we were fawned over at the fabric mart that when Chinese people are curious about something, they stare. It's not considered rude. But it's a little unnerving to be on the receiving end of it. Especially when you're trying to eat. With chopsticks. 

When I was in Nanchang, I had 3 servers just stand and watch us at dinner the night my guide took us out after People's Park. 

Katie does well feeding herself, but she also likes to have us feed her.

Luke was poking at some rice she spilled on the tablecloth. He still hasn't put anything into his mouth yet. I've been feeding him more rice cereal, in an effort to space out the constant bottles a little. He peed so much last night, his blanket bled and turned the crib sheet pink. We are going to need to get some boxed baby cereal as soon as we get home. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Consulate Appointment Day

It may look like Paul is just using his laptop. Look again. He's drying his sock with a hair dryer because our laundry from a few days ago is still not dry. So so humid here. 

A couple nights ago, we saw geckos on a lit billboard on our way back from dinner. Last night, I caught a shot of this little guy. Made me miss my boys. 

Today was Consulate Day. I wanted to get a picture of them before breakfast, just in case they got messy. But thanks to bibs, they stayed clean. 

The American consulate is on the 5th floor of this building:

I felt uncomfortably privileged to totally bypass all the Chinese citizens hoping to get into the American consulate today. 

Security is tight here, and we could not bring any cameras or electronics upstairs. In fact, our Chinese guide could not even accompany us through security, which is much like that of an airport. 

So what happens inside this mysterious building?  We turned over Katie and Luke's passports and submitted final paperwork for the kids to obtain citizenship once we reach the USA. We also swore an oath that all the information we submitted regarding these adoptions was true to the best of our knowledge. Tomorrow, we get the passports back with the all-important US visas inside, which permit the kids to travel to the US, so that we can go home on Saturday. 

After the appointment, I went to take pictures and caught Katie girl mid-yawn.

This is the face we see most of the time. Smiley, happy girl. 

Waiting for our guide to bring the car around. Glad to be one big step closer to home. 

After the consulate, we went to Guangzhou's largest bookstore. I heard our guide say that, but it didn't kick in until I asked to see children's books and we went up, up, up, up, up the escalators through floors and floors of books, music, and movies. 

We did another wee bit of shopping, but since the kids are reading the blog, that's all I have to say about that. ;) 

After the bookstore, we came back to the room for lunch and naps, and finally we have a free day tomorrow!  Aside from packing and receiving the visas, we have no plans yet. Maybe we'll hang out in the hotel playroom, or maybe we'll walk around and take pictures, or maybe we'll swim, although, I hesitate to swim, knowing our suits won't dry before we head home. I'd hate to have them mold. 

Oh yes, there was one other thing we did today. Our guide drove us by a fire stations so Paul could take a few pictures. It's not like home, where you can visit the fire station, and firefighters patiently let you see the equipment and answer questions. Here, firefighting falls under the army's jurisdiction. This is as close as we got, and that was from a rolling vehicle. But I was happy Paul got to snap these. 

Fabric Market

After the museum yesterday, our guide took us to the fabric market. Oh heaven!  Stall after stall after stall of home dec, China silk, linen, cottons, and more. 

Yes, Katie is sitting backwards on the sun shade, holding the stroller handle.  When in Rome...!

Our guide offered to go pick up McD's for lunch while I shopped. Fine, fine, go. Just let me fondle. 

Aren't they pretty?

I was very good. I only picked up 4 1 meter cuts. The background of this is navy, sorry for the poor lighting on these iPad pics. 

This is pale lavender with embroidery. Will make a cute sundress or peasant top for one of the girls. 

This was my "haggle by calculator" piece. I asked how much, and she grabbed her calculator and typed 55 and said 1 meter. I shook my head and waved my hand. She hit clear and held the calculator out to me with a raised brow. I typed 35.  She hit clear and typed 45. I hit clear and typed 40, and we grin Ed at each other.  It was in the cotton section, but it is very drapey, and I'm wondering if it's really rayon. Might make a cute skirt for Brianna. 

This one made me smile. It just looks like it could be a faux boutique foo foo outfit. With bows. And maybe even some ric rac. Not sure exactly what it will look like yet, but it will come to me. 

The guide came back, and he and Paul sat on a bench and fed lunch to the babies while I shopped. When they (and I'll let you interpret that word however you like) started losing it, I decided I could be done, even though I could have stayed there for hours. 

Erin, this shot is for you. I didn't buy any, but it reminded me of you. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

iPhone Pictures

Sac airport. Seems like forever ago. 

Seattle airport. I took this for Eli, my plane buff. 

Day 1 with Luke. Asleep in my lap. 

There seems to be this fashion trend here for ladies to wear very long shear skirts and short slips. This particular lady added floral underwear to the ensemble. Ask me how I know. 

Baby tigers. Cutest thing ever. I have video of them on my Facebook page. 

Loose lemurs, up close and personal. 

Look who's holding his own bottle now!

Baba feeding Katie at Tekila. 

I asked my guide what an option was at the soda fountain, and he said, oh you know, like Sprite. So I poured it, and it came out cartoon poison green. Still, I'm a good sport. I figured it would be lime. It was the liquid version of a green apple Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but not what I was expecting, and not really like sprite, either. 

And Baba feeding Luke fried rice (seems to be a lot of feeding going on here) at Pizza Hut tonight. Paul and I split a "medium" pepperoni, which the menu said would feed 2-3 people. It's cute how they thought that. Paul and I looked at the little pan when it arrived, and I don't know about him, but I was thinking, "What are YOU going to eat?"  We split the pizza and he finished off the kids' rice. We have snacks in the room, fortunately.

Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

Today we went to a museum. In China's history, there had been stories of a certain ruler, but as there was no written record, no one sure whether he actually existed or not. Until his tomb was discovered in the 1980s. There are the steps leading down into the actual excavated tomb. This museum was probably one of the coolest things we've seen this trip. 

Down inside. People stuff money behind the plexiglass protecting the walls. 

These doors were a good 4" thick. 

This was the remains of one of the kings 4 concubines. Interestingly, the human remains didn't seem to fare as well as the bird bones we saw did. The king was buried with dozens of sparrows. 

This was the roof over the excavations. It was just gorgeous here. The clouds overhead were moving so fast, I would have loved to get some video. 

Again, this was incredible reflecting the fast moving clouds. The whole place was impressive and beautiful. 

This is a replica of the outer coffin. 

The king was buried in a jade suit, sewn with silk thread. We saw a similar suit of jade at the museum in Nanjing when we adopted Hannah. 

Family picture with a snoozing baby. 

The king was buried, not only with lots and lots and lots of jade, but also with ten swords, 5 on either side of him. Given that he was buried 100-200 years BC, I'm surprised there's anything left of these!

A reproduction of a screen found in the mausoleum. At the top, see the 3 golden monsters with horns?  Also on display in this room, we saw one of the original ones, with a reproduction beside it. They did a fabulous job. 

Our guide explained that these were special pots for cooking special meat... Human meat. They became symbolic of power. 

Have I mentioned that the grounds here were just lovely? I'm not an architecture geek, but these were some pretty buildings. The whole setup was very well done. 

We've had some neat discussions with two of our guides now about similarities between ancient Chinese practices/artifacts/etc. have been similar to those of other cultures. 

Luke's been waking up a couple times in the night the last few days. Paul can sleep right through it. I told him, "That tiger is how I feel," so he took a picture for me. Mama's tired. 

See the snake?  Our guide mentioned that people in Katie's hometown eat a lot of snake. 

All done!  Waiting for our car to come around and pick us up.