Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Ok, sorry all you aunts, cousins and friends out there who have been waiting for this post.  We have had a few bumpy nights and some crazy days over the last week, but we are home.
We left our hotel at 6am on Thursday morning.  There was a lot of fog that morning and when we arrived at the airport, our flight had been cancelled.  Well, our facilitator, Helen, got right to work to get us another flight.  She was running all over to other airlines that had flights and finally got us on a plane that was about to leave.  We had to get our baggage checked, go through security and get to the gate.  A representative of China Southern Airlines came with us all the way to the gate to make sure that we arrived.  All the passengers were in their seats and the plane was ready to go.  We took our seats (not together - but it was only a 2 hour flight) and took off.  Lydia did pretty good during take off and fell asleep for most of the flight.  When we got to Beijing, we went to get our bags, but they hadn't made it on the flight.  We were expecting that, since we were late.  The agent told us that if they didn't get on our flight, they would be on the next one.  Well, we really didn't think about what that meant when we were getting on the flight, but that meant that our bags would not be in Beijing until 3pm.  Our international flight in another terminal left at 4:30pm...We left without our bags and went over to the international terminal.  The people at United were helpful and said they would do whatever they could to get our bags from one terminal to another and onto our plane.  Unfortunately nothing happens very quickly in China and our bags once again did not get on our flight. : ( 
The flight went amazingly well for being over 12 hours long.  Lydia slept a lot of the way and woke up to eat when they brought us food.  I didn't let her get unbuckled, so she just slept in her seat in all sorts of strange positions.  Brian and I unfortunately weren't so lucky.  We both slept less than an hour.  It's just so hard to get comfortable in those seats.  At least we were in economy plus so we had a little more room.  We watched a lot of movies - including The Muppets - which I must say was great!!!  I think Brian read a little and listened to music. 
We arrived in Chicago almost an hour ahead of schedule, thanks to the strong tailwinds that we had.  That was good because the line for customs and immigration was really long!!!  Lydia was a trooper though and we got through there.  We turned in her paperwork and she is now a US citizen. : )  Of course we didn't have any bags to recheck, so that saved us time.  But we did have to trek all the way across the Chicago airport with 2 backpacks, a diaper/toy bag, a carry-on suitcase and a 2 year old.  We arrived at our gate just in time to use the bathroom before getting on the flight to Milwaukee.  That flight only takes 15 minutes, but Lydia fell asleep.  She was so worn out from all the travel and the time change. 
When we arrived in Milwaukee, my parents were there to pick us up.  We had to fill out a lost baggage claim, so that took a while, but we were finally home!!!  We were starving, so we headed to my favorite pizza place, Marty's where Lydia met her other Grandma and Grandpa and her Aunt Heidi, Uncle Jared and cousins.  She ate spaghetti while the rest of us ate pizza.  She has yet to acquire the taste for pizza. : )  I thought I was going to fall over after having just a few hours of sleep over the last 48, so we quickly headed home.  Lydia fell asleep right away and so did Brian, but even after feeling so tired, I couldn't sleep.  I was really worried about our bags.  We packed as many things as we could in our carry-ons, but a lot of the gifts we bought in China were in our checked luggage.  We got Lydia a present for each year for 10 years on her "Gotcha Day", but we only have about 3 of them. : (  We are still waiting to hear about our bags.  United called yesterday and said they might be in customs in Chicago, but we are still not sure of their whereabouts. 
The first four days back, Lydia woke up at 2am and wouldn't got to sleep.  Brian got up with her and played the first night.  I had gotten sick on the plane, so I was feeling horrible.  He came in and got me about 7am because Lydia discovered that I wasn't around.  We laid around most of the morning and then headed to Target to get some essentials like a potty seat and stool for the bathroom.  : )
My parents left on Sunday morning and Brian's parents and sister came for lunch that afternoon.  We tried to be low key all weekend. 
On Monday I discovered that Lydia loves going outside.  She wanted to be outside all day.  We didn't get much done in the house, but we did get a few sections of the garden weeded.  For not liking to be dirty, she is a great gardener.  She wanted to take all the weeds that I pulled and put them in the bucket.  She also used her broom to sweep the sidewalk. 
Yesterday we went to the doctor.  From the first look everything is good.  She has to have a bunch of tests run, just to make sure there's no surprises that we are looking at.  All the blood tests that she needed required 7 tubes of blood.  The lab tech at the doctor's office was not too excited to have to take that much blood from a 2 year old.  She called down to the lab to check on the minimum amount of blood that they needed and had a nurse come in to hold Lydia down.  I told her that I thought that she would be ok, but the tech was very nervous.  She told me that if she didn't see a good vein, she was just going to send us to the hospital to have the blood drawn.  Well, she found a vein and Lydia was as still and quiet as if nothing was happening.  The tech got done and pulled out the box of stickers and told Lydia she could have as many as she wanted.  Lydia wasn't phased at all.  The nurse commented that there are many adults who aren't as calm.  I'm sure she has been taught that you just deal with whatever comes your way...but still...she's two!!!
Well, she's taking a nap now, so I finally have time to blog a little.  It's almost time to wake her up though, so anyone who comes to visit my house, sorry about the mess, but I'm sure you aren't coming to see my clean house. : ) 
Just let us know if you want to stop by...a pizza is always welcome. : )  Just kidding, but we would love to have you stop for a few minutes.  Lydia enjoys being the center of attention!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Last Day in China

Bittersweet - our last day in China.  I'm ready to get home, but not ready to be back to reality...ready to see people we know, but not ready to leave the birthplace of my sweet little girl.  We've already talked about putting money into a savings account so that we can bring her back someday when she can really appreciate the country and culture of her birth. 
Today was another relaxing day...nothing on the schedule to do except pick up her visa in our hotel lobby.  We got up late and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.  I can't believe how much Lydia likes plain yogurt.  That is her food/beverage of choice for breakfast.  The yogurt here is mus more liquid, so she drinks it out of a straw and won't put it down until she can't get anymore out.  While we were sitting at breakfast, two of the families from another group were saying that their older children were throwing up in the night.  Another little girl next to us was coughing and croupy sounding, so I told Brian that we should get outside as soon as possible into some fresh air.  We'll, I'm not totally sure if that's possible in big city China, but at least we got outside.
We took a taxi down to Shamien Island to pick up some things that we had ordered.  They were ready when we got there and we also did a little more shopping.  I got a new flute for my collection.  : ) So DiBlasi girls, you'll have another one to try out the next time you're over!!!  I also found a panda bear quilt that we had to have and a lady bug backpack for Lydia.  Every time we were in the shops, there were more things to see.  Lydia was walking around and we started to go into one of the shops.  There was a little kitty on the step and I pointed it out to Lydia.  She started screaming and jumped into my arms.  We tried going in the shop, but no matter where we went in there, she kept crying.  Needless to say we decided to leave! 
We were planing to go to some gardens for a picnic this afternoon, but it started raining while we were on the island and it was very cloudy.  We just came home and Lydia had more noodles and Brian and I had some snacks.  Lydia took a good nap while we packed all our stuff.  We made it without having to add another suitcase.  The suitcase that was full of food is now full of souvenirs and we left a few things behind that we don't need.  We just have a few things to pack up in the morning, like the computer and our pajamas.  We leave at 6am tomorrow to fly from Guangzhou to Beijing, so we have to be up early. 
When we went to the lobby to get Lydia's visa and immigration packet from Helen, our facilitator, Lydia was going crazy.  She was running around the lobby and talking.  We decided that she needed to burn some energy, so we took her to the play place.  The Kragels (from Saylorville) were there again, so we got to talk to them.  Lydia suddenly became a wall flower.  We put her in the swing and she started screaming and then she just stood there.  In a matter of five minutes she went from going crazy to standing in one position, not moving a muscle.  We are wondering if she is not used to being outside, because her orphanage did not have an outdoor play area.  Maybe she just doesn't know what to do when she gets out there!
Well, we ended up at McDonald's again for supper.  We were going to go to the Cantonese restaurant again, but it was raining and I really didn't feel like lugging a 30 pound 2 1/2 year old down the street for 15 minutes to eat something that I'm not sure is going to be good.  Brian consented and we ate McNuggets again.  Lydia liked the ketchup and kept using her fries to get the ketchup into her mouth.  She just sucked it off the fries and didn't eat them. 
Back in the hotel room we turned some of the videos on just to see how they looked and she was so excited.  She watched them for a half hour and probably would have watched them longer.  She was so funny when she was watching them that we took a video of her.  She kept talking to herself on the screen and told her what to do and then laughed.  So funny. : )
We took a bath and now we're off to bed.  Lydia and Baba are in bed, but Lydia doesn't want to sleep tonight.  Hopefully she falls asleep soon, since we have such an early morning tomorrow. 
Our flight from Beijing arrives in Chicago around 4:30pm and then we have to go through immigration and customs.  We leave for Milwaukee at 6pm and are scheduled to arrive at 6:48pm.  Our plan is to head to Marty's Pizza in Delafield to meet family and friends.  We should be there around 8pm - we know we'll be hungry, so we thought that would be a good place to meet.  Don't know how long we'll be there, but if you want to stop by, feel free!!!
My next blog will be from the good old USA. : )
Doing the Chinese picture pose!

McDonald's fries - a way to get ketchup from the box to your mouth. : )

Nap time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Relaxing Day

We had to get up a little bit early this morning to have time for breakfast and make it to our consulate appointment.  We got dressed, but because Lydia had a white dress, we decided to just have her eat in her pajamas.  We have already experienced getting dirty at breakfast while wearing white. : )  We left the hotel at 7:50am and got down the consulate in plenty of time for our 8:30am appointment.  We got the one paper that we forgot notarized and then took an oath on behalf of Lydia.  It basically said that we got all her paperwork and filled it out to the best of our knowledge.  They looked over Lydia's paperwork and had us sign one more paper.  Tomorrow our facilitator will go pick up Lydia's visa, so that she can enter the US.  Once we drop off her paperwork at Customs and Immigration in Chicago, she will be an official US citizen.
We were back at the hotel by 10am and had the rest of the day to ourselves.  We ran into one of the other families from our agency in the lobby.  Their son, Gwong Wei, was very upset that Lydia had bare feet.  She has taken to removing her shoes and socks when she is bored/wants attention.  I just put her down in the lobby without her shoes and he kept telling her (in Chinese) that the tile was too cold and she needed her shoes on.  I'm sure that they didn't let them go barefoot in the orphanage!   We got back so early that the maid hadn't been to our room yet.  Not a big deal, except that we needed our towels changed.  We decided to find something to do around the hotel.  We decided to go swimming.  The pool is outside and it was cloudy today, but the temperature of the water wasn't too cold.  At first Lydia wasn't sure about the pool, but she decided that it was ok, as long as I had a tight grip on her.  Hopefully she'll like swimming this summer, so we'll have a good way to keep cool!!!  After a while it started raining, so we decided to head back to the room. 
Brian went to get Lydia some noodles from 7 Eleven, while we got dry and warm.  Lydia was beside herself when Brian left without us.  She waited at the door almost the entire time that he was gone.  That was the first time that she wasn't with both of us.  Brian tried to warn her that he was going to have to go to work next week. : )
After the early day and the swim in the pool, Lydia was ready for a nap after her lunch.  She fell asleep with Mama and Baba, but she stayed asleep a lot longer.  We decided to get up and try to get our stuff organized.  We have bought so much stuff.  Hopefully we have enough room without having to add another suitcase.  We do have a duffel bag, but we're hoping that we won't have to use that.  We have a few more things to pick up tomorrow, so we'll see where we are with suitcase room tomorrow.
Lydia woke up at about 1:30pm and we headed out to the Guangzhou Zoo.  It is a really big zoo - but much different from the zoos in the states.  People were throwing food into the pens (even though it said not to), and the enclosures were much less realistic.  When we first got there, we went to the monkey area.  Lydia was freaking out.  She started crying and clutched onto me for dear life.  She did not like the animals at all.  We finally decided to sit on a bench so she could get used to the animals without being too close.  She started waving to them then.  After we had been there about 30 minutes, it started raining.  We checked the weather and it said that there was 0% chance of rain.  Well, I guess we're not going to trust the weather channel here!  Lydia had fun in the rain though.  I'm not sure if she had ever been out in the rain before.  She was stomping in puddles and letting the rain fall off of the picnic table umbrella into her hands.  It was pretty cute.  After the rain we found the elephants and she loved watching them.  It doesn't make sense that she liked the elephants, but not the monkeys, since the elephants are so big and there were no bars between us and the elephants, but oh well, she likes the elephants. : )  We found the pandas next.  She wasn't too sure about them either.  There were even some panda statues that she was very scared of.  Brian commented about how much better the pandas in the San Diego Zoo are treated.  When we were there a few years ago, you had to wait in a long line to see the pandas and then walk through their exhibit without talking.  They had tons of bamboo and had a very clean and fancy exhibit.  Here in Guangzhou, they were just in a regular type enclosure with people all around making noise at them...nothing special.  I guess since they're Chinese, they have to live like they're locals. : )  After carrying Lydia the whole time, I was getting quite tired.  I put her down and she decided to walk.  She was so proud of herself.  She went ahead of us and led us toward the exit.  We got to some trees that had dropped nuts on the ground and Lydia took it upon herself to clean them up.  She handed them to Brian at first and he threw them.  She thought it was so fun to pick up the nuts and throw them.  We're hoping that when we get home, she'll like to pick up pine cones. : ) 
We left for the hotel and Lydia was so excited when we got back.  She was chatting with the bellboy who opened our taxi door and walked through the lobby.  The motto for the hotel is "Walk in like you own the place" and she does.  She can even figure out which room is ours.  We cleaned up and walked back down to get something to eat.  We were going to go to a Cantonese restaurant, but it was a 10-15 minute walk and it started raining again when we were just about to leave.  We decided that we would just go to McDonald's again which is right next to the hotel.  We discovered that Lydia likes McNuggets.  She also ate ketchup again. : ) 
We came back to our room and now Lydia is entertaining herself with all our toiletries.  She took them all out of their bags and she's been rearranging them for over an hour now.  She's having a lot of fun.  We'll have to see what she thinks of toys when we get home. 
Tomorrow we don't have anything planned except getting our visa from our facilitator at 4:30pm, so we're planning on having another relaxing day tomorrow.  We just need to get ready for our trip home. : )
Family Photo after our consulate appointment.

Swimming in the hotel pool

Watching the pandas at the zoo

Monday, April 16, 2012

TB Check, OK

Today we got to sleep in a little.  We left a little before 10am, so we had a nice leisurely breakfast for the first time. : )  We took a van to the clinic again today for Lydia's TB test to be checked.  It took about a half hour in the van each way and about two seconds for them to look at her arm and say it was ok!  All that time in the van, for just a few seconds at the clinic.  Well, at least the test was negative.
We headed back to the hotel and ate lunch and put Lydia down for a nap.  This was the first time since we became a family that we have been able to eat lunch at a normal time and to put her down for her nap at her "regular" time.  Well, this began a battle of the wills.  She really did not want to take a nap, but we knew that she was getting tired.  We ended up with her in the middle of the bed and Brian on one side and me on the other to keep her from getting up.  She was not happy at all...kicking, screaming, etc., but just a few minutes of that and she was asleep.  Hopefully this will not become a regular occurance! 
Once she fell asleep, Lydia slept well.  We opened the curtains about 2pm and she slowy woke up.  She really doesn't like waking up, which is fine with me, since I feel exactly the same way.  We ordered Papa John's pizza for an early supper tonight.  It tasted so good.  Almost like home, they even had the garlic butter for dipping the crust.  Lydia didn't really like the pizza (hopefully this changes soon!) and she really didn't like the dipping butter.  She kept pointing at it like she wanted it, so I dipped some crust in and gave her a bite.  The look on her face was hilarious...almost like we gave her a lemon or something like that!  I let her spit it out since she thought it was so disgusting.  She ate a granola bar and some fruit for her supper.
After that she was running around the room throwing the beach ball.  She had so much energy that we thought she would enjoy playing on the playground.  She was all energetic until we got outside and then all she wanted to do was stand there.  They had slides and swings, but nothing interested her.  Some other kids came along too, but that still didn't interest her!
We met our facilitator, Helen at 5pm to go on a cruise on the Pearl River.  Another couple with us requested that she help us get tickets and it was recommended by some of my friends, so we asked if we could tag along.  We took a cruise on a traditional type dragon boat down the Pearl River.  We got to see all the lights of Guangzhou, including the new TV tower, which Helen said was over 600 meters tall - that's like 6 football fields stacked upright.  It is really tall and very pretty with the lights on it.  Those lights, the lights on the bridges and some other buiding lights change color and make it like a light show.  Lydia thought the lights were pretty too.  It was raining a little as we got into the taxi at the hotel, but for the boat cruise, the Lord provided perfect weather - not too hot and not too cold.  Because of the rain, there were some low clouds that covered some of the tall buildings and the TV tower.  They had a rice and chicken dish for us on the boat.  I had already filled up on pizza, but Lydia ate some of my rice and Brian had my chicken.  We enjoyed a fun time together as a family.  Toward the end of the cuise, Lydia started getting very silly, which we have discovered means that she is getting tired.
We headed back to the hotel for a short bath, which she is beginning to enjoy a little.  Tonight she was eating the bubbles!!!  She and Brian are both in bed snoring and tomorrow is an early day for us, so I'm going to head that way too.
Before I close, we ran into that couple with the older girl two more times - once yesterday and once today.  They are doing much better and the girl looked a lot happier!  Also at the playground, we were talking to some of the other parents, asking about their kids, where they're from, etc.  We told one dad that we were from Wisconsin and he said, "Oh, just one state over from us.  We're from Iowa."  Well of course, my ears perked up.  I told him that I grew up in Iowa in Ankeny and he said, "That's where we live, over by Crocker Elementary."  Their last name is Kreagle (I don't know if the spelling is correct), and we started talking about different things in Ankeny.  I asked where they go to church and he said Saylorville - the church I grew up in.  They had just started attending, but knew some of the same people we knew.  Such a small world!!!  If you're from Saylorville, be sure to say, "Hi" to Mason, their new son.  He and Lydia are about the same age, so maybe someday they'll meet at a church function and we can tell them that it isn't their first meeting. : )  Amazing who you run into when you're in China!!!
Lydia and I on the River Cruise

On the way to get checked.

Waiting for the boat with a sucker and two wet wipes!

Our cruise boat - a traditional looking dragon boat

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Museum + 2 year old = ???

So...this morning our facilitator took us to a folk arts museum.  While this would be an interesting trip and there were many beautiful things to look at, it was not Lydia's favorite place.  Lydia either likes to be held or she likes to walk around and touch things.  It was so hot today that she didn't want me to hold her.  She wanted to walk around, but as you might guess, there were too many breakable things at her level.  I tried to carry her, but she was so sweaty and hot that she didn't want to be in my arms.  To complicate things, there were artists there doing work for people to buy.  Of course this art work - scrolls, fans, paintings, etc. were very high quality and we wanted to get some.  Lydia was flailing in my arms while I was trying to look around.  I had to let Brian choose the things he thought were best for us to buy.  Our facilitator was so excited about looking around at things, and the artwork was very beautiful, but I was very glad to be done at the museum. : )
After our museum visit we went to the pearl and jade market.  We got some nice things there.  It was in a mall that was full of jewelry shops.  While they were stringing the pearls, Lydia walked around and picked up trash.  She kept handing it to people to throw away!  Then she started finding pearls on the ground and bringing them to the workers.  She charmed them so much that when we left they gave her a pearl bracelet (made of uneven pearls).
We went to a noodle restaurant for lunch.  Our guide told Lydia we were going there and she was pretty excited.  Once we got there though, she wanted the dumplings more than the noodles.  We couldn't believe it.  She only ate 2 bites of noodles!!!  I guess that we found something she likes more than noodles. : )
It was quite late when we got home, so we put Lydia right down for a nap.  She was so sleepy and didn't want to wake up.  We took some time to organize all the things we bought yesterday, so we would know what we still needed to get at the shops.  After Lydia finally woke up, we headed back to Shamian Island to buy what we needed.  We got a lot of stuff at one of the shops and visited a few others.  We ran out of Chinese Yuan and so we started dealing in US dollars. : )  They are just as happy to take that!!!
We ate McDonald's for supper which is right next to our hotel.  Lydia wasn't so sure about hamburgers and French fries tonight.  She did eat a little bit of French fries finally. 
When we got back to our room, we let her stay up, since it really hasn't been that long since she woke up from her nap.  She's been playing with a beach ball and reading "Good Night, God" over and over again with Baba.  She doesn't let him hold her yet, but he's ok for reading, feeding, kissing booboos, etc.  I think she's getting tired...she gets really silly when she's tired and she's acting really silly.  I better go get her in the bathtub. : )
Living Hope Adoption Group in front of the Folk Arts Museum

Finger painting artist

Lydia before the museum

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Doctor Visit, Shopping and Ice Cream

Our day began way too early after our long day yesterday.  We are staying in the China Hotel in Guanzhou.  Many people have stayed in the White Swan Hotel in the past, but they are completely closed for remodeling right now.  Maybe next time we'll be able to stay there.  But this hotel is super nice - another 5 Star!  It's very interesting that here in China most of the hotel rooms we've stayed in have a window in the bathroom next to the tub.  It must be some sort of Feng Shui thing, but it really opens the room up. 
We went to breakfast this morning and it was a site for sore eyes.  I really like the Chinese food, but the American buffet was fantastic.  Lydia still isn't so sure about American breakfast, but Mama is thankful for it.  I tried to give Lydia a doughnut this morning, but she refused to eat it.  She ate cherry tomatoes and yogurt (which in China is more of a drink like kiefer).  I had a muffin and grapefruit juice and hash browns. : )  Brian also found us some really yummy French toast. 
At 8:40am, we left for the clinic that is approved by the American consulate.  The tests that they did were very minimal.  They looked at Lydia's fingers, checked her height and weight, took her temp, looked in her ears and attempted to look in her throat.  It went by all very quickly and Lydia did well for the most part.  They also require a TB test for all children over 2 years old, so they injected her and we'll have to come back in a few days to get that checked.  We went there with 2 other families from our agency who are adopting here at the same time. 
After our doctor's appointment, we stopped at the grocery store where Lydia picked out some "gong" (candy) that she wanted.  Everyone in Iowa will be happy to hear that she choose a corn flavored sucker!  I should have tasted it, but it sort of smells like corn syrup. 
We came back to the hotel and our facilitator made sure that we had all our paperwork, which we don't.  I guess there was a paper that we had filled out and notarized that somehow didn't get into our stuff when we were packing.  Fortunately we can get a new copy notarized on Monday. 
We came back to the hotel room and ate a light lunch of snacks and Lydia and I took a nap.  She slept for a long time and finally we opened the curtains a little to wake her up.  Lydia doesn't really like waking up very much, but she is so happy when she does.  She has such big smiles for us.  We are so thankful that God has placed it in her heart to be so happy so much of the time.  We met a family from Alabama who have a 4 year old daughter that they adopted from China and they came back to adopt a 14 year old girl.  She was very angry and having a difficult time with being adopted.  Before a child who is old enough to understand is adopted, they have to consent.  I'm sure that she was excited about it at one time, but when it came down to leaving her friends and all that she knew, she wasn't sure about that. 
After waking up, we took a taxi so Shaimien Island to do some shopping.  The White Swan Hotel is there on the island, so there are many tourist shops that cater to Americans.  Since the White Swan is closed, it has really hurt business on the island.  There are not as many tourists all the time.  We were hounded to buy things from every shop.  They said they would give us good prices, and we probably did.  I just felt bad for all the people who make their living this way and lost the thousands of people who were walking by each day in the past. 
We ate dinner at a restaurant on the island, Lucy's.  It caters to Americans as well.  It is a location known well by adoptive families who spent any time on the island.  I got spaghetti - noodles - so Lydia and I could share.  She loved the spaghetti!  She also ate a lot of her Baba's French fries.  She's learning to be American already. : )
We headed back to the hotel and took a bath, ate some ice cream and now Lydia is laying in bed.  I'm not sure if she'll go to sleep before we go to bed or not, but I do hear her thumb being sucked.  I'm so thankful that we get to sleep in tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to not having to get up at the crack of dawn!
Happy girl!!!

Visit to the doctor

Getting tested for TB - a requirement for all children who are over 2 years old

The obsession with cleaning continues : )

Friday, April 13, 2012

Video - this may take a while to download : )

At the Beijing Airport with Lisa, our guide who also works at the Living Hope Orphanage.
Okay, just a short post today, it's almost 11pm here.  We thought we would have a nice leisurely day, but there were other plans for us!  We left our hotel at 8am to make our 11am flight to Guangzhou, the city where the American Consulate is located.  We boarded the plane on time.  There were thunderstorms in Guangzhou, so we were delayed...FOR SIX HOURS!!!  The whole time we were sitting on the plane at the airport.  We had two meals on the plane and finally made it to Guangzhou at 7:30ish.  We were supposed to have arrived at 2:30pm.  Needless to say, we are all ready for bed.  Tomorrow we should have a little more time to relax.  We are going for Lydia's medical exam and TB test.  We have to leave at 8:40am, which is seeming very close right now.
Thanks to everyone for your comments on the blog and Facebook.  Sorry we haven't had time to comment back, but we really appreciate the encouragement. : ) 
Talk to you tomorrow.
P.S.  The video is of Lydia cleaning.  She is obsessed with cleaning and decided that the seat belt was a good cleaning cloth.  Her cleaning solution of choice...spit!!! : )

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Orphanage Visit

This morning after breakfast, we left for a 2 hour drive to Tangshen, the place where Lydia was born and lived all of her first 2 1/2 years.  We arrived around lunchtime at the orphanage, so we had to wait until they were finished eating and had their afternoon naps.
While we were waiting, we stopped at the grocery story and at McDonald's for lunch.  Lydia had 3 of the 4 bananas that we bought at the store for lunch, but didn't want any French fries or hamburger.  She is quickly becoming a very picky eater!!!  She also ate 4 packets of ketchup.  The driver thought it was so cute, so he went and got her more.  I guess ketchup isn't too bad of a lunch. : ( 
After lunch we went to Lydia's former home.  We met the orphanage director, who had come to the adoption, the principal of the school and some other orphanage officials.  They told us that the kids were just getting up from their naps, so we should wait in the waiting room for a few minutes.  We came up the elevator and just around the corner, they showed a a huge mural that they had.  It said, "Children have a happy day here" in English and Chinese and it was pictures of Lydia from when she was a baby.  I guess she is the "poster child" for the Tangshen orphanage.  The orphanage director had a photographer come and take pictures of our visit.  They said that we were the first family to come back to visit the orphanage. 
We got to meet Lydia's class/dorm mates next.  There were about 18 kids in her age group - mostly boys.  We weren't able to take any pictures in the orphanage of the rooms or the children.  But it was surprisingly nice.  All the pictures that we had received of Lydia were taken at the orphanage.  They have toys to play with, a tv to watch, there's even a physical therapy room for the kids.  Lydia passed out fruit snacks to all of her friends.  One little boy figured out how to open the package and had all the fruit snacks in his mouth at one time.  Most of the kids at the Tangshen Orphanage seemed to have minor special needs - I saw one boy with microtia (deformed ear), another with a missing arm, one who was really thin, but only three in her age group seemed to have any major disabilities.  The orphanage director said that there were six children from their orphanage now who are on the shared list to be adopted. 
After passing out the fruit snacks, Lydia showed us her bed and her play room.  She didn't want to leave me until she saw Wong, her caregiver.  You can tell that they both love each other very much.  Lydia had Wong hold her while we were there and when we got back to the waiting room, Wong set her in a chair and she fed her mangoes. 
We were also able to meet Yu, Lydia's caregiver for her younger years.  Lydia remembered her, but was not as attached to her as she is to Wong.  We took some pictures with the orphanage workers and said goodbye.  Wong snuck out, but Lydia knew that she was going.  She had some sad, silent tears when she realized she was gone.  We walked out the door of the orphanage and went to get into the car and Lydia started screaming.  It was very sad to realize that everything that she knew, loved and was comfortable with became just a memory as she walked out the door for the last time.  We have the email address of the orphanage and we plan to send them pictures as time goes on.  They asked us to bring Lydia back to visit them someday.  We really feel that God had Lydia in one of the nicest places possible for the situation.  I am so thankful that we were able to go there for a visit.
Lydia cried for less than 5 minutes and then fell asleep. 
Tangshen is best know for an earthquake that took place there in 1976...Maybe some of you remember.  It happened at night, so many people lost their lives  - around 250,000 people died in the quake.  We went to the memorial and museum for the earthquake.  They had some statues, some of the original ruins, and a wall with all the names of the victims.  The museum was very well done and had a lot of information about the earthquake and how people responded. 
While we were at the site, Lydia discovered her legs and how fun it is to walk!  She walked up the steps and walked the whole length of the wall.  She was pretty proud of herself.  She has the cutest little swing of the hips when she walks and looks like she's so proud of herself when she does something new. 
One the way home in the car, she was letting Brian feed her goldfish until she realized that she could hold the bowl and feed herself and him.  She wouldn't put the goldfish in his mouth, but she did put them in his hand.  It was so funny...she sorted out all the broken ones to eat first before she ate the whole ones. : )  A little OCD maybe!!!  (BTW - I always do that with my chips and crackers!)
She also discovered that she can throw things.  This was not so good when we got to the restaurant and she started throwing spoons and chopsticks. : (  We enjoyed a dinner of Peking Duck, of which Brian refused to eat the head.  (Don't worry, the driver told him it isn't good anyway. : ))

Her cousins would be proud...eating ketchup right out of the packet!!!

Lydia and Me with her mural behind us!

Lydia and her first nanny, Yu.

LuWei, one of the orphanage workers, the principal, the orphanage director, Wong with Lydia, Yu, me and Brian.

Lydia discovering that walking can be fun.  Her face is sooooo cute in this picture (so enlarge it if you can't see her expression)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Touring some of China's most famous places

Lydia at hotel waiting for Bill to return with the red book.
 AFVC's newest model at the great wall
 The wall of greatness
 Family photo at the forbidden city
 Bling!! the empress is here

Nooooodles!!! messy and tasty

Erica was going to blog after I downloaded the pictures, but she fell asleep after putting Lydia to bed.  She will catch you up later (she does not trust me with the keyboard) but what she does not know while she is sleeping is none of my concern.  It has been amazing to see how God is working in the lives of the three of us.  Thank you to all of you who have been praying.  We appreciate the notes of encouragement sent our way as well.  Today we went to the great wall and forbidden city.  I had 130 photos to choose from today.  I may not have chosen the best, but these are representative of our day.  China is a amazing place. 

Lydia loves noodles, and I think she could eat them for every meal.  Kung Fu Panda be warned.  I never knew that noodles were so popular in China (and so messy).  As the photo will attest to.  Fortunately the family we are traveling with had some bibs, or we would have had a mess.   

While we were between touring places Lydia fell asleep in the van and had a great nap.  I was such a blessing because it was the first time since we got her that she woke up without us having to wake her up because we had something to do.  I say that to get to a point.  After we ate tonight Lydia had a good amount of sleep and just the right amount of noodles apparently because she was so happy with such a big smile.  It was so fun to watch her.  She is really bonding with Erica, and we are so thankful for that.  She hardly lets Erica put her down which is a mixed blessing.  It really shows the bonding, but Erica was not built as a pack mule, as some of you may know.  The look she gives Erica when Erica puts her down to do something is priceless though.  Her big brown eyes will get her places some day.

On a side note we also succumbed to our daughter's begging for the first time today.  She has never asked for anything until at the great wall she saw a bead bracelet, and kept reaching for it.  I succumbed and spent the 3 dollars for it.  She loves the bracelet and any other type of bling we can provide.  She especially likes hair things.  See photo of empress Lydia.  Some of her choicest little friends may also be the empress when we get home.  Also for any Aunts that wanted to get Erica back for giving soda to their kids.  It is too late.  The Coke at lunch was a big hit and fortunately we are not worried about the energy level she has.  She is always very subdued (for now.  I expect that to change soon.)  The other couple we met today and that was touring with us has a little boy that has more energy than any of my nephews.  Possible all of them put together.  I know that is hard for those of you that know them, but it is true.

I guess I will go to bed.  Tomorrow you can all post about how much better Erica does at this so she is not tempted to let me do this again.  Any spelling errors can be attested to genetics (Lydia will not have that excuse fortunately). 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Official

We have a few hours in the hotel now before we leave for the train station, so we thought we would update you.
Last night went as well as could be expected.  It didn't take Lydia or Brian long to fall asleep, but of course, I didn't fall asleep for a long time.  Lydia woke up around 1am and started tossing and turning and flipping around.  This, of course, woke all of us up. : )  I finally decided to put her in some cooler pajamas.  They keep the kids in China dressed very warm all the time.  When she got here yesterday, she was wearing two pairs of pants and had been wearing two shirts too.  I didn't want her to be cold, so I put her in footy pajamas, but she was drenched in sweat.  We got out some cooler pajamas and I rubbed her feet with some calming lotion (Thanks Auntie, Kaarin).  She went back to sleep pretty quickly after that.
We got up around 6am this morning to get ready to go and went to breakfast.  She was quite the attention getter.  We got a lot of stares when we first arrived.  She ate breakfast really well.  She doesn't feed herself, which is actually kind of a good way for us to bond.  She ate fruit and congee for breakfast and ate it all up.  Sometime during breakfast, she peed in her diaper, which went all the way through her pants and tights I had put on her.  (She is potty trained, but the toilets at the orphanage are either potty chairs or squatty potties, so she doesn't really "get" the regular toilet yet.) So before we could leave for the official offices, we had to go change clothes. : )
We took a taxi to the offices and then filled out a bunch of paperwork.  We had to give them copies of our passports and other paperwork and then we had to tell them why we wanted to adopt Lydia.  They asked us what kind of education we would give her.  We signed our name a bunch of times and then they had us put our red fingerprint on everything to make it official.  Lydia had to put her handprint on the paper and she loved that. : )  I guess she'll like fingerpainting when we get home!!!
Miss Wong was there, so we let Lydia sit with her.  We can tell that they both really love each other.  We got a lot of good pictures and video, so we can show her that in the future.
This orphanage really seems to have the kids best interest in mind.  They gave us a book that they made of her from her early days in the orphanage up until the present.  That is an invaluable piece of information and memories for her and for us.  They said that we can come to the orphanage on Thursday.  They greatly discourage it because of the way it will impact her right now.  They are worried that she will cry when we leave.  Her tears are heartbreaking, but in the future, I want to be able to tell her all that we can about the first 2 1/2 years of her life.   
When we left Miss Wong and the others, Lydia's heart broke.  She cried for a few minutes.  I am actually really glad about that because it shows me that she has bonded with someone before and gives us the hope that she will eventually bond with Brian and I.
After the official office, we went to the Notary Public Office.  It was more of the same there.  Signing our names, answering questions, etc.  We had to wait for them to finish a preliminary copy of the paperwork, so that we could check all the information.  It looked right, so now this afternoon, our guide will go get the final copies for us to take home with us.  We are officially Lydia's parents!!!  It's so weird to call myself "mommy" and Brian "daddy" to her.  I had to catch myself more than once, to not say "Auntie E" or "Uncle Brian" or even "Mr. and Mrs. Peterson".  It's a new name I'm sure I will get used to. : )
We came back to the hotel and tried to get Lydia to sleep, but she doesn't seem too interested.  Brian fed her a granola bar and raisins to see if eating something might help her to settle down.  She is laying down with Brian now, but I don't think she's sleeping. 
She has responded very well to both of us.  She likes me to hold her - so pray my arms don't give out - but she lets Brian feed her and has been sitting in his lap too.  We'll see how the next few days goes. : )
At 2pm we have to check out of the hotel and sit in the lobby for a few hours until the paperwork is all finished.  We can then leave for the train station.  Our train is supposed to leave at 7pm to go to Beijing, but Bill, our guide, said we can hopefully get an earlier train.  I guess we'll see about that when we get there, otherwise we'll sit in the train station for a while too.
Just a little bit about her name...We chose Lydia for her first name because it is a name I have always liked.  We wanted to choose a Bible name and one that is not used too often.  I nixed "Oholibama", Brian's choice : )  and we went with Lydia instead.  After teaching 10 classes, it is difficult to come up with a name that in my mind does not belong to someone else.  I have two friends named Lydia and they are both good role models for her, so we decided to go with Lydia. 
For her middle name, we wanted to use her Chinese name, so Shen Yao was definitely in.  My Grandma Hansen-Moell had two middle names and I always liked that, so I decided to add another middle name as well.  Kendelle is a made up spelling that I thought looked more feminine than the usual spelling.  Kendelle is after my dad, Ken. 
Of course, since we are both Petersons, we thought that was the best last name for her. : )  28 letters in all - hopefully she's good at writing someday. : )
More blogging tomorrow about Beijing...
Breakfast - Congee and fruit...It looks gross to me, but Lydia was quite excited when she saw it.
Workers from the orphanage - Mr. Wong, Sister Wong (Lydia's nanny) and Lu Wei.

Making everything official with our red fingerprint.

At the Notary Office signing more paperwork.

Waiting - We gave her these toys last night and they haven't left her hands since!  Even for sleeping, eating or going to the bathroom. : )

Monday, April 9, 2012


Lydia Kendelle ShenYao Peterson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brian, Erica and Lydia Kendelle ShenYao Peterson
Her first "toy" that she discovered was a piece of paper.  She wouldn't let it go, even for a nap!
Reading with Daddy
Eating supper (noodles) with Mama
Ready for bed!
Here we are...a three member family.  We got a phone call at about 1:30pm today telling us that Shen Yao was waiting for us in the hotel lobby.  We headed down and she was there with her special nanny, Sister Wong and Miss Wei and another man form the orphanage.  Sister Wong handed her to me and told her we were "Mama" and "Baba".  She wasn't so sure about us a first.  I gave her a fruit snack and that made her happier for a little bit.  We had to fill out some paperwork and after that we left to go back to our hotel room.  She started crying very loudly when we left her nanny.  We came up to the room and she quieted down after that.  We knew she was tired, but she didn't want to go to sleep.  We gave her a banana and cheerios and read some books.  Her first English word after reading a book was, "cow".  I guess she'll fit right in in Wisconsin!!!  She fell asleep on me for too short of a time and woke up.  After that Brian read to her, we watched Nei-Hao, Kai-Lan, and ordered supper.  We ate noodles and pizza for supper.  We gave her a bath, put jammies on her and now we're ready for bed.  We thought she would fall asleep right away, since she was almost fell asleep while she was eating, but she's still awake right now.  I think I better put all of us to bed for now!
Tomorrow, we will be going to the civil affairs office, packing up and leaving for Beijing.  We will not be there until 9:30pm tomorrow, so I'm not so sure if we'll get to blog, but don't worry, we catch you up as soon as we can. : )

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Shijiazhuang...a Small Village in China

This morning we took the metro (subway) from our hotel to the other airport in Shanghai.  Fortunately the subway line that our hotel was on, is the same one for both airports.  We got our hotel because it was close to the airport...little did we know that we would arrive through one and depart from another!!!  It took about 1 1/2 hours to take the train to the airport.  When we got on, it was a little busy and by the time we got to the middle of the city, there was barely breathing room.  If we would have had to get on in the middle, I don't think we could have done it.  We have WAAAAAYYYYY too much luggage.  Since we've been married, I don't think we have ever checked bags when we fly somewhere.  This time, we each have our backpack and carry-on suitcase, plus we have two suitcases with things for Shen Yao.  Brian hopes that she's really hungry when we get her, so that we can use up all the food we brought.  I just hope that she likes the toys and books and stuff that we brought. 
Anyway...we got to the airport and checked in, got a Pepsi and boarded the plane.  The flight was just short of 2 hours.  They served us lunch on the plane - some kind of rice casserole (or hot dish, if you're from Minnesota).  It was pretty good and it gave us something to do on the flight.
We arrived in Shijiazhuang (pronounced something like Sher Tia Zuang) at about 2:30pm.  Apparently the name of the city means something like "Small Village".  It is a medium sized city, but don't let that fool you.  According to our guide, there are about 3-4 million people here!!!  It's amazing how different your perspective on city sizes can be based on where you're from. 
Our guide is Bill and he's from Beijing.  He is a tour guide all over China.  We took a bus into the town and then a taxi to our hotel.  I guess I should say 2 taxis, since there wasn't enough room in one for all our luggage. : )  We checked into our hotel, a 5 star!!!  Nicer than anything I've stayed in at home.  They have attendants for just about everything.  We don't even have to press the button for the elevator by ourselves. 
After check-in, Bill took us to the grocery/super store down the street.  We got a few treats for people at home and some stuff to drink, since we can't drink the water.  We ate supper at a very authentic restaurant.  Everything was really good, especially the noodles.  After supper we headed back to the hotel and I took a bubble bath in our really cool bathtub.  I'm feeling very sleepy, but I know I need to stay awake for another few hours or I will be awake at 3 or 4 tomorrow morning.  Brian got me a new computer game, so I think I'll see if that will do the trick.
Tomorrow is the day we've been waiting for.  They are bringing Shen Yao to our hotel, so I'll post more tomorrow including pictures.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One Night in Shanghai!

The view from our hotel

Well, we got to downtown Shanghai yesterday at about 5pm.  Since it was Saturday, it was quite busy.  We were planning to got to the Yuyuan Gardens, but by the time we got there, it was closed.  Instead we just walked around the area and looked in shops.  Brian is in front of a tea house here, just outside of the gardens.  We were really hungry by the time we got downtown.  There were Pizza Huts, McDonald's, Dairy Queen and even Starbucks, but we decided to go with the crowd and have steamed dumplings.  The line for the steamed dumplings at one shop was about 30 minutes long, so we decided they must be the best.  They were really good.  Tasted like they had some kind of sausage in the center. 
We got back to our hotel at about 8pm and took a shower and crashed into bed.  I really didn't sleep at all the two days before we left and neither of us got much sleep on the 14 hour plane ride, so we fell asleep right away.  We woke up around 5am here and laid in bed for a while.  We got up around 7am and ate breakfast in the hotel - Western style. : )  But we did both try some "Chinese" breakfast food from the buffet.  Brian's ribs were tastier than my pumpkin porridge!
We are on our way to the other airport in Shanghai now.  At least we just have to get on one train and take it all the way to the end.  We took way too much luggage.  Hopefully we actually use all the stuff we brought!!!
I let you know when we get to Shijiazhung, Hebei this afternoon.

We're Here!!!

We arrived in Shanghai at 1:15pm Saturday afternoon.  After getting someone who spoke English to write down what type of ticket we wanted to buy, we got Metro cards.  Took the Metro (subway/train) from the airport to our hotel and now here we are.  We just have today to explore Shanghai, so we're heading downtown on the Metro.  If I'm not exhausted when we get back, I'll post pictures.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Travel Itinerary

4/6/2012  Well, we're in Chicago.  We got up at 2:30am and our plane left Milwaukee at 5am.  We had a pretzel for breakfast and we're just waiting for our flight to Shanghai.  It leaves at 10:29am.  In China it is 11:29pm.  The time difference is 13 hours.  If you're in the central time zone, just look at the clock, count one hour ahead and make the am - pm or vise versa.

4/7/2012 At about 1:30pm (China time) we will arrive in Shanghai and check into our hotel.  Our hotel is right along the #2 Metro line, so we're planning to go downtown to see some of the sights. 

4/8/2012 Flight to Shijiazhuang 12:25pm-2:20pm. Billy, our facilitator, will meet us at the airport and take us to check in the Zhong Mao Hai Yue Hotel.  I'm sure we'll be ready for a rest, but we'll try to stay up until it's time for bed.  Staying awake will help acclimate us to the time change.

4/9/2012 3:30pm Shen Yao will be brought to the hotel!!!!!!!!!  Her "hometown" is a five hour train ride away, so I'm sure she'll be tired. 

4/10/2012  In the morning we will complete the paperwork at the local civil affairs office and notary office. We will take the bullet train to Beijing. Lisa, our facilitator/guide in Beijing, will meet us at the train station and take us to check in the King Wing Hot Spring Hotel.  I don't know what time we'll get there.

4/11/2012 We will have a tour of Beijing today.  Our itinerary includes a visit the Forbidden City, Hutong tour and an acrobat show.  I'm especially looking forward to the acrobat show as the last time I was in China, I didn't get to experience this!

4/12/2012 More touring of Beijing.  Today we will visit the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.
4/13/2012 Flight to Guangzhou. Helen, our facilitator, will meet us at the airport and take us to check in the China Hotel (Marriott). 

4/14/2012  Shen Yao will receive a medical check, TB test, get a visa photo and visa paperwork will be finished.
4/15/2012  Happy Birthday to my Grandma Bunny!!!  We will tour Guangzhou.  They have a zoo with Panda bears, so I hope that is included in our tour. : )

4/16/2012 We have a review of the results of Shen Yao's TB test.  Hopefully that won't take all day!  I don't know what we'll do, but I have a long list of things to buy, so maybe we can find what we are looking for, if we haven't already.
4/17/2012 8:30am is our appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou.
4/18/2012 At 3:30pm Shen Yao's visa will be ready for pick up.
4/19/2012 Flight from Guangzhou to Beijing, and then Beijing to Chicago.  We should arrive home in Milwaukee about 6:45pm - A family of three.

I'll post when we get to China.  : )

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Prayer Requests

Well, we're just a few days away from leaving on a trip of a lifetime, one that will change three lives forever!  As we go and as we are in China, we would ask for prayer.  The following is a list of some specific things we will be praying for and would ask you to pray for, as well.

  • For Safe Travel - We will be on at least 7 airplanes and 1 bullet train while we are there, plus taxis, buses, and various other transportation.  While Brian and I are experienced in traveling, Shen Yao has probably been in a car just a few times in her life.  On the day we get her, she will have traveled many hours on a train. 
  • For Lack of Jet Lag - We will be on a plane for many hours and the time difference is 13 hours.  We will arrive in Shanghai in the early afternoon, so we'll try to stay awake there as long as possible. 
  • For Health - The last time I was in China, I got food poisoning and felt like I was going to die.  I won't be venturing out and eating any street food, but still, the food preparation is different than our stomachs are used to eating.  I have a tickle in my throat right now, too, so I'm hoping that doesn't turn into a cold.  I've been hand sanitizing a lot at school, as many of my students are sniffling, sneezing and coughing! 
    It is somewhat common for children to get sick after they are adopted because of the many changes they go through - different food, schedule, etc.  In China, they also dress their children in many layers, so Shen Yao may be used to being warmer than what we may think she needs to be.  This change in temperature may also weaken her immune system.
  • For Bonding - Shen Yao has probably had many caregivers in her young life.  We want her to know that we are here for her forever.  Please pray that her bond to us will be strong.  Also, there are few men who work in the orphanages, so sometimes children have a difficult time bonding with their fathers right away.  Pray that she will bond and trust both Brian and I.  We will have many hours together to get to know each other, but the communication will probably be difficult because of the language difference.  Pray that we will be able to figure out her needs quickly. 
  • For Adjusting - Pray for the adjustments that all of us will be making.  Sleeping, eating, free time, etc. will be changing for all of us.  Pray that we will be able to function and have patience with the amount of sleep that the Lord gives us each night. 
  • For Our Orphanage Visit - We have been denied our request to visit Shen Yao's orphanage.  We would really like to go, so that when she asks about it someday, we will have had an experience there.  They can still change their mind, so please pray that they do. 
  • For Work and School - Please pray for us as we prepare to leave work and school.  We are preparing as best as we can for our absence, and we are very thankful for those who are assisting us during our time in China. 
For those of you who have been through this before, please feel free to leave comments with other things you know we will need prayer for.

We enjoyed a special treat and time of questions and prayer in Sunday School today.  Thanks to our youth group and fellow leaders for the send off today!  We really appreciate your love and support.