Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Extra Photos

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Last full day in China...

Yesterday was our last full day in China and it was the busiest one yet. We started the day as always with a great western breakfast at our hotel, then loaded up our bus and went to Tianenmen Square. I've seen so many pictures of it, but didn't really get a sense of it's vastness until we were standing in the middle of it. Then we went through the Forbidden City, which was the Emporer's home for all but the summer months each year. It's massive!! It took us over 2 hours to walk from one end to the other and that was without stopping to look at any of the exhibits. We walked through the center of 7 of the palaces and through the Imperial Gardens. I'm glad we have lots of photos, but so many of the things we've seen really must be experienced to be truly appreciated.

After lunch, we hustled back out again and spent 2 hours at the Silk Market - one of my favorite places. We didn't get a lot of time to shop because we had a charcoal sketch of Olivia done by one of the Chinese artists. It was amazing how this guy could sketch babies and people that were squirming and moving all over the place. We are just thrilled with the work he did.

Supper was to be out with the group for our last night here, but because the day was so busy, 2 of the families had to opt out as their babies just weren't tolerating the long day. The dinner was great and Yufin had a beautiful cake made that said "Good Bye China". It almost made me teary except for the very tired, and squirmy girl that was definitely letting us know she had had enough for the day. It's 7:00 am here now and Olivia had something of a rough night. I think the level of activity was too much for her on our last day. We are going to start packing like crazy anytime now and get ready to go home. We have loved every second of being in China and can't even begin to express to this county and it's people how very greatful we are for the precious gift we have received. We will do our very best to make sure we honor this gift for the rest of our days. We hope that someday, if she wants to, that we can bring her back here and show her all the incredible things we saw when she came into our lives. Until then, we'll just do our best to be her forever family. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

So many busy days...

There seems to be so much going on every day that one day just seems to melt into another and it's hard to keep everything straight. Today was another day of tourning and shopping while we wait for our final immigration documents to go home. We started off with another great breatkfast in the hotel and then went to the Silk Factory. We learned that a silk worm lives for only 60 days from egg to mature cacoon and produces silk after 27 days. The worms eat and live on mulberry leaves. It was amazing to see how they make everything right from harvesting the silk from the worm to beautiful works of art in the form of Rugs, murals, clothing, bedding etc. After that we went for lunch at a place called the Minority Restaurant. It's called this because in China there are 57 minority groups beside the majority of Mandarin. This particular group welcomed us with drums and music and the food was great. It seemed like a combination of Chinese and Thai food. Our guide, Faye, has been so good at ordering for us by not getting anything too spicy or strange to our eating habits. At this restaurant, there was also cultural dancing entertainment during lunch and Jenny, who is the 10 year old daughter of one of the families in our group, was invited on stage to dance with the troup - she was great. After lunch, the rest of the group went to the Pearl Market, but Ron and I opted to take a cab back to the hotel. We have just felt that the days are so busy and poor Olivia seems to have to be woken from every nap and we really wanted to give her some good sleep time and us some down time. The cab ride was about 30 or 40 minutes across town and cost 40 RBM which is $5. Anyone who has been here knows that when you get in a cab, you just close your eyes, or keep yourself distracted, otherwise you will be gasping at the close calls every 30 seconds. As it turned out, opting out of the afternoon shopping was a good move for us. Olivia slept from 1:30 until 4:00 and has now gone down for the night at 7:45 pm. We didn't even go out for dinner. Ron walked down to a little Chinese fast food place that was recommended by Yulin and brought back some vegetable won ton and some chicken with rice and vegetables - different, but good. I was feeling really bad tonight when we had to opt out of going to the Chinese acrobats because Miss O was just too tired, but it turns out that no one went with babies. Only Jenny and her Grandma, Marg-Anne went. I'd love to do and see everything, but there just isn't enough hours in the day and the day is sure tiring with a little one in this heat and humidity - still 36 degrees today with 85% humidity. Tomorrow we will see Tianenmen Square, the Forbidden City and shop at the Silk Market which is the HUGE market we shopped at the day after we first got here. As much as we love it here and have learned a huge respect for the Chinese people, their way of life and their culture, we are ready to come home and start to be settled in our own home. I really miss my puppy, Emma and I just know her and Olivia will be great friends.

One more thing - Olivia loves, loves, loves the bath. She has no fear of water at all and squeals with delight everytime she gets in the tub. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pics from Summer Palace and Beijing Zoo

Just before the Summer Palace, we made a quick stop at the Beijing Zoo and saw some of the Pandas. I don't particularly like seeing animals in anything other than their natural habitat, but the Chinese are very protective of this animal and are working very hard to keep them from extinction.

The Summer Palace

After our medical appointments, we went to the Summer Palace. This was the Summer Home of the Emperors and is an absolutely beautiful place. We were treated to a little thunder while we were there, so it was kind of cloudy, but still very hot and humid. Olivia is so great when we go places. She really just takes it all in. We experienced a huge mileastone at the Summer Palace. One of the people in our travel group wanted to hold Miss O, and as soon as he picked her up and started talking to her, she turned around to me, held her arms out and started to fuss. I was so thrilled I almost cried. This might not sound like a big deal, but in terms of starting to bond and attach, this is a very good sign. Yay!! Posted by Picasa

Medical Appointment

Sorry, we were too pooped to blog last night. Yesterday morning was our official medical appointment for immigration. Our Olivia passed with flying colors. She is a tiny but long. She's 70 cm long and 14.2 lbs. They said we need to fatten her up some as she is in the 3 percentile for weight. Boy, did she come to the right family! She continues to amaze and entertain us and it's incredible how well behaved and content she is when we are on outings. The only time she fusses is if she's hungry, wet or tired and we have learned to identify the sounds and behaviours of each of these needs. She still likes to get us up twice in the night, but that's ok cuz I could just lay with her and stare at her forever. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"For Mel and Donna"

Olivia Climbs The Great Wall!

What a great day we had. We started with a very happy baby and a great breakfast. We all loaded into the group van and our first stop was the Jade Factory. This is the biggest Jade Factory in China and we got to see and learn how Jade is processed and were shown how to tell the difference between the real stuff and the fake stuff. We also bought a few things for Olivia for gifts when she is older. Our next stop was the Great Wall. It really was awsome. While I certainly don't want to minimize the greatness of it's history, or seem ungreatful for such an incredible opporunity, it was pretty set up like a tourist attraction with lots of people and lots of commercial business going on. I would have loved to go to a part of the wall where there were no other people just to be able to get a better feel for it's awesome nature. At any rate, it was very cool. I only went as far as the second tower because I forgot to wear my runners so was stuck wearing thongs which aren't good for climbing. Ron, on the otherhand, decided that he wanted to be able to tell his daughter that he climbed the Great Wall with her, so up they went to the third tower which was a very steep climb. Afterwards, we went to the Friendship Store and Cloissonne factory for some great shopping and a FABULOUS chinese food lunch - probably the best meal we've had since we got here. There were no official appointments today, but tomorrow morning we have to be in the lobby by 7:00 to go for the babies' medical exams.

A little more about Olivia: She is such a blessing. I'm so very convinced that she was truly created just for us - I just hope and pray that her birth mother has some peace with her decision, and could somehow know that Zhi Meng is now with a family that will aboslutely cherish her forever. She continues to amaze us with the progess she is making both in her physical abilities and in her emotional well being. Her fourth tooth is just piercing through. She is soooo happy to see us all the time now. When I approach her, I get a HUGE ear to ear grin and she loves to giggle and play with both of us. She holds out her arms and cuddles right in to me when she wants to be picked up or held. Ron has become very protective and gets really agitated when the Chinese ladies want to pick up Olivia and start wandering around with her. I don't think this bodes well for her dating years.

Olivia is sleeping now, so we gotta get a few things cleaned and organized and off to bed ourselves. Here are a few pics of the Great Wall and one of Amanda, who was at the orphanage with Olivia. They are only 3 days apart in age.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A few More Pics...

A few Firsts...

We are now back in Beijing and Olivia was an absolute star for her first plane ride. She slept quite a bit before the plane ride, so we were a little concerned, but I'm proud to say she was the only baby on board that didn't fuss or cry at all. In fact, she played and laughed and gave us some of her best giggles yet. It was a long day and once we got back to the hotel in Beijing, she had some trouble settling in for the night. Today, we had her photos done for immigration and did a little shopping to get water and stuff for the second week here. We also bought a stroller as this hotel doesn't have any loaners and we would need one for the Great Wall trip as well as hanging in the airports on the way home. This afternoon, we took Olivia swimming in the hotel pool and she really seemed to like it. I noticed in most of the pics we've posted, she's not smiling, but she does smile and laught a lot, it's just that the camera seems to confuse her a little. Tomorrow we are touring the Great Wall which we are really looking forward to. Today is Kathy's last night here as she goes home tomorrow, so she went to the Great Wall today with our guide Faye and had her own private tour. Right now, there is a pretty big thunder and lightening storm going on and I haven't seen one of those since I was in Ontario last - it's pretty cool. Let's hope the weather holds out for tomorrow. Enjoy today's pics. We didn't think it was possible, but we love this little girl more every hour. She was definitely made for us.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Going Back to Beijing

We are busy packing up to head back to Beijing so here are just a couple of photos from last night...

Last Full Day in Changsha

Today was our last full day here and tomorrow we return to Beijing. Last night, Olivia had such a good sleep and subsequently, so did we. She was full of life this morning and eager to share more of herself with us. We are learning so much more about her everyday and she amazes us with her beautiful smiles. After breakfast, we went to tour the oldest university in China and it was a very peacefull and serene place. I could just imagine the ancient master scholars giving lectures in the outdoor lecture halls. Many of the walls are filled with ancient inscriptions and we also got to see what was Chairman Mao's bedroom when he was studying there. Lots of people came up to us to admire our daughter and when I showed them the card that says "This is our adopted daughter" in Chinese, we got huge smiles and big thumbs up. Everyone is so warm and kind and they sure do love babies. It does my heart good to know that the Chinese people have faith in us that we will give Olivia a better life than she might otherwise have. This afternoon was nap and shopping at the local department store. We've had to buy some new outfits for the little miss as almost everything we brought was too big. She is just fitting into mostly 6 month clothing and some 3-6 month stuff. She loves the stroller as long as it keeps moving - this one doesn't like to stay still for very long.

We took some great photos at the University today, but the digital card in our camera may have gone belly up as I can't seem to get to the photos on it. I'll share some of those photos if and when I can get to them, but in the meantime, here's some other photo's from the last 3 days that we thought were worth sharing. One photo is the ferris wheel across from our hotel. Each car on it holds 4-6 people standing up, so you can imagine how big the whole thing is. The others are a few more from the day our world changed. Ron and Olivia are both sleeping and I'm learning quickly that it's best to try to sleep when she does, so I'm off to bed.

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