Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So sorry we're so slack with the posts!

We're ALL sick! We all started to get sneezy and drippy just before leaving Nanchang for Guangzhou, and have been getting progressively worse as the week has worn on. Between coughs and wiping noses, diaper changes, meals, naps, and shopping (yes, we've still managed to do that!), we just haven't had much time to get online. We keep thinking we'll get on in the evenings when the kids are asleep, and then we fall asleep ourselves! :) On top of that, internet service is not free at the White Swan, so we opted to just get it in Suzanne's room since she was the only one of us who could stay up long enough to make use of it. Again, sorry for no news!

The big news is, of course, that we've completed all of our U.S. Consulate stuff now, which means that we have Ellie's visa and we've been through the oath-taking ceremony that they require, which was done as a group (43 families) and basically said that we promise to care for her as if she were our biological child. It was somewhat emotional, even in a huge room of mostly strangers.

Other than the above mentioned necessary appointments and daily stuff, we've done a considerable amount of shopping. The prices here are beyond amazing. Ellie now has an incredible squeaky shoe collection, and we've cleaned up on jade, porcelain, and cloisonne! I've even bought several bigger outfits for her to wear next year or the year after. I just wish there was little boy stuff so available here for Liam! The best we've been able to do for him is a couple of tee shirts.

Liam and Ellie are getting along very, very well. He has regressed a bit, but it's hard to tell if the crankiness is more due to her presence, his illness, or just being tired of being away from home. All in all, he's done fairly well, but this week we've been unable to eat out because he has no appetite and won't sit quietly for the rest of us to eat. We've had some wonderful Catonese and Thai food here, and Lucy's Bar, which is about a block away, has good American and Chinese food and great cold Tsingtao beer!

This will be our last post from China, since we leave tonight at 6. I'm going to try to add the rest of our photos to our Fotki album now, and I'll add captions to them either in Los Angeles (spending the night there before heading home) or once we get home.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:

Greetings, all! The big news is, our whole family is together! Well, those of us in China, anyway. :)

After an amazing and exhausting Saturday touring Tian'anmen Square, The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall (blog entry coming soon), we got up on Sunday and flew to Nanchang. Liam was pretty much wiped out by the time we got to the hotel, so he stayed with Britt and Aunt Suzi while Dianne and I went to meet Ellie. And because I know you're really not checking out this blog for my brilliant prose, no more waiting -- here she is!

She is such a sweetie! Poor baby cried and cried at first, like all of the others, but before long she had latched on tight to me and I was able to sing her to sleep. A real Daddy's girl, huh? :) She slept all the way back to the hotel, and for quite a while after. Had to get her up for a diaper change and some dinner, and some playtime with big sister Britt, but she's slept through since then.

More appointments this morning, but nothing on the schedule for this afternoon other than naptime, and maybe another blog entry. Tune in again . . .

Friday, August 31, 2007

We're in Beijing!!!

Hey, everybody! Brooks here. Well, it's been quite the journey so far. Four airplanes through five airports, and 35 hours later we have arrived in the first city on our list. Part of what makes it even weirder than just the time change was crossing the date line -- left home just after noon on Wednesday, landed here just before noon on Friday. Settled into the room early afternoon and started crashing hard soon thereafter. I managed to stay awake long enough to go on the group field trip to a nearby grocery store, but by the time I returned, of our family I was the last man standing. Okay, technically I would be the only man, but you know what I mean.

It's now just after 3 in the morning and Liam, Dianne, and I are wide awake again. They got up before me. I awoke to see Dianne holding Liam up to the window to see all of the nighttime traffic. Serious flashback -- took me back to London, 1976, my first overseas trip, and my Dad and I did the same thing. :)

Obviously not a whole lot to share yet, but Dianne snapped a couple of photos on the China Southern flight from Los Angeles to Guangzhou. Assuming I can get them uploaded to Our Fotki Photo Album, you can find them in the Beijing album.

[A special thanks to JoAnne K. for the Huggies bath mitts! Without those we would never have gotten our sleepy Liam cleaned up last night when he was far too cranky to endure a bath in the tub! -Dianne]

With any luck, we'll have pics of Liam celebrating his 3rd birthday atop the Great Wall later today! Tune in again . . .


Monday, August 27, 2007

Our Itinerary

8/29 - Depart RDU for LAX on AA, then take CS from LAX to Guangzhou to Beijing, arriving on Friday, August 31, Beijing time.

9/1 - Beijing Cultural Tour: The Great Wall, Tian'an Men Square and the Forbidden City . . . and celebrate Liam's 3rd birthday!!!

9/2 - Travel to Nanchang in Jiangxi Province. Get Ellie at 3:30 p.m.!!!

9/3 - Paperwork and free time.

9/4 - Shopping!!!

9/5 - Sightseeing to XiangHu Park

9/6 - Sightseeing to Teng Weng Ge

9/7 - Go to Civil Affairs Office to get Ellie's passport. Depart for Guangzhou in the evening.

9/8 - Ellie’s visa medical exam and visa photo.

9/9 - Sightseeing to Chen Family Temple.

9/10 - American Consulate Appointment (Guide takes our paperwork to the Consulate for review.)

9/11 or 12 – Go to American Consulate for interview and to pick up Ellie’s visa.

9/12 - Depart Guangzhou for Los Angeles. Stay overnight in L.A.

9/13 - Depart Los Angeles for home!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In the home stretch!

Well, our international plane tickets are purchased and will arrive via FedEx on Monday, our suitcases have been chosen and are partially packed, and GWCA should have our intra-China flights and hotels booked and bill sent to us by Friday. Whew, what a whirlwind week! And it's probably going to be hectic like this right up until the last minute. We have a few family visits coming up this weekend, a little bit more shopping to do, a very sick furbaby (Niki, our lab), Little Gym to work in on Saturday morning and haircuts that afternoon, speech therapy for Liam the day before we leave, appointments to make for Ellie at UNC Hospital, and poor Britt won't get home until very late Tuesday night.

Bring it on! Let's get to China . . . and our little girl!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Consulate Appointment Confirmed!

Nicole at GWCA emailed this morning to let us know that our CA has been confirmed for 9/10! I have just gotten off the phone with Wyman at Delight Travel, who has booked our international travel. Our friend Tony, who just happens to work for American Airlines, has used the miles generously donated by Nancy and David to get us to LAX. And soon Nicole should contact us again to let us know that our intra-China travel and hotels have been booked!

We are leaving to go get our Ellie on Wednesday, August 29th!!!!! Let the packing begin!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Travel Approval Received!

We just got an email from Nicole at GWCA - our TA arrived! This means that Nicole can now request a Consulate Appointment for us (American Consulate in Guangzhou to get a visa for Ellie), and we should get appointment confirmation by Wednesday! Once we receive a confirmed CA, we can finally arrange our international travel, and Nicole will arrange our intra-China travel and hotels! We're on our way!!!!!