Three Princes and a Princess

Our Journey to Gabriella Lin.....one step at a time.....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We are HOME!

Well, we have actually been home almost 2 days now but I am just now able to form semi-coherent sentences.....we are TIRED!

Our trip home was as good as any two-day trip can be. We left Guangzhou on Thursday evening by high-speed train to Hong Kong and then took a taxi to the airport hotel where we were for about 8 hours before flying out. Ellie was an absolute trooper throughout our travel but did throw up on our flight from Tokyo to Newark, then again all over both of us in the Newark airport.......poor baby! She slept through our
 final flight after a little Dramamine and we were vomit free....yay!

We were met at the aiport by three of the cutest and most excited boys ever! Oh seeing these faces was just amazing to me after 2 weeks away. 






So how are we really doing?  We are actually doing great, much better than I thought and if I could just get some sleep we would be doing awesome.  As great as seeing my family at the airport was, my favorite moments have been after the airport.  Watching all 4 of my children at the same table eating breakfast, seeing how the boys just follow Ellie around doting on her, seeing Ellie open up, all priceless. 

I will post more on the days of our trip after my laptop died but for now we are home and happy.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A few things.......

As our time in China is wrapping up I just wanted to share a few pictures of my beautiful, strong daughter......what a difference a week makes!  I miss my boys terribly and cannot wait to see them all again soon:-)





Not the flesh of my flesh
Nor the bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it.

-Author Unknown

Monday, February 6, 2012

Computer Issues

Hello Everyone.

We are all good but having computer issues because my laptop died and that is the only thing that allowed good internet access, so I do not expect to be able to blog much more until I get home.


We are good, Ellie is really talking. Today is Tuesday  and is our free day. Wednesday we have our consulate appointment, Thursday we pick up Ellis visa and take the train to Hong Kong where we overnight in the airport hotel before taking a flight to Tokyo the a flight to Newark then Rochester to finally arrive on Friday night.

video
video

Sunday- Guangzhou

Yesterday we went to the Safari Park and were picked up by our guide, Lily.  We then drove to the Garden Hotel to pick up two other AAC families that we are traveling with, we rented a bus to take us to the park.  The Safari Park was far bigger and had many more animals than any zoo or Animal Kingdom, it was truly magnificent.  Here is little Miss as we were planning where we were going to go first........don't let the sweet innocent  face fool you, she had just run away from me as soon as I took her out of her stroller:)


Our first adventure was a really neat tram ride through the safari.  The sheer number of each kind of animal was amazing.  There wasn't just one lion but 15, and 20 giraffes, etc.  Ellie was so cute, when she would see a different animal she would point and say, "WOW"!



Asian Elephants





Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday- Guanzhou

Saturday was a great day, it was so nice to explore Shaiman Island! After breakfast we made a beeline to..............Starbucks! We walked in and it looked EXACTLY as it would in NY and Heather said something about being happy and the young man behind the counter said, "Yeah I hear that all the time!"


This is what the streets look like here.  It is so lovely to walk around and so much quieter, I love it. 
Next up came the medical exams for the children so our guide, Lily came and together with two other families we set off to get their pictures taken and then to the are to get their medicals done.  It took two hours and was absolute chaos but we made it through, Ellie was a trooper!



Lily and the three families in our group then went to lunch at Lucy's and had another great meal before coming back to our hotel to do some paperwork.  Our hotel has a playroom for children to play and they played while the moms and Lily went through our mountains of paperwork and organized what we needed. 




Sorry for the lack of commentary, I am tired. Today we are off to the safari zoo with 2 other families and are hoping for a great day:) 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday

Yesterday was a busy but good day.  We our last morning in Nanchang and packed up before meeting our guide around 11:30.  We were waiting on Ellie's passport and notary papers before heading to Guangzhou and thankfully they were ready so we took a van to the airport.  Maggie checked us in to our flights and we said our good-byes to her before waiting for our flight from Nanchang to Guangzhou.  Here is Little Miss on our flight.......


I tried my best to explain to her what we were doing but of course she didn't really understand.  Poor thing was overwhelmed and started to cry.  I gave her a lollipop and she didn't want that, she just grabbed her wah-wah (baby), her purse and photo album, laid her head on my lap and went to sleep for the entire flight! We got our bags ok after the flight and met with an agency guide who arranged our van ride to our hotel which is located on Shaiman Island in Guangzhou. 


We are staying at the Victory Hotel and it seems very nice.  Shaiman Island is a small island only 4 blocks.  It has a Victorian feel with planned walkways, tourtist shops, several 7-Elevens, a Starbucks and many resturants.  It has such a quiet feel to it that is so welcomed after our time in province.  Our guide this week, John, met us at our hotel and helped us get checked in before showing us around the island.  I borrowed a sroller for Ellie last week from our hotel but the Victory does not have strollers to borrow so John took me to a store where I got a great deal on a stroller and a jacker for E.  John explained to us that this area is largely Cantonese (not Chinese) and that they relate more to Hong Kong than to China. Most people on the island speak English so it is much easier to communicate.  We opted for an American food last night and ate at Lucy's Bar & Grill.  I opened the menu and almost wept when they had an entire...................wait for it.......................vegetarian menu!!!! Our meal was lovely and Heather and I even ordered a glass of wine to celebrate.  I ordered Ellie a kids meal which came with fried chicken, fried chicken sausage, french fries, mixed fruit, a juice and ice cream (for $5).  She was more interested in my pasta pesto though.................


She also ate a ton of Aunt Heather's brocolli and salmon! She is too funny choosing salmon and brocolli over fried chicken! Oh but she shrieked when the waitress brought out her cup of ice cream. 




On our walk back to the hotel we stopped at the 7-Eleven for some groceries and all crashed as soon as I put Ellie to bed.  This hotel also has a breakfast buffet and we will head down there once everyone wakes up.  Today we have Ellie's medical appointment but it is right near our hotel so that is nice.  Poor thing will have to have a TB test, I better have a treat ready after that!

Ellie had a great day yesterday, no major crying episodes even though she was tired and hungry with our crazy day yesterday.  We are learning our way together a little more everyday, and her spunk is really starting to come out! Sorry for the lack of pictures but the camera never got unpacked yesterday! Will post more Ellie cuteness tomorrow:)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday in Nanchang, Jiangxi

Yesterday was our last full day in Nanchang and we were on our own as our guide was busy with another family.  We had plans to take a taxi to a walking park but the weather was really cold and windy.  We had a good morning but got a little stir-crazy so we decided to make out on our own and walk the 10-minutes down the street to where the McDonald's and a market called RT Mart is.  Let me explain that we have largely been cooped up in our hotel because our hotel is in a VERY busy urban area and crossing the street is VERY, VERY, VERY harrowing.  But we were desperate so off we set on our adventure.  I am still not used to being stared at so openly by the local people here.  Almost everyone stares at us, some with interest some with disdain, some shout things at us and others even go as far as to touch Ellie.  But we made it to RT Mart and decided if we were going to be stared at anyway we might as well take some pictures to remember this by. Anyone care to play guess that potato chip variety?  We saw tomato, shrimp, pickle, lobster, butter and MANY others we could not identify. 




At the store we picked up these treats to celebrate our last night in Nanchang.  The chips and wine were much needed and very good.......sorry no leftovers....



We then made it over to McD and Ellie had her first official Happy Meal (with me anyway) and Heather and I enjoyed a coffee and pineapple pie (not apple pie!). 




We took a few pictures on the way home to show the area we were in.  I really can't describe how busy and full the streets are with cars, mopeds and bikes and it is like that all day and night with horns honking too for added fun. 



We made it home just fine and Miss E took a great nap.  She had such a good day yesterday, her crying periods were much shorter and it seems I am learning my way with her to help.  I am not naive enough to think we are out of the woods but progress is progress and I will take it. 

So after eating at McDonald's, I thought I would round out the American experience and let Ellie play some toddler apps on my tablet and later she watched a bit of a video on my phone.  (Don't judge, these bought me about 20 minutes total of relative rest from entertaining my busy little love). 




Just a cute picture........so amazed by my girl's strength and resiliency.



We are getting pretty good at communicating though some words and gestures.  Ellie waves and says bye-bye now to her brothers on skype and she calls them gah-gah (brothers).  When I ask her if I can have a kiss, she knows what I am asking and gives me one, amazing how quickly she is learning.  Before bedtime she  gave me my phone indicating she wanted to watch a show and then put her arms up to me so she could sit with me. 




Do you know where I write these blog posts?  Sitting on towels on the bathroom floor usually around 3-4 AM China time because I can't sleep.  Jet-lag is really kicking my butt as I am not able to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night and the bags under my eyes now have bags of their own, just sayin. Today (Friday) we will go get Ellie's passport and head to the airport to catch a 2 PM flight to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province (go ahead and look at the map I posted below).  We will be staying in an area called Shaiman Island which is where the US Consulate is located.  I am so excited because it is a much quieter atmosphere and a bit more Western friendly.  I have enjoyed this week of my trip but think we will all do a bit better with the freedom to walk around outside more without fear of traffic.  I am also excited to be able to have more choices for food as I am sadly, not an adventurous eater and after a week here I am positively starving! Today also marks the half-way point in our trip, I cannot wait to see my boys again, skyping twice a day just isn't the same as being with them.

I do feel a bit of sadness leaving behind the province of my daughter's birth, I hope I have captured enough of it to share with her as she gets older.  Thanks for all the support from home and if you see my boys, give them a squeeze from their mommy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday in Nanchang, Jiangxi

I will be honest with you, yesterday was a hard day for me.  Not because Ellie had a bad day, she actually had a good day but between the emotions and the severe lack of sleep I was just down and tired the entire day.  Parenting a hurt child in a hotel room in a foreign country is not an optimal environment for me.......who knew?!

Here is another morning shot of The Princess.....seriously can you even take the hilarious hair?

We had a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant before coming back up to our room and relaxing a bit before our meeting our guide.  Ellie took to coloring and stickers right away, she is such a girl!


Together with the Kim family we met our guide and driver at 10:30 and set out on another adventure.  First we went to an ancient Buddhist Temple.  Maggie explained that this was a very popular temple because it was very old and beautiful even if it wasn't the biggest.  It was a bit strange to tour such a sacred place while monks and other people were praying but it was neat to see. 


 


Next we went to a park called People's Park and it was so nice to walk around.  They had multiple playgrounds, vendors, some amusement park rides and many ponds with ducks and koi. 



Feeding the koi in the pond


Our transition is going amazingly well, really it is but when she is having her hard times, it is, well..........HARD.  You know how when a child hurts themselves you can tell if it is a real hurt cry or one for attention?  Well a grieving cry is the saddest thing I have ever heard.  Her sobs overcome her at the strangest times with no apparent trigger.  Sometimes she lets me comfort her and sometimes she pushes me away, it kills me but she doesn't know how much I love her and how long I have wished for her.  She is showing spontaneous affection in grabbing for my hand, putting her hands up for me to pick her up and kissing me without me asking for it and I know this is great progress. 

How about some comic relief? Well in China it is socially acceptable to spit, with abandon in the street, in a store, anywhere.  So while Miss E has learned so quickly most things she still has some quirks in this area.  She LOVES to brush her teeth but will not spit out in the sink, she shakes her head no at me and spits onto the bathroom floor.  Similarly when we were eating lunch yesterday she was eating a clementine and I could tell she had a seed in her mouth.  I put my hand under mouth and asked her to spit it out in my hand.  She pushed my hand away and spit it onto the floor! LOL oh well, we will work on that

We are heading off to breakfast now, we have no big plans today as our guide is taking another family to tour their daughter's orphanage.  I think we will venture out on our own a bit and enjoy our last full day in Nanchang.  Speaking of breakfast, the coffee cups at breakfast are very tiny, literally like 4 sips and Heather and I joke about it every morning and have just gotten around to asking for a second cup.  The breakfast itself is buffet-style so it works out as most of the hotel staff do not speak English.

Oh my word, I had forgotten how exhausting toddlers are! Ellie is always on, never off and as much as I don't want to tell her no during this tenuous bonding period I have had to on a few occasions, "no, please don't hit me with the flashlight" (to my waiting friends or those about to travel, bring a flashlight it has been a big hit with The Princess), "don't put your finger in the outlet" or "please stop hitting the laptop". Seriously exhausting, I think I might ask for 3 cups of coffee at breakfast today!