Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home at Last

Paging Mr. Chu

We had to wake up EARLY in order to eat breakfast before going to the airport. I am not sure if I have mentioned it before but C just HATES to wake up... I mean HATES. She was still carrying a grudge at breakfast and decided to punish us by not eating anything. This did not give us good feelings for how the day was going to go.

We got checked into the flight okay and then we had some time to kill so we hit the playground in the terminal. Catherine had a wild time and we had to pull her away crying to board the plane... again, not a good sign.

Much to our surprise (since it was only 10:00am when we left Hong Kong) Catherine slept the ENTIRE flight to Tokyo (a little over 4 hours). She never made a peep. We only had about an hour layover in Tokyo (so strange to be back in the old land after 8 years... I even broke out with my Japanese to the store clerk at the airport! Still got it baby!) so it went by really fast. We did have one strange incident though... as I was shopping and Jay was waiting for the call to board he hears this announcement: "Mr. Chu. Mr. Lian Chu. Please come to the counter." He thought to himself, "No, it couldn't be." But, then he heard it again. So, he cautiously went up to the counter and told the man that he had just been paged. The conversation went like this...

Gate Agent: You are Mr. Chu? (with a surprised look on his face)
Jay: No, she is. (whipping the baby backpack around and pointing at Catherine)
(Gate Agent looks stunned...)
Gate Agent: What is his address in America? (Mind you she has a big pink bow in her hair!)
(Jay writes our address on the provided paper)
Gate Agent: Is he going to be staying with you in America?
Jay: Um, yeah (I think that is how it works!)
Gate Agent: Okay, thank you (still looking really quite stunned but apparently satisfied)

We were anticipating a LONG, difficult flight (especially since Catherine had already slept almost 4 hours that morning) but she was a DREAM on the entire flight to Dulles. I mean, a dream! She slept almost the entire way (and when she was not sleeping she was sitting contently in my lap or munching on a snack) and rarely fussed. Because she was so good we both got alot of rest so we did not totally feel like death when we landed (we just partially felt like death!

We landed at Dulles and got a good look at the 5 inches of snow that had fallen that morning... FIVE. The pilots came on the loudspeaker to assure us that we had arrived in Virginia and not Buffalo :) Catherine's first view of her new homeland was that of a white wintery wonderland... she looked confused yet fascinated!

We waited FOREVER for a tram to the terminal, flew through customs and immigration (where Catherine officially became an American citizen!!!!!!), waited an eternity for our bags, and went through the doors where our family was waiting to welcome us home...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Goodbye Guangzhou / Hello Hong Kong

The morning was spent packing (still can't believe that we got all that in there!), eating, more shopping, obviously more packing, and finally more eating. It was good. We took our final trip to the Guangzhou Starbucks... the best spot on the island.

For some reason the construction noise died down during our break time and we peacefully sat there and watched life walk by... FINALLY! Catherine finished her fancy lemon cake and decided that she wanted to continue walking. Problem was that Mommy and Daddy were still working on their coffees. This is the truly pathetic situation that unfolded...

Hell hath no fury like a 2 year old scorned!

We accompanied our guide to the consulate for our visa so that we could head directly over to the train station to catch an earlier train to Hong Kong (which we caught... yeah). We had to go through immigration at the train station because Hong Kong is considered a separate country (separate from China) as far as travel is concerned. Now, the consulate has a new policy that they staple the child's Chinese passport to the immigration packet when they give it back to family (they made a huge big deal at the consulate that you cannot separate the passport and the packet). I mean, can you imagine someone entering the US with their US passport stapled to something? They would get an earful from the Customs and Border Patrol officer when they enter, right? Well, that is just what happened to Jay when he handed the guy Catherine's passport that was stapled to the brown envelope. He totally went off on him about disrespecting the Chinese passport right before he angrily ripped it off the packet. Hey there, thanks a bunch US Consulate! REALLY appreciated that one!

The train to from Guangzhou to Hong Kong was easy and relatively fast. We did have one MAJOR problem though. No, not Catherine... she slept nearly the whole trip. It was ME! You see, when you get on the train they hand you a bottle of water. You think, "Hey, thanks! I am SO thirsty!" and you drink it all down. Then, about an hour later, right when you need to pee, they make an announcement over the loud speaker telling you that the bathrooms on the train are now closed until the train reaches Hong Kong. Then you think, "Wait a minute, we won't get to Hong Kong for another hour!" Then you cry. Then you wait. Then the 2 year old on your lap adjusts her sleeping position. Then you cry some more. I have NEVER had to go to the bathroom that bad in my ENTIRE life. I almost died... seriously! Jay could see the anguish in my face so he kept telling me that we were almost there. We were most certainly NOT almost there. In my mind I starting coming up with alternative options of relieving myself... I was desperate and in pain. Mercifully we pulled into the station in Hong Kong. I gathered myself together, unloaded the bags with Jay onto the platform, hauled them up the escalator, and ran like an Olympic sprinter into the little girl's room. And, yes, I do believe I am scarred for life.

We are happy checked in to the beautiful Marriott at the Hong Kong airport and we are enjoying our complimentary cocktails in the executive lounge (no problem... there is a very nice bathroom right here in the lounge!). Tomorrow we make the long journey home.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Especially For Your Cursing Convenience

Before I start this evening I thought I would show you a little bit
of what is normally going on in my room as I post each night. Kinda pathetic huh????

For our last full day in Guangzhou our guide took us to the silk market and then on to the electronics market. I will have to say that I was not very impressed with the silk market. I was hoping to see some things made out of silk but instead all I saw As my sewing machine broke about 6 years ago there was really nothing I needed a bunch of silk for. Pretty though :)

The electronics area was not very exciting to me either but Jay was like a kid in a candy store! He could walk around there and look at all of the cameras, ipods, phones, GPS units, mini tv's, and video game consoles all day long. Since I was still trying to make him feel better about yesterday's pedicure incident I played along :) The family we are with bought tons of stuff but we only came home with a little laser beam thingy. I think Catherine likes it (check out the VIDEO).

After the markets we had a little bit of time so we grabbed a cup of coffee at the hotel. Catherine was being super cute but, as always, as soon as she saw me break out the camera she refused to show her face. I have never seen a child who hates having their picture taken so much. It is not so much that she is shy... she just hates looking at the camera. This is the view that I got when I called her name to look up for the picture (can she crawl further into the safety of Daddy's lap?????)...

We finished our coffee, changed our clothes, and headed to the US Consulate for our Swearing Ceremony. I personally believe that during this process there are much better times for ceremonial swearing but they make us save it all up for this moment :) Actually, it is when we got to the Consulate and swear that everything we wrote on Catherine's immigration forms is the truth. We have actually had to do this with all 4 our kids since none of them were born in the US (even though Jack and Annie were US citizens). I am NOT HAPPY with the consulate and the way that they have handled our case but I managed to maintain my cool and go with the flow (Jay was relieved!). It took much longer than necessary because each family was called up individually to sign their own immigration form. But, the families were called up by a Chinese employee of the consulate announcing the child's Chinese name over a loud speaker that reminded me of the one at a bad drive through window. None of us could understand so either no one went up to the window or like 4 families went because they each thought their name was called. It was chaos. Luckily Catherine's Chinese name is easily recognizable and we only had to fight off one family who mistakenly got to our window first :)

On the way into the Consulate (best shot we could get of her... NOT of me!)

Leaving the Consulate as a US visa holder (well, as soon as we can pick up her visa tomorrow...)

Sporting her very special red, white, and blue dress made especially for her by Sallee

We ate our last dinner in Guangzhou at the only place we ever eat dinner in Guangzhou (hey, your favorite is your favorite for a reason!). We went all out with a whole steamed sea bass with spicy red chilis, fantastic Malaysian curry, chicken satay, grilled eggplant covered in garlic, and some Singapore-style fried rice with seafood (C's fave). YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY! The worst part of leaving China is that I grieve for all this fantastic food (and for the people who prepare and clean it up for me... wink!). It is going to be a rude awakening on Monday morning when all 4 kids expect ME to prepare breakfast... oh, perish the thought!

Tomorrow we get Catherine's visa and then we train it to Hong Kong for the night before our flight on Saturday morning. We will be back home at about 3pm on Saturday afternoon... getting closer :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Free Day...

Today was our highly anticipated appointment at the US Consulate here in Guangzhou. It might surprise those of you who are not China adoption savvy that though this is the most important date of our trip because it is the one that determines when you travel (your China travel dates and Gotcha date are all determined by counting backwards from your consulate appointment date), we (the adoptive family) do not even attend. Strange, huh?

While our guide was at the consulate doing the paperwork on our behalf we had the day OFF! Miss C slept in until 9:00 (guess we can no longer use her as our breakfast alarm clock!) and we went downstairs to have an extended breakfast (Catherine's favorite meal of the day by far).

We really wanted to head back to the area of the pearl market to do a little more gift shopping so after we ate we set out on foot. It takes about 25-30 minutes to walk there and the route takes you through some pretty awesome streets that show you some "real" life here in Guangzhou. We just love walking through this kind of stuff and getting a glimpse into the daily lives of our hosts.

We got to the area of the pearl market which is a huge shopping street (that surprisingly reminds us of Glasgow in Scotland!) and we had a look around the place while the locals got a good look around us :)

I will admidt that Chicken Guy did NOT remind us of Scotland :)

They have incredible deals here and it would have been a great time to do some Christmas shopping if I had been feeling "shoppy". I know... bad timing! We did the shopping that we came for (and, of course, just a few things that we had not come for... wink!) and after a few hours we headed back.

On the way back we stopped at a local foot massage place. It was 15 yuan for 45 minutes (this is about $2.20) and I think we just might have been the only foreigners who have ever used their services. The place was packed and they all thought it was hilarious that we were there (especially with our Chinese baby). No one spoke a word of English but we managed to get by. That is until we came to the realization after they started that the 45 minutes included a back massage, a foot massage, and a pedicure. Jay nearly freaked out... change that... Jay freaked out! They kept making fun of the sad state of Jay's toenails while my guy kept pushing in the skin on my lower leg so he could show everyone how much water I have been retaining. Hey... come on! We are pretty sure that we are going to die of some awful, painful disease from the tools they used to scrape off our calluses. But, if we die, we will at least die with beautifully soft feet :) The massage was good (albeit a bit painful at times) and it was definitely a memorable experience and well worth the $5 we spent!

(this is Jay after his massage... I still cannot believe I got him to do it)

By the time we got back to the island we had totally blown Catherine's nap time (we paid for that later!) so we took her to the playground. I think she could have done the slide over and over all day but she was getting way overstimulated so we had to get her out of there (and thus our payment began!).

We ate outside at our favorite restaurant under a full moon... beautiful.

(more pictures at

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04/09/09 Started Paperchasing
04/25/09 Changed Agencies
04/26/09 We Got Our Referral!
04/26/09 LOI (Letter of Intent)
05/05/09 Homestudy Approved
05/13/09 Filed I800A with USCIS
05/13/09 PA (Pre-Approval)
06/05/09 USCIS Fingerprinting
06/10/09 I800A Approval
06/16/09 Dossier is Complete
06/19/09 DTC (Dossier to China)
06/30/09 LID (Log In Date)
08/28/09 LOA (Acceptance)
09/11/09 I-800 Approval
10/22/09 Article 5
11/04/09 TA (Travel Approval)
11/19/09 Leave for China
11/23/09 Gotcha Day
12/02/09 CA (Consulate Appointment)
12/05/09 Home!

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